Sunday, February 7, 2016

Feed Your Soul

Last week I received a beautiful box of limes from Uncle Ralph. Yes, those really are limes even though they are very yellow. And they are the best limes on the planet. Maybe these are what made me want to cook so badly this weekend, in spite of having several other more important things to do.
 There is nothing I enjoy so much as going into my beautiful kitchen on a weekend afternoon and creating something delicious. 
What will I do with the beautiful limes? I have a lot of plans.
First of all one would be put into my favorite soup.  This is a recipe I created based on things I like. It is a chicken dumpling soup with cabbage, cilantro, lime, garlic and ginger. 
Ingredients part 1:
1 pint home made veggie stock
any diced veggies you'd like to add that need cooking - carrots, turnips, etc. 
1T soy sauce
1T spicy Korean sauce
chicken dumplings from Chinatown
 Put all into a pot and bring to a boil, when boiling add the dumplings and cook until done. Meanwhile:
Ingredients part 2:
cabbage (napa, regular, or red)
In a large bowl shred the cabbage very fine (about 1/2 cup) add the cilantro leaves as many as you like. Using a fine grater, grate one clove of garlic over this, and some fresh ginger. Add the juice of a lime.   
When the dumplings are cooked through, pour the whole thing over the raw veggies. 
 Allow to cool a little before eating. This is always too much for one meal, so you can take the left overs to work for lunch tomorrow.  

It was also time for home made veggie stock. 
I make mine from all of the left over cuttings from the vegetables I use for a month or two. I just put them in a Ziploc bag in the freezer. When I have three or four full bags it's time to take down the big copper cauldron and brew up a batch. 
 It is a bit of a stinky affair, but well worth it.
I usually get 8 - 9 pints. And I can them in my grandmother's giant canning pot.

One of the most wonderful things about having two kitchens is I can do the really messy stuff down stairs. Canning in such a big pot produces a ton of steam. And it is much easier to fill with the garden hose anyway.  

I use this stock in a lot of my cooking. Tonight I wanted to make a pumpkin baked zitti, but I didn't get to the baked part because I was too hungry. Long story short, the pumpkin I roasted on Friday was very dense. I added a little stock and some tomatoes and voilá! a nice thick sauce. 

This afternoon I spent some time making my new favorite vintage recipe: Cup Ginger Cake.
 A few weeks ago the archivist at work brought me something new to conserve (new to me). It is a cookbook dating back to at least 1867. It is another handwritten manuscript receipt book and it's full of fun deserts. I have refrained from engrossing myself in it - way too much to do! But I have browsed a few times. One recipe kept nagging me after I'd read it:  Cup Ginger Cake. I think mostly because of the odd title. The recipe is:
Take 3 teacups full flour, 1 sugar, 1 molasses, 1 sour cream, 2 eggs,  piece of butter, 1 tablespoon each soda and ginger and a few cloves ground. 
Okay - well now the "cup" thing makes sense right? 
 Great-Grandmother's teacup.
The necessary ingredients:
 I basically mixed everything together in one bowl. I did mix the dry ingredients together first and beat the eggs before adding them. But maybe next time I will mix the dry ingredients and then the wet in a separate bowl before combining them. I baked it all at 350°F for 35 minutes. It is a little dryer in the bunt pan than when I made it in a 5x8" pan. So that is something else to consider. But it is still very yummy.
 A new favorite for sure. Happy cooking everyone!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Aunt Lois' socks and Post Storm

The next pair of socks went to Aunt Lois.  I have had this yarn for a very long time. Aunt Lois said she should wear pink and so I thought I should use this yarn to make some socks for her. When I talked with her she said they fit perfectly. HA! Hooray for genes! We all have the same size feet - me and my aunts. :) That sure makes things a lot easier. 

Here in Philadelphia we are still dealing with last weekend's storm. 
If you recall the world was supposed to end last Saturday. Pictures from that Sunday:

My corner of the world was covered with snow
The direction of the wind was obvious:
Again with the wind:
Then there are kitties who are used to freedom who want out!

But in the end, sleeping in a sunbeam inside, is the best: 

with one exception, sleeping in the sun, outside, with the person One owns -

well that is sheer bliss
Today the snow was remarkably less, which was nice considering it was almost 60F°. Still not warm enough to melt the remaining snow. 
Now I'm working on a pair of socks for Aunt Alice. Aunt Lois said that Aunt Alice's kitchen has a yellow theme. Well, then Aunt Alice surely needs a new pair of yellow socks.
Not sure if these are the same yellow, but in the same family surely.
I decided to try something new:
Adding the heel as an "after thought". That's what the pink/purple waste yarn is for anyway. Stay tuned to see how it goes...
In the mean time, it seems Ann is keeping me well equipped to cook anything! :)
My beautiful new Købenstyle cook pot and my even newer espresso maker - red! eeeeeee! How fun is that!? I tell ya - it is really fun when its snowing like crazy outside. 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

A little bit of snow

In case you didn't know, the east coast (aka - the entire world!) got a little bit of snow this weekend.

Actually here it is in the afternoon of Saturday and we've got something like 24 inches with more to come. Its funny how snow like this makes people loose their minds. I stopped at Trader Joe's on Wednesday for cheese and coffee and they had to start a line to get INTO the store. There were at least 50-75 people in line when I left. Even though you resist getting caught up in the frenzy of Snowmageddon!AaaaaaaaaHHHHHHHHH! it's hard not to. Miss Mary and I went for a walk to pick up a bottle of wine and some rice from the grocery store - which we could have survived the weekend without. There was a line at the State Store! And then we just looked in the window at the Shop 'n Bag, saw the long lines there and said - forget it! We stopped at my favorite Indian/Pakistani spice store (where there was a much better deal on rice anyway) and even though there was also a line at least it wasn't insane. We got home just in time - about an hour later it started snowing.
I gotta tell you, I ain't never seen snow like this before! Seriously - I've never seen it go sideways all the way around my house. All of the windows have snow drifts on them.  

There were some other unpleasant surprises.
That would be snow coming in the front door through the mail slot. Now I know why the former owner blocked it. Thank goodness I've been putting a towel against the back door and there wasn't any on the inside.
 Jacques insisted on going out in that.
After 10 minutes I tried calling him from the front door a few times but no response. I called for him every 20 minutes for an hour - nothing. Finally I got worried about him and found him struggling in a deep snow drift. :( Poor baby. Once he saw me coming he just gave up and stayed there until I picked him up. With a small lull in the blizzard this afternoon I went out and shoveled a little bit so that the snow didn't get totally packed down.  I asked him if he wanted to come. He didn't budge from in front of the heating vent.

In the afternoon I opened the back door to take some photos and he clearly wanted to take advantage of the open-door opportunity.

He very quickly changed his mind and came back in.

Something about a snow day makes me feel extra energetic. Go figure. Even though this storm happened on a weekend (such a waste of a perfectly good weekend if you ask me - it could have happened during the week, given me some days off and then I could have been more productive...) I spent Friday being super productive. In the morning I straightened out bills, car insurance documents and other pressing matters, then I decided I deserved to do something creative.

On Thursday a co-worker (Charissa) brought bento bags to my attention. 
Essentially, it is a piece of fabric folded and sewed (very simply) to create a bag to carry anything really - lunch for example. Great instruction video here:
I was immediately intrigued. I've been tying my lunch container into my dish towels every day - which works just fine - but these - well these are just cool.
I spent the afternoon making a few. I have plenty of fabric to play around with this and find the perfect size.

The concept is pretty simple. The measurement is 3:1 so you can make it any size you like.  

Fold the ends to triangles

 Then fold the square in the middle in half on the diagonal to achieve the above. 
Pin the edges where they meet and sew. 
I also surged the raw edges - which I don't really like. I don't have a very good relationship with my surger and so I'm not happy with the result. I need to find a better solution for this. But for now - its fine. 
Two containers fit into this bag. Plus room for tangerines.  

Hot diggity!

I was so excited I made a few more:  

When I finished the largest one - the blue one - I thought it was too big - unwieldy. Nope. It is perfect for shlepping all things I want downstairs when they are upstairs and vice versa. Can't wait to take it with me to collect my farm share on Tuesday.
I also spent some time fixing one of my most favorite tote bags I've ever made. I made this before I moved into this house, so it has to be at least 8 years old.

The bag has stood the test of time -  but the straps have not: 
Last weekend I went to our quickly dwindling Fabric Row (very sad actually) and purchased some nylon strapping.

Good as new!

Today we (me and the boys) spent the day watching the snow.

It was amazing how it drifted. In some places there was absolutely nothing and in others, 3 foot banks.
I had some business to take care of today too - letters of recommendation and such, but while those were being written I was felting my new slippers! Yippee!

A few years ago now, I knitted and felted the purple slippers (on the left).
 They were wonderfully warm. But sadly the soles wore out.

I decided to knit up the left over bit of yarn I had from the project to felt into pieces I could sew to the bottom. Fine.

However, if you are unfamiliar with felting here is a brief how-to: knit the desired project with 100% wool -  extra large. Wash it over and over in hot water until it shrinks to the desired size. It's a good thing its warm in California or this sort of project would be a very costly extravagance and these slippers would be worth their weight in gold. In Philadelphia - well - think of all the money I will save on heating because my toes will be warm (go with me on this one). But even so, felting one little swatch really was too much of a waste of resources and I decided to knit a new pair.

Yes they are horrifically ugly - but since I am on a strict yarn diet I had to use what I had and that was it. And who cares really - I will not wear these in public. These are strictly wear-in-the-studio-to-keep-feet-warm slippers.

After second washing:

After third washing - almost there:

After fifth washing: 

The Jr. Inspector has approved. Can't wait 'till they are dry and I can put them on!

The Jr. Inspector allowed me to take his portrait: 
Then he moved to the pile of coats waiting to be put away. Much cozier I suppose. 

And we are still watching the snow come down.