Saturday, February 13, 2016

Chocolate Dipping, At Home, Alone...

This evening some of the ladies at church were having a chocolate-dipping party in preparation for Valentine's Day. I planned to go; in fact, I had made some coconut cream hearts this morning to refrigerate over the day and had measured out the Ghiradelli chocolate and coconut oil I was going to use for dipping. I had even prepared a container with some red and some pink Wilton candy melts for decorating.  After a day of activity I had a sick headache and knew I would be very poor company.  Also as the time arrived to leave, I did not feel up to the drive so I stayed home.

By the middle of the evening I thought I might as well bite the bullet and do the chocolate-dipping even though I would miss the company of so many dear sweet I dipped.

This is the result:  homemade Twix and homemade coconut cream hearts.  No, you are certainly right, they do not look very good, but Dear One had no problem choking down a few samples.  The rest have been put into the freezer until another day. In fact, for the Seminary kids on Monday.  Don't you think these would be a fun early morning treat?

Coconut Cream Hearts

Homemade Twix

Friday, February 12, 2016

Massaman Curry!

In the past week I have had the opportunity to participate in the interviewing process for the hiring of a new administrator at my most recent alma mater.  The people managing the interviewing process were thoughtful enough to provide food during the mid-day meeting times. I was introduced to Massaman Curry". It was so delicious that the second time I saw it I asked about it.  Today I made it for our supper with a few changes.

Massaman Curry, the way I made it.

3 Tablespoons brown sugar
3 Tablespoons lime juice
3 Tablespoons fish sauce
3 Tablespoons curry paste (I used red curry paste)
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1/3 cup peanut butter
4 cups cubed potatoes
1 cup sliced carrots
1 13.5-ounce can coconut milk

In a small bowl combine brown sugar, lime juice, fish sauce, and peanut butter. Add the coconut milk and stir.  (In actual fact, I just realized I failed to put in the peanut butter!!! Oh well, next time...)

Put the sliced carrots in a steamer and start steaming while you cube the potatoes.  Leave the skins on the potatoes or take them off if you want.  When you have the potatoes all cubed, toss them in on top of the steaming carrots while you do the next step.  I did this because I wanted the carrots to be fully cooked which concerned me if I followed the actual recipe.

Put the vegetable oil in a saucepan then add the curry paste and ginger. Stir and cook for about one to two minutes then add the bowl with the seasonings and stir well. Finally, add the steamed carrots and the partially steamed potatoes.  Mix well then cover and cook on medium low for ten to fifteen minutes.  Serve plain or serve over noodles or some other thing.  We ate it over black beans.

Most times you will see this as chicken or beef massaman curry. And there is almost always tamarind paste as part of the seasoning.  We did not have any in the pantry so I just left it out.

This tasted very good even with the glitches in it.  If you have inflammation in your body, you will probably begin to get better because the ginger is VERY apparent. I may have overdone it a little bit but it was still edible...

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Cake Pops!

In the past I have seen several "cake pop" recipes.  They seemed interesting to me.  Earlier this week I was talking with our daughter who had a need to make some cake pops.  She need to make a sample batch prior to working with the Young Women who may be the makers of cake pops for one of their upcoming big events.

This morning we received a call from her.  She said, "Mom, did you see the picture I sent?"  I had not so I immediately checked it out on my iPad.  WOWEE!  Those are some beautiful cake pops!

She said she did not use frosting to mix with the cooked cake.  She used strawberry jam.  It tasted delicious. 

She did have multiple problems with creating the pops especially after dipping them in chocolate.  Apparently they like to crack.  She said one cake mix makes about 30 pops but your net cake pops with one cake mix is actually about 20 pops due to breakage, etc.

She browsed for "troubleshooting cake pops" and found lots of useful information.  She found the first one she looked at to be the most helpful.

This is such a great idea but I don't think I have enough self-control to make any.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Cranapple-Walnut Cake

A quick and easy, very delicious cake with multiple flavors and textures is this cranapple-walnut cake.  The genealogy of this recipe is lost to time, but it is possible that our friend Cathy may have given it to us.

Cranapple-Walnut Cake

1 3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2  cup vegetable oil
2 cups flour (you can substitute half whole wheat flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda                                               
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg                                                           
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs                                                                                  
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups  chopped, peeled cooking apples                                     
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
8 ounces fresh, whole, raw cranberries

Cream together the brown sugar and vegetable oil.  Add eggs and vanilla, and beat well.  Sift together the flour and dry ingredients.  Add  flour mixture to the sugar/oil/egg mixture and combine thoroughly.  Stir in apples, cranberries, and nuts.  Bake in a well-greased 9” x 13” pan, 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees F.

Notes:  If you don’t have fresh cranberries, frozen ones work, but don’t thaw them first, just bring them out of the freezer at the last minute and stir them right in with the nuts and apples.  Also, if you are a little short on the additions, you can add a few chocolate chips. Another “also”:  if you don’t have nutmeg, I have used ground allspice and it was very nice.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Afghan After Nearly Seven Years

All 63 afghan squares for the Barbara Walker Learn To Knit Afghan Book afghan were completed by October of this year.  Several weeks ago I started sewing them together.  For the first row (nine squares) I used the Mattress Stitch.  It looked really good.  It took a LONG time to complete one strip.  Shortly after starting the second strip (of seven) I realized I was unlikely to get the afghan put together before Christmas, which was my plan.  In fact, this has been going to be a Christmas present for Dear One every year since I started it when we began work on the addition to the log cabin.  The addition actually became the addition to the house when we tore down the log cabin and put a new house on the foundation to match the addition.

So -  I started doing a whip stitch to connect the squares of the blanket.  As of yesterday I still had two tall piles of squares ready to stitch.  When I went to bed last night it looked like I was not going to complete the afghan again this year for Christmas as only two strips had been sewn together.  Before falling off to sleep I mentioned to Heavenly Father that if I woke up in the night I would get up and work on the sewing project.  At 1:37 AM I awoke.  I got up for relief then went back to bed.  Having been in bed fifteen minutes (and not falling instantly back to sleep) I looked at the clock: 2:00 AM.  OK.  When Heavenly Father answers a prayer it seemed like I ought to accept His goodness and comply so out I crawled, put on a shirt, and went upstairs.

At 6:30 AM I came downstairs after having completed listening to one of  Janet Evanovich novels (The Heist), AND after completely sewing together the squares. ONE SMALL PROBLEM!!!!  Four squares are missing.  I KNOW I finished knitting them in October.  Where are they?

Once again I went into search mode.  I have emptied and reorganized five bags and two boxes of knitting projects and yarn.  I have looked behind the couch upstairs.  I have looked in the workroom where they were stored for quite a while.  As I was writing, it crossed my mind that they may have fallen behind the tall bookcase that Betty and Peter gave me to help me with my organization plan last summer.  I had made a lovely stack of squares and placed them out of the way on the stop shelf but then moved them to show them off to someone a few months ago.  Just goes to show that bragging is a very bad idea.

Now I will go look behind the bookcase.  Which will be a rather large problem but I really want to finish the afghan for THIS Christmas. I have so many other projects that are started that need to go into finish mode in the new year, and maybe even the end of this year....One project I just discovered again while in hunt mode this morning was the Plus-Sign Quilt I started when the Relief Society began working on it, probably five years ago.  There is some possibility that I can whip that into shape within a week or two.

After checking behind the bookcase in the workroom I have to dash out to pick up the remaining ingredients I need for Christmas dinner; to return a Redbox movie(Mission Impossible version whatever...); and to visit our friends in the nursing home with some cute little stockings full of Hugs and Kisses.

No four squares.  Well, some time they will turn up.

Friday, December 18, 2015

A Kitchen Disaster

Some days are like this one.  So busy.  Too many things to do.  So much on the mind.  Running here. Running there. Trying to get everything done at this hectic time of year.  Just goes to show!

A friend was going out of town for several weeks so I stopped in to say hello and goodbye and safe travels.  So wonderful to see her and visit for a while. Off to several stores for some supplies and tools to use in making Christmas gifts.  One thing I rarely do is stop for fast food.  Today I did.  I think it rotted my brain as well as swelled my waist.

When I returned home Christmas cards were ready to stamp then get to the post office before the cut-off time.  A couple more stops at local stores then home again.  I was so tired I did not make supper for Dear One.  Instead I took a tiny nap in the rocking chair.

When I awoke I was alone in the living room so I made up some nice-ish fried potatoes for him to snack on then decided I really had to get the elderly apples into a pot for applesauce before there was nothing left but compost.  After putting the apples on to cook I immediately took the peels and other debris (orange peels and pepperoncini stems along with a couple of egg shells that were waiting in a bowl) out to the compost pile, feeling very virtuous that the apple chankings, at least, were not staying around in the kitchen for any time at all.

Returning to the house I went to the computer to prepare the pamphlet for the memorial service for a friend then printed a copy to see if it looked ok.  While I was upstairs I was drawn to the pile of afghan squares for the Barbara Walker Learn To Knit Afghan I have been working on for more than six years and which I had started sewing together a couple of weeks ago. 

Sitting down on the couch beside Dear One who was watching one of his favorite Netflix programs I realized that I had sewn together several squares which were not the same size so I took them apart.  I then rearranged the squares so all similar sizes were together. Now it was time to start sewing the seams.  I was nearly through the second strip when I remembered the applesauce.  It had been about an hour by that time.  At my request Dear One rushed downstairs to see what disaster awaited since he could get there faster than I.

Just as he started down the stairs I finally smelled the applesauce.  What a disaster!  The apples were black as soot and burned an inch and a half up the side of the pan.  There is almost no chance that we will be able to save the pot which we received for a wedding gift nearly forty-three years ago.

Often I can feel philosophical about things that happen.  This time I guess I need that feeling again.  Let me think:  I guess I can say that it is bearable because it is one less pot to take care of. And no leftover applesauce to have to store...

And, no, I am not going to share a photograph of the pot. It is bad enough to share the story.  Showing a picture would put me over the edge.

Just yesterday I was speaking with another dear friend about possible memory loss.  Maybe I spoke too quick...

Monday, November 2, 2015

If I Were To Become A Knitter Again...

When I was five or six years old my mother's Swiss college roommate came to visit in our home for a while.  During that time she taught my brother and I how to knit.  This was great to learn but soon after she moved on my mother's heavy responsibilities as a farm wife made it almost impossible to keep up the knitting finger training so I did not knit again until I was in 4-H.  As an early teenager I learned to crochet then picked up knitting again....making a purple and white striped stocking cap with a tassel which hat was nearly 30 inches long.

Fast forward to young married life.  I picked up needles again and made, first project, assisted by an elderly mother/daughter pair at our church, a pair of worsted weight orange cabled "stockings" as Catherine and Florence called them. I do think Dear One wore them once, or maybe twice.  Sizing was off.  Color was off.  He was a kind man even back then and did not turn up his nose at my ill-advised efforts.

Over the years I have gotten excited about blankets, about sweaters, especially cabled or Fair Isle, about socks, about Magic Loop, about Two Socks on Two Circs, about, about, about spinning, about weaving, about skirting fleeces, about natural dyeing, about hand carding fiber.  So many things.  Each time I became excited about something new, if I had the means, I purchased the equipment.

At this time I have many many knitting needles in so many sizes.  So many crochet hooks.  A loom (gift from my dear aunt who recently deceased).  Two spinning wheels, one a gift from a dear knitting friend who died several years ago but with whom I spent years knitting every Thursday afternoon, and the other wheel that my husband saw at a yard sale and encouraged me to investigate.

Now to the point of this message. Looking back over my fiberly goodness life, and my over-"stuffed" needle satchels,  if I had it to do over again, I would buy one 16-inch and one 24-inch circular needle in matching sizes most likely in bamboo or wood until I was very sure of the knitting process then would get the same in slippery metal needles, and only as they were called for in a particular pattern. I do NOT NEED fifty or more needle sets.  Almost never do I need longer than 24-inch needles.  If I did I would probably purchase a second 24-inch needle and put rubber bands on one end of each set and use them for very long needles.

This would have saved me hundreds of dollars over my lifetime and helped me become organized sooner.  Currently the design for a circular storage container has been going through my brain.  If it comes to fruition, I will post a picture and instructions.