Plaid!

This is coming along nicely. The pattern produced some interesting challenges. Intarsia in the round is not a challenge but getting the width of the horizontal red to match the width of the vertical red was. I tried Latvian braid but it was excessively fussy for the desired result. The answer proved to be a sizer larger crochet hook and surface crochet worked in the desired location. The second challenge was getting good corners where the red changed directions.

I’m having to cut the background color’s yarn at the start of each square. It’s not onerous and the result is very good. I’ve been working in ends as I go.

My hat!

Leftover sunset shrug yarn . . . but this time for me!

This is really simple helix. I’ve got a jog where the color changes but I’m thinking the mailbox isn’t going to care when I show up wearing it.

Stepping up my game

My cod/shrimp chowder thing is continuing to improve. Today’s effort is particularly good. Added . . . mushroom and cooked broccoli. OMGosh. SO good.

Here’s the guide when cooking for one.

All the veges are equal amounts with red and green pepper counting as one veg. I cut all the veges (except cooked broccoli – sliced, zucchini – sticks and mushrooms halved and sliced) into 1/4″ cubes. In total that’s about 1/8 cup each of cooked broccoli, mushrooms, peppers, zucchini, spinach and green onion.

Heat a cast iron skillet (my pan of choice) adding butter, garlic oil and sesame oil (twice as much butter as each oil). Add green onion, peppers, mushroom and saute’ for a bit. Add zucchini, spinach and broccoli and sautee for a bit.

Add seafood. This really can be anything. I used cubed cod (1/4 lb. pacific) and 4 medium shrimp diced into four pieces each.

Add bone broth (about 2/3 cup), sour cream (1/2 cup), clam broth (1 tbsp), fish sauce (1/2 tsp), cilantro (1/2 tsp) and Korean red pepper (gochugaru, 1/2 tsp).

Stir to incorporate everything and let simmer until the fish is done.

This is SO good!

Cod/Shrimp Chowder

I’m still playing with cod/shrimp dishes. My latest is really pretty good!

Green onion
Green pepper
Red pepper
Tomatillos
Zucchini
Garlic oil
Toasted sesame oil
Butter
Cod
Shrimp
Sour cream
Fish sauce
Bone broth
Clam juice
Korean red pepper (gochugaru)
Cilantro

Dice up the veges. Saute’ everything but the zucchini in butter, garlic oil, sesame oil. After those veges are al dente add the zucchini. Once the zucchini has started to soften add the seafood. Add everything else. Simmer until the fish is done.

Yup, it really is that simple. There’s lots of stuff but it’s totally uncomplicated.

Not quite poached cod

Lovely stuff!Wadly bought a new white wine for me to try. He’s such a star!

This is a remake of a recipe I pulled off the internet. The original calls for parsley instead of cilantro. I have to admit, I’m not a fan of parsley. The original recipe has no veges. Can you imagine me eating a dish without veges? Steak makes sense with vege sides, cod soup doesn’t.

Ingredients include Pacific cod, shrimp, carrot, zucchini, green onion, green pepper shiitake mushroom, fish sauce (small splash), white wine (Quail Run Chardonnay), bone broth, cilantro, basil, salt, garlic oil, sesame oil, butter.

Saute the veges in butter, garlic oil and sesame oil. Start with sliced carrots as they’re the most dense. While they’re cooking slice and add green onion, green pepper, mushroom and finally zucchini. Once the veges are al dente, lift them out of the pan with a slotted spoon. Add shrimp and slices of cod to the pan, turning them to cook both sides. Don’t overcook. Cod is a fragile fish and will fall apart. Add the vegetables back to the pan. Add bone broth, wine, fish sauce and spices. Stir gently, warm through and turn off the heat.

This has a lovely mild but rich flavor. I’m adding it to my favorites. I can picture eating it with a crunchy toasted sourdough slice. Mmmm. I bet Wadly has his with pan toasted home made biscuits.

I didn’t think of adding saffron but you can bet I’ll try it next time. Saffron is awesome with this kind of seafood. Have you ever done Julia Child’s bouillabaisse? It’s awesome! I also didn’t think of garnishing this with toasted sesame seeds. Again, next time.

Quick and easy salmon

Our local Walmart has lovely fresh Atlantic salmon. It’s silver salmon, which isn’t my favorite, but it is really good and really fresh. It comes vacuum packed in a plastic tray.

Cooking is it dead easy. It comes out beautifully moist and flavorful.

Rinse the salmon, pat dry and place skin side down on a rack over an oven pan.

Dice a couple green onions. Mix with good quality mayo (I like Sir Kensington Classic). Spread the mixture evenly over the salmon fillet. Bake at 425° for 20 minutes. If the thickest portion of the fillet flakes when a fork is inserted, it’s done.

This is fabulous stuff and it reheats well.

Playing with seafood

I’m fighting an antibiotic resistant infection . . . and winning. One of the protocols is to avoid red meat. Anyone who follows my blog knows I adore red meat. Beef is my favorite meat, hands down, but as the daughter of a fisherman I also love seafood. I love fresh salmon, canned tuna, shellfish and . . . Pacific cod. If you’ve had cod and have been singularly unimpressed, I don’t blame you. Not all cod is created equal. My absolute favorite cod is a little recognized fish – orange roughy, a truly fabulously tasty fish. Sadly, orange roughy isn’t widely available outside of fishing port towns.

A close second to my taste buds is Pacific cod. Not Alaskan cod (relatively tasteless but widely available) or any variation thereof. Pacific cod is it’s own class of cod. It’s flavorful in a way that makes it delightful to cook with. Tonight I had cod and shrimp in a white sauce and it was heavenly. Here’s what I did.

Saute sliced mushroom (I used shiitake), grated zucchini and diced green onion in garlic oil and butter. Sprinkle thyme, gochugaru and salt over the sauteing vegetables. Once the veges are al dente, lift them out with a slotted spoon. Add thawed cod and shrimp (and more butter) to the pan. Turn the seafood, cooking on both sides. Spoon the seafood out. Add milk. As the milk is coming up to temperature mix a bit of milk with a bit of corn starch and a bit of the warmed milk from the pan. Stir that into the pan. Continue to stir as it thickens. Once it’s thickened add the seafood and vegetables back to the pan and let it simmer just a little bit longer.

Trust me, this is fabulous!

The Fail, the second act

Picking the stripeSo as not to repeat my first fail, testing will be required.

I need a bold and visible stripe for my plaid, not Silken  used in my first attempt, a really lovely color but just not right for this.  I tested a bunch of possibles and chose Rose. It’s bright, clear, stands out nicely against the Midnight background and will stand out on the variegated  squares.

Next I have to pick the yarn to use for the squares. I want each square to be variegated, unique and to stand out from the base. It can’t have a color in it that’s going to blend into my Midnight base like the purple in Khaki Girl.

Two of the auditioned yarns don’t have enough variegation/contrast to make them viable candidates. Left to right: Brilliant Blues, Cotton Candy, Soothe, Orchid Smash (out), Hot Spot (out), Frosty Morning and the Rose for the stripes. I’ve got a TINY bit of On Parade (discontinued, picture me crying) that might make a square (fingers crossed).

So, time for a little test knit . . . it’s lovely . . . and again a complete fail. Ugh. I was loving this . . . up until my plaid block ran into my vneck ribbing. Yeah, not loving that so much.

So, the next challenge is plaid placement. In my original scheme I had exactly one stitch to work with. Planning that tightly doesn’t make me happy. Have a gross math fail (plaid running into ribbing) also doesn’t make me happy.

Making the blocks smaller isn’t going to make me happy. The red stripe is already borderline overwhelming the variegated color blocks. I could move the start of the plaid down which doesn’t please me. If I could do anything I’d make the blocks two stitches wider as a better balance to the boldness of the Rose stripe. Alternatively, I could be less square! There’s a lovely thought.

So this is the new plan. I didn’t draw in the stripes but rest assured they will be there. If I can make the blocks 2 stitches wider at the same time, I think I’m golden. I’m going to lay out the new colorwork on the existing project and see where my lines, squares and rectangles hit. If the layout works I’m off to the races!

 

Modern minimalist plaid

Plaid!

I’ve done a lot of sweaters with something diagonal. Apparently I like that. Who knew? Yeah yeah, I’m rolling eyes at me too.

I had a thought . . . and it’s turning into something I think will be lovely and not boring to knit. I did the drawing and it pondered over enough times for it to get smudged with something. That’s always a good sign, interest captured. If I note down an idea and it’s pristine a week later, that’s a bad sign. It’s too boring to warrant much effort.

I have six balls of Bamboo Pop Midnight. It’s a lovely rich dark blue, definitely a “me” color. Finding a project for it has been the issue. I think this just might be the one.

The swatch

So, test knit! A couple frogs later and this is what I’ve got. I tried just knitting the horizontal stripe but that was a big fail. I tried conventional Latvian Braid and it gave the right effect but was just too fussy. The answer is the Latvian Braid effect worked with a crochet hook after the row has been knit. I tried using a hook the same size as my needles and it caused a tiny bit of puckering in the work. I moved up one size and it seems to be as close to perfect as I think I can get.

So I’m off working on the sweater. The first attempt at Plaid! is a fail. So, the question is . . . switch the stripes to black? And the question is . . . don’t include any variegateds with a color similar to the base of the sweater? And the question is . . . start the first square above the fading saddle line?

So . . . frogging back. How far is key.

 

Pug Life

Peggy with a tuna fish jar

I don’t think it’s possible to truly know a breed until you live with them. Case in point, I had no idea how happy and intelligent the pug is until we had a couple. Our latest is a 4-year old and she’s vastly entertaining.

So . . . the dog door story. We live isolated in the country. Our home is in the middle of 12 acres of south sloping pasture. Our dog pack swells and shrinks but it’s a gradual thing. Sometimes we have lots. When our Chow cross died we were down to just one dog, a lab mix rescue who is bitey.

Our dog door has a long runway on the outside to keep the weather out. It was cobbled together over time out of pieces of plywood and wood framing of wildly varying dimensions. For Buddy (young, athletic, good vision) it worked fine.

Our son had a friend who needed to rehome an aged pug. He could no longer care for her and we had room, time and love to spare so here she came! She was an absolute darling with cataracts. Dealing with the long dark tunnel outside our dog door was just too much so we rebuilt the run with a better base, glass roof and wall panels for visibility and a string of icicle lights for lighting at night.

The day the dog door run was finished she was happily using it without issue. Score!

Literally the next day, she died. I am not kidding, puked on the carpet, keeled over and DIED. That really sucked.

In less than a week another pug needed rehoming. It’s so funny how things come about. This one was young, just turned four. She had separation anxiety something fierce. She needs people 24/7, the more people the better. Because one of us is always home (or she can go with us if we leave together) it’s worked out really well. She’s vastly amusing, adores Wadly and is happy here with us. Score!

Happy Birdie

Bamboo Pop in Happy Birdie and Turquoise

I ran into a sale of Bamboo Pop and got some colors I wouldn’t normally work with to use as accents. I am firmly of the motto there is no such thing as too many colors and I adore Bamboo Pop. Win win! You never know when odd colors are going to develop into interesting projects.

A while back I made a top down seamless tank for myself with no picked up stitches and I love the fit. Mindy tried it on and wanted it (NOT her colors) so over the last couple weeks I did a repeat of my tank pattern for Mindy in colors that highlight her particular beauty.

I didn’t have quite enough yarn in the necessary colors for the length Mindy likes so I added the dregs of Clover from Amanda’s latest tank and Hot Pink from something I was working on for me, both colors that are in the Happy Birdie variegated.

Variegated helix knit with three solids, Turquoise, Clover and Hot Pink.

I’m really pleased with how it came out. I worked the top in Turquoise, started helix knitting adding the Happy Birdie. When the Turquoise ran out I switched to the little bit of clover I had left. When the Clover was done I switched to Hot Pink. I really wish I’d had enough to finish out the tank in Hot Pink. I was out and Mindy was fine with Turquoise. ‘Nough said. I think it gives the tank a layered look which isn’t a bad thing.

Innovation can be awesome sauce!

It’s 97 in the shade. Let me tell you firsthand, when our normal high is 80, 97 truly sucks. Wadly, in his grocery foray yesterday, got a two-pack of rib steak, my absolute favorite cut of beef. Last night was a really plain undecorated fry in butter and garlic oil. It was good but nothing compared to the innovation of tonight.

Usually the rib steaks we get are thicker than 1″. I put them in the toaster over for 30 minutes at 200 degrees, then sear them in butter/garlic oil. Good. Plenty good. Up until tonight this has been our standard.

This time there were two steaks that were about 3/4″ thick, not the norm for us. Simply frying was good but . . . OMGosh, the innovation tonight is really better..

I put the steak in the toaster oven (200deg for 20 min) and while it was preparing for a reverse sear, I put a couple tablespoons of red wine, a tablespoon of garlic oil, a tablespoon of Worcestershire Sauce and a dash of salt in a flat dish. To prepare the pan I ground a 1/4 teaspoon of hing (asofoetida) and added that, butter and garlic oil in the (hot) pan, sloshing it around to ensure the flavor is well distributed. Quickly, so the butter wouldn’t burn (HOT pan) I gave the wine/Worcestershire/salt/garlic oil a quick stir, drop the steak on it and flip it over to coat both sides and then dumped the steak into the frying pan to sear on both sides . . . OMGosh! I’m thinking this is a new favorite.

FROG!

Nope. Just nope.

I’m working on a tank top for Mindy and trying new stuff . . . love knit-from-the-hip . . . and things were not working out and intended. I got to Point C and my stitch count was WAY off. Not just a little bit but HUGELY off. Apparently, something was VERY wrong. Plus the shape wasn’t making me happy. Can you spell F R O G? Yeah, it is no more.

I love the colors, I love the basic idea . . . but the number have to work or the effort is pointless.

Canned Tuna

I can’t eat commercially canned tuna and I can’t rely on family to can it for me. They simply cannot can enough. I have a solution that works for me. Wadly buys frozen tuna steaks. As I need canned tuna I use my Instant Pot to “can” it. It’s not processed in a way that gives it a long term shelf life. I don’t need that. I need tuna I can make sandwiches out of now, today.

Because I like my salads with everything but the kitchen sink (exaggeration but you get my point), I add all sorts of things. Today’s favorite is green onion, radish, cucumber, olive slices, pimento and Sir Kensington Classic Mayo. SO good! I would have added grated carrot but . . . no carrots.

When I can tuna I pack the tuna in a half-pint wide mouthed jar, add a little salt to the top, add the lid and process it in my Instant Pot (9 minutes on high pressure, natural release, leave until cool) I usually start it in the afternoon or evening and leave it until morning.

Peggy

Once the jar is empty of tuna I give it to our pug. She adores cleaning out the jar, picking it up and carrying it around to whichever spot suits her. Because her muzzle is so short it takes her quite a while and quite a bit of effort to get all the goodies out.

Working project

I’ve got a lot of different projects in the air. I’m making a cowl necked sweater for MIndy with slip pockets, a summer tunic for me (years long project), a summer tank for the young lady who cleans my house, a gradient sweater (still not sure where this one’s going) and a new project, a long sleeved duster using Louisa Harding’s Girandola (discontinued yarn).

The duster I’m envisioning is a complete “knit from the hip” effort on US7 needles. I’m making the collar and decorative facings/hems in Bamboo Pop Denim, a yarn I normally knit on US4. Denim is a colorway that almost exactly matches the blue in the Louisa Harding. The Bamboo Pop yarn knits up into is a bit heavier/thicker but a test knit resulted in a relatively compatible gauge with the Girandola on the selected needle size. The resulting fabric is very relaxed and flowy, perfect for a long duster.

I have the collar well started. I looked at the size and though it would be just too big . . . but a test fit shows it’s very close to, if not perfectly right on for fit.

This will be an interesting project.

Breakfast Frittata, the deluxe version

I’ve got a new breakfast food love, a frittata with a hash brown hat. It’s so good!

This requires breakfast sausage. I make my own with fresh ground pork (store bought, Hempler and Smithfield both rock) with a seasoning mix my brother gave me. The rest is eggs and fresh veges and it’s very good!

We have farm grown eggs. Some of our hens are banty cross descendents which gives us big eggs from our new girls and bitty little eggs from our banty cross hens. I can do this frittata with one big egg or two little eggs. Much of my baking calls for big eggs so I’m perfectly happy to use the small eggs for my breakfast.

Dice green onion, mushrooms (I use shittake) and red and green pepper. Grate half a baked russet. I always have baked russet on hand. I use them for hash browns, fries and as a meal with chili, sour cream, butter and chives for a special occasion dinner. Using cold baked potatoes speeds the cooking and improves the flavor.

Cook the grated russet in butter, stirring fairly often. The goal is to lightly dehydrate and brown the individual gratings rather than turn it into one mass of hash browns.

In a separate pan cook the green onion, peppers and mushroom. When they’re close to fully cooked add the sausage. Stir the sausage in thoroughly breaking up any lumps.

In a separate bowl whisk the egg with a tablespoon of cream cheese, sour cream or yogurt. Add the cooked veges/sausage. Pour into a hot buttered pan (I use a small 6″ skillet). Arrange the hash browns over the top. Cover and turn the heat down to low. Once the egg sets it’s done. Serve with diced tomato.

So good!

Impromptu chili verde

I had a craving for chili. It needed to be flavorful without being hot and totally low FODMAP. And like just about everything I make, it had to use up stuff I had on hand. I’m out of red and green peppers or you know I would have added them as well.

  • 1 pound hamburger
  • 1/2 pound ground sausage (home made, really super mild)
  • butter
  • tomatillos (small, about a dozen) – watch the big ones, they can be bitter.
  • tomato (1/4 large tomato)
  • green onion (3-5 depending on size)
  • garlic oil
  • red wine
  • bone broth
  • coriander
  • cayenne
  • paprika
  • cumin
  • cilantro
  • salt
  • 1.5 cups nacho beans (instant pot cooked beans with gorugachu chili flakes, bacon and salt) – soak/rinse/soak/rinse the beans before cooking to make them low FODMAP
  • lactose free sour cream
  • tortilla chips

Add a couple tablespoons of butter to a frying pan. Add a bit of garlic oil. Add chopped green onion. Once the green onion softens add the meat. Once the meat is browned add diced tomatoes and tomatillos. Add seasoning (1/2 tsp cumin, 1 tsp each of coriander, paprika, cilantro, chili powder (cayenne), dry mustard, salt, 1+ cup bone broth and a dash of red wine and a sprinkle or Worcestershire sauce.

Simmer until the tomatillos break down. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and tortilla chips.

It’s really good! It’s flavorful and super mild. AND it’s low FODMAP.

Clean edge on garter/seed/anything

One of the techniques I had to master for the caston/back neck of my condi-something sweater was a clean edge on garter. I knit 10-12 rows of garter, pick up and work half the edge stitches I need for the front edge finish, turn and pick up the other half melding the two sets of stitches onto one needle. Yeah, yeah, this is a total “show me”. I’ll get there. This produces a beautifully flat transition from back to front without bumps or the appearance of a seam. TRULY flat. And which stitches you pick up changes the appearance. Want a bit of a ridge or a line of stitches? You can do it! So, on to what I learned.

To make this work I needed a clean edge on my garter caston/back neck. After much inspection/testing, I’ve finally got it! Woot! The trick is to hold the yarn on the purl side of the stitch being slipped. Yup, it’s that simple! No learning to do this or that. Work the last stitch, turn your work and slip the stitch while holding the yarn on the purl side of the slipped stitch. Do this and you’re golden! I don’t like to remount stitches so I make sure to build for the mount I want. Play with it a bit and see what works for you.

Shorter is betterer!

Short darning needle
Shorter is better!

I don’t like leaving long tails when I’m knitting. I’m only going to work in an inch, maybe and inch and a quarter and all the rest of that yarn is tossed. Ugh. I just hate the waste . . . and the fact the longer ends are always in the way is an unnecessary irritant. I like leaving an end that’s about 3″ long, maybe a bit less.

This of course, causes problems when it comes to working the ends in. I can use a crochet hook and that works great but it’s a bit tedious, I can rethread the needle after each stitch or I can work with a really short needle! So . . . really short needle needed to be tested but I’m NOT cutting off the needle I inherited from my mother. Not, just not.

The inevitable happened and I put my darning needle away in a really safe place (rolls eyes at self). After spending some time using a crochet hook to work in ends I bought a tube of cheap Chinese made darning needles in a variety of sizes to fill in until my inheritance resurfaced. It appeared within two days of getting the new supply. I bet you guessed that part.

Given the short ends I like working with, this new supply gave me the opportunity to try a really short needle for working in ends. Cheap Chinese made . . . no loss if it didn’t work, right?

Picking one of the medium sized needles, I snipped most of the shaft off, chucked the foreshortened needle into our cordless drill and rubbed the spinning needle tip on sandpaper until I had the right shape. Then I used progressively finer sandpaper until it was smooth. The whole process took about five minutes. Next was the test, working in ends and it’s perfect! I can thread my yarn and do my weaving end and snip off less than an inch (I leave a 1/2″ long tail on the garment). I have no long dangly ends to deal with, no unnecessarily wasted yarn, color me happy!

To store the needle I put a gourd pin through the eye and hang it on a hook so it doesn’t get lost. If I can lose a regular one I’m absolutely certain this shorter version would vanish forever only this time I have backups!

Day dress fail

Day dress fail
Fit is awesome, skirt fabric isn’t.
I made a robe out of fleece. I didn’t like the fit of the top (pretty standard for me), the fact that it had sleeves, pulled on the back of my neck . . . the usual. So I knit a yoke and it fits great! Uh, except the fabric has some sort of synthetic in it. If I sweat at all I break out in a rash. Ugh. Fail. I’ll pull the yoke and put it on something else.

Bastardized Sheltered

Sleeve
Underarm “seam” using Russian Bindoff

I’m working on a . . . heck, I don’t even know what to call it . . . for my sister (the near one, not the far one). I saw a something I thought would be an interesting base (Sheltered), a kind of poncho thing with a hood. Rather than knit it up in pieces and sew it together (you KNOW I hate that) I thought I’d knit it top down and make the changes I wanted made. So that’s what I’m working on. It’s turning out to be a very interesting project. The big sloppy fit is intentional, I just need Mindy to test fit it to see if it’s going to work. My icord end grafting is getting better!

More sunsets

Sunset shrugI got wild and spent $180 on hand dyed bamboo cotton yarn. It came and the colors were truly glorious . . . and the weight was WAY too heavy for me to wear, a dk weight closer to worsted than to sport. Picture me crying. So, I knit a shrug and sent it to my sister. She loves the idea, loves the colors but has trouble with the fit. <sigh>

This project has the distinction of being the most frogged completed project. I’ve made things and gotten right to the end and frogged them (one big frog). Not this project. OMGosh. Frog, knit, frog, knit, frog, knit. I was so glad to get done! It came out fabulous but . . . OMGosh.

I’m going to remake this in Bamboo Pop. Without the cardi bit. I don’t know why I thought doing this as a cardigan/shrug was going to work for me. I *hate* flappy clothing. The idea though . . . that was pretty stupendous. Definitely worthy.