Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Poseidon's Treasure Shawlette

"I smile o'er the wrinkled blue/ Lo! the sea is fair, smooth as the flow of a maiden's hair; and the welkin's light shines through/ into mid-sea caverns of beryl hue, and the little waves laugh and the mermaids sing, and the sea is a beautiful, sinuous thing!" - "The Sea Spirit," L.M. Montgomery

I was able to get more of the beads I needed to finish the Holden Shawlette. The size of the beads were uneven, so placing them on the stitches was a difficult process. Hence, I only placed them on 3 of the 5 wave repeats. However, I think it looks more interesting that way.

The colors of the yarn and beads, plus the foamy quality of the waves and the edging make me think of the tide coming in with jewels on the waves, as though some spunky mermaid had raided Poseidon's treasure chest - hence the name.

This was a remarkably easy knitting project, and the pattern can be found at Ravelry.com under the title "Holden Shawlette."

Have a good day!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Another Knitting Update

"Knitting is a boon for those of us who are easily bored. I take my knitting everywhere to take the edge off of moments that would otherwise drive me stark raving mad." - Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

I've been swimming in yarn lately - I have projects that have been waiting to be finished for months, other projects that needed to be done right away, and some projects that I reeeeeally wanted to make right away.

First on the list is a crocheted baby blanket I recently finished for my brother's friend who is a U.S. Marine, and whose wife is expecting a baby later this year:

Done in Marine colors, red and gold, with white to break it up a little. I found this pattern on the Ravelry.com database.

And speaking of finding lovely projects at Ravelry, I also found this beautiful Holden Shawlette while browsing through said-database:

image credit: lillysmum

I'm making mine with a Pima Cotton yarn in Parisian Blue (which is like a steel-grey-blue), and am placing Peridot-green colored pearl beads on every other wave around the edge. Sadly, I miscalculated (happens to the best of us) and ran out of beads, and need to put this project on hold until I can get some more. *siiigh*

Another project I've been working on for over a month now is the Frivolous Socks from the Jane Austen Knits magazine. I finally finished the first sock:

I am making these with the yarn I dyed - "Eire" - and purple beads with purple ribbon at the top. The second one is currently underway, and I'm looking forward to finishing it soon.

To be continued...

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Chicken, Brie and Caramelized Onions

"The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese." - G.K. Chesterton

Dinner tonight was a stroke of genius - this is going to become a go-to menu for my house:
  • Chicken stuffed with Brie and Caramelized Onions
  • Fried Apples
  • Green Salad with Golden Italian dressing

I've been wanting to make this chicken for a while, and my mom suggested the fried apples (pure brilliance on her part). I can't get over how good it all was - everything from the apples to the salad dressing to the Brie was a triumphant success.

The recipe for the chicken can be found here. However, there were some problems with the cooking instructions.

First, I made the onion mixture:

...then I mixed in cubes of Brie cheese once the onions had cooled. Next, I cut slits in the chicken breasts to make pockets, but (the first problem) stuffing these with the cheese and onions mixture proved sloppy, so I secured the openings with toothpicks:

Then I cooked the chicken in a skillet:

They cooked all over pretty thoroughly, except around the opening where the stuffing went in (second problem). I recommend taking the breasts out of the pan as the instructions say to do and make the sauce, BUT, after adding the broth and before allowing the sauce to reduce, put the chickens in another skillet with a little olive oil and between 1/4 and 1/2 cup of the sauce (or make the sauce in a separate pot), bring to a boil, cover with a lid and cook for about 3 minutes, or until all the pinkness is gone. If you follow this method, make sure the sauce does not cover the opening for the stuffing, as the cheese will run out if cooked in liquid.

As for the fried apples, you can't go wrong with this recipe. If you've ever visited a Cracker Barrel restaurant, this one attempts to replicate their famous fried apples. Be careful not to let them burn.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Waterlily Squares Blanket

"Sabrina fair, listen where thou art sitting under the glassy, cool, translucent waves, in twisted braids of lilies knitting the loose train of thy amber-dropping hair." - John Milton

After all this knitting, I decided that I needed a rest from K2tog, K1P2 and all the rest of it, so I picked up the crochet hooks and decided to bust through my yarn stash.

I sorted through my bags of yarn, matching colors and working squares to see how I liked them. Then I made a handful of squares, and noticed that they looked like waterlilies, so the Waterlily Stash-Buster Blanket was born.

the finished blanket

Here are a few of the squares, with names that reflect their color schemes (yes, I occasionally name my knitting projects. I have no shame):

"Circe's Lagoon"

"Monet's Pond"

"Forest Lake"

"Forest Lake pt. 2"

Once I had enough squares (35 total), I laid them out in several different patterns. I decided to make things interesting, and went with a mismatched pattern that I figured out as I sewed the squares into strips. Long story short, it came out like this:

the squares sewn together

Once sewn together, I crocheted an edge in light and dark blue yarns...

 ...and here is the finished result.

This blanket is made with yarns that are all either Chunky or Bulky weight, which means that this is one warm and heavy blanket - my dogs kept trying to lay on it while I was finishing the edging.

Happy Spring!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Easter Macarons

"Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won't stay there." - Clarence W. Hall

Thus marks my third attempt at baking macarons. While the St. Patrick's Day ones were a huge success, this time the meringue had a hissy fit. And by hissy fit, I mean a toddler girl in the toy section of Wal-Mart whose roaring wails can be heard anywhere in the store.

It was not pretty.

whipping some very bratty egg whites

Whipping the meringue usually takes only 11 minutes, but this time it took a good half-hour of constant beating with the electric hand mixer, and extra cream of tartar.

the Pistachio batter

And while the shells did rise and bake the way they should, half of them ended up with wrinkled skins and/or browned coloring.

the shells, unbaked

shells, baked

Which means that half of them came out alright, so it wasn't a total failure.

This time I made Pistachio shells with Strawberry Pate de Fruit filling. The pate presented difficulties, since the author of the macarons book insisted on a special type of pectin and also Guava paste, both of which were either impossible or very difficult to find nearby. So I did what any self-respecting amateur baker worth their salt does and improvised, with very tasty results.

Strawberry Concoction, about to become Pate de Fruit

I cut out the Guava paste from the recipe (it was originally supposed to be Strawberry-Guava, but strawberry by itself is still wonderful) and substituted extra strawberry puree and regular pectin. The end results were quite delicious, according to my official taste-tester (a.k.a. mom).

So I am going to mark this one down as "success." "Victory" is still a ways to go...

the finished product

I'm hoping to make macarons again in a month for Mother's Day (as well as for a few birthdays), so the ongoing pursuit of excellence in small French dessert sandwiches is by no means over. We will fight them in the kitchen, we will beat them with the electric mixer (Sorry to any Churchill fans). 

A blessed Easter to all.

Wisdom and Innocence Bible Reticule

"Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves." - Matt. 10:16 ESV

I found the pattern for this lovely Bible Reticule on the Ravelry.com database, and decided that I had to make one for Easter. Seeing as I started knitting on Palm Sunday, there was a bit of a race going on. Happily, I made it and finished the project early on Holy Saturday. I gave it the name "Wisdom and Innocence" for the white yarn with white pearl beads (Innocence) and the clever stitch work all over it (Wisdom).

I made this project in a smaller size, so as to fit my pocket-sized Bible, the dimensions of which are 4"x6"x1". 

Reticule, hanging with Bible inside - front

The front has the Scroll pattern - I put pearl beads in the seven centers of the scrolls, as well as in the ruffle around the edge.

side view

The sides have the Gull stitch...

back view

...and the back has the Elfin Lace stitch.

Reticule, hanging with Bible inside - back

I am planning on making one of these for my mother, as well as making another in red crochet thread for my book of prayers.

A blessed Holy Week to all.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Hot Cross Buns

"But that Christ on this Cross, did rise and fall, sin had eternally benighted all." - John Donne

Hot Cross Buns are a popular Easter staple. According to Christian tradition, they are to be made and eaten hot on Good Friday.

buns, baked

This year, we're keeping the buns to serve with Easter dinner, but I did make them on Good Friday. I used this recipe as linked in my previous post.

After mixing all the ingredients, I kneaded the raisins into the dough.

dough, before rising

Once kneaded, I let the dough rise for 1 1/2 hours.

dough, after rising

After the first rise, I cut the dough into pieces, rolled them into balls and placed them in the greased pan...

buns in the pan, unbaked

...and placed them in the oven to bake.

I did put crosses on them, but they dripped off and did not show up well. Maybe putting some cornstarch into the sugar-and-juice mixture would help them stay in place.

A blessed Good Friday to all.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Easter Undertakings

"It is the hour to rend thy chains, the blossom time of souls." - Katherine Lee Bates

Holy Week has arrived, and in the spirit of spring and salvation, I am undertaking several seasonal projects.

First is my crocheted Waterlily Blanket:

This was an experimental layout of the squares, and is not the final layout. I put up pictures of two different layouts on my facebook page - one mismatched and one in lines - and asked friends to pick their favorite. The mismatched won, and I am in the process of sewing them together, but not as seen above. This was a stash-buster project (meaning I opened up my bags of stashed yarn, figured out color palettes and started making squares).

Next is a knitted Bible Reticule:

image credit: Driftwood

I am trying to finish one of these by the evening of Holy Saturday, to be used on Easter Sunday. I'm using the white wool fingering-weight yarn I used on the baby Christening Gown, with white pearl beads for the ruffle, and I will be placing pearl beads in the 7 centers of the scroll pattern above.

Needlework aside, seeing as I'm coming to the end of my Lenten fast from sweets (which has not been without its moments of weakness), I am planning some tasty desserts for Easter weekend.

First off, since the St. Patrick's Day macarons were such a success, I am planning on taking another swing at them and am making Pistachio shells with Strawberry Pate de Fruit filling. Since the French method of baking the shells turned out so well, I'll be following that method again.

I am also going to make a traditional Easter favorite - Hot Cross Buns:

image credit: thefreshloaf.com

The recipe I will use can be found here.

More posts and pictures for all of these projects will be forthcoming.

A blessed Holy Week to all.