Friday, October 29, 2010

He's Slippin' 'Em Bread... Dig?

Fall is back in full swing this morning, New England. Halloween is this coming weekend and then, right around the corner, is Thanksgiving. In Alex's family, Thanksgiving is the most important holiday. His mom is the best cook and always balances the menu with traditional favorites and a few new fall dishes. Though my Thanksgiving favorite is mashed potatoes, Alex's is cornbread.

A few years ago, Alex's mom sent me her recipe. I follow the instructions to a T, and it always comes out perfect.

Cornbread
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup yellow corn meal
  • 3 Tbsps sugar
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/8 cups milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 Tbsp melted butter
Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease a round or square 8" pan with shortening or butter. Whisk together flour, corn meal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. With your whisk create a well in the center of the dry ingredients.


In a separate bowl or liquid measuring cup, combine milk and eggs stirring until well blended.


Pour liquid mixture into dry mixture all at once.


Stir quickly to combine. Stir in melted butter. Stir until just smoothly combined, being careful not to over stir. Pour batter into greased pan.


Bake about 25 minutes.


Cool, slice, and serve!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Happy Global Champagne Day


Of all the wines in the world, Champagne is a true favorite. If it's on the menu by the glass, I order it. If someone is up for sharing a bottle, I'm in.

Some people believe in saving Champagne for a special occasion, I am not one of those people. Or, maybe I just like celebrating any time I can. If you are one of those people though, here is a reason to celebrate: today is Global Champagne Day! So pop a bottle, pour yourself a glass, and have a little fun. I'm sure you deserve it.

To find out more about Champagne, click here. For more information on Global Champagne Day, click here.

Photo by Lisa Rigby Photography.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

'S Wonderful, 'S Marvelous


No matter how you serve them, fruit and cheese make the most wonderful combination. While leafing through the latest issue of Food and Wine magazine, I spotted this "knife and fork dessert" and knew instantly that I had to try it. The marvelous combination of caramelized fruit, savory peasant bread, and sweet mascarpone cheese made this a delicious fall dish. We don't have space for a grill in our tiny apartment, but my Calphalon Grill Pan did the trick.

Also featured at Mad Tasty!

Grilled Fruit Bruschetta with Sweet Mascarpone (inspired by Michael Glissman in Food and Wine)
Serves 8
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried lavender buds
  • 4 large plums, halved and pitted
  • 4 nectarines, halved and pitted
  • 2 pears, halved and seeds removed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup mascarpone 
  • 1/4 cup confectioners sugar
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • Eight 1-inch-thick slices of peasant bread (make it yourself! recipe to follow)
  • 8 rosemary skewers, most of the leaves stripped offDirections

Directions
  1. Put the sugar and lavender in a spice grinder and grind to a powder. 
  2. In a large bowl, combine the lavender sugar with the plums, nectarines, pears, lemon juice, orange zest and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. 
  3. Toss well and season lightly with salt and pepper. 
  4. Let stand for 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the mascarpone cheese and confectioners sugar.
  6. Brush the bread slices on both sides with olive oil.
  7. Thread the fruit onto the rosemary skewers; reserve any juices in the bowl. 
  8. Grill the bread over high heat until lightly charred and crisp, about 30 seconds per side. 
  9. Grill the fruit skewers over moderate heat, basting a few times with the reserved juices, until lightly charred and just tender, about 4 minutes per side.
  10. Spread the honey mascarpone on the grilled bread. 
  11. Slide the fruit off the skewers onto the bread, drizzle some of the juices over the fruit and serve.
Peasant Bread (by Taste of Home)
Serves 8
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 cups warm water (110° to 115°), divided
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter, melted

Directions
  1. Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water. 
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt and sugar. 
  3. Add the yeast mixture and remaining water; stir until combined. 
  4. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
  5. Stir dough down. 
  6. Place in a greased 1 quart. round casserole dish. 
  7. Brush top with butter. 
  8. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes.
  9. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes. 
  10. Remove from pan and slice into 1 inch thick slices.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Something old, something new

So, as I've said about a million times, our wedding was the biggest DIY project of my life. I made our invitations, hotel gift bags, guestbook, place cards, table names, menus, chair decorations, cupcake toppers, and favors.

But, one craft that only a few people saw was my Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue Garter. Since our wedding was two days long, I needed two of everything. For our actual wedding at Cambridge City Hall, I wore my Nana's sailboat necklace (old), a pair of gold heels (new), I carried a kerchief from my grandfather (borrowed), and a tie pin from my mom (blue). To the reception, I wanted something a bit easier. I made this garter with a vintage broach (old), elastic lace (new), a chiffon flower (blue), and I borrowed the concept from Etsy and Martha Stewart Weddings.

Even if you aren't getting married any time soon or have already had your big day, this would make a great gift for a bride looking for a new twist on an old tradition.

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue Garter
  • 1/4 yard elastic lace
  • 1/4 yard of blue chiffon
  • 1 spool of matching blue thread
  • Flower template
  • 1/4 yard of white chiffon
  • 1 spool of matching white thread
  • 1 package of blue beads
  • 1 package of clear beads
  • 1 vintage blue broach
  • Miscellaneous trims and notions
Directions

Measure the circumference of your thigh with a cloth measuring tape. Add 1/2 inch to your measurement and trim excess. Fold elastic lace in half, right sides together and pin 1 inch from the end. Sew a line using the zigzag stitch 1/2 from the ends to make a loop. Sew seams open.

Next, layout your blue chiffon. Fold in half twice to create a 3" x 44" piece of fabric. Pin along open edge. Trim in half to create a 3" x 22" piece of fabric.


Thread a needle with coordinating blue thread. Remove the pins at one end of the fabric. Carefully twist the fabric tightly. Roll to form the base of the flower. Stitch the flower together to secure as you twist and roll.


Next, lay out your white chiffon. Fold in half twice to create a 3" x 44" piece of fabric. Trim in half to create a 3" x 22" piece of fabric. Fold in half and in half again to create a 3" x 5" piece of fabric. Pin around all sides of the fabric. Print and cut out flower template. Pin to white chiffon.


Carefully cut around flower template and remove pattern.


Thread a needle with coordinating white thread. Pinch center of flower together and sew through all layers to create a three dimensional flower.


Flatten petals open and sew decorative crystal beads.


Attach white and blue chiffon flowers to the elastic lace. Pin on vintage broach. Decorate with any additional sewing notions of your choice.


Slip in on your thigh, toss a six pence in your shoe, and get yourself hitched!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fresh and Honest New England Cooking

Once a month I have dinner with three of my girlfriends from graduate school. Each month we choose a different restaurant. There are only two rules. First, the restaurant has to be new to everyone. Second, the restaurant's name has to start with the next letter in the alphabet from the month before. We call it ABC dinner, and it's been going on for 3 years. 

For our first round, we chose Henrietta's Table for H Dinner. It became a huge favorite. As soon as I could go back, I brought Alex. The food is fantastic. The ingredients are locally grown. The atmosphere is cozy. The service is wonderful. We love it so much that we had our wedding dinner in their private room. 


Before the wedding, on our sixth and last dating anniversary, Alex took me to dinner and bought me the Henrietta's Table Cookbook. It has every recipe on the menu and more. For Sunday dinner, I decided to attempt my favorite meal at Henrietta's Table: pot roast, mashed potatoes, and brussels sprouts. It didn't come out quite as delicious as it would have if Chef Peter Davis had made it, but it was pretty tasty.

Henrietta's Table Pot Roast (from Fresh & Honest by Peter Davis)
Serves 6 (to 10)
  • 1 four pound piece of beef chuck
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 3 celery sticks, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup red wine (I used Ravenswood Red Zinfandel)
  • 3 cups Veal or Oxtail stock (I used beef stock)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season chuck with salt and pepper.


Place a heavy bottom pot on the stove over medium heat. Add 4 tablespoons oil and brown the chuck on all sides. Remove the chuck from the pot and set aside.


Add 3 cloves of garlic, 2 carrots chopped, 3 celery sticks chopped, and 1 medium onion chopped and brown well.


Pour 1 cup of red wine into the pot and reduce by half.


Add the meat, 3 cups of stock, 2 bay leaves, and 2 sprigs of thyme into the pot, and bring to a boil.


Place the uncovered pot into the oven. Cook the roast for 2.5 hours, turning every half hour. If the sauce reduces too much and becomes too thick, add 1 cup of water. Remove the pot roast from the oven when it is fork-tender. Remove the meat from the pot and set aside.


Skim the fat off the top of the sauce. Puree the sauce and season with salt and pepper. Slice the meat across the grain, top with sauce, and serve!



Friday, October 22, 2010

Happy Friday, cupcake!


If you know me, you know I love cupcakes. They are my favorite baked good to make. They are my favorite baked good to eat. Delicious.

Of all the cupcakes in the world, these are my favorite. The concept comes from my favorite cupcake blog, How to Eat a Cupcake. The cupcake recipe is a modified version of Magnolia's cupcakes. The frosting is all Martha Stewart. With their powers combined, this cupcake is out of this world!

Neapolitan Cupcakes

Vanilla Batter
  • 3/4 cup self-rising flour
  • 1/2 cup and 2 Tbsps all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (1 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Chocolate Batter
  • 3/4 cup self-rising flour
  • 1/2 cup and 2 Tbsps cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup (1 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line 2 muffin tins with cupcake papers.
  3. Start with the vanilla batter.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside.
  5. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  6. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
  7. Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla.
  8. Repeat steps 4 - 7 with the chocolate batter substituting the all-purpose flour for cocoa powder.
  9. With a batter scoop, spoon one scoop of each vanilla and chocolate batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about 3/4 full.
  10. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.
  11. Cool the cupcakes in tins for 15 minutes.
  12. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.
Strawberry Frosting
  • 1/2 cup whole frozen strawberries, thawed
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, firm and slightly cold
  • Pinch of coarse salt
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Directions
  1. Place strawberries in the bowl of a small food processor; process until pureed.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy.
  3. Reduce mixer speed and slowly add confectioners' sugar; beat until well combined.
  4. Add vanilla and 3 tablespoons strawberry puree; mix until just blended.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Science Fiction Double Feature

You know what my favorite thing about October is? Free scary movies. I love horror movies. So, last night, Alex and I decided to have a double feature, movie and pizza, week day, date night and take advantage of all that free carnage on Netflix Watch Instantly.

We started with Paranormal Activity, and then, decided to go campy with The Rocky Horror Picture show. Paranormal Activity was terrifyingly fantastic. Not your average blood and guts, slasher flick, Paranormal Activity is a demonic, Hitchcockesque, thriller. It was so scary. I had trouble sleeping afterward. Rocky Horror is a favorite of mine, but not so for Alex. He described it as "Beetlejuice with singing," which is not super high praise.

The pizza turned out delicious too. I've never made pizza dough before because it is so easy to buy the ready made kind. But, it is way cheaper to make your own, and easy now that I found a good recipe that doesn't require hours of waiting for the dough to rise. The pesto was a great too, thanks to Catie who brought me a stash of basil from her Somerville Community Garden.

Quick and Easy Pesto Pizza (inspired by Little Birdie Secrets and Simply Recipes)
  • 1 16-inch pizza crust
  • 1/4 cup pesto
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 2 cups of shredded cheese (I grated up some left over cotswold, mahon, manchego, and mozzarella)
Crust
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (120-130 degrees)
  • 1/2-1 tablespoon olive oil
  • cornmeal, for sprinkling
Pesto
  • 1/2 cup basil
  • 2 Tbsp pine nuts
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

Directions

Start with the crust! Mix flour, sugar, salt, and yeast together in a mixing bowl. Add water and olive oil and stir till a ball of dough is formed. With a mixer or on a floured surface, knead dough for 10 minutes. Place dough in a medium mixing bowl that has been sprayed with cooking spray or coated in olive oil. Cover with a dish towel and let sit for 30 minutes.

Then whip up your pesto. Place basil leaves and pine nuts in your food processor or magic bullet. Pulse till combined. Add garlic and pulse till combined. Add olive oil and salt and blend.


Slice tomatoes and your grate cheese. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Dust pizza stone or baking sheet with cornmeal. Remove your pizza dough from the mixing bowl and stretch to desired thickness.


Place pizza crust in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove and top with pesto and tomatoes.


Add cheese to cover.


Bake at 500 degrees for 8-10 minutes.


Slice, serve, and enjoy!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Is it really only Wednesday?

This past weekend I hosted a little clothes swapping soirée for eight of my most fashionable friends. It was a super fun night of scoring pretty clothes and hanging with pretty girls. So, I decided to attempt to whip up a batch of pretty cocktails.

Ever since I tried my first Lychee Martini at Hey Lucy in Toronto, I have been dying to make my own. After months of checking our local liquor store for lychee liquor, I gave up and found a recipe that didn't require a trip to Super 88. While these weren't the simplest drinks to whip up, they were certainly super tasty. To save time, I made the lychee purée ahead and shook up the drinks to order. Each were served in a pretty martini glass, a wedding gift from the original Martini.

Lychee Martini (inspired by Epicurious)
Makes 8 martinis
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3 cans of lychees in syrup
  • 1 lemon
  • 16 oz vodka
  • 8 oz triple sec
Directions

Heat sugar and water in a 1-quart saucepan over high heat, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Then pour into a heatproof bowl set in a large bowl of ice and cold water. Let stand, stirring occasionally, until syrup is cold, about 3 minutes.


Drain 3 cans of lychees, pouring the syrup into a medium mixing bowl, preferably with a spout. Set aside 8-16 lychees in a small prep bowl. Purée the remaining drained lychees with sugar syrup and juice of one lemon in a blender, food processor, or bullet until smooth. Strain lychees puree through a fine mes sieve into the medium mixing bowl containing the lychee syrup. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice cubes, add 2 oz of lychee purée, 2 oz of vodka, and 1 oz of triple sec. Shake for 15 seconds and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with 1-2 lychees and repeat for each martini.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Touch of Swahili



This weekend, Alex and I decided to finally check out Rafiki Bistro. Rafiki Bistro is a cozy, Cambridge, gastropub with homey decor and a delightful menu. The restaurant is situated between Harvard and Porter Squares, right on Mass Ave.

We started out sharing a Mixed Green Salad, bread, and olive oil. The salad was super fresh with the most delicious, light, citrus vinaigrette. For our main meals, Alex went with the Herb and Garlic Crusted Roasted Free Range Chicken, and I tried the Pizza of the Day, fig, taleggio, sage, and honey. The pizza was fab. Sweet, but not too sweet; savory, but not too savory. The crust was super thin and crunchy, and there was plenty for sharing. Alex's chicken was equally good, juicy and perfectly seasoned. Although not quite what you might call crusted, there were absolutely no complaints, especially over the mashed potatoes. For dessert we shared the Key Lime Cheesecake, which was just a slight bit disappointing. The spiced gingerbread crust was a little odd paired with the zesty lime filling. That being said, cheesecake can never be bad, and it didn't stop us from cleaning our plate.

Rafiki Bistro definitely gets our approval. The meal, the atmosphere, and the restaurant's socially responsible mission are right up our alley. Oh, they also have Allagash White on tap, so we will definitely be back.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Out of the oven...and into your heart


Lately I've been doing a lot of baking. There is something pleasant about a toasty kitchen when the weather outside starts to get cool. I love baking. The only hard part is keeping supplies on hand in my teeny tiny apartment.

I have an entire cabinet devoted to baking supplies: flours, sugars, baking soda and powder, sprinkles, and more. But, there never seems to be enough space for everything. I try to just keep necessities and buy anything else as needed.

This weekend I had to run out for some molasses because I've been craving gingerbread. But now, I have 3/4 of a jar of molasses to fit into my already stuffed cabinets. It's nice to not have to run to the store every time you want to bake something, but the items you only use every so often can really add up. So it got me thinking...

What ingredients do you always keep stocked? What's your favorite specialty item?


Applesauce Gingerbread (from the Apple Cookbook by Olwen Woodier)

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsps baking soda
  • 2 tsps ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9x13 inch baking dish. Melt butter over low heat. Pour into a mixing bowl. Beat in sugar and molasses.



Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat. Beat in the applesauce. Sift the flour baking soda, ginger, and cinnamon into the applesauce mixture and stir well to combine thoroughly.


Spoon into the baking dish and bake for 35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Turn onto a wire rack; cool completely.


Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Friday, October 15, 2010

I've got sunshine on a cloudy day


The weather is outside is terrible today in New England. It is cold and windy and rainy. Summer is months and months away and won't be here until after we get through endless snow storms and frigid temperatures. This is the worst of fall. This is where is begins.

To get through it, let's think about the good times. Sitting on the roof deck, slightly sunburned, the only wind is a summer breeze, hanging out with friends, and sipping on a cold glass of lemon sangria.

Lemon Sangria
  • 1 bottle dry white wine
  • 2 cups lemonade
  • 1/2 cup limoncello liqueur
  • 2 lemons, cut into wheels
  • 2 oranges cut into wheels
  • 1 bottle semisweet sparkling wine
Directions
  1. Combine the wine, lemonade, limoncello, lemons, and oranges in a large glass container and stir well.
  2. Cover and refrigerate for four hours.
  3. Serve over ice; fill glasses half way with the sangria mixture, then top with sparkling wine.
  4. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

They give prizes for the biggest tomato and best heirloom apple

A few weekends ago, Alex and I took my mom to the Deerfield Fair for her birthday. The Deerfield Fair is New England's oldest family fair and my absolute favorite fall activity (my mom's too!) They've got everything: cows, pigs, chickens, candied apples, fried dough, crafts, tractor pulls, demolition derbies, even equestrian vaulting. Oh yes. It's the best.

My mom and Ruby, a baby cow

Because we had planned to head up to the fair super early, I decided baking my mom a birthday cake was, kind of, out of the question. Instead, I decided to make Lemon Pound cake. Still not a healthy well rounded breakfast, but slightly better with a cup of coffee than birthday cake.

Lemon Pound Cake (from Julia at Dozen Flours
  • 4 small lemons
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, that is completely softened
  • 3 cups superfine, Baker's or caster sugar
  • 6 eggs, warmed for 10 minutes in hot tap water before using
  • 1 cup full-fat sour cream, at room temperature

Icing
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 cups powdered-sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 325F and grease a 16-cup fluted cake pan and dust with cake flour (Or, just use Pam with flour!) Zest four of the lemons into a small bowl. Then, with a paring knife, cut the tops and bottoms off of each lemon. Place one flat side of the lemon down on the cutting board and trim the pith (the white part) off the lemon, going all the way around each lemon until it's completely peeled. Over a bowl, cut segments of lemon from membranes over a bowl, letting fruit and juice fall into the bowl (for a great tutorial on how to do this, click here!) Toss the seeds and the remaining membranes. With a fork, break segments into small pieces or whiz in the food processor for a few quick seconds. In a small to medium mixing bowl, combine the sugar and the lemon zest. Mix together until the sugar is moist and then set aside.


Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk together. With your mixer, beat butter for 2 minutes at medium speed. Add half the sugar and mix for 2 more minutes, then add the rest of the sugar and mix again for 4 minutes, stopping once to scrape down the bowl and the beater blade.


Remove the eggs from the warm water and dry them. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating just until combined after each addition. On the lowest setting, mix in the dry ingredients with the butter and sugar. Add the the sour cream. Gently fold in the lemon juice and segments.


Pour batter into fluted cake pan.


Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes or until tester inserted near center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan on a cooling rack for 15 minutes. Carefully turn cake right side up on the cooling rack.


While the cake is cooling, juice the remaining 2 lemons. In a small bowl, slowly add the powdered sugar to the lemon juice and stir until smooth. Poke small holes all over the top of the cake using a fork or toothpick. Carefully pour about 1/2 the glaze over the tops and the sizes of the cake. Let the glaze harden for about 2 hours or overnight. Cover the remaining glaze and keep at room temperature. Drizzle the remaining glaze on top of the cake about a half hour before serving.

    Wednesday, October 13, 2010

    Pantaloons revisited

    I've always been a bit of a saver. Whether it's photos, recipes, songs, sewing and knitting patterns, or craft ideas; if inspiration strikes, I file it away. I am not, however, a good filer. Over the years, all of that inspiration has piled up, and I don't always know where it came from. Recipes and craft ideas are easy because they usually contain a link back to the original owner. Pictures are a bit tougher. For example, years ago, Alex sent me this picture and it totally made my day.


    Probably the cutest picture ever, right? But where did it come from?

    That is where TinEye comes in. TinEye is a reverse image search engine. All you have to do is submit a picture, and TinEye will tell you where it is on the web. Turns out the photo was taken by Debbie Carlos on May 11, 2006. Alex and I have been together a long time.


    Thank you to How About Orange for sharing this!

    Well good morning Madame DeFarge


    I have been knitting for a few years now, but I am absolutely no expert. I can make a great scarf, but that's about where my talents end. Until this weekend, when I made my first hat! I have always wanted to try making a hat. Hats are so cozy and cute when the weather gets cold. And, it turns out, they are pretty super easy to make.

    Knit Hat (pattern by Kathy North at Piece by Piece)

    Materials
    • 150 yds. worsted weight wool, acrylic, or blend (I used Plymouth Yarn Encore Colorspun in Shadow)
    • Size 8 (5 mm) circular needle (16” length)
    • Set of four size 8 (5 mm) double-point needles
    • Gauge: 9 stitches = 2" in stockinette stitches
    Directions
    1. Cast on 72 stitches.
    2. Place a stitch marker to note the beginning of rounds.
    3. Join for circular knitting, making sure that stitches are not twisted on needle.
    4. For rounds 1-8: knit 1, purl 1, and repeat around
    5. Continue knitting around until hat measures approx. 6.5" from beginning
    6. Then, begin to decrease for crown as follows, switching to double pointed needles once your hat gets too tight for circular needles
    7. Knit 7, knit 2 together, and repeat (When finished, you should have 64 stitches)
    8. Knit 1 round plain.
    9. Knit 6, knit 2 together, and repeat (When finished, you should have 56 stitches)
    10. Knit 1 round plain.
    11. Knit 5, knit 2 together, and repeat (When finished, you should have 48 stitches)
    12. Knit 1 round plain.
    13. Knit 4, knit 2 together, and repeat (When finished, you should have 40 stitches)
    14. Knit 1 round plain.
    15. Knit 3, knit 2 together, and repeat (When finished, you should have 32 stitches)
    16. Knit 1 round plain.
    17. Knit 2, knit 2 together, and repeat (When finished, you should have 24 stitches)
    18. Knit 1, knit 2 together, and repeat (When finished, you should have 16 stitches)
    19. Knit 2 together and repeat (When finished, you should have 8 stitches)
    20. Leave 12" to 18" tail and cut yarn
    21. Thread tail into yarn needle, draw needle through remaining 8 stitches to gather them
    22. Fasten off and weave in ends and Ta-dah!

    Tuesday, October 12, 2010

    Apples are so hot right now

    At the Mack's Apples Farm Stand, there is this big chart on the wall. It tells you which apples work best in which dishes. Cortlands, it turns out, work best in salads because their flesh is slower to brown than most apples.

    This weekend, Alex and I had dinner at our friends Catie and Matt's apartment. Matt made a fantastic Mac and Cheese (Oprah's favorite!) Catie made some awesome apple crisp. And, Alex and I brought a fall salad, made with our fresh picked Cortlands.

    Fruits of Fall Salad
    • 1 5oz bag of salad spring mix
    • 1/4 cup of balsamic vinaigrette
    • 1 3oz package of chevre cheese
    • 2 medium apples, cored and sliced thin
    • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
    • 1/2 cup golden raisins
    • 1 cup of candied pecans
    Directions

    Toss spring mix and balsamic vinaigrette in a large salad or mixing bowl.


    With a fork, crumble chevre on top of salad. Add apple slices, dried cranberries, raisins, and candied pecans. Toss and serve immediately.

    Monday, October 11, 2010

    The sweeter the apple, the blacker the core

    Or so said Dorothy Parker. Dorothy, however, was from Jersey, not New England. Up in New England, we know the sweeter the apple, the better the apple sauce.

    Last weekend, Alex and I took a trip up to Londonderry, NH and went Mack's Apples to do a little apple picking with my sister, my brother-in-law, and my adorable two year old nephew, Cameron.


    First of all, I love Mack's Apples. They have 400 acres of apples, pears, peaches, pumpkins, and squash, plus they have a huge farm stand with their freshly pressed cider, NH-made maple syrup, honey, pies, jams, and the best cider donuts. We always buy more than we can ever possibly eat!


    When we got home, Alex requested apple sauce. I've never made apple sauce before and wasn't quite sure where to start. I checked out recipes on Simply Recipes, Taste of Home, and Delicious Dishings, and the Apple Cookbook by Olwen Woodier that Alex's sister gave me last Christmas. I decided to go with a mix of all four. With their powers combined, it came out super fab!

    Apple Sauce
    • 8 medium to large apples (we used Cortland apples)
    • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
    • 2 tsps ground cinnamon
    • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
    • Juice from 1/2 lemon

    Directions



    Peel, core, chop the apples, and place them in a large mixing bowl.


    Sprinkle on lemon juice. Add the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.


    Mix to coat. Add to a large stock pot. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.


    Remove from stove and let cool to room temperature. Ladle into a blender and blend until desired smoothness. Serve warm or cold.