Sunday, October 4, 2009

Knitted Tiny Sweaters

Aaaaaaahhhhhhhh!! Are these not the most adorable things ever? I got the idea from wise craft; she was making a bunch of these to make some kind of christmas wreath. I thought they would be so cute as christmas tree ornaments. When I told Ferret what I was doing, his only response was a confused "why?" Bunny was more receptive, she never questioned why a person might be knitting really small sweaters for a christmas tree. I love her. So, obviously, the embroidered A and T stand for alice and tony. I can't wait until after Thanksgiving when I can get a little tree. This year I'm not going back to California for the holidays so it will be the first one I spend here. These are pretty fun to make so I may continue knitting these throughout the conference next week. We will see...
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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fall Domesticity

I've been all over a new blog I stumbled upon recently: wise craft I can't tell you how much I love this blog. I found it when I was looking for quilting ideas and have been spending almost all of my free time reading it. In addition to being well-written and thoughtful, the blog is full of gorgeous pictures and craft ideas. I've been adding links from her posts to my tumblr account so I'll remember later.

Anyway, so I have been feeling inspired to sew and make things again. Part of it is the changing weather I think. Ever since the ORS deadline I've just been settling in and feeling domestic. I started piecing together patches for a summer quilt I am making. I'll take a picture soon, but I'm envisioning a simple blue and white quilt. I've decided to hand quilt it because I think it'll be a fun thing to have in my lap all winter long while I watch movies and such. I always like the tactile experience of working on something with my hands, whether it be knitting or hand-sewing. Speaking of hand-sewing, last night I started making a new set of cloth napkins for myself. I had some pretty green quilting cotton I bought from Joann's ages ago so I sewed one up and did a little embroidery on it.

It was so fun that I made another one this morning while waiting for my upside-down plum cake to bake. (Why was I not at work you ask?? Ek bleh.) The colors are kind of washed out looking, it's actually a brighter green than it looks like. Everyone knows I'm awful at taking pictures and my old camera doesn't help things much. But I love these guys and I can't wait to use them.

I'm planning to make a couple more so I have a set of four. I wish I could say they were all the same size but I'm not terribly consistent about folding under the edges the same amount. Oh well. Still pretty! For the next two, I am thinking of embroidering a snail or butterfly.


I totally forgot I took these pictures until just now. Around May or June, Ferret went off to visit Mouse and I babysat for him. Every day before I left for work I hid the babies under the blanket because Ferret was anxious that Tony would eat them while I was gone. It was rather nice having them around and one day I took a bunch of these pictures. Happy memories...

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Basils and Other Updates

It's been a long time since I had a gardening post but that is not for lack of gardening. I just haven't been good about taking pictures and without a picture I feel disinclined to post. But I am trying not to let that stop me. This summer I planted some basil from seed and there were three plants that survived into the summer. I pulled one of the plants about a month ago and today I harvested the other two. I had a giant pile of basil leaves I tried to take a picture of, but alas! no batteries in my camera. I did try though.

This summer I also planted some thyme and chamomile from seed but the chamomile seedlings were murdered by some kind of larvae that have taken root in my seed starting mix. One thyme seedling made it and is happily proliferating in my Italian Roast coffee can.

And that is that!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Smoked Salmon Linguine with Broccoli

This is a dinner I've been fixing fairly often recently because it is so simple and also hits all the right number of notes for me.


While cooking linguine in a pot of water, casually slice some smoked salmon into bite sized pieces. I buy the small pack of TJ brand salmon, which is 3 ounces. I find that 1 oz is good for a single serving. Cut a head of broccoli into florets and set aside as many as you like. Cut a lemon in half. When the linguine is done, pull out of the water with tongs and drop the broccoli florets into the same water. Drop a pat of butter into the linguine and stir about until melted. Add a generous handful or two of grated or shaved parmiggiano reggiano cheese (accept no substitutions) and squeeze some lemon juice in. When the broccoli is done, add to pasta and toss altogether. Lay the salmon pieces on top and eat quickly before the salmon cooks through.

And perhaps for after dinner, enjoy a mug of green tea with a small slice of kasutera cake.

(Note: once I tried to tart up this dish by adding pesto. There are few instances in which the addition of pesto ruins things, but this is one of them. Keep this dish clean and simple. A twist of pepper and a small pinch of salt may be added if necessary.)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Visiting the Bunnies (Part II)

To continue the saga:

Monday: before i go into monday, i must rave about the upside down plum cake bunny fashioned on sunday. omg. soooo incredible. she used her CSA plums and even with an accidental 2x amount of butter in the caramel it was one of the yummiest things i've ever had. bon bon! for monday breakfast then, i had the remains of this cake with a cup of coffee and it was another happy morning. while bunny was busy painting the kitchen wall a pretty blue (and while my mom was watching her and making exasperated noises about how much of a bother it all was), i was crouched in the garden planting seeds in egg cartons. assuming they all come up, the bunnies will have chives, chamomile, sage and thyme in addition to the many herbs they are currently growing and seldom eating. for lunch, mommy, bunny and i sped to mitsuwa to purchase sushi making ingredients and other edibles. by the time we raced home and marshalled a lunch together, mr bunny was pale with hunger and barely hanging on. i'm happy to report he revived after some sushi (eel avocado, salmon avocado, yellowtail), miso soup and edamame. all was well. omg, i almost forgot to mention: for lunch my mom contributed some raw sliced onions topped with a dash of soy sauce and some bonito flakes. after politely sampling a nibble i scooted what was left to the far side of my plate. i don't care how good it is supposed to be for me, i'm not eating plain raw onions outside of a sandwich or salad.

i'm not entirely sure what else i did this day...i think i wrote an abstract for my paper and read the $64 tomato. good book but it took me a while to get into it. i think the man is insane, he might have asperger's. if i wasn't reading the $64 tomato, i was probably reading wicked. the first half of the book was excellent and then it kind of fell to pieces. i can't say i was too sympathetic to the adult witch and wasn't too torn up when she dissolved (literally! hee hee). i was also disappointed that we lost track of most of the other characters (so important to the first half of the book!) so completely. ah well. that said, the musical seems really good and i'd be happy to see it sometime.

for dinner, mr bunny's parents kindly took us to ashoka, an indian restaurant beloved by the family. mr bunny's brother and his girlfriend were there as well. bunny and i ordered the lamb vindaloo (yum yum yum), saag paneer (not as good as minar p, but still tasty) and the chicken korma (my mom dislikes spicy foods now for some reason). before this food came out however, i was busy stuffing myself with samosas and bits of bread dipped in chutney. i was seated next to mr bunny's mother - she is a woman who takes nice to new levels, i only hope she didn't come away from dinner thinking i have terrible table manners. what can i say, i have a weakness for indian food and it requires that i have five things in my mouth at all times, for balance.

(to be continued)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Visiting the Bunnies (Part I)

My lack of picture-posting is becoming outrageously bad, but for once this isn't my fault. I brought my camera to California with the best of intentions; however, the first time I whipped it out (admittedly, it was about midway through the trip that I even remembered I had a camera), I discovered the images were streaked and blurred. What is one to do? In my case, I ate my eggs and corn tortillas and black beans pretty contentedly. To sum up the trip:

Friday: finished watching season 2.5 of battlestar galactica and started packing at 3am. did not sleep at all and left for airport at 6am. arrived in california around 10am PST and was picked up by the bunnies. was immediately whisked to eat fish tacos (mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm) and then took a marathon nap (5 hours). after waking up and shuffling around a bit, went to eat delicious kimchi tofu casserole at korean place and then had some frozen yogurt. a wonderful start to the vacation.

Saturday: as will be my habit throughout this trip, i woke up at 9:30am and wandered downstairs to have a quiet breakfast. breakfast consisted of a cup of irish breakfast tea, an egg scrambled with the last bit of goat cheese and a small CSA apple. eating outside in the garden, i was completely blissful. for lunch, bunny and i roasted some CSA vegetables (blue potatoes, yellow summer squash and carrots) and felt virtuous. that over with, for dinner we dashed off to some mexican place and i had some mighty delicious enchiladas with mole sauce. after dinner, we met up with mr bunny's brother for gelato but i was too full to even contemplate dessert.

Note: i don't know if it was friday or saturday that we stopped by barnes and noble, but that was a trip that changed my life. after the purchase of settlers of catan i was pretty much enslaved by the bunnies every evening until my departure. also bunny bought the first sookie stackhouse book there and we are both addicted to the series now.

Sunday: the athletic bunnies dashed off to their sports of choice (yoga or soccer) and i was left alone to do as i please. at some point my mom called and informed me they were merely half an hour away. with that i threw myself into action and started fixing paninis with pesto, tomato and mozarella. since mr bunny is no fan of the tomato, i sauteed some peppers and onions for his. dinner was a simple affair of bbq chicken and 5 for $1 corn. my mom was scornful of the corn at first but after her first bite, she quietly ate two. if it was up to her, we would have piled into the car immediately after dinner to buy more.

(to be continued)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Chicken Biryani a la Sounok

This recipe is based on what I remember from the most recent Sounoka Palace event (a completely amazing taste-sensation, not to be missed). I have no accurate measurements for anything but it is a pretty wing-able dish. I just made this yesterday but I have yet to take any pictures. The lighting in my apt is really just sub-par. However, I have already eaten several bowlfuls of the biryani. MMMM.

6 or so chicken drumsticks or chicken thighs. if using thighs, remove skins
one pack of sindhi biryani mix from the international grocery store
basmati rice
a few shallots, enough to fill one rice bowl (or slightly larger), chopped
maybe two or three plum tomatoes, chopped
cumin seeds
black mustard seeds
cinnamon stick
bay leaf
maybe 5 cardamom pods, cracked
grated ginger and minced garlic
sliced almonds (or pecan bits if you forgot where you stashed the almonds)
ghee (or a couple of tablespoons of melted butter if you left your ghee in someone else's house)

marinate the chicken in a ziplock bag with yogurt and some portion of the sindhi mix. you can marinate overnight in the fridge or out on the counter for an hour or two.

in a little bowl, pour some milk out and throw some saffron threads in it. maybe 10 threads. i'm not sure if you are supposed to heat this milk or not. i did not.

heat a large quantity of water in dutch oven and toss in a couple of bowlfuls of basmati rice (rinsed and drained) when the water comes to a boil. cook 10 minutes and drain the rice into a colander. give the dutch oven a quick rinse and wipe.

preheat the oven to 350F

in dutch oven, pan fry the chicken in some oil, move to another bowl. wonder whether you should wash the pot as there is now a layer of char on the bottom. however, there is also chicken flavor. decide it's probably ok because nothing smoked. heat a bit more oil and throw in cumin seeds, black mustard seeds, cinnamon, bay leaf and cardamom pods. cook a bit and then add in chopped shallots and tomato. cook quite a long time until the shallots are caramelized-ish and the tomato has broken down completely. it will be emitting lovely smells. turn off the heat.

add the fresh grated ginger and garlic to the shallot/tomato/spice mash. spread around the bottom of the pot. spread a layer of basmatic rice. layer some almonds over the rice. realize you still have lots of sindhi mix and probably should have added this somewhere. sprinkle some over this rice layer. add the chicken pieces. add another layer of rice. realize maybe you should have put yogurt somewhere. so take the remaining yogurt marinade and sprinkle over the rice along with the rest of the sindhi mix. drizzle the melted butter or ghee over the rice. drizzle the saffron milk over.

clap the lid on the dutch oven and stick in oven for about an hour. after this time, take out the dutch oven and mix all the layers.

Update: 1/1/10
I made it again using 1 boneless chicken breast (cut into small cubes) and added a few cubed potatoes. i used 4 rice cups of rice and i think it was a bit too much. next time i'll cut down the rice to 3 rice cups and throw in some cauliflower florets. potatoes were pre-cooked of course.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Eel and Avocado Sushi

I wish I had taken a picture; however, by the time I thought to, I had already eaten them all. I'll make these again soon and post. The sushi rice is based on Alton Brown's recipe and the following recipe is enough for three rolls.

Sushi Rice
3/4 cup short-grain rice in 1 cup water. Cook in rice cooker until done.

In small bowl, mix 1 tbs rice vinegar, 1 tbs sugar, 1/2 tbs kosher salt. Microwave for about 30 seconds.

Turn the rice out into a large mixing bowl and mix in the vinegar solution with a rice paddle. You need to cool the rice rather rapidly while you are mixing so it doesn't turn mushy and so each grain is covered by a nice shiny coating of vinegar. To do so you can a) hold a magazine in your left hand and wave it frantically over the rice while you mix with your right hand or b) stand in front of an electric fan or a/c while mixing. I have done both and obviously b) is much easier on the arms.

Heat up the eel (1 frozen package, purchased in chinatown) in the oven and slice into strips. Slice one ripe avocado into strips as well.

Once the rice is at room temperature, lay out your bamboo mat (I hope you have one) and place a sheet of nori on it. I never remember if it is shiny side up or down, but I think I usually place it shiny side down. Spread a single layer of rice over a sheet of nori, you really don't want a ton of rice. In the middle or bottom third area, place the strips of avocado and eel. Roll up.

Once you make all your rolls, wet a serrated edge knife and slice into cross-sectional pieces. I usually rewet the knife for each roll. Wetting keeps the rice from sticking to the knife and enables you to have clean looking pieces.

Note: I find it impossible to keep the nori crispy. It pretty much gets limp and chewy immediately. I dunno what to do about this, toast it?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Needle Book

I've been keeping my three needles (the same three needles I've had since college, and before college, these needles were owned by my mother) stuck in a shoulder pad.  This shoulder pad is usually stored in my "sewing kit" which is really just an old chinese tea canister.  It's served me well over the years, but I realized recently that it might be time to get some new needles.  I picked up a little pack at Joann's but there was no case for them.  Today I decided to sew my own little needle book.  I saw a couple of examples online, and came up with my own "pattern."  I think in retrospect I could have thought it through a bit more, but I'm happy with how it came out and my needles are all happy now.

Here is a picture of it closed:

Here is a picture of it open with needles inside:

I topstitched the felt on the inside before closing up the top.  Unfortunately, I had to topstitch the top closed so it looks a bit off.  Next time, I would add a tab or button of some kind to hold it closed.  I would also sew something decorative to the outside, it looks a bit plain.  I'm really fond of how the red felt looks against the blue fabric though.  This is the same fabric I used for my bag lining.  I'd like to make a skirt or dress from this too.  The color is so pretty.

Patchwork City Bag

A few weeks ago, four animals made their way back to the suburbs for some Arby's and shopping. Our first stop after lunch was Joann's and R and I went to town. Or really, I went to town, with R helping me along. She already had a lot of the stuff I wanted so she was able to offer great advice. During the visit, a little pattern for a bag caught my eye. I convinced R to make one with me and we spent a happy time choosing appropriate fabric. I got three fat quarters and some blue fabric for the lining and straps. The pattern calls for 36 5"x5" squares, assembled in a 4x9 rectangle. Cutting was very slow for me because it took me a while to get used to the rotary cutter and more time to try to measure them with some degree of accuracy. Here are my squares laid out on my bed (I'm sure Jess will take issue with the quality of my shot):

Bag sewing took several days. I was worried that the interfacing we had chosen was too heavy for the bag, but now that it is finished my happy with it. It's a large (enormous) bag and I tend to cram it with a bunch of stuff plus groceries so I'm quite happy with the heavier lining. I only wish I had interfaced the straps too. Overall, I'm very pleased with it and will get a lot of use from it this summer. Here is a picture of the finished version, hanging on tony's cat tree:

I made a little pocket and sewed it to the lining before sewing the lining to the bag. Next time, I would make the pocket larger. As it is, I can fit my keys and chapstick in there. I cram my wallet there also, but it doesn't really fit. Here is a bad picture of the pocket, sadly you can see the can of tomatoes I bought and a tissue, oh well:

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Movie Update Part: Who Knows By Now

our hospitality: i'm fond of buster keaton but for some reason this movie didn't grab me.  was it because i was knitting?  who knows, but i like gold rush quite a bit better.  Rate: **

ratatouille: i watched this in the theater when it first came out, but ferret had never seen it so i watched it with him again recently.  of course, i was quite dying to, because it's a lovely movie.  linguine is exactly like an undergrad who used to work in our lab.  looks, mannerisms, everything.  i am always fond of movies that extol hard work and a psychotic level of perfectionism and dedication.  Rate: *****

taken: daaayumm!!  this movie was absurd.  the plot makes not much sense and the action was hysterical.  the perfect plane movie.  Rate: **

burn after reading: i really like the cohen brothers and this was a pretty slickly put-together movie.  maybe too slick?  the only character i liked was the ditzy brad pitt character.  francis mcdormand plays a very unsympathetic character here.  all in all, entertaining, but kind of glossy.  Rate: ***

watchmen: yay! i was really worried about this adaptation of the comic book but it was very well done.  first of all, how did they manage to find an night owl who looks EXACTLY like the comic book drawing?  it was really uncanny.  i'm glad they amped up the fight scenes a bit, gave it some oomph.  dr manhattan was done well and the changed ending was very nice i thought.  i wish they had found a different lady to play laurie though; i don't think this actress can act very well.  Rate: ****

feast II sloppy seconds: as bad as this movie was, i will probably be watching feast III, out of completeness.  but this movie was quite bad.  quite bad.  Rate: *

it's a boy girl thing: this is classified as a knitting movie because i would never seriously watch what is clearly a teen flick.  that said, i am always fond of the body switch plot and i actually thought this movie was pretty cute.  

freaky friday: lindsay lohan was pretty good as the mom in the teenager's body.  i added this movie shortly after watching the boy girl movie.  needless to say, this was another knitting movie and i made good progress on my sweater.  the scenes with jamie lee curtis as a teenager in a mom's body were near unwatchable though.  way too embarrassing.

castle in the sky: oh how do i love hayao miyazaki.  please please come out with a new movie soon.  i didn't like this one as much as some of his other ones, but it is still so much better than most movies out there.  a charming story.  Rate: *****

in the name of the king: i just watched this last night and omg was it bad.  again, i wish i had a negative star system available.  it's like a lord of the rings movie, without the plot, the acting, the budget or any sense.  Rate: *

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Pork Vindaloo (v.2)

The bunny has been harassing me to post this recipe since I made it a week ago. So here it is. It's actually a recipe from the bunny's friend's dad. Bunny was bffs with several Indian girls during her college days and managed to graduate with basically zero recipes. So I was dizzy with delight when she forwarded this recipe to me several months ago. Unfortunately, I was in the throes of getting my proposal together during that time so did not have the opportunity to make it. Last weekend, I finally got the dried red chilies I needed and threw this dish together. First off, it doesn't actually taste like any vindaloo I've ever had at a restaurant, nor does it taste anything like my go-to vindaloo recipe, which will now be referred to as v.1 (and also tastes nothing like restaurant vindaloo). That doesn't mean it doesn't taste damn good though. It was almost absurdly easy to throw together, although I did spend some time coughing over the chili dust that flew out of the blender. Don't say I didn't warn you. Like many curries, this one tastes increasingly fabulous with time.

Recipe courtesy of Maya's Dad

2 lbs (1kg) meat (a little fat doesn't hurt) - cut into 1 inch cubes
10 cloves of garlic peeled
One medium onion diced
10-15 dry red chillies decorticated (you need to break them in half and roll them to get the seeds out. Use gloves or wash your hands thoroughly afterwards. monkey note: I used 12 and that was plenty for me)
Fenugreek seeds - 2 Tbsp
Turmeric 1/2 tsp
Vinegar 1/2 cup
Water 1 1/2 cups
Salt to taste
Cooking Oil 1Tbsp

Saute meat with a oil for 10 minutes. In a blender - first rough grind fenugreek seeds with chilies, then add rest of the ingredients and blend. Pour the blended mixture over the meat. Simmer cook for at least one hour. Serve with steamed rice. (monkey: I tossed in some more water during the cooking and gave it a stir once in a while so things would not stick to the bottom. Cooked two hours and I included a cubed potato).

I also made some toor dal to go with and that was pretty good too (although again, tasting nothing like restaurant dal, what the heck do those people put in their food??). Here was a recipe I assembled, based on a couple of found on the internets:

Rinse and pick over 1 cup of toor dal. Combine with 2 cups of cold water in a pot and bring to simmer. Skim away the froth that appears during this process. Cook for a while until tender and kind of thick. Add more water during this process and give it a stir once in a while. Takes many 25 minutes. Add some frozen peas (1/2 cup?) near the end. In a separate small pan, heat 1 tbs ghee (I used butter since I couldn't be bothered to make ghee) and add 2 tsp whole cumin seeds, 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp chili powder and cook together for a minute or so. Add to the dal and simmer a couple of minutes longer. There is a spice that people seem to add to this, but since I didn't have any, I omitted. This is a recipe I will be playing with more in the future.
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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Knitting Needles Bag for Double Pointed Needles

The sewing bug, long dormant, first showed signs of reviving at Joann's (of course). The very talented R and I were busy feeling up every piece of fabric in the store and I decided to try my hand at dress-making again. My first attempt (several years ago, back in Brooklyn) had gone quite well and so I managed to forget the subsequent attempt (an awful skirt made from this retardedly stretchy fabric) and decided to go for it. While at Joann's, I also picked up a remnant for $1 and decided to make a case for carrying knitting needles around. I remembered seeing a pattern for one in my stitch n bitch book and it didn't seem very hard. This morning I checked out that pattern and realized that it called for three pieces of "funky" fabric, preferably upholstery, each 3/4 of a yard in length. So I chucked the book and decided to wing it. That might have been mistake #1. I didn't have any plans to actually make anything tonight until I saw an extremely wonderful bag R made for tortoise. It is beyond excellent. I will try to get a picture to post. Anyway, after seeing the bag my sewing bug was wholly revived, leading to tonight's adventure. It is 1am and my house is brightly lit with pieces of thread and fabric everywhere. I'm just going to make a laundry list of subsequent mistakes to get it over with:

mistake #2: should have kept my sewing machine covered, it was filthy. much time spent industriously scrubbing with combo of paper towel, windex and swiffer dust wipes. next project will definitely be some kind of cover for sewing machine.

mistake #3: having not touched my sewing machine in two years (last thing I made were pillow cases for my sofa pillows), I probably should have practiced on something. in any case, i had to fish out the manual just to figure out how to thread the machine. this mistake led to some of the more interesting and wobbly stitching that appears on the case. I like to think it gives it a rustic air.

mistake #4: not having any thread in bulk besides white and blue, I decided to just go with the white because what the heck, the polka dots were white. sadly, white shows up extremely well against the green fabric, and all the irregularities of my sewing are immediately apparent.

mistake #5: since my sewing supplies were completely disorganized, I could not find some key items, including a measuring stick (otherwise known as a ruler) or chalk. my fabric wasn't cut perfectly straight but I couldn't really fix it precisely (more eyeballing) and this led to some trouble with hemming. I also had to rip out some of the stitches as they were embarrassingly crooked. subsequently, I used an envelope containing italian parsley seeds to make some light pencil marks around the places that needed it. GHETTO.

Despite this series of disasters, I think my case came out rather cute. I've already developed a sentimental attachment to it, just because I made it and they do hold my needles perfectly. I need to attach some kind of strap to it so that I can roll it up and keep it tied shut. Overall, this was a huge amount of fun and I can't wait to make something else!
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Monday, April 6, 2009

Pizza II

I forgot all about making pizza for a while until one day I impulsively grabbed some mozarella from TJ. It sat around for a while and then one evening I decided to make a basic pizza to stave off hunger. This was not that pizza, because I was trying to make it and play dota at the same time. The end result was lackluster, on both fronts. So a week later I gave it another go. If you have the patience to wait the hour it takes for the dough to rise, it is a tasty treat.

The recipe for the dough is from Brian's mom and I've halved the recipe so that the dough is just enough for my little cast iron pan:

Pizza dough:
1.5 tsp yeast
1/4 + 1/8 cup of warm water
1/4 tsp sugar

wait 5-10 minutes for the yeast to proof and get nice and frothy

add to yeast mixture
1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8 cup of flour (eyeballed this)
1/4 tsp salt

knead for 5 minutes. i usually knead in the bowl since the ball of dough is fairly small

lightly oil the dough with some olive oil and allow to rise for 45 minutes

oil the cast iron pan with olive oil and stretch dough into the pan. add whatever toppings you like. in this case, i used canned tomatoes (whole tomatoes, crushed with my hands and drained), scatterings of parsley and chopped garlic, grated mozarella.

bake in a 450 degree oven for maybe 15 minutes or so.  make sure to check on it and see how the crust looks.
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Cabled Gloves

I've been lame about updating in general, and especially lame about updating my knitting projects. This winter was all about the small knitted items. I made some mittens for Ferret, a pair of winter socks for myself and a set (almost) of cabled gloves. I say almost because my right hand glove is still missing three fingers. At some point I'll finish them, but now that the weather is warming up I've lost all interest in these and am focused on making a bunch of socks out of KnitPick's self-striping yarn. 

I'm especially proud of these gloves though because I more or less came up with how to make them on my own. These were started on the plane ride to Las Vegas and finished sometime after. I started off by following the instructions for mittens and then added cables and figured out how many stitches to do for fingers. So that I don't forget, here are the general instructions:

Cabled Gloves

Left Hand (size small):
Cast on 44 stitches and divide among 3 size 3 needles (12, 16, 16)
Knit 2, purl 2 for about 2.5" (to make cuffs)
row 1-5: k3, p2, k4, p2, k4, p2, k4, p2, k to end of row
row 6: k3, p2, cable twist the 4 stitches, p2, cable twist the 4 stitches, p2, cable twist the 4 stitches, p2, k to end of row
row 7-8: k3, p2, k4, p2, k4, p2, k4, p2, k to end of row
row 9: k2, inc 1, k1, inc 1, p2, k4, p2, k4, p2, k4, p2, k to end of row
row 10-11: k5, p2, k4, p2, k4, p2, k4, p2, k to end of row
row 12: k2, inc 1, k3, inc 1, p2, cable twist, p2, cable twist, p2, cable twist, p2, k to end of row
row 13-14: k7, p2, k4, p2, k4, p2, k4, p2, k to end of row
row 15: k2, inc 1, k5, inc 1, p2, k4, p2, k4, p2, k4, p2, k to end of row
row 16-17: k9, p2, k4, p2, k4, p2, k4, p2, k to end of row
row 18: k2, inc 1, k7, inc 1, p2, cable twist, p2, cable twist, p2, cable twist, p2, k to end of row
row 19-20: k11, p2, k4, p2, k4, p2, k4, p2, k to end of row
row 21: k2, inc 1, k9, inc 1, p2, k4, p2, k4, p2, k4, p2, k to end of row
row 22-23: k13, p2, k4, p2, k4, p2, k4, p2, k to end of row
row 24: k13, p2, cable, p2, cable, p2, cable, p2, k to end of row
row 25: k13, p2, k4, p2, k4, p2, k4, p2, k to end of row

slip 1 stitch from needle #1 to needle #3
drop the next 11 stitches from needle #1 to a piece of yarn (this will be the thumb)

row 26-29: k1, p2, k4, p2, k4, p2, k4, p2, k to end of row
row 30: k1, p2, cable, p2, cable, p2, cable, p2, k to end of row

continue (cabling every 6th row) until you reach fingers. allot 11 stitches (5 from needle #1 and 6 from needle #3, or vice versa) for the index, middle and ring fingers and 10 stitches for the pinky. for each finger, pick up stitches on the side so there are 13 stitches total per finger. work one finger at a time and when proper length has been achieved, k2tog until there are 3-4 stitches left and tie off.

similarly, pick up 2-4 stitches for thumb and work in the round until proper length, k2tog until there are few stitches left and tie off.

sew in loose ends, filling in whatever gaps there may be!
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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Knitting Movies

I will be posting a series of these "knitting movies," at least until the weather turns warm enough that my urge to knit fades.  I'm working on a pair of cabled gloves for myself right now and have been taking full advantage of Netflix's Instant Watch feature.  The best knitting movies are those that don't require full attention; therefore, they must be movies I've seen before or movies that are mildly entertaining without being too novel or interesting.  Movies that are too good are disqualified because I will get distracted and make knitting errors.  For example, during Persepolis, I stopped knitting my sock entirely and half the stitches slipped off the needles.  It was a knitting disaster.  For this series of movies, there will be no rating system, because the metrics for a good movie don't quite apply.  Onward!

These were movies I watched while knitting a pair of blue socks:

mannequin: i remembered really liking this movie when i was young so i thought it would be the perfect knitting movie.  sadly, the passage of 20 years had rendered this movie completely unwatchable.  i plowed determinedly through a good portion of it bc tortoise was encouraging me to (awesome movie!! says he) but i could not take it through to the end.  if it's too awful to be a good knitting movie, it is too awful period.  end of story.

enchanted: this was a ridiculous movie featuring a very squealy heroine.  i don't remember a whole lot about this movie aside from the fact that a high pitched voice appeared to be a prerequisite for princesses.  oh there was one really funny dance and song number in central park.  i enjoyed that part.  i probably would have enjoyed this more 20 years ago.  that said, i did make it all the way through the movie.

you've got mail: i think this might be classified as an ideal knitting movie.  you've got meg ryan who is adorable and a very simple and absurd love story.  after watching this movie i caught on that romantic comedies may really be the way to go here.  my knitting was perfect and i was adequately entertained.

four weddings and a funeral: i started watching this but it was kind of a snoozefest.  maybe it was because my laptop speakers weren't loud enough or something but i really couldn't get into it.  and normally i find hugh grant so charming.  oh well.

These are movies I've been watching while knitting cabled gloves:

penelope: this was another wonderful knitting movie.  you've got a bit of a fairy tale thing going, a accepting yourself for you are thing going, and a budding romance with a guy who looks like he sleeps in the sewers by day and does crack cocaine by night.  i like christina ricci in general, with or without a pig nose.  this was a girly and fluffy movie.

an ideal husband: i watched a streak of period pieces and this was one of them.  during high school i went through an oscar wilde phase so when this movie came out, i was wilde (haha!) to see it.  it was entertaining then and was entertaining now.  everyone was great except minnie driver.  she just didn't seem to quite fit.

emma: all girls like jane austen and i am no exception.  while i've read pride and prejudice exactly one million times, i've only read emma once or twice.  i have seen clueless several times however and so i am quite familiar with the story.  gwyneth paltrow was pretty perfect as emma and this was another great knitting movie.  she's so good to look at.  when i watch a movie, i pretty much only want to watch good looking people.  if i wanted to watch ugly people i would take a walk.  and this brings me to the next movie...

persuasion: this was a complete disappointment.  it was so extremely disappointing because after pride and prejudice, persuasion is my favorite jane austen book.  i realize that anne was supposed to have lost her looks when the book/movie starts, but she does go through a second bloom and if you cast a stolid matronly looking actress as anne, no one is going to believe that anyone can ever fall for her, no matter how refined her mind.  especially if this actress only has one expression: scared stiff.  bah!  it was so annoying.  i watched the entire movie but was irritated the whole time.  i had always imagined anne as a waif of a thing, too pale with delicate features.  this woman was quite solid.  her face did not seem sensitive enough; it was just wide wide wide eyed.  bug eyed.  and you couldn't tell at all that anne was especially intelligent and feeling.  i hope they remake this soon.

I have quite a few more movies to post, both of the knitting variety and the non-knitting variety, but it is getting late so it is time for sleeps!

Monday, February 16, 2009

YAY! I've been anxiously watching my chives for the last couple of weeks, ever since I noticed the little flower bud that formed after a particularly cold spell here in Philly. The first two flowers bloomed yesterday and they are as pretty (although less purple) as I had imagined. I have three of them and wish to eat one just to see what it tastes like. It's hard to eat one of the ones that just bloomed though, so I may eat the third one. In any case, these little flowers are brightening up my windowsill.

Update (04.09.09) It's crazy, so I finally ate one of these flowers (there are about a zillion of them in the pot now) and it tasted just like chives!  I guess I shouldn't feel so surprised, but it's a flower for god's sake.  Anyway, if I ever want to eat a salad again, I'll be sure to toss a couple of these in.
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Tandoori Chicken

This dish was MAGNIFICENT!!! It may be hard to tell, but the first picture is the chicken before cooking (with the yogurt dip) and the second picture obviously, features the cooked chicken right before eating. The recipe is from Cook's Illustrated and these ingenious people figured out that the best way to zap the flavors in without turning the chicken into mush was to marinate in a limey spice rub before dipping in spiced yogurt and cooking. Can't post the recipe here since it's not freely available but will add it to my database. Cook's Illustrated has not led me astray yet and I am really looking forward to trying more of their recipes in the future. I devoured this chicken with fluffy basmati rice, green beans and a packet of dubious spinach dal I got from the grocery store. I wanted to make my own dal but for some reason I couldn't find lentils anywhere. Tonight, I fixed a quick chickpea curry dish to go with the chicken and rice and that was pretty nice. When I return from ORS I plan to throw myself into mastering some Indian dishes. I still have to perfect Mouse's samosa recipe.
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Mushroom risotto is probably one of the things I like to cook the most. It goes with many things and I always have arborio rice, parmiggiano reggiano and a glug of dry vermouth laying around for this dish. I usually stick to mushrooms and a quarter of an onion, but this time I had some celery that was growing limp so I sliced a couple of ribs and tossed in. This would work with diced asparagus too, if you happen to have that instead of mushrooms around. Anyone who has ever made risotto will know how to throw this together but just in case:

Bit of olive oil
Handful of mushrooms (any kind), chopped
Quarter of an onion, chopped
1/2 cup of white wine
1/2 cup of arborio rice
~ 3-4 cups of chicken broth
Handful of parmiggiano reggiano

Pour a bit of olive oil into a little pan or pot and heat. Toss in mushrooms and onions and stir around a bit. Toss in rice and stir around. Add white wine and cook until the liquid is practically gone. Start ladling in chicken broth, maybe 1/2 cup or 3/4 cup at a time. I usually wander around doing other things during this process, but you want to come back and give it a stir fairly frequently and check the liquid. When the liquid has been mostly absorbed, add more broth. After about 20 min you can start testing grains for doneness. When done, shake in some salt and cheese and enjoy! I might twist in some black pepper as well.
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Fallen Bread and Crumbs

It's been a while since I posted anything about food, not because I haven't been making any, but because my food photos generated many derisive comments from Bunny. I can't really fault Bunny though because her photographs look professional, but the girl needs to cut me some slack! I don't even own photoshop. But since one of my new year's resolutions is to cook two new things a month, the food blogging must resume. (And I confess, the lack of food posts was also due to laziness on my part).

I am not sure when I generated the sad loaf pictured above; it may have been before I left for Bunny's wedding. In any case, I left the dough to rise too long (I think I had wandered over to Ferret's house to watch a movie) and when I came home the dough had caved in completely. I popped it into the oven anyway, hoping that the hot air might puff it back out again, but sadly no. This loaf came out pretty inedible but I couldn't bear to toss it so it sat in my bread tin for another week. Finally, I was inspired by Mark Bittman to convert sad loaf into homemade bread crumbs and it was fantastic. Basically, I scooped out the crumbs from the very hard shell and crumbled them in a baking sheet. Toasted the sheet in the oven until quite dry and then stored in a jar. They came in handy recently when I made Martha Stewart's mac n cheese last week. I would make a post on that, but I've already eaten the majority of it and there really isn't much left to post. Let me just say that both breadcrumbs and mac n cheese were superb.
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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Too many movies to post (Part III)

I think this will be how movies will get posted from now on.  I just don't have the energy or words these days to devote individual short posts to a movie.  Oh that reminds me, I should post about my proposal since that was a major milestone in my science life.  But for now, onwards!

hellboy 2:  I was pretty disappointed actually.  I guess I had higher expectations for this movie because I found the first hellboy so enjoyable.  The plot revolved around some Legolas-like elf prince who wants to resurrect a golden army to destroy mankind and reclaim elf supremacy.  This guy was actually my favorite character because I could really see his point of view and he had a lot of exciting fight moves.  His sister looked kind of like Calista Flockhart and her romance with the fish guy was inexplicable and sudden.  When she peaced out, I can't say that I cared too much because the background romance was so empty.  There was one excellent scene with death - the costume on that guy was fabulous.  Rate ***

casino:  As the movie was three hours long, I had difficulty in getting ferret to watch with me but finally I prevailed.  I had a totally different idea of what this movie was going to be like.  The movie poster made it seem so solemn and grim that I thought it would be kind of godfather-like.  It was not.  The movie follows the parallel criminal careers of Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro and the corrupt casino they were involved with.  It was super entertaining and frustrating because you really wanted De Niro to stay on top, but of course, this is a gangster movie and no one stays on top in a gangster movie.  Sharon Stone played De Niro's wife and she was pretty great in the role.  Usually the ladies in gangster flicks are washed out babes but she had more in common with the Goodfellas gangster chick in terms of feistiness and pain-in-the-ass-ness.  I liked her and couldn't stand her.  Rate ****

my cousin vinny:  Since ferret was semi-fascinated with Joe Pesci after watching casino (so funny looking!), I deemed it a good time to watch my cousin vinny.   I had seen a commercial for it on TBS so was wishing to see it.  This is one of those movies I've seen bits and pieces of but never all at once, all the way through.  It was quite funny with old-school humor and the plot is neatly tied up and put away at the very end.  The karate kid was in it too and he has got to be the worst actor of all time.  I made a mental note never to re-watch the karate kid movies because obviously they must have been quite bad, despite my childhood memories of them.  Rate ****

tropic thunder:  The funniest part of this movie was in the beginning when they showed fake movie previews starring the various characters.  The RDJ and Ben Stiller ones were especially hilarious.  After that, the best scenes were definitely the ones that had Tom Cruise in them.  He was almost unrecognizable in his fat suit and bald wig but the crazy was still in his face and eyes.  His performance here was amazing, especially his solo dance at the end.  The rest of the movie kind of flew by in a high energy blur; unfortunately it's not a movie I'd want to watch again but it was decently fun while I was watching.  No Zoolander though.  Rate ***

millions:  At the end of the movie, I was like, so what.  I didn't really get any kind of message and the whole thing felt a little incomplete.  That said, the boy was adorable and I liked his conversations with various imaginary (or were they) saints.  I dunno, I don't feel like there's a whole lot to say about this.  It had cute parts, but no real tension or anything too solid.  Rate **

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

This is my first reference book on gardening.  I chose it based on the excellent reviews on various blogs and amazon.  Apparently most gardening books out there assume you have a plot of land outside to toil in; this book is great because it guides you toward plants that will succeed in containers and gives you tips specific to container gardening.  In addition, it focuses a lot on edible plants and as that is my primary interest (although I'm starting to cast longing eyes at the little rose plants TJ is selling), I found this book especially useful.

Since I was starting with very little basic knowledge, this book also educated me on the basics of soil and fertilizing and watering etc.  I would recommend this book to beginners anywhere (especially those who lack space and live in small apartments).  Rate *****

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Adventures in Gardening (Cilantro/Cilan-faux)

The cilantro was definitely the bane of my windowsill gardening experience. I received a baggie of coriander seeds from the Tortoises and planted several in a few plastic cups. After forever, a small sprout finally took hold and grew. I was very fond of it, even after it became apparent that it was NOT cilantro, but cilan-faux. Cilan-faux grew like the weed it was until it was quite taking over my windowsill and had to be let go. 

I left one of the plastic cups on the windowsill hoping against hope and amazingly, one day a small cilantro sprout was spotted. I thought it was another cilan-faux but once the true leaves appeared there was no doubt at all. This was my most precious of plants because of how hard it was to get it going. Unfortunately, after it sprouted I read everywhere that one was supposed to plant cilantro in the container it was meant to be because of the long taproot that forms. Cilantro is finicky in many ways obviously.

However, this one didn't seem to suffer much from transplantation into coffee can. It grew nicely and I was fantasizing about chili verde sauces when suddenly, the leaves started to look different and flowers began forming everywhere. I snipped off the first few buds in the hope of staving off the inevitable but finally became resigned - the cilantro had bolted. The cold weather was too much for this plant I guess. Or maybe it was the transplanting, who knows. To be fair, the flowers were very pretty, small and white and delicate.

Since I am always one to look on the bright side, I became excited about collecting seeds to plant in the spring. I pollinated the flowers I saw and watched with satisfaction as the flowers faded and large green bulges formed. Since the coriander seeds I had gotten from Tortoise were dry looking and brown, I left the seeds on the plant until they looked the same. This coincided with the total death of the plant. When poor little cilantro was a crisp dry stick, I snipped the seeds into a bag and dug up the plant for my compost bin. BUT! There was already a tiny sprout growing next to the dead plant. Will it be cilantro or cilan-faux? Stay tuned!

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Adventures in Gardening (Mesclun Lettuce)

Out of all the plants I've been growing I've eaten the lettuces the most (which isn't really saying much and it also makes sense that it would be the one I eat most of). Here is a beautiful pile of baby greens in my salad bowl. There were several other times when I was able to snip a lovely pile to eat. 

Unfortunately, at one point, the lettuce pots started growing some kind of white mold on top of the soil. I was extremely alarmed and tried home remedies such as sprinkling cinnamon on the soil. Eventually I dug up what mold I could without damaging the plants. Truth be told, the lettuces did not look the worse for growing with some mold but I didn't want to take chances. I think it was the weather since it was quite humid in the apt at the time. Once the weather cooled and dried, the mold disappeared completely on their own. This problem was most pronounced in the pili pot.

Here is a picture of the lettuces and other plants during the fall. I started getting a large batch of the reddish leaf lettuces. I think they were lolla rosas. The arugulas were doing well during this time too and added a spicy bite to my salads.

After I came home from California (29th), I made one last very large (by windowsill standards) salad. The leaves had grown quite large and some of the plants were starting to die. One of the lettuces bolted. After cutting leaves for salad, I pulled out the remaining plants except for the bolted one. I wanted to see the flowers bloom and maybe try to gather a few seeds. My original plan was to empty the pili pot of soil and drill a few more drainage holes in the bottom but surprsingly, two little sprouts appeared in the soil so I will keep that going a while longer. As for my strawberry container, I have sown a new crop of lettuces. I'm not sure they will take hold since it is winter, but it seems worth a shot.

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