Lucky socks part II

Germany socks
more Germany socks

I already posted about a pair of socks knit in the German flag colors. This pair of socks was actually knit before that and they’re part II of the great sock experiment – these were knit on toe-up on two circular needles. My favorite sock construction technique, and knitting with two circular needles is way faster than knitting with dps or using magic loop. The pattern is from Wendy Johnson’s book ‘Socks from the Toe-Up.’ The book is very good overview on toe-up sock construction and it has really nice patterns. I did modify the pattern slightly – I used Judy’s Magical Cast-On instead of the short-row toe as the pattern recommends – if I’d used that method then the stripes would have worked properly.

again, lucky socks
note the matching chair

The socks fit perfectly, and they’re for watching soccer. Lucky socks, here I come!

Hello Betty

Spare blackberries + Strawberry Brown Betty recipe =  Blackberry Brown Bettys

Brown Betties
once again I need to work on my lighting

Next time, I’d use less of the crumb mixture, since the crumbs didn’t stick that well to the blackberries. But I can imagine the crumbs work better with cut fruit. The fruit combinations are endless. I’d also use less butter to butter the toast pieces. Otherwise the brown betties are sooooooo good. I could barely wait for them to cool off before eating them. Yes them. Ahem. I ate two right out of the oven. The combination of crispy crust, moist but not soggy filling, and the bursting of warm blackberries in your mouth – indescribable. This would also be a perfect dessert when visitors suddenly stop by and you’re short on supplies. All you need is some toast, some breadcrumbs, sugar and butter (yes, Panko would be better but I didn’t have any on hand and used regular breadcrumbs and that worked fine, too), some fruit, a muffin pan, and voila! A dessert that’s whipped up quickly and will make all your guests happy.

Aglio e olio with cilantro

My friend Pietro had made a big bowl of pasta aglio e olio for us sometime ago, and we inhaled every bite. Of course we then reeked of garlic, but the pasta was so good that we didn’t care. He used parsley – curly leaf parsley – in his aglio e olio version, which he crushed together with the garlic. He did that by putting some salt on top of the parsley and the garlic, and then smushed them down, using the salt to pretty much grind down the garlic and salt.

Well, the other day our fridge was pretty empty. Not much was left except for some snow peas. No parsley either. So I first thought of making Pasta cacio e pepe (pasta with pecorino and black pepper). I only had some grana padano, but I thought that would be a decent substitute. Then I remembered I had some cilantro. I hadn’t used cilantro in my pasta before (shocking, I know), but I figured I’d give it a try. And I’d use the idea of using the cheese as in the cacio e pepe recipe to let the cheese and pasta water to come together and give the dish some creaminess. Without using cream or any other heavy thing to create creaminess.

Can I just tell you that cilantro is an awesome substitute? It’s stronger than the parsley, but the flavor works just as well in this dish. I wonder if it’s a good substitute in other dishes as well? And letting the pasta water and cheese come together is just genius. The dish was light and tasteful, without any of the heaviness that would have come from the use of cream. Heaven.

a modified classic

Orange vanilla bean dressing

Sixoneseven put up a blog post a few weeks ago about this orange vanilla bean dressing. It sounded delicious and I was waiting on just the right occasion to try out the dressing. The other day we had tons of oranges left – you can make only so much fresh pressed orange juice – so I decided to make a napa cabbage, cucumber and orange salad with walnuts, and this dressing. The idea of using vanilla beans in a dressing sounded very interesting.

vanilla dressing

The salad was great, but the dressing didn’t quite meet my expectations. I’d use less oil next time, and a bit more honey, depending on how sour the oranges are. I also used a bit of my pickled spring onions, and that helped give the dressing a bit more body. I think the idea of the dressing is great, but it still needs more work. But with the basic idea is interesting.

XL Ishbel

Another past project post:

extra large Ishbel
XL Ishbel

One of our friends turned 60 last year, and she said that she didn’t want any presents, only ‘a rose’. Well, I decided to interpret that a little more creatively and decided to knit her a shawl and then fold and roll it into a rose shape. After much discussion, we settled on Ysolda’s Ishbel pattern, to be knit in Wollmeise Twin in the colorway roter Himbeermund. The color works especially well with Indian clothes, where stronger colors are often paired up (I remember seeing a woman in a neon green and neon pink sari in India – somehow it worked there, although I wouldn’t be caught cold in such a color combination outside of India).

I made the stockingette section larger, and a smaller lace section. That meant that I did 41 repeats of the stockingette section, rather than 25 for the small or 33 for the large version of the pattern. Since the Wollmeise Twin skeins have less yardage than the 100% skeins, I only had enough yarn for a small lace section. I also had to use a teeny tiny bit of another skein to bind off the last few stitches. More information is on my project page (Ravelry link).

It truly is an extra large Ishbel, and she loves it. I hope she wears it frequently – nothing is worse than knitting something for someone and they don’t appreciate it, or it sits in their closet, forgotten.

Mammophant

It was supposed to be an elephant, but while trying to shape the back, it turned more into a mammoth. Ergo the name mammophant:

another wood animal
Mammophant

Instead of using an acrylic sealant I decided on a beeswax finish. It’s so smooth to the touch without the artificial feeling you get from acrylic sealants, and unlike finishing with linseed oil, it really maintained its color. Plus it smells good.

If at first you don’t succeed…

I’ve been on a granola kick lately – eating it with granola, fresh fruit, yoghurt , so I wanted to make my own granola. I smushed these two recipes together – the granola part from a granola crisp recipe and this homemade granola recipe from Joy of Baking. I used spelt flakes instead of oats, crushed linseed, melted butter, a mix of honey and maple syrup and a little bit of flour. Well, the result looked delicious, but the granola was done earlier expected. My batch was very brown, almost charred.

granola
still looking good - that would change within a few minutes

I figured I’d make another batch of lighter granola and mix the two of them. So – attempt two, with a share of regular oats rather than the spelt flakes since I had only a little left, and brown sugar instead of honey or maple syrup. It tasted just as delicious as batch one. And it got brown even faster than batch one. Sigh. Now I have a lot of overly baked granola with a smoky flavor – ok it’s tastes a bit burned – but the consistency is great. I guess I can add some raisins, cranberries, dried apples or nuts to break up the somewhat ‘smoky’ flavor.

overbrowned granola
Yup, that's all granola, including those dark brown and black bits

Once I’ve eaten this big batch of granola I’m going to try again. I guess not everything homemade can be successful the first time you try it. I think baking the granola on baking paper instead of aluminum foil might help – hopefully the parchment paper will keep the temperature more even and keep the granola from getting overbrowned on the bottom. I’ll probably be trying Smitten Kitchen’s granola recipe.