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Friday, December 30, 2016

Food Friday: Maple Sesame Dipping Sauce

This recipe gives me a little bit of concern to give out---but only because I am addicted to it, and hope not to give you a similar "problem"!

Maple sesame dipping sauce

* ¼ cup tamari or soy sauce or Bragg's Liquid Aminos
* 3 tablespoons maple syrup
* 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
* 1 teaspoon garlic chili sauce or Sambal Oelek

Heat in a saucepan for ten minutes to reduce a little if you like or just shake up and use it on anything you like.  I used it for dipping spinach balls.  It also tastes good spooned over baked sweet potatoes, almost anything, except not salad....

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Sweet Treats: Congo Bars

One of our Christmas-dinner-guests-to-be had requested chocolate chip cookies for dinner.  I thought I could do that pretty easily...

By the day before Christmas  I thought of doing something along that line but a little more special.  I found a recipe for Congo Bars and decided to make them.  (The Six Sisters Stuff website has a ton of great recipes!  You will be glad you went to check it out.)

When I made them, I doubled the recipe and baked them in a half sheet pan.  That worked out very well...though it took a few extra minutes.   If you do that, be sure to take the pan out of the oven before they look totally cooked, just lightly browned.

So, the night before Christmas the bars were all cooked, cooled, cut, and contained in the cookie jar.  On Christmas morning I awoke at 4 AM,  reminiscent of when I was a child and drove our parents crazy getting up so early to check our stockings.  (One family history note:  the best Christmas morning ever was when my brothers and I woke up very early, went out to the barn, did all the calf chores, fed the cows, and got started on the milking so when our father came out to the barn at 5 AM all the peripheral work had been done and "all" he had to do was the rest of the milking.  We felt so wonderful that Christmas Day.)  On Christmas Day after Church we had a nice dinner.    Daughter-in-law A had made key lime and raspberry dessert (I don't know if this is the actual recipe she used but it gives you the idea) which it a fabulous treat.

Having been going full tilt all day for one reason or another I totally forgot the Congo Bars.  Can you believe it?!  Now they are sitting there in the cookie jar tempting me, tempting me, tempting me.  I am not strong.  YES I AM!!!!  I will find some way to dispose of them, not in my own gullet.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Knitting: Quick and Simple Adjustable Slippers

The other day I watched a video on YouTube by Lindsay Weirich, The Frugal Crafter.  She was knitting some quick and easy slippers.  I thought that would be something I could do to knit down a few of the yarns I have in the workroom.

These slippers are knit with doubled worsted weight yarn. I used US size 10.5 needles.   Lindsay had used some bulky weight chenille yarn which looked like lovely soft slippers.  I was too frugal to purchase some of that yarn though I did look at it for a while.  I can hear you laughing at that one!  At least this time I did not bite on the "right yarn" for the project.  After all, I have a large quantity of worsted weight yarn which could be mixed and matched to make these slippers.

You cast on only 22 stitches to make a slipper that should fit a woman's size 8.5 foot.  My foot is larger and wider than that and these fit me just fine.  Lindsay gives suggestions on how to adjust the size of these slippers. I am thinking of making some larger sized ones, in case they are needed in the near future to keep feet warm on cold winter floors.

Basically you knit a rectangle then do a few decrease rows, run a thread through the stitches remaining on the needle, pull them tight and secure them, then sew up the toe, sew up the heel, and your are done.  Quick, easy.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Knitting: Tawashi Heart

Winter is a time when I like to knit when my hands allow.  Today I happened onto a pattern called "Tawashi Heart" which is a small kitchen scrubbie cloth.  I tried it out.  I started it, tore it out, started it, tore it out, went out to swim and look for reduced-price chocolate options, and finally came home after 95 minutes of walking around stores who only had junk reduced-price chocolate--which just about finished me off.

First thing I did was sit down in my rocking chair and picked up the Tawashi Heart pattern and Sugar'nCream variegated yarn and started knitting again.  This time something clicked and I was able to knit right through the pattern.

This is what it looks like hanging on a bottle of dish soap, all ready to begin scrubbing!

Really, it was not that hard.  I just was not getting it through my head how it was supposed to be knit.  This is one of the first times I did not read all the way through the pattern first.  (It is a good practice  to read all the way through a recipe before you start to prepare it.  The same can be said for a knitting pattern. In this case it would have helped if I had realized that it was a double-thickness scrubbie.)

If you look on Ravelry.com at the tawashi heart pattern you will find multiple pictures of what other people have made.  To my view, this pattern should be knit in a variegated yarn.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Munchie Monday: Taco Crumbles in Bean Burrito

In trying to eat more plant-based, I have been searching for products that are sort of reminiscent of the meat world I remember.  One of those products we have tried, and liked, so we ordered more, were the Taco Crumbles from Butler Foods.  These are really very very acceptable replacements for burger in tacos, enchiladas, burritos, etc.

We planned to have tacos for supper the other day.  While the Taco Crumbles re-hydrated for 8 minutes I sauteed a large chopped onion and a package of chopped mushrooms until soft.  When ready I added the Taco Crumbles then put them into whole wheat flour tortillas on top of non-fat refried beans.  Even Dear One liked them, though he only ate one.  He probably would not have eaten it if he knew there were (VERY FINELY) chopped mushrooms in it. I thought they gave a bit more meaty flavor.

This picture shows the conglomeration in the pan.  Tasty.  Slightly spicy.  The bag of Crumbles made enough so I could make three meals for the two of us.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Food Friday: Butternut Squash Soup

A wonderful brother and sister couple that we love (who are living their later years together as they are both widowed) grow a fabulous garden each year.  They are very generous with their produce.  They gave us two beautiful butternut squashes and a large blue hubbard squash.  I love squash and decided to make it into soup.

To start out I washed the squash, cut off both ends, then cut off the seed receptacle and cleaned out the seeds. (This time I did not roast the seeds. Wasteful, I know, but sometimes...)  I placed the squash pieces, cut side down, on a large rimmed baking sheet and roasted in the oven at 350 degrees F. for 50 minutes.
Squash ready to roast

After the squash cooled, I scooped it out of the skins.  There was almost 3 cups of cooked squash.  At this point I put the other ingredients together.

2 medium potatoes, chopped
1 cup chopped carrots
1 large onion chopped
2 cups chopped celery

(The carrots and celery were from some vegetable sticks I had cut a week ago and put into the refrigerator.  For some reason the refrigerator froze them so they were not so fun to eat BUT chopped and put in soup they were superb...!)

In a large saucepan I placed the chopped vegetables and a lot of water.  Brought them to a boil then turned down the heat to simmer them until they were nice and soft.  After the water came to a boil I stirred in:

1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon/large pinch dried thyme
1.5 teaspoons of Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Seasoning

When everything cooked and was soft, I tasted the broth.  It was not quite salty enough for me so I added some ham broth powder (which I had found on a clearance table at a grocery near us...ham broth flavoring something I had never heard of before) which added a nice flavor as well as the needed salt.

At this point I carefully dumped in the cooked squash then (finally! successfully!) used the immersion blender we had given to my mother-in-law for Christmas many years ago which was still in the box when she died in 2007 and which we then brought home.  I have never been successful before.  Honestly, this is only about the third time I have used it...

Anyway, this made a nice sort of smooth soup that tastes really yummy.  It sure hits the spot on a cold and snowy day.  I did need to add more water several times while it was cooking since I really like broth-y soups.  Actually, a good soup broth is the best part of the coup..

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Knitting: Latticed Cable Hat--my own creation, sort of...

Recently we had some young women in our home.  One of them had a nice winter hat.  The other had ear muffs.  This was not enough protection for Vermont winters so I suggested knitting her a hat.  We had the Barbara Walker Learn to Knit Afghan blanket on our couch.  I asked if there was a pattern she liked.  She liked the yellow latticed cable block. I like that one, too.  She wanted it in blue.

When I was out the next day I did not find a good blue 100 percent wool yarn so I purchased some Lion Brand Wool-Ease yarn in a nice blue worsted weight.  I already had some US size 7 circular needles and I was certain I had double pointed needles, too.  (Well, I did, but one was gray plastic, and three were blue metal.  Since I am accustomed to knitting with five dpns I used the circular needle for the fifth needle. It worked, but was a little awkward...Pretty soon I am going to get some nice Brittany birch dpns in US size 7...before I knit another hat. I LOVE their needles!)

To turn a flat pattern into a knit-in-the-round was not something I had ever done so I had to do some hunting around the internet...at Ravelry for some sizing help and other places for the change-flat-to-round help.

Putting it all together I came up with this plan:

Cast on 88 stitches and knit 2, purl 2 for one inch. 3

Next round knit and increase 12 stitches to 100 stitches.

At that point work 2 pattern repeats (16 rounds plus 16 rounds) then begin the crown decreases.

Round 1: Knit round 1 of the Barbara Walker pattern again.
Round 2:  (P2together, K4, P2tog, P2), repeat around...80 stitches.
Round 3: Knit the knits and purl the purls
Round 4: P1, (FPC, BPS, P2tog), repeat around...70 stitches.  (this is an effort to continue the main hat pattern in the decreases...not as successful as I had hoped.)
Round 5: Knit the knits and purl the purls
Round 6: Knit the knits and purl the purls
Round 7. (K2tog, P2, K2tog, P1), repeat around
Round 8: Knit the knits and purl the purls
Round 9: Knit the knits and purl the purls
Round 10: (K1, P2tog, K1, P1), repeat around
Round 11: (K1, P1), around...40 stitches
Round 12: (K2tog, K1, P1), around...30 stitches
Round 13: (K2, P1), around
Round 14: (K2tog, P1), around...20 stitches
Round 15: K2tog around...10 stitches
Round 16: K2tog around...5 stitches

Fasten off and weave in ends.

FPC is a front purl cross
BPC is a back purl cross

If I make this again I will fiddle around with the decreases by working eight more rounds of the main hat to give a little more length to the hat....which will almost certainly change at lest the first few rounds of these decreases....

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Health Kick: Lemon Water

There has been a lot of talk about lemon water being so good for your body. I decided to try it.  Well, I had tried it before but fell off the wagon for some reason.  As I am writing this, I have fallen off the wagon again...or at least it has been three days since I last made some.

My version is made with hot water.

Into an 8-ounce glass I put 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice then fill with water as hot as I can drink...which is basically as hot as the faucet sends out.  Drink it down.

Many years ago an elderly gentleman was visiting in our home....like more than 90 years old elderly.  Being a foolish girl I asked him how he lived to be so old.  He said (in his somewhat heavy Dutch accent), "Every morning you need to drink a glass of water, hot what you can drink."  That is why I make lemon water with HOT water.

So the most recent time I made this lemon water I asked Dear One if he wanted some.  He thought a moment and said, "Yes.  Put in a little sugar."  Not what I had in mind for a healthy kick to start the day...but, of course, I did it.

Can you tell which one has the sugar in it? 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Knitting: #LIGHTtheWORLD Newborn Hat

This year our church has had a Christmas initiative where for 25 days we try to give service every day.  There is a website where some suggested acts of service are noted as well as a short (mostly under a minute) videos are shown.  It has been my privilege to send an email message out to our members as well as our family and other friends every day to give us a chance to light the world with our service.  As we give service,  we light up as well as those we serve.  At least, that is my experience.

One morning earlier this week, or maybe last week, I woke up somewhat after 2 AM.  Since I could not go back to sleep I sent out the daily email early then read it myself.  One of the suggestions for service was to knit a hat for a newborn in a local hospital.  Knitting being right  up my alley, I went upstairs to my yarn boxes and chose a nice light green and some needles then returned to my knitting chair beside the fire.

This hat was knit using worsted weight yarn (an orphan ball so I don't know the manufacturer) on US size 7 double-pointed needles. (My needles were not matching, but they worked!)

Cast on 56 stitches.

Knit one inch of K2, P2 ribbing.

Knit in stocking stitch until it measured  3.5 inches from cast on edge.

Crown decrease started with K2tog, K5 around. 

The alternating rounds were knit all around.

Next row:  K2tog, K4 around.

Etc  Ending with about 6 stitches on the needles.  Pull yarn through the stitches and secure.  Weave in ends. 

Give to the newborn nursery.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Munchie Monday: Homemade Bread Crumbs/Croutons

We were getting ready for a lovely social occasion this weekend which entailed bringing potluck treats.  Since I am death on sweets right now, at least in our home, I thought I would make the Spinach Balls that Dear One likes so much.  I, myself, prefer savory over sweet anyway.  I thought we had everything in the house to make the spinach balls.

Well, we did not have bread crumbs.

Since they are so easy to make, I decided to spend a few minutes throwing them together.

This is what I did:

Took a loaf of un-sliced bread and cut 1-inch thick slices.  This was a large Italian loaf so I only needed four slices. I then turned them on their sides and cut them into 1-inch 'fingers' then sliced those  fingers into 1-inch cubes.

Placed the cubes in a large bowl and drizzled  on 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil then tossed well to get some olive oil on each cube of bread.  Sprinkle on 1 Tablespoon of Italian seasoning (not the Good Seasons salad dressing seasoning) and toss again.  Try to have a little herb covering each cube.  If you are a real salt hound, add a little salt, but they do not need it.
Bread cubes ready for the oven

In a preheated 350 degree F. oven, bake the bread cubes on a large rimmed baking sheet for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and stir well then return to the oven to bake another 10 minutes.  They should be ready by then but if you want to make them into harder croutons, let them go another little while. I did not do this so I cannot give you a time.

Remove from oven and let cool, then put the cubes (and the crumbs that came off when you stirred them) into your food processor and pulse until they are the texture you are seeking.

Bread crumbs ready for Spinach Balls

At our house we make these a different way sometimes (when we are longing for chips of various natures and don't want that much fat and salt in our diets).  Only we up the quantity to 3 Tablespoons of olive oil, and add onion granules, garlic granules, and a teaspoon of coarse salt to the Italian seasoning to sprinkle over the bread cubes.  When they are "done" we throw them into a bowl and put them out to munch on.  The grandkids love them, too...

Friday, December 16, 2016

Food Friday: Scratch Tortillas

This morning I was cleaning out the pantry.  There I found a bag of fresh flour tortillas.  Our son must have added them to the shelf.  These made me salivate for some nice bean burritos.  Especially since we had two lovely avocados, a tomato, and a jalapeƱo.

Time to make tortillas....

This time I did not get out the recipe but made them without checking.  This is what I did.

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 1/2 Tablespoons canola oil
3/4-1 cup hot water

In a medium sized bowl I mixed the flour, baking powder, and salt.  After pouring in the canola oil, I added 1/2 cup hot water and stirred well. Too dry, so I added more water until a soft pliable dough was formed.

Covered the bowl for ten minutes while the 12-inch cast iron frying pan heated up over medium heat.

Divided the dough into five pieces, but should have divided it into 8 pieces as the tortillas were too large.  If that is possible....

Rolled out each piece until it was nice and thin, evenly thin, then popped them into the skillet to cook.  It took a couple minutes to cook.  When there will little "bubbles" of dough showing on the top of the tortilla, I flipped them over and let them cook on the second side.

When they were cooked I put them on a clean kitchen cloth then covered with another cloth.

These were really yummy with homemade fat-free refried beans, guacamole, and shredded lettuce on them.  Too good. I ate two of them.  You know they were pretty good because Dear One ate two of them plain!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Knitting: Wash Cloths, Different Stitch Pattern

After my day at the emergency room I had to have a follow-up appointment with my physician.  In the lobby at the clinic was a hospital volunteer.  She was knitting.  Of course, I cannot walk by a knitter without inquiring as to the project, sometimes spending a great deal of time chatting!  It is so lovely to visit with knitters.  You can learn so much from them.

On this occasion I asked what she was making. She was making wash cloths.  I did not recognize the stitch. She said it was mindless knitting!  It was a double seed stitch, she told me.  Knit 2, Purl 2 then repeat on the next row.  A two row pattern repeat.

This seemed like such a great idea that I started knitting when I got home.  I am so grateful to that lady for her suggestion. I love the texture of these cloths.  Sadly, she was not there when I went back for another appointment.  I wanted to thank her for her help.

Double seed stitch cloths except for the top cloth which is a slip stitch design.

These are knit with worsted weight cotton yarn...mostly Peaches and Creme.  I am nearly out of full balls so pretty soon I will make slip-stitch patterns to use up the partial balls.  Once the yarn is all used up I CAN BUY MORE with a clear conscience.  That may be a while, though....

This is what I did:

Using the worsted weight yarn and US Size 8 knitting needles I cast on 36 stitches and started with Knit 2, Purl 2 to the end (you need to cast on a multiple of 4 stitches to make this stitch mindless and easy to do).  Turn and Knit 2, Purl 2 back.  On the third row, Purl 2, Knit 2 across.  Turn and repeat.  On the fifth row, go back to Knit 2, Purl 2 for two rows,

Repeat these rows until you have a square cloth.    Bind off in knit on the right side row.  Be sure not to cast off too tightly.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Papercrafting: A Cute Birthday Card for a Boy

It is so enjoyable to make cards for family and friends.  AND also sometimes terribly frustrating if they do not work the way I hope they will.  This time I was making a card for a seven-year-old boy.  Because I am not at all creative, I put it out there on YouTube and found this lovely video at Weekend Card.  It was for a cute car.  Since I had inquired recently what the grandson enjoys at this point in his life and he replied that it was cars, I thought this was the card for him.

Vickie, at Weekend Card, very generously made a PDF for free download to go along with her video.  Go to her Clips-n-Cuts webpage for a download.  In the right hand sidebar there is a "What are you looking for?" query box.  Put in "cute car" and it will pop right up for you.

This is the car I made:

The green base for the card (which, of course, opens up so you can insert a message, a check, a long letter to the child to test his reading skills, or whatever else you want to include) was green card stock, or maybe it was cover stock. It was pretty heavy.  The yellow tires were of the same type of paper, and funnily enough, will be the background for another child's car some day.  The striped paper was from a 12-inch stack of lots of interesting papers which I cut down then placed in our inkjet printer with the colored side up---in our printer that is how you have to get it so you can print on the white side of the paper (to make it easy to see the pattern for cutting).  Your printer may be different.  If you need to check which side prints first, open the paper tray, put a little "x" on the bottom (toward you) of the plain paper in the tray on the right hand corner.  Print something on the paper then see where the "x" shows up.  That will let you know how you need to place your figured paper.

You can see that I also made a matching envelope.  I used We R Memory Keepers punch board for the envelope.  This took an 8.5" by 8.5" square to make the right sized envelope.  Sometimes I think that the envelopes give me more of a sense of delight than the cards....  Sometimes.  This card really did it for me!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Munchie Monday: First Greenish Smoothie!

Communication is a great thing!  So often Dear One and I have incomplete communication which can cause a certain amount of aggravation on both sides.  I tried to smarten up this week.  We had a discussion about the food we eat.  I planned to make something using kale.  I mentioned it.  He said he likes "a few baby spinach leaves", not actually kale.  Well.  That is something!  So I asked if he would want to try some in a smoothie.  He waggled his hand.  I took that as a "yes'!

You will notice that I spilled the smoothie on the outside of the glass so I carried it with a paper towel, effectively removing the spill-over.  Some day I will learn to use Photoshop Elements and edit out the nasty parts of pictures...

This is what I did:

This is the basic fruit smoothie I have told you about before which includes:
1 cup orange juice
1 cup cranberry juice
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup frozen strawberries
1 frozen chopped banana
2 Tablespoons ground flax seeds

Then I threw in one handful of washed, shaken out, baby spinach. 

Starting the blender, I stood over it  and blended for about 3 minutes.

This made two large glasses of purple lusciousness.  I asked Dear One his opinion.  He said,  "It is good."  Good!!!!  That is such a great response!  I loved it.

So, today I made another of these greenish smoothies.  I put a much larger handful of baby spinach in it and ground it for about 4 minutes.  (The last one had a few little bits of spinach identifiable on my tongue. I was not so fond of that texture issue, so I blended longer this time.  It was still good the last time but this one was ideal texture.)

When mine glass was almost half gone, I remembered my sister sent me a message about adding turmeric to our diets to help with arthritis, and other, pain, so I thought, "Why not?"  Since Dr. Greger in "How Not To Die" says we need 1/4 teaspoon a day of turmeric,  I threw in a quarter teaspoon of it into my partial cup of greenish smoothie.  Since I just sort of stirred it in, it sort of clumped up. 

May I just say, this was not so pleasing. The clumps were dry on my tongue.  Not good.   I will try it again but will add the turmeric to the blender.  I will just add it to my serving the next time, and the time after that, after conversing on the subject with Dear One who could use a little pain relief, I will add it to the whole blender jar of smoothie if he gives me the green light.

I wonder how far we can go with this green smoothie thing before we cannot tolerate it....

Friday, December 9, 2016

Food Friday: Pitiful (Nevertheless Cute) Reindeer Cookies

Somewhere online I saw some adorable reindeer cookies.  I decided to try them for early morning food.  This is how I proceeded:

Measured 2 cups chocolate chips and 1 Tablespoon coconut oil into a glass measuring cup.  Microwaved for 30 seconds, removed from microwave to stir, returned for 30 more seconds, stirred again.  They were nicely melted.  Your microwave might take longer.  Check EVERY 30 seconds or you will burn the chocolate.

Opened a package of sandwich cookies that I had found at the Dollar Tree. Dropped the cookies one at a time into the melted chocolate then turned over and lifted out with salad tonge and laid on a parchment-paper-lined pan.  After getting a dozen or so of them coated with chocolate I laid two small pretzel knots on top of the individual cookies, covered with a piece of parchment paper and a large storage container to weight down the paper.  It was my view that doing this would keep the "horns" happily in place on the cookies while the chocolate cooled.

Because it was below freezing outside, I put the pan on a table on the front porch for a few minutes. In the meantime I went through a container of M and M's, both plain and peanut, to find whites for the eyes and reds for the Rudolph noses.

By that time the cookies on the porch were solid!  Bringing them inside, I flipped them over so the "horns" were on the bottom.  I poured more melted chocolate on top of the top/face of the cookies then placed the eyes and nose.  It would have been good to use some sort of grabber or tongs for this job.  OH!  As I am thinking of this now, I should have found the sugar tongs my brother brought home from France where he served as a missionary decades ago.  They would have been perfect for this job.

Well, as you can see, precision is NOT my middle name.  However, I do think they look rather cute.  If you make them, they will be wonderful.

Even with the pitiful appearance, they are edible.  In fact, so edible that I removed leftovers to drop off with the local grandchildren so I would not inadvertently eat one.  Or two.  Or more.  (Have you ever noticed that if you have a treat in your house that is highly visible it is almost impossible to walk by without reaching out to it?  It is better to have a bowl of lovely kale salad sitting on the counter with a clear top on it.)

Perhaps the next reindeer food item will be more attractive.  There IS another one in the wings....

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Knitting: Socks Pink, Socks Purple

Often when I have knitted socks in the past I have made two socks at once.  I used to do it with the Magic Loop method but more recently I have used "Two Socks on Two Circs"...sock knitting introduced to me by Cat Bordhi  knitting one sock on two circular needles which I found you can actually do two at once.

With my desire to finish up all in-progress projects this year, I picked up this "pair" of socks and finished them recently.  I had cast on at the toe and then worked increases until I had 64 stitches on the needles.  There was an actual pattern that I started to knit but found it too time-consuming to carry on with it and also thought that it was going to make socks that were too loose for me feet so I changed to Knit 2 Purl 2 ribbing for the instep and leg.  That worked fine and the funky start to the socks is hidden by my shoes.

Another thing I did as I picked up the socks again recently was to try a new-to-me method for the heel...a toe-up Dutch heel sort of.  I don't have the data with me at the moment but will share it more fully in a potential future post when I finish the second socks.  I will say that I thought I knew what I was doing and knitted merrily away until the heel flap was almost done when I realize I was wrong.  Ripping out all those stitches was a little annoying.  In order to stop without going to far, I inserted a size 1(US) circular needle across both socks then with I arrived there having ripped back, I just started re-knitting the correct way with the "other" circular needle.

These socks have not yet been blocked but they blocked up really well.  I wore this pair of socks to Church this week.  Think of all the nice people who either:  1.  did not notice the socks, or 2.  were so nice they did not mention to me that I was wearing two totally disparate socks...probably thinking/knowing for sure that I have gone over the edge mentally...!

Well, I don't mind wearing different socks.  They are kind of cool.  The great thing is they did not match ANYTHING ELSE I was wearing.  I am trying to decide if that means: 1.  I have total self-confidence, or 2. I am totally unaware of what I am doing....

Oh, one last thing on this pair of socks...I decided to stop at short socks.  They were perfect!

Winter Garden December 2016

When I went to Stern's Produce Market one time this summer, the nice young man taking my money observed that I had three bunches of green onions/scallions.  He said, "You know, you can grow your own green onions from these plants after you use up the greens, don't you?"

No, I did not know that.  When I get home from Stern's I always put the green onions in a glass of water to keep them happy until I am ready to use them.  I have sometimes cut off a few of the greens and left the rest in the water.  Amazingly, more greens begin to grow, so that one purchase of scallions gives a lot of nice "greens".

Well...after talking with the nice boy at Stern's, I used all the greens on my scallions then took the cut-off white bottoms with the roots on them upstairs to where we have a nice big planter in a south window.  I planted them in the dirt and, in no time at all, lots of green came rushing up to the sky.  I have cut them numerous times.

Sadly,  in the last month-plus, I have not spent much time upstairs so the poor little creatures have not had any drinking water.  I took this picture to guilt myself into taking better care of the scallions.  I gave them a GREAT BIG drink and don't they look happy now!

This picture was taken after the watering.They are reaching for the sky again.
You will notice all the dried bits.  Bad me for not taking care of them and using the greens.  I think from now I will stop being lazy and just go up and harvest at least once a week.  Scallions are good in just about everything.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Munchie Monday: Cinnamon Toast Roll-ups

Today is a snowy day in central Vermont.  It has been snowing for about five hours.  Snow is mounting up, to some extent.  It is a day when you want to do something productive but not necessarily outdoors.  What I decided to do was experiment with food!  Sometimes we get a winner, though more often, not!

Today I decided to make cinnamon toast roll-ups as a possible early morning food offering.
Cinnamon Toast Roll-ups--some with crusts on, some with no crusts.

This is the process:

Collect ingredients and tools.
--store bought "Wonder"-type bread, it can be on the stale side--though if it is colorful (i.e. moldy), probably set that slice aside to innoculate the birds from pneumonia...
--very soft butter
--shaker bottle of cinnamon and sugar (to make your own: mix 1/4 cup sugar with 1 Tablespoon cinnamon and shake well.  You can vary the proportion of sugar to cinnamon to suit your taste.)
--rolling pin
--cookie sheet
--parchment paper, if you like
--knife, or other "spreader" for the butter

Start to pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F.

On a clean counter top, use the rolling pin to roll out one slice of bread to flatten it. Leave the crust on, or take it off if you want.  With the knife,  spread the soft butter to the edges of the mashed slice of bread.  Sprinkle on the cinnamon sugar then roll up gently into a tight-ish roll.  Place "seam side" down on the parchment-paper-covered cookie sheet.  Spread more butter on the top of the roll-up.

Continue to do this until you have made all the roll-ups you want.

Bake in the preheated 350 degree F. oven for 10 minutes, but check after 5 minutes and 8 minutes to make sure they are not too brown.  The pictured roll-ups could have used more time in the oven, at least they were not as brown as I wanted them to be but I was too gutless to leave them in longer.  Experiments are fun but I am rather averse to food disasters...which can happen when food is in the oven even a little bit too long.  I prefer a little under-cooked to burned to a crisp.  These had a nice little brown seam side though.


One thing to remember:  these things go down really quickly.  Just remember that you are eating a whole slice of bread, maybe very fast....

I cannot give you a report on Dear One's opinion.  I can only say that I just checked the bowl (he has gone out for a walk in the snow) and found:  empty!  I do not think he realized that each roll was one slice of bread.  Note the previous paragraph about fast consumption.

Handwork: Thrift Store Bonus!

Some time ago I was at a thrift store.  Not at all an unusual occurrence. It is not possible to drive by a thrift store, unless I am not alone in the car.  SOME PEOPLE are not as fond of thrift stores/charity shops as I am BUT that same SOME PEOPLE usually goes in, and often finds something not to be passed up, also!  Enough said.

Anyway, on this particular visit I did my usual checking:  books, kitchen equipment, yarn and craft goods.  There was a small bag with a good-sized skein of yarn in it and a strange looking hard plastic gadget with a point-y spindle on it.  I was not sure about it but it was $2.00.  I almost walked by but then, on closer inspection, I saw there was a cable which I knew meant a circular knitting needle.  I looked one more time and realized it was a RED cable!  Red!  That meant it was a ChiaoGoo Red Lace circular needle!  Well!  I snatched up that bag so fast the wind almost knocked the person at the check-out station off his feet! 

You see, I had just previously purchased a US size 7 16-inch circular needle from these people/this brand to spend a morning knitting with a friend at the White River Yarn shop (which, sadly, had to close due to family concerns) and had LOVED the needles and decided to purchase more as need and finances  allowed.

This $2.00 purchase included:  nearly a full skein of nice-enough yarn, the ChiaoGoo 24" circular lace needle (onto which had been cast on about 72 stitches but no actual knitting done), as well as the Yarn Valet, which it what the funky spindle device turned out to be.

The needles I put into use immediately.  Yay for good knitting needles!  I have a lot of knitting needles.  These are now my favorites.

Yarn Valet with the price tag still on it.  I hate the sticky spots after removing tags so...it is not hurting anything, just aesthetics.
The Yarn Valet just sat on the little table by my rocking chair for ages.  Last week I was knitting a washcloth using a ball of yarn (Peaches and Creme) that had had the end of yarn wrapped around the ball. I usually knit from a center-pull ball, and imagined this is what I was doing.  Wrong.  When I had used the yarn up back to where it came off the ball, it was the outside pull not the center pull.  When I looked up from knitting, my eyes landed on the Yarn Valet.  I gave it a try. It works marvelously!  Just drop the yarn onto the spindle and start knitting!

Now I think I will just knit from the outside of balls or cakes of yarn.  No more digging into the center to try to find the beginning of the yarn.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Food Friday: Kale Chips for Thanksgiving

Our local son and daughter-in-law invited us to eat  Thanksgiving dinner with them and their family.  They were going to prepare everything.  Did not need us to bring anything, so....my thought was, if we brought something, it would be a bonus.  We brought the leftover raw onion and flax crackers and some freshly "chipped" kale from our garden.  (We have three more plants that I am hoarding, but will have to use them up soon, I am afraid.  Next year I will plant a LOT more.)

To harvest the kale at this end of season, I actually pulled up the three smallest-producing plants, pulled off the leaves and buried the roots and stems in the garden's hay covering, hoping they would begin their composting over the winter.

Next I washed each leaf individually, and VERY well, picking off the pine needles that the recent high winds had blown onto these valiant soldiers in the garden.

After the leaves were clean, I tore the kale off the ribs, making them more or less chip-sized and put them in a large clean stainless steel bowl.

Over the pieces of kale I poured 1 Tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil then with my very clean hands I gently massaged the oil and kale together.  When each leaf-let had a sheen of oil on it I put on coarse kosher salt (about 1 teaspoon) and freshly ground black pepper (about 1/2 teaspoon), tossed lightly, then put on a pan.

Previously I had set the oven to 225 degrees F to preheat.  Yes, 225.

The pan went into the oven for 20 minutes, after which time I checked on the chips. They were still a glorious green and much of the chips were ready to eat.  Since the rest were not, I put the pan back into the oven for 10 more minutes.  That was actually too long, if green kale chips was our goal.  They were all crispy then, not at all burned, just not as pretty green anymore.

After eating a few slightly not-crispy leaves, I let the rest cool then put them in a container to take to share with our Thanksgiving dinner.   Several of us really liked them.

When traveling with kale chips, you really do need to have a sturdy covered container, and a gentle hand.  It is very possible to "break" the chips.  If they are slightly less cooked, they hold up better.