Saturday, October 23, 2010

Finding the Weaving Groove

Those of you who have been reading a while may remember my table loom, Miss Bennet. For the last year and a half, she's been sitting folded up and unused (because I didn't have anywhere to set her up) but today I finally dusted her off and opened her up. This morning I wound a warp for a green wool scarf, and dressed the loom for weaving. I did a bit of sampling for practice, and once I'd found my rhythm, I started weaving the scarf. It's pretty wide at the moment (nearly twelve inches) but I'm sure that between draw-in (the tension of weaving that pulls in at the sides of the cloth) and fulling it after I take it off the loom, it will be somewhat narrower after.

You can see it's a simple pattern, bands of plain weave surrounding bands of basketweave. A simple design to thread and weave, to help me find that groove of weaving, after a year off. Still, I have to admit that I find even this simple design pretty exciting. Hopefully it will turn out to be a nice scarf when I'm done.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Chicken, Cheesecake, Octopus

I have definitely gotten back into my cooking groove, lately. It may have been sparked by the great Thanksgiving meal my HLM and I made last week (with not only pumpkin pie, but also accompanied by my favourite delicious banana bread.) My groove was certainly helped along with some excellent garlic-marinated barbequed pork chops with some homemade porcini mushroom sauce, a few nights ago. Sorry, no photos -- that food is all long gone, now.

Autumn appears to be in full swing, here, so tonight I decided I wanted some comfort food to warm myself up. I saw a recipe somewhere today for a chicken pot pie with leeks and mushrooms, and decided that I didn't really need a recipe to make it, so I came home and improvised this one. It didn't take that long, and I think it's going to be something I revisit again and again this winter.

I did wuss out and use a frozen pie crust. Don't judge me -- I made one from scratch for the pumpkin pie last week, I promise.

It looks a bit messier on the plate, but it still tasted pretty great. Just a hint of thyme and sage really fill out the flavours. Yum.

Then, last week I got a craving for cheesecake, so I pulled out a recipe for Vanilla Bean Cheesecake, taken from Junior's Deli in NYC. I have wanted to go there and eat their cheesecake ever since I learned of them in Tom Robbins' Still Life With Woodpecker:

Who knows how to make love stay?
  1. Tell love you are going to Junior's Deli on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn to pick up a cheesecake, and if love stays, it can have half. It will stay.
  2. Tell love you want a momento of it and obtain a lock of its hair. Burn the hair in a dime-store incense burner with yin/yang symbols on three sides. Face southwest. Talk fast over the burning hair in a convincingly exotic language. Remove the ashes of the burnt hair and use them to paint a mustache on your face. Find love. Tell it you are someone new. It will stay.
  3. Wake love up in the middle of the night. Tell it the world is on fire. Dash to the bedroom window and pee out of it. Casually return to bed and assure love that everything is going to be all right. Fall asleep. Love will be there in the morning.

But I digress. The main difference with a Junior's cheesecake is the crust -- you will find no graham wafers, here (and good riddance!) Junior's makes a very thin sponge cake for the crust, and then loads a bunch of delicious fluffy cheesecake on top. I have to admit that I was skeptical at every stage of this cheesecake. I wasn't sure that the crust turned out right, and then I wasn't sure that the cheesecake batter baked properly, and basically I just made it and crossed my fingers and stored it in the fridge overnight. The next day I cut myself a slice, and as the knife went through, I could tell it was going to be fluffy and perfect. I wish you could taste it. I am definitely a convert to the Junior's way of doing things.

Lastly, in knitting news, I have made an octopus. Okay, not quite -- only five arms, I know. I have finished knitting the main part of Girlie Friday, and have sewn the sleeve seams already (and tried it on, I will admit. I didn't want to take it off; the sleeves alone were so warm and cozy.) Tonight I will sew the side seams and then wet block it. Tomorrow I will pick up the stitches for the collar/front bands and see how that goes. On the home stretch!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

To Frog or Not to Frog

A week or so ago, I got it into my head that I needed to knit some new mittens. I found a cute design on Ravelry and dug out some stash Cascade 220 in some cool contrasting colours, and decided to jump in.

In the past, the mittens I have knit have always had a snug little ribbed cuff that clings to the wrist. These mittens are of the style where there is no shaping between arm and wrist and hand, but have a little thumb gore that you make on the side and then pick up thumb stitches when you're done the hand.

Here's the thing: It fits a bit snug in the arm, where the knitted braids sit, and a bit loose in the hand, which is okay, too. The wrist -- the wrist is where the problem lies. Since it's the same size as the hand and arm, it's really floppy there, and I don't really like it. I don't like it to the point that I'm not sure if I'll wear the mittens.

I am hoping that blocking might help -- it'll make the hand and arm fit better, I'm sure, and while I can't do much about making the wrist fit better, at least the fabric will be even and flat and lovely, there, with better drape. Maybe that will make enough of a difference.

Certainly it can't be argued that they are cute mittens with adorable robots on them, and that the double-layer of worsted weight wool will make them super warm. The only question is: should I carry on and finish knitting them and block them in the hopes that I will learn to love them or should I call it a day and frog them and make a different pair?

There is something that I dislike about frogging a project -- is it about admitting defeat, or about feeling like I'm somehow letting the project down by not finishing it? I suppose I'm just being neurotic, either way.

What do you think? To frog or not to frog?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

The weather today was sorta cool, sorta warm, sorta cloudy, sorta rainy. In other words, a perfect day for some roast chicken. Having recently watched a great video for a recipe on skillet-cooked chicken with a lovely herb sauce, I decided that today was the day to try it out.

Verdict: easy & delicious.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

That Sort of Sunday

Have you ever had the sort of Sunday where you make bread pudding for supper? (Please take a moment to admire those browned crusty bits poking out the top, which somehow soaked up the sweet eggy mixture and then caramelized in the oven into something truly heavenly.)

The sort of Sunday, I mean, where you drown it in warm whiskey sauce and then curl up on the sofa to eat and knit and watch the latest episode of Rubicon?