Thursday, April 14, 2011

I Knitted . . . and made red velvet cupcakes

I made the Red Velvet Cupcake recipe from Ina Garten's How Easy Is That. The cupcakes are good. I'm not jumping up and down about them. They are a little dry.

I don't know if I left them in the oven too long (don't think so) or they dried out while cooling (maybe). They don't have as much flavor as I would like, not chocolatey enough. That could be because instead of the name-dropped Pernigotti unsweetened cocoa powder, I used my home state's Hershey's. Or maybe red velvet is supposed to have a subtle chocolate taste. I never had it before.

The cream cheese and butter frosting is yummy, but the recipe made enough to frost quite a few more cupcakes than the 15 the recipe called for. So there I was with with 12 leftover cupcakes to store. I didn't think they were worthy of gifting.

How to store them in the freezer to keep them fresh as I keep consumption down to no more than one a day? I dug out my old Tupperware large cake keeper/transporter. It's a plastic tray (harvest gold colorway from the 70's) with an opaque white, deep, snap-on airtight lid. I placed cupcakes on the tray, but not enough fit. Stacking was messy and unstable. Hmmmmm. I turned the lid over and placed the cupcakes in layers inside. The side of the deep lid kept the layers stable and less messy. The tray became the lid. I snapped it on and had airtight cupcake storage for the freezer. Am I resourceful or what?!!!

However, the big, round container takes up too much space in the freezer so off I went to Amazon to find something more suitable. A rectangular, three-tier cupcake keeper (in an up-to-date greenish color called lemongrass) is on its way to me along with a vegan cupcake cookbook.


I knitted quite a few rows on a purple stocking (Ladies' Useful Stockings) I'm making from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks. Yaaaay! I got my knitting mojo back . . . somewhat.

Bona Fide Knitter

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Not Knitting

I have not knit a stitch in weeks. Volt lays mouldering in my knitting basket, i-cord edging almost half finished. Deadlines of 2/15, 3/15 and now 4/15 are dead. I'll finish when I finish. Spouse's health status has taken such a turn even knitting doesn't work as my go-to therapy. In fact the i-cord was starting to show my stress. I'm not liking the i-cord along the side. It's not nearly as neat and nice as the top edge. There is a loopy stitch along the right side of the edge.

I'm not even sure my stress is the culprit. It might be just a rogue occurrence. The wrong side of the edge looks fine.

What's up with that? I'm thinking of crocheting a chain stitch into that loopy i-cord stitch, or maybe ripping the whole side out and redoing the i-cord from the wrong side of the shawl so that the good edge winds up on the right side. Are you totally confused by it all and wish I'd move on? Okay!

When the going gets too tough, the too tough gets baking. I've made Ina Garten's apple cranberry cake from How Easy Is That. It was the next choice of the cook-along I'm stalking. I've made the cake twice now. That is just a small indication of how good I think it is. The recipe calls for cranberries and a Granny Smith apple. The tartness of those two comes through and the slight sweetness of the brown sugar that has been tossed with the fruit and the white sugar in the cake are perfect foils for a big scoop of vanilla ice cream on a warm piece of the cake.

Hmmm, hmmm, good!

Ready for the oven . . .

Hot from the oven . . .

First piece cut . . .

Ready for the first taste . . .

I'm going off on my own for the next recipe. I'm doing Red Velvet Cupcakes today. I feel a cupcake phobia coming on. I've been watching too much Food Network's Cupcake Wars. I have two new cookbooks devoted to cupcakes only. Look out world!

Bona Fide Knitter

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

How Easy Was That!

One of the bloggers I follow is in a cooking club with family and friends. The club is making recipes from Ina Garten's latest cookbook, barefoot contessa, how easy is that? They plan to cook their way through the whole book. I didn't join the club, but I'm sort of a closet member. I have the cookbook and the cute Dutch oven required for their first recipe choice,

so I thought I'd tag along in secret and make the recipes that appeal to me.

The first club selection was easy parmesan "risotto." I'd never made risotto and always wanted to after seeing many a fledgling chef being read the riot act for getting it wrong on Hell's Kitchen. I finally got around to making it today.

The recipe is really easy, made in a Dutch oven placed in the stove's oven at 350 degrees. No standing over the pot and stirring as in other recipes. I made only half the recipe (2 to 3 servings instead of 4 to 6) and in the future will remember to reduce the time in the oven as well to avoid having to add a couple of additional splashes of broth to get the creaminess desired.

I used a reduced salt, boxed chicken broth instead of homemade stock. Even so, thanks to a note made by my blogger, I used only a pinch of salt instead of what half the recipe would have required.

The parmesan risotto was creamy and delicious!

What's next?

Bona Fide Knitter

P.S. - Knitting content will return any day now.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

No Agitation!

What was I thinking when I let them take my washer away and replace it with a new model?!!! Well, I was thinking that the dryer had died and, like the dryer, the washer was over 20 years old so both should be replaced.

I was not thinking of felting knits. So I guess my felting days are over, not that I've felted anything since the felting fever of 2003 - 2004. Back then I knitted and felted three handbags, knitted one handbag (the Oregon Tote) which still needs a few finishing rounds and i-cord drawstring and handles before felting, and an entrelac tote/bowl that still needs some ends woven in before felting. Oh well, seems like I'd already stopped felting.

How was I supposed to know that new top loading washing machines have no agitator when my last laundry room purchase was when appliances came in Almond (called Biscuit or Bisque now)? The purchase before then was in Harvest Gold. Remember that color? The new color is white (we've come full circle) with a touch of stainless steel. And inside there is just a big open drum.

All I thought in the store was 'hmmm, more room for clothes.' Then there's the water saving feature. The darn thing uses hardly any water! I was always into using less soap and deep second rinses with Downy. Getting all the soap out made everything last and look good forever. The jury is still out on the new washer in that respect.

But back to felting. I think my obsession with it might as well be over. Although I have a Bev Galeskas book, varied and sundry Fiber Trends and Two Old Bags patterns, I no longer have a top loader with an agitator. How agitating! I do have a cheapo little bucket washer bought for my summer place. I wonder would that felt. No? Well, I guess my felting days are truly over, not just on hiatus.

So you wonder why no mention of Volt? Rest assured it is still being worked on weekly. The i-cording never ends. Whew! . . . any . . . day . . . now . . .

Bona Fide Knitter

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Agony of Defeat!

What was I thinking?!!! No way could I complete all that i-cord even if I had a three-day headstart. I needed a week at least. Especially if I planned to eat or sleep during that time and allowing for the everyday interruptions.

So I didn't win the bragging rights. I did get 3/4 of the bind off row completed. Actually I had changed my goal to just finishing the bind off row as my Knitting Super Bowl accomplishment. I couldn't even do that. Around nine o'clock I found myself "sleep knitting." Did you ever do that? I'd start the series of eleven stitches to bind off one stitch and somewhere in the middle I'd wake up and wonder at what point I fell asleep. I finally threw in the towel (sorry, couldn't think of a football metaphor) and went to bed before 9:30 p.m.

Yes, the series of stitches to bind off one stitch totaled eleven--eleven moves made to bind off one stitch! Here's how: (Four stitches were cast on for the i-cord bind off.) k 3, sl 1, yo, k1, pass sl st and yo over the k1, sl 4 sts back to left needle. Do the math: 3 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 4 = 11!

Had I known that before I started I would have known it was not a quick finish to be done on Super Bowl day. I have 395 stitches to bind off on each end and over 200 rows on each side. The ends alone require 395 x 2 = 790 stitches to bind off x 11! It was too much for me to accomplish in a day even with a headstart and without a predawn drive to pick up husband from the ER, physical therapist and cable guy interruptions, stress and sleep deprivation.
Considering, I think I did okay. Better would have been to at least finish the bind off on one end, thus my slight twinge of the agony of defeat.

As for the Super Bowl, who won? I only watched the Black Eyed Peas portion.

Bona Fide Knitter

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Knitting Super Bowl

Well, today's the day! But you know what they say about the best laid plans. I finished the last row of Volt last night as planned and read the instructions for the i-cord cast off and realized I was completely blank on the process. Off to You Tube for a few quick lessons. In the midst of it all I had to drop my spouse off at the neighborhood hospital ER. If I seem flip about it, it's because it's a common occurrence, a place he goes at the drop of a hat. But that's a story for another blog. I drop him off at the ambulance entrance and head back home.

I got all the i-cord information I needed from You Tube upon my return. Special thanks to Kelley Petkun of Knit Picks. But by then it was too late to get my headstart on the knitting. I knew starting knitting then would result in tinking in the morning. The LWDs and I went to bed.

Now remember, I was to start my personal Knitting Super Bowl at dawn. Well, at dawn I was on my way back to pick the husband up from the ER. No, they didn't keep him a few days this time like they did weekend before last. Ooops, again TMI for this blog. I need to save it for my book. Yes, I could write a book about it . . . but I digress.

So now I'm back. I have been refreshed in the i-cord cast off and edging procedures. I am good to go! But now I'm hungry. Time for breakfast and I think I want mini waffles. A little labor intensive and although I heard the Super Bowl will not start until 6:30 p.m., there is a lot, I mean a LOT, of i-cord to get done and I need as big a headstart as possible. I might rethink the mini waffles when I get to the kitchen. More later . . .

It is now later, noon to be exact and I have only three stitches bound off. Count 'em one, two, three. I'm in big trouble. I've lost the game before it starts. However, I will press on! Why have I gotten so little done? You think it's because of the mini waffles?

first pan of mini waffles w/bacon on the griddle in background

a baker's dozen ready for butter (actually "I Can't Believe It's Not . . ." spray) and syrup

They were cooked and eaten in a flash.

What stopped my progress was the physical therapist who came to see the husband today making up for snow days (more for my book) and the cable guy who came and only succeeded in letting me know it would take more skill and equipment than he had to get my two new cable outlets installed and Anywhere DVR boxes set up throughout. He set me up for the "wall wire feeder guys," for whom I'll be charged by the hour, to come tomorrow morning between seven and nine. Urrrrrrrgh!!!

In the interim I found a group of even more helpful videos (my thanks to You Tube and pasticheknitwear) and put a roast in the oven for dinner. Now to get back to my nonexistent headstart.

More much later . . .

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Knitting Super Bowl Prep

I'm having my own personal Knitting Super Bowl tomorrow. It's nothing like the Yarn Harlot's famous Knitting Olympics. For one thing, nobody knows about it. Secondly, I just made it up today. And third, it only lasts a day. Here's how it's going to work:

Today I will finish knitting the Volt shawl from The Fine Line.

Tomorrow, day of my personal Knitting Super Bowl, I will (1) cast on and complete the i-cord edging for it, (2) knit, knit, knit from dawn until Volt comes off the needles completed, or when the game's final whistle (horn?) blows, whichever happens first. Do they blow a whistle when the Super Bowl ends or is it a horn? And does anybody know about what time that might be in Eastern Standard Time? As you can tell, my interest in the game is somewhere between NONE and NOT ANY. Perhaps if my home team had made it that far . . . but I digress.

So, it might be prudent for me to get a head start. There is a lot of territory to which to apply i-cord. Volt has 395 stitches for cast-off x 2 to include the provisional cast-on, and 216 rows x 2 for left and right sides. Hmmm, I'd better start today. I have just one last purl row to do before starting the i-cord bind-off/edging. Yep, I'll cheat and start now. After all I will have to stop tomorrow for meals and potty breaks. TMI?

If you have some project that needs just a few more hours to complete and aren't having a big football-watching party or just want something to do while you watch the game, join me tomorrow. Oh, and you can make up your rules as you go just as I'm doing. I'm making it an all-day-into-the-night affair. You might want to start at kick off time and stop when the game ends. It all depends on how much you have left to do on the project you chose. The prize is that when you finish your creation you can say, "I made this during the 2011 Super Bowl Game" no matter when you started it or finish it. It's your own personal Knitting Super Bowl! Rules? Shmules!!!

Bona Fide Knitter

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Snow! No!! Go!!!

It's been some week! A week of snow, some weak and some not so. Sixteen and a half inches total in my neighborhood, on top of what was still there from last week.

My Backyard Winter Wonderland, Second Storm

Between snowfalls I had a little time to shovel a spot on the porch so the LWDs could make yellow snow while remaining somewhat sheltered.

I took pictures of the pine tree that hasn't been the same since last winter's harsh ice storm. It didn't lose any more branches yet. The baldness is from last winter's snowmaggedon. So sad.

I used my Snow Joe, a shovel, two brooms and two neighborhood boys with shovels. I'm still somewhat snowed in. The boys did the driveway and as they went down their shoveling got narrower and narrower. I guess I can squeeze the minivan through the two snow banks at the curb. My street is covered in packed-down, iced-over snow. We could use a Zamboni. I haven't been out since Wednesday. The two big snows were on Thursday. The worst that has happened is I missed my hair appointment. Things have to be pretty bad for me to miss a hair appointment! This was bad. I rescheduled for next week.

And when the going gets tough, the tough get baking a deep dish apple pie for dessert after the pork chops for dinner.

Believe it or not I've been knitting as well. The replacement Italy sock is complete. Volt is at the last half of the last stripe. I'm on a roll.

Bona Fide Knitter

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I'm Not in New York

I did not go to New York for the Vogue Knitting thing. I vacillated all week and all yesterday. When I went to bed I wasn't 100% sure I wouldn't bolt up at 5:00 a.m. and ready myself to be on the cold, dark and Saturday-morning-lonely commuter train platform in time for the first train at 6:13 a.m. However, when I woke at five and heard the temperature was 13 degrees I felt good about a decision not to go.

Yesterday I figured out I'd have to get the first train available to get to NYC and the venue anywhere near 9:00 a.m. when the marketplace opened. Then I figured out I should leave the venue in NYC by 2 p.m. to get back to my train station at a reasonable hour . . . meaning before it became too cold, dark and Saturday-evening-lonely. Allowing for a meal, that wouldn't leave enough time for perusing the marketplace to make the trip worthwhile.

So here I sit in the bright warm comfort of my studio preparing to knit the day away watching reruns of Monk's first season, LWDs sleeping in their beds in front of the TV. Ahhhhh, bliss.

Bona Fide Knitter

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Fifteen Random Thoughts and Things

Today is the fifteenth, the middle of January 2011 already! I've set some goals and made some plans. Always a bad move. Just ask Murphy. But first, another apple cake coming out of the oven:

I love this Italian apple cake recipe. It's more apples than cake and light on the sugar. Perfecto!

Okay, so on this day int the middle of January in the new year, I have decided I will finish the replacement Italy sock next week then devote my full attention to finishing Volt, including the i-cord edging and blocking it by March 15. Yep, you read it here first folks! That will be one year from the date started. Why would it possibly take a year to do this easy knit? Don't ask.

After the replacement sock is finished I will start a marathon pair: Ladies Useful Stockings from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks. I've had three balls of purple Opal waiting for years to become these socks. Now is the time. The goal is to have them off the needles before it's time to start this year's beach socks. (July!)

Between projects from The Fine Line I will make the entrelac hot water bottle cover. I've already gotten the bottle itself. Check it out:

It's a Fashy bottle, made in Germany. I went for the clear version. I can see how much water I'm putting in. Then I will cover it in Noro entrelac. I want to use it before this winter is over.

We've had another snow storm and I was able to use the snow thrower. Oh happy day! It wasn't fun, but it beat the heck out of shoveling. It's just a little Snow Joe, enough for my walk, driveway and poop/pee lanes in the backyard for the Little White Dogs (LWDs). They prefer grass rather than making yellow snow.

My Backyard Winter Wonderland

One of the bloggers I admire and follow made a statement the other day that got me thinking and determined to change my ways. She wrote, "I really am a one-project-at-a-time kinda girl." That is sooooo not me! But I want it to be!!! So, ONE project at a time . . . errr . . . one stay-at-home and one portable . . . So, TWO projects at a time is what I will work on in 2011. I have to have a pair of socks on the needles at all times. I learned that lesson knitting Volt. Socks help me stay focused. Without them I slack off or scatter to the four winds. I've been knitting using the shotgun approach. As of today, I'm moving to the rifle approach. Maybe for 2011 I can get at least (AT LEAST!) 12 hand knitting projects completed. Stay tuned.

That's about 15 thoughts and things. I'd better get knitting before I lose my bona fides.

Bona Fide Knitter

Sunday, January 9, 2011

When the knitting gets tough . . .

. . . the tough start baking!

It's an apple cake made with just five Golden Delicious apples. I happened upon the Live Well Network (LWN) while knitting (Yes, I still knit.) and couldn't wait to try the recipe for Nonna's Homemade Italian Apple Cake, by Chef Deborah Dal Fovo. Mmm, Mmm, good with a cup of Earl Grey tea. Yummy with a dip of homemade apple butter ice cream which I made the next day.

And then as I got back to knitting, a storage box (below) caught my eye. It's a box of finished items I made back in the beginning, before I was "Bona Fide," and thought after each bind-off, "What was I thinking?!!!"

One such project (above) came from my favorite knitting book, The Knit Stitch by Sally Melville. The pattern is the Knit-Round Scarf which could double as a mini skirt on a young, svelte body. However, on me it was not even comfortable as a scarf. Hot, binding, can't move my elbows from my sides. What was I thinking?

And now it is 3-2/3 balls of Noro rewound into a center pull yarn cake with a 1/3 ball on the side. The repurpose, you ask? I'm going to make an entrelac hot-water bottle cover from the book Hot-Water Bottle Covers by Chrissie Day . . sooner or later. Right now I'm on a mission--two missions: finish Volt and make the replacement Italy sock.

The hot-water bottle cover was made with three balls of Noro Silk Garden and I now have three repurposed balls of Noro regular. How providential!

Whew, I've got some knitting to do. My 2011 queue grows ever longer.

Bona Fide Knitter

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year . . .

. . . and a Happy Knit Year as well.

I am considering going up to New York City for Vogue Knitting Live to shop the Marketplace for a day. It isn't until later in the month and I will have talked myself into and out of going many times before then. I certainly do not need to add to my stash, but I do need to see what's going on outside of my self-inflicted hermitude. "To go or not to go?" that is the question. To be tempted by all that fiberlishousness is not a good thing for me. But on the other hand . . .


A needed day out
Lunch in NYC
Fashion shows
Book signings
New products
Raffles and FREE stuff


Getting up and out before dawn
January cold commuter train platform
Buying more yarn
Buying more books
Buying more tools and gadgets
Buying, buying, buying

Oh well, time will tell. In the meantime I am getting my Knitplan 2011 together in my mind. Of course the first thing I plan is to reduce the UFO pile. I want to commit to one a month, but I'm tired of not meeting my commitments so I'm not making any specific ones. I will get some UFOs finished this year. There! I've said it, "some" is that four? We'll see.

I have decided to get back to some other interests this year. Using sock machines could really put a dent in the sock yarn stash. My dollhouse miniatures have been neglected for way too many years. I'm planning a comeback. I have a new loom. A few rectangular stoles are in the plan. So many hobbies, so little time.

Dollhouse Miniatures

And on the needles and active today is . . . I don't even want to talk about it. You've been hearing about it since last March. It will be finished before this March. After all, I have another waiting in the wings to get started on. I have a sock on the needles as well. The first in a while. It's the one to replace the shredded disaster of a couple of weeks ago. Having a sock on the needles grounds me. I should never be without one. I find that I knit more when I have a sock going at all times.

Sock in Progress

Again, Happy Knit Year,
Bona Fide Knitter