Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Thus Far...

The Keep Calm and Carry On sock project is just past the halfway point and I'm more than pleased with how this pattern has turned out. With temperatures forecast for the rest of this week in the double digit range, the wearing of socks is losing its appeal rather quickly though. The Regia Silk has been lovely to work with. I was worried by the odd comment on Ravelry about this wool having a tendency to pill. The odd minuscule ball of fluff does whizz past every now and then but is easily pulled off without any damage. What these socks will look like after a dozen washings and wearings is another matter. For now, I'm going to enjoy the project and just gazing at them.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Fresh Bread

Several people, including me, were recently inspired by Cornflower's post about making bread the easy way. Finding a pouch of yeast in the cupboard that was actually within its 'use by' date, I dug out a bowl and the other ingredients on Friday. The appealing feature with this recipe is that you should leave the dough to sit under cling film for 12 to 18 hours to do its thing. This recipe is also quite forgiving as we've had a bit of a cold spell and the house got quite chilly that night. Saturday morning found me staring at a gooey blob that didn't look all that different from the night before. 'The yeast has died' I said to R. Not wanting to declare defeat just yet, I searched the house for a warm spot that was safe from Deacon's curiousity. The perfect spot was on top of the chest-of-drawers in my bedroom all sunny and warm. Perfect! My revised plan was to bake the loaf after dinner but we decided to go to the theatre to see An Education (fabulous film!). I could always bake it when we got home....right? When we got home I was too tired so the bowl of dough, which had actually come alive, was left overnight. Bright and early this morning, I carried my mixing bowl of bubbly dough downstairs and fired up the oven. The house was soon filled with the wonderful aroma of fresh bread and R asked if it would be piggish to have a third slice. That's the best sort of recommendation for this recipe. It could have used a bit more salt so I'll be mixing up another batch tonight...solely for research and quality control purposes. And this time I hope to have it in the oven before Tuesday!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Potter & Persephone

This morning, while browsing through a library copy of At Home with Beatrix Potter, I spied some very familiar William Morris wallpaper. The 'Daisy' pattern is also reproduced as the bookmark and endpapers for Persephone's, A London Child of the 1870's. 'As Beatrix said, the daisies are 'not suitable as a background for pictures in water-colours or prints, being a decoration in themselves, but for a background to my 4 poster nothing could be better'.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Patience and Patterns

Choosing just the right pattern for a new project is not something to be entered into lightly. Sometimes, despite your most fervent wish to knit up something which you find absolutely perfect, it all goes wrong. Such was the case with my original plan for the Regia Silk that R brought back from Myrtle Beach last year. On my first attempt, my mood and the colour just weren't getting on so a cheery pink was brought in. Last weekend, I brought out the Regia for another attempt. Several rows into the pattern I messed up and for the life of me, couldn't find my way back. Sage advice would have been to put it aside for later but I ended up pulling out the needles in frustration and ripping out all of my work. It happens to the best of us. Deciding not to be bested by the situation, I set out to find another pattern on Ravelry and discovered 'Twinkleberry'. Being lace, it will be perfect for this wool which has a summery feel and also has the attraction of looking deceptively difficult but is really quite easy! My only concern is that it doesn't have a cuff of sorts but in the photos which others have posted they seem to be staying put on the wearer. The Heiress has some medical glue that she would use to keep up her socks during competition when she was in Irish dancing. If I have a problem with slouch then I'm not beyond giving it a go! So this project has been aptly labeled 'Keep Calm and Carry On' for my Ravelry account.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

French-Style Yogurt Cake with Lemon

Here is the delicious lemon cake from A Homemade Life that I was telling you about. There's lemon zest in the batter, then you pour a lemon syrup over the cake while it's still warm. Once it has cooled, you pour a sugary lemon glaze over the top. Are your cheeks zinging yet? Time to step into the confessional. This is my second attempt at this cake. The first one was baked to the exact directions of 30 minutes. When I took it out it had a perfect dome on top, think St Paul's. Turning away for a brief second, my gaze returned to a sunken crater...think meteorite in Utah! 'How bad could it be?' I asked myself as I began drizzling syrup over the golden sponge which then pooled like a lemony swimming pool in the crater. It quickly became apparent that things were bad...real bad. My cake was now oozing through the bottom, extruding through the holes of my cooling rack and pooling on my stove top. In nuclear terms, it was a core meltdown. Now bless R for his 'if one is good then two are better' rule when it comes to buying things. With the second pot of yogurt that he brought home with the other ingredients, I whipped up another cake. This time adding on another 10 minutes to the baking time. When seven toothpicks came out clean I was confident that it was well and truly done. The first cake wasn't a total loss as I cut out the soft centre and cut up the ring around the outside into fingers. Popping them into a Ziploc bag I sent them back with The Heiress, who was home this weekend, for snacking on. There's that saying 'when life presents you with lemons, make lemonade' but in my case it was cake. Thanks again, Molly Wizenberg!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Homemade Life

This reading venture sprang from submitting a 'request to purchase' form at my library. A Homemade Life intrigued me as I like to read about cooking way more than actually doing it. I thought that because of its massive appeal on many book blogs, others in my community would want to find out about it. The plan was to take this book home for a quick peek and then let the customers have their turn. I had plans to read something else anyway, or so I thought. My 'peek' at the book turned out to be seventy-four pages long, there was no turning back. Molly Wizenberg is just the sort of young lady you would want for a friend. Well, actually you feel like you are her friend because reading A Homemade Life is like she has lent you her diary for the weekend. A less than spectacular first kiss and a relationship that ended with her crying on a bench are events in a girl's life that are quite often swept under the carpet. The honesty with which these snapshots of her life are written endear Molly to the reader and lets face it, who of us hasn't been there? Molly won't have us feeling sorry for her though because she's in France, a country which has stolen her heart. Living with a host family while attending college she's living her dream. She wrote that she had a sort of understanding with her parents that she wasn't going to stick around home, it was always encouraged. I liked that. It's the same sort of understanding we have with The Heiress, to get out there and see the world, no regrets or should haves. This is only one example of the many times I found myself agreeing completely with the way Molly and her family view life. This Friday, I found myself at the car dealership for an oil change when beginning the chapter describing Burg's (nickname for her Dad) terminal illness. Blinking back tears, I found that taking frequent breaks to stare at the exhaust systems mounted on the wall and the photo featuring the sales employee of the month were necessary to halt a full out wail. Hats off to Ms Wizenberg though for giving us a wonderful recipe or two at the end of each chapter to put us on an even keel, allowing us time to breathe before dipping once more into her life. Meeting the man who would become her husband is a story that will have you believing in fate if you don't already. If that first meeting with Brandon were written by some other woman, it would have been easy to label the author a tart (pun not intended) with the rapidity with which she declared her lust for this man. But knowing her as you do through this book, you just end up adoring her honest heart. These two were meant to be together and they wasted no time in admitting it. A Homemade Life is part diary, literary travel, family saga, love story, three tissue heartache and recipe book all rolled into one. Molly Wizenberg, if you're listening...please continue writing. You have a way with more than just mixing bowls! As you can tell, I absolutely loved this book. I've already made two recipes and pre-ordered a copy of the trade paperback coming out next week for my very own. The French-Style Yogurt Cake with Lemon has been a real hit this weekend, in fact, R has just poured coffee and we're about to polish off the last two pieces. A full report on the baking of that luscious cake accompanied by a photo will follow in a couple of days. Bon Appetit!

Friday, March 12, 2010

A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg - Part One

It's a truth universally known that I've never made anything for dinner with a name as exotic as Bouchons Au Thon. I'm on page 288 but have been dying to make these since reading the recipe on page 101. Anything that starts off with a tin of tuna is well within my abilities so I knew that we'd get on. Add in some Gruyere cheese, eggs and creme fraiche and oh, la, la! as Molly Wizenberg says 'they taste like France'. I was on my own for dinner tonight so it was the perfect opportunity to give this recipe a test run. The creme fraiche was in the house five minutes before I whipped a scone out of the freezer and into the microwave while plugging in the kettle. A girl can have her dessert before dinner every once in awhile can't she? It's hard to tell from this shot but the batter is baked in muffin tins. I'm laughing just now as I read that the recipe yields '8 bouchons, enough for 4 light eaters'. I ate 4 myself which should tell you that they were absolutely delicious! Molly likes to eat them with a baked potato or a salad but I didn't bother with any other side dishes. Heavens, I wouldn't have had the room because of my dessert. That's one way to make sure you don't eat too much dinner. A review of this wonderful book will soon follow. Right now I'm off to dream about page 204. It involves a lovely little lemon cake with lemony icing, yum!