Still Guessing

Still Guessing

I didn’t knit it for Mindy but it went home with her. Purple is one of her favorite colors. At this point I think Mindy’s sweatered out.

I think I’m going to add one more set of short rows to my sleeve cap. Can you see how the pattern rises at the upper arm? Yeah, not liking that. Adding one more set of short rows should fix most if not all of that. This is the kind of stuff I can’t see on the hanger. It has to go on a body for it to show up.

Mindy’s Sheltered

Sheltered

I had a bunch of acrylic yarn I bought before I found out I really don’t like wearing acrylic (itchy). I tried knitting Sheltered (cowl necked poncho) and just wasn’t feeling it. Being a bit of a fit freak, I don’t like clothes that flap around.

So I tested a bunch of things and this is what I ended up with. It’s Conti-something, no picked up stitches, no sewing. The length is what Mindy likes to wear over leggings. The pocket technique is the same as used for her orange sweater. Everything else is absolutely bog standard.

Spring for Mindy

Spring for Mindy
Spring for Mindy
Neck Detail
Neck detail
Pocket Detail
Pocket detail
Sleeve Cuff
Sleeve cuff
Sleeve Bindoff
Sleeve bindoff
Kitchener!
Kitchener!

This one’s got a bit of a history. I have a tendency to wander off onto unexplored paths if I start something and it’s just not working. I browsed pictures (flowers, sweaters with flowers, art with flowers, gardens of flowers) and really wanted to do an intarsia flower sweater. Did I end up with a flower sweater? Nope.

On the plus side, Mindy (recipient) has gotten nice comments on her new sweater so it’s all good.

At the first test fit the sleeve was too tight and the pockets were too high. I was having MC yardage issues and couldn’t wrap my brain around how I was going to make the given amount of yarn stretch to cover the extra five inches needed in length and the extra sleeve width. It was breaking my heart thinking I would have to frog. The pockets were FABULOUS. <sigh>

Then it occured to me . . . I could Kitchener! So I cut the sweater off under the arms, added the additional stripes to give it the appropriate length and save the orange for the sleeves . . . and it came out awesome!

The green band at the base of the collar is double knit to help control the stretch of the neck opening. The outside is green variegated and the inside is orange.

The pockets are worked using a technique I developed . . . no sewing and they come out even and flat and beautiful.

The cuffs are an interesting technique pointed out to me by a fellow knitter (thank you Lorie Yates). The inside of the cuff is variegated green and the bindoff is done on the outside of the cuff.

I learned a lot making this sweater. Did I get the flowers I wanted? No, but the end result is beautiful and Mindy loves it.

The shoulder is conti-raglan.

Mickey’s Vest

This is coming along nicely. This is my third or fourth start. The first was with the requested cables and it was a total non-starter. The back side of the cables were unattractive. No, just no.

Double zigzag

I still wanted texture and it needed to be reversible so I test-knit the collar in zigzag. It had nice texture if you were looking at it from less than a foot away, but it could in no way compete with the bold graphic of cables. Also a no and a frog. Then I hit on a collar I loved . . . double zigzag. It had all the graphic drama, was simple to knit and it was reversible! Woot! But it didn’t match what Mickey had envisioned so . . . .  yeah, frog.

Instead of a tall collar that could be turned down with lapels flipped back (the reasoning for a reversible pattern for the collar), a short collar was what was wanted. No problem!

Vest front

I tried doing a contiguous shoulder and really hated the cramping. Even using two different types of increases to relieve some of the strain in the shoulder line it still cramped. This two-types thing would be okay for a sleeved sweater as the weight of the sleeve would go a long way to pulling the cramped shoulderline open. For a vest? Yeah, not gonna work. I worked conti-something shoulders. It always fits great.

 

Vest back

This (hopefully) is going to work, assuming my numbers are all good and it fits. I’m going to knit a couple more inches and send it off for a test fit.

Heating Pad Yogurt?

I made yogurt yesterday. After scalding the milk, cooling it and adding the starter I put it in pint jars. I had a bit left over, enough for a full half-pint jar. Of course that was the straw . . . it wouldn’t fit in the Instant Pot with the pints.

You know me . . . I can’t waste stuff . . . so I had to come up with a plan! I have a big heating pad . . . what about that! It took a bit of testing but it turns out the #2 heat setting is perfect for processing yogurt!

 

 

New Shoulder!

Conti-combo sleeve capI’ve started playing with a new shoulder, something easy for people to knit that gives a really nice fit. I think I’ve got a winner.

It’s a contiguous shoulder using two different increases paired with shoulder shaping short rows to produce a nicely rounded sleeve cap.

There’s always a downside and with this shoulder it’s the swatch. Cast on six stitches. Put a stitch marker in the middle. Work 2 stitches in seed, M1 (left or right, choose one and stick with it ), k1, sm, k1, work a lifted increase, work 2 stitches in seed. Turn. Work 3 stitches in seed. M1, p1, sm, p1, work a lifted increase, work 3 stitches in seed. Turn. this is where the two row repeat starts.

Work 3 stitches in seed. knit to within 1 stitch of the marker. M1. K1, sm, k1, work a lifted increase, knit until 3 stitches remain. Work in seed to end of row. Turn. Work 3 stitches in seed. purl to within one stitch of the marker. M1, p1, sm, p1. Work a lifted increase. Purl until 3 stitches remain. Work seed stitch to the end of the row. Turn. Repeat until the swatch measures close to six inches.

This swatch gives you row count, stitch count and shoulder row count (the line of stitches that’s on the diagonal).

On the plus side, the time spent knitting the swatch is going to consolidate the technique before the sweater is cast on.

I’ll try and get a video out in the next couple weeks with all the math.

Braised Beef Stew

We were gifted a bag of packages of frozen very lean beef. I’ve slowly been using it up. I’m down to the last package, chuck steak. Chuck steak is one of my favorite cuts because it’s so versatile. Today I made braised beef stew and it’s really good!

I didn’t have potatoes (grocery shopping is scheduled for tomorrow). I have broccoli and carrots, onion and garlic oil, spices, canned diced tomatoes and red wine so that’s where I went.

Peel three carrots, cut them into chunks, peeled two broccoli stems and cut them into chunks. Cooked them in a frying pan with butter and garlic/onion oil until they’re a little bit done. Pull the veges from the pan, put them in a glass loaf pan and spread a layer of sliced mushrooms over the top. On top of that lay a bay leaf.

Add butter to the pan. Salt and pepper the chuck steak, brown it nicely and put it on top the veges/bay leaf.

To the pan add 1/2 cup diced tomatoes (squish the chunks with a fork), 1/2 cup of red wine, 1 tsp Italian seasoning, 1-1/2 cups broth (today’s was left over from cooking chicken) and heat until simmering. Scrape the bottom well to get all the steak goodness mixed into the liquids. Pour it over the steak.

Add a lid and stick it in a 325º oven for 90 minutes. Pull it from the oven. Poor the liquid off into the frying pan, add corn starch to thicken. While it’s heating/thickening, cut the steak into bite sized pieces, divide into bowls, cover with the vegetable mix (discard the bay leaf) and pour the gravy over the top.

I’ll do this again. It’s pretty delicious.

Frozen yogurt

Wadly brought home some macadamia milk ice cream that’s pretty fabulous. Rocky road. Who can say no to rocky road ice cream? I can’t. But at the price, it’s a complete no-go. With discount it’s nearly $9 a pint. On our budget, in today’s economy . . . no. Just no.

Next Wadly brought home frozen yogurt, fudge flavor. Fabulous! Minus the nuts (macadamias in this case) and marshmallows (the source of the can’t-have soy lecethin) it is as good as the macadamia milk rocky road at a fraction of the price. Progress! Yogurt is a pretty easy thing to duplicate at home so . . . why not try?

So, I’ve been making instant pot yogurt and turning it into frozen yogurt and it’s pretty fabulous. The recipe is dead simple. Two cups of yogurt, 1/2 cup of cocoa powder (use the Dutch processed), 1/3 cup honey, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. Mix it in my stand mixer until smooth and stick it in the ice cream maker. Yup, it really is that simple. And fabulous.

Recipes on the internet call for a lot more sweetner but it really isn’t necessary.

Now I just need to source the macadamia nut pieces and marshmallows that don’t have soy and I’ll have rocky road ice cream! On it!

Multipurpose Chicken

I’ve been buying ten pound bags of chicken hindquarters and packaging them individually to freeze. I use them for chicken enchiladas, gravy and soup. I’ve developed a couple of recipes I really like; chicken gravy with stuffed baked potatoes for two and two generous servings of an easy and delicious chicken soup.

Stuffed baked potatoes with chicken gravy

Thaw two chicken hindquarters, separate legs from thighs, and brine for an hour. Easy brining is kosher salt in a gallon ziplock bag. Add water, dissolve the salt, add chicken and zip it shut while expressing the air. I set it in the sink if it’s not going to be brining long or set it in a bowl in the fridge if it’s going to sit longer than that.

In the instant pot add 1 tsp italian seasoning, 1 tsp of poultry seasoning, 1/4 tsp hing (or a garlic clove and a quarter of an onion) and 4 cardamom pods. Place the chicken skin side up in the bottom and add enough water to come halfway to the top of the chicken. DO NOT cover the chicken in water. The goal is a beautiful flavorful broth and more water isn’t the answer. Put the lid on, set to pressure cook for 24 minutes. When the chicken is done separate out the meat and roughly chop it. Strain the broth into a container.

Put 2/3 of the chicken in a pan with butter and onion/garlic oil. Once the chicken is warmed up nicely add enough of the broth to do gravy justice. When the broth in the pan starts to simmer mix cornstarch with a bit of broth and thicken the gravy.

Bake a russet potato. Once it’s cooked, cut the baker in half lengthwise and scoop out the potato.

In the bowl with the baked potato guts add sour cream and butter and mix well. You don’t want completely smooth and you don’t want big lumps. You can use the skin to present the potato. Wadly likes the skin, I give it a skip. If you’re using the skin, mound half the potato mix into one of the potato skin halves. Place the potato in a soup bowl (with or without skin). Keep the potato to one side of the bowl. Add gravy to the other side of the bowl. Serve with a slice of buttered sourdough or a biscuit and a bowl of steamed veges.

Put the left over gravy in with the same container as the chicken and left over broth and refridgerate for later use.

This has become one of our favorite meals. In addition to being easy, it’s really easy on the budget.

Easy and delicious chicken soup

Dice broccoli stems and quarter florets. Dice carrots. Sautee in butter and onion/garlic oil. While they’re cooking cut up mushrooms, green onion, peppers (I use green and something else, red or yellow or orange). Once the carrots have started to soften add the remaining vegetables and more butter. Cook for 3-5 minutes. Add the left over chicken/broth/gravy. If the soup is too thick add 1/2-1 cup broth (bone, vegetable or chicken – be aware commercial broth is loaded with salt). Simmer until all the veges are done.

I did say easy didn’t I? And really delicious! All the flavoring has already been added, it’s just a matter of cooking the veges and adding the left over chicken/broth/gravy.

Pork stir fry

If you’re like most folks you’re eating more chicken and pork and less beef. Inflation sucks. Until the government stops printing money and agrees to live within a budget, this up and down cycle is our life. So, for now, chicken and pork is on the menu!

Awesome chili sauce

I bought a new chili sauce and it was crying to be used. It’s got a bit of heat but it’s also got flavor, really nice flavor! So, pork stir fry for lunch!

This was REALLY good. The marinade recipe is for a generous single servering. Wadly doesn’t do stir fry if he can avoid it. He’s like really plain unspicy food and this is not in that category.

Marinate cubed pork in red wine (2 tbsp), worcestershire (1 tsp), fish sauce (1/2 tsp), balsamic vinegar (1 tbsp), honey (2 tsp) and the onion/garlic oil I make (1 tbsp). The pork sat in the marinade for about an hour before I managed to get to cooking. I fried the pork really quick in butter and my onion/garlic oil, dumped the contents out of the pan into a bowl, added more butter and onion/garlic oil to the now empty pan, sauteed halved broccoli florets and carrot (sliced thin on the diagonal). Once they started to be something other than dead raw I added sliced mushrooms and sliced green onion. I pushed that around the pan for a little bit before adding the meat and meat juices back into the pan and gave it a stir. I added two teaspoons of my new chili sauce and some bone broth to the marinade and added most of that mix to the pan. While it was coming up to temp I mixed a bit of corn starch into the remaining bit of marinade. Once the sauce started to reduce I added the corn starch mix, got it thickened and served it up. DELICIOUS.

On my needles

This morning a FB knitting group had a “what’s on your needles” post which caused me to realize I haven’t been documenting what I’m working on. Prepare for a long post!

Preparing to frog

This is on hold for a partial frog. The neck is too tall (I’ll frog it from the top) and the intended recipient has gained quite a bit of weight which means the cable bottom will no longer work.

I will frog it back to 3″ below armscye, add increases and replace the cable bottom with a narrow twisted cable/rib hem. The sleeve is also too tight so I’m frogging back to armhole, knitting to the elbow without decreasing and knitting a cable hem to finish.

This project has been a complete knit from the hip project (the kind of project I love) and has had problems from the start.

In a single yarn order I got two very different dye lots, one a darker skein I didn’t notice until I had knit up the neck in one of the lighter skeins. The shade was so different I couldn’t helix knit and solve the problem. It literally looked striped. Frog. I put the dark skein at the start and ended it when the neck cables ended. This lets the color management look marginally deliberate. With all the test knitting and integrating increases and the dye lot mess I think I frogged the neck three or four times.

The yarn is Paintbox in Racing Green knitted up on US6 needles. I ordered it from LoveCrafts. In the future I will watch more carefully to ensure I’ve received all the same dye lot.


Half the yarn used and it’s hip length

This one has been a bit of a long term project. I love the colors. This is Louisa Harding’s Girandola in Mondivo and Bamboo Pop in Denim knitted up on US3 needles. The skeins are 612 yards each and I started with two skeins of this color. The result at the left is one skein and a tiny bit of the second. I work on this project when I need a rest from all the others I’m juggling. It’s a pet and admire project. I knit for a while, stop and admire the colors and how well the Denim matches one of the blues in the Mondovino.

I would love to have another skein of Mondovino in a matching dye lot but so far, no joy. Ideally I would like the duster to be mid-calf length but I don’t think that’s going to happen. The one batch of Mondivo I’ve found has such a difference in dye lot it is the equivalent of taking a picture of the same item with light on and light off.

I’m going to knit up this last skein and make a nice wide seed stitch hem in Denim. I’m thinking that’s the best I’m going to be able to manage.


 

Reknit to add Sinfonia Azure and the remainder of the yellow

I’m on the homeward bound stretch on this one after a number of upsets. I got the body done and one sleeve complete and had Mindy test fit. It was not long enough and the sleeve had negative ease. Mindy’s like me and likes loose and comfortable.

At this point I had a bit of a panic as frogging the body to the armpits was going to be heart breaking. The pockets were done and they were beautiful! Ack! So I set it aside to ponder the fix.

I was really short on the orange yarn needed to lengthen the body and make the sleeves wider. I doubted I could get close enough to the original dye lot so ordering more of the Cascade Ultra Fine wasn’t really an option. Mindy really liked the little bit of Sinfonia in Azure I’d gotten from a friend’s destash, so I ordered a skein from Creative Yarn Source. I love Sinfonia (it doesn’t shed like the Cascade Ultra Fine and comes in a skein instead of a hank) and ordered yarn for two sweaters in addition to the Azure.

Beautiful pockets

While waiting for my yarn order I had an epiphany. I don’t need to frog my pockets! I can cut and splice! I can Kitchener! What an easy solution!

Then I hit a bit of a slowdown. The one skein of yarn I needed was on back order, reportedly 3-4 weeks out from delivery. In the interim I frogged the sleeve and set the project aside.

When the back ordered yarn arrived surgery was performed and the sweater was in two pieces. The addition of the blue and using up the last of the yellow gave me the length I needed. I am likely to have left over orange as a result. Once the sleeves are finished I’ll Kitchener the bottom to the top.

Double sided neck band

I really love how this sweater is coming out. The colors are beautiful and all the additional touches add to the love. The conti-raglan shoulders fit beautifully. The double-sided neck band is a couture touch I just love. The pockets came out perfect!

I’ve got three or four more projects on needles. When I clear the deck of these three I’ll drag them out for review. One’s a navy to white gradient and navy bamboo fingering held together. One is very small start in Great Barrier Reef cotton in Wineglass Bay I may frog and reknit for a friend of Mindy’s. One is a 4-ply cotton dress that’s at the boring stage, miles and miles of stockinette. I pretty sure there’s at least one more lurking in my WIP box waiting for my attention. I also have an open vest request from a very close friend. She wants the cable neck in Paintbox Racing Green (yes, I got all the same dye lot this time) and the body of my short duster. It should be a fairly quick and fun knit. Reminder, I need to check with her about pockets.

 

Duster Progress

I’ve been slogging away on my Louisa Harding Mondovino duster. I’m halfway through my second ball (612 yards each) and I’m really pleased. This is conti-something, no picked up stitches. I’m working four increases, one under each arm and two running down the back. The increases are getting farther and farther apart as the rows are knit with one row being added between each increase row. I am currently at 15 rows between increases.

If I run out of yarn before I get the length I want it’ll be a long vest instead of a duster. I can live with that. If I can get something approaching duster length I’ll add a generous seed stitch border at the bottom for balance.

 

Pork Marinade

I bought a marinade that I really enjoyed . . . except for the burning stomach it caused. Why? Not sure. Probably coconut aminos, one of those things I should be able to eat but can’t. So the quest is . . . duplicate the taste without upsetting my gut. What I’ve got is really close and delicious.

This is a one-person recipe because I like sauces and spices and Wadly likes simpler stuff.

  • 1 medium tomatillo
  • 1 tbsp garlic/onion oil (I make it because I love the flavors)
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp bone broth

I process it with an immersion blender. You could do the same thing with a blender, it’s just more things to wash when you’re done.

Cube the pork and dump it in a bowl with the marinade. Stir.

Do your veges . . . broccoli, carrot (saute these two while cutting up the other veges), yellow onion,  bell pepper (I used green and orange), mushrooms (I used shiitake).

Add the remaining veges to the carrots/broccoli. Cook until al dente, transfer to a bowl.

Add the pork and marinade to the pan. Cook until mostly done. Add the veges back to the pan and finish cooking.

It’s simple and really good!

A new take on egg salad

Have you every had egg salad that was actually a salad? It’s really good.

Of course I have to add lots of other things . . .

  • 2 hard boiled eggs (crumble the yoke, dice the white)
  • diced dill pickle
  • diced red pepper
  • diced yellow pepper (you don’t really need both but I like ’em)
  • sliced green onion
  • diced tomato
  • spring salad greens
  • Sir Kensington Mayo

This is a lovely salad. Stir the mayo into the egg and diced veges, stir in the lettuce . . yum!

For me, a big bowl of this is a lovely dinner. If you don’t want to have it as a stand alone dinner, pair it with pork chops or steak!

Substitutions

I love the taste of garlic. Because I can’t use garlic (high FODMAP) I frequently use garlic oil when cooking. With supply chain issues, it’s currently not available.

I’m occasionally not a very patient person. I’m perfectly happy to improvise when things aren’t going my way. Because the store is out of garlic oil, I decided to make my own.

I’m not a huge fan of olive oil, the base for commercial garlic oil. It’s too hard to get oil that’s truly 100% olive. Usually it’s mixed with something else, often soy which I don’t tolerate at all. This is a significant strike against commercial garlic oil. Is the oil used really 100% olive oil?

So . . . substitution for commercially produced garlic oil . . . I’m using sunflower oil, my preferred oil for everything.

I filled my 10″ cast iron pan with about 3 cups to which I added 2 head of thinly sliced garlic. I cooked it until the kitchen was filled with the heavenly (to me) smell of garlic. I have no clue how long I cooked it. It looked right, it smelled right . . .

I sifted out all the garlic slices and the result is . . . lovely. I’m using more than I would normally but I’m also into it for far far less than the cost of the prepackaged garlic oil.

Win win!

Commercial marinade that rocks!

I love stir fry but a good stir fry is hard to create without soy sauce . . . which I can’t eat. My “no soy is good soy” aversion extends to the soy lecithin used to make chocolate deliciously smooth. I just can’t do it. The guilty pleasure isn’t worth the subsequent pain.

New to my cooking is a soy free teriaki sauce that rocks! I was surfing through groceries filling my Walmart pickup order (Wadly won’t go in the store but he will pick up an order) and ran across this marinade. It’s really good!

So in addition to my chowder, to which I am still addicted, I now have another meal that’s going to be a regular favorite, stir fried pork.

On the differences in Chardonnay

When Wadly brought home my first bottle of chardonnay for cooking, he was working on the advice of the booze guy at the store and all was good. When I find something that works I stick with it and that’s what he got for me each time I needed a new bottle.

Fast forward to supply chain issues . . . and the wine I was used to seasoning around is currently unavailable. A LOT of wine that would be an adequate replacement is also no longer available. Wadly brought home a box of “house chardonnay”. Yup, not kidding. And the seasonings that go with my preferred choice do not work with “house chardonnay.” At all. My wonderful seafood chowder is not stellar with the new wine and the old spice mix.

If you’re trying my chowder and you’re singularly unimpressed, leave out the spices. Try the chowder with just the veges, broth, wine, cod, shrimp . . . and add fish sauce, Worcestershire sauce and a little bit of balsamic vinegar. From that point you can play with other spices if you feel the need. So far . . . I haven’t.

I know I’m going to want the additional spices when I return to my preferred chardonnay, but until the box wine is gone and our store shelves are restocked, this is a perfectly fine solution.

The (maybe) final word on seafood chowder

I’ve been making seafood chowder pretty much daily. Over the last couple weeks the recipe hasn’t changed. It is SO good! This will make two servings if you add sides (salad, garlic toast, fresh baked rolls, etc.) and choose to share. Otherwise, be a pig and eat it all yourself without sides. It’s worth it!

  • 3-4 large uncooked shrimp split lengthwise and cut into 3/4″ lengths
  • 1/4 lb Pacific cod cut into 3/4″ cubes
  • 2 tomatillos (3 if they’re small, 1 if they’re large) Don’t leave these out. They add a necessary brightness to the dish
  • Green and red pepper diced into 1/4″ pieces
  • Green onion split lengthwise and cut into 1/4″ lengths
  • Tomato, 1 thick slice cubed
  • Broccoli, steamed and sliced fine, 1 cup
  • Shiitake mushroom. This is a texture item. Cube or dice
  • Bone or vegetable broth, 1 cup
  • White wine, 1/4-1/3 cup
  • Fish sauce, 2 tsp
  • Cilantro, 1 tbsp
  • Salt (the dish doesn’t need it but if you like salty stuff, add some!)
  • Gochugaru (Korean red pepper), 1 tsp. Use less or more depending on your taste.
  • Sour cream, 1/4 cup
  • Garlic oil
  • Butter

This is a bit fussy to make because things need to be added in the right order but is so awesome it’s totally worth it.

Clean and cut the broccoli into big pieces. Steam until not quite tender. I use my Instant Pot with a steamer basket. I set it for pressure cook, turn off the keep warm function and set the time to zero minutes. When the light goes off I release the pressure and remove the pot. I get the right tenderness every time. I can start the broccoli and prepare all the other veges while it’s coming up to pressure. By the time I’ve got them all chopped or diced and my pan started the broccoli is done.

I’m a huge fan of cast iron frying pans. I have a bunch. I use an 8″ deepish Lodge pan for this recipe. You could use a sauce pan or a bigger shallower pan . . . do what works for you.

Add butter and garlic oil to the pan. Once heated add all the veges except broccoli. Cook until nearly tender. If your pan starts to look a bit dry, add more butter. Add the broccoli. Cook until thoroughly warmed through. Add broth, wine, fish sauce, cilantro, gochugaru, salt to taste.

Once the mixture starts to simmer stir in the fish and shrimp. Adjust the temperature as necessary to keep the mixture at a very light simmer. Once the fish and shrimp is cooked through (be careful not to overcook) add the sour cream to the center of the pan (don’t stir it in yet) and turn the heat down to just below simmer.

Let sit about five minutes so the sour cream can come up to temperature. Stir the sour cream into the mix and serve.

 

 

Mickey’s Mariner’s Compass

I had planned to make a bog coat for my friend Mickey . . . but that’s just not going to happen. After making and wearing a bog coat I realized it was not going to be a garment she would wear more than once. It’s too bulky. It’s too awkward. It lacks shape. For people our shape and size it’s the equivalent of weary a bulky sack. Not good.

So I have this lovely start that was intended to be the center back of the bog coat which now needs to be repurposed into a 45″x60″ lap quilt, something Mickey will use often. I am imagining this as the compass rose of an oval mariner’s compass. I’ve made a mariner’s compass. They go together quite quickly using the freezer paper flip and sew method for the quadrants of the compass and come out beautifully accurate when using machine basting for the center oval.

So that’s my current plan, a mariner’s compass with the horse head as the compass rose.

This horse head is 10″ tall and was appliquéd using my machine basting technique. I love this technique because it lets me be very accurate. One nostril rim is less than 1/8″ wide. Because the fabric is a good quality batik and the thin portions of the design are on the bias, it should hold up really well to wear and washing.

A tent for the win!

When I make spareribs I marinate the ribs overnight in a rub made of spices and apple cider vinegar. I make the spice mix in bulk and add the vinegar to the spices just before using it as a rub. It’s a five or six to one mix, spice mix to vinegar.

Then the spareribs are cooked at 425º for an hour. This truly messes up my oven. It gets a coating of grease that’s truly unappealing to see or clean.

Yesterday I tried something different. I made a tent out of parchment paper with the edges sitting inside the pan to catch all the splatter. My oven stayed clean and the ribs came out perfect. I couldn’t be more pleased.

Mindy’s Spring

I’ve been fighting with the design on this sweater for months. I’ve tried a number of different things that don’t please me, don’t work with the yarn, come out the wrong shape, don’t highlight the colors . . . ugh. Just ugh.

I’ve finally settled on something that works. It’s unique, it’s beautiful, it’s the right shape, it fits . . . now to see if I have the necessary amount of yarn for 3/4 length sleeves and tunic length body.

Sweaters delivered

Plaid!
Plaid!

I delivered three sweaters a few days ago, one to my friend Mickey and two to Mindy. Mickey got Midnight Plaid, a design and color that suits her well. I’m struggling with not having taken a picture of the completed sweater before passing it on. I did the same thing with one of Mindy’s as well. No clue. Too eager to get on with the next project, I suspect. Hopefully I can get pics from Mickey and Mindy.

Just Guessing take two
This is a bit along the lines of one of the scarves Stephen West designed, something about bricks. It’s based on my Just Guessing sweater.

Mindy was ecstatic with the two sweaters she received. She loves tunic length sweaters and the yellow gradient sweater with the rolled neckline and kangaroo pocket (yup, didn’t take a picture of the completed sweater) really made her smile. The other was my purple version of Just Guessing officially dubbed Mosaic.

Task shortening cooking

I love barbequed spare ribs but they’re a lot of fuss to fix. Clean the ribs, season the ribs, stick ’em in the fridge overnight, bake the ribs, make sauce for the ribs, coat the ribs and bake the sauce in. That’s a lot of steps for a meal that’s eaten and gone in 20 minutes. Add to that, a rack of spare ribs is too much food for the two of us.

By now you’ve figured I’ve got a plan . . . and I do! I don’t want to give up on spare ribs. They are so good and pair so well with so many sides. I’ve figured out a way to enjoy them without having excessive leftover while speeding the process along.

Clean two racks of pork spare ribs. Cut them into two-person sized servings. Prepare the rub, apply it generously and stick the whole mess in the fridge overnight. The next morning bake them according to the instruction. Let cool. Pack each 2-meal sized piece in a separate ziplock bag, stick those in a big ziplock bag and freeze.

Make a double batch of barbeque sauce. Cool and pour into ice cube trays (the silicone ones work awesomely well). Stick the trays in the freezer. When frozen, pop the cubes of barbeque sauce out of the trays and stick them into a ziplock bag and put that bag into the larger ziplock bag holding the seasoned and baked spare ribs.

When you want barbequed spare ribs pull out a meal’s worth, 2-4 cubes of barbeque sauce and thaw. Coat and cook (I use an oven bag to ease cleanup) and you’re done! Meal prep in minutes instead of fussing all day. You’ve fussed just once for 6-10 meals.

Nothing is static

I can’t seem to leave recipes alone. I’ve got to tweak and add and change and . . .

I’m fairly sure it’s a chronic thing. A perfectly fine pork stir fry morphs into something else. The seed is never lost as I do my best to document changes. It’s got to be excess creativity or boredom or something else.

I’ve changed my pork rub recipe. I’ve added ground cardamom and . . . and here’s why it’s so important to document. I cannot remember what the second thing I added is. I’ll have to make a trip to the kitchen and go through the spices to refresh my memory.

Hotdog for the win!

With food intolerances, it’s difficult to find processed meats that are worthy. Hempler’s meat products are definitely worthy. We eat their bacon, hotdogs, ground pork and more. Nothing they make (that we’ve tried) rates as high FODMAP. Everything we’ve tried has been gluten MSG and GMO free . . . all in all a truly awesome product line.

I love one dish meals. We don’t sit down together to eat unless we have company. We eat on totally different schedules. If Wadly’s eating fried chicken I’m usually having something totally different. Stir fried pork, tuna or egg salad . . . something that’s not fried chicken. When he has two hotdogs heated in the microwave (yeah, me too) I’ll cut up a hotdog and have it with broccoli, bacon, green onion, bone broth, red and green pepper . . . and it’s awesome. I’ve done the same thing with a can of green beans. Hotdog for the win.