Sunday, January 27, 2008

A rather dreadful start to an ultimately nice day

When I arrived home from work at midnight Friday evening, sore of foot and spirit, I heard a “Pfffft!” as I stepped onto my porch. I looked down, and my frog faucet was spritzing the steps. Denial is sometimes the best tactic and so I hoped that it might just fix itself and be all gone in the morning. I just went in the house, ignoring the icy mess. I had planned to start some NYT bread for the next day (this takes all of five minutes) but I simply did not have the energy wherewithal to do it. So I did the sensible thing, and went directly to bed. The next morning, Rebecca had come to pick some sage for the dinner she was cooking, and after cheering me greatly by letting me know she had made me some tea and fed the household vermin, she said, “Your faucet is going ‘Pffft!’” Denial that is OK at midnight is not always OK in the morning, so I called my friend Ken, ever reliable in hour of need, and he came, despite a migraine, and fixed the leak caused by a hole in the pipe caused by my neglectfulness as a householder. We tested the other faucets, and when we turned on one which was attached to a hose, these little ice worms shot out – water frozen in the hose.

I had planned to make some scones for breakfast, but when I finally got to them it was three in the afternoon. My aunt Dakki called, and asked what we were doing. “Eating breakfast,” I said. She was shocked. As soon as Tom and I finished breakfast, we started dinner, and that was a lovely meal – manicotti, green beans, and citrus salad. My aunt enjoyed it too. Afterwards we watched Farinelli, a movie full of passion, music, and passionate music – a nice combination, me being passionate about music and all.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A knitting day, finally

Finally a knitting entry on my knitting blog! I am so slow a knitter, that I would only be able to post once a month if I kept to knitting. Hence all my other fascinating topics!

My Tiger Lily Jacket, made from a kit designed by Mary Ann Stephens, and finished a couple of months ago, turned out to be huge. I mean tremendous! It would have fit someone three times my size. I don’t know why, but once I get the correct gauge, I seldom think of actually checking to see what size the object is turning out to be. Anyhow, it was unwearable, and a great disappointment. So I decided to felt it down to size. What was to lose? And the results were quite pleasing. It still is a bit big, but is now within the realm of “possible to wear,” and is ever so warm. I had quite a lot of leftover yarn from the kit, so I decided to make some gloves to match – or I should say, to sort of match. I had gotten a Christmas present for myself of a book about Selbuvotter mittens and gloves by Terri Shea, and what better than to make some gloves to match the Tiger Lily. I started a glove, completing the hand and one finger, but could see that it was going to be too bulky, and that I would not have enough yarn, so I undid it, and knit mittens. After the first one, I was still unsure about enough yarn, so I weighed the one glove (minus a thumb) and saw that it would be close but possible. Well, I had enough for all but the final inch of the final thumb. Hence, a thumb of a slightly different color. But hey! That makes these mittens even more unique and totally mine.

Once I laid the mittens out next to the sweater to take the picture, I realized that they would be much nicer if I felted them a bit as well. So I did. Oddly, one mitten is a bit bigger than the other. Odd, since I did them together and, I thought, equally. I was thinking of doing the larger mitten a bit more, but decided that, like the oddly colored thumb, they could be even more unique. Terri Shea, author of the Selbuvotter book says that one should not obsess about mistakes because they give the gloves personality! So mine have a lot of personality.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A spendthrift day

Rebecca needed several items from far flung places, so we had a fun day of shopping. I needed a few things, too – mainly stitch markers for knitting, and I had success finding them. (I had been looking for them for quite a whille.) They were $2. Since we were in the yarn store, I bought some sock yarn I didn’t need - $20. Rebecca took me to a nice cooking store so she could spend her gift certificate – I needed nothing from this store, but spent $50 on things I didn’t need. She took me to Costco, where she could find not one of the items she wanted, and I spent $200 on things I didn’t need. We went to Grocery Outlet (“fabulous bargains on brands you've never heard of”), and I bought more things I didn’t need. As we were wending our way home, I realized that I had forgotten the thing I really did need – cat food for Michael and Maria, the household vermin, and we had to go out again for that. When we finally got home, tired and but not too hungry, as we had eaten Costco junk food, we made pizza. This was the first time in years that I had made a pizza crust (Rebecca is an expert), and it turned out very well. I used the recipe in my wonderful new Bread Bible, and, failing to read the directions carefully, made terrible mistakes right before cooking, but it turned out to be the best I had ever made. I should have gotten a pizza and bread stone at the cooking store, instead of the frivolous things I did get. I will remedy that soon, and the pizza and bread will be even better.

I used Rebecca’s Busy Day Pizza Sauce recipe, some roasted vegetables left over from a previous meal (you can see them peeking out next to the ciabatta below), olives, capers, and cheese, and it was totally delicious. And maybe the world's first Brussels sprout pizza!

Rebecca’s Busy Day Pizza sauce

A can of tomato paste

A can of water

Basil, oregano, thyme

A squashed garlic clove (a big one)

Mix it all up, and voila!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A warm cozy day

Ciabatta! According to The Bread Bible, success with bread this is most difficult to achieve. The bread is very light, with huge air holes (an essential feature), and a crispy crust. However, cooking from this wonderful book reminds me a bit of chemistry lab, and that is what is needed here. Incredibly specific instructions - 176 grams of this, 3 grams of that – beat for 4 minutes, and so on, up to “bake until thermometer reads 214 degrees.” Very exact, but that is what is needed with ciabatta, as the dough is so moist that, if not for the chemistry lesson, one would think it surely needed more flour, and the end result would be disappointing.

A fun, but cold day

A fun outing with Frank and Angela - shopping, and on several sight-seeing jaunts – to Pioneer Square, Pike Place Market, and then a freezing trek to see the ducks on the Foster Island swamp walk. Here is a picture of Frank buying the famous wee donuts in the Market, tangentially in keeping with the emerging theme.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

A yummy day

This was supposed to be a knitting blog, but since I haven’t finished any knitting projects lately, a different theme seems to be emerging. In keeping with that, I will show you a picture of the most amazing Chocolate (!!) bread that Rebecca made as a Epiphany present for Rachael. It is incredible – not terribly sweet, but a bit too sweet to have with dinner. Just the perfect thing to have with elevenses or an afternoon pick-me-up cup of tea.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A very forgetful day

I planned to make super easy New York Times bread for my brother Frank and his wife Angie, visiting from California. It takes about 12 hours for the first rise, so I thought I would start it when I got home from work at midnight. I knew that I would be tuckered out, and my mind would not be on bread, so I planned to leave a reminder out on the counter – like the flour jar or a bread bowl. However, I forgot. I called Rachael as she was on her way home from work and asked her to do it. She planned to, but forgot. Then, when I got home, mirabile dictu, I remembered and started the bread. It only takes a few minutes to prepare the first step, so I was soon in bed with my book and a cup of hot chocolate, when the phone rang. It was my friend and co-worker, Mademba, telling me that I had forgotten to turn in the narcotics key before leaving work. This meant that I had to get out of bed, brave the freezing weather again, and return the key since there is only one and they have to have it. I could not face getting dressed, so I went in my pajamas. When I arrived, the security guard looked at me like I was a potential patient escapee. I explained and apologized for my pajamas. He said, “It’s not that. You have on mismatched shoes!” Indeed they were different colors.

This morning, I was excited about Frank’s visit, completely forgot about the bread, and left it rising. I didn’t remember it until we were returning home at dinner time. So we had “Curry in a Hurry”, but no bread. It came out of the oven about 10pm, and looks lovely. Tomorrow I will find out if it tastes as good as it looks.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A very busy day

For years, Rebecca was singularly unenthusiastic about putting up the Christmas tree. This mystified me, as the tree always brought such joy and comfort. So every year, Rachael and I whined and moaned, and every year Rebecca put it up, without much complaining. Then last year, since she was either going to school, or to work, or both every day, I realized that if I wanted a tree, it would be via my own efforts, rather than via ukase. Well, putting it up was relatively pleasant, but taking it down- another story. My friend Tom and I marveled that she ever managed it herself, as furniture moving was involved, and the two of us had quite a time moving our game table upstairs. So, once again the dreaded day of tree dismantling could be put off no longer, and what a job! I paused to make some scones for Rachael and Tom, and they were quite good. The recipe, from The Bread Bible, was extremely unhealthy – no doubt why the scones were so lovely. Tom had often reminisced about the best scones he had ever eaten, (at a friend's tea party) and I secretly vowed to top them at some point in my baking efforts, but I thought it would take many attempts. However, he declared these the best he had ever eaten, even better than the tea party scones. Needless to say, I was quite gratified! They were tres yummy!

Friday, January 11, 2008

A very cold day

A bit of winter color to cheer a bitterly cold walk to work -hawthorns and lunaria

Monday, January 7, 2008

A very exciting day

Today has been a rather exciting day! I have started a blog, and have made a loaf of bread.

Years ago, I made bread all the time, and I never liked it very well, although others seemed to. Apparently the science of bread making has come a long way, and it is possible to make the sort of bread one could only get from a French bakery in the past. Now my daughter, a baker extraordinaire, makes bread, and it is fabulous. So I have decided to try my hand at it, and will be happy if I have half of her success.

Yesterday I made the New York Times bread recipe – absurdly easy and very delicious. There was very little work involved – five minutes on one day, and about a half an hour on the baking day. And it was tres yummy! Today, however, I was more adventurous and made Pugliese from the lovely Bread Bible which my granddaughter gave me for Christmas. In contrast to the NYT bread, this seemed to require tender care all day long. The result was petite but very tasty. I am having a plowman’s lunch for dinner.