Monday, October 10, 2011

Sweet Success


A fresh batch of spelt tortillas

For years I have purchased spelt tortillas; Rudi's mostly but more recently Trader Joe's. Early Saturday morning Jack and I made our regular trip to TJ's. Sadly, there were no spelt tortillas to be found. A kind store employee looked them up in the computer and sure enough, discontinued. Anger ensued but I held my tongue and just said, "That's unfortunate." 

Grumble, grumble on the drive home. How dare they? ... Ding! I'll make them myself! I instantly found a recipe when I got back to my computer.

Why have I never heard how easy tortillas are to make? This batch shattered my expectations. With scratch tortillas under my belt, what else is on the list?

Check out my cooking blog, The Scratch Diaries, for food related fun and frustration. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Birthday Train

Finished with plenty of time to spare, a rarity.

Whenever I open Ravelry, Jack asks to search for Thomas. Yes, Thomas the Tank Engine is his all time favorite at 3 years old. He falls short of drooling at this knitting masterpiece but this dishcloth is a close second. The picture of the boy driving his trains on the dishcloth intrigued him which was all I needed to cast on. Happily I found everything I needed in my stash.

An easy knit as expected but it's my first "picture" dishcloth. I worried I might get miss count or maybe even miss the purls for the eyes but all was fine. No major mishaps. Although quick and easy, I don't see myself making any other dishcloths like this.

Jack was happy to get Thomas for his birthday but not nearly as excited as when Monkey came off the needles. What makes me smile though is when he says, "Mama make," and shows me the dishcloth or points to the tortillas. I love being a mom.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Kitchen-Centric Weekend

Incredible gluten-free bagels.

Labor Day Weekend has been chock full of kitchen laboring. The most satisfying of all projects was the gluten-free bagels. I'll admit I cheated and used a mix I had leftover in the cupboard. My husband thoughtfully bought Pamela's baking mix for me a year or so ago and I nearly forgot about it since I tend to make everything from scratch. A couple weeks ago I used it in the bread machine (thumbs up to including a bread machine recipe on the package) and it worked perfectly. Then yesterday, amidst other new recipes, I got the hair-brained idea to pre-make bagels for the morning. 

As it turned out, the kitchen was too cluttered and Jack went to sleep early so I put it off for the morning. Four ingredients in the stand mixer for 3 minutes, rise for 1 hour, boil each for 25 seconds then bake for 25 minutes. A little messy, but really it's as simple as that. The recipe didn't say anything about toppings but I have longed for everything bagels for years. Surprise, surprise I had both caraway seeds and fennel seeds. Sesame seeds, dried onion and Kosher salt but no dried minced garlic to be found! Garlic powder sufficed and were it not for my heavy hand with the Kosher salt, they would have been perfect. 

Unpictured is the bagel (1 of 6 so it was a small batch, quite manageable) I dipped in a spicy garlic Parmesan blend I found at Winco. Great flavor but I should clarify the application of the toppings. Dipping didn't work because the bagels were too wet and floppy after the boil. I ended up just sprinkling the toppings over top and patting them in a little to set. This wasn't a technique I looked up on the internet so there could easily be a better way to get the toppings to stick after baking. Maybe brush with olive oil, sprinkle the toppings then bake? Butter maybe. Egg wash? No matter, the bagels turned out better than I imagined. Especially since my first foray 20 years ago yielded bagels hard as rocks. Dog treats, really. As you can imagine, I am pretty darn happy with this batch.

Other kitcheny projects this weekend:
  • Cleaned out just the door of the fridge and reorganized.
  • Made Texas Beans (may have been old pinto beans because they didn't quite cook all the way through.)
  • Moved pantry items (nuts, dried beans, etc.) to the pseudo pantry and moved the extra cans and unopened condiments to the cupboard.
  • Configured a recipe for Mexican rice in the rice cooker.
  • Cooked two nice dinners - planned in advance and well executed. (This doesn't happen very often. Usually I forget to start the rice or remember the rolls AFTER dinner.)
Now to finish the weekend with some more knitting!

Bear III

The beginnings of bear number three.

It had been almost two years since I last played around on Ravelry. So many refinements! Most of my books weren't in the library back then, no magazines at all and so many other little things but now, Wow! Back when I added my bear projects I couldn't find a pattern to link it to. This time though, I found it on Ravelry as Due North; an out of print pattern that the designer reworked as Small Bear if you're interested in the pattern. Apparently the book in which it was printed goes for quite a bit on ebay. Dang it! I have the magazine version :)

Jack has the first bear created with this pattern. White wool with mohair carried along. I'm pretty sure it was one of my first felting projects and the store where I bought the yarn didn't clue me in to the possibility it wouldn't felt. White bear is by far the biggest of the bears and barely felted. Still cute though.

Bear #2 went to Jack's cousin. Knit in orange without mohair, it's my favorite so far. Maybe because I was a little better at knitting or felting by then but the orange one is my favorite. Great shape and a nice size for a child to grab, hold, and carry. The other interesting thing I realized while knitting this bear was that I had made an interesting color choice. When I was about 11 my mom knit an orange pig for my younger sister. Adorable but all I could think was, "why orange?" Over and over I thought it to myself, even asked my mom why she made the pig orange instead of pink. She just shrugged, "I don't know." There I was, knitting an orange bear. I smiled and still do to this day when I think of my lost obsession with an orange animal and how I’ve passed it on to the next generation.

The current bear is a gorgeous aqua blue Cascade Quattro which I’m knitting on size 10 needles. The others must have been on 11s because this bear is already tiny. I knew there was a disparity between sizes 10 and 11 but it had never jumped out at me until I was searching for needles this time. This bear just might be named Minnie. I’ve also noticed some holes forming in the piece. I thought I was going to fix what I saw in the orange bear by correctly wrapping and turning but maybe it was always my make ones. Thank goodness for felting but Knitting Help here I come!

Rare Sighting: Monkey

Jack finally slowed down for a moment so I could get a picture of his new monkey.

I loved knitting this pattern and will probably knit it again and again. It's a great go-to kid toy as is the bear pattern I just cast on for a third time (posting soon). Variety keeps me going - I don't often knit patterns more than once, but when they're easy and cute I can't resist. I'll say it again, Yarn Miracle writes such cute stuffed animal patterns!

Yes, I vented the other day about picture quality but just give me a couple days and I'm over it :) I've given up on perfect pictures. If they happen, they happen but I'm just as satisfied with the documentation of our lives whether the pics are good or bad. That is my purpose after all. 

Monday, August 29, 2011


A post! How about the other goings on since I last posted almost 2 months ago? Fun summer stuff and actual knitting...but no pictures yet. I told myself I wouldn't do that but the picture issue got me tangled up in my head. You see, iPhone's* pics are okay but not the caliber I want to see on my blog. I don't want to post without pic because honestly, even I find that boring. Then there's my computer. It's fine and it does the job albeit slowly but some tasks just might put it over the edge. Downloading, importing, uploading ... all of these things test its ancient processor and I just want to get the most time out of this nice, mostly reliable computer. So there. There's picture issues and I'm not happy about it.

While at Surfy Surfy, out of the blue G suggested I look at wet suits so I can start surfing (YAY!). I picked out a really cool spring suit like the girl suggested. Usually spring suits have short sleeves and legs that go almost to the knees. This women's version has long sleeves (no farmer tan) and shorts length legs so you don't get the guys cargo shorts tan (knees and down). I. Am. So. EXCITED!!! Babysitter for Jack and my husband and I can go for a surf :) However, surf class won't be held until after Labor Day so as to clear out the waves of superfluous persons. It really is just better for all involved.

Mystery KAL - Done! It's a cute little monkey and J just loves it. I was just about to put on the tail when he realized I was working on something really cool. "Mine?" he said. How could I resist his angel face? He took off with the tailless monkey under his arm. By the way, yes, I guessed correctly :)

I found a newly formed knitting group that meets at Peet's Coffee and I love love love going to knit! They are fun, happy people. We laugh and joke around, help others with knitting questions and have a rowdy, awesome two hours of productive knitting time. A guy walking by even commented, something to the effect of, "Can I join? You're having too much fun!" One of the girls teaches classes at Michael's (also just down the street) and she'll be teaching a crochet class in the Fall. Bingo! I will finally learn how to crochet! They are all so welcoming to new people. One of the members just happened to be enjoying coffee and a puzzle book one morning a month or so ago and now she's picked up knitting again and on her second project already. I am so relieved to find a great group of people AND knitting all located within my 2 mi radius. Never want to get too far from the beach ever again :)

*iPhone is referred to by name: iPhone. My sisters made fun of my phone and maybe more so how much I played on it (it was new when I was in Seattle visiting). Hence, as a "member" of the family it deserved a name and believe me, they get great enjoyment from including it in conversation. "So where does iPhone want to go?" "How dare you leave iPhone in the car!" Yes, they're a fun bunch of sisters :)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Mystery KAL

Somehow I came across a mystery knit along (KAL) which piqued my interest. I love knitted toys and after seeing the designer's website, especially the knitted kitty, I jumped in. Knitted toys are just cute little projects that are pretty quick. Not quite instant gratification but progress comes quickly. Some might think they're fussy projects because they're so small and usually on small needles but I disagree. This is my first Mystery KAL and it's kinda fun so far! Each week a "clue" (section of pattern) is released and all week long participants try to guess what it's going to be. (For the record I'm going with monkey.) I started and finished this first section on the 4th. That's pretty quick for me. Four "clues" to the pattern so this is a month-long project. I actually think I'll be able to keep up and finish on time ... but I'll be out of town this weekend. If I take a project it'll be my Seattle Socks on bamboo DPNs because I'm going here again. Different hotel but same destination, same work trip. I also just noticed it's been 2 years since I made my last pair of socks!