Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Bake Goes On

I am still baking and not knitting. Well, not knitting enough and baking too much. I actually forgot, FORGOT, to take waiting room knitting with me on three, THREE separate occasions. Woe is me! I'm at the heel flaps for the plain vanilla socks and at the first round of color B on the shawl. I just printed off a couple of dish cloth patterns. I need a break.

But back to baking: On Memorial Day I created my first disaster. It was to be limoncello cupcakes with limoncello buttercream icing. My 12 cup muffin pan was missing, probably lost in the kitchen redo of a two years ago. However, it was a perfect opportunity to use one of my cupcake cake pans. Instead of the giant cupcake cake pan, I used the one that makes four "mini" cupcakes. (They are really very large, two-part cupcakes.) I used a recipe from a blog I stumbled upon.

At one point when I looked in the oven, the batter in four of the wells had overflowed and risen and four had fallen! A little while later, close to time to take them out, they had all fallen. Disaster!

They were like cookies, cookie liners for a cupcake pan! And they had the nerve to be tasty! I couldn't get them out without a chisel so I soaked the whole pan in water and threw the sodden mess away. What happened, you wonder? So did I. In printing the recipe from the blog some mysterious symbols appeared in the printout. What did me in was a "1" that showed up in front of the "1/2 cup" of sugar. I used a cup and a half of sugar! No wonder I got cookies instead of cupcakes!!

So, off I went to ACMoore and Michael's with 40% and 50% discount coupons in hand and bought a 12 cupcake pan, some cute cupcake print paper linings and matching boxes that hold four cupcakes each.

Unfortunately, my next disaster was about to occur. I used another blog recipe to make Martha Stewart's Gingerbread Cupcakes. I should have used the recipe straight from Martha's site and I would have known to use "large cupcake papers and two jumbo muffin tins" to bake these cupcakes. Or at least I would have known to bake 18 - 20 standard size ones. Here is what I got:

and these that overflowed because I filled them too high trying to use all the remaining batter:

And then the yummy limoncello cream cheese buttercream icing was a little too loose to get a thick coat on them. Too much limoncello I'm afraid.

Not the prettiest and not for gift giving, but they taste really good. Another lesson learned: I will not use my cute lining papers on dark cupcakes again. You can't even see the design. Light papers need to be used to contain light batter, not gingerbread and certainly not chocolate. Who knew?

All was not lost over the holiday weekend. I can end on a high note. The day before the cupcake fiasco I made a beehive honey cake. It looks good and tastes even better.


Bona Fide Knitter

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Bona Fide Baker?

While my knitting vibe vacillates, my addiction to the Food Network has taken over. I am now the owner of a waffled pancake pan, an ebelskiver pan, and a shortcake basket pan, all of which I have used this week. They will reside alongside the Belgium waffle iron and the giant cupcake cake pan and its sister that makes four smaller cupcake cakes.

The shortcake basket pan arrived late yesterday afternoon. In the evening I had these:

I made the recipe included in the packaging. I thought it would make the exact amount I needed. However, it overfilled the wells just a tad and they looked like muffins that didn't quite rise. Perhaps my partially melted butter (instead of softened) and skim milk (instead of whole) made the difference.

Anyway, they turned out of the pan just fine.

And the resulting strawberry shortcake was scrumptious . . .

. . . even up close and personal.

Strawberries are plentiful and very reasonably priced in my neighborhood right now. The markets are full of them and thus, so is my refrigerator. They are not just for dessert or cereal. I found a place for them in a "toad-in-a-hole" breakfast (egg, cinnamon raisin toast).

Knitting still consists of the shawl of a lifetime and the plain vanilla socks. The socks are at the heel turn. The shawl is at the first color change, which isn't very far along considering the rounds so far have 1,800 stitches. My mind has turned toward another old standby, "warshrags." I have an overwhelming desire to knit a few linen or linen/cotton blend wash cloths. I have loads of Peaches & Creme and Sugar'n Cream, 100% cotton, worsted weight, but I want some linen content. I absolutely cannot use the hybernating Sasha Skirt's pricey, stashed Euroflax and Claudia linen. Is this an excuse to buy a little yarn, ya think? I'm afraid so.

Bona Fide Knitter/Baker

Monday, May 4, 2009

Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival

Saturday I had a wonderful day out, a day trip all by myself with an audio book (The Street Lawyer, by John Grisham, a favorite author of mine, narrated by Frank Muller, my favorite narrator) for company on the 2.5 hour drive to and fro. Dunkin Donuts decaf on the way down and cinnamon and sugar encrusted almonds on the way back, aaaaah bliss.

The Festival was, as always, mobbed and chock full of fiber, equipment and supplies. Of course there were the usual live suspects: sheep, goats, rabbits, llamas, alpacas, old friends and new friends, and of course food, lots of food.

I may have been so relaxed and laid back having a day to myself that I leaned toward feeling jaded. I found nothing to get excited about. Sock yarn? No, been there/done that, got the stash to prove it. Weaving yarn? Yes, a little. I haven't done enough triangular loom weaving to know what I need or want, but I bought some silk/wool blend skeins that should work up nicely on my small (18") tri loom. I also succumbed to four large skeins of the denim blue mohair that was being sold at a price I couldn't refuse. I have visions of a seven foot fringed shawl that goes great with jeans. I can dream, can't I? But no sweater or felted bag kit beckoned me. I think I've had my fill.

One of the high points of the day was when a shopper walked up to me and inquired, "Bona Fide Knitter?" I was so surprised! My avid follower proceeded to make me feel very good about my efforts, so good that I'm going to get back in the swing of it. Thanks Melodye!

It was good to run into three of my fellow sock machine enthusiasts during the day and catch up on what I've been missing and learn I've been missed from the fray. The sock machine demonstration started at 3:00 p.m. I was just an hour from home by then. A couple of years ago I was one of the demonstrators. How the mighty have fallen. My space-consuming hobbies have been put on hold while a garage conversion is being planned to give me a "studio" where it can all be kept together. Well, maybe not all of it . . . That's a story for another day.

The fiber thrill just wasn't there for me this year. It seemed to me that there was an inordinate amount of roving being offered--naturals, colors, wools, silks, you name it, all lovely. I missed last year's Festival so perhaps this trend has been forming and I didn't notice it. Every hobby has its day. I think spinning is really coming into its own. I don't spin. I've been tempted, but I don't spin. I have no wheel and don't want one. I don't spin. I have no drop spindle and I don't want one. No spinning for me. You heard it here first folks.

Anyway, I didn't have my usual MD Sheep and Wool vibe on, but I thoroughly enjoyed the half day I was there and am happy with my purchases. Oh, I forgot to mention the maple syrup and cranberry honey. Yum!

I didn't take my camera with me so I will end with a favorite picture from the 2007 Festival:

Hey! Watch those clippers!

Bona Fide Knitter

Friday, May 1, 2009

Mayday, Mayday, Mayday!

It is actually May Day, May 1, which has a different meaning altogether. It's either a labor or pagan holiday depending on where you live or what you feel like doing. However, this is the perfect day for me to take liberties with the international call of distress which is "MAYDAY" said three times in a row. A Mayday call may only be made when life or craft is in imminent danger of death or destruction. My craft is in imminent danger of destruction. Okay, so I'm stretching the meaning of "craft" quite a bit. I'm talking about my knitting. My life is in imminent danger of destruction from overwhelming responsibilities and excessive pity parties. But I digress.

Since this is, for the most part, a knitting blog, let me tell you about my knitting, or lack there of. I have not blogged since April 1. That should tell you something. Anyway, when last I blogged I had cast on 1,800 stitches to start the mind-numbing shawl of shawls. As it turned out, I had cast on only 1,790 stitches, a mistake I discovered by accident and corrected by doing 10 increases on the second knit row in the area where I was 10 stitches short. With all those stitches in such fine yarn (finer sock yarn than the pattern calls for) the fix will never be noticeable. So I am knit along alternating with the plain vanilla socks when out and about and it's all well and good except I have no . . . joie de vivre. That is as close as I can come to describing how I feel. "Joy of living" is what it means literally. I'm getting no thrills, no excitement, from this knitting is what I mean. No, what I really mean is . . . I don't know what I really mean. Evidently it's a feeling I need to express in another language and I don't speak any other language.

Getting back to "crafts" I have a boatload (pun intended) of UFOs I could work on yet none of them are calling to me. I haven't even been tempted to start something new. I got the new Interweave Knits magazine a few days ago and felt a slight twinge when looking through it, especially at the Grotto Wrap, but nothing that lit a real fire under me.

Check out the bonus pictures. The pattern is a free download.

It's a rainy, dreary May Day here. This picture from a window shows the roof of my minivan and the houses across the street.

Maybe a day of solid knitting by the TV is in order. But alas, responsibility beckons and I might have to weather the storms and make an across town trek. I guess if I can brave similar weather tomorrow to drive three hours to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, a 40 minute trip across town today should be doable.

Bona Fide Knitter