Thursday, December 22, 2011

Stash Stall

I have completely lost track of my stash.  I need to toss it and start my tally over.  I was doing really well with knitting from the stash, then I bought my first skein in a year and it all went downhill. 

Pattern:  New Ancestral Christmas Stocking, by Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne
Yarn: Paton’s Classic Wool, Red and Natural; Lion Brand Wool-Ease Solids, Green.
Needles: US 4, 16’ and 32’ circulars.

I’m still knitting from the stash when I can, like with the stockings, but now I have half a skein of green left to take the place of the red and cream.  Took a week to finish the first stocking, and almost two weeks for the second one due to the third cold of the season hitting me pretty hard, plus holiday events and such.  I really enjoyed knitting both of them, they were just difficult enough with the color work to keep my mind engaged, then learning how to turn the heel was an adventure.  Maybe someday soon I’ll venture into the world of knitting socks…. But not too soon. They still intimidate me.  Maybe it’s time to take an actual knitting class? 

Two more skeins from the stash out the door and off the list - I finished the monster that has been languishing in my office cubicle since June.  It only took me two lunch hours to finish the big guy, then another two to finish the little guy.  That’s ridiculous.  Why didn’t I get him off the needles six months ago?  As frustrated as I am that it took me so long, maybe it was fate.  Now I know the perfect recipient to get them as a Christmas gift.  Yay for babies!

Pattern: Daphne and Delilah the Momma and Baby Monster, by Rebecca Danger
Yarn: Lion Brand Vanna’s Choice, Dusty Pink and Dusty Green
Needles: US size 6, 16’ circular and DPN.

Speaking of languishing on the needles… All that’s left for that dang purple sweater is eight inches of sleeve (k2p2) and picking up and knitting the ribbing around the neck.  Also something that will only take me a couple hours ( ok, maybe ten or so), but I just can’t work myself up to finishing.  When I create my list for January, it will be at the top. 


Cold Sheep Totals:
Total Yards:  16,161.7
Total Grams: 10,590.6
Number of Skeins: 119.5
Finished Objects from Stash: 12

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Flurry of Finishing

Holiday season is upon us and I've been knitting furiously.  Oddly enough, none of it has been for Christmas presents.

I finished the purple hat I started with Black Friday yarn.  Wooohoo! Finished Object!

I finished a secret project using stash yarn that I can't mention here yet.

I finished all the knitting for the Monster, but still have to stuff and sew it up.  Can't count that one.

And I started a Christmas stocking.  I found this pattern in a book I checked out from the library and pretty much immediately cast on using stash yarn. I just happened to have red and white wool left over from the gnome I knit last year, and some green hidden away to make green gnomes.  Once I got knitting, I got picky and decided the green I had was too dark and heathered to go with the bright red and white, so I had to pick up a fresh skein of green. Oops. I've been having a really terrible time lately not buying yarn - but more on that later.  Stocking is coming along nicely.  I have reached the point where I have to do a new technique, having never made socks before.  These were worked from the top down, and now I am supposed to separate my stitches to knit the heel, then come back to finish the foot. I think conceptually I figured it out during my knitting lunch hour. Hoping I can finish the heel flap tonight, but that might be wishful thinking. 

Update: Finished the heel flap, which was very easy, just took a minute or two of thinking to understand what the pattern was saying.  On to the foot!

I guess I should have put a pause on my Yarn Diet for December, because I'm certainly not abiding by it.  I bought more yarn when I was at a craft store last week, more purple (two shades! fun!) and gold and some basic black. Then when I was buying the green for my stocking, I was entranced by some sparkly stuff that I "needed" for a holiday decoration project.

It's 100% acrylic but with a strand of SPARKLE in it. I attempted a Martha Stewart project Sunday night and I'm not sure how happy I am with the outcome.  When I popped the balloons the yarn stuck to them as they shrunk and my "balls" weren't very ball-shaped.  I'm not very confident that they will hold up and continue to be stiff. Also, how the heck are you supposed to get the dang balloon out of the globe? Maybe I just wrapped the yarn around it too many times.  I remember doing something similar back in either Indian Guides or Campfire, but we soaked the yarn in starch instead of glue.  I think that may have worked better. Oh, well.  Live and learn.  And add some sparkly yarn to the stash.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


I've been really bad lately.  Terrible even. I have "fallen off the sheep." But I think it's a worthwhile fall...

The first trip was in Bozeman - I'm calling it souvenir yarn.

Cascade 128 Superwash - Color 1971
100% Superwash Merino wool

Due to the color, this will definitely end up as a new hat for me or a loved one for Husky games. Something made with good yarn like this should be loved.

Berroco Touché, Color Cocoa
50% cotton, 50% Modal

No plans for this guy.  Maybe mittens for Peanut? Got to get on that one soon!

My next "oops" was caused by a coupon and a sale, at the same time.  I have been thinking about knitting some hats and koozies to sell at tailgates for a year or two.  I haven't gotten around to it because I couldn't decide on pricing. Also, I've been distracted by other projects.  But after a guy named Bjorn sold us a sweet Husky sweater, I caught the bug again and decided to make it happen. I'm sure I could sell a handful to just the tailgates I frequent.  So when there was a sale and a coupon for 30% off your entire purchase, I fell off the sheep again.

Lion Brand, Vanna's Choice - Linen, Purple, Black, Mustard
100% Acrylic.

Paton's Classic Wool - Wisteria
100% Wool.

So I've added quite a bit of yarn to my stash, but to give me a little credit I've already started a hat to sell! Started during a Husky basketball game.  Shouldn't take too much longer to knit.

And, to give myself even MORE credit, I have lots of patterns IDed/designed to use the yarn. I might have to decree March Madness Koozie Madness and just knit koozies while watching the games.

Know anyone who wants some Husky gear? I'll knit on consignment....

Monday, November 21, 2011

Kitchen Time

I spent a lot of time over the weekend in the kitchen.  Granted half of that time was spent cleaning up after myself, but hey... that counts too, right?

Friday night was ravioli in tomato with oven roasted beets and homemade green been casserole (a practice for non-canned casserole for Thanksgiving) and pumpkin pudding (see the recipe on smittenkitchen - it was delicious) for dessert.

Saturday was chili and cornbread for the folks coming over to watch the Husky game.

Sunday was a last-minute-what-do-we-have-on-hand type meal.  I pulled a pork roast out of the freezer in the morning and created a meal around it.  Came up with butternut squash, chanterelle and baby pea risotto and kale chips as sides, and whooo-boy it was a fantastic meal.

Highly recommend.

Oven Roasted Pork Loin
I rubbed our 3lb loin with a full coating of Martha Stewart's All Purpose Meat Rub, then tossed it in the oven until the thermometer said 155 (Betty Crocker says 20 mins/lb, but I just used a thermometer), then let it rest for 10 minutes. It was absolutely moist and flavorful.  No knife needed.

All Purpose Spice Rub
From Martha Stewart

1/3 cup coarse salt
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup paprika
2 Tbsp black pepper
2 Tbsp oregano
2 Tbsp thyme
1 Tbsp cayenne pepper

Mix all ingredients and store in an airtight container.

Note: I gave this out for Christmas last year.  Not sure if anyone used it(?) but I think it's tasty.

Butternut Squash, Chanterelle and Baby Pea Risotto
Strongly butchered from the Seattle Times

3 cups butternut squash, diced
salt and pepper
2 tsp thyme
1 onion, diced
2 Tbsp butter
1 cup arborio rice
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup chanterelles, chopped, frozen*
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 cup grated Parmesan

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray baking sheet with Pam.  Toss squash with a spritz of Pam, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste.  Roast for 20 minutes, or until soft, stirring after 10 minutes. Set aside.

Pour stock into pot and heat to simmer.  

Heat skillet over medium heat; melt butter.  Add onion and saute until soft, about 3-5 minutes.  Add rice.  Cook, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes.  Add 1 cup stock.  Cook until all liquid is absorbed. Add chanterelles.  Continue adding stock, 1/2-1 cup at a time, cooking until liquid is absorbed.  After addign 3 1/2 cups stock, taste the rice.  It should still have some chew but be tender.  If necessary, add the remaining stock. Add peas and cooked squash.  Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan cheese.

Kale Chips

1 bunch kale
Seasoning Salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Rinse kale.  Remove leaves from stems.  Discard stems.  Tear or chop into bite sized pieces.  Dry thoroughly in salad spinner or with paper towels. Spray baking sheet with Pam and layer kale.  Spray tops with Pam and sprinkle with seasoning salt (I used Johnny's - MSG is delicious). Bake 10-15 minutes, or until edges are crispy but not burnt.  Let cool, if you can resist.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Black Out Cookies

I won a Halloween give-away and received the package in the mail last week. McCormicks, the spice company, sent me a box filled with: small silpat, small rubber scraper, oven mitt, vanilla extract, box of food coloring (classic colors), black food coloring, cupcake liners, candy corn, dots, and a tootsie roll. It was a run little box - I really needed a new oven mitt!

Since it was Halloween, I decided I had to find something to make with the black food coloring.  After a lot of thought, I ended up with the "old family recipe" of Cream Wafers!  I would dye the dough black, use a pumpkin cookie cutter, and fill them with purple food coloring. It was perfect - both Halloween colors and the Husky game on Saturday was the "blackout", where the players wear black uniforms. 

I didn't have the recipe with me while I was at work, and I intended to hit the grocery store on the way home, so I tried to Google it.  My on my were there a ton of hits.  Apparently it was in the 1955 version of the Betty Crocker Cookbook! So much for being a family recipe... But I did double check the Oelkers Family Cookbook, published in 1987, to see if it was there.  Sure enough, same recipe. The old recipes that are still in use are generally pretty sure bets.  My aunt made these to hand out during the reception at my cousin's wedding and they were gone in a flash.  The newer versions have typically taken the raw egg yolk out of the frosting, which I did as well, so it was okay for my prego friends to eat.

Cream Wafers
Apparently from Betty Crocker, but also All Recipes, Taste of Home, and the Oelkers Family Cookbook.

1 cup butter, room temperature
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 cups all purpose flour
sugar for dipping
1/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
food coloring (optional)

1.  Cream together butter and flour.  Be sure butter is soft - hard butter will make your cookies rise like biscuits.  Add cream.  Refridgerate 1 hour. 
2.  Preheat oven to 375F.
3.  Roll out 1/3 of dough until 1/8 inch thick.  Cut out shapes with cookie cutter.  Coat both sides with sugar (I like to put shapes into a bowl of sugar and shake them around).  Place on ungreased cookie sheet; pierce 4 times with tines of fork. Bake 7-9 minutes or until slightly puffed.  Transfer to cooling rack.
4.  Make filling: Mix butter and powdered sugar, add egg yolk and vanilla extract.  Add food coloring, if desired. 
5.  Transfer filling to plastic ziptop bag.  Cut off end and squeeze small blob onto half of the cookies.  Top with another cookie.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Don't Be Scared

Yesterday I made cupcakes.

Thrilling, I know. But these weren't just any cupcakes. These were filled cupcakes, and an experiment, to boot.  I've never made filled cupcakes before, so I had to do a little research on the interwebs. I had though about filling them prior to cooking, but apparently that's not what typically happens. I found several different ways to fill them, including sticking the tip of a piping bag into a baked cupcake and forcing the stuffing in. I didn't think that sounded very appealing, so I went a different route.

I had made boxed yellow cake, which I know isn't very sophisticated, but there is just something about it I love. I knew I wanted to make chocolate frosting from a recipe my mom used to use, so I needed a filling that would work with the two. I decided on a jar of homemade blackberry jam from last year that had been slightly over-cooked and turned out really thick - thicker than honey, even. Instead of just using it as it, I mixed it in a pot with a couple tablespoons of water and heated it to boiling. I may have added too much water, but it worked pretty dang good.

To fill my cupcakes, I used a paring knife to cut out a cone shape from the center of the cupcake. To make space of the filling, cup off the tip of the cone. My jam was still warm when I put it in the cupcakes, so I probably could have skipped this step.  Fill the hole with filling, and plop on the cut out piece.  Frost as usual.

I tried to pipe my frosting because I didn't want cupcake crumbs to mess up the smooth top.  Turns out I should have let it cool a bit longer, or used less water, because there was no evidence of the star tip I used once the frosting oozed together into a solid fudgy mass.  Not that I'm complaining. It's still a delicious solid fudgy mass.

But it turns out that when you bite into my cupcakes, not knowing they are filled, and it being halloween and all, it looks like the cupcake is bleeding.

Now that I've filled cupcakes once I can't stop imagining the options.  Lemon curd filled rainbow chip cakes with strawberry frosting? YUM.

Fast Fudge Frosting
From Mom's Recipe Box

1 lb powdered sugar (~4 ¾ cups)
½ cup cocoa
¼ tsp salt
1/3 cup boiling water
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 tsp vanilla

Combine sugar, cocoa and salt.  Add water and butter, blend.  Add vanilla.

Will frost tops and sides of two 8- or 9-inch layers. Leftovers, if you have any, will keep in the fridge indefinitely. 

Friday, October 21, 2011


I finally sewed in the ends on my gift shawl.  It has been languishing in the knitting basket under my sweater for months. I'm kind of ashamed of that. But who needed a shawl in July?

It look s a little wonky, but it really is symetrically shaped. I swear.

I thought the stitch pattern was really cool.  After I figured it out.  I think I restarted this three times because someone would start talking to me while I was knitting and I'd lose a stitch.  Glad I frogged it though, because you can totally see a slipped stitch.

Pattern: Madeleine Shawl by Courtney Kelley, in Vintage Modern Knits
Yarn: Moda Dea Bamboo Wool, green
Needles: US Size 10

Unfortunately I don't get to add it to my Cold Sheep totals because it's already in there.  I'm just playing catch up with pictures.

But speaking of frogging projects due to slipped stitches....

Pattern: Zaggity Hat by Jenny Sorenson
Yarn: Filatura Lanarota Wool Heathers, 729
Needles: US size 5

I thought Peanut needed a hat that matches his little man sweater.  You can't see the design very well due to the low light, but there is a zig zag with knits, purls, and slipped stitches.  I kept reading the pattern wrong and had to frog it after row 12 the first attempt. Apparently I need to pay more attention to reading!


Cold Sheep

Total Yards: 15,581.1
Total Grams: 9,870.6
Number of Skeins: 115.3
Finished Objects: 10

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Mushroom Bliss

Another successful mushroom hunt!  My parents were in town a couple weeks ago and we took part in two of my favorite fall pastimes: football and chanterelle picking! The Huskies dominated Cal 31-23 on Saturday, then on Sunday we headed to the fungus fields.  We hit the "secret spot" early in the morning so they could make it back home at a decent hour.  After searching fruitlessly in one spot for 20 minutes, I decided someone else must have been there first and we moved on.  Then we hit pay dirt.  After finding their first "spore hole," both parents caught the bug and tromped around excitedly until our bags were full.

I made it home with about 8 lbs of chanterelles! I think Mom and Dad had about 6 lbs on top of that. 

I knew we wouldn't be able to use that many before they got all mushy, so about 5 of my 8 lbs were frozen.  I wanted to try drying them, but my coworker had mentioned that he had heard they don't reconstitute very well.  Dad tried it though, so we'll have to wait for a report from him. 

To freeze chanterelles, clean them by running under a steady stream of water until all loose dirt is off.  Set on paper towels to dry for 5 minutes.  Roughly chop while heating a saute pan over medium heat.  Cook mushrooms over medium heat until they release a lot of water, and it evaporates.  Add a small amount of butter and salt and cook for a few more minutes.  Freeze in tupperware in individual portions so they are easy to grab at a moments notice.

I have been slowly adding the rest of my horde to meals.  The best one yet was a full on cooking even we had two weeks ago.

Oven Roasted Chicken (from this post), bacon mashed potatoes, Parmesan chard, and pear and chanterelle stuffing. It. Was. GLORIOUS.

We really have that whole roast a chicken in less than an hour thing down pat.  We went from this:

(Note the baguette and goat cheese brie appetizer.  A must when you don't eat until 8:30pm.)
To this:

With barely even a thought.  Yeah, we're good.

But the star of this meal was really the stuffing. We poached the recipe from the Times, but it made such a big batch, and used so much butter, that we had to halve it.  Ten tablespoons butter?  Yikes.

Doesn't mean we didn't use any butter though...

I'm pretty sure that's the second butter addition to those onions...

We used a basic fresh bread loaf, which was fresh and way too soft, so it got ripped up and toasted in the oven for about 20 minutes on 250F.

And can I just say how hard it is to gauge how much half a pound of chopped mushrooms is? I'm pretty good at estimating a lot of kitchen goods, but mushrooms are apparently not one of those things. 

All I can say is that I hope I get the chance to go on a mushroom hunt again in November, because I don't want to pay $20/lb for chanterelles and this might just have to be the new Thanksgiving stuffing.

Chanterelle and Pear Bread Stuffing
Modified slightly from The New York Times

1 loaf french bread, cut or ripped into piece
1/2 lb chanterelle mushrooms
1/4 lb pancetta, diced
5 tablespoons butter
1/2 onion, chopped
1 minced shallot
Salt and pepper
2 pears, diced
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 cup chicken broth

1. Allow chopped bread to sit out overnight, covered with paper towels, or lightly toast in oven.

2.  Clean mushrooms and chop.  Set aside.  Place pancetta in large skillet over medium heat.  Cook slowly until fat is rendered, about 7 minutes.  Remove to a large plate.

3.  Ad 1 tablespoon butter to fat in pan and turn heat to medium high.  Add onion and shallots, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until just soft.  Remove to plate holding pancetta.

4.  Add 1 1/2 tablespoon butter to pan.  Add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and quickly sate until starting to brown.  Remove and add to plate.

5.  Add remaining butter to pan.  Add pears and sugar and season with salt and pepper.  Sate pears over medium high heat until they begin to brown slightly.

6.  In a large bowl, add sauteed ingredients to bread.  Toss lightly to combine.  Add herbs and toss again.  Slowly pour broth over mixture and toss.  Taste and adjust for salt and pepper.

7.  Bake in 375 oven for 20-30 minutes, until a golden crust forms on bottom of pan. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Cute Overload

Baby stuff is so awesome to knit. It's quick to knit and good practice for basic principles, and teeny tiny things are just so adorable!

I started this baby cardigan on Thursday, broke my needles on Friday* and had to switch projects until I could buy new ones, and finished knitting on Sunday. The quickest sweater ever!

The pattern was for 0-3 months or 6-9 months.  I used larger needles than called for, and smaller yarn, so I'll just say it's Peanut-sized when it will fit Peanut. I have no concept of baby clothes sizes, but I'm guessing it's smaller than 6-9 months...

Project: Baby Sophistocate by Linden Down
Yarn: Filatura Lanarota Wool Heathers, color 732 (Purplish)
Needles: US 9, 29 inch circulars

*I have bought two full sets of needles from eBay - one set of 9 inch DPNs, and one set of 29 inch circs.  I LOVE my DPNs and have really appreciated having needles of every size on hand at random times.  BUT! My circulars are crap. The tubing is hollow and is prone to kinking, breaking, and separating from the needle.  This was only the second project on my size 9s.  They broke during the last project and I was able to tape them back together.  After they broke this time I was fed up and bought good quality replacement.  I'll use the others a time or two, but at the first sign of breaking, I'm going to head to the store before I lose my work.

Cold Sheep Totals
Total Yards: 15,664.3
Total Grams: 9,910.6
Total Skeins: 116.1
Finished Objects: 9

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Just Like Daddy's Hat

Oops, I did it again.

Started this wee tiny baby hat after returning from the shower on Sunday.  Finished it Monday night after our dinner guests left.  How can I stop myself from knitting these adorable tiny things when they only take an hour or two??

This one is just a bit special - I found this newborn pattern that is basically the same pattern I knit up for my brother's birthday last year.   After stash diving for the right yarn, I came up with this soft lilac color.  Maybe not the manliest color, but baby soft and "purple." It also happens to be the same yarn I used to knit a hat for the baby's mama when I first started knitting years ago.  Funny how things fall in to place when you keep yarn around for five years...

Pattern: Eyelet Mock Cable Rib Hat by Lenore English
Yarn: Bernat Softee Baby Solids, in Lilac
Needles: US 5


Haven't weighed the leftover yarn yet, so no new stats.

Finished objects from stash: 8


Now that the baby shower has come and gone, I can share my most recent creation for my unborn nephew, Peanut, with you.


I knit up the sides and legs while driving out to Snoqualmie Pass and back for work. It was surprisingly simply, but the pattern was surprisingly bad. Had to frog the spines a couple times before I came up with something I liked.  Also, notes like "Embroider faces onto toys before sewing them up completely, as it is easier to tie off the threads from the inside of the knitting and then sew up the toy" belong not only in the introduction, but in the pattern as well. This pattern actually tells you to stuff and close the body, then stuff legs and attach to body, then embroider face.  I'd say that goes against the notes in the introduction, no?

But all complaints aside, isn't he cute?

I got frustrated a few times stitching him up, but goofed off a bit and it made me feel better.

Definitely glad I added the stripes to the belly.  It adds a certain  je ne sais quoi. 

Pattern: Roaring Dinosaur, by Zoe Mallor (published in Knitted Toys)
Yarn: Caron One Pound
Needles: US 3


Cold Sheeping Tally

Total  Yards: 15,893.1
Total Grams: 10,020.6
Number of Skeins: 118.3
Finished Objects from Stash: 7

Note: New totals include a shawl that I finished knitting, but haven't sewn in the ends yet.  As soon as I have a few spare moments I'll get around to blocking and have a photo shoot.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Thoroughly Enchanted

Not much of note has happened around here lately.  A lot of "busy" time spent frantically running around, but not much to show for it. I haven't particularly been cooking or baking, and work has been fairly busy with both scheduled and random field work. I have been knitting sporadically in an attempt to finish a couple projects before the weather turns cold. Sleeves are just so boooooring though.... Maybe it'll be done by November.

I there was one thing I did that was worthy of blogging about. But I really shouldn't post any pictures.  You'll just be jealous.

Oh, well. Prepare to turn green!

The Enchantments.  Four days.  Three nights.  Nineteen miles.  Countless mountain goats.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Millions of Peaches

Gotta eat me a lot of peaches.

A 24 lb box of peaches appeared in my house last week. I don't know if you can conceptualize how many peaches that is. It's A LOT. Enough that I have eaten a peach a day since them, and still had some to make Peach Crisp for the girls last week, two loaves of Peach Bread for eating and freezing, to give away two bags to friends, throw three out due to mold, bring a bowl-full to work, and still have about 12 of them in my fridge.  It's insanity.

Oh the joys of EWa produce.  Only $10 for the box. 

Last night decided I wanted to store 5 in the fridge for eating and get rid of the rest.  They're on their way to being over ripe and need to be eaten or processed YESTERDAY.  The easiest way to save them for later is, of course, to freeze them.  But I already have a bag of frozen peaches, so the next best thing is..... ICE CREAM!!!

I picked the the five ripest in the bin and found a recipe I could butcher to my liking. It had to be super peachy, and it had to technically be a sorbet - no dairy allowed in this "creamy" concoction.  Here's what I came up with:

Peach Sorbet
Butchered by Robyn

5 ripe peaches
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp Frangelico (or other booze - but no kirsh, I HATE kirsh)

Remove pits from peaches and dice, do not remove skin.  Heath peaches and water over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until peaches are cooked.  Stir in sugar.  Use blender, food processor, or immersion blender to puree peaches.  Add lemon juice and booze.  Refrigerate until cool.  Process in ice cream maker following manufacturer's directions.  Try not to eat it all before freezing for 3 hours.

I ate mine over a brownie, fresh out of the oven.  The hot brownie melted the soft peach sorbet and made magic in my mouth.  I plan on repeating the experience tonight with fully hardened ice cream.  The tiny taste I had this morning was very telling - this sorbet has retained its creamy texture and is not grainy at all after a full 8 hours of freezing. Success!