Thursday, November 29, 2007

Kitty cheesecake

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I'm lucky to have gotten the one of her napping. She usually wakes up and runs away as soon as she hears the camera turning on. Cats.. who can figure 'em?

Friday, November 23, 2007

My Goose Is Cooked

And stuffed, but it wasn't really a goose, it was a chicken. Since about 2002 or so, I've been in charge of handling some of the holiday cooking. This usually means coming up with something to do with fowl for either Christmas or Thanksgiving, and this usually means stuffing and roasting fowl for those holidays. My usual standby is a recipe adapted from an 1950s episode of "The Adventures of Robin Hood" starring Richard Greene; the episode in question is a Christmas one involving Robin Hood's rescue of a goose named Matilda. Hollywood, as usual, does a wonderful job of romanticizing the serf/noble relationship; even with as many flaws as the story has, it's worth a look for its amusement value. If you can't find it, keep reading for the "spoilers".

Davie, a serf boy, gets caught harvesting mistletoe and holly in the woods; the new lord of the manor decides he doesn't want his serfs doing any such thing, no matter if it's an established tradition, and orders that Davie be seized and thrashed for thievery. Davie's pet goose, enraged at the perceived threat to her companion, flies at lord's horse, which rears and deposits His Lordship on his posterior; the lord of the manor promptly orders Matilda's arrest, which the seneschal effects with the aid of a burlap sack. O.O Poor Davie!

Friar Tuck happens along and finds Davie, sobbing under an oak tree; he agrees to visit the manor to see if he can persuade His Lordship to spare Matilda's life. His Lordship, however, has already decided to try the goose--yes, try the goose, as in putting the goose on trial; Friar Tuck, in dismay, insists on defending Matilda and calls several character witnesses to testify on her behalf. Naturally, His Lordship has plans for Matilda, and he sentences her, ordering that she be roasted for his Christmas dinner. Ouch. Friar Tuck, in a last desperate attempt to save the goose's life, takes the man aside and suggests that there's a proper way to cook a goose: First, he says, she must be given wine, and once she's properly drunk, then she can be killed. Afterward, rather than simply roasting her, she must be stuffed with a mixture of bread, apples, mushrooms, honey, and egg. This, he assures the duke, is the only way to prepare a goose. The duke unbends enough to consider this new option, and orders his seneschal to take the goose to the kitchen; in the meantime, the good Friar hastens away to find Robin and ask for his assistance.

Robin agrees to visit the manor and see for himself what kind of man the new lord is. In the guise of Sir Roger of the Dell, he arrives at the manor and, after getting the duke's version of the story, suggests that the Christmas celebration be held as usual, with the serfs being permitted to come for their feast and present their new master with "gifts". The duke agrees, but asks, "What if they won't come?"

Robin replies, "Then make them come!"

The following day, the serfs arrive, and with them come Robin and Friar Tuck; the latter makes a bee line for the kitchen and begins plying the goose--and the cook--with wine, saying that if the goose won't drink on her own, then she must learn by their example. I don't think anyone but the cook gets the full benefit of the French wine, and he eventually dozes off in a cozy corner. In the meantime, the duke's guards herd the serfs into the great hall for their compulsory gift giving, mutton stew, and "enough Wassail to wet their lips on"; the duke points Davie out to Robin as the troublemaker responsible for his undignified tumble and the erstwhile owner of the goose.

Robin, crafty fox that he is, advises the duke to flog the boy and make an example of him; the duke demurs, leaving Robin to take charge of the flogging behind a folding screen. Robin, of course, whispers to Davie to scream as though he really is being flogged; the duke, overcome with remorse, rushes to halt the beating and, in the process, knocks over the screen and reveals the ruse. Robin explains the reason for it, and the nobleman offers to make amends by giving Davie whatever he wishes. Davie, of course, would like nothing better than to get his beloved pet back; the duke, however, is unable to give the boy his goose, and tells him so... and Friar Tuck appears in the door with the goose under his arm, alive and well.

So, where is this going? Friar Tuck's recipe for stuffing fowl didn't include any standard measurements--surprise--so I wrote down the ingredients and did some tweaking. Since this isn't what I did for Thanksgiving this year, the recipe for the other stuffing will be posted under separate cover. :P

Friar Tuck's Stuffing:

  1. 2 large apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
  2. 1 medium onion, chopped
  3. 4 cups bread cut into cubes
  4. 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  5. 1 1/2 cups chopped mushrooms
  6. 2 eggs, beaten
  7. 3 tbsp honey
  8. 2 tsp chopped sage
  9. 1 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
  10. 1/4 tsp black pepper, or to taste
  11. 1 1/2 cups chicken broth

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Cheesecake... yeah.

Tomorrow is the big day, which is why I started today. This meant making the cornbread for the stuffing and the cheesecake. It's a pumpkin-bourbon cheesecake with graham cracker-walnut crust. This is my first attempt at making a cheesecake from scratch, so it really helped to have a recipe to go by--Cooks Illustrated rocks most amazingly. Naturally, as with everything else, there were a few substitutions, like chai spices for cinnamon. I ran out of cinnamon when I made cinnamon buns last week, and I forgot to buy more when I went to the store yesterday. I also couldn't find the allspice, so I didn't add any; I'm not sure if we actually have any in the pantry, but if we did, it was doing a really good job of hiding.
So, there it is, Mr. Cheesecake in his tinfoil suit and bain marie just about to have the oven door closed on him. It certainly did turn out well, but tomorrow we'll be able to see if it tastes as good as I hope it does. Mr. Cheesecake will be preceeded by roasted, stuffed chicken, something with red potatoes, and something with greenbeans. Other than that, I'm not sure what else will go on in the kitchen.
In the meantime, I also got my flu shot today, so I'm not sure how much I'll be up for tomorrow. *sigh* It's made my shoulder quite sore, which is unpleasant when I have to reach for something like that naughty little knitting needle that's rolled under my chair. Speaking of which, I finished the back of Zenia's cardie. Yay. :P

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

If the shoe fits...

I found this on a blog that belongs to a friend of Norma's. I couldn't help but shriek with laughter in proper witchy fashion when I read the results of the bar graph. As they say: if the shoe fits...

Which is the right religion for you? (new version)
created with
You scored as Paganism

Your beliefs are most closely aligned with those of paganism, Wicca, or a similar earth-based religion. You may also follow a Native American religion.

Paganism 85%
Satanism 75%
Confucianism 70%
Agnosticism 65%
Atheism 55%
Buddhism 55%
Hinduism 40%
Haruhism 30%
Islam 25%
Christianity 20%
Judaism 0%

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Winter-weave Knits

Normally, I would post a summary of the current Interweave Knits, but since mom filched it before I got a chance to take a good look--hard to read and drive at the same time, after all--I won't be posting my summary for a while yet.
Otherwise, I've managed to cast on for the Zenia. It drove me nuts last night because I hate casting on; I know it's impossible to knit without doing it in some form, just like it's pretty damned hard to build a house without laying a foundating. I think I ripped it apart three times before I got the situation under control, and I've just finished the snowflakes across the back. I'm pleased, but I think the gauge may need to be tweaked because it's not at all the same gauge as the swatch(es) I knitted before I got started. Swatch Number 1 on size 5 needles ended up being 7.5 stitches per inch. Swatch Number 2 on size 6 needles ended up being 6 stitches per inch. And now the project is started, it's decided to be 7 stitches per inch on size 6 needles. Grrrr!
I know swatching is important. Say it with me: "Stay within the swatch. The swatch is your friend."

Monday, November 12, 2007

La Zenia

I kept saying I wouldn't do it. I really, really meant it, and then I felt guilty, and now I feel like a friggin' doormat. I hate disappointing people, and when I say I'm going to do something, I try to do the best possible job until it's finished. So, what's the big deal? I don't feel I'm at a level of expertise that I can do what's being asked of me, and I don't know how say so. Okay.. that part's finished now.

So, now it begins, the mad scramble to finish a sweater approximately a month. Zenia's a dear. She's petite, with masses of thick blonde hair, blue eyes, and an infectious laugh that makes people feel very at ease. She's also asked me to knit a sweater for her. The yarn arrived on Saturday--twelve balls of Swish DK in Cornflower and two in plain white--so now I get to get started on it. The easy part will be writing the pattern, though I have to figure out how to do the bell sleeves she's asked for. The other easy part will be the color work. It's the same chart as the one I used for dad's sweater, just with different colors--obviously. The yarn is nice. It's superwash merino, which means the itch factor is practically nill and it's machine washable. :P Yay!
So... cropped cardigan with no buttons, a v-neck, bell sleeves, and an i-cord tie somewhere at the neckline. Again, not terribly difficult, but the bell sleeves will probably give me a little bit of a headache because I have to figure out where to do the decreases so that it flares out the right amount and is still the right width the for the rest of the arm. We'll just have to see how it goes, but for now Evil Ambition has been set aside in favor of the new project--something I don't really want to do, but sometimes these things happen for good reasons. The downside, though, is that I'm really behind on my holiday knitting. Grrrr.. why, why do I procrastinate so! Pattern will be posted as soon as I finish the sweater. Same goes for the Evil Ambition.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Evil Ambition

The Evil Ambition sweater is progressing well. I just finished the back today, but I realized belatedly that I'd cast on the wrong number of stitches. Oopsie! How do you correct this? Gussets! I'll have to knit two little strips of fabric to correct the miscalculation; these will then be sewn to the sides of the back, and then, when the front is finished, I'll sew the front to the gussets. So far I haven't really made too many mistakes, which is encouraging.
I only screwed up the cable panel once, and that was at a place I didn't even notice until I was already several inches past it, so I decided not to frog it and start over. That, coupled with the fact that the cable panel is off-center by a few stitches probably means I should have frogged it and started over, but I was feeling stubborn... it should turn out okay since it's not that noticeable. This is an experiment, after all, which means it's all a giant learning experience. It's fun, especially since the yarn is so nice to work with.
I'll try to post a picture once the gussets are finished and attached.
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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Do ya feel... lucky?

I've been talking and thinking about it since September, and today is the day. That thirty-five pound pumpkin is now gutted and in lots of pieces in preparation for being cooked, peeled, and pureed. This is what he looked like before:

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And this is what he looks like now:

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That's what I call carving a pumpkin. It's not nearly as much work as I thought it would be. The hard part was actually the peeling, but after that, the food processor does all the icky stuff for me. That's not cheating, is it? I'm looking forward to using this stuff in soup and bread. I left some unpeeled; we're going to roast it with some olive oil and have it with rice and meatballs. Yums. :P

Monday, November 5, 2007

More Stashie Stuff

The last time I won something, I was in ninth grade. Where I went to school, it was a junior high covering grades seven through nine, and then we went off to the high school for tenth through twelfth. The first day of the school year, they herded us all into the gym and arranged us by birth month, presumably so we could get to know other kids who shared the same month; I didn't know anyone else in my month, so it was quite daunting. Once were were arranged by month, a teacher came by and distributed raffle tickets. Eventually, my number was drawn and I got a box of crayons. I was astonished.
So many thanks to
Kathy for making my day on Halloween. It was a really nice surprise, which arrived in the mail today. I's tickled. :-) Thanks, Kathy.

And, for Rachael, I promise not to gloat because I'm more Capricorn than she is. :P

You are 80% Capricorn

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Holiday Interweaves

Well, since we only got two trick-or-treaters last night, I was able to sit down and do a more thorough job of looking at the Holiday Gifts issue of Interweave Knits. I'm not much for matching mother-daughter sweaters--I'm not for matching anythings, to be honest--but the snowflake design for the yoke of the ski sweaters was very pretty.
The technical parts of this issue revolve mostly around needle felting and Fair Isle. The former isn't something I pay much attention to since, especially after watching some Turkish felt makers going through the agonizing heave-thump of squashing rolls of wool with their bodies. True, there are no needles involved there, but... you never quite think of felt the same way again.
Most of the projects in this issue are good ideas. There's a teddy bear, and of course there's the ubiquitous Chistmas stocking to be hung by the chimney with care; there are also a few gift ideas that left me with raised eyebrows and a "What the heck is that for?" feeling. Specifically, the boot toppers. Knitted boot toppers. I'll say no more because it'll probably be a more profane version of what I've already said. Still, I suppose such things appeal to some people, otherwise they wouldn't make it into the magazine.
At this time of year, my hands and feet get cold and never really thaw out until the weather becomes warmer; I burn my fingers on mugs of cocoa and wear my Fetching mitts pretty much full time. What could be better than a mug cozy? I like the idea. I really do. And I can see myself knitting some for the folks on my list. And I can see some of the folks on my list raising their eyebrows and saying "What the heck is this for?"
Hats and scarves abound, and there are even a couple pairs of nifty socks, one of which uses a cable pattern very similar to the one I'm using for the Evil Ambition design. It makes a lovely pair of socks, really, and I can SO see them being knit as knee-high socks to wear with my big boots. Without knitted boot toppers.
Now the only problem is finding time to knit all this stuff... grrr. It's never easy when you have a cat on your lap, and the cat is biting and slobbering on your yarn while you're trying to knit. Distractions, distractions, distractions.

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