Monday, January 31, 2005

Quality Time!

Lots of quality time spent this weekend pursuing the following:

1) Knitting! Whoo hoo! Lookie lookie! What have we here?

Why it's the Back and Fronts of Ribby! Blocking happily on my rug from IKEA! It was a bit troublesome measuring out dimensions on my rug, but the vertical lines helped immensely. I've cast on for both sleeves and it's going quickly - I guess all those 1x1 and 2x2 ribbed scarves paid off :)

2) The garage was dumped, cleaned and re-organized. I found not one, but two pair of goretex boots hiding in the garage. Somehow I collect hiking boots like other women collect fancy shoes. These will be most welcome for snowshoeing expeditions - I wore a pair of midweight hikers last time I went and wound up with damp feet. Hooray for Performance Fabrics!

3) Snuggling with the Cats - post organization exhaustion (and allergies) caught up with me in the afternoon resulting in a catnap in the sun (on the couch) with both my kitties keeping me company. Unfortunately, because I was spending quality time with the cats, I was not spending quality time with my sewing machine. Oh well. It's not like my fabric is going anywhere!

4) Finally we spent some quality time reminiscing about high school and the 80's (we stumbled across old yearbooks in our re-organizational frenzy) by watching Napoleon Dynamite. Definitely funny, especially for those of us from that generation.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Ribbin' along...

Oh the end is near! Some neck decreases and a pair of sleeves and all my pieces for Ribby will be done :) *whew* then it will be a blocking, seaming, picking up stitches and finishing extravaganza! Dare I hope to be done in a week?!

In other news, it seems the Secret Pal 4 machine is underway...various people have mentioned receiving their Secret Pals - I haven't yet, but it's just a matter of time :) I'm looking forward to it and am busy thinking up possible surprises.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

we interrupt this program... provide some clues and direction for my Secret Pal 4.

1. Are you a yarn snob (do you prefer high-end/natural fibers)? Do you avoid Red Heart and Lion Brand? Or is it all the same to you?

*sigh* sadly, yes. I appear to be a yarn snob. I learned on cheap Red Heart - and I still have remnants of that one skein. As I've carried on knitting, I've definitely developed a preferred "taste" towards natural fibers and higher end yarns.

2. Do you spin? Crochet?

No spinning here...and I probably aught not to start! Crochet: only the basics. Call it Crochet for Knitters.

3. Do you have any allergies? (smoke, pets, fibers, perfume, etc.)

In theory I'm allergic to cats, dogs and other fluffy creatures, but I do have cats...Definitely smoke-free (asthma) and no strong perfume.

4. How long have you been knitting?

Oh, about a year now. My friend Raquel started me in on it.

5. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?

Why yes, yes I do. But it's not well populated. I should probably remedy that.

6. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products etc.)

I appear to be on a citrus kick right now and I prefer scents that aren't too overpowering. In addition to the citrus, I have a thing for "fresh" scents. Rosemary-Mint is a good combination.

7. Do you have a sweet tooth?

Um, yes. Does anyone not? :) High quality dark chocolates are a favorite, but beware the heat of southwest...cakes, cookies, pies and's all good :D Not too fond of most gummy things but every now and again I find myself craving gummy bears.

8. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do?

I have a running love-hate relationship with my sewing machine...lots of ideas for various bags and such. I have a thing for photography and hand made cards. I used to love dying fabric, but haven't had the time to play with dye for a while...

9. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)

My computer can indeed play MP3s, I like most music, but it's been a long time since I've had any designated favorite. Definite dislikes: most metal, country, hard rap, and opera.

10. What's your favorite color? Or--do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer?

Blue is my favorite color. You can see my colors for Ribby here. Periwinkle is about the only pastel I'll wear. I also happen to love darker reds - not maroon or burgundy, but true reds - but not candy apple or fire-engine, if you know what I mean. For some reason, a good portion of my wardrobe is neutral and fall tones. No yellows or bright greens - they do dreadful things to my complexion.

11. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?

Two adorable cats (photos scattered at random through my blog) and a husband. We'll be celebrating (get this) our Wool! anniversary this year (7 yrs).

12. What are your life dreams? (really stretching it here, I know)

To be free of corporate work and have the free time and the financial freedom to do as I wish. Dabble with being a pastry chef, play with my crafts, spend time with my heaps of books and get outside lots!

13. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with?

Good question. I was in love with Berocco Uxbridge Tweed - it was the first "nice" yarn I learned to knit with. I have running fascination for cashmere, alpaca and silk.

14. What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?

I've got a mess of dreadful yarns I need to do something with - I'm hating Lion Brand Homespun and Paton's Beachcomber. Splitty troublesome yarns, the both of them. And they both happen to be acrylic. Not that there's anything wrong with Acrylic per se, I've just been having issues with these ones.

15. What is/are your current knitting obsession/s?

Well, I went thru a bag phase, and a scarf phase...and then there's Cozy....I'm currently obsessing over finishing Ribby so I can wear her before it's too late for this season. I think I'll soon be fascinated with miniatures and socks. I also seem to be slightly fascinated with Lace, but I've not yet completed my first lace object yet.

16. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?

Quick finishing items ;) because they are very gratifying to have them fly off the needles.

17. What are you knitting right now?

Officially, I've only got Cozy and Ribby on needles - how sad is that?

18. What do you think about ponchos?

Not for me, thanks!

19. Do you prefer straight or circular needles?

I love them both - they each have their place. I prefer rosewood for straights. I love my Denise circulars.

20. Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?

Bamboo or plastic. No aluminum please.

21. Are you a sock knitter?

Not unless you count felted slippers :D But I hope to be one soon :)

22. How did you learn to knit?

It's all Raquel's fault.

23. How old is your oldest UFO?

Do I *really* have to answer? I think it's 5 months old.

24. What is your favorite animated character or a favorite animal/bird?

I love cats (domestic and wild) - and otters - and ferrets...and oddly enough, I think penguins are pretty darn cool too.

25. What is your favorite holiday?


26. Is there anything that you collect?

If you asked my husband, he'd say I collect Cookbooks. :D And Yarn. I am a knitter, after all.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005


I'm into armhole shaping!! Fifteen more rows and I start Neck shaping and hopefully will be able to cast on for Ribby's sleeves.

Mail Call :D Beginners' Knitting Anxiety struck and since I have a moratorium running on adding to my cookbook collection, and I'm on a self-imposed Yarn Diet, I figured I'd add to my Knitting Resource collection :) My first finishing book was the Knitter's Book of Finishing Techniques - and I like it well enough; but I wanted something a bit more comprehensive. So I picked up a copy of Vogue Knitting, and so far, based on a quick scan, it looks like a great resource to have on hand.

In other much more boring news, we washed and waxed the cars last guess what, we've got rain forecasted this week. Perfect. Oh well - it makes for good knitting weather :) Anything to prolong the cooler weather makes me happy - and it gives me hope that I'll actually get my sweater done *before* the hot weather comes in! (then again, worst case I bring the finished Ribby to work to wear...why is it that it seems most places have over active air conditioners??)

And finally, a rant: Can someone please explain to me why it is that some people feel obligated to foist their religion upon others?? Can't they be content to just keep it to themselves and not push their beliefs into policy that impact the lives of a much more diverse audience?! Amongst the things that get me going: "Faith-Based Parks", children's characters being maligned for being homosexual propagandists because they promote tolerance and diversity, and the recent "news" that the religious right is planning on withholding support for the crazily over-hyped plans for privatizing social security unless the constitution is amended to ban gay marriage. Good grief. I've plenty more to say on the subject but eloquence eludes me right now. So I'll just stop there.

Monday, January 24, 2005


Ten more rows and I can start the armhole decreases on Ribby's Front panels! Whoo hoo! While I may be the Worlds Slowest Knitter, I am absolutely determined to get this sweater done so I can wear it at least *once* this season!

Sunday, January 23, 2005

IMBB11: Beans!

What is IMBB? It's a fantastic way for food bloggers to unite and rejoice in a certain theme :) What does it stand for? why, Is My Blog Burning, of course! This months event is hosted by Cathy. This is my first IMBB, and I sure hope to participate in more. Unluckily for me, I haven't had much luck with the other IMBB-inspired events: WBW (wind blogging wednesdays) - due mostly in part to my lack of affinity for wine, Paper Chef (wherein four mystery ingredients are revealed and must be used to make a dish (or dishes) - inspired by the Iron Chef and "Ready Set Cook") or SHF (sugar high fridays - though with my affinity for sweet things and pastry-chef-wannabe obsession, you'd think this would be the easiest event for me to get sucked into - my excuse? Lack of time and a battle to reduce my waistline) Anyway, I've been a lurker on those various events, and they have proven to be an inspiration, and I thought I ought to at least bring my participation up by actually putting in a submission :)

This brings me to Beans. What kind of beans? I favor lentils, since they're so tasty, versatile and quick to cook, but I've been doing an awful lot of lentil dishes lately....and I wanted to try something new. And for me, new was actually cooking beans that I had soaked myself. Previous to now, I've never cooked dry beans (except lentils, but those don't count because there's no soaking required!) and have always used canned. I can't say I'll never use canned again (oh the convenience!) but I will admit, this dish came out most tastily. If only I got the camera to cooperate. But alas I was left with a tasty dish, a rumbling stomach and no photos to share. What did I settle on for my IMBB debut? A Cassoulet....and what is a Cassoulet? According to a loose definition, it's a casserole of white beans, various meats, vegetables and herbs - all simmered slowly or baked in a low oven. It's a hearty peasant-style stew and it's a perfect winter dish served up with hunks of rustic bread and perhaps a light salad.

The recipe I used comes from the Kitchen Detective by Chris Kimball of Cooks Illustrated & America's Test Kitchen fame. It's called Quick Cassoulet, and while it was probably quicker than most, it's not something I'd put on for a weeknight dinner...and as usual, I wound up doing some adapting as I went along to suit my own tastes. So, without further ado, here we are:

Quick Cassoulet

serves 4 to 6

1 pound dried great Northern or Navy beans, rinsed and picked over
1 small onion, peeled and studded with 8 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 pounds sweet Italian Sausage, removed from casing and crumbled
6 bone-in, skin on chicken thighs (or 3 legs that have been separated into thigh and drumstick), rinsed and patted dry with paper towels
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 medium carrots, diced
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/2 cup white wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 quart chicken stock
1 teaspoon herbs de Provence
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

Combine the beans*, clove-studded onion, bayleaf, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 10 cups of water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to maintain a simmer. Partially cover, and cook 45 to 60 minutes or just until tender. Fish out the onion and bay leaf and discard.

Brown the sausage in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, breaking up any large pieces with a spatula. Remove with a slotted spoon to some paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and brown well on both sides, doing it in batches if necessary. Once browned, remove the chicken and let it sit cool down. Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the skin (no rubbery skin in this cassoulet!)

Adjust the heat to medium and add the olive oil to the pan. Add the chopped onion and carrot and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft - about five to seven minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional two minutes. Add the wine, and stir well to scrape up all the brown tasty bits stuck on the bottom of the pan. Add in the tomato paste and stir to combine.

Drain off the beans and add them to the Dutch oven along with the chicken, sausage, chicken stock and herbs de Provence. Bring the whole lot to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook covered for 20 to 30 minutes or until the chicken is done (when an instant read thermometer reads 165 in the thickest part of the thigh). Add the rosemary and cook for 10 minutes or more until the beans and chicken are very tender. If, at this point, the braising liquid is very thin, simmer uncovered for a few minutes more. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve immediately with chopped parsely and nice big hunks of rustic bread. Enjoy!

*The book says you can forego soaking the beans, but I soaked mine anyway.

Friday, January 21, 2005


Weebl (and Bob) say it quite well :)

What kind of Pie? Green Chile Apple. That's right - a pie with a little kick from a little bakery in Albuquerque, New Mexico called SeƱor Pie - sorry, they don't have a website (that I could locate anyway). After hearing about the pies on NPR, we decided we had to have taste...for gifting potential :) I usually use Zingerman's as my food gift resource, but living in the Southwest, I thought a chile-fruit pie would be something unique. And I can't very well go sending pies as a gift if I've never tasted one myself, now can I?

After some delay (the bakery really is quite small and is in the midst of converting their courier service from FedEx to UPS), the pie arrived packed in soft foam in a pizza-type box via 2nd day air. Sorry, no photos - the pie had slid slightly in its tin because the UPS man left it propped against my house - no worries, other than some cosmetic damage, the 12-inch (almost 3.5 lb) pie was in good shape. After a tasty Buffalo-Chicken salad for dinner, the pie was popped into the oven for a brief warming and was served up with a small ball of vanilla ice cream.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect - after all, I didn't know what to make of the Green-Chile Apple combination, but I will say the pie was tasty. A faint flavor of the chiles combined with the apple filling. The crust was absolutely lovely. Will I be sending them as gifts? I'm still undecided, but I'm definitely going to be enjoying my pie for the next several days :)

Other specialty flavors include Habanero Peach and Chipotle Cherry. They do regular fruit pies as well, and have quite the variety. mmmm. Pie.

Thursday, January 20, 2005


Highly Recommended: Trader Joes Brownie Truffle Mix. I tried to resist, by working out my frustrations yesterday at the gym, but I still had a crazy mad chocolate fix that needed to be handled so I swung by on my way home.

What? No photos? That's right. My camera was dead (just dead batteries, thank goodness or I would have been on another rampage, I'm sure). And since I use only rechargables, and had none charged on hand, I dug in sans pretty pictures. Y'all understand, don'cha? After could I possibly resist the wonderful chocolate smells that permeated the house while I waited for the batteries to charge?!

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Ribby's got Back!

Well. Clearly my bad day is not at an end.

Once I got the photos on a hosting site, I tried posting my proud progress and Blogger must have wanted dessert because it ate that post.

So here I am again. Here is the Back of Ribby - isn't she lovely? Medium (40/41) size, took just under 3 balls of yarn if I recall correctly. Holding it up to bright light, I can see where I did the joins (russian joins, remember) but I don't think it will be noticeable when I'm wearing it - especially after I've blocked. I'm now onto the plain portion of the two front panels (that's right - the plain portion of *both* front panels - I'm working them simultaneously).

If I can't get my mitts on some much needed chocolate, I'll have to settle for some quality time with Ribby.

Need Chocolate. Now.

Ever have one of those days when *everything* and I mean *everything* is conspiring against you?

I seem to be having one of those days today. To start it off, I rearranged my schedule so I could meet a time sensitive delivery that was supposed to be at my door this morning via UPS. Well, the big brown truck rolled through the neighborhood but didn't stop at my house. No package, thank you very much. The company I ordered from swore up and down it would be here today, but did they provide a tracking number so I could confirm it? No. Have they returned my calls? No. Have I been able to get a hold of someone who can help me there?? No. Wonderful.

Next in line: Scheduled some time to met with a friend for lunch on Friday. Yay! But guess what - I get notified as I'm calling into my 11am meeting that oh, people can't make the meeting today, so we're rescheduling. To Friday. At Noon. Loooooovely.

Next? Issues with uploading photos. Burps from Hello and Flickr both - the good news is after I jumped up and down and said a lot of non-complimentary things about both services, it would appear that miraculously after some time (10+ minutes) delay, out popped my photos from the ether and they landed where I could get to em....nope, I have no idea how this happened, and I don't care.

As I was swearing at my computer and Hello and Flickr, I figured a mood update was in order. To something along the lines of "grumpy." But alas, UnkyMoods is down for exceeded bandwidth.

Nearly last, I got almost this whole post down, pressed Publish - and Blogger ate it. Wonderful. You just can't get the rant back out the same way when it has to be done twice! Where's the fun in that?!

And finally, I nearly burned my lunch.
I'm now officially in search of chocolate. Some nice, dark 70+% cacao goodness.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

have you been assimilated?

I usually take pride in being an independent thinker, but there is something to be said for taking inspiration from a while back, I joined the Ribby Cardi-along - so I could see how other peoples Cardi's were coming along, and so I have more people to pester with my silly questions :D and having a bunch of people who are working on the same pattern to see progress and ask questions of is great.

I've also joined Secret Pals 4 - a knitbloggers gifting extravaganza. Doors close on Friday, so if you're interested in joining or want more info, go visit the SP4 blog. I figure hey, it would be fun to do a little gifting to brighten someone's day :)

And more in the way of being assimilated, I've been using the Russian Join method to add balls to my Ribby :) It seems to be working well, and it means one less thing to do when finishing. It does add a little bit of thickness where the yarns are grafted together, but I think it'll come out alright. Raquel has suggested picking up the yarn and kinda weaving it into the purl bumps on the wrongside as you go, and I might have to see if I can figure out how to do that :)

Monday, January 17, 2005


A rare weekend was spent at home relaxing, getting some quality knitting done (whoo! Much progress on Ribby!) and heading out for lunch and a movie. What movie? Did I head off and join the crowds that made Meet the Fockers a three week top rated movie (bumped to #2 this week, I hear)...nope! I rarely see movies on the big screen anymore - I usually wait patiently until they get released to VHS/DVD....unless it's something I think will benefit from big screen viewing - you know, films with amazing and fantastical special effects...or...movies done by Pixar. I love Pixar movies. The animation is amazingly well done, and so are the story lines. So, after a tasty lunch of pho, a quick pop into Barnes and Noble (had to see if they had anymore calendars....and they did - and I got one too, at 75% off, what a deal!), we popped in to see the Incredibles. If you haven't seen it yet, it's highly recommended :D

On another note, it would seem my engineering training (and my current job) has resulted in continued decline in my verbal skills - the calendar I picked up is the Page-a-Day Scrabble Calendar - and I'm finding my vocabulary just isn't up to par. Ah well, it provides a brief diversion during the day while I'm at work :) And, I'm learning new words - something to engage the mind and provide some diversion during the day, what more could I want from a calendar?

Thursday, January 13, 2005


Out with the old, in with the new....clean, tidy, organize and streamline everything. What is it with the New Year that drives these activities? Anyway, determined to work down my yarn stash, I've gotten 10 more rows of knitting done on Ribby. And in the mood for streamlining, today I subscribed to Bloglines. I never realized just how many blogs I check out :) but at least now I'll be notified of fresh content by the most handy Blogline Bot. And check it out, I've got a subscribe to bloglines button even! (And so does my FO blog!)

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

How exhausting!

Whew! All that deep thinking and personal introspection has just plain exhausted me ;) Unfortunately for my crafting, my brain has taken a turn to catching up on reading, resulting in not much progress on any of my projects.

Cozy continues to linger on needles with about 3 skeins (out of four!) of yarn to go!

I've only got twenty more rows to go....
.......on the BACK of my Ribby Cardi...BEFORE I start armhole decreases - yee. Sleeves and side panels and a zipper installation yet to come!

And of course, there's the self-imposed yarn diet until I can get all my yarn properly contained...which means I need to start using up my bulkier weight yarns (after all, they're hoggin valuable real estate!) so one of these days I'll be casting on for yet more scarves and I'm still planning on cranking out a Chenille Throw...pattern suggestions welcomed.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Everything in Moderation

How is it, that something that should be common sense, is considered News worthy?? With the New Year, comes the deluge of so-called news stories about diets and weight loss. As if it was breaking news, or some deep dark recently unearthed secret.

Everything in Moderation, I say. I'm going to enjoy my full fat ice cream, whole (and in some cases, double) cream cheeses, chocolate (mmm....chocolate! I'm partial to that gorgeous 70%+ cacao stuff...), pastries, pasta and rustic breads. Yeah, not only am I a yarn snob, I'm a food snob as well. I know what I like, and that's where I'm going to spend my money. I personally find no satisfaction in trying to convince myself that the "low-fat" version is just as good as the real thing - in most cases, I just find these low fat substitutions to be pale, chemically laden versions of what I'm truly craving - and who needs that?! Granted, I can't have it all those tasty goodies at once, and I certainly can't have them all the time - in this crazy world of easy access and super abundance, it's difficult to remember that those tasty things aren't going anywhere any time soon, and they will certainly be around tomorrow for the nibbling. So savor the goods, and enjoy what you eat!

Monday, January 10, 2005

Oh dear. I'm a snob.

I've discovered I'm a yarn snob. Acrylics just won't do for me any more. Working on Ribby and petting my Alpaca Baby Brush and not to mention my had-to-have-them skeins of Classic-Elite Sinful yarn, I've realized I much prefer working with natural fibers. They don't have to be expensive either, I really liked working with my Paton's Classic Merino - it just comes in earth/natural tones is all...and I need some color in my life. How did I come to this conclusion? Well, my hug just isn't warm enough in acrylic - and that Homespun is starting to create an odd halo in high wear spots - I bet it's going to go pilly on me any day now. Ah well. It's not to say that non-natural fibers don't have their place...There's a ridiculously soft linen-polyamide blend I keep running across at the Fiber Factory, and microfibers are notorious for being soft to the touch...many synthetic fibers are easier to care for and work well for people who have allergies. Ah well. Such is life. Thank goodness I'm on a Yarn diet :D and at least I know where to focus my attention at yarn sales in the future!

Saturday, January 08, 2005


My goodness, nothing like meeting up with creative people to get the gears rolling in the head for more and more ideas for cool things to make!

Before I get totally distracted, someone asked if ground beef would work out in the Mole soup, and I'd say yeah - but be sure to drain off the fat :) Tweak as you will - I always do :D

On knitting news, I finally got some not so good shots of the Hug up on my Finished Objects site, and I'm making slow but steady progress up the Ribby Cardi back. I may well be tabling the Butterfly Scarf from my Works in Progress - I was attempting to use up the remainder of my Lion Brand Homespun Yarn, but I think I just don't like that yarn very much. It's not very warm (being acrylic), it's splitty while knitting, and my hug is developing quite the halo - not a nice mohair-y halo, but a halo that looks like it might try to turn all pilly. Ick-o. Pilly knits. Worst case scenario is that yarn will get used up while I knit up new Cat toys :D so it'll get used...eventually.

After a tasty IKEA brunch with Amy of Amyville miniature goodies, we met up with some crafty ladies from Craftster! Today appeared to be knitting day, but these women are an inspiration for crafty goodness! I may well get cranking on that cross stitch that's been languishing all this time after seeing some of the gorgeous work that's been turned out! And I never knew the things you could make with Ties...

Friday, January 07, 2005

ole! Mole!

Lest you all think that all I can do in the kitchen is bake sweet things (remember...I aspire to be a pastry chef ;) ) I made a most tasty soup for dinner the other night and just had to share. It seems after my long string of knitting entries, I've gone back to my interest in cooking :P For some reason I can't seem to focus on both! Ah well, I've made *some* progress on my knitting, so things aren't at a complete stand still :) and at least this means I'm eating better again (chalk that one up to the new years resolutions).

Without further ado, here is my adapted version of Turkey Mole Soup (adapted from Cooking Light's 2004 Holiday Cookbook Collection). Before we get too far, I'm sure some of you are wondering why on earth I would cook a in one of those small, fuzzy, mostly blind, sometimes cute, insect-eating burrowing mammals. Well, fear not, while I am an adventurous eater, I don't eat small burrowing mammals (nope, not even bunnies - while I have tasted bunny (tastes like chicken, believe it or not), I had bunnies as pets when I was a kid and had no idea what I was being fed at the time. I wasn't happy about it when I found out I had partaken of Thumper). Mole, in this case, is dark brown Mexican sauce made of various chiles, spices, seasonings and....chocolate! Yep, chocolate. mmmm....let this be a lesson to you, chocolate can be added to things you wouldn't normally associate with chocolate! And it tastes oh so good! Mole can be found in most grocery stores that carry Mexican foods, and in my case, I used Trader Joe's Mole - which was surprisingly chocolatey.

Turkey Mole Soup

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 pound lean ground turkey
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons chili powder
6 garlic cloves, minced (I love garlic!)
1/4 cup prepared Mole sauce
1 quart chicken broth
1 19 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 4.5 ounce can chopped green chiles, undrained
salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and saute until the onion is translucent. Add the turkey, stirring to crumble and cook until browned. Add the bell pepper and chili powder, cook for about five minutes, stirring frequently.

Combine the mole and chicken broth, and add to the turkey mixture. Add the black beans, tomatoes, green chiles and salt and pepper to the pot, stir the soup to combine and bring it to a boil.

Once boiling, cover the pot, reduce the heat and simmer for about twenty minutes. Just before serving, adjust seasonings as necessary and throw in the cilantro.

Serves 8.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

I'd Rather be Baking Redux

Well now, I can't very well tell you guys how to bake banana bread and leave you hanging regarding that Pudding Bread, now can I? That would just be mean. So here it is:

1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 small package instant pudding mix*
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup Starter (recipe follows)
3/4 cup vegetable oil**
3 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped nuts -- optional

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour two 9x5x3-inch loaf pans.

In a small bowl, mix together the 1/3 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon; set aside until later.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, pudding mix, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, mix starter, oil, eggs, milk, and vanilla until well blended. Stir in flour mixture until dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in nuts. Pour into prepared loaf pans. Sprinkle the top of each loaf with the sugar-cinnamon mixture.

Bake 35-45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes. Remove and cool completely on wire racks.

Yield: 2 loaves, or approximately 24 servings.

*The original recipe calls for vanilla pudding mix, but I've used Butterscotch and Chocolate mixes with tasty be creative :)

**I've also deviated from the recipe by using 3/4 cups of butter softened or even melted. Now ask yourself - when has a recipe *not* been improved by using butter? ;)

For the Starter:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk

Day 1: Mix above ingredients in a large glass or ceramic bowl or jar, using a wooden or plastic spoon. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature. Refrigerate if room is very warm.
Days 2 to 5: Leave alone while mixture bubbles.
Day 6: Stir once.
Day 7: Combine above ingredients, then stir into the starter.
Days 8 to 9: Stir once each day.
Day 10: The starter is now ready to use for baking and/or giving away (which is why it is sometimes called "Friendship Starter". Feed with a mixture of the above ingredients before or after removing amount needed. Continue maintaining the remaining starter, stirring every day and feeding with above ingredients every fifth day.

NOTES : Always leave at least 1 cup of starter in the container. If you don't need an starter for baking or giving, you may have to take some out and discard it. This way you will always have a manageable amount of fresh starter. If you would rather not discard any, you may freeze it. Every thirty days or so, transfer your starter to a temporary container and thoroughly wash and scald the original container before returning the starter to it. If your starter has an unpleasant, doughy, or strong yeast smell, you may want to discard it and start again.

***Because this recipe makes quite a bit of starter, I've had good luck making it by halving all ingredients.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

I'd Rather be Baking.

Yeah, I know. Not starting out the New Year right by blogging in a timely manner. And recycling photographs! What *am* I thinking?!

Well, I've got knitting and baking on the brain. It's gloomy and rainy out, and I'd rather be doing those activities than...well...many other things!

So, what have I got for you today? The recipe for Banana Bread!

Here it is: Banana Chocolate Chip Bread, as adapted from Cooks Illustrated.

2 cups all-purpose flour
10 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 bananas -- very ripe, mashed well
1/4 cup sour cream (or use plain yogurt)
2 large eggs -- lightly beaten
6 tablespoons butter -- melted and cooled
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup (or more) mini-chocolate chips

Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease the bottom only of regular loaf pan, or grease and flour bottom and sides of nonstick 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan; set aside.

Combine first four ingredients and chocolate chips together in large bowl; set aside.

Mix mashed bananas, yogurt, eggs, butter, and vanilla with wooden spoon in a medium bowl.

Lightly fold banana mixture into dry ingredients with rubber spatula until just combined and batter looks thick and chunky.

Scrape batter into prepared loaf pan; bake until loaf is golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 1 9-inch loaf, serves 12.

NOTES : Greasing and flouring only the bottom of a regular loaf pan causes the bread to cling to the sides and rise higher. If using a nonstick loaf pan, on which the sides are very slick, grease and flour the sides as well as the bottom.

Now fire up that oven, get mashin' :) and enjoy!

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Happy New Year!

baby booties for baby new year!

just kidding - these were a last minute mystery gift for some friends who recently welcomed a new bundle of joy into their family

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a fabulous and safe holiday :D Nothing interesting here, I spent the New Year weekend getting in some local hiking, finishing up some projects, casting on for others and gearing up to get back in shape. Yes, the perennial commitment to be at peace with the local work-out facility and to not view things like the Step Mill, recumbent bike, treadmill, ergometer and elliptical trainer as machines of torture. Interestingly enough, the machine I used to call the "Torture-tron*" seems to have become my friend - not due to my having any real affection for the thing, but more likely because I actually feel a sense of accomplishment when I finish using it. Winner for the most fun to say equipment name is the Ergometer - probably because I have some weird twisted nerdy sense of humor - not only do I have a tendency to make a noise not unlike saying "erg" when rowing, and hey, aren't weird noises always funny - but an erg is actually a unit of work/energy. (and for you real nerdy types out there, an erg is the work done by a force of one dyne acting over a distance of one centimeter - equivalent to 10^-7 joules). How's that for random useless knowledge?

*How I came to call the torture-tron just that is now a lost mystery. For the curious, this machine is an assisted chin-up/tricep dip machine....