Monday, August 29, 2011

Chicken Pablano and All the Fixings

We had a Mexican Sunday lunch that was pretty tasty, IMHO. The husband does most of the cooking, but he cooks only what HE likes. So when I have a hankering for Southern food or Mexican food, or desserts, or anything with more than a few ingredients in a longer recipe, I do the cooking.

Here was our lunch, based loosely on recipes for Chicken Pablano found at this site, and Mexican Fried Rice found at this site, and pinto beans, and tortillas.

Start out with roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped pablano peppers:

For a quick cream sauce to add to chicken that has been browned and cooked in garlic and onions with a bit of chicken sauce and white wine and herbs and S&P, just mix sour cream with the chopped pablano peppers and a bit of cumin for seasoning.  Put this atop the cooked chicken in the skillet for about five minutes, or long enough to warm up the sour cream.

Actually, the entree was the easiest part of the meal.  Start off by cooking the pinto beans (soaked overnight, but not necessary) with a few slices of bacon, a fresh chopped tomato, cilantro, chopped onions, chopped garlic, chili seasoning, and S&P.  It takes around two hours on a low stove top burner to take out the crunch in the beans.

And then there was the rice, browned in a skillet with bacon, chopped garlic, and chopped tomatoes prior to adding the water.  I used 1 1/2 cups white rice and about 2 cups water after browning the rice and vegetables and cooked it while covered for about 20 minutes.  I also added a can of corn after the rice cooked.  Peas and carrots could be added, too.  And don't forget to season with all the herbs and spices you like!

(Pretend there is cilantro atop the rice.  It would have made a better pictorial essay.)

It was almost a fiesta!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Sweater to Knit, A Blouse to Sew

Knitty Magazine had a free pattern several years ago called "Iced", a sweater knit up mostly in stockinette stitch.  A free downloadable pattern can be found here.  It uses chunky yarn and is a quick knit.  Designer Carol Feller says of her pattern:
I knit this cardigan for my holiday. It was designed to be loose, casual and in a neutral color so that I could wear it with everything. I like to pack light and going to Florida, I didn’t want to bring more than one warm cover up.

However all did not go according to plan. I did bring this cardigan on holiday with me and I also took some very nice photos on the beach with it. What I wasn’t planning on, though, was my sister-in-law. Nicki came to visit, picked up the cardigan and tried it on. It was a perfect match and I just had to give it to her. 
Nice sister-in-law!

This is a picture of a completed Iced sweater from the designer's Ravelry page:

I am knitting it up in Lamb's Pride Chunky in the Ink Blue colorway.  Here is the cardigan in progress:

Next up on the sewing table is McCall's Pattern 6241.  Using jersey fabric, it will be a mainstay in the wardrobe.  And all those shawls and kerchiefs will have a nice under layer.
But there are people to see, places to go, things to see before I can get back to these projects. Enjoy your day!

"If you have to support yourself, you had bloody well better find some way that is going to be interesting. And you don’t do that by sitting around wondering about yourself.” Katherine Hepburn

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Beggar's Slippers

Abraham Verghese brought the story of the beggar's slippers to my attention in Cutting for Stone.  It is worth a reprise here.  (Chapter 29 is the reference point for this story.)
Abu Kassem, a miserly Baghdad merchant, had held on to his battered, much repaired pair of slippers even though they were objects of derision.  At last, even he couldn't stomach the sight of them.  But his every attempt to get rid of his slippers ended in disaster: when he tossed them out of his window they landed on the head of a pregnant woman who miscarried, and Abu Kassem was thrown in jail; when he dropped them in the canal, the slippers choked off the main drain and caused flooding.  Off Abu Kassem went to jail...Abu Kassem might as well build a special room for his slippers.. Why try to lose them? He'll never escape. The slippers in the story mean that everything you see and do and touch, every seed you sow, or don't sow, becomes part of your destiny.
Abraham Verghese has one of his characters say this regarding the topic of making up for absences:
I made up for...(father's)... absence by hoarding knowledge, skills, seeking praise.  What I finally understood that neither my sister nor I realized that my father's absence is our slippers.  In order to start to get rid of your slippers, you have to admit they are yours, and if you do, then they will get rid of themselves...The key to your happiness is to own your slippers, own who you are, own how you look, own your family, own the talents you have, and own the ones you don't.  If you keep saying your slippers aren't yours, then your'll die searching, you'll die bitter, always feeling you were promised more.  Not only our actions, but our omissions, become our destiny. (Cutting for Stone, Chapter 29)
Over the years, I have tried to rid myself of many pairs of (emotional bondage) slippers: sorrow, grief and regrets are woven into the soles and fabric of my tattered slippers.

After I realized several pairs of "slippers" were mine for a lifetime, they wore better.  Even the calluses caused by the slippers have become part of me.  I look at them with curiosity and reluctant acceptance. Tough layers of skin... would I want to rid myself of those experiences that caused the calluses?   The slippers worn are not comfortable, yet have softened my heart and helped hardened my insecurities.  My own tattered slippers have helped mold me into one of God's loved, flawed, creations.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hand Molded Hand Soaps: Hands Up!

When I saw these molded hand soaps, I knew they would make excellent gifts.  And paired with a hand knitted face cloth, a doubly nice present.

Cool?  You bet.

Plastic Foliage makes these soaps. They come individually packaged in bubble wrap in a cute little package.

Oh, and that is one of Grandma's Dishcloths that goes along with the little "hand soaps".  The dishcloths make excellent facial cloths because of the knitted fabric that gives just enough abrasion to remove makeup, but soft enough for a baby's skin as they are made from 100% cotton.

Happy Birthday, Aunt Mary, you will be receiving a couple of these next week!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Moody Kerchief - Color to Fit Your Mood

A new knitting project just started is the Moody Kerchief, available on Ravelry.  It is a fun one and quick to knit, with a zillion color combinations you can choose.  Only your imagination limits you.

Designer Kirstin Kapur's picture of her design:

Finished Measurements: 42” across top edge, 14” from top edge to base of curve 

Knit Picks says about this the wool/silk blend I chose to work with:
Gloss DK is a luxurious blend of soft Merino wool and lustrous silk. The fiber blend takes dye very well, resulting in glowing saturated colors. Gloss DK has a large spectrum of colors, which are ideal for combining in color work projects. It is next-to-skin soft, and good for wearing around your neck or on your wrists, since it’s not itchy. Its sheen and drape produce a very sleek fabric, which shows off the stockinette stitch.
That Gloss DK is soft, squishy, and easy to handle.  I like that it has silk in it, and the greys look lively, which seems like an oxymoron to the color grey.  Here are the color choices in my project that will look good with blacks, reds, and even peach colors:

(and this Ella Rae sock yarn held together with both the peach and red yarns)

The Knit Girllls (Lala, actually) talked about this design on her podcast in August, saying she had made several from this pattern, and that it was quick to knit and ingenious.  I concur!  And I already know I'll be making another scarf from this same pattern.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Sharing Recipes (on a laptop?)

(okay, maybe it was a joke they shared)

Here is the best scone recipe I found from Amateur Gourmet:

2/3 cup heavy (or whipping) cream
1 large egg
1/4 cup vanilla sugar, plus more for sprinkling on the scones
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces, chilled
1/2 cup dried cranberries (or dried currants)
Zest from 1 small orange
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (or, if your oven runs hot, 350 degrees F.)
2. Place the cream, egg, and 1/4 cup vanilla sugar in a medium-size bowl and whisk until fluffy and well blended.
3. Place the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a food processor and pulse to combine.Add the chilled butter, then pulse again until fairly well blended. Then add the cream mixture and pulse until the dough just holds together.
4. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface.  Sprinkle the cranberries and orange zest over the dough and knead for 30 seconds, making sure the cranberries are well distributed throughout the dough. Pat the dough into a round about 1/2 inch thick
5. Cut out the scones using a floured 2-inch round cookie cutter. Gather up the extra dough, pat it out again, and continue cutting out the scones. You should have 16 to 20.
6. Place the scones on an ungreased baking sheet. Brush the tops with the melted butter and sprinkle them with vanilla sugar. Bake in the oven until golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Little Brag, A Big Confession

The Wilhelmina Shawl from the book What Would Madam Defarge Knit? (Creations Inspired by Classic Characters) is finished.   Your can read more when it was  posted back here.  So I am bragging that it is finished, and turned out pretty well.  See what you think:

The sun was not out this morning when I snapped the pictures, so the pretty greens look more muted in the picture than what your eye would see.  But you get the idea.

Over 500 6 mm glass beads were knitted into the border of the shawl in the last two rows.  It really did not take that long using the YouTube video from Random Knits:

But I will confess that I did not follow Chrissy Gardiner's exact instructions on the lace charts because I did not understand it.  The improvisations are ok, but her scarf looks prettier if knitted according to her pattern.  And I added those beads, because it was easier than knitting nupps.  So that is my story and I'm sticking to it.

(Knit pattern is from the first edition hardcover of What Would Madam Defarge Knit has been sold out, but you can order the digital download here.) Details on Ravelry are here.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Beauty, Older Women, Courage, Quotes

An arresting photo of a woman in her late years:
A quilt of unknown origin, size unknown

this from just a portion of a poem well worth the entire read found here called The Invitation:
I want to know if you can see beauty, even when it is not pretty, every day,
And if you can source your own life from its presence.

(A Study -Limbo ID:374 from 2006 Lilly Oncology On Canvas 2006 competition)

The picture above was an award winner in the referenced art competition.  She is a symbol of a woman carrying a burden, but knowing she will survive the battle with courage and victory, no matter the outcome of her health issue. This particular art piece of the introspective woman who has lost her hair from chemotherapy reminds me of  a reference given to me by my husband when we were discussing our daughter's recent photo.

Julie's smile below shows her inner beauty of personal strength and almost continual attitude of optimism.  She, too, is undergoing chemotherapy and has lost her hair.
These preceding photos all tie together with this quote from Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land ( referring to Rodin's sculpture of  "Fallen Caryatid Carrying Her Stone")
... she's a symbol for every woman who ever shouldered a load too heavy. But not alone women - this symbol means every man and woman who ever sweated out life in uncomplaining fortitude until they crumpled under their loads. It's courage... and victory.

Victory in defeat, there is none higher. She didn't give up... she's still trying to lift that stone after it has crushed her... she's all the unsung heroes who couldn't make it but never quit. 
Rodin's plaster of Fallen Caryatid referenced here 1881-1882

1920, Rosa by Walter Grammatte

And finally, one of my favorites:
(from a picture in my study that is over 30 years old with the poem below by Nadin Stair)

If I Had My Life to Live Over
I'd dare to make more mistakes next time.
I'd relax, I would limber up.
I would be sillier than I have been this trip.
I would take fewer things seriously.
I would take more chances.
I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers.
I would eat more ice cream and less beans. 
I would perhaps have more actual troubles,
but I'd have fewer imaginary ones. 
You see, I'm one of those people who live
sensibly and sanely hour after hour,
day after day.

Oh, I've had my moments,
And if I had it to do over again,
I'd have more of them.
In fact, I'd try to have nothing else.
Just moments, one after another,
instead of living so many years ahead of each day. 
I've been one of those people who never goes anywhere
without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat
and a parachute. 
If I had to do it again, I would travel lighter than I have.

If I had my life to live over,
I would start barefoot earlier in the spring
and stay that way later in the fall.
I would go to more dances.
I would ride more merry-go-rounds. 
I would pick more daisies.
Nadine Stair, 85 years old

Tuesday, August 2, 2011