Color me crying

I’m had to update my theme and it makes me sad . . . very sad. I’d had the parchment/fall colors theme from my site’s beginning in 2008. The beautiful rich colors and feather-edged layout were perfect for what I like . . . but it had to go. The last time the theme was updated by it’s author was years ago. I been treating it tenderly and coaxed it along, but those days are over. I have to have more function and it can no longer rise to the task.

Color me crying.

Why I hate raglan

Fabric folds and bunches and point of shoulder pressure are raglan’s biggest sins.
Contiguous armscye crawl

I started knitting when I was very young. I made a sweater for my son when he was a toddler. It was raglan, but that’s not why I hate raglan. I hate raglan because it can never fit properly unless the body wearing it is very slope shouldered and the wearer keeps their arms out at a 45 degree angle to match the hang of the sleeves. Raglan is always loose at the neckline and tight at the shoulder with bunched fabric under the armscye. Sure it’s easy to knit/sew but it’s always a bad fit.

But here’s the thing. It is SO easy to knit it gets used all the time by knitwear pattern designers because they know people buying their pattern can mindlessly knit the result. Dolled up with attractive patterns or yarn and it has so much appeal people don’t notice the horrible fit or choose to ignore the horrible fit. Too many years of couture sewing has ruined me. I just can’t do it.

What brought on this rant? For the last two weeks I’ve been wearing good fitting sweaters in blissful comfort. Yesterday I washed them and while I’m waiting for them to dry I am wearing a poorly fitting commercial sweatshirt that bunches under my arms and is damned uncomfortable. Spending time trying to adjust my clothes to be more comfortable just pisses me off. It is wasted time. Ugh.

Contiguous is a great shoulder technique but to my eye it has two problems. Because the shoulder line on a top down contiguous garment cramps (effect of the series of increases in very close proximity), and the narrowness at the top of the sleeve causes the armscye to crawl onto the top of arm at the shoulder, it isn’t an appealing fit. It fits better than raglan but the aesthetics are still problematic.

No gaping, no pulling, no fabric folding, no discomfort.

The shoulder I like is a marriage between raglan and contiguous, separating out the increases between shoulder line and raglan. This solves the cramping caused by clustered increases, solves the problem of the raglan fit, and when paired with short rows on the sleeve cap completely eliminates any fabric folding under the armscye. The problem . . . it’s more complicated to knit. It’s more of a shoulder master class, unsuited to beginning or basic knitters. The technique has a lot going for it, it’s just not simple enough for everyone.

I ordered more yarn yesterday. I clearly don’t have enough sweaters if I have none to wear while they are being washed. Four sweaters is clearly not enough. Not nearly.

OMGosh stir fry

I’ve got a new super fast stir fry.

I bought a new gadget. I got a Zoodle from Amazon for $11. OMGosh. Game changer.

New fav meal. Oriental(ish) pork stir fry. OMGosh.

Thin-slice pork. Marinate it in sesame oil, basalmic vinegar and ground candied ginger (not available commercially, you’ll have to make your own – dehydrate candied ginger and run it through a food processor to grind it up).

Use the Zoodle to noodlize zucchini and rutabaga (yeah, new fav veg). Thin slide onion and break up into “noodles”. Add thin-sliced green pepper and some bamboo shoots (comes in a can).

You’re gonna need two frying pans, one for the marinated pork and one for the veges.

Add butter and sesame oil to both pans. Stick the veges into one and the pork into the other. Once the pork is most of the way done add the pork pan to the veges pan. When the veges are al dente the cooking us done!

OMGosh!

Burger Bowl!

In my continual search for really good food I can eat, I’ve discovered . . . Hamburger Bowl!

I have two version (with or without avocado) and they’re both wonderful. Those of you who eat carbs and bread/buns/etc. won’t think it’s so great, but for me . . . few carbs and no grains . . . it’s awesome!

On medium low, cook diced mushrooms and diced bacon in a 6″ skillet with a teaspoon of butter.

While that’s cooking dice a roma tomato and a slice of onion (choose the one you like, I’m using the basic yellow). Add two heaping teaspoonfuls of Farman’s Dill Pickle Relish in a bowl, add the diced onion and tomato and warm it in the microwave. Don’t COOK it, just get it warm so it doesn’t chill the hot ingredients. For my puny little microwave I use 55 seconds on cook, stir, then back in for another 15 seconds.

When the bacon and ‘shrooms are done or nearly done add the raw hamburger. The shape isn’t important, it’s getting chopped up when it’s done cooking. (I buy hamburger in bulk and package it in snack bags in the freezer for easy use. I get the amount of hamburger I need when I need it at a lower cost.)

When the hamburger is nearly done, dice up the hamburger and add 3/4 cup of black beans (drained and rinsed). Stir the beans into the mix. once it’s all heated up lift out the goodies (leave all the fat in the pan) and add them to your bowl of warmed and diced goodness.

Stir it all together and eat it with a soup spoon. OMGosh good! Heads up, this is more than will fit in a regular soup bowl.

When doing the avocado version I wait until everything’s mixed together and add the diced avocado to the top. Yummy stuff!

Let there be stars . . .

Eva's Confetti Stars
Eva’s Confetti Stars, made for Rachel’s glitter girl

I’m flirting with making a confetti stars quilt for my bed.  I have the batiks, I love the two quilts I made (baby and lap) and I’d like one for sleeping under, something with a dark background and bright batiks.  I think I’m going to do a sew-along . . . it’s a really easy pattern but it does require batiks for the stars.  If you want in, ping me.

 

Back neck shaping with preknit collar join

My goal is to have a sweater I can knit without seams or picked up stitches.  I truly think I’m there with my latest iteration using an icord caston and icord edge to form the neck.  There’s a lot going on here, and there will probably never be a pattern for this, but regardless, here it is.

Contiguous/saddle with icord neck.

Here’s a video of one of the testing steps that got me to this result.

Continental knitting

I knit in a style that’s just a bit unique.  I knit continental style, which refers to how the yarn in held (opposite hand from the needle making the stitches).  I don’t “pick” the yarn to form stitches I throw, which is unusual for continental knitters.  I also knit so stitches to be knitted have the leading leg in back and stitches to be purled have the leading leg in front.  This is called combined knitting and refers to how the stitches are mounted on the needle.  And I don’t turn my work, which is called mirrored knitting.  So, to someone who knows about knitting style I can just say I knit thrown continental combined mirrored.   There’s a lot of extra stuff going on but for those of you who do not knit, you now know way more than you ever wanted to know about knitting . . . or you’re scratching your head and wondering what in the heck I just said.

So, here it is, thrown continental combined mirrored.

Personalized spice mixes

SpiceMixesI use a lot of spices and herbs when I cook, and I cook a lot of the same stuff all the time.  Rather than opening 4-6 different spice/herb bottles to season something I started using the empty bottles to make the mixes I use all the time.

The spicy pork seasoning is BBQ Boys mix with doubled ground onion and ground garlic.

The S&R is a steak and roast mix with rosemary, thyme, black pepper, onion and garlic.

The marinara is the spice mix I use for the tomato sauce I use for anything requiring tomato sauce.

I also have an apple mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and xylitol I use for apple compote and apple custard I make for Wadly.

I’m sure I’ll being adding more mixes to my array.  Having premixed organic spices speeds cooking and ensures the taste stays consistent across the dishes I make.

Finding a home

Tie dyed batik broadcloth
Tie dyed batik broadcloth

I think we’ve all ended up with things too good or nice or unique to get rid of but with no place in which to put or use them.  I have a piece of fabric like that . . . a hand died batik on broadcloth.  I don’t quilt with broadcloth, I don’t wear those colors or that style . . . but 3 yards . . . yeah, couldn’t part with it.

It’s now an out-of-the-sun curtain and it works beautifully to keep light from reflecting onto my monitors.  And I look at it and smile . . . and think of the wonderful woman I inherited it from who also could not find a use for it but thought it was too good to get rid of.  Nice!

No soy/sugar non dairy creamer

Having food allergies makes life very interesting in a way that cannot be appreciated by those who don’t have food allergies. I’m not saying that in a disparaging way, just as a fact. Anyone with food allergies is nodding their head at this point.

Given soy and milk allergies, finding a coffee creamer that works is a challenge. In researching creamer alternatives I found a recipe using water, vanilla, raw cashew butter and medjool dates. My recipe is an outtake of that recipe.

In trying the above recipe there were a few things I didn’t care for. Using water instead of coffee as the liquid made no sense. It waters down the coffee which to me is counter-productive. I didn’t find the vanilla added anything. If I’m adding anything extra it is organic cacao powder with another date to counter the bitter.

My most pleasing recipe, sans cacao powder, is 1/3 cup raw cashew butter (organic), 3 medium to large medjool dates (organic) and about 1/2 cup fresh coffee as the liquid. Mince the dates and blend it all together until the dates are liquefied. According to what I’ve read this should stay fresh and viable in the fridge for 3 days. I use about 1/3 of the above in my gigantic cup with fresh brewed coffee. Mmmmm.

Awesome Chocolate Waffles/Pancakes

This recipe uses zucchini from my aquaponic bed. I’m getting enough zucchini to be able to eat a whole one a day, sometimes two a day. Woot!

ChocWaffles
Mmmmm.

These are SO awesome!  Fresh zucchini, coconut flour, eggs, cacao powder, medjool dates, butter and baking soda.


2 eggs, 2 medjool dates, 2 tbsp melted butter, 1/2 cup grated fresh zucchini
2 eggs, 2 medjool dates, 2 tbsp melted butter, 1/2 cup grated fresh zucchini

In a pint jar add 1/2 grated fresh zucchini, 2 large organic eggs (warmed in hot tap water before opening), 2 tablespoons melted butter, 2 medjool dates (pit removed).  Spin on the blender attachment and run on lowest setting until everything is chopped and mixed.


After blending
After blending


Cacao powder, coconut flour and baking soda added and blended.
Cacao powder, coconut flour and baking soda added and blended.

Spin the top off and add 1 tbsp coconut flour, 1 tbsp cacao powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda.  Spin the top back on and blend until the powdered ingredients are integrated.

Step4
Cook and serve with butter. Mmmmm.

Chunky Chicken Soup

Chunky chicken soup
Chunky chicken soup

This is a fast and simple recipes.  If you’re like me and mostly just cook for yourself and maybe another, you will love this one.

Wadly got a nice buy on some boneless skinless chicken thighs.  I like thigh meat as it’s tastier and juicier.  Already boned and skinned means no fuss . . . though this recipe would work with skin on and bone in and it would work for chicken breast if you don’t mind less tasty.  If you go the whole thigh route, fillet it out a bit so it’s not so thick and put it skin down.  The skin and bone will add flavor.

Cut a handful of baby carrots in half lengthwise or peel a whole carrot and cut it in diagonal slices just under 1/4″ thick.

Cut two 1/4″ slabs of zucchini.  I cut off the length I want and then cut it in lengthwise slices.

Chop some red and green pepper.  You’ll also need a 1/4″ thick slice of onion.  Don’t dice the onion.  Cut it into big chunks.

Take the stem end off a roma tomato and slice it open.  Don’t cut it in half, just make a single slice up the side and a few short slices in top and bottom so you can lay it out flat.  Pull the middle bit out and rough chop it.

Melt a generous tablespoon of butter in a small pan (I use the really small cast iron skillets for a lot of the “just me” stuff).  Turn the pan down to really low, the low side of simmer.  This won’t take long to cook and cooking it slowly will make the chicken super tender and keep the veges from becoming mush.

Put the two slabs of zucchini down side by side in the middle and arrange the carrots around them.  Sprinkle the onion and peppers on the top.  Stick the chopped bits of the tomato on top.

Place the chicken on top.  Don’t cut it up, just lay it over the top of the veges.

Sprinkle oregano, salt and pepper on top the chicken.  Lay the tomato skin side up over the top of the seasoned chicken.

Cover and cook slowly until the carrots are tender.  Lift the skin off the tomato and discard.  Lift the chicken out and cut it into big pieces.  Return to the pan, stir and pour into a bowl.

This soup is simple, fabulous and no fuss and the perfect meal for a dreary spring day.  You can bump the flavor a bit more by adding a couple tablespoons of your favorite “with chicken” wine if you’re feeling posh.

Enjoy!

Orange and ginger creole?

One of the unspoken mandates for celiacs is really tasty food to compensate for all we can’t partake.  Of late I’ve been marinating everything . . . hamburgers, steak, pork or chicken and it’s been wonderful.  I thought I’d share, both the recipe I use for my creole seasoning (pork or chicken) and the twist it got this morning.

My creole seasoning is spicy but not too spicy if you like spicy.  Use only organic seasonings.  If you haven’t gone organic with everything you can, herbs is a must for where to start.  When an herb is dried the flavor is concentrated, but so are any chemicals ON the herbs.  Go organic with your spices and herbs.

  • 2 tbsp cayenne
  • 2 tbsp pepper
  • 4 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tbsp garlic (powder)
  • 1 tsp onion (powder)

This mix is just a tablespoon or two more than will fit in a recycled spice container so plan for the extra you’ll have to store if you can’t use it right away.

This morning’s deviation from the norm included freshly grated ginger (micro-grated) and fresh squeezed orange juice.

For a single serving, squeeze the juice of 1/3 of an orange into a bowl.  Add grated ginger (1 tbsp?), the diced pork (or chicken) and shake a couple teaspoons of the creole seasoning over the top.  Mix thoroughly and set aside while you prep the veges.

I’m a little short on ingredients this morning.  For those of you who read my blog, you’ll know that’s not unheard of.   This morning’s stir fry had zucchini, onion and mushroom.  With a bit of bell pepper it would have been even better, and it was awesome!

Make sure you saute the mushrooms separately until thoroughly browned so they come out tasting like mushrooms.  Once all the veges are cooked set them aside.  Add more butter and a tablespoon of peanut oil to the pan.  Pour in the marinade laden meat.  As soon as it looks nearly done, return the veges to the pan.  Stir to incorporate and it’s done.

If you’re a thickened sauce person, spoon out the chunks and thicken the broth. 

This is lovely, full of flavor, healthy and a quick fix.  

Anatomy of a heel

Separation of intent
Separation of intent

It’s sock knitting season again.  I need a couple more pair to fill out my wardrobe and I’m revisiting the sock heel.  Because my feet are so short I can make a whole pair of crew socks out of a single skein of Paton Stretch Sock if I use a contrasting color for toes, heels and cuffs.

This particular heel is build from knit-into-the-bump-below short rows and a strange combination of k2tog-pick up short row wrap stitch-drop the next stitch over it and knit.  The decrease series nearest the back of the heel is a k3tog which includes the picked up short row wrap.  This morphed into the decrease mentioned above which produces a more smooth decrease.

The bit I want to document is what happens between the series of increases and decrease, that lovely set of rows that separate the two.  This short row section incorporates an additional 4 stitches toward the front of the sock with each row end knit in the bump below and slipped to the other needle.

Portable crisper

Portable crisper
Portable crisper

I eat a lot of vegetables. Because I am a fuss-less person I’ve come up with a way to get my veges out of the fridge without spending forever pulling them out of a drawer, stacking them on the counter, whack off what I need only to stick them back in the fridge again every time I cook. This portable crisper sits on top the glass shelf that is the cover for the existing crisper in my fridge and, with the handy handle molded into the front of the drawer, allows me to pull it out of the fridge with one hand.  It contains most if not all of the veges I need.

This crisper is the drawer and glass shelf from a small portable fridge. With the addition of a brass piano hinge and some aquarium sealer, a piece of washable non-skid shelf liner for the inside and very little effort, I have streamlined and shortened my prep time.  The lid fits flush against the top preserving the moisture in the veges.

The paper sack is cut down from a large grocery sack and holds mushrooms at the perfect humidity to keep them fresh.  Strong smelling veges like onion are zipped in plastic but everything else is pre-cleaned, unwrapped and ready to use.  A cut-to-fit non-skid shelf liner keeps the veges up off the plastic bottom to avoid accumulation of moisture where veg and plastic meet.

Current content of the crisper include zucchini, yellow squash, onion, celery, mushroom, red and green pepper.  The larger build-in crisper contains overflow and backup stock.

New media with a twist

Leaves showing signs of chemical imbalance
Leaves showing signs of chemical imbalance
I noticed some chemical burning on the tomato plant leaves and tested the water.  8.0 ph when I need 7.3.  Ouch.  Burn baby burn.  While all three tomato plants have blossoms, only one is producing fruit and shows no sign of the chem burn.

PH is totally busted.  Ouch.
PH is totally busted. Ouch.
I didn’t just test the PH, I tested nitrate, nitrite and ammonia. All were perfect for the system. For those readings, I couldn’t be happier.

PH after 2/3 water change
PH after 2/3 water change
Our well water is 6.0. For the house I “condition” it by running it through oyster shell to bring the PH up to 7.3 naturally. For a quick and very un-permanent fix to the problem I did a 2/3 water change in the fish tank and got what I expected, close to perfect PH. This, however, is a really poor solution. I flushed my nutrients (okay, I lied. I dumped the water in outside planters) and added kelp to compensate for the loss.

The whole point is to have a system I don’t have to think about or fuss
about or test or monitor or . . . you get my point. I cannot keep doing
water changes. I don’t want to have to add anything to the water to
keep the water at 7.3. Which means I’ve got to find a different media.
This media, as suspected, spikes the PH.

The trial

6" pvc with survey end caps.
6″ pvc with survey end caps.

For a couple years my brother Dan was a maintenance engineer at a produce processing plant. He did a system retrofit and brought me some of the stuff being thrown away. This flood and drain planter is a piece of 6″ schedule 40 pvc pipe. The ends are survey caps purchased at a local plumbing supply warehouse.

The really sick looking plants are the result of neglect on my part . . . pulling one system apart and putting another together with too long a span between stressed the plants. They’re recovering. The tomato plants are purchased and are my test subjects. The tank holds two goldfish, not quite enough to supply this many plants with nutrient.

One of my concerns with media this light is its ability to hold the plants in place as they grow and produce fruit. I will have to run retaining lines between the support ropes.

A question of media

Ugh, it floats
The failed floaty stuff, the new light clay-like stuff and hydroton.

In planning my next plant wall I’ve been testing hydroponic planting medium.  In the past I’ve used hydroton but there are currently two issues with this media.  Because it’s heavy in iron it eventually trashes the magnetic pump.  I replace pumps about once a year.  At about $50 a pop that’s not horribly expensive but it is inconvenient.  Secondly, it’s no longer available.  That makes the inherent equipment-related problems with the media moot.

Leftmost is the floaty stuff, middle is the light slippery-clay feeling media.  Rightmost is hydroton.
Leftmost is the floaty stuff, middle is the light slippery-clay feeling media. Rightmost is hydroton.

I bought two bags of a product that was supposed to be a replacement for hydroton.  It felt like sandpaper, very garnet/scratchy expanded glass feeling.  The pieces were quite large for hydroponic media, didn’t break when whacked with a hammer and very light.  Other than the roughness and overly large size, I thought it would work fine.  Wrong.  The stuff floats.  Using it in a flood and drain system allows all the plantings to shift every watering cycle.  When working with seeds, the media used to hold the seeds vanishes into the mix.  Ugh.  When planting cuttings they sink a bit into the mix every cycle eventually drowning.  Double ugh.

Light with a slippery-clay feel
Light with a slippery-clay feel

I reported the failure to the excellent staff at our local hydroponic shop and got a sample of another product to try. It had a light silky clay feel, sank when dropped into water and could be crushed.  The product is a little big, roughly 2-3 times the size of the hydroton beads.

PH is one of the most important items to monitor in a hydroponic system.  I’m not a fan of chemicals and like to handle this as naturally as possible which makes the ph of the media very important.  With that in mind I crushed a piece of the new media and tested the ph.  It tested lower than I expected at 6.0 which means it’s not inert.  Because our water has a very low ph which I moderate with oyster shell, I’m keeping an eye on my test system. Time will tell.

Moving on

I’m the type of person who continually tweaks and adjusts.  Some of the stuff I try is a bust and some is inspired.  I have a rack hanging over the back of my kitchen sink with a drip tray under it where dishes are set to dry.  It keeps my counter space clear and allows all the drips to fall into the sink.  Brilliant.  And I’ve done other things with far less stellar outcomes, they’ve inevitably led to ideas about other things so it’s all good.

Here's the plant wall winter 2013
Here’s the plant wall winter 2013

There are a lot things I like about my current plant wall, and few things I don’t care for. Because the plant wall surface isn’t covered with plastic ala P. Blanc, the rate of evaporation is significant.  Wadly adds roughly 6 gallons of water twice a week.  I’d like to reduce the evaporation.

Dying foliage allows pathways for water to drip onto the floor.  A change to prevent that in future is a must.

Slow growing smaller plants get crowded out by the bigger, faster growing plants.  They just can’t compete.  I’d like something that nutures both the big and bushy and the smaller, more delicate plants.

As this plant wall is a single piece, it’s heavy and difficult to move.  Repositioning plants and editing is difficult.  I’d like something a little more modular that takes up less vertical space for the same number of plants that allows the fish to be as much of a focal point.  At this point I can’t tell you what’s in the tank, other than healthy reproducing guppies and at least one fresh water shrimp.  I’m sure there are algae eaters and plecko in there as well but I haven’t seen them in . . . a really long time.

So, on to the new plan, something modular with less exposed surface area that will allow for planting a few seasonal edibles and allow us to see the fish.

Breakfast Frittata

2013-10-4.jpg
Shrimp frittata with peppers, onion, zuccini, chevre and fried baked potatoes on top

If you’ve never had a frittata, I’m going to recommend you try one. They’re very easy to make and delightfully flexible. I go through periods where I want seafood, other times when my preference is for breakfast-y stuff.

Today my frittata had sausage, bacon, Danish Havarti, chevre, zucchini, onion and asparagus. Oh, and hash browns on top though next time I might try potatoes O’Brien instead. The pictured frittata has rounds of baked potato

Frittatas aren’t fast food, but they are quality food and can be as simple or complicated as you choose with everything you need in a single dish.

To make a frittata, prepare the filling. For delicate seafood you can choose to lightly precook or not as you choose. If you don’t precook the seafood, make sure you bake it long enough to completely cook it and expect the result to be a little moister than using precooked seafood (drain it before you put it on the plate).

Prepare your meat. If you’re using anything except seafood, precook. If I’m having both sausage and bacon I will cut them up reasonably small and cook them in the same pan until done. Saute the vegetables in butter until tender. I cut my zuccini in small (smaller than 1/4″) cubes, fine-dice the onions and cut the asparagus in small rounds (1/8″ cuts). If you find you like bigger pieces of vegetables, you have the freedom to make it your style. I’ve used peppers (I didn’t today because I’m out), broccoli, cauliflower, carrots (not the best), red and green peppers and mushrooms (not today, I’m out).

If you’re making a single serving frittata, use one or two eggs. Beat them a bit and add your cheese and sauteed meat and veges. Pour the mixture into a small (6″) frying pan that’s been heated and buttered. If you’re adding hash brown, sprinkle the cooked hash browns over the top. Pop it in your over (or toaster over) at between 325 and 350. How done you would like it is totally up to you. You can cook it just until the egg is set or you can cook it until it’s brown on top. Instead of hashbrowns you can add cheese. Or tomato. Or . . . This is a dish that never has to be the same twice and it’s easily delicious.

I think I’d better go shopping. I’m out of a lot of things . . .

Bella is . . . well, Bella

We’ve got a new rescue dog. She’s pretty much blind as a bat and is now a bit over a year old. She’s the toughest dog I’ve ever had. She spent the first 8 months of her life either tied or kenneled outside, we don’t know which, but she knew nothing about manners or proper behavior when she came.  She was frantic for people’s attention but to a lesser level of obnoxiousness now though she is still finding people and pack-mates by running into them. She’s getting better but it’s going to take time.  Everything she does is brim full of enthusiasm.  She has her full share and more, maybe six dogs worth.

Bella, after about three months of being free, learned not to run everywhere at full speed.  She’s now sitting to get treats and petting (not very still and not very long) and I’m marking it as progress. In the beginning she plowed into rocks, vehicles, people, other dogs (which Chloe absolutely cannot abide), buildings . . . she continues to get better though she sports rotating patches of missing hair from her “finds” and has a constant bare neck and chest from running through unmown grass and weeds at absolute full tilt. With 12 acres in which to run she spends little time doing anything as mundane as walking. So far she hasn’t split herself open on anything though yesterday she showed up with a new mondo scratch on her face.

At some point I’m going to have to make a decision about her eyes.  She has some vision, though mostly just shadows.  She’s pretty much completely blind in full sunlight or dark but she can see enough to get around and I’d like her to be able to retain that ability.  Because her eyes are undeveloped her upper eyelashes poke the inside of her lower eyelids which causes irritation.  So the decision is, do I stick with the status quo and leave her what little eyesight she has and figure some other solution for the poking eyelashes or do I have her eyelids sewn shut to prevent the irritation and remove what little sight she has.  I cannot decide.  Maybe not deciding is deciding.  You know us. Life is ALWAYS interesting.

Basil carrots

Wadly’s not a fan of vegetables.  He’s tall and thin and lives on meat and starch.  Getting him to eat and enjoy vegetables not loaded with starch is a personal quest.

My latest shot at Wadly-edible vegetables is basil carrots.  He thinks they’re okay (not high praise but close) and I love them.

Saute onions, carrots and a very light sprinkling of basil (it’s strong and can easily overpower the carrots so take care) in butter.  Reduce the heat after the onions become transparent to finish the carrots.

That’s it.  Did you think I’d make it more complicated?  Nope.  It’s so tasty and so sweet it’s almost like dessert.

Flavorful and healthy

I’m on a new kick.  We all know I wander from one focus to the next like a hobo with no home but at least I’m not bored . . . or boring.  I’m always experimenting, learning new things, TRYING new things . . . and I like it.  Testing ideas is a good way to keep your brain in shape.

My latest is crock pot meat.  My first foray into “cook it slow” was chuck roast.  It was wonderful . . . and here’s what I did.

Add the meat to the bottom of the crock pot.  DO NOT add any water.  Trust me, you won’t need it.  Crush a garlic clove and toss that in.  Cut up a carrot and toss that in.  Add some chopped celery, onion, a tomato, red and green pepper . . . sprinkle in some rosemary and some thyme, add 2 tbsp cream sherry, 2 tbsp dry sherry and put the lid on.  Turn it on low and walk away.  This needs to go for about 8 hours.  Lift the lid every so often and poke the veges in around the meat.

When it’s done the meat will be tender and the vegetables will be worthless.  Pull out the meat, dump the rest through a strainer and toss the veges (I feed them to my chickens).  Chop the meat and put it away for later.  Put the juice (there will be surprising amount of liquid) in a separate container and refrigerate both.  When the juice has cooled completely you’ll be able to peel the fat off the top.

This is a great start for stew, soup . . . or eat it just the way it is!  It’s delicious.

If the sherry adds too much flavor, try using two tablespoons of sherry and half a cup of creme soda instead.  Both ways are absolutely delicious.  I haven’t tried it with root beer yet.  I bet that would be good as well.  I added a bay leaf to one batch.

To turn this into wonderful vegetable beef soup dice your veggies (all of the above plus one small potato and anything else you have in your veggie drawer – the latest batch also has cauliflower).  Saute all but the potato in butter, add the potato, the juice and the diced beef and simmer until the veggies are done.

I don’t add salt and I don’t add bullion cubes (mostly beef flavored salt) though you can if you must.  It’s flavorful and healthy and a good eat and it’s a really chunky soup, not mostly broth and few goodies.

Updated almond chicken

I’ve updated my almond chicken recipe.  There’s a lot of in-the-pan, out-of-the-pan, drain this, strain that going on and I’ve tweaked the ingredients just a bit (more flavor).

If you’re going to try the recipe, you’ll need; small frying pan, big frying pan, sauce pan, marinade bowl, paper towel for the fried amonds, wire strainer big enough to hold all the cooked veges, bowl to catch the oil when the veges are drained, something to hold the extra oil after the almonds are fried (I use a wide mouth half-pint canning jar so I can reuse the oil), a bowl to hold the raw veges until time to cook them, cutting boards (1 for chicken, 1 for veges), a good and sharp chef’s knife, a fork to stir the cooking stuff . . . I can see this is a recipe I’m going to have to video at some point.

The first step in the prep is hot soapy water so I can clean up as I go . . . hands, knife and cutting board after dissecting the chicken, veges cutting board, bowls as I’m done with them, pans as I’m done with them.  I’ve done this recipe enough times that when I sit down to eat, the only thing left to wash is what I’m eating out of and with.  Sweet.

Life and aspiration

The edge matches the Maples carving.
The edge matches the carved Maples quilt.

Life’s been a bit chaotic lately.  I managed to sprain my right wrist and ignored it for the first week which of course made it worse.  It’s so hard to be good when I have to be doing something and it’s doubly hard when it’s the right hand that’s out of commission.  I haven’t rowed in two weeks and I’m going nuts.  Yoga.  Must do more yoga.

I ran across a picture of a Fraser Smith piece somewhere this morning.  Something on Facebook led to something that led to something . . . I ate the breadcrumbs as I went so can’t find my way back to the start.

Because Smith’s work fascinates me, I popped into his site again today to look. His work is food for my soul. I noticed his “If I am quiet . . . ?” is carved as if it’s done on the back of “Maples”.  I am going to have to make this quilt.  I don’t do arty stuff, I don’t spend time on stuff that isn’t usable for pretty much every day and I prefer working in batiks to anything else, but this quilt is one I’m going to have to do.  I just can’t help myself.  And I’m going to have to hand quilt it.  This one’s a double whammy.

The six zillion dollar question is . . . how closely do I replicate the work?  The quilting doesn’t go through the applique worked on the back.  Does that mean I have to applique the back after the quilting’s done?  It’s got to be done before the binding . . . Hm.

It took me over a year to work out how to sew the “30” quilt.  I wonder if this one will set a record for active planning time.