Saturday, September 29, 2012

Go with the mojo

Ce n'est pas une jupe

Sometimes, I don't feel like making anything. Those are the times when my house gets cleaned. This has not been one of those moments. My house is now slightly destroyed, but today I made some drawer dividers to keep my skivvies organized and a blue fleece top which reminds me of cookie monster, and yesterday I made these pants. I'm not just having a Magritte moment, they really are a pair of shorts.

Here's to you, Mr. Akin
See? Neat, huh? I found the instructions over at this neat lady's blog, and thought they would be really useful. They are super comfy once they're on, but I only had a 4"  zipper rather than a 6" one that would be a more appropriate length, so they are a little hard to get in and out of.

But that's ok! They are navy blue, so maybe I can get away with wearing them to my stupid job, and they look good with knee socks, which I realized I have way too many of when I organized my drawers, and they have pockets.

Also, I did not buy one thing to make all this stuff. Hooray for using up the stash!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

It's a Sweater


With a long floppy cowl neck. I started knitting again last month, and it has sort of taken over my life. I have become a Chick Who Knits On The Bus. People including a very old lady coming from the airport, a lady who spoke very little english, and a buffed up dude with a bunch of neck tattoos ask to see what I'm doing. They were all quite polite. I just don't know how I feel about suddenly having become a person who looks like they could be approached by strangers. Maybe if I knit in smaller gauges, the effort will make me scowl more. But maybe not. I tend to stare off into a middle distance while I knit.

In any case, I think I'll just resign myself. I spend up to an hour and a half on public transit per day, and whereas before, this was all wasted time, suddenly the bus ride is bonus crafty time. I now have a very nice sweater, and a pair of experimental knee socks that are too itchy to wear.

More socks are forthcoming. I'm sure the popularity of sock knitting has a lot to do with the fact that even the most ambitious sock project stays at a convenient size for schlepping around. As a side note, the yarn for the last two projects came from goodwill. The stuff for the sweater is very high quality, and was a joy to work with. It's all squishy and bouncy, and has a satiny kind of finish. I shudder to think what it would have cost if I'd bought it new. The socks are another story. The yarn seemed like it was all right to begin with, but once it was made up, it was just terribly uncomfortable.

The lesson is that high quality yarn is the only way to go if you actually want to use the things you make. It is particularly annoying to spend all that time and effort making something and then have it turn out to be intolerable once you put it on. Maybe some children of my acquaintance will want a pair of christmas stockings.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Oh Banana Bread!


Why are you so delicious? Why is it so hard not to eat you with a spoon right out of the oven?

Why banana 'bread'? It isn't even legitimately bread, it's CAKE, damnit. And why is it so hard to get a loaf of banana bread out of a non-stick pan? I am champing with impatience to eat this thing right now, and it's too hot, and it won't come unstuck, and all I can do is put a picture on the internet so that at least everyone else can share my suffering.

3/4 c sugar
5 T softened butter
2 eggs
1 1/2 c very ripe bananas (that was 3 medium sized ones for me)
1/2 c greek yogurt
1tsp vanilla
2 1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 c chopped toasted walnuts

 Pre-heat the oven to 350.

Put all the moist ingredients in a large mixing bowl and whip the bajeebus out of them. Add the sugar and salt, whip again. Sift in the flour and soda, mix until smooth, mix in the nuts, then pour into a loaf pan. Bake for 1 hr 20 min. Seriously, it's that easy.

But there are some things that are useful to know:

1. Start with the eggs and bananas at room temperature. Makes the bread poofier. If your eggs and or bananas are cold, stick them in a bowl of hot tap water for about 10 minutes.

2. No, you don't have to put in the nuts. But if you do, it is important to toast them first, they have much more flavor that way,.

3. Learn from my mistake and line the pan with waxed paper. Oil the pan, put in the paper, oil and flour the paper, then pour in the batter.The paper keeps the bread from touching the pan. No touching = no sticking.  Oiling the pan keeps the paper from scooting around. Oiling & flouring the paper makes it possible to get the paper off the bread when you want to eat it.

4. There is a handful of crumb topping on it. Take roughly equal parts of flour, sugar(either brown or white), oatmeal and butter. Ok, be a little generous with the butter. Add a teaspoon of baking powder for every 3 cups of crisp. Smash everything into pea-sized morsels, then freeze it until you want to use it.

The original recipe I found on the Betty Crocker website called for nearly twice as much butter and sugar, and uses buttermilk instead of yogurt. I never have buttermilk, but yogurt is pretty much the same. As I've written it above, this bread is not as heavy and gummy as many recipes I've tried, and the banana favor isn't overwhelmed by sugar. Yes, I gave up waiting for the thing to come un-glued from its pan. At least I used a knife to cut out a piece, not a spoon.Well, two pieces. For now.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Mushroom & Spinach Pockets with Walnuts


I was going to make a pizza, but then I discovered that both my cheese & my sauce had grown hoary-bearded with age. I came up with this because several of the key ingredients are things I keep in the freezer, and are consequently unlikely to spoil. I was thinking of Pete's Kalezones*, but since I had no kale, I added nuts for texture.

1 recipe of the pizza dough I use for everything

8 oz mushrooms, chopped
8 oz chopped frozen spinach
1 large onion, diced
1 or 2 garlic cloves, crushed
a tomato (Optional. It was in the fridge, and I wanted it gone.)
1 tablespoon tomato sauce
1 teaspoon each of minced fresh rosemary & oregano
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
salt & pepper
oil for frying

Pre-heat the oven to 450.

If your dough is in the fridge, get it out and let it start warming up.

Put a little oil in a heavy bottomed 3 or 4 quart saucepan. Saute the onions, garlic, herbs, and mushrooms until they are fairly dry and are starting to brown. Add the spinach and tomato, continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid from the spinach is pretty much gone. Remove from the heat and let cool enough to stir in the nuts & cheese without melting the cheese. Salt & pepper to taste.

Cut the dough into 8 pieces, roll them out, and fold a scoop of filling into each one. Seal with a fork, and slash a hole in the top so they don't blow up in the oven.

Bake for about 23 minutes.


1. Parmesan is pretty salty. Definitely you will want to hold off on the salt until after the cheese is in the filling to see if you want more.

2. On the other hand, it needs a good amount of pepper. Go ahead and put that in any time, actually.

3. Who the hell ever just has one tablespoon of tomato paste lying around? Not me. I divide up a can into blobs and freeze them. Then I can just pull one out of the tupperware when I want it.

4. Incidentally, I also keep walnuts in the freezer. Keeps the %*$$! meal moths at bay.

5. Don't knead the dough before using it. Just cut it up and flatten it out, or it will be too rubbery to deal with.

I got these done at about 10 pm last night, but they sure are good for breakfast. The dough is pretty chewy, and holds up well to the slightly chunky texture of the filling. They would probably taste good with hazelnuts too, but if you do that, I'd recommend toasting the nuts first.

* I thought I'd written a post about Pete's recipe for kale & cheese calzones, but now I can't find it. The procedure is roughly the same as this, but the filling is composed of kale and onions, with plenty of ricotta and some mozzarella, I think. What on earth happened to that recipe?...