Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fungus Fields

As evidenced by my blackberry post, the Pacific Northwest if full of wild foods just waiting to be harvested, including fungus.  Every time I go hiking, I want to put them all in my mouth, but I know that's a terrible idea, because many are poisonous. Some cause death, others vomiting, etc., while others make you do "funny" things. 

This weekend I went on an adventure to find edible fungi. I know they're edible because:
1. I've seen them in grocery stores.

2. I've harvested them with an experienced "shroomer" before.

3. I have harvested from this particular site before.

Up in the fungus fields of Sultan, you have to be careful of all the imposters.  They're all over the place.  They range from weird...

... to pretty....

... to something else...

But, to my knowledge, none of these are edible.  The only wild mushrooms I can positively ID, and therefore harvest and eat, are morels (spring growers, harvested as late as Memorial Day) and chanterelles.

They're golden. Their gills are interwoven and extend down the stalk. These are the things I know about chanterelles. That and they're SUPER tasty.

Chanterelles grow on the ground near older-growth, and can often be found under ferns and downed logs. If it's growing off of the side of a tree, don't eat it!

Luckily, I found several patches of the good kind and came home with two grocery bags full of chanterelles on Sunday. They're just as good as I remember.

And, at $8.99/lb at the grocery store, I feel like I cheated by spending two hours in a beautiful location and harvesting $60 worth.

Sausage, Basil, and Port Fettuccine

It's so good I have to share it with the world. Everyone should make this. Every day. It's so good.

Have I mentioned it's good?

I'm not sure where we got the recipe, but I remember Mom making it, then it becoming my brother's favorite "date" dinner. It's a great meal to impress- delicious and beautiful in the platter.

Sausage, Basil, and Port Fettuccine
From Ryan's recipe box

1.25 lbs mild or hot italian sausages, casings removed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cup sliced green onion
3 cups thinly sliced red onions
1 1/2 cup Port
3 cups chopped ripe tomatoes
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup chopped fresh basil
12 ounces dried fettuccine, cooked
salt and pepper
fresh basil

In a 12-inch frying pan over medium-high heat, break sausage into 1-inch chunks and stir often until brown, 8-10 minutes.  Lift from pan and set aside.

Discard all but 2 tablespoons fat from pan.  Over medium heat, ad garlic and green and red onions.  Stir often until onions are very limp, 12-15 minutes.  Add port, bring to a boil over high heat, and boil until reduced by half, about 5 mintues.

Add tomatoes, sausage, and vinegar; stir often until bubbling, about 2 minutes.  Stir in chopped basil.  On a platter, spoon sausage mixture over cooked fettuccine.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Garnish with basil sprigs.  Serves 6. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


I found a winter headband at Anthropologie the other day that was cute, but waaaay too expensive to purchase when you know how to knit.  So I'm going to try to make one.

I went on Ravelry to find a pattern for a flower. I've never made one before. There are SO MANY options. It's a little hard to handle that many choices. So I decided I would try two different ones and go from there.

My first attempt was at a free pattern from Lion Brand yarn, a simple knit rose.

Here's what it's supposed to look like:

Cute and small, right?

Well, mine didn't turn out anything like that. Not sure if I didn't use the right needles for my yarn or what, but it turned out.....

Kind of looking like a va-jay-jay.


So, I tried a different pattern. This time, I used a pattern posted by a fellow Raveler.

This gal turned out true to the pattern:

Now that I've got the flowers, I just have to make the headband to attach them to. I'm thinking about using the yarn I harvested from the sweater.

Also thinking about trying to knit this other braided headwrap at Anthropologie. Looks super simple, and I actually have a pattern for a braided scarf that I could go off of. Not that you really need a pattern for something this simple. Or that you could ever wear a braided scarf and a braided headwrap at the same time. Too matchy-matchy.

I'll keep you posted with updates. Pun intended.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


I've had this sweater hanging in my closet for a year. Not that long of a time to the ladies, but way too long for the men. I wore it a couple times after purchasing, but then decided it didn't have enough shape and it just kind of hung off my body. And it shed little gray fibers on EVERYTHING. After wearing it, my desk chair at work would be covered in lint balls.

So I decided to pull it apart and reuse the yarn to make something else.

Easier said than done. Yeesh.

The sweater had a wide ribbing at the boat-neck and a smaller ribbing on the sleeves. I started with these first. It was terribly difficult. I couldn't figure out what they had done to stitch the two pieces together. I knew it had to be something simple, but it eluded me until I made it about 1/4 of the way through the back panel (after the neck, both sleeves, and half of the front).  This meant lots of snipping with the scissors, some time with the seam rippers, and lots of swearing when I'd pull out a three foot piece of yarn that I thought was going to be 50 feet long.

But alas, I finally ripped out the whole thing. Once I got past the middle of the front I had it down pat and my hands were flying at pulling it all out.

Got quite a bit of yarn out of it. I'm considering making some headbands with it. I might have a hard time knitting something for myself with it because I know the amount of shedding that goes on. But it's 60% alpaca, 40% acrylic, so it's really decent yarn. Totally worth reusing.

I know I could have donated the sweater to Goodwill and made someone very happy at their newish Ann Taylor Loft purchase, but it seemed like a disservice to donate something that I knew didn't fit well and shed all over the place. Instead, I'm going to knit it up into some other fantastic thing, and then get people to pay me for it.

Makes me feel kind of like Scrooge McDuck. 

Friday, September 10, 2010

Drops Purse

I finally finished knitting the purse I've been working on since... April? Surely not that long, but close to it. It was a simple pattern that didn't require much attention, but I couldn't work on it when there were so many other fun projects to do (and other activities occupying my time this summer). But, at long last, I finished the main part of the bag.

Pattern: Drops bag, by Garn Studios DROPS Design
Yarn: eBay stuff I bought three years ago that has been sitting around waiting for a project
Needles: Size US 8 29" circulars

I kind of like the dark strip across the middle. I think it adds a little pizazz. 

I still need to sew up the bottom, line it, add a closure, and find some handles. The pattern suggests knitting some straps, but I just don't see knit straps holding up quite the way I want them to. I need to hit the craft store to check out my options, but I'm seriously considering buying a purse at Goodwill and surgically removing the strap.

Someday, hopefully soon, this guy will hold all my stuff. Yay!

Thursday, September 9, 2010


I've been working on a bigger project that is going to take quite a bit of time, so I decided that I would take mini breaks after each pattern repeat to work on a small project that could be completed quickly. So far I've done three, with varying degrees of "quickness."

 First up was Leaves.

Pattern: Leaves, by Evelyn A. Clark, in Trendy Knit Dishcloths
Yarn: Lily Sugar & Cream, Key Lime Pie
Needles: Size 8 straight
Time to complete: 3.5 hours

I really like the way this one turned out. Took me two movies, then I was back on to the "big project." I certainly think they look like leaves.

Then I started on Sun.

Pattern: Sun, by Evelyn A. Clark, in Trendy Knit Dishcloths
Yarn: Red Heart Eco-Cotton, Candy
Needles: Size 8, 16" circular
Time: 7 hours

This baby took me much longer than Leaves. Lots of turning and slipping stitches. It's big and I like it, but it was a bit obnoxious to knit.

Then, just last night, I started and finished Ripples.

Pattern: Ripples, by Evelyn A. Clark, in Trendy Knit Dishcloths
Yarn: Lily Sugar & Cream, Yellow
Needles: Size 8 16" circulars
Time: 2 hours

It only took one movie! Awesome! I didn't even hate the pattern. It was quite simple and enjoyable, actually. I think I like Leaves a bit better, but for the time this was the best thing possible.

All in all, a good start to stocking up some "inventory," just in case we ever start to market our knitting goods. Or, if that doesn't happen, good stocking stuffers at Christmas, or filler in gift baskets.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

"It's-Not-Bad-Yet" Creations

I've been knitting. Really, I have. I have even taken pictures of completed projects so I can blog about them.

I just forgot my camera at home.


So instead I'm going to show you my genius-born-out-of-necessity creations (sorry 'bout the iPhone photo quality):

Mint chip ice cream in a Girl Scout Thin Mint Sammie!

You may wonder how in the heck I had Thin Mints around in September, many many long months after February.

Have I ever mentioned I need to clean out my freezer?

Also, I had more stone fruits from my box that were going bad. Not because they were old, but because I left them to ripen and they went from fruits of stone to mush in about 48 seconds. So I used two nectarines and made AB's recipe for Peach Nectarine Upside Down Cake.

Still delicious with the nectarines.

After this experience I can tell you three things:

1. Even if you use nectarines, you should still remove the skins. They make it hard to cut the fruit for a smaller bite.

2. They're just as delicious as Right Side Up Cake.

3. You feel like you're getting away with something when you eat one for breakfast.

Knitting posts coming soon. I promise.