Archive for the ‘food and garden’ Category

i know—too early, right?

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

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ok, i’m not ready for santa claus with all the trimmings including a couple dozen trees; actually i don’t think i’m ever ready for that, haha. i like plain and simple christmas style—oranges stuck with cloves, bunches of rosemary here and there lots of yarn and projects lying about, some baking—more frontier style than victorian. but during the museum trip at the end of our albany visit, we ran into him so i snapped a photo. and in the lobby, i bought six raffle tickets for five dollars and stuck them all in the container to win “death by chocolate”. hey, you never know . . .

the next day we were on our way home, where a very busy week and some treats awaited us. i managed to finish my herringweave cardigan before we left—in fact just the afternoon before i left. i did have time to soak and wash it, along with a few other garments and left all of those spread out to dry while we were in albany. i was, therefore, excited to get home and add the finishing touches.

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i love the way the sweater turned out but it couldn’t be photographed without buttons, so that was one of the the first tasks on my to-do list.

i had a half dozen options, but right off the bat i knew that many of them wouldn’t work; either the color or the size wasn’t right. i liked two the left and middle above so i proceeded to photograph them laid out on the button band for assessment.

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first the darkest black horn buttons; while i often do like a higher contrast button, i wasn’t crazy about that look for this sweater and i finally realized why—they compete too much with the cables, i think.

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next i tried the smaller auburn bone buttons (middle photo above); while these were better in tone, they just felt a little blah to me, a little too plain. i didn’t have anything else in my button box that was better so i ran over to the shop to root through the button inventory—we have a few odd lots and sometimes there’s a treasure among them. i found a packet of caramel brown horn buttons (far right photo above) with a dulce de leche swirl—six in all—just the number i needed. fingers crossed, i ran back to the house to try them (because bringing the sweater with me would have made WAY too much sense).

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success—i love these. they pick up on the golden tones in the yarn but also speak to the streaks of gray and the dollop of creamy accent on each one gives them some dimension without distracting from the cables.

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and with that, my ensemble garments were complete as well as a couple of extra pieces to release early next year. five of the sweaters in this stack are ones that i knit, all of them completed since mid-august. the other two pieces, a skirt and a pullover, were knit by barb and cherie—who saved my skin by taking them on.

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one of the other nice things about coming home from nearly a week away is opening the mail we missed; this time it was samples from vanessa for our november club projects—a pair of small sized mittens and the cowl that i added in at the last minute.

these stranded color work designs and the custom blackish-green colorway were inspired by the fall greens we used in our soup recipe for this installment—kale and broccoli raabe. the background shade of stone soup DK in granite, is like a wonderful artisan bread to dunk into the broth.

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i got cooking as soon as i opened the package and put those knits into a bath to soak.

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since the color work makes for a denser fabric, i rigged up my sleeve board to act as a support for better air circulation as it dried. it worked very handily, allowing the cowl to hang quite close to the hot air vent, where it dried nicely without creases. we will be photographing these tomorrow.

and all that kale in the photo above?

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i finally got around to making kale chips with it. they were super easy to do (especially using the greens stripper we sent along as a club goodie) and we liked them ok, but thought they could be a lot more flavorful. next time i will try a stronger tasting oil (perhaps sesame oil?) and seasoning (with soy sauce or other asian condiments?).

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another reason i was happy to be home? the food options are just better, haha. we had a huge week ahead of us and i wanted to cook up a few things so we wouldn’t have to cook at night while hannah was in town.

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although it’s been pretty cold with many night below freezing, the garden is still putting out for us. the potatoes have been harvested for some time, but when i went out to pick greens, i also found a bunch of leeks i forgot that we’d planted and some onions that hadn’t been pulled. plenty of greens still available, too. i made a big pot of potato and corn chowder, YUM. i even roasted a head of garlic to add in.

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that afternoon hannah arrived and we all dove into a two-day planning meeting for 2017. we also had our ensemble photo shoot scheduled for the weekend. in addition, she trained us on some social media tools so that we can use them better (and so i can use them at all, hehe).

hannah left on sunday and since then, i’ve been working on the next few projects on my list.

while i’m not relishing all the crazy pre-holiday bustle at this very moment, i’m still itching to get started on some fun, no pressure seasonal knitting—it’s time for our red scarf run-up to new year’s. we are going to make another scholarship, you guys!

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our special lot of red festivus 3.0 yarn is on its way to us and while i wait, i’ve been swatching. i love this stitch pattern—it’s quick, fun to work and completely in the spirit of our annual knitalong. this swatch is unwashed but i knit one in several shades of kent DK (that’s our base this year)

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and after a nice long soak in hot soapy water (which i won’t do with the dyed yarn; that needs cooler water), they smoothed and straightened out a good deal.

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but not so much as to lose their depth or stitch definition—i love them.

the movement in this pattern is particularly festive and if our stars are crossed just right, will show off the yarn to its best advantage. because it has a special feature—that i won’t reveal just yet—which will accent those traveling stitches very nicely.

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there’s just one tiny catch; because the YOs and decreases point in only one direction, this stitch pattern has a wee tendency to bias a bit to the left—not terrible though and i think it can be corrected by using blocking wires or by steaming well. at first i worried that it was a deal breaker for knitting a flat scarf (it’s a complete non-issue for the cowl version, since that’s circular anyway), but after working a good sized swatch and washing it, i think it will be ok. i tried reworking the pattern to stabilize it more, but could not come up with anything that helped. then i tried to find something else i like just as well and nothing really appealed to me.

the pattern is in tech editing now and i should have a nearly final version by wednesday (save for final yardages and measurements). as in previous years, we plan to release the pattern in this not-quite-final form so that we can all knit along together. because i love that aspect of this project; it’s my favorite thing about it! besides you know, the scholarship total at the end.

as in previous years, we will have patterns and yarn kits for sale to raise money for a knitspot scholarship to benefit our sponsored student through foster care for success. i’m writing up a separate post with all the information, current details, and background of this project so that it’s ready to go as soon as we have everything in place.

erica has been creating listings for patterns and yarn kits, including the drop down menu options we used last year so that knitters can add a donation to their purchase.

i’ll be back with a post devoted entirely to this topic as soon as it’s all put together; i can’t WAIT to share it all with you! but until then, maybe you’d enjoy some roasted garlic?

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gobble gobble

Thursday, November 24th, 2016

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well, it couldn’t last forever—after an absolutely balmy friday, with highs in the 70s, saturday dawned snowy and frosty with temperatures in the 20s and 30s. bummer.

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but a good day to stay inside and do some preliminary prep for thanksgiving.

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my assignment was to bring greens, a butternut squash side dish, and to help my mom get dinner on the table.

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i also needed to bake for a neighborhood fundraiser, so i offered these gluten free oatmeal chocolate chips—and doubled the batch because this is david’s favorite cookie and i wanted to keep a few at home for him.

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and i customized just a few for myself—i don’t like chocolate in my oatmeal cookies, but i love dried fruit.

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while it was a challenge to keep the greens from freezing on their stalks over the weekend, with creative covers we managed to pull it off and on monday afternoon i picked a HUGE basket of kale, collards, and chard to bring on our trip. some for us and some for our cousins.

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then early on tuesday morning, we were off, heading to albany from ohio, about an eight hour trip, depending on the weather. the skies were dramatically ominous but thankfully we did not run into “the big storm”—either it hit before we got to upstate NY or just after.

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my travel knitting was a pleasantly mindless new project that i threw on the needles very late the night before (doesn’t everyone design a new sweater just as they are walking out the door??). if one thing has become clear over the last week, it’s that i am going to need some big, warm sweaters this year—i just cannot get warm, no matter what  i do. more on this as it develops.

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yesterday we kind of relaxed, doing some last minute grocery errands, getting some exercise, and stopping in to drop off greens with my mom’s cousin and have a little visit.

then early to bed (for us) because i had to get up early

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to participate in the 100th troy turkey trot to benefit the capital area food bank. what a crowd! over 7000 runners, most of them in the second race (i ran the 10K race, which was up first).

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it was much more fun and less slippery than the last time i ran it two years ago, when it snowed fourteen inches the night before! i don’t know if you can see it but one guy ran with a full-sized turkey on his head!

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i am always in awe of the volunteers at these cold weather events it’s great enough that people volunteer at races when the weather is nice but when it’s a windy 28 degrees?? that’a special. thank you to all who do this!!

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now here’s something you don’t see at many running events—tailgaters! maybe because it’s thanksgiving, or maybe just because they do things differently in troy, there was a whole section on the outer couple of miles with grills and table set up for a sideline buffet. how awesome is that?

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and then there were these guys, who were just tailgating bloody mary, haha. i told them they were getting blogged and i hope they were supposed to be doing last minute errands, haha.

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i did pretty well, considering i did not train for this one and have not been running as much as i’m used to. but now that all the fall busy-ness is done, i should be able to get back to that (i like cold weather running).

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as soon as we arrived back home we shifted gears and got our dinner underway. my mom ordered a precooked turkey so that just needed to brown in the oven for a few hours, but a bevy of vegetables dishes needed to be pulled together.

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chard was sautéed, stuffing was baked, broccoli cooked.

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during a short break in the cooking we set the table with my mom’s good china, which almost seventy years old and still gorgeous (and every piece intact).

i see mister knitspot is already sitting at the table as it fills up with dishes. time for me to go and enjoy our feast. a very happy thanksgiving to each of you and yours; stay warm, share happiness, and give thanks.

i know i am very grateful that you are in my life.

 

random fall notes

Friday, November 18th, 2016

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it’s been a very random week, but now that my november club installment has been delivered, i’m feeling suddenly calmer and less frenetic. funny how that goes. all of my secret knitting is now out of the bag, so unless you want to stay surprised—SPOILER ALERT—you can see some of my recent knitting projects here, here, and here. i want to knit at least one of them in two naturals . . . maybe two shades of confection sport or stone soup DK.

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turkeys on the run; i saw them when i was out running myself on sunday. i felt like i could relate so much as they zig-zagged across that lawn, haha. thing have been so hectic and busy around here since september 1st that i’m actually looking forward to the long car ride to NYS next week (we’re going to visit my family for TG).

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so i’m spending a bit of spare brain space thinking about the things i need to cook and bring for the holiday. bake sale items for a fundraiser here in canton on sunday and some kind of side dish using butternut squash (probably not soup; it’s too filling to have before a big dinner). i’ve got to pick loads of greens for several households—i’m very grateful everyone wants some; it pains me to see them die of frost when we can’t use them all. david has covered them with light plastic sheeting to make sure they live at least until TG.

i love this new cookbook, deep run roots, by vivian howard, my current chef hero; while i’m not living in my home town, i can relate to a lot of things she talks about. i might even have mentioned her book in a previous post because i am enjoying it so much. i keep it by my place at the table, then open it randomly to read a bit after lunch or dinner. i think it has more stories and background about eastern north carolina cooking than it does recipes, but there are tons of those too (divided by ingredient, which i also like because it is easier to compare). and they are mostly pretty simple and very healthy. even the dishes that contain bacon and pork use the meats mostly as a condiment; i like that.

anyway, with thanksgiving coming, it’s been an inspiration.

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last friday night i made some time to cook the vegetable terrine from our september club chapter; this was our first course dish.

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it takes a bit of prep, but it’s easy enough to make two at once which is what i did; we had have so much eggplant and peppers to use from the end of the garden. and even after using a bunch of them here i still have a couple of big bagfuls in the fridge. fortunately they keep very well—amazingly well, in fact (if i said how long, you’d never eat a meal at my house). which always makes us wonder how dang long the ones in the store are sitting around, because they don’t keep more than a few days after purchase.

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layers of eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms and potato held together with eggs and cheese. once it cools a bit it is sliceable . . .

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and makes a perfectly satisfying meal along with this months recipe, which is a hearty main course soup. we ate the last of it for supper this evening, mmmm.

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i’m glad i made that second one—as soon as we get back from the thanksgiving break we’ll be getting to work on photography for the next ensemble; the days will be busy and the house filled with people and they will be hungry.

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speaking of ensemble, i am nearing completion of my herringweave cardigan in kent DK (color driftwood, an incredibly complex gray/brown, like abalone). i can never get over how schmoooshy this fabric feels; it would go a lot faster if i didn’t stop to squish it at the end of every row, haha.

since i last wrote i finished up the right front piece and seamed the shoulders, then added the button/neck band so i could calculate that for the pattern, which i submitted to the text editor and is almost done now! time to think about buttons . . .

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i started a sleeve right away but it’s been a busy week getting my chapter written and laid out, so my progress was a bit slow. still, i am just about done and will start the second one immediately. if at all possible i’d like to have this sweater completed before i leave for albany on tuesday. thankfully all that will be required is to block the sleeves, stitch them in, and close up the side and underarm seams (fingers crossed; wish me luck!).

if i’m smart, i won’t dilly dally around doing desk work tomorrow, hehe. besides, i could really use some concentrated knitting time mentally speaking.

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but it’s a tough call—our friend amina offered to knit the sample blanket derived from the dock and cabin cardigan design and with the pattern almost ready to send her, that’s calling to me too; i don’t want to hold her up. i know i’ll work on that a little bit at least.

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last night was knit night and for the first time in a while, it was just barb and me. she is also working on a herringweave sweater but she brought her hypoteneuse along to show me. she’s made it wider to be a baby blanket for a friend and she bought the yarn at rhinebeck. she got the idea of striping it from erica betz, who is knitting a hypoteneuse wrap for emily using better breakfast worsted in milk and honey and biscotti.

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speaking of erica, today she and i went to a luncheon where i spoke about our company and the kind of yarns that we make. everyone was so kind and SO interested—they asked a lot of good questions and those who knit promised to come by the shop some time.

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it’s important to people in our community to know about small businesses that buy supplies, services, bring income to our area. this town (and our whole state actually) was in the throes of some serious economic setbacks when we moved here and while things are a little better now, they will only continue to improve if people support productive enterprises that are engaged in healthy business practices.

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anyway . . . people ARE impressed and enthusiastic once they know how we fit in to the food chain here and that we intend to keep it going. we handed out a lot of information and showed off the scarves from my new lace lessons book.

this opportunity also gave me a chance to talk about one of our favorite company projects, our december red scarf fund drive, which is on track to kick off very soon—on cyber monday, november 28th to be exact.

we will once again offer a special red scarf pattern, designed especially for this fundraiser and once again it will be a quasi mystery KAL, with me knitting along with you. AND we will also once again have a new, exclusive, red festivus yarn to offer for more fundraising fun. i’m just priming the pump here, so to speak; i’m hoping to start my sample during my trip. i’ve got a few ideas but need to pull them all together. as usual, you will see it evolve in real time, haha.

those who have been following this event for several years know that our previous scholarship recipient, brandy has graduated and the last i heard was spending a year in in italy for museum studies. our new scholarship recipient is jelissa, who lives in NYC and attends the fashion institute of technology. we are so thrilled that she works in a field so closely related to what we do and look forward to introducing her in person during december.

well, i think that’s all i have for now, but i’ll be back soon as i’ve got a little more spare time this weekend than i did last! enjoy your friday . . .

new

Friday, November 11th, 2016

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well, it certainly has been a week of surprises and new situations. thank goodness i have knitting; it helps me think through so many challenges, has taught me to relax, but keep my eyes open, and to fix things when they go wrong, accepting only my best effort. it’s one thing i do every day that when i walk away, i know i’ve given the work my best. it always leaves me feeling competent and optimistic.

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i’ve knitted furiously over the last few days, finishing that front piece for my cardigan in kent DK that i showed you in my last post—which now has a name: herringweave.

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on election day we tuned in to the race around 11 pm and watched til well past 4 am, which gave me ample time to cast on and make great progress on the largest part of the back piece. i could hardly sleep afterward, so i was up early on wednesday and at it again.

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while i have much too much to do and cannot spend a whole day knitting, i was able to make very good progress at knit night and afterward, so that tonight, i have a shot at finishing up that big back piece. after this, i just have the sleeves and they tend to go fast—especially when the finish line is in sight!

and i have to say that after all that knitting, it feels good to have accomplished something tangible, and to have gotten my thoughts in order so i can get some work done (though i will need more, heh).

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look what barb knit to go with that cardigan—a matching skirt. isn’t it adorable? the idea was to make a suit that is comfy and easy to wear all day. she’s going to knit a cardigan to go with it, in a slightly lighter shade of kent DK.

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this week, a couple of the orchids started putting out new flower shoots. they’ve been making now roots for a while, but these are definitely stalks.

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and at the same time, the “summer squash” plants that are usually well dead for months by this time are continuing to flower and fruit—this is a first for us, but i’m grateful.

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i love this photo of ripening cherry tomatoes surrounded by a frill of dried leaves and stems—you can tell they are just about bursting with juice; how does a nearly dead plant do that?

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nearly every night it gets almost cold enough to frost, but so far, it hasn’t. it was pretty nippy yesterday afternoon so i picked every last possible pepper and eggplant to avoid losing them all (they keep for weeks in the fridge), but when i woke up, i saw that not a plant was touched. hunh. don’t get me wrong; i am happy for the garden to put out as long as it wants; i am hoping that this year will be like last year, when we were still picking greens in january. as it stands, i’m pretty sure we’ll be bringing some fresh produce to my mom’s for thanksgiving.

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now i bet you are dying to know who won the hardcover copy of a hat for mrs. goldman, aren’t you? first, thank you all  SO VERY MUCH for sharing your beautiful, funny, touching stories about learning to knit; we read through every one with excitement and many tears in our eyes. it really made our week super special, thank you.

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and thanks to Random House Children’s Books as well for offering the giveaway copy of this book. which was won by jani M! congratulations jani; i have emailed you to make arrangements for receiving your copy.

ok, it’s late and i need to get some knitting done before i hit the sack; i will be back soon. an TGIF, right?