Tuesday, January 29, 2008

giant olive pattern

giant olives


These giant olives were inspired by the knit olives at the blog Mary Jane, Midge & Mink. While Mary Jane’s olives are to scale (and adorable!) and I continue to knit them for The Olive Plan 2008, I needed to do some stash busting, hence the gigantor size of these olives.


Giant Olive

Do not reproduce this pattern elsewhere. This pattern is for personal use only. In other words, don't try to make money off of it.

Materials
Size US 10.5 set of double pointed needles
Size US 10.5 straight needles
Lion Wool-Ease Thick & Quick in color Grass
Caron Simply Soft in color Autumn Red
Stitch marker
Material for stuffing (yarn scraps, batting, plastic grocery bags, etc.)
Yarn needle, for weaving in ends

Olive Pattern
Cast on 6 stitches

Round 1: knit as for I-cord. Equally divide stitches among 3 dpns to begin knitting in the round. Place marker at beginning of round
Round 2: *k1, kfb to increase; repeat from * (9sts)
Round 3: knit
Round 4: *k1, kfb to increase, k1; repeat from * (12sts)
Round 5: knit
Round 6: *k1, kfb to increase, k2; repeat from * (15sts)
Round 7: knit
Round 8: *k2, kfb to increase, k2; repeat from * (18sts)
Round 9: knit
Round 10: *k2, kfb to increase, k3; repeat from * (21sts)
Round 11: knit
Round 12: *k3, kfb to increase, k3; repeat from * (24sts)
Round 13: knit
Round 14: *k2, kfb to increase, k2, kfb to increase, k2; repeat from * (30sts)
Rounds 15-23: knit
Round 24: *k4, k2tog, k4; repeat from * (27sts)
Round 25: knit
Round 26: *k2, k2tog, k1, k2tog, k2; repeat from * (21sts)
Round 27: bind off

Cut yarn leaving a 6-inch tail. Weave in ends, just enough to secure (leave excess ends – they can become part of the stuffing). Stuff olive with yarn scraps, batting, plastic grocery bags or whatever you like. Push, prod and mold stuffing to create an olive-y shape.

Pimento Pattern
Using straight needles, cast on 20 sts. Knit in flat stockinette for four inches; bind off. Tuck the flat swatch into the opening of the olive so that it covers the stuffing. Mold and shape olive again. Have a martini and admire your handiwork.

*****


Giant Olive measures approximately 5.5-inches long and 12-inches in circumference at its widest part.

One skein of the Thick & Quick (170grams/108 yards) should yield five olives. You don’t need much of the red yarn for the pimento, just enough to make a 4x4-inch swatch for each olive.

Pattern now available for download as a pdf file.

giant olives

Sunday, January 27, 2008

beef stew

beef stew


Ah comfort food! There is something about a big bowl of beef stew on a cold, rainy night that just seems like perfection. I use champagne, or other dry white wine, because it gives a slightly sweet and bright flavor. It also keeps the color of the stew from turning that purpley grey color you can sometimes get with red wine. You can certainly substitute red wine, beer or more broth, if you prefer though.

Serve this stew in a big cappuccino mug with a thick slice (or two!) of homemade bread on the side. Pop a movie in the dvd player, get comfy and prepare for a cozy night in.


Beef Stew

2 1/2 pounds pot/chuck roast, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
~4 tablespoons oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1/4 cup flour
2 cups champagne
4 cups beef broth
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 pounds baby potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
~1/2 pound mushrooms, quartered or sliced
2 cups frozen green peas
additional salt and pepper to taste

Mix 1/2 cup flour, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper together in a plastic bag. Add cubed beef and shake until pieces are coated with flour. In large stock pot, over medium high heat, brown the cubed beef in batches using a tablespoon of oil at a time (meat does not need to be cooked through). Remove browned meat to a separate bowl as you finish browning the rest of the beef.

In same pot, over medium heat, saute onion in 1 tablespoon of oil, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Once the onions have softened and begun to turn translucent, add 1/4 cup flour and cook onions and flour together for a couple of minutes. Pour champagne and beef broth slowly into pot, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Add the browned beef (and any juices that may have rendered out), bay leaf, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

After simmering for 1 1/2 hours, add carrots and potatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for 15 minutes, or until carrots and potatoes are tender. Remove bay leaf. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. 5 minutes before serving, add frozen peas, cooking just until peas are heated through.

Makes 10 servings

*****


As with any recipe, feel free to add or omit any herbs and vegetables that you choose.

1 large onion is equal to about 2 cups.

Save time and buy "baby" carrots and cut them in half.

I like to use red or dutch yellow potatoes, cut in quarters. Leave the skins on.

Another shortcut is to buy a 10 oz. package of pre-sliced mushrooms.

This stew tastes even better the next day. It freezes well too.

beef stew


More pictures at Flickr

hearty homemade bread

homemade bread


I have fond memories of making bread with my mother when I was a little girl. She would place a step-up stool next to the counter so I could reach the big, wooden baking board and let me sprinkle the yeast over the warm water. I would exclaim that it smelled stinky!

I suspect that I caused more trouble than good, getting flour everywhere and slowing down the whole baking process. Mom would let me punch at the dough like a prize-fighter since my little hands couldn't properly knead the dough. No electric mixers or bread machines for us! White bread in loaf pans, brown bread in coffee cans, go down for a nap and wake up to the bread miraculously done, ready to be eaten.

This recipe makes a very dense, hearty bread. Pair it with stew or think "slather" when considering topping it with any spreads.


Hearty Homemade Bread

Sponge:
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water (110F)
1 package active dry yeast
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Dough:
1 cup warm water (110F)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons kosher salt
~3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon olive oil

To make sponge:
In large glass bowl, dissolve sugar in warm water. Sprinkle yeast over sugar water and allow to sit for 5 minutes, or until yeast is foamy. Stir in flour until a smooth, stiff batter forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow to proof for 6-8 hours at room temperature (70F) or place in refrigerator for 12-14 hours.

To make dough:
Add water, 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and 3 cups of flour to sponge and stir until the flour has been absorbed. Transfer dough to floured surface and knead for 15 minutes, adding additional flour only if dough is too sticky. The dough will want to stick to your hand but it should pull away towards itself instead.

Grease clean bowl with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Place dough in bowl, turning to coat surface with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or a damp towel and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled, around 2 hours.

Turn risen dough out onto floured surface and knead for about a minute. Divide dough in half and form each half into a round loaf. Place loaves on an ungreased baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap or damp towel and allow to rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425F. Remove plastic wrap/towel and make a few slashes with a knife on the tops of the loaves. Bake loaves for 30-40 minutes, or until loaves are golden brown and make a hollow sound when gently tapped on the bottom. Remove to wire racks and allow to cool before slicing.

Makes 2 ~8-inch diameter loaves.

*****


If you want a darker crust, brush the loaves with milk or an egg wash (one egg beaten with a tablespoon of water, milk or cream) before baking.

You may freeze one of the loaves if you like. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and then in aluminum foil. To thaw the loaf, unwrap and allow to thaw on the counter. Or wrap loaf in aluminum foil and heat in a 325F oven for 15 minutes, remove foil and leave in oven for 5 more minutes.

Feel free to add herbs (rosemary, thyme, chives, etc.), olives, carmelized onions, pancetta, etc. If using dried herbs, add them at the same time as the oil and salt. Other add-ins can be incorporated after the 2-hour rise and before forming the loaves.

homemade bread


More pictures at Flickr

bit of insomnia

I am really rather tired after a good bit of baking and cooking on Saturday, but I can't fall asleep.

I've written the recipes and prepped the photos for the two recipes to be posted on Sunday (today, actually) *and* I went through the archived pictures on my old Mac to find pictures that I never uploaded to Flickr. Quite a few pictures from 5-6 years ago. I even found some of the originals of some that were uploaded at smaller sizes. Of course I could find none of the ones I really wanted.

I've been working on a pattern for knit cherries. It's coming along and I just need to knit it a couple more times to make sure there aren't any glaring mistakes. I am knitting a variety of citrus fruits too, but using existing patterns for those.

Ugh, I've been awake for 20 hours now. I should be sleepy and content. I had comfort food for dinner! Might as well go lay down and see if sleep will overtake me.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

the olive plan 2008 - week 4

the olive plan 2008 - week 4


Number of olives knit this week: 2 (1 black, 1 green)
Total for the year to date: 13

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

button-tab hat pattern

button-tab hats


After seeing a similar hat on the Banana Republic website this past autumn/winter, I decided I wanted to come up with my own button-tab hat. The hat is easily modifiable by just changing the stitch pattern of the brim and it's a good way to use up some of those spare buttons in your button jar.

clockwise from top left: white tweed - seed stitch brim; green - mistake rib stitch brim; natural - 2x2 rib stitch brim; black - garter stitch brim


Button-Tab Knit Hat

Do not reproduce this pattern elsewhere. This pattern is for personal use only. In other words, don't try to make money off of it.

Materials
Size US 7 straight needles (optional)
Size US 7 circular needle (16 inches)
Size US 7 set of double pointed needles
Your choice of worsted weight yarn
Stitch marker
Yarn needle
Button (size suitable for width of brim)

Pattern
Brim of hat will be worked flat. With straight (or circular needles), cast on 98 stitches.

Row 1 of brim: knit
Row 2 (and other even rows): *k2, p2; repeat from *
Row 3 (and other odd rows): *p2, k2; repeat from *
Row 14: purl
Row 15: Bind off first 10 stitches purlwise; purl to end of row. 88 stitches remain.

Transfer work to circular needles, place marker at beginning of round and work in the round in stockinette until hat measures 5 - 5.5 inches from cast on edge.

Begin decreases, switching to double pointed needles when there are too few stitches to work comfortably on the circulars.

*k9, k2tog; repeat from *
knit
*k8, k2tog; repeat from *
knit
*k7, k2tog; repeat from *
knit
*k6, k2tog; repeat from *
knit
*k5, k2tog; repeat from *
knit
*k4, k2tog; repeat from *
knit
*k3, k2tog; repeat from *
knit
*k2, k2tog; repeat from *
knit
*k1, k2tog; repeat from *
knit
*k2tog; repeat from *

Cut yarn and, with yarn needle, thread tail through remaining stitches, gather and fasten tightly. Weave in ends. Sew button to flap and base of hat.

*****


Knitting the above pattern will produce a hat with the 2x2 rib brim. The brim can also be worked in other types of ribbing, or in seed or garter stitch, if preferred.

You can make the brim as wide as you like; just try to do the bind off on an odd numbered row.

The brim tab can have a rounded edge by doing a one stitch increase at the beginning of rows 2, 4 and 6 and then doing a corresponding one stitch decrease on rows 8, 10 and 12.

Pattern now available for download as a pdf file.

button-tab hats


More pictures at Flickr

Sunday, January 20, 2008

2 months, 22 hats

2 months, 22 hats


It started out innocently enough back in early November. I wanted to use up the odd skeins of yarn, left over from scarf knitting, and practice my fledgling dpn skills. By the end of December I somehow had managed to knit 22 hats.

Here are my notes on some of the patterns that were worked during those 2 months.

*****


Inga hat


Inga - The Inga hat was my first foray into stranded knitting. The pattern is so beautiful and intricate looking. I felt proud of myself upon finishing, but I don't think I would knit this hat again unless I was making it for someone else. I'm a beanie girl and the shape of the hat isn't my style. I do like that the hat taught me new techniques: the braided edge and stranding.

*****


Odessa hats


Odessa - I was excited to knit the Odessa hat from MagKnits, as it looked like such a simple, yet elegant design. I used size 5 and 7 needles for the cream version and only size 5 needles for the grey one. Oh, and no beads for me.

*****


Snowflower hats


Snowflower - After knitting the Fake Isle hat at MagKnits, I tried my hand at modifying a stranded knitting pattern. I switched out the lower pattern and made some changes to the upper pattern. The grey one is knit on size 7 needles and the pink one is knit on size 5s. I'll post my modified pattern in the next few weeks. (Pattern now available)

*****


Santa Cruz hat


Santa Cruz - Yup, another pattern from MagKnits. Santa Cruz is a cute pattern that involves lace and cables, similar in look to those lacy crocheted skull caps. I knit mine on size 10.5 needles and followed the directions for the worsted weight yarn, giving it even more of an "open" lace look.

*****


Baby Cable hats


Baby Cables - Using the pattern at KnitList for the Baby Cable Ribbed Cap as a base, I switched things up to turn it into a beanie. Basically, knit in 2x2 rib for 1 inch and then continue with the baby cable pattern until work measures 5-5.5 inches from cast on, then follow instructions for the decrease. Knit on size 10 needles. Baby cables look more impressive than a simple ribbed hat, but are really easy, and quick, since you don't need to slip stitches onto a cable needle or dpn.

*****


Shedir hats


Shedir - The Shedir hat (pdf link) from Knitty is the most involved pattern I think I have knit thus far. It was certainly worth it though. I ended up knitting four hats, two black and two natural, since the first two had some flaws and I wanted something as gorgeous as Shedir to be perfect. Well, the second natural colored one does have a small flaw (one small section in the crown went stockinette on me), but it isn't too bad. I would certainly knit this pattern again, especially since my dpn skills have improved since I completed these. I used size 5 needles, cast on 112 sts and only did two repeats of the lower "pretzel" pattern. The top looks a bit pointy when laid flat, but it fits, and looks, perfect when worn.

*****


Button-Tab hats


Button-Tabs - After seeing a similar hat on the Banana Republic website, I decided I wanted to come up with my own Button-Tab hat. The hat is easily modifiable by just changing the stitch pattern of the brim and it's a good way to use up some of those spare buttons in your button jar. Pattern will be posted within the week. (Pattern now available)

*****


More pictures at Flickr

Saturday, January 19, 2008

the olive plan 2008 - week 3

the olive plan 2008 - week 3


Number of olives knit this week: 2 (green)
Total for the year to date: 11

Sunday, January 13, 2008

knit lemon

knit lemon


How puckerlicious is this?!

I like/love lemons, so I just had to knit this up when I saw the pattern at Peachcake Knits & Eats Glutenfree. I hadn't really noticed before, but lemons have quite the provocative shape.

I'm thinking I need to knit up other citrus fruits too.

beef & eggplant curry

beef & eggplant curry over rice


After the past week of grey, rainy weather (which I adore!), I was craving something hearty and satisfying for dinner. Beef & eggplant curry sounded like a winner, so I cooked some up last night. Not the prettiest colors, but very tasty, and even better the next day.

Trader Joe's Thai Red Curry Sauce is the key to this dish. It has a little bit of kick to it, so if you aren't at all into spicy hot, you may wish to use their yellow curry instead. It's milder and sweeter. Note that the red sauce does mellow out and lose most of its heat the next day.

And wouldn't you know it - the weather has turned sunny again.


Beef & Eggplant Curry

2 pounds beef pot/chuck roast, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
~3 tablespoons oil
1 large yellow onion, diced (about 2 cups)
2 cups beef broth
1 bottle (11 oz) Trader Joe's Thai Red Curry Sauce
3 Japanese eggplants, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 6 cups)
additional salt and pepper to taste


Mix flour, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper together in a plastic bag. Add cubed beef and shake until pieces are coated with flour. Save any excess flour. In large stock pot, over medium high heat, brown the cubed beef in batches using a tablespoon of oil at a time (meat does not need to be cooked through). Remove browned meat to a separate bowl as you finish browning the rest of the beef.

In same pot, over medium heat, saute onion in 1 tablespoon of oil, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Once the onions have softened and begun to turn translucent, add reserved flour and cook onions and flour together for a couple of minutes. Pour beef broth slowly into pot, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Add the browned beef (and any juices that may have rendered out) and the entire bottle of curry sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

After simmering for 1 1/2 hours, add eggplant. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes or until eggplant is tender. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve over steamed rice.

Makes 6-8 servings.

beef & eggplant curry over rice


(Originally posted on January 12, 2008)

the olive plan 2008 - week 2

the olive plan 2008 - week 2


Number of olives knit this week: 4 (2 green, 2 black)
Total for the year to date: 9

I'm only counting the olives that fit in the jar in the totals, not the gigantor ones

(Originally posted on January 12, 2008)

the olive plan 2008



I've come up with an idea that is quite simple in its basis, but which I am hoping will help keep me optimistic as I begin the journey into this year.

I intend to knit at least one olive every week this year. Why olives? Well, olive trees/branches/fruit symbolize peace, prosperity and love ("olive you"). By the end of the year I should have a jar full goodness. Ok, ok. So I also need to use up some yarn, but with each olive I knit I'll be reminded of the things I wish for myself and the people I care about.

The small olives are knit from the pattern from Mary Jane, Midge & Mink, with a couple of minor changes to suit the worsted weight yarn I'm using (knit on sz. 5s and adding an extra knit round before decreasing). I reworked the pattern to make the gigantor olives. I'll write up the instructions if any interest is expressed (pattern now available).

I think some black olives will be knit to represent naughty and mischievous wishes. The giant olives will be for the most important and biggest wishes. I'm curious to see how full the big jar (which once held real olives) will get by the end of this year.



More pictures at Flickr


(Originally posted on January 5, 2008)

baked baos

bao on plate


Baked Baos

1 pkg active dry yeast ( = 1 tablespoon)
2/3 cup warm water
2 tablespoons sugar
3 cups unbleached flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
milk

Cut twelve 4x4 inch squares of parchment paper. Place papers on baking sheet (you'll need to use two large baking sheets).

Proof yeast in water and sugar. When yeast has begun to foam, stir in 1 1/4 cups flour. Add salt, egg and oil, mix well. Stir in another 1 1/4 cups flour and begin to knead dough, adding the remaining 1/2 cup of flour if necessary. Knead dough for 10-15 minutes until smooth. Place dough in lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp towel and allow to rise until tripled in size (depending on room temperature, approximately 1 1/2 - 3 hours).

Punch dough down and divide in half. Cut each half into 6 equal pieces, shaping them into balls (be sure to cover the pieces of dough with the damp towel when not working with them). Flatten balls of dough leaving the center of the round thicker than the edges. Place about 1 tablespoon of filling in the middle and pinch together opposite sides of the round, sealing the edges. Twist the bottom to finish sealing. Place the ball, sealed-side down, on a paper square. Once all the baos are made, brush them with water and allow to rise under a damp towel for an hour. Before baking, brush the baos with milk.

Bake in preheated 350F oven for 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool a few minutes before eating.

Makes twelve ~4-inch diameter baos.

bao filling


A few notes:

*I didn't have any parchment paper on hand so I had to improvise with paper baking cups for this batch.

*No filling recipe since I usually just throw something together. For example leftover pork, diced and sauteed with tonkatsu sauce or diced chicken, marinated in soy, ginger, sugar and black pepper for an hour then sauteed with green onion. Heck! This is a good, neutral flavored dough that would be great with some peanut butter and jelly as a filling.

*These baos freeze well. Once cooled, wrap each one tightly in plactic wrap and store in the freezer. When you are ready for a snack, microwave them (still wrapped in plastic) for 30-40 seconds and enjoy!

(Originally posted on May 26, 2007)

lemon curd

lemon curd


Lemon Curd

1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped lemon zest
1/4 cup butter

In top of double boiler whisk sugar, salt and eggs together. With wooden spoon, stir in juice and zest until well combined. Add butter and continue cooking until thickened, about 15-20 minutes. Pour curd into sterile jars and store in the refrigerator.

(Originally posted on May 26, 2007)

variegated lemons

variegated lemons - originally posted on May 19, 2007