[cooking] Recent recipes

I've been trying to improve my cooking. In the past couple of months I've made:

- Irish Stew
This is from The Joy of Cooking and it was perfect. I had a mere pound of lamb shoulder chops so I cut the recipe in half. It was perfect- I loved how the thinly sliced potatoes broke down and thickened the stew. Great dinner for two using only lamb, potatoes, carrots, onions, some herbs and stock.

- Thomas Keller's Favorite Simple Roast Chicken
This is my go-to roast chicken recipe. It's so easy and it always comes out great. Dollar and I eat the legs and wings for supper, then I use the breast/body meat to make chicken salad the next day.

- Ina Garten's Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Made these to bring to Thanksgiving and while they were crispy, salty and delicious straight out of the oven, they didn't fare so well after sitting around for a couple hours before we ate. AND it was completely unpleasant to return home to house that smelled like old, stinky brussels sprouts.

- Desert Candy's Chocolate Chip Cookies. Dollar called home and said he had to work late. I told him I was in the middle of making these cookies and he said he was coming home.

- Lobster and Corn Chowder
I just improvised this, using my trusty Clam Chowder recipe, but adding Lobster and Corn. I brought this to a Soup Swap.

- Pulled Pork
Made this as part of a Mexican Menu when we had a dinner guest over. We had warmed fajita wrappers that we filled with pork (I left a pork loin to slow cook in the crock pot all day, then I shredded it and lightly added spices based on what I read in this carnitas recipe), salsa, lettuce, jack cheese, red onions, and a side of red kidney beans and rice.

I'm not a fan of pancakes- I think they're boring. Dollar is the #1 superfan of pancakes but the poor guy never gets them because I'm the cook and I mostly just cook what I like. One night he said he would like pancakes for supper. Pancakes. For supper. And bacon. I'm even less of a fan of having breakfast for supper. I don't understand it. It's like driving on the other side of the road. You know it's legal and it's okay but it feels weird.

I've got more things in the freezer to play with:

- Soups from the Swap
- Local beef chorizo
- Duck

That's right- A WHOLE DUCK! I saw it at the grocery store and couldn't resist! I have NO IDEA what to do with it but I'm so excited to cook a duck!

[knitting] Hopeless

I tried. I tried to knit the Yoke Pattern Jacket in 30 days but I couldn't. There are two days left in November and I'm still working on the right front. Siiiiigh. I've taken many days off this project because I didn't want to force the knitting process and make thousands of hate stitches. I wanted it all to be love, which meant taking time off and breaks.

The suede slipper soles I ordered came and I attached them to Dollar's felted clogs with safety pins, preparing the sew them on. I had Dollar walk around in the slippers and he said he didn't like how his toes poked over the lip of the suede bottom. I realized this is because the suede bottoms are an inch too small. So I now I've ordered the next larger suede bottoms. I wonder if I can use the smaller soles on my slippers...

I don't think I'll be doing much gift knitting for Christmas. Maybe a tam for my mom and finish up some socks for Dollar. I'm going to try to finish up the jacket for Christmas.

I'm going to be making a trip to Patternworks with the knitting krew on December 16. I started browsing the website to get an idea of what I'd like to pick up there. Some of their house yarn (Bretton, Sunapee, Meredith Bay) for sure.


[amy] Post Thanksgiving Wrap Up

Hope you all had a nice, relaxing Thanksgiving. Mine was a little busy. Thursday was, of course, Turkey day but it was also Dollar's birthday. I give him Elder Scrolls Oblivion Game of the Year Edition and he has since been locked in the game room with it. The world in the game is really beautiful, I must admit.

Friday morning I was one of the crazy people that got up pre-dawn to do some Black Friday shopping. I really couldn't resist the sale on Patons Classic Merino Wool that the craft store was having: 50% off PLUS 20% off all your purchases at the checkout counter. It was still dark out and there were tons of people out shopping. It was eerie because while the store was crowded with people, no one was talking. It was too early in the morning (6:30am) to be chatty. I sleepily got my yarn- 10 balls of heathered gray (more than enough for a sweater) which would normally be $60, for only $24. I went home and get back into bed. Later, Dollar wouldn't believe me when I said I got up, went out shopping and was back in bed before 7am. He never even woke up.

Friday afternoon I had knitting girls come over to make ornaments, drink hot cider, knit and watch Ratatouille. That night, Dollar and I went up to my sister's to play Scene It. I always get screwed over with these games. Take this for example:

Amy gets a My Play and is instructed to name the movie based on the picture. It's a picture of a house with Christmas lights and some cars (one of them red) in the driveway. She says, "Um.. Um.. Um... Meet the Fockers." She's wrong. It's Old School.

Barbara is next. She gets a My Play and is instructed to name the movie based on the picture. It's a picture of a nice RV. She says, "Uh...." and looks at Amy. "That's- That's Meet the Fockers." She's right. Amy tears apart a nearby throw pillow.

Saturday evening I went to a Soup Swap. We played a quick game of Tsuro to decide who got to pick first. I liked this game. It was not too combative with just four people playing. I shudder to think what would happen if eight people played at once. I didn't stay to watch Twin Peaks because I hadn't seen Dollar all day and wanted to hang with him.

Sunday was quiet. I worked more on the Yoke Pattern Jacket. I'm approaching the end of the right front, but I'm not going to be able to knit two sleeves this week. Oh well. I'll just be happy when I get to work on something else besides this jacket of DOOM love.


[amy] What to name the penguin?

SCENE: AMY returns home from having just checked the mail. There is a large box that she opens. She pulls out an adorable humidifier shaped like a penguin. Pleased with how adorable it is, she brings it upstairs to show DOLLAR.

AMY: Knock, knock. Look! That humidifier came! Isn't it adorable?

DOLLAR: Aw, it's a penguin.

AMY: Yes. They had frogs and pigs and cows, but this was the cutest.

AMY sits in the recliner with the penguin on her lap like a pet while Dollar continues his video game.

DOLLAR: Some people stopped by when you were out.

AMY: Oh?

DOLLAR: Yeah, I went down the stairs and saw a couple guys at the front door. A couple well dressed guys.

AMY: Mormons?

DOLLAR: Mormons.

AMY: What did you do?

DOLLAR: They started asking me all these questions, like 'Do I believe in God?'

AMY: And?

DOLLAR: And I was like, "Listen guys, let's just agree to disagree."

AMY: Hmn.

DOLLAR: One of them was named was Norman.

AMY: A Mormon named Norman stopped by?

DOLLAR: He was wearing a name tag that said Elder Norman.

AMY: Are you sure it didn't say "Elder Mormon"?

DOLLAR: It said Elder Norman.

AMY: Elder Norman the Mormon?


AMY: ...


AMY: Well, I think we should name the penguin Norman the Mormon.

DOLLAR: Norman the Mormon Penguin Humidifier.

AMY: Yes.


AMY: Come help me set him up.

In the bedroom, DOLLAR sets up the base on top of a dresser while AMY fills the body with cold water in the bathroom. Together, they assemble NORMAN and turn him on. Cool vapors begin to blow out NORMAN'S beak.


AMY: I'm going to knit him a yamaka. With a little pom-pom on top.

DOLLAR: That would be so cute.



[knitting] Yoke Pattern Jacket: More Progress

Some progress on the Yoke Pattern Jacket. The back is done:

yoke pattern jacket

Here's a detail shot of the seed stitch pattern on the upper back:

yoke pattern jacket

And the left front:

yoke pattern jacket

At this point, the left front is done. Even the button band, which I knit up AND sewed on. Sewing/seaming is one of the HATE HATE HATE things I hate about knitting but it only took 20 minutes to sew it on.

I started to make good progress on the right front: 4 inches of ribbing complete- when I realized I was short 10 stitches. Gggrrr. Rip back all the way, start again.

I had one other close call: Halfway up the left front, I held the piece up to Dollar's midsection and thought, "This seems short." I then held it against the back and saw, yes, I was 10 rows short. I only had to rip back an inch to fix the error. I kept telling Dollar (who realized a MISTAKE had been made and was preparing for my white hot tears of frustration and blame), "This is good. I only have to rip back in inch. This is okay. Better now than later. Really, the only way this could have been better is if you traveled back in time to tell me not to make this mistake at all."

So, things are progressing CAREFULLY and slowly. I'm taking time to count rows, measure length, check and re-check the pattern. I'm right on target for how long this sweater is meant to be: 23.5 inches long. Unfortunately, through several test fittings, I now realize that Dollar will need the sweater to be at least 25 inches long. SIGH. I hope a stern and severe blocking after the sweater is complete will allow me to pull a couple more inches without losing any of the width.


[knitting] Men's Clogs

I felted Dollar's clogs last week and we waited a full 7 days for them to dry completely:

men's felted clogs

men's felted clogs

men's felted clogs

men's felted clogs

men's felted clogs

He tried them on and slipped while sitting down. I've just ordered some suede bottoms since I don't want him wearing these AT ALL on the wood floors- he falls down regularly in his non-skid moccasins. I can only imagine what kind of damage he'd do to himself and the house in these slippery clogs.


[amy] Whedoniverse

Is "holiday season" already? The grocery store (which was playing Christmas music) was PACKED this weekend. I asked one of the meat guys what's up with that and he answered, "Thanksgiving." Already? I ran a cart around BJ's and Shaw's in a very Supermarket Sweep fashion, trying to get in and out as fast as possible. And driving around 12-A? I later told Dollar that if I had a pistol, I would have been combat driving with one hand while haphazardly firing out the window with the other.

Progress is coming along slowly on the Yoke Pattern Jacket. The back is done and the left front has begun. I've committed myself to not knit on anything else until November is over but I'm still working on other stuff- like felting Dollar's clogs and buying supplies from the craft store to make these ornaments.

I recently read Identity Crisis. Dollar bought it for me at Carnage. I usually steer away from the spandex comics. I don't know that much history about The Green Lantern, Green Arrow, or even Wonder Woman. This story, though, was SO well written. It was amazing. Really.

I just picked up Season 8 of Buffy. Season 8, you say? How is that possible? Well, it's in comic form: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight, Volume 1: The Long Way Home. This was excellent as well. I love that Joss Whedon is writing it and I can hear all the distinct character's voices again. I also like that the story picks up in the middle of stuff. The next volume probably won't be out until the middle of next year. :(

I've been borrowing and watching Angel because I apparently don't want to leave the Whedoniverse. Ever.


[knitting] Felted Clogs

My clogs are done:

Felted Clogs

Felted Clogs

Felted Clogs

They are comfortable and warm. They took 30 minutes to felt in the washing machine. I used two separate delicate bags, one marked with a bit of yarn on the zipper so that I'd make sure I wasn't just checking the same clog over and over again.

in separate garment bags

Obligatory unfelted clogs with foot shot:

before felting

These clogs took a full week to dry. I felted them down to the size that seemed to fit right (repeatedly trying on hot wet wool was probably the worst part of the whole process), then I pressed out as much water as I could, reshaped the clogs and stuffed them with wadded-up plastic grocery bags.

I've got little suede patches to sew onto the bottom to make them non-skid, but I've been wearing them around in the meantime. I think they're a little too long, so I plan on making a women's medium size to see if that works out better. Also, they're not really SLIP on. I like slippers that you can slip into as you're shuffling around the house. These you do have to slip your foot into, then pull the heel up and over your heel. Maybe for the next pair I'll make the contrasting cuff much shorter?


[knitting] Yoke Pattern Jacket: Progress

Progress photos. This is about halfway up the back:

Yoke Pattern Jacket

I like this blue tweed.

Yoke Pattern Jacket

Seed stitch band and starting the upper-back pattern:

Yoke Pattern Jacket

I brought this project to knitting group last night and got probably four rows done. Beer + counting stitch pattern repeats = bad news.


[knitting] Incentive/Reward

Why oh why did I choose THIS project for NoKniSweMo?

I'm barely halfway up the back and I've already knit 10 million stitches. I'm behind schedule but I hope to make up progress this weekend.

I went to Northern Night Yarn shop in Norwich this week to look at patterns and I picked up this:

Easy Lace Poncho

I'm so happy she had this pattern, it was exactly the one I was looking for. When I get up early the weekends, I'm in PJ bottoms and a t-shirt. I think this would be a nice thing to throw on to keep warm while getting the coffee started.

I've got two large skeins of gray DK Alpaca (from NH Sheep & Wool this year) that I'm going to use for this. It shall be my present to myself for finishing the jacket.

The increases in the pattern are made by jumping up needles sizes- e.g. #5 for the neck, #10 for the body, #15 for the bottom. The only change I think I'll make to the pattern is not jumping up needle sizes quite so drastically. I'll progress from #5 to #6 to #7 and MAYBE end with #8. I've got more than enough yarn and I don't like how open it is along the bottom. But I also need to make sure I don't end up knitting myself a straight-jacket tube.


[knitting] Horseshoe Cable Socks

I took the horseshoe cable pattern from Denmark Socks in Knitting on the Road and started a more interesting pair of socks for Dollar:

Denmark Socks

These socks have stalled because of NaKniSweMo- I started Dollar's Yoke Pattern Jacket on November 1 and it's the ONLY thing I'm working on.

I nearly completed the leg of one sock before stopping. There were a couple things I was worried about with this new pattern:

1. Stretch. I made a pair of 6-stitch (3 stitches twisted in front of 3 stitches) cable socks in the past with Encore Worsted and those ended up quite TIGHT. This pattern is better because I'm only twisting within three stitches at a time, rather than six. Also, the yarn is 100% wool, which has more elasticity than the mostly acrylic Encore.

2. Speed. I got pretty fast at the K1P1 rib. How much slower would I be doing cables (I still use a cable needle though it's possible to cable without a cable needle)? As us turns out, it's not so bad considering I only have to cable every fourth round and the other three rounds are K6P2. I think overall the time to knit the leg is the same. We'll see if I extend the cable down the instep- that might slow the foot down.


[games] Carnage Con

I have not posted for the last few days because I've been at Carnage Con in Fairlee, VT. It was awesome, tiring, informative and fun.

Thursday Night:

The convention hadn't started yet but Dollar and I were invited up for an early role playing game by a GM I trust and whose games are always intense. We didn't get home until 2 am. My character just barely managed to survive (life = 1). It was fun playing and RPG with Dollar.

Friday Afternoon:

I was scheduled to play the boardgame A Game of Thrones. I honestly didn't have very much fun. I was ruthlessly and relentlessly attacked by one other gamer and found out in the end that I was in the weakest starting position. The game is a little like Risk but much more complex. And it didn't help matters that I made several idiotic errors during gameplay. I would be willing to play this game again with friends but there's really no way to win unless you attack/fight other players. I prefer games that feature non-direct combat. This game is based on a book. I think the game would be much more rich if I understand the history and read the series before attempting to play again.

Friday night:

I wasn't scheduled for anything so Dollar and I headed home. I was a little down from the bad game and tired from little sleep. So we came home for supper and a movie.

Saturday morning:

Left Dollar in bed. I knew better than to schedule him for anything before 1pm. I went up to Fairlee for Zooloretto. Fun, easy game where you get delivery trucks of animals (pandas, camels, elephants, etc) and you need to place them around your zoo. I thought the game was a little too easy- one of the players at the table was 5-years-old. We played the game twice in under an hour. Good game if you want to play with kids but I could see it getting old fast with just adults. But now that I think about it, I wonder if this would be a good game for any beginner to Eurogames.

Saturday afternoon:

Went home to get Dollar. We played in the Bang! tournament. It really helped that we play this game almost weekly in our house- we've got most of the rules memorized. We played well enough to make it to the final round and... Dollar won! I'm amazed because he was allowed in with one of the lowest scores from the first heat but he won it in the end! He even beat the guy who won last year and wanted SO BAD to win again this year. And here's a bit of irony for you- it was the same guy who ruthlessly and relentlessly attacked me during A Game of Thrones. He was also completely ruthless during this game- he basically started shooting at someone on his own side so that we could collect ALL the points in the end, and not have to share them. What kind of gaming is that?

Saturday night:

Caylus. I own this game but have never played. I've read the rules and was left confused. I've read the rules to people and their eyes glaze over. I chose to play this game at Carnage to have the rules explained TO me and then I would be able to explain it to my friends. Well, it took an hour to go over just the rules. It seemed SO complicated. At this point it was late at night and my brain was pretty much jell-o anyway, but the game has you juggling several different strategies, tactics and actions at once. And the game took 3 hours. I walked away from the table saying, "I'm selling my copy." Now that I've had some time to think about it, I'd like to give it a couple more chances to see if gameplay really smooths out as you get more comfortable to get with it.

Sunday morning:

I'm buying Power Grid. The object of Power Grid is to supply cities with power. God, could any game sound more boring? Yet this game was GREAT. The conflict is non-direct, which I like. You can cut people off but they can always build through you or, in a later phase, build where you are as well. It's really just a race to see who can power the proper amount of cities first. Nice. No one can steal your resources, no one can tear down your power plants, buying/building actions are based on rank so that people who are doing the worst are given first choice. Great game.

Sunday afternoon:

El Grande was an interesting game. Easy but not too easy. Kind of abstract. At this point my brain was melted jell-o and I was ready for the convention to be over so I didn't play as attentively or carefully as I might otherwise. I could see myself playing this game a lot.


Anyway, that was Carnage this year. I got to check out a lot of games I was interested in buying and after playing them, I realize that I didn't like them enough to drop the $50-$80 for them.

I think Carnage is all about having fun and checking stuff out. As you're playing a game at a table, random people will walk up and watch the game for a few minutes, then walk away. They're just checking it out.

Next year I want to play a historical miniature game. The people running those spend so much time and money on their VERY realistic dioramas.

Also, I might like to run a couple games. I didn't see Shadows Over Camelot being run this year. And I wonder what next year's theme is going to be.


[knitting] Another Dice Pouch

I knit another dice pouch (to be gifted):

Dice Pouch

Dice Pouch

I love how flat the bottom is and how the sides stand upright when the pouch is open. It was designed this way so that your gaming dice are easily accessable:

Dice Pouch

Dice Pouch

Dice Pouch

This is the dry GMS Comfort Cotton I was talking about in an earlier post. I decided against a soak in conditioner-laden water because I think the stiff sides help the pouch stay upright when open.

Some modifications- I didn't knit this as long as my alpaca one- only about two inches after the yarnover holes for the i-cord string. Also, I purled one round before I started any of the decreases. This made a very nice right angle.

And I love how little yarn this used. I still have enough leftover yarn for one or two more bags. Dollar wants one. In black. Of course.