Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Weekend project continued.

So I learned this week that knitting a cable stitch is really not that hard!   Again with the help of a couple of 'how to knit' videos on the web, I followed a simple pattern to figure out the cable stitch.   There are lots of good free patterns around but I liked this one, and the instructions were easy to follow and understand (something that can't be said for all free patterns).  

I did a sample swatch before I started in my final yarn following the exact measurements of the pattern.  Conveniently, the pattern was only 4 stitches wider than I wanted my headband to be so I just left off two of the edge stitches on either side and subbed the cable pattern for the middle section of the headband pattern I posted the other day.  (pattern found here)

Anyways,  thanks to my adorable obliging (smirk) model,   here it is!

And yes, this does fit both me and my 2 year old son...I have a small head, he has a big one.    He likes it and is still wearing it as I type this. 

For this headband I used Patons Classic Wool yarn in a medium weight.  This one is the Mercury color. 

Happy knitting!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Weekend project

So, I've been wanting to try one of these for a while but I never had the will to sit down and figure it out, but this weekend I finally did!

I knit myself a headband! (also I now have bangs)  Its a big deal because it is the first time I've done any knitting that wasn't just a rectangle.  That means I had to learn to do fancy things like increase and decrease stitches. 

I got the basic pattern from T. Matthews Fine Art, it is a free knitting pattern, theirs includes a flower on it, but I decided to forgo the flower.  I made it super simple since it was my first attempt at a headband but I think I might really rev up the challenge next time because I want a cable stitch : )  

This really didn't take me very long to make surprisingly.  I did re-start several times but with the help of several 'how to knit' videos I made it through.  How about a couple more beauty shots eh?

Happy knitting!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Once in a not nearly often enough

Oh my gosh you guys, my hubby baked!

So this is a pumpkin nutella cheesecake.  It is delicious.  It tastes kind of like pumpkin pie but even better because it has nutella. 

Now, I'm not going to post a whole tutorial here, but here's the link to the recipe hubby used.  I will post some pictures of ours though:

 We made our own gram cracker crust rather than buying one.  Next time I'm voting for chocolate gram crackers.

"Check me out with my cheesecake and my sweet band-aid."   No he wasn't actually hurt, but I cut my finger that night and he wanted a band-aid too.

 "Yes I have a fork, no I won't use it."

In addition to the crust modification I plan on adding a layer of plain nutella on top of the first cream cheese layer, just to add some more chocolaty goodness. 

Anyways, happy baking. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

This just happened

Conversation in the car on the way home this evening between the hubby (H) and the little man (LM):

H:  Hey buddy, guess what?

LM:  yeah?

H:  No, you're supposed to say 'what'

LM:  what?

H:  Okay, guess what?

LM:  yeah?

H:  No, you say 'what'.  Guess what?

LM:  Guess what?

H:  No, just 'what'.  Guess what?

LM:  uhh,  a butt!

In other news,  new snow boots have been acquired!  Much needed seeing as how my previous ones developed a hole in the sole of the foot and are no longer waterproof.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Sweet 16th! CranPeary Pie

Hello and happy sweet 16th!  It is a winter wonderland outside here but I am nice and cozy inside and I have pie, so me:1 snow:0

I thought of this pie over the holiday break after hearing about the "cherpumple".  I started thinking of other possible pie combos because as horrible as it seems, I honestly am not a huge fan of cherry, pumpkin or apple pies.  I will eat them as opposed to having no pie, but they are not my favorites.    As a substitute for apple pie, I am really fond of pear pie so I started thinking of things to add to it.  I settled on cranberries (although raspberries were a close second and will be tried at some point in the future).

And thus the CranPeary Pie was born.    Lets begin shall we?

Start with a good pie crust.  Any recipe you prefer will do, but here's mine:

1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 1/2 c. pastry flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 stick butter
1/2 c. vegetable shortening
2 tsp. white vinegar
6-10 Tbsp. ice water

Mix the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.  Cut in the butter and shortening, leaving some small lumps.

Mix the vinegar into 6 Tablespoons of the water and sprinkle over the dry mixture.  Toss with a fork.  Squeeze the dough together, if it is not cohesive add some more water, a little at a time, until it sticks together.  Form the dough into a flattened ball and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for about 30 minutes. 

While the dough is in the fridge, make the filling:

5 pears, thinly sliced  (I used Bartlet, but you could sub any for different flavors)
3/4 - 1 c. frozen or fresh cranberries
1 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp. flour
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground clove

Mix the pears and cranberries with the sugar in a large bowl.  Add the lemon juice and stir.  Mix in the flour (or another thickener) and the spices and let it sit for a little while so the fruit can soak up all the flavors.

Roll out half of the dough for the bottom crust of the pie on a pastry cloth and place it in the pie pan.  Spoon in the fruit mix.

Roll out the other half of the dough and cover the pie.  Turn under the edges and make it frilled if you want to.  Do make sure to cut some slits or small holes in the top crust so steam can escape. 

Brush the top crust with milk or egg white to make it brown nicely.  Place the pie on a baking sheet to catch spills and put it in a pre-heated oven at 450 degrees for 15 minutes.  Lower the temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking the pie for 40-50 minutes or until the fruit starts bubbling.   Leave to cool on the pan for a few minutes then transfer to a wire rack.   Don't cut into the pie too quickly or it will just run all over the place.  Despite waiting my filling was a tiny bit runny (I might try a different thickener next time) but the little man couldn't wait any longer to eat it.

Toddler approved:

Happy baking!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Well hi!

Just popping in to say hi and share some of today's fun.  I finished a couple of hats today.  I've finally been feeling inspired to create again and have been hard at work destroying my fingertips with hours of sewing.

Here are a couple of my newest pieces:

Avocado trilby

Leather and lace fascinator (will be for sale in my shop soon)

That fascinator is modeled by my new mannequin.  She needs a new coat of paint but I have to wait until it stops snowing outside.  I got lucky and got some pictures outside this afternoon before everything turned white.  On a side note, she's kindof creepy when you walk into a dark room and she is sitting on the desk.  (I'm open to name suggestions for her...)

Also on a side note,  my little guy has learned the ways of walking and drinking "coffee" (hot chocolate) at the same time:

Tomorrow I will attempt to tear myself away from hat making long enough to do some baking to share with you all on Monday for the 16th.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy 2012! Lets make some Won Tons!

Hello all!  I hope you all had a fantastic New Year's Eve and are settled into your new routines.  I'm not off from my holiday yet so the new routine has not been instated yet.  Soon,  too soon.

An old tradition was reinstated this New Year's Eve though and that is New Year's won tons!  An excellent tradition if I do say so myself and one my mom and I used to do every year when I was young.  It had been several years since we made them but we decided to bring them back this year.

Now, yes, these are deep fried.  Steel yourself to the idea early and the fact that yes, it will be messy, and you'll be fine.  It is so worth it.  I highly recommend using an electric frying pan that has a built in temperature dial so the heat will stay constant.  This will make your life so much easier when it comes to frying.

We also made sweet and sour sauce for dipping, but lets start with the won tons.  Here's what you'll need:

1 lb. ground pork
about 6 water chestnuts (canned work fine) chopped
1 bunch green onions chopped (use all of the white and about 1/2 of the greens)
about 2 Tbs. soy sauce
2 inches fresh ginger minced
a couple packs of wonton skins (egg roll skins work too but you have to cut them into quarters)

water for sealing
vegetable oil for frying (1 to 1 1/2 inches deep in the pan) Note: do not use olive oil. 100% veggie works great,  crisco works too.

Mix up the pork, chestnuts, onion, soy sauce and ginger in a large bowl.  Place a wonton skin on a plate and put a small spoonful of the filling onto the center of the skin.

Make sure not to over fill the won tons or they will split open when you fry them.

Dip the tip of your finger in water and run it across two sides of the wrapper:

Then fold the wrapper in half and press to seal.

Place your wontons on a plate and cover them with a damp paper towel.  Keep going until you are out of filling. (This recipe makes a TON of wontons, we had two large bowls full when we finished.)

Now comes the messy part.  Put on an apron and heat your oil to 350 degrees.  Fry the won tons in batches of 6 to 8, turning occasionally until they are golden brown.  This should take about 2 minutes.  Remove them from the oil and drain on paper towels.  When your oil is back up to temperature, start on the next batch.

Make sure to keep your uncooked won tons covered with damp paper towels while you are cooking.  It takes some time and they can dry out pretty fast.

Once you have your won tons fried you need some awesome dipping sauce for them. (Actually you don't, they are delicious by themselves, but they are even better with sauce.)

This sweet and sour sauce recipe is from the mother of a friend of my mom's, passed on to her when she was in school.  Mrs. Hoang, the creator of this sauce and my mom's original won ton making teacher, thank you.

Sweet and Sour Sauce:

1/4 c. white vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. ketchup

Mix all ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.    In a small cup, mix 1/4 cup of cold water with 2 Tbsp. corn starch to make a thin paste.  Add about half of the cornstarch mix while stirring the sauce with a whisk.  This will change the color of the sauce and help it thicken.  Continue whisking and boiling until the sauce returns to a translucent red color.

 This is the sauce without any of the corn starch paste added and the cup of the corn starch mix.

 Now we have added half of the corn starch mix.  You can see the color has become lighter and more opaque.

This is what it should look like after a few minutes of boiliong.  It has become translucent and red again.

Based on your own preference of sauce thickness, you can add the rest of the corn starch mix and wait until it boils clear again.

And now you are ready to enjoy!

Happy 2012!  May it be a great year full of fun, family and adventure!  And happy eating :)