I have some fun knitting projects to share soon, but haven't had time to download the pictures off my camera and post about them. During my upcoming two week vacation, I plan to get the projects ready to share (in between a trip to Costa Rica and days on the ski slopes in Colorado). Stay tuned for a Denver Broncos hat pattern (and more generally a tutorial on how to knit words) and a new baby blanket pattern.Read More
I've always enjoyed knitting cowls (here and here), but I have a few of my own and couldn't quite justify knitting yet another one. So when my friend Sally asked me to knit her a cowl, I was happy for an excuse to make another one.
I started knitting some mittens with size 1 needles in the Fall. And so far I've completed 1 that's a little too small for me. I'll finish the other one eventually, but this cowl was a welcome distraction.
I almost decided to keep this cowl for myself...the yarn is so soft! And I love the herringbone pattern. But I did mail it...I have an extra skein that I didn't use, so maybe I'll find something soft and cozy to make for myself.
It took me a while to get the hang of the pattern, but once I did, it was fairly easy. That's not to say that I didn't make any mistakes. I had to go back and repair a few dropped stitches after I finished, but they weren't too visible.
This pattern is hard to troubleshoot when you make a mistake. I didn't realize I had holes until I had finished it.
The other mistake I made was when casting off. At first, I did it too lightly...then, I pulled the stitches too tightly, resulting in an uneven cast off.
Instead of undoing it, I finished the cast off and then crocheted a border around it to hide the uneven border. Not ideal, but a decent solution.
So not perfect, but functional and soft and a cool pattern.
I used Malabrigo Merino Worsted Wool in a neutral color called Chapel Stone.
Stay tuned for some more projects...I'll finish those mittens soon and I also have a baby blanket on my needles to post about soon!
Does anyone else hate weaving in ends as much as I do?
You finish your knitting or crochet project and you feel like you're done, until you realize you have tons of little ends to weave in.
They always take forever to weave in and then the pesky ends don't stay in place.
Maybe I'm just not using the right technique?
Does anyone else have any secrets for weaving in ends? Share in the comments!
Last night I set out to make the perfect french fries. I looked through several recipes to decide whether to bake or fry, double fry or single fry, season or not season. Who knew there were so many recipes for a simple french fry out there?
After reading reviews, I decided to try the double fry method. I wasn't sure it would work, but I put my faith in Emeril and his recipe for perfect french fries.
Emeril told me to soak my fries in ice cold water. I did, but had no idea why. Then, Emeril told me to fry my potatoes, remove them from the oil, and let them rest. I did that, too, but was still unconvinced that my soggy fries would ever turn crispy. Finally, Emeril told me to re-fry my soggy fries for 1-2 minutes. And like magic, the fries turned crispy.
Crispy, tasty fries with the perfect texture. But I couldn't help but wonder WHY? Why did all that work? Emeril's recipe did not fill me in on the science behind the crispy fries, so I turned to my trusty friend Google.
That's when I found this long, but helpful post that explained why double frying works. During the first fry, some of the water in the potato evaporates and the oil takes its place, coming into direct contact with the potato's cells (soggy fries). The water that is more tightly bound in the potato structure is still present, though. The hot oil helps the starch molecules break free and they combine with the remaining water to form a gel. These reinforced starch cells move to the exterior of the potato. After this outer later is built up, you can fry the potatoes a second time. This dries out the remaining water and leaves the crunchy, starchy exterior.
[Pictures below are: 1) raw potatoes 2) soggy fries after fry #1 and 3) crispy fries and fry #2]
I'm never content to just follow the directions and wonder why it works. I like to know WHY it works. So now I know the science behind crispy fries. Want to make a batch of your own?
Perfect french fries
4 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut
1 quart oil (I used canola, Emeril recommends peanut)
Cut and peel the potatoes. Place potatoes in a large bowl, cover with water and add ice. Let sit for 30-60 minutes.
In a deep / large skillet or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat to 350 degrees (it's important to heat the oil to the right temperature. If you try to do this with oil that isn't hot enough, it won't work).
Drain the potatoes from the water and dry them off with a towel. Increase the heat on the oil to medium high and add the potatoes to the oil. Stir occasionally. Fry for 6-8 minutes or until potatoes are soft and limp. Use a skimmer or slotted spoon to remove the potatoes from the oil and let them drain on paper towels.
Let the limp potatoes sit for at least 10 minutes. Make sure the oil is heated back up to 350 degrees and put the potatoes back in the oil. Be ready to remove them quickly. They only need 1 minute for the second fry.
Drain the potatoes again and sprinkle with salt.
You should make these cookies immediately. They're easy and quick to make. You probably have all the ingredients in your pantry. Most importantly, they're wonderfully addictive and delicious.
I'm not really sure why, but these cookies are "Christmas cookies" in my family. There's nothing particularly Christmas-y about them. It's just one of those recipes that we only make in December. Maybe it's because if I made these all year, I would gain 10 pounds since I can't stop eating them.
Makes about 24 cookies
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cream the butter, then add eggs, sugar and vanilla. Beat with electric mixer until light. Add dry ingredients and nuts and mix together.
Grease cookie sheet. The cookies will spread out quite a bit when cooking, so make sure to leave at least 2 inches in between each cookie. Don't make these too big--just about 1 tablespoon of dough for each cookie.
Bake for 5 minutes. The cookies are done when the edges look slightly browned, but the middle looks uncooked. Make sure to take them out when they still look like they need a few minutes! The cookies are meant to be thin and will finish cooking after you take them out of the oven. After taking the cookies out of the oven, let them sit on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before moving them to a cooling rack.
These cookies are thin, but chewy and tasty. You'll want to eat 5 at once. They really do melt in your mouth. These cookies also freeze well after baked, so make a double batch and freeze some for later.
I spent 3 hours pitting cherries, rolling out dough and mixing ingredients for a delicious Father's Day cherry pie yesterday [recipe and details to come]. But I often want a fast, healthy, delicious meal...one with few ingredients and ingredients I already have in my pantry.
You too? Well, we're both in luck. Head over to stonesoup for a new ebook filled with simple, 5 ingredient/10 minute recipes. Did I mention that it's free? I leafed through it (can you still say "leafed" when you're reading a PDF and scrolling from page to page?) briefly this morning and am excited to try out some of the recipes. Especially the ones with chickpeas. I really love chickpeas.
This soup is really simple. How simple? When I read the recipe on fresh365's blog, I discovered that to my surprise, I already had all the necessary ingredients in my pantry. This may not seem too amazing when you see the ingredients below, but I currently live in a developing country and have a poorly stocked pantry (at best). I spend most of my time "starring" and saving recipes that I see on food blogs under the label, "make this when you move back to the US". I starred this during the day and made it that night...and had some delicious left overs for the rest of the week.
Chickpea Noodle Soup
Slightly adapted from fresh365
8 cups water [you can make this into broth or use half water / half broth]
2 tablespoons olive oil
A few peeled and crushed garlic cubes [The recipe calls for garlic powder, but I didn't have any. I used the real thing instead. If I had remembered I put in full garlic cloves, I might have looked for them or pulled them out when I ate the soup. Instead, I had a few surprising spoonfuls with full garlic...]
1 pound of pasta [any kind works...I used two different types that I had in my pantry]
2 15 oz cans of chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
Bring the water / broth to a boil in a large pan. Add the olive oil, salt, garlic and pasta. Reduce heat and add chickpeas. Boil 8-12 minutes until pasta is cooked. Add salt and pepper to taste.
[Note: I started out making this with full water, but at the end I felt like it needed a little more flavor so I threw in a bouillon cube.]
The soup lasted in the frig for a week. It's a good 'comfort' food and tastes delicious when you're cold and hungry. Cold and hungry in the DR? I sat, soaked to the bone, on a frigid bus for two hours Sunday night on my way back from Carnaval. I thought about the leftover soup the whole way home and devoured what was left of it.
Chickpeas are one of my favorite foods. They're so versatile in salads (like this one) or hummus or just plain. I discovered a new way to enjoy chickpeas while dining at a restaurant in Seattle about a year ago--fried chickpeas. They're crispy and tasty and addictive. Luckily for me, they're easy to prepare, too.
After draining and drying the chickpeas, you need to peel the skins off. It's a somewhat tedious job, but worth it. If you don't peel them off, they'll fall off and burn while you're frying the chickpeas. When you're done peeling, you'll have a pile of chickpea skins. I think it looks like human skin. My friends tell me that's gross, but I kind of like the chickpea skin.
Once you're finished peeling the chickpeas, heat oil in a skillet or large pot. You want the oil to be pretty hot (I usually heat it on medium/high - high heat). Pour in enough oil so it covers the skillet/pot, but doesn't cover the chickpeas. I usually use a pot with a lid so that I can cover the chickpeas as they cook. Sometimes they fly out of the pan while they're frying. Fry them until they're crispy all the way through.
Also, use a pan that's big enough so that you only have one layer of chickpeas on the bottom of the pan. One day I was feeling rather ambitious and tried to fry two cans at once in about 1/2 inch - 1 inch of oil. I ended up with a hot, gross mush of chickpeas and oil. It was extremely disappointing after I had gone through the effort of peeling two cans of chickpeas.
When the chickpeas are fried, drain them on a paper towel. I like to try different combinations of spices. I often eat them sprinkled in salt. However, paprika, garlic salt, and pepper taste great, too.
These guys will last about 24 hours if you put them in an airtight container. If you're like me, they won't last more than 15 minutes after you finish frying them...