Yesterday turned out not to be such a great day: although I got a few things checked off the Thanksgiving To Do list, I did not get any work done on that &%#$ warp, never went near the guitar, never found time for the treadmill. When I headed out for a very quick grocery store run I noticed an indicator light on the dash….tire pressure. Got stuck in gridlock at the gas station, but the attendant checked and topped off all the tires…..light has still not gone off. Which probably means a trip to the Toyota service center. I do. not. have. time.
Oh, Santa brought me another little package yesterday:
On sale. I need more steamed veggies!
Hopefully today will go better. I have to start the ice cream and make a trip to the wine shop….what could go wrong? Stay tuned….
My warping disaster story will have to wait for another day (I can't even talk about it today) but I decided I needed a time out to regroup for a day or so. In the meantime, I hit the kitchen running this morning and made a batch of Cranberry Jalapeño Pineapple sauce to take to my son's for Thanksgiving dinner. It's awesome….the combination works a lot better than it sounds….and I'll be perfectly happy if I'm the only one who eats it on Thursday. It will come back home…mine, all mine. Basically, it's a fresh cranberry sauce, but before adding the cranberries to cook, you sauté some jalapeño pepper, add pineapple juice (didn't have it, used orange) and cook that down by half. Sugar, a little lemon and lime juice, cook it all till the cranberries pop, then add some chopped dried pineapple. Okay, I use candied pineapple….I love that stuff. I'm disappointed that the pepper had no heat whatsoever, but it's still delicious.
While that was cooking, I took a tub of bread dough out of the fridge to warm up a bit. Leaving it in the refrigerator overnight might have been a mistake (the dried cranberries absorbed some moisture from the dough and really plumped up) or not. We'll find out when it comes out of the oven. Double batch, two braids. Last time I made this recipe (Cranberry Walnut Celebration Bread from Reinhart's "Bread Baker's Apprentice") it was outstanding. Waiting is torture!
Will update with a picture of the finished loaf.
I have to include some darling photos of my DARLING youngest grandsons. Mommy and Daddy run the Baltimore Concert Opera (Daddy also runs Opera Delaware) so these boys (aged 7 1/2 and 3 1/2) are getting exposed to culture. They have navy blazers and bow ties (thanks to Nana) and, are you ready, OPERA SHOES! Too funny. Sunday was the final performance of Strauss's "Die Fledermaus" at BCO and the boys got to go. They did some volunteer work handing out programs
got to meet actor John Aston, who performed a speaking role in the opera…..
sat quietly (out in the overflow area) during the first act
They acted more like little boys during the second act!
That's Rex under the chair in a Power Ranger mask! Gus thinks it's hilarious!
That bread is starting to smell pretty good! Stay tuned…...
There are very few ingredients in this quick and very easy shrimp with pasta dish.
1 pound shrimp (peeled and deveined is quickest…fresh, of course)
1-14 oz can of Fire Roasted diced tomatoes (or use the one that is flavored with olive oil and garlic)
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
fresh basil….you need about 3 tbsp chopped
pasta….about 1/2 pound (I like the Barilla Fine Linguine or Fine Fettuccini)
Feta cheese (I think this is the magic in this recipe)
salt and pepper, of course, and maybe a few flakes of crushed red pepper
So, heat a little olive oil in a skillet, and sauté the garlic carefully so it doesn't burn. Just a minute or two. Add the shrimp and sauté briefly, then add the canned, diced tomatoes, salt & pepper to taste. Let it simmer on low till shrimp are almost cooked. Add the chopped basil and mix.
Meanwhile, get the water boiling for pasta of choice, and cook pasta till not quite done. (There are several places where this is a do-ahead recipe. I could see doing the shrimp early, for a dinner party, being careful not to overcook. Not sure about pre-cooking the pasta.) Drain pasta and dump into the skillet with the tomato and shrimp combination. Cook together about a minute more till pasta is al dente. Mix, pour into serving bowl/platter and sprinkle with the Feta cheese. Mangia!
Go withs: a nice salad, mix in some cooked peas, and bread. Nice, homemade French or Italian bread would be great! Next time I make this, I'll take a photo. Promise!
Several updates to report. First, that amaryllis progress. I'll put them all together. (A new bulb might have followed me home from the grocery store, but more on that when it starts to DO something interesting!)
Now, on to other things. After the guitar lesson yesterday (too much playing for one day….sore hands!), I headed to the grocery store. $200+ and I forgot paper towels and AP flour! My store is a super-duper IGA, family owned, great selection, but it's way on the other side of town, almost 15 minutes from here. Do I go back….or go to the big Stop&Shop superstore right in town? Maybe I should just bite the bullet and go to Costco to stock up on paper products…..but not on Sunday! I can make it another day or two.
Friday the mail person (new guy, Rudy, is a sweetie….my old carrier must have told him I'm a good tipper and get a lot of gun stuff in the mail) brought my order of replacement linen yarn for the big Christmas project, just in the nick of time. I ran out of the other yarn Thursday at about 320 ends. The warp is now completely wound, tied off, and ready to be chained. Howwweverrrrr……given my "talent" with metric math, or counting, I think I better recount before I take it off the mill. All I need is to get that on the loom and find I'm two ends short!
Now, I plan to use red and green for the Monk's Belt pattern on most of these tea towels, but realized that I could do a few (unless I'm waaay off on my math…..[what are the chances of that happening, she asked, with voice dripping sarcasm]….I've got enough warp for at least a dozen, maybe more) in some other colors. I know someone who might like blue, for Hannukah, or white. Interesting possibilities. Won't know till I get to the weaving. And Vavstuga just announced a Thanksgiving internet sale…oh, dear.
about that second delivery yesterday? It was this beauty:
New line of enameled cast iron from Chef's Catalog….this is the 4 quart size. Mostly for making bread, but there might be a roast or stew down the road.
Red is NOT the color I would have chosen, although when we redid the kitchen many years ago, I had a red sink and a collection of red Le Creuset pans. I moved on from the red, but now…..hmmm. Maybe time to do a little redecorating?
I'm useless on Saturday morning. Mostly "cramming" for the afternoon guitar lesson. Then grocery shopping after the lesson because there's no food in the house. Sigh. Annnyway….here's a quickie post. Better luck tomorrow.
Amaryllis Progress Report. Laurie was right…this sucker will probably be in full bloom for Thanksgiving!
This time of year has always been stressful, but since my husband died in mid-December of 2011, and was quite ill with cancer that year at Thanksgiving (probably his favorite holiday: food, football, and no presents!), this time of year has been rough for me ever since. Add in the fact that we were married on December 30 (next year would have been our 50th)….yeah, fun time.
I don't want to sound like a total Scrooge, but honestly, it's all gotten very commercial and overdone. Toning it down is not a bad idea. However, it can't be avoided (I have grandkids), and there is something about the lights and food and colors and…..well, you see where this is going. Yeah, the shopping has started.
Rather than waiting till the day after Thanksgiving (I usually decorate for that period of time between mid-September and Thanksgiving) to start taking out the Christmas stuff, this year I decided to have a "transition" period. The Halloween/fall pumpkins and faux leaves have been stashed in their bins and I've dressed up the dining room table with some things that are neutral for right now.
This will be easy to ramp up as it gets closer to Christmas. Red candles, sprigs of berries, different runner, etc. The candles are all battery operated, by the way, so it already looks rather festive at night!
The year after the Old Man died, I indulged in a lot of, um, retail therapy, shall we say? I spent a lot of time in my favorite store, Home Goods. Love that place! There are quite a few of them in the area, and they all have different stuff. I forget now which store, but during one "therapy session" I found two boxes of these great turkey patterned dishes and then ended up visiting all the others in Fairfield County to fill in the rest of the set. What fun! They were very reasonable, and went rather well with my dining room color scheme, and by the following year I had amassed quite a collection of the turkey china.
Funny story about that teapot. Most of the pieces, as mentioned, were purchased at places like Home Goods, Christmas Tree Shops (mugs!), at very reasonable prices, but I spotted this beauty on the Replacements website. It was expensive (almost $50), but SO pretty, I had to have it. Score! Then I peeled the price tag off the bottom and found it was hiding a Home Goods price tag for…..wait for it…..$14.95 Seriously. Same thing happened with the mugs: 2 bucks at CTS, $8 at Replacements. But I needed a few more, so of course I bought them. Sigh. Sadly, while I put some plates, bowls and the mugs in my kitchen dish cabinet and use them for myself from September through Thanksgiving, I've never been able to set the dining room table with the whole set. Maybe next year. I'll have a party.
I have a large set of Christmas dinnerware, too, collected over many years. Again, even Home Goods has an occasional piece or two, and I always grab it. It is made by the same company (Portmeirion) as my "everyday" china (hah! damned stuff cost more than my Wedgewood) and they are known for having LOTS of accessory pieces. The Christmas set is called "Holly and Ivy" so it's a bit more generic and useful than some of the other well-know Christmas china patterns. In any event, I rotated out the turkey dishes the other day and put the H&I pieces into the kitchen cupboard. Done. Out of the way. Might get me in the mood.
Well, UPS was followed almost immediately by Fed Ex, but I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel for blog post ideas, so stay tuned to see what that was all about!
I follow a Facebook group called "The Bread Whisperer" (and another called Artisan Bread, or something like that) that is nothing short of inspiring. I think what led me there early in the year was an unsuccessful search for a Spanish bread recipe for that paella party I was planning. I found nothing at the time, but I've seen many photos since of bread baking in Spain…..next time.
I've moved on, though, mostly as a result of the wonderful photos posted every day, to an adventure with natural starters and no commercial yeast, and am having lots of fun with that. My starter is wonderful and active, but sometimes it's like having an infant or puppy! I was reminded the other day of some of the older methods of making great bread: using a teeny bit of yeast to get things going in the "biga", which is a sort of pre-ferment. It's complicated. But, I was intrigued by the discussion over this member's post on "going back to biga" and had to try it.
First of all, a biga is very quick and easy to make, and really jump-starts the final dough. So, I made the biga (spell-check does NOT like that word!) early yesterday and mixed up the main dough last night. Once all the resting and stretching and folding was done with, the bucket of dough went into the fridge overnight. It was lovely this morning (WHY do I keep forgetting to take photos?!) and it was pretty quick at that point to form into some baguettes and get them in the oven.
The verdict is that, while not really "pretty" (and they didn't "sing" or pop "ears") they smelled great! So, I waited patiently, and finally decided the little one was ready enough to get cut. For scientific purposes, of course….
Yum. Might need a little more scientific research, though. With butter…..
Off to the studio to do more winding……pretty sure I'm NOT going to finish this warp with the yarn I've got, but stay tuned to find out how close I get. My guess is that I will get around 350 warp ends.
I've been patting myself on the back lately for my new-found love of metrics….in baking. Weaving? Apparently not so much.
After a fairly busy day Tuesday...doing laundry, taking trash to the dump, all that good stuff...I went out to the studio to get more warp winding done on The Christmas Project. Now, the draft calls for 426 ends, and I swear I had DONE THE MATH. Really. At Vavstuga, with Becky's help. And bought PLENTY of yarn to do at least twice as many towels as our class project sheet. Or not….
I was winding, winding, winding, then counting, counting, counting
…and was very pleased to see that I was about half-way through.
200 or so ends wound, and….what the heck?!
That is NOT a lot of yarn left! I grabbed the pattern sheets, then spent half an hour with the calculator and….OH, NO! I was half at least half a tube short! Now, I think my original calculations were correct, but I might have added some yardage to this warp. Oops. I raced to the Vavstuga website and saw that I had about 20 minutes to get a call in to the office, and then, crossing fingers and toes, I got through and told Bettie what my problem was. Honestly, while this yarn is un-dyed, unbleached, "natural" linen, what were the chances of matching those lot numbers after over a month? Pretty good actually!
Yes, Bettie to the rescue. Apparently, this yarn is not a big seller, and I'm pretty sure I took my two tubes from a brand new full pack, so…..yes! There were two more tubes with that lot number! Why two? Well, I wind from two cones/balls/tubes, so if I got two more tubes, I'm all set to go when I run out of the yarn I have. And enough left to do another small project. Makes sense to me! And remember that dilemma I had about doing this Monk's Belt in the natural, or a whiter yarn? Well, I ordered four tubes of the half-bleached while I was at it. Sigh. It's only money.
What do you want to bet that I manage to get 426 ends from the yarn I have? Stay tuned to find out.