Friday, April 03, 2009

Mostly Cooking, a Little Knitting

I will try not to post pictures of Clapotis constantly, as it advances inch by inch, but I'd made enough progress to post another picture.

It's fun! Everyone who said this pattern was fun is absolutely right. It advances row by row in a quick, pleasant fashion, a perfect balance between interesting and simple. I'm on the straight section now, on the second ball of yarn. I expect to use six in total based on Ravelry comments. This leaves me plenty of brain power to muse on my next project. I rarely get to the new issue of Knitty until the next issue is imminent (another change from pre-Lilah knitting when I would check daily for the new issue), but I'm glad I got there, because I *have* to make the Shipwreck Shawl. I had a few decisions to make, and I'm getting there. The designer calls for knitting the entire shawl (beaded, no less, with 5000 beads) in Knitpicks Gloss Bare, then dyeing it. I am SO not crazy enough to do that and risk ruining a completed shawl, even if I did a few dyeing projects to be less of a novice first. So I'm left with pre-dyed yarn, and I had to decide on a color. I think I would use a grey shawl a lot more than a blue one. Then, I thought, do I put expensive yarn on my Christmas list or go with Knitpicks Gloss so I can make it now? It's a rustic-looking shawl, I think, and would be fine in Knitpicks, plus the beads add a lot, so I don't think expensive yarn is needed. So I'm thinking grey Knitpicks Gloss, with maybe a blue mix of beads. Also, I'm a bead newbie, so I'll have to figure out how many (since they seem to be sold by ounces, not by number of beads) and if blue mix will look okay with the grey. Good story, huh? Aren't you glad you read the whole thing? Anyway, any input is always welcome while I work this out in my brain.

Reading: I finally read The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian, who wrote Midwives quite a while ago. I think I liked Midwives okay, because I don't really remember it that well, so it's unlikely I either loved it or hated it. I had to really force myself to slog through the first 100 pages, which were disjointed and full of endless exposition (because why not introduce an irrelevant character with a scene of action or dialogue, when you can just summarize their life in paragraph after paragraph?). There was a "surprise" ending that I saw coming (though I didn't get all the parts of the surprise) and felt cheated quite a bit with internal inconsistencies (all conveniently explained by the twist, argh). And a ridiculously brutal depiction of violence that seemed way out of place. A disappointing read. But I did read the forthcoming fourth book in the Sam Acquillo mystery series, Hard Stop, and I really just love this series. And now I'm reading The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe, a novel about a graduate student who cleans out her dead grandmother's house and finds clues about Deliverance Dane, a woman who may have been a witch during the Salem Witch Trials. It is a fun, fun read so far! It sounded similar to Interred With Their Bones (which was Shakespeare instead of Salem Witch Trials), which I did NOT like, but this one is an absolute blast. I think it'll be a great summer read.

Writing: Nope.

Cooking: Oh, I have some fun stuff here. For my birthday, my mother-in-law gave me Wine Bar Food, a cookbook by Cathy and Tony Mantuano (he's the chef at Spiaggia in Chicago) that does little dishes from all over the Mediterranean and pairs them with wines. She also gave me a pound of Caciocavallo, a cheese called for in a baked appetizer in the book. So we had friends over and I made:

Crispy Parmesan Flatbread (Milan)
Red Grape Focaccia (Florence)
Baked Caciocavallo (Forence)
Nonna's Broccoli Rabe (Naples)
Moroccan Vegetables (Seville)
Chickpea Puree With Flatbread (Nice)
Almond Cake (Milan) with Amaretto Whipped Cream

Everything was great. No duds here. The broccoli rabe was fantastic, and I'll have to snag more at the market so I can make it again. I had Moroccan Vegetables over couscous as leftovers for lunch, and that was great. We also sliced leftover focaccia and stuffed it with mozzarella, then baked at 350 until the cheese melted for really yummy sandwiches. Anyway, I've been asked before to post food photos, but since my photography is extremely basic and our lighting is yucky, I usually don't bother. But Matt said I *had* to get pictures of this meal. I actually like the one of the cheese before baking--I like the herbs scattered on top! I forgot to get dessert pictures, though.

I also made Hedonistic Fudgies. They are so good. There are a couple of things missing in the recipe, so I decided to type it up because I use Lee's recipe printed out with a bunch of my notes on it, so this will be easier. But this is NOT my recipe, it's entirely Lee's.

Hedonistic Fudgies
(from Lee Davenport
Makes 4 dozen

4 cups chocolate chips, divided (I use two bags of Ghiradelli 60%)
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder

1. Preheat oven to 350. Heat 2 cups chocolate chips and chopped butter together in a large saucepan over medium-low heat until chocolate begins to lose its shape. Remove from heat; stir until smooth.

2. While chocolate is heating, beat together eggs, sugar, and vanilla into a medium bowl. In a small bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking powder. Whisk egg mixture into melted chocolate mixture, combining well. Stir in flour mixture until smooth, then add remaining chocolate chips.

3. Spray cooking sheets with nonstick spray and, using a teaspoon, place mounds of batter an inch apart. Bake for 7-9 minutes, or until cookies are dry around the edges. Repeat with remaining batter. I make these small and get about 4 dozen using a teaspoon. That makes them approximately 2 Weight Watchers points each, a nice treat.


Meryt Bast said...

You can dye it just fine with Jacquard's acid dyes; that's what I dyed the fabric for your cloak with. Just don't plunge it into cold water right after dyeing, and don't agitate the heck out of it while it's in the dyebath. has some good dyeing hints.

And yes, I'd love the Grace yarn, if you can't use it. Thanks!

YarnThrower said...

I've knit with beads a few times, and I love it when I don't have to "pre-string" them... I very much prefer the method with the crochet hook. I am, however, the worst color coordinator ever, and my only experience with dyes are the ones which can be swallowed (Kool-Aid and Crystal Light (CL had a much better "yellow" when I needed yellow)), and I'm not very good at pairing beads with yarn... It will be fun to watch as you knit that shawl, however!

Wonderful food pictures! Really puts my air-filled-by-accident pizza crust to shame :-)

Stefaneener said...

Hated Midwives, although he got the culture spot on, he made a straw man villain. Hated it. Ugh ugh ugh.

Have fun knitting and you're making me hungry.

Mary said...

The food looks excellent! I've made some red grape foccacia, and it was delicious.
And I was definitely wooed by that shawl pattern, but at my current rate of knitting, I'd never finish it. But I think gray yarn with blue beads could look nice, I kind of like when the beads contrast a bit with the yarn; it's makes them stand out more and look more impressive. :)

Anonymous said...

Yes, blue/grey mix sounds great. Don't wait till Christmas. I like the Gloss grey, and I think the silk in that fiber in combination with the beads will create such a lovely sheen.

Your cheese and flatbread and fudgies look so delicious - as I sit here eating Peanut M&Ms and Baked Cheetos for dinner in a hotel room. Grrrrreat.