I was out of town over the weekend, and I always say to myself, "Hey, I can blog from out of town" and then I never do. And then I was nearly finished with a Vintage Beaded Glove (pre-beading) and wanted to have a photo to post, so that's why I've been missing nearly a week. That, and blogger was a pain about uploading photos (even with the no-formatting trick) and I couldn't figure out how to get more than one photo in a Flickr blog post. And then there were activities like pumpkin-carving and going for another ultrasound. I would have pumpkin photos up (if I do say so myself, our pumpkins are COOL), but the low-light setting on our camera is tricky, and all the pictures are pretty blurry.
The ultrasound was just fine. Naturally, she was moving around like crazy right before and then went to sleep as soon as the tech got out the gel.
Knitting: Hmph. Well, I finished the Branching Out in Cashcotton 4Ply, and it was lovely. You'll have to take my word for it, though, because I didn't take a photo before gifting it. Sunday was my baby shower, and the four scarves were gifts for the women hosting it. I think they were all well-received. Two out of four actually matched what the recipient was wearing, so they wore them during the shower. I do have photos from the shower in which my mother-in-law is wearing the Branching Out, but my husband was in charge of shower photography and managed to get 28 photos of me smiling at presents, with my mother-in-law seated next to me, obscured by a floral centerpiece.
I've been working on the garter stitch baby blanket, though I haven't talked about it much. It's a garter stitch square, so constant updates aren't really all that exciting. I did join Ball 4 of the yarn (out of 6), so I'm more than halfway there. The pattern calls for a satin edging, but unless I find someone with a sewing machine who knows how to use it, I won't be able to do one. Maybe a knitted-on border in another color?
And now, what you've all been waiting for, the Vintage (un)Beaded Glove. Here it is, looking all normal.
And then on my hand. It's a bit small for me, but it was a gift, and I think the length of the fingers would be fine for the recipient.
Here it is thumb up. The astute among you will notice that something seems amiss, perhaps in the thumb area.
Ah, there it is. This glove was clearly made for someone with mutant thumbs. Or I have mutant thumbs. At any rate, mutant thumbs are definitely involved here.
I re-measured, and the measurements match up with the pattern, at least as far as I can see. But the thumb is entirely in the wrong spot. I don't think any human thumb is in the position indicated by this glove, but maybe it's just me. Would a thumb gusset make a difference? Naturally, the photo in the book doesn't really show the fit at all, but I can't imagine the thumb is supposed to be there. So much for the Vintage Beaded Gloves from Handknit Holidays. The other problem with this pattern is the yarn. Don't get me wrong, I *love* Blue Sky Alpaca Silk, but I think gloves really need something with at least a little stretch, so maybe a sock yarn with nylon would make more sense. Even if these actually fit, they'd be a bit impractical for tugging on and off without yarn that has a bit of give, and I imagine without a thumb gusset they'd be hard to do normal activities in. So, I'm a little ticked off at this pattern right now. I also couldn't find anyone who'd actually finished the gloves, just people saying they'd bought the yarn or started them. It took a while to make this stupid glove, and now I have to come up with a new Christmas gift to replace these. Grrr. I'll probably reclaim the yarn for a scarf or something.
Reading: I read a fun children's book, Molly Moon's Hypnotic Time Travel Adventure, the third in a series. These are really cute and fun. If you're in Harry Potter withdrawal, they might be a nice diversion. The first in the series is Molly Moon's Incredible Book of Hypnotism. I keep trying The Alchemist, but haven't been able to get into it yet. I'm reading the first Jane Austen mystery by Stephanie Barron and enjoying it. The premise is that Barron is actually editing journals and letters written by Austen and found in somebody's attic, which is not my favorite literary conceit, but it's not overly intrusive. There are a few "editor's notes" in footnote form that pull you out of the story, but they're okay. The writing is quite good, and Jane is just as witty as you'd expect. Anyway, so far, so fun.
Writing: See above re: busy.
Cooking: Ooh, lots of cooking. I made the Grand Marnier Cranberry Muffins from one of Diane Mott Davidson's catering mysteries. One of my favorite muffins...yum, despite my baking powder, which I learned needed to be replaced, given the short stature of the muffins. I also made hummus from my Madhur Jaffrey's World of the East Cookbook (my standard recipe), and was able to confirm something that I've long suspected. Dried chickpeas make hummus 1,000 times better than canned. I used to lament that my hummus was good, but not as good as at a Middle Eastern restaurant, and I have to say I came close using the dried chickpeas. HUGE difference. It is more time-consuming, but not much active work. I just covered the chickpeas with water in a large bowl and left them overnight, then simmered them for an hour the next morning. I rinsed and drained and left them in the colander for a bit to cool while I did other things. Last night, I made Yellow Pepper and Pumpkin Soup from the latest Cooking Light, a mushroom pot pie, and Pain Automnal a la Courge, which sounds really impressive, but means Fall Squash Bread, more or less. I actually came up with the pot pie recipe on the fly, and Matt and I both loved it, so I'll post the recipe at the end of the post. The Yellow Pepper and Pumpkin Soup was fantastic, even though I couldn't find Spanish Smoked Paprika and just used regular paprika. It's a nice light fall recipe, much less hearty than the usual fall soups, which made it a great intro to a heavy pot pie. The Pain Automnal is delicious. Is it worth roasting and pureeing the squash instead of just using canned pumpkin? Hmmm. I'm not positive. I can taste the fresh roasted squash flavor in the bread, but I think canned pumpkin would still taste very good. I wish I had just slightly chopped the pecans and walnuts instead of throwing all the nuts and seeds into the food processor. More crunch would be nice. But excellent flavor. Next time, I'll reduce the amount of oil.
On to the pot pie...I don't usually use ingredients like condensed cream of whatever soup, Velveeta, Cool Whip, and other convenience foods that tend to show up in American casserole-type food. In fact, I don't generally like casseroles and other American potluck dishes. (Seriously, potato chips in real food? Fruit salad with marshmallows? I don't think so.) But since I was making a soup and the Pain Automnal last night, I decided to cut some corners with the pot pie, using cream of potato soup, cream of mushroom soup, and prepared puff pastry to make it quicker. I'd be interested to try a roux-based sauce from scratch sometime, but this turned out very well indeed. It did make a lot of pot pie. I filled up a 2.5 liter Corningware dish pretty completely with pot pie. Matt and I polished off nearly half of the amount, but were so full that I didn't make the roasted apples with pomegranate caramel I'd planned for dessert, so I'd guess it's 6-8 servings depending on what else you have on the table. Certainly substitute your favorite vegetables for the ones I happened to have on hand, and experimenting with different mushroom varieties or cream soups might be fun.
Mushroom Pot Pie
2 medium potatoes, scrubbed and diced (I used Yukon gold)
2 cups mixed frozen vegetables (I used a corn/peas/carrots/green beans mix)
3 TBL unsalted butter
1 small onion, diced
2 celery ribs with leaves, sliced
1 leek, cut in half lengthwise, washed, and sliced
8 oz. sliced white mushrooms
6 oz. portabella mushrooms, diced
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of potato soup
1/4 tsp black pepper (or to taste)
1 tsp thyme
1.1 lb package of puff pastry (2 sheets)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a pot of boiling water, blanch the frozen vegetables and potatoes 5 minutes. Drain.
In a large saucepan or skillet (I used my trusty 4-qt chef's pan), melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, leek, potatoes, frozen vegetables, and mushrooms. Cook until vegetables are soft and mushrooms have given up their liquid, about 10-15 minutes. Add soups, pepper, and thyme; simmer until warmed through. Spray a large casserole dish with cooking spray; line with one of the puff pastry sheets. Fill with vegetable mixture. Top with remaining puff pastry sheet. Spray with cooking spray and cut four small vents in the top. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes, or until puff pastry is golden brown. Serve hot.