Archive for October, 2008

Many roads lead to the mountain top of denial.

Raven and I both screw up our knitting projects quite often.  The essential difference between us is that I will calmly continue on, while Raven will rip out 6 feet of perfect rows in order to fix one dropped stitch.  Both of us then pretend like nothing ever happened.  Denial, my friends.  In our minds, we are still perfect. 

Now with my normal knitting skill set, the worst thing you can do is knit where you should purl, or mysteriously gain or lose a stitch, resulting in an unsightly blip on an otherwise smooth surface.  Cabling, however, presents a whole new world of strange errors all its own.  One minute, you’re knitting peacefully, then suddenly chaos and mayhem erupt all over your work-in-progress in the form of strange, wormy ridges going this way and that all willy-nilly-like.  Just try and figure out what you did wrong there.  You never will.

Of course, I have just kept on trucking along with the neck-warmer. Bizarre mishaps and all.  I’ll put up a picture when it’s done, I promise.

A Keeneland Wedding

A Keeneland Wedding

A Keeneland Wedding

Donnie’s brother and his new wife came to visit two weekends ago. We (meaning Donnie, David, Jillian, and Raven) took them to Keeneland for a fun day of racing. The weather was beautiful, although I was cold (I still have not mastered the art of layering clothes).

Anyway, between the races and a frightening excursion into claustrophobia inducing crowds all for four dollar nachos, A WEDDING TOOK PLACE! Not on the lovely Keeneland grounds, but right behind us in the stands! Crazy, huh? Donnie took a picture to document the big moment and then we resumed the nacho eating.

I also attempted, with the help of my sister-in-law, Becca, to make homemade French bread for the first time ever. I was very proud of this attempt, although I never knew kneading (don’t you love alliteration) could be so hard. The bread turned out very well and the recipe was easy. Just 2 (cups, teaspoons, tablespoons, etc.) of different ingredients. Unfortunately, I lost the recipe shortly after making the bread.

The bread

The bread

Because this venture was so successful, I went to the library and checked out a lovely bread book. After looking through the recipes I realized that I would never, ever, ever, in a million years be able to make any of them. They are for People Not Like Me. People Not Like Me are people who don’t mind kneading dough for hours and who can make their bread come out in the shape of weird things like trees and mushrooms (these were real recipes in the book!).

I’ve got to find that easy recipe.

Did I mention that I caught a cold while I was there?

I apologize for leaving the blog virtually unattended for an entire week without warning.  I especially apologize to the strangers who came across this site by accident, and then checked back, figured it was defunct, and will never return.  The thought torments me. 

 

There is a reason for my absence, though.  I was on a business trip (very grown-up of me, I think) to Atlanta for four looooong days last week.  I had to drive there with a virtual stranger which allowed me to experience repeated anxiety attacks for the 4 days leading up to the event resulting in 8 full days of dread and unease.  Luckily, I did not have the added pressure of actually driving, since my driver’s license was stolen from me about 2 years ago and I haven’t yet gotten a new one. I will emphasize here that, although I do not have a DRIVER’S LICENSE, I am a LICENSED DRIVER, okay? So it’s not really all that illegal what I’m doing here. 

 

At any rate, after our tense descent into Atlanta via the 37 lane highway, I was able to regroup by watching CABLE TV (oh, how I have missed you) while in bed and by knitting (more on that in a second).

 

There is only one interesting outcome from this trip: I ate my first meal in a revolving restaurant.  I know, it sounds cheesy, but I maintain that this experience was every bit as magnificent as it was disorienting.  The restaurant was called “The Sundial” and was located on the 72nd floor of the Westin (home of the heavenly bed. No, we did not stay there. Booo).  The idea is that you make one full rotation every hour, which I verified by cell phone clock.  This is not really how a sundial works, but whatever.  The food was overpriced, but I didn’t mind because it was so good. 

 

 

So on the awkward, 7 hour ride home, I knitted the Urchin hat from Knitty.com.  Even though it required the dreaded crochet cast-on, and the new territory of “wrap and turn”, it was very easy and fun to knit (once I worked out some pattern discrepancies) and as an added benefit, it came out really cute, but you’ll just have to trust me on that one, since I gave it away before I could take pictures.  Oh, I could show you the other one I made, but then there will be pressure to wear it, and I don’t think I ever will, so I’ll just have to make another one, I guess. But Raven made one as soon as she saw mine, so she can take pictures of hers and post it. So I am officially turned back on to knitting, which is good because I have promised a neck snuggly to a certain bearded bike seller in exchange for labor leading to a new (old) Schwinn with a headlight! I found the perfect pattern, bought and frogged the perfect wool and acrylic blend goodwill sweater, and am ready to try my hand at cabling.  You heard me. 

Cooking is a violent act.

Right on the heels of our previous avian massacre comes this disturbing sight:

I know, I know, that’s not a bird (some might say it looks like something else entirely…Raven), but here’s how this went down:

 

[insert law and order sound effect here]

 

It all started with butternut squash soup. David was leaving for some school thing, so I thought I’d start making it while he was gone.  While I was prepping the ingredients for said soup, David casually observed, “That squash looks just like a goose; and you cutting its head off like that is really gross.”  And then he left. 

 

I KNOW.

 

So I had just cut off the head of this thing so that I could stuff it into the MICROWAVE, but before that, I had to STAB IT ALL OVER WITH A FORK. And the plan was to then REMOVE ITS SKIN. I’m freaking myself out all over again. 

 

Also, here’s something I wasn’t really prepared for:

 

 

I just didn’t realize that butternut squash had guts like that.

 

So anyway, the soup came out really good, so here is the recipe:

 

1 medium sized, goose shaped butternut squash

1 yam

2 new potatoes or 1 regular sized one

1 or 2 carrots

1 onion

2 apples

Chicken or vegetable stock

½ cup milk

1 bay leaf

¼ cup sugar (although it just occurred to me that brown sugar might be better)

Cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste

Sour cream

Fresh parsley

 

Cut up all the veggies and the apples  into cubes and throw them into the crock pot, then add the dry spices and sugar.  The squash is easier to peel if you stab it all over with a fork, then stick it in the microwave for 30 seconds or so.  Pour in chicken stock until it comes about ¾ of the way up the veggies. 

 

Put your crock pot on low and let it go all the live-long day.  When you get home from work, use your immersion blender to puree it all up and add the milk if you want it to be a bit more creamy (we did).  Taste it and season as needed.

 

Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of parsley.  This was so good with the fresh bread, too.  Yummy.

 

Makes 4,000 servings, but freezes well.

Promised Parade Pics

Speaking of Bread…

David and I have a great relationship.  I’m telling you this in case you’re my mom and are about to read the following and have a panic attack about my marriage.  It’s fine.  There’s just one thing: David and I CANNOT work together on any project that requires any amount of decision-making.  You see, we both have a baaad case of “I know everything, you know nothing” which can create some….tension while attempting to accomplish things.  The first time we realized this was when we first got married and were a little poor (ha! “were”-who am I kidding!) and we had to buy EVERY SCRAP of our furniture from IKEA.  Those of you who have IKEA furniture realize the task that lay before us: assembling 37,000 bits of mdf, screws, cams, pegs, etc with the aid of smiling stick figures (MOCKING YOUR IDIOCY) and the most minimalistic line drawings EVER.  We are talking at least 12 unassembled pieces of furniture that I can name off the top of my head.  I will spare you the nasty details of the smarter-than-you brawls that ensued.  Suffice it to say that the only piece we did together was the only thing that was physically impossible to do alone (ie our bed, THE SYMBOL OF MARITAL LOVE AND UNITY…oh the irony).

Which brings me to my recent observation: In the face of crippling personality defects, we are making significant headway in this area!  Case in point: We had such a wonderful bread-baking experience on Sunday that we’ve decided to make it a weekly tradition.  We used this recipe from allrecipes.com because it was the simplest one that we could find.  I don’t even have a funny anecdote to relay because everything went PERFECTLY-I let him stir, he let me knead-we were like the freaking INGALLS’!  And it really was easy!  Honestly, I think all the intimidation about bread-baking is just a ploy to get you to spend $4.29 a loaf at the supermarket.  The only difficult thing about it is the waiting.  It had to rise 3 times and each time took about 30 min., plus it had to bake for 30 min., so we are talking a 2 hour+ time commitment.  That’s okay for us, though because:

1.  We have no money, so where would we go anyway?

2.  The perfect opportunity to get a couple loads of laundry done!

3.  Trust me, it’s worth it in the end.

Mmm, bread and butoxyethanol, my favorite!

The four of us (Raven, Donnie, David and I) have been increasingly disturbed by the price and ingredient lists of our cleaning supplies lately and wanted to try out some non-toxic and cheaper alternatives.  We do a lot of cooking and often prepare food right on the countertops (very undignified, I know), so the non-toxic thing was pretty important since I don’t necessarily want to eat rubbing alcohol, butoxyethanol, ethylene or blue dye-but that’s just me.  A very quickGoogle search turned up thousands of recipes for different DIY cleaners, most including some combination of vinegar, water, baking soda and essential oils, so we decided to try it out. 

We got a spray bottle and filled it with one part white distilled vinegar and four parts water to make a basic all purpose surface cleaner.  The smell, while a tad sour, was not as bad as I thought it would be and it dissipates as soon as it dries. Vinegar is a natural sanitizer (I read about it here) and does a great job for us-everything in our kitchen comes up surprisingly clean and shiny.  A few days after we starting using this spray, we bought some lavender essential oil at the Co-Op and put in like 25 drops.  That has made a big difference and it actually smells really nice now.  The spray literally cost us less than a dollar to make and it has replaced our lysol and granite cleaner polish stuff, so we are happier, healthier and a littel bit richer to boot.  Woo Hoo!

Our next step is to replace our bathroom cleaners that have bleach in them.  This is going to be hard, because we are currently bleach enthusiasts, but we’ll try it out.  I’ll let you know how it goes.