Saturday, September 27, 2008

Daring Bakers September 2008 Challenge - Lavash

So, I finally read this months challenge - and it's due TODAY!! Good thing I looked!

Whenever I do any type of dough now-a-days, I'll use my trusty Kitchen Aide. I am using my mini bowl set-up - here's all the ingredients sans water before I press the on button.

I added the 1/2 cup of luke warm water (this isn't in the instructions - I just know that the dough needed the warm water to activate the yeast.) and pulsed until a dough ball formed.
Then I kneaded it. Here's what it looks before I kneaded it.
This is after 10 minutes.
Now I sprayed my bowl with spray oil and let the dough rest for 90 minutes.
And it actually doubled in size!
The instructions say to roll it out paper thin. Looks like a job for my pasta machine!
I ended up doubling it over. The thinner "plank" worked better. Throw on some course salt and sesame seeds and bake.
Till it's nice and crispy.
Hindsight: next time I will keep the lavash very thin and use more than just one cookie sheet.

I also made some quick guacamole, but it was eaten by DH before the crackers were done.

Happy Blogoversary!

Well, I've been blogging for 3 years now. I must admit that I like blogging better than I thought I would.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Braided Raspberry Almond Cream Pastry - part 2

It's done and you should SMELL how wonderful my home smells right now.

Sewing Halloween Costume

M wants to be a cheerleader for Halloween this year. Since she's growing out of her princess outfit I made a couple of years ago, I decided to go ahead and make an over sized outfit so it'll last for a while. I picked up the Simplicity 3689 and will be making pattern A in a misses size 4.

I'm taking my time on this outfit as there are a lot of details in the pattern. I'll read the pattern once, then look it over, then try to figure out what it's saying. Then I re-read the pattern, re-look at all the sketches and visualize how I'm going to do what it says I need to do. This actually takes some time, which is why I started this project a month and a half ahead of time.

Here's my sewing machine setup. It's my Grandmother's old Montgomery Ward's machine and I have it in M's play room (she's six and will stay away from it).

Here's the front - sans sleeves.
Here's a close up of the stripes. It's single fold and double fold bias tape.
I also finally figured out how to use my zipper foot. Don't know why I was so afraid of it from before. This is my first ever machine sewn zipper! Not great, but hey, it works and I'm not pulling it out.
Next is the collar - which I'm having trouble visualizing - I'll get back to it, but it's on hold for now.

Braided Raspberry Almond Cream Pastry

From Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

I made the Brioche dough, rolled it out and transferred it to a parchment covered cookie sheet.

Then I put the almond cream down the center third.

Spread half a cup of raspberry jam. . .
Put some fresh raspberries on top of that.
Using a pizza cutter, I cut strips along each side - making sure that I line up each side so I have the same amount of strips on both sides.
Pulling a strip from each side, I cross each one over the other - just alternating each strip.
Finally, I put an egg wash on top and sugar. It's waiting to go into the oven right now.
I'll post photo's of the finished product.

Note: This is the second loaf I made. The first one was easier to work with as the dough was only a day old. This dough is three days old and became wet - which made it difficult to "braid" the dough. Once it's baked, I'm sure it'll look better. I'm just not happy with how sticky the strips were while braiding this.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

WIP-Lady Eleanor Entrelac Stole

I have 16 of 36 tiers done.

I bought some Lion Brand Homespun (Barrington colorway) to knit this stole.

Big difference in price! Most projects are being done in Noro and the stole IS stunning knitted with it. Noro yarn is really beautiful for this project.

The total yardage the pattern calls for is 1215 yards of yarn.

Okay. So let's do the math.

Noro Silk Garden is what most folks are knitting this in. Each ball is $10.75 per ball, 122 yards.

1215/122 = 9.95 => say 10 balls @ $10.75 = $107.50

Now, Lion Brand Homespun: $6 per ball, 185 yards per ball.

1215/185 = 6.57 => say 7 balls @ $6 per ball = $42.00

I have to say that I was able to purchase my yarn at a discount ($3.83 per ball => $26.78 total cost)

Plus my stole will be machine washable.

Friday, September 19, 2008


Arrrg, me mateys. Today be Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Arrg with me, damn it!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Playing with the CSM

I decided to try to write an alligator mitten pattern for my CSM.

Here's a photo of my first attempt - I'll rip it out.

On my 72 needle cylinder, I knitted a 3" long 1 x 1 rib cuff (30 rows). Then I put in all the other needles and knitted plain for 1.5" (or 15 rows). I think this works great. I'll keep this in the pattern. See this photo.

Then I split the needles in half - 36 needles for the top, 36 needles for the bottom. 36 needles for the top doesn't cover the four fingers. In hindsight, I should have done a 44 top, 28 bottom split.
Here's what it looks like looking down on the mitten.

Another problem was how long the mitten on top was. I knitted flat for 3" (30 rows), then I decrease by moving the outer two needles over by one needle (basically making a k, k2tog configuration on the outside of the mitt). I stopped when there were 9 stitches left on the needles. I need to stop next time when there are 15 stitches left. - but that fits my hand, which I think is the average male size.

This photo shows a side shot of the mitt.

The bottom is TOO long. I knitted it flat for 1.5" and then did the decreases like I did on top till I had 9 needles left. Next time, I won't do the flat and start decreasing all the way to 9 needles.

The other thing I did was start to knit the red from the bottom. It was okay, but the original mitt was done in garter. I decided that I would just flip the inside to the outside. Continuing knitting wouldn't make the inside mouth rough, so I'll have to start this work differently next time.

So to the frog pond this mitt goes. . .

Friday, September 12, 2008

Matt Damon on Palin

I am biased, but Mr. Damon does make some very good points.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I have been knitting.

Mainly, I ripped out my candle flame shawl because I just kept on screwing it up. It is now a Hemlock Ring Shawl and I'm currently binding off - it's taking forever as I expanded the fan and feather out till the shawl measured 6 feet in diameter.

I do like the colors of this shawl. Can't wait till it's blocked.
Next I made a quick baby blanket out of double stranded Pound of Love. I added the baby feet pattern from Rhonda K. White's free dishcloth pattern. (yes, I ran out and used some hot pink to finish it)
Since it went so quickly, I went ahead and started knitting another one - again out of Pound of Love.

Since I'm now going to be a Maker, J suggested that I make a bunch of socks for trade bait for Maker Faire (I'm not selling anything). Here's my first sock - details below.
Yarn: Red Heart Heart & Sole with Aloe
Color: Navy Blue
Cylinder: 72
Leg: 51 rows 1 x 1 rib
Pre-heel: 10 rows plain
Foot: 78 rows
Size: Men's 13
Tension: 2 threads - between 4/3

J tried it on and it fits his foot just fine. He did mention that he'd like to have the leg be longer for a men's sock. Interesting as my nephews and dad liked the length. One even wanted the socks to be shorter.

The Red Heart sock yarn barely made one men's sock (one ball has 213 yds). I have very little left, so the short leg for this yarn is necessary.

I do like the way the sock material feels - the aloe must make it soft.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Woot! I'm a Maker!

Just got word that I was accepted as a Maker exhibitor for the Maker Faire in Austin this October. I had planned on going, but now it's going to be fun to be a demonstrator.

I'll be showing my CSM off. Any suggestions from fellow CSM'ers will be appreciated.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Beer Making - part two

First off, I had to siphon the batch from the primary fermentor to the secondary. Here's a photo of all the junk left in the primary fermentor (this is day 7).
Here it is in the secondary. Cap it and let it set for another week.
On my other batch, I had to prime it with sugar and water. Here's the sugar water just before I add it.
I siphoned half of the beer from the secondary to the primary - then I added the sugar water and stirred. My first batch of beer was a little hit or miss with regard to carbonation. The first bottles we drank were REALLY carbonated. The ones later on - not so much. I'm hoping by adding it to the beer at the half way mark will give it a good mix.
Here's the secondary fermentor (on top) being siphoned into the primary fermentor. Notice the bucket to the left - it's the secondary fermentor for the Honey Nut Brown Ale.
Here's what the secondary fermentor looked like after I siphoned everything out - there's still crud on the bottom, but not as much.
Now I bottle from the primary. The primary is the bucket with the spigot. Attach the tube and the bottle stick (not sure what to call it) - but it has a nice valve on the end with allows you to move from bottle to bottle without making a huge mess. See the black tip on the end of it?
Filling the bottles. J caps them and I wasn't able to get a photo of him doing it.
But here's the beer capped and primed. They'll be ready in 14 days.
I did taste this beer - it's VERY mild compared to the American Ale I did for the first batch. This batch is an American Premium Lager and I didn't have to do all the boiling that the other kit required. I would recommend doing one of those kits for your first time out. It's made by The Brew House. Their instructions are REALLY great. I just felt like I was cheating a little. FWIW, the instructions tell you to put 2.16 gallons of water in the primary fermentor prior to adding the wort. Just don't do it. You end up putting more liquid in your primary fermentor than 5 gallons and can potentially have your foam come out of the air lock.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Interesting stuff I've learned

from Sarah's book so far:

  • There were two separate types of Puritans: Separatists and Non-separatists. The Mayflower ones were trying to distance themselves from the King of England.
  • Puritans stressed the importance of education and learning and were prolific writers.
  • All I know about American history really comes from 1970's sitcoms. She actually describes specific episodes of various shows and, sadly, I've seen them. We watched entirely too much crap TV when we were young.

The Wordy Shipmates

I got a package in the mail yesterday - it's an advanced copy of Sarah Vowell's latest book, The Wordy Shipmates.
I'm terribly excited about reading this as Sarah has become one of my MUST read authors. Her stuff is non-fiction and I usually stick to fiction. Sarah has a way of making her subjects interesting and funny at the same time. I mean funny. I actually laugh out loud when I read her books. I don't do that, as a rule, as I have fairly high standards as to what constitutes funny - that's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

I'll have to keep you posted on what I've read. It looks like she's going to delve into the whole meme that the "US was settled as a Christian Nation". Should be fun reading.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Writing Code with DNA - wow

I'm not a code person but I am married to one. I found this talk to be just fascinating.

Corn Tortilla's

Yesterday J & I went to M's class. The initial idea was to show how to use our solar oven, but Gustav's clouds came to town (didn't bring any much needed rain), so using the solar oven was out. We showed up a little early and there were two kids who were our hosts. We signed the guest book and they brought us some spaghetti for lunch. It was great fun. M was totally excited for us to be there. I know I have to really savor these moments as pre-teen-hood is only four years away. . .

Back up plan: make homemade corn tortilla's

Worked out really great.

We had a kid read the recipe. Another measure out the masa flour. I didn't want to get the one cup measure wet because I knew we had to make another batch. I had a quarter cup measure and had the kids figure out how many quarter cups make 1-1/4 cup of water. They got the answer off the bat. I was impressed.

We mixed up the dough and I had the kids cut it in half until we had 16 pieces. Each kid was able to roll the piece in a ball and squish them in the tortilla press. I was manning the griddle and we were able to cook six tortillas at a time. There was a separate table set up with butter and a number of sprinkles (cocoa (w/ sugar), cinnamon, vanilla powder, mocha). The kids had a great time and so did we. The teacher made another batch, so we ended up making about 32 tortillas in 45 minutes.