Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Caleb and I went for a run



And an old lady pointed at his legs and said "Hey, you let him borrow your pantyhose."

Monday, January 25, 2010

Ziploc Twist'n Loc Containers





Part of having more time and doing more cooking has been the issue of leftovers.  I really hate to waste food, and I also find it very satisfying to have some chicken soup with rice on hand in the freezer to serve to a sick friend (as happened recently) or to take my own rice, beans and salsa bowl to school and save money on lunch. But what's worse than rice and beans spilled all over your library books because the top slipped off? And how frustrating is it to go to get your nice frozen soup only to find that the lid is lose and the top is freezer-burnt?

This is why I am laughably enthusiastic about these new (I think?) Ziplock Twist'n Lock containers. The lids stay on because they screw on.  And they're stackable. And sturdy.

 
Behold Exhibit A: my freezer with the remains of the insane quantity of Brazilian-style beans I made a few weeks ago. I also have some rice and beans together in the smaller snap-top containers I got from Costco. They also seem to work great.
 
And Exhibit B: in the fridge, some leftover vegetables and a sort of caramelized pear/white wine/honey sauce. 

And I just finished the last of the Butternut Squash Risotto. Yum.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Finished Objects: Druid Mittens




Ravelry Links: Grey and White
Pattern: Druid Mittens by Jared Flood (Again. :)  I'm a fan of pretty much everything he designs)
Needles: US 0 (toothpicks, I tell you!  toothpicks!)
Yarns: Malabrigo Silky Merino in Smoke and Natural
Made for:  Mom and Sophie

I made Sophie's first, and it was pretty slow going getting used to cabling and all the fancy stuff with teeny tiny needles.  Mom saw them and said she wanted some, and the second pair went much faster, so in the end they both got them at the same time (Christmas).


This pattern has so many interesting things going on – the slip-stitched linen type palm, cable detail even on the thumb, a fancy kind of saddle closing that leaves room for the fingers at the end, bobbles, braids. . .

Completing these felt like an accomplishment. There's something a little crazy about making such a detailed intricate delicate thing. It feels a bit Medieval.




 

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Highlights of 2009: Buying My First Car





It's a 2005 Toyota Corolla, the Labrador Retriever of cars.  (I say this because I've been told that the Toyota Corolla and the Lab are the most frequently stolen variety in their respective categories. (Now I'm trying to think of what kind of metaphor this relies on. Somebody stop me).

Yep, I've never owned a car before. In fact, I've rarely even driven one. The summer after my first year of college I lived with my parents and worked in restaurants and drove their burgundy Toyota van around, but since then I've lived in Italy, in Providence (where sure, I could have used a car, but I got used to the "so hardcore" feeling a trekking back through the snow with a backpack full of groceries), in New York City, and out here in Palo Alto. We did fine with walking and biking for two years here, and I still bike to campus and walk to get coffee, etc. But it is awfully nice to have the car.

We were able to purchase it thanks to the generosity of friends and family at the wedding, and we were really relieved to have it when we started looking for a new apartment in October. Thanks to the car, we were able to move almost everything ourselves in a few trips, only having to rent a van and cajole some friends to move the big furniture.

It's convenient to finally be able to go to Costco and purchase epic quantities of cereal, but what we're really excited about is finally having the chance to explore more of California. We also have some new camping gear that we're eager to try out soon.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Poetry and Truffles!



I just got an email today saying that The Concher is now available.  And just when I had begun to give up hope that it would ever appear. :)


The poets are:

Kristin Abraham * Dan Beachy-Quick * Michelle Brown * Beth Coyote * Kirk Davis * Christopher DeWeese * Rebecca Dunham * Grace Egbert * Rae Gouirand * Matthew Henriksen * Matthew Hittinger * Alex Lemon * B.J. Love * Kristi Maxwell * Karyna McGlynn * Jennifer Metsker *Aimee Nezhukumatathil * Sean Norton * D.A. Powell & Haines Eason * Kate Schapira * Bronwen Tate * Andy Trebing * KC Trommer * Jen Tynes * Joshua Marie Wilkinson

The truffles are:



spicy cayenne * honey pistachio * lavender vanilla * peanut butter pretzel * pomegranate white chocolate * smoky orange caramel

It can be ordered using paypal here.

I'm not sure if I've ever looked forward to my contributor copy quite so much. . .

Japanese Sesame Seed Grinder




My parents had one of these when we were home for Christmas, and I thought it was pretty great. Lots of things are tastier with a bit of ground toasted sesame seeds on top, right? I started thinking about where I might be able to find one. . .

But then I was thrilled to find one among my Christmas presents, and as soon as I got home I toasted up some sesame seeds and put it to work.  It's great on the Japanese wilted spinach salad (below), and also very tasty on steamed broccoli or any kind of rice.



PS: New blog category:"I Like It". Because it's fun to look back on things I like. And maybe you (the reader) will discover something to like too.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Salad by Numbers: 36



 INSTRUCTIONS

36. Mix cooked or canned chickpeas with toasted coconut, shredded carrots, chopped celery, curry powder, olive oil, lime juice and cilantro.


METHOD/INGREDIENT DETAILS:

I used canned chickpeas. I mixed the lime, olive oil and curry powder together with a bit of salt and sugar to make a sort of dressing. I used pretty baby carrots that were orange, yellow, and purple to be pretty. And I bought flakes of coconut and toasted it myself in the oven. I sprinkled the coconut over the top rather than mixing it in.

MODIFICATIONS:

Not really.


WOULD I MAKE IT AGAIN? IF SO, ANYTHING I'D CHANGE?:

I think I would make it again.  I might tone down the lime juice a bit so that it's less overwhelming. I'd also use more cilantro. I thought I had plenty, but it turned out Caleb has used all but the stems and the occasional leaf while making salsa and then put it back in the fridge. I'd also consider roasting the chickpeas with cumin, cinnamon and onions or frying them crisp like in the beet and ricotta salata salad.





NEXT UP: Salad 58

Friday, January 15, 2010

Finished Objects: Tweed Baby Blankets





Ravelry Link: Tweed Baby Blanket
Pattern: Tweed Baby Blanket by Jared Flood
Needles: US 8
Yarns: Knit Picks City Tweed DK
Made For: Anna and Katie's babies.




I didn't manage to get a finished picture of Anna's, but it has a soft grey (above) with a blue-green trim. Katie's (below) is sage green with purple. The square is knit on the bias from one corner, increasing to the middle and then decreasing back down to the other corner.  You pick up stitches all the way around and then knit the feather-and-fan border in round. Soft and pretty.

 

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Horby Island: Purple Starfish Mandala Anyone?


I haven't been there in a long time, but I have wonderful memories of this island where my mom spent much of the 70s.



She took me and my sister back to visit all her artist friends and we ate chocolate croissants and tofu with scallions and soy sauce and played on the beach. We found a little pool of water on a sandy rock and we filled it with purple starfish out of the tide pools and then surrounded it with a corolla of crab shells and bits of rock and seaweed.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Baby Sweater Winner

is . . . Sawako! Yay!

It must be some kind of fast-working karma, since she had a book give-away inspired by this one. She says she likes rich saturated colors, so I will go digging in the stash to see what I can find. And I can read her Hurry Home Honey on the book prop while I'm working. :)

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Rice Bowl Meal







In winter (even this sort of barely chilly walk around with a sweater kind of winter we get in Palo Alto), I love warm cozy meals like this that you eat out of a bowl with fork or spoon. 

This is a slight adaptation of a recipe Sophie and I used to make in Providence.  We made it together for Valentine's Day in 2006, for example. :)



It uses risotto rice (arborio), but instead of all the stirring and gradual adding, you just put a lid on and let it cook. Also, you use two red onions and just one cup of rice, plus red peppers, ham, and in this case shrimp.  It's almost more like "stuff with rice" than like "rice with stuff." You roast the red peppers in the oven first, so they're soft and sweet, and you season the rice with salt, pepper, saffron, and paprika.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Highlights of 2009: Friends Having Babies (and me knitting sweaters for those babies)


Baby Knitting of 2009
(modeled by the charming Linnea, Adele, Penny, Ivy, and Marlowe and a friend of a friend's baby whose name I don't know)
(Yes, my friends give their babies grandma names. I love it)

This is the first year that really close friends of mine have had/will have/(maybe even are having right now?) babies! It's been a strange and wonderful thing to see these friends become mothers and fathers, to see Katie pregnant at my wedding and then hold little Linnea at Christmas. I still haven't met all the new small people, but that hasn't stopped me from knitting for them. How have I managed to knit double-digits of baby sweaters in a year when I've neglected the blog, my written correspondence, the dishes, sometimes even things like showering?

Well, allow me to introduce to you my secret weapon:

THE BOOK PROP.

If you're a knitter, you may notice that the baby sweaters above are pretty much all garter or stockinette stitch with marked increases and very little seaming. I can't knit lace shawls or cabled aran sweaters while I read, but I can churn out stockinette and garter like nobody's business.

And with two oral exams, I did a LOT of reading this past year.



Reading M.F.K. Fisher early in the year as part of the Freshman writing class I taught focusing on food. . .

Reading and knitting. . .


. . . and yes, T.S. Eliot's essays on John Donne and metaphysical poetry go down a lot smoother with a pot of tea and a baby surprise jacket.

Great things about knitting baby sweaters:
  • immediate satisfaction – they're small and you finish them quickly!
  • they don't take a lot of yarn
  • babies look good in crazy stripes and bright colors so you can use up bits and pieces from other projects
  • size is less of an issue than with grown-up sweaters. doesn't fit now? wait a month. too small for baby A, will probably fit baby B.
  • um, come on. freaking adorable.
Some of these babies are on their second sweaters, so I will make a general offer to readers of the blog. If you want a hand-knit sweater for a baby you know, leave a comment telling me either what color(s) you find most charming for a baby sweater or what reading is best suited to be on the book prop while knitting baby sweaters. Or both. On Monday at 12pm (California time) I will use the RANDOM NUMBER GENERATOR (yes, the same one I use to pick which salad to make next. I'll be starting that salad thing back up again any day now, by the way) to pick a comment. And then I will contact you to sort out baby size and shipping details.

Also, if you're reading this on the facebook, go make your comment on the actual blog: http://breadnjamforfrances.blogspot.com

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Winter Supper


More Smitten Kitchen recipes. . .

For dinner last Sunday I made the Zuni Café Roasted Chicken with Bread Salad. So delicious! Our friend James was over for dinner, and he's had the original dish at Zuni and said that this tasted just like the real thing. Tangy champagne vinegar, a touch of garlic and scallion, sweet currants, nutty pinoli, peppery greens and chewy/crispy bread. Plus the chicken. Oh, the chicken.

Amazingly flavorful and tender! Three key factors, I think:
  • You season it (salt and herbs) three days ahead of time and let them sink in.
  • You use a small chicken – 3.5 pounds is the biggest they advise.
  • You cook it at a high heat (475 F!) for just about an hour.
I had fun using my cast iron skillet to cook it in, even though I bruised my finger a bit trying to hold the skillet a certain way to pour the fat off the drippings later. But the stove-top to oven and back thing can't be beat!


And for dessert, a Winter Fruit Salad.

I used mostly Asian pears and figs with one red pear and one tart apple, and I didn't peel my fruit. I also served it with some thick Greek yogurt (drizzled with Lovers' Lane Farm Honey, of course) and gingerbread star cookies fresh out of the oven. The cookie recipe is from another favorite, the King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion. These would be great cookies to make with kids. The dough is super malleable and easy to work with, almost like play dough. It rolls out like a dream, doesn't stick, and holds its shape nicely during baking. And very tasty.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Highlights of 2009: Getting Married

Yes, on September 6th, 2009, Caleb and I got married.

A few favorite things about the wedding:


1) Being surrounded by friends and family. We had family in town from Stillwater to Calgary and friends from as far away as Germany. Everyone was helpful and warm, and we felt quite bathed in love. Anna, the amazing pregnant bridesmaid, danced till 2am. Mom, Dad and Sophie were ceaseless. Debbie (Caleb's mom) made lots of raspberry jam. Stringing lights, buying kegs, cutting out circles of cloth for centerpieces. . . we had so much help from so many people.


2) Not freaking out. This was aided by there being no major disasters. And by keeping a sense of humor. And by friends and family who were quick to jump in and help out. As Sophie was when my large ceremonial crown started to slip down my small head.


3) Handmade things. My bridesmaids wore the silk lace shawls that I'd knit for them! And they looked beautiful together!

4) Getting married in my dad's church (Annunciation Orthodox Church in Milwaukie, OR). It meant a lot to me to be married in the church where I'd spent so much time growing up. It's such a beautiful building with the icons and wooden beams that it hardly needed any decoration.

5) Food, delicious, delicious food by Simpatica Catering. Jamie of Simpatica was great to work with too. And guests could wander out with a glass of wine to see the Simpatica guys grilling fish on cedar planks out back. My friend Jessie asked me with a look of terror if I'd cooked the food – it seemed so much like the kind of thing she's seen me make before. And no cake-cutting, just tasty peach cobbler and panna cotta with raspberry sauce instead.

6) Having the reception at the same place where I went for Outdoor School in Elementary School. Strange how these things go. . . We agonized a bit about how to do this. We considered attempting an outdoor reception at the church, but we knew Portland weather too well to want to risk it. (Good thing too! There were moments of sunshine (a big enough window to take some pictures in anyway), but also strong winds and lots of rain). Camp Angelos turned out to be the best option when we found out that we could bring our own caterer and alcohol (thanks Dad and Trader Joe's!) and that friends could spend the night in the lodge bedrooms or the (ahem, rather rustic) cabins.

7) Our guests having fun with the square-dancing. My parents' neighbor and long-time friend Kevin's band played and called and we giggled and skipped our way through commands like "dive for the mussel! dig for clam! jump through the hole in the old tin can!" The after-hours ipod dance party was pretty great too. Tod, Ashley, Doug and Jess pretty much owned the dance floor.

8) Sleeping in a charming (albeit bathroomless) fishing cabin decorated by Mom and Sophie. And waking up to go eat bacon, eggs, and toast cooked by Dad and the friends. Also some strong coffee. And yes, maybe some leftover panna cotta.


9) Getting pursued by zombies. Adorable zombies who later helped sweep and tidy up the lodge and cabins.

10) Driving back down the Oregon and California coast, stopping to check out Redwood Forests and Light Houses, and opening a wedding present at every gas station or view point. Even including the first half hour of the drive when Caleb drove and I just cried my eyes out, totally overwhelmed by generosity and love of the people we are blessed to have in our lives.


(Professional looking photos by Eric Cable (who was great! totally recommended!), Amateurish looking photos by me).

Monday, January 04, 2010

New Favorite Lunch

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen. But I just used one piece of bread and let my eggs cook a bit longer – they were still runny on top but firmer on the bottom. I used a can of San Marzano Polpa di Pomodoro, which worked great. But seriously, perfect lunch? It's inexpensive, healthy, quick to prepare, and totally delicious. Looks like this one is going into frequent rotation.


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