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.