Monday, September 14, 2009

Black Watch Socks

Despite the lack of blogging in general, and the even more severe lack
of blogging about knitting, there has, in fact, been knitting going
on. Behold, the beginning of sock #1 of a pair for my wonderful Taz,
hopefully to be completed well before the holidays, considering the
long list of other holiday knitting projects I've decided I simply
MUST knit for various loved ones. But first things first: my
sweetheart must have warm feet! The pattern is a simple toe-up crew
sock using PGR short-row toes and heels, with 2x2 ribbing for the
cuffs. The yarn is Lorna's Laces in the Black Watch colorway (in case
you couldn't guess from the post title). I'm not too keen on the
barber pole effect I'm getting, but what can I do? Hopefully the cuffs
at least will have less pooling...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Meatless Monday #7: Thai takeout

There are some weeks when the days I have time to cook just don't happen to be Mondays. And although I'd like to think I'm at least a decent cook, it's going to be a while before I attempt anything like Pad See Ew with tofu on my own. It does somewhat assuage my guilt at splurging on takeout to realize that what the restaurant considers to be one portion is enough for two meals for me--which means this dinner really only cost me about $3.75.

My other meals on Meatless Monday: Grape Nuts with strawberry yogurt for breakfast, and a salad with pistahios, blue cheese and pears for lunch.

You may have noticed that I skipped a Monday. Last week on Monday, I spent the day doing a 9-mile+ hike in Shenandoah National Park with my husband, and by dinnertime I was so exhausted I just wasn't thinking about what day it was or remembering to avoid meat. I think I might have "inadvertently" eaten vegetarian one day later in the week, though, so I guess it evened out.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Couldn't have said it better myself

Sadly, Transitionland has hit the nail on the head:
An idealistic young man is promising, principled and future-minded.
An idealistic young woman is naive, stereotypical, and a liability.
An outspoken young man is a ambitious, intelligent, and possessing of wonderful
entrepreneurial spirit. He should be promoted.
An outspoken young woman is a bossy bitch who doesn’t know her place in the hierarchy. She should be put in her place.

I work in a place that's so packed to the gills with idealists, I'm not sure the first part applies quite as much in my specific situation, but man, there are soooo many workplaces (even supposedly "enlightened" ones) where all of the above rings painfully true.

Meatless Monday #6: Hard-boiled Egg Masala

Taz came home last night for his "summer vacation" and I wanted to welcome him back with a home-cooked meal. Even though I'm married to an Indian guy, I still haven't managed to learn to cook very many Indian dishes. Lately, I've been trying to change that, and Madhur Jaffrey's Quick and Easy Indian Cooking has been an absolute godsend. This Hard-boiled Egg Masala (which we just call "unda curry" around the house) is one of the first dishes I learned to make, and it seems to improve a bit every time. I can't share the recipe on my blog--you'll have to get the book for that--but here are some modifications I've found helpful:
  • Don't drain the tomatoes. In fact, rinse out the can with water, and add that too. Things can get too dried out after the recommended amount of simmering, so be prepared to add even more water after that stage.

  • It's ok to supplement the canned tomatoes with fresh, if you have some you need to get rid of, or if you don't have a big enough can.

  • Use more cilantro than you think you'll need, and set some aside for garnish.

  • You'll probably need more liquid in the spice paste than called for, too.

  • Save prep time by boiling (and even peeling) the eggs ahead of time.

  • Put out a dish of plain yogurt on the table for those with a lower spice tolerance to quench the flames.

Most Indian food, I've found, ages just fine, and a stay in the refrigerator overnight or even for a couple days will not hurt the flavor of this dish at all. I often cook this on a weekend, leaving only the rice cooking for the night I plan to serve it. I doubled the recipe this time, and that was enough for a dinner for two, plus two lunches for me.

My other Meatless Monday fare was much less impressive this week: raisin bran with soy milk for breakfast, overpriced organic grapes for a snack, and really awful leathery veggie gyoza-style dumplings from the gourmet-ish market around the corner from work. We also had red wine with dinner, but managed to open not one but two corked bottles before we found one that was good. Looks like it might be time to replenish the wine supply...

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Random Wednesday

In the spongy blob that has been my brain lately, here's what is squishing around today:

  1. Unpaid furlough days are great, except for that whole "unpaid" thing. Good thing I'm enjoying them, because I have to take five this month (every Friday).

  2. I am unreasonably proud of myself for getting up an hour early this morning to go for a walk/run on the trail by my house. The weather has been too hot and humid to bike to work lately (no shower at the office), but I had not replaced that activity with anything else (until today), which was NOT benefiting my waistline. Here's hoping I can keep it a daily habit!

  3. Speaking of health, it's interesting that my food-related posts have been getting more comments lately than my knitting-related ones (except when they've been getting no comments at all). I hope people don't think this has stopped being a knitting blog!

  4. It is totally unfair that I should have so many mosquito bites when I haven't even had the joy of camping this summer.

  5. I have no idea what to get my dad for his birthday, which is tomorrow. I mean, I know I should get him a book or a CD, but he already has sooo many of both, how do I choose? He is not the sort of person you give a gift certificate to, either.

  6. Now that, post-layoffs, I am basically supposed to be doing the work of two people at the office, my will to actually do said work has almost totally evaporated. I care deeply about the issues I work on, but I would still rather be knitting, reading, soaking in a nice cool pool, or some combination thereof. Not that I'm complaining about still being employed. I'm just sayin'.

  7. Another factor that might be contributing to #6 is the fact that Taz is coming home for his summer vacation for 2 weeks, and he gets here on Monday. The closer we get to Monday, the more that becomes the ONLY thing I can think about.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Meatless Monday #5: Salad with Candied Pecans and Blueberries

This is one of my favorite I-made-it-up-one-evening-with-what-was-in-the-fridge salads, and it's not as time-consuming as you might think. The dressing is homemade too, and that's waaay less time consuming than you might think.

- lettuce or mixed greens, washed and dried
- a handful of blueberries
- a handful of pecans
- white granulated sugar
- a couple tablespoons of crumbled gorgonzola cheese

Throw the pecans in a cold frying pan and cover them with a generous sprinkling of sugar. Turn on the heat to a low to medium level, and stir as the sugar melts and begins to caramelize. If you have a silicone spatula, that's the ideal implement because it's both non-stick and heatproof. Make sure neither the pecans nor the sugar burn, and once the sugar is melted and has started to brown, turn off the heat. Spread the pecans out to cool on some wax paper. While they're cooling, put the lettuce/greens, blueberries, and gorgonzola in a salad bowl. Then make the dressing.

- one clove of garlic
- 6 or so black peppercorns
- a pinch or two of salt
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- balsamic vinegar
- wine vinegar
- extra virgin olive oil

With a mortar and pestle, crush the garlic, peppercorns, basil and salt together. Then add about a quarter cup of balsamic vinegar. Pour the mixture into a jar or other container with some extra room (and a lid). Add a dash of wine vinegar (mainly to dilute the intensity of the balsamic), and top it off with a quarter cup of olive oil. Put on the lid and shake vigorously. Pour a few tablespoons of the dressing over the salad, add the now-cool pecans, toss, and serve. A nice big bowl of this is more than enough for dinner for me, no "main dish" required!

Saturday, August 01, 2009

In search of a Contrast Color

It's time to get a start on my holiday knitting, and maybe also pretend I'm actually participating in the Summer of Socks 2009 while I'm at it (it would be nice to finish at least one pair of socks before SoS ends). I have several people I'm planning to knit socks for, but I need help with my yarn choices.

1. Socks for S
This pair is going to be for a man with size 10 feet, and I plan knit the Diamond Waffle pattern (though probably with short-row heels and toes), and I want to use this yarn:

It's Colinette Jitterbug, and according to the ball band the skein has 267m. Although that's more in yards, it's still under 300 yds. So I'm planning to do the heels and toes in a contrasting color. These are the options:

I have plenty of the Lorna's Laces, but the yarns feel like a fairly different gauge (the LL seems thinner, although according to the ball-band info for each, the Jitterbug actually knits up at a slightly finer gauge), and the ply and texture are a bit different.

The Cherry Tree Hill is a similar gauge and texture/ply, but I was planning to use that for a different pair, for someone with perennially cold feet who will want socks as tall as I can knit them.

The Wildfoote (sorry that pic is so dark--the colorway is Brown Sugar, and you can see the colors better here) is closer in texture to the Lorna's Laces than to the Jitterbug, but I have plenty of it. I'm just not sure if the color combo with the green would look too Christmasy. This guy does celebrate Christmas, but I wouldn't want him to feel he could only wear these socks once a year!

2. Socks for H
I'm planning to knit the Herringbone Rib socks (here's a Rav link with better pics), using the blue Cherry Tree Hill shown above (approx 420 yds/sk). Or I might possibly knit Leyburn instead (here's a Rav link with better pics). If I use some of the Cherry Tree Hill as the contrast yarn in the socks for S, will I have enough to make nice tall socks for a woman's size 8 1/2 feet? If not, what do you think about doing the heels and toes in this color?

It's also Cherry Tree Hill, so no concerns about gauge or texture not matching. I think the colors go well together, and H likes fun bright colors in her socks. My only worry is if a contrasting heel/toe will look weird with the herringbone or the stranded pattern of either of the sock options. Thoughts?

3. Socks for me
I have been considering using the turquoise Cherry Tree Hill above to make a pair of Pomatomus for myself. Will I have enough if I use some for the heels and toes on socks for H? Another yarn I've been considering using for Pomatomus is this (Artyarns Ultramerino):

But I worry that the pattern won't show to its best advantage in a non-solid yarn.

4. Socks for C
Finally, I'm planning to knit some fairly large socks (I think men's size 12?) with this other colorway of Lorna's Laces:

I could just do basic ribbed crew socks, but I'm trying to think if there's anything a little more interesting I can do that won't be obscured by the variegation, and also won't be too weird for a guy. This is a man who's definitely in touch with his feminine side, but that doesn't mean he chooses to express it through his wool socks (that's what the platform heels are for).

There are actually two or three more pairs of socks (including one for Taz) I'm hoping to knit in time for the holidays, but let's not get carried away right now. I only have so many pairs of dpns! I am itching to case on for something sockish, though, so any advice on my contrast color issues will be much appreciated!