Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I hate you, Martha Stewart!

So, it's been a busy week or so. My husband finished his Ph.D in August, but his graduation was this past Sunday. Graduations aren't the most entertaining, but I did tear up a little bit when he walked across with his advisor. Anyway, we had family in town, which is fun, but necessitates cleaning the bathroom and such :)

Our cloth diapers came in yesterday, so I'm prewashing those. I can't believe how excited I got about cloth diapers :) Areli, I'm due January 18, so it's coming up!

So, onto my Martha Stewart vent... I have this holiday cookie magazine issue of hers, and I've made several kinds of cookies from it. I've been happy with all but one (so 10/11 have worked out great) UNTIL last week. We have a friend studying baboons in Botswana for several months, and another friend is going out to visit her. She very kindly offered to pack any gifts we wanted to send to Liza (mailing stuff there is...challenging). So we put together a few things, and I decided to make Hanukkah cookies to send to her (I know doughnuts are the traditional way to go, but it's a multi-day trip and I didn't think they would stay good). First, I couldn't find Hanukkah cookie cutters except online, and I didn't have time to order any. But I had a six-pointed snowflake cutter, and Matt and I decided we could use frosting to make six-pointed star cookies. We also decided to make some monkey cookies, since Liza's a primatologist and she missed out on monkey cookies earlier this year. I decided to use Martha's basic sugar cookie and royal icing recipes. I followed the sugar cookie recipe exactly, and the dough was really crumbly. But there were a couple of chilling steps, so I thought it would end up okay (I've made sugar cookies maybe twice in my life and couldn't remember how the dough was). Nope. A crumbly, pain-in-the-tush mess of dough resulted. Matt managed to roll it out, more or less, and cut out shapes, though they were not smooth and shiny like the ones the lady in the illustration cut out. So then, I made the royal icing recipe, which called for beating the frosting on LOW speed for several minutes (which seemed weird to me, since I thought high speed would be more likely to thicken frosting). Naturally, it stayed thin and runny. I chucked in some cream of tartar and cranked up the speed and it worked out in the end. Throughout this process, there was much maligning of Martha's intelligence and ancestry. Anyway, here are the cookies:

On to...Knitting: My mom's scarf for Christmas is going.

This is the Column of Leaves Scarf and I really like it. It's an 8-row repeat, and it's fun. Even the p2tog tbl is entertaining. It's steadily growing. I have one more scarf to bust out this week. Matt will be opening a Christmas gift of one sock, as I won't have time to do the second one before Christmas. That way, I can make sure it fits him first, anyway. Thank you to everyone for the suggestions on picking up stitches. I'm sort of a sock spaz, since I don't have much experience with them, and I tend to be afraid to deviate at all from the patterns. I will pick up a couple extra on the next sock and see how that goes! I also chucked the lace photo mat idea, which was a nice one, but I just don't have the energy for high-pressure knitting right now.

Reading: Still re-reading the Davidson books.

Writing: Meh.

Cooking: Besides the Martha Stewart cookie drama, I made Cranberry Banana Muffins. I happened to be re-reading the Davidson book that includes the recipe for low fat banana muffins, and I decided to use cranberries and add citrus for a little tang. I also busted out my jumbo muffin tins, which I thought would be festive with company coming. So, here's the recipe:

Banana Cranberry Muffins
(makes 24 regular or 12 jumbo)

4 1/2 cups flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
5 tsp baking powder
1 3/4 tsp salt
3 mashed ripe bananas (about 1 3/4 cups)
1/4 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
juice and grated zest of one orange
2 cups fresh cranberries

Preheat the oven to 350. Spray muffin tins with cooking spray. Sift together the dry ingredients. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together bananas, oil, eggs, buttermilk, and orange juice and zest. With mixer on low speed, add dry ingredients. Stir in cranberries. Divide batter evenly between 24 regular or 12 jumbo muffin cups. Bake for 25 minutes for regular muffins, or 35 minutes for jumbo. Check with toothpick for doneness. Serve warm with honey butter. This recipe freezes well.


Stefaneener said...

Scarf is beautiful. Cookies -- do they have an errata page for the magazine? Cloth diapers are fun. Really. I miss 'em for this one.

Marie said...

I always approach Martha's recipes with trepidation. They always look so beautiful in the end result photos and seem so straight-forward but there's always a catch... The cookies still look quite pretty. :) The scarf is gorgeous. That's one pattern I will have to try. It reminds me a bit of the Falling Leaves scarf with the 3-D leaves.

Annie said...

Woo hoo! We are making the same scarf! And email me at annieknits@mac.com. I have an AMAZING cut out cookie recipe. The secret is sour cream...

Rain said...

Congrats to your hubby on his graduation. I'm sure he won't mind getting just the one sock - especially if you fill it with goodies.

The scarf for your Mom is really pretty.

YarnThrower said...

As usual (and, I'm not surprised), and under iffy circumstances, your baking turned out great! What fun cookies! And, congrats on the graduation!

String Bean said...

The cookies came out great-looking even without "help" from Martha. She drives me up the wall. Sorry I haven't been reading your blog lately. I've been knitting like a crazy woman (crazier than Martha). I love the socks you knitted! Very Hogwarts, although I guess that's what you were going for.
Jan. 18! I gotta get knitting baby things for you! Just have to finish these gifts...

Rachel said...

You have great taste in scarves! I love the new one you're working on.

This is hugely embarrassing to admit, since I don't have children nor do I expect to have any in the terribly near future, but I am stupidly interested in cloth diapers and can spend a lot of time online looking at the various offerings. They can be so cute, though, and they make so much sense! I'm glad to hear you're using them and I'd be interested to know what "system" you've chosen. Are you going to knit yourself some wool "soakers"? Those things go for like $25 each if you buy them instead of make them.

Err, as I said, it's a little embarrassing, this irrelevent interest of mine.

KnitPastis said...

Cute cookies! Lovely scarf. I hope you are doing well and wanted to wish you a Happy New Year and big congrats to your hubby!