Friday, October 24, 2008

Not Much to Brag About

There hasn't been a lot of creative activities going on chez nous these days. My days seem to whiz by, with to do lists to check off, but nothing really worth mentioning and end just after I get the chaos under control. I find myself stunned and vegetative in front of the TV with my never-going-to-finish knitting project sitting on my lap.

I did, however, make a banana chiffon cake a couple of times because I got tired of throwing away over-ripe bananas.

It appears that most of the inhabitants here prefer slightly green bananas and once they spy even a tiny brown spot, no one will touch said banana...

Wasteful? Yes.

I tried a couple of banana bread recipes in the past, but The Kid didn't really like any of them. Finally, I remembered the book of desserts by a Japanese author named Makiko Fujino which has a recipe for banana chiffon cake and gave it a try.

The Kid loves to make meringue using the KitchenAid. He loves smashing the bananas. He loves licking the bowl and standing in front of the oven, watching the cake rise.

AND he loved wolfing down the banana chiffon cake. He gave me a big "thumbs up" sign and an enthusiastic "de-WISH-ous!"

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Gnocchi Vegetable Soup

A really good quick and hearty soup:

Chicken broth
Leftover vegetables sleeping in your fridge or pantry -- cauliflower, carrots, celery, onions, potatoes
Any herbs? Dill, basil, thyme -- anything you like
If you have some chicken, dump it in -- I used lots of chicken dr
umsticks I had to use up.

Simmer everything together, until the veg and chicken are nice and tender. Remove meat from bone and tear up into bite size pieces and return to pot.

Add a bag of Trader Joe's Gnocchi alla Sorrentina (frozen gnocchi with tomato sauce and cheese) and bring to a boil. Simmer until the gnocchi is tender and serve.

The tomato sauce for the gnocchi pulls the soup together.

Not the most appetizing photo
I should have put some gnocchi on top for you to see!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Our Harvest

We left town for the Oregon coast just as the snap peas were becoming ready for picking. Things just work out that way sometimes.

But we managed to harvest a few still-tender pods
and stir-fried them up for dinner tonight. The Kid is so proud that we are officially "organic farmers" now.

Note the place mat The Kid painted and insisted that we use.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Leaving the Raisins Out

Growing up, there weren't many things I didn't like to eat. I was lucky that I was brought up by a father who's philosophy was to try everything at least three times before rejecting it. The first time, he said, you might be shocked and not pleased by the taste or texture. On the second try, you may get past the initial shock. By the third taste, you often appreciate the food for what it is.

Thanks to my dad, I can eat almost anything and enjoy it.

But there were things that my mother cooked or rather, things she put in certain dishes that I disliked. And while I ate everything served to me through childhood dutifully, I thought I would make changes once I had my own kitchen and had the opportunity to cook for my own family.

Take for example, Japanese curry rice. It's a delicious, soupy, curry sauce that's typically made with some type of meat (beef is my favorite) and vegetables such as potatoes, onions and the thing I most dislike, carrots. I don't have a problem with raw carrots or even oven roasted carrots, but slimey carrots, I cannot eat.

It reminds me too much of the time we ate at a diner in the early 70's and were served canned carrots. My father insisted on my finishing everything on my plate. I did. But as soon as I did, everything spewed out, like a flood, right back onto my plate. In the middle of the diner. Let me tell you, it was a lovely moment.

Since then, I detest steamed, boiled or stewed carrots -- and th
e carrots in curry rice remind me too much of that awful night at the diner. All through my childhood, I swore that when I became an adult, I would never, ever put carrots in my curry rice.

But here's the thing, you get used to something and it's hard to change. Now that I'm a grown up with two kids, I still put carrots in my curry. Do I like it now? NO. And a big NO at that. Actually, I take the trouble of eating around the carrots or try to avoid scooping up any carrots when I ladle the curry sauce onto my plate. Funny, but that's t
he way it is.

Same thing for curry pilaf. My mom had a habit of putting in raisins into a perfectly nice chicken curry pilaf. Ugh, mixing sweet and salty together -- like pineapples in sweet and sour dishes or Hawaiian pizza with pineapples and ham. It's just not my thing.

But what did I do last night? I put raisins in my curry pilaf. I ate it, while thinking it was a little odd, but I thought I could just igno
re it.

And when I did, a little voice next to me said, "Mama, can you not put this sweet thing in the rice next time?"

I think next time, I will be leaving the raisins out.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Nothing Much of Note

A beautiful sock was almost done. Done in such a beautiful colorway and pattern -- Hedera from Knitty.

But alas, I must have made a mistake somewhere along the way and the sock was so wide -- wide enough to fit giant flippers (slight exaggeration here) -- so, I decided to frog it. All of it. Did I tell you, I was almost done?

So, there's really nothing much to reveal here, but I can't leave without posting something. So, here you are -- one artichoke that The Kid has been waiting eagerly for! It took three years for the plant to produce this artichoke.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

In Three Years

I forgot to mention that in three years, our family will have home grown asparagus. In three years.

About a month ago, The Kid and I spent an entire day weeding, plowing and planting in our two vegetable beds. I was growing native weeds in the beds for the last four years since The Kid was born. Kind of an experiment -- well, an experiment that got out of control.

Now, the beds are nice and weeded, amended with lots of chicken manure. We planted asparagus roots, green onions, swiss chard, Japanese cucumbers and snap peas.

You are not supposed to harvest the asparagus for three years so you give them time to establish their roots.

"Good!" The Kid said. "In three years, maybe I will like asparagus."

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I Give You....

Le Sock!

"Oh, but Petsura, surely it must be les socks!" Do you say?

Mais, non!

I made a sock. Just one sock. I have no plans to make its partner.

Why? Because I bought enough yarn to make a couple of pairs of baby socks. That was before -- when naively, I thought that making an itty bitty sock would be easier than making a big one. BIG mistake. For the record, it's hell of a lot more difficult knitting itty bitty socks when you're totally inept and you feel like you're knitting on toothpicks while wearing oven mitts. So, a quick change of plans and I decided to make my first adult sock, not my first pair of socks, mind you, just one sock, using this yarn.... and there isn't enough for another.

So, introducing, my first sock ever. I taught myself how to knit a sock. I'm so pleased with myself.

But I think my next project will be a complete pair. I want to find out why so many knitters (and their spouses) are crazy about hand knitted socks. People go crazy for hand knitted socks. Did you know that? I never knew socks were something to go crazy for.... but then again, we all thought that about coffee before Starbucks.

Pattern: Butterfly Socks from Chicks with Sticks (Knit Two Together) -- didn't realize it's a book for young adults when I checked it out from the library.... awful read for a grown woman, but decent pattern.

Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock

Color: Amethyst Stripe 503

Needle Size: 0

Result: Rib is a bit too tight, three needle bind off is too bulky, but for a first time effort, ain't so bad. Next time, I'll try the kitchener stitch.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Finally, Some Knitting

I finally have an FO of the knitted kind.

I haven't had much time to knit after the little guy was born. Well, perhaps this isn't true. I actually do have time when he's napping, but I'm often so exhausted that I don't have the mental capacity to start knitting. I should -- since knitting relaxes me so much.

Here's my most recent FO.

Pattern: Ribs & Cables Scarf by Knitting Arts

Yarn: Blue Sky Worsted (Color 2012) x 3

It was a super easy project, but I really wish I used cashmere for this like the sample at the store. The wool is chunky and slightly itchy and it's not as soft and light as the sample. I cheaped out -- though at $19.50 x 3 skeins, it wasn't super-cheap.

Not sure if I'll actually use this scarf. Another one for the "Made but Never Wear" bin until I figure out what to transform it into next.

Just Because....

....I am so neurotic, I give you, another Orange Bubble Loaf.

I needed to make it with a Bundt pan. I needed to incorporate the lemon rind into the dough. I needed to see if the bottom of the Bundt pan would caramelize the orange-sugar syrup. I needed to do it, I needed to do it even though I just made it two days ago -- it was bugging me too much. I am THAT neurotic.

So, I made it again, for breakfast this weekend. It was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. The Kid and Hubby loved it. My hips, not so much.

Tumbling Tumbleweed

Last summer, we joined a CSA (community supported agriculture) called Two Small Farms. They deliver a box of organic produce each week from two local organic farms. We enjoyed it so much that we've joined again this season.

At first, I was taken aback by all the vegetables I've never used before. I think of myself as a fairly adventurous cook, but since I've been married, I've mostly cooked husband-friendly foods -- typically Asian. So, to receive all these vegetables I've only seen on display at Whole Foods, but never tried before, was a bit intimidating in the beginning. But luckily, this CSA makes it easy by including weekly newsletters with descriptions of the vegetables and different recipes from famous local chefs and its members.

The Kid and I have grown to love so many new vegetables we've tried through this service -- chard, kale, spigariello, parsnips and this year, tumbleweed.

Yes, tumbleweed. Tumbling tumbleweed. Well, a close relative of tumbleweed called agretti.

The Kid loves this stuff. I do, too. It tastes great -- a little salty, a bit sour, great texture. But what I love most about agretti is that it puts his imagination in super-drive.

"Did cowboys stop and pick the tumbleweed?"
"Did they cook it in the desert?"
"Did cowboys cook it with olive oil?"
"Did cowboys saute it with garlic, too?"
"Did the cowboys like the tumbleweed?"
"I think I'm turning into a cowboy now. You think?"

I must get at least a hundred cowboy related questions each time I serve it up. It's nutritious and good for the imagination.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Orange Bubbles

The Kid has been home all week for spring break and there have been activities galore -- Play Doh, painting, swimming in the hot tub, riding his new scooter, playing all sorts of pretend games. I needed another activity and my friend inspired me to lug out the bread machine and make some bread with the little guy.

Funny thing is, he was so tired from our morning activities that he actually fell asleep during quiet time and wouldn't wake up. The first rising was done, I put the dough in the fridge so it wouldn't over-rise, but I had to bake it off before the witching hour -- so I ended up doing the actual fun part of rolling tiny pieces of dough and dipping into the orange syrup. It was quite fun. For me. The end result was amazing -- crunchy goodness on the outside, soft and light on the inside.

Orange Bubble Loaf from Bread Machine Magic

Changes necessary:
  • The pan I used was too small and the bubbles started popping out from the top. Next time, I'll use a Bundt pan.
  • I forgot to incorporate the lemon rind in the dough. It tasted fine, but it would probably taste better with it.
  • Maybe I'll make 1.5 times the amount of syrup next time.

Result: Not too sweet, crunchy on the outside, soft and light on the inside. Success!

Here's the bread after the second rising -- the bubbles are about to pop out.

Here is the golden goodness right out of the oven.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Here We Go!

So, here we are, the first post. Again.

My other blog started out as a knitting blog, but morphed into a blog about my life with the little emperors. Friends and family who check over there aren't exactly interested in my knitterly endeavors. But how can I leave comments at other knitters' blogs if I don't have a crafty blog of my own!

So, here we are again. Welcome to my blog. Most likely, you won't find me unless I tell you about this blog, but welcome.