Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Anthropologie-inspired Capelet

These four balls of a soft cashmerino blend have been in my stash since I got them in a swap last year. It's really nice soft yarn and I wanted to make something special with it but nothing came to mind, I didn't really want a scarf or a hat or mittens so they sat there.

Well, a couple weeks ago, I was staying home, trying to fight off an infection, and starting to get cabin fever. I found this Anthropologie-inspired Capelet on Craftster and thought it might work since the lengths of the sleeve and bodice are variable. So I worked it until all the yarn was used up. I'd prefer a little longer bodice but otherwise I am very happy with my new sweater.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Felted Tote

Here is the perfect crochet tote for all the stuff we like to carry around -- crochet projects, books, diapers, etc. It felt like it took me forever to work everything out, one of the hardest patterns I've worked on and I'm not sure why. Originally I just wanted a bigger bag to carry all my stuff that I couldn't or didn't want to put in my purse. And it seemed like it would be quite easy to construct, unfortunately all these hurdles kept popping up and I had put it on the shelf for a few months until I could figure it out.

One day I spied it out of the corner of my eye and I knew I had to finish it and I had these ideas to work it out and one thing led to another and it turned out great! Nice and roomy with lots of pockets for my crochet hooks and stuff. Thick and sturdy but not as heavy as leather.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Diamonds Cable Purse

I thought I was done with cables but I kept thinking of this pattern and I finally worked it out. Made with a good bulky wool, Rowan Big Wool, it shows off the lines and pattern beautifully. Roomy yet stylish. Slightly longer handles make it easy to grab and throw over my shoulder. Easy to find hardware. Professional look. The best purse so far. Not my grandma's crochet.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Mooncake Day

Wishing everyone a happy mooncake day, aka, Mid-Autumn Festival. When I was growing up my parents always had the traditional lotus mooncakes with egg yolks, sweet and yummy with tea. Nowadays there are so many different kinds. I read about Shanghai Mooncakes on eGullet and decided to try Tepee's recipe. They're really delicious.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Chocolate Sheet Cake

Wow, it's been a while since my last post. Lately I've been trying to stay off sugar, I'd been doing pretty well but unfortunately suffered a relapse yesterday. I really wanted some chocolate cake and haven't been able to get it out of my mind so I gave in and made a chocolate sheet cake, aka Texas sheet cake.

I tried to make it a little healthier with wheat flour, yogurt and organic cane sugar and made only half the recipe. It was delicious, so good I had to post it. It has quite a bit of sugar in it but surprisingly didn't taste that sweet, ahem, maybe except for the frosting.

Here's the halved modified recipe. Surprisingly quick and easy, surprisingly good.

Chocolate Sheet Cake

1 sticks butter
2 heaping tablespoons cocoa (I used organic fair trade from TJ's)

1/2 cup boiling water

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 cup organic cane sugar
pinch salt

1/4 cup yogurt (I used greek)
1 beaten egg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In a saucepan, melt butter then add cocoa and mix well. Add boiling water, allow mixture to boil for 30 seconds, then turn off heat.

Combine flour, sugar and salt. Pour cocoa mixture over flour mixture, and mix gently to cool.

Combine yogurt, egg, soda and vanilla. Stir mixture into butter/chocolate mixture. Pour into greased 9 inch cake pan and bake at 350-degrees for 25-30 minutes. Cake will pull slightly away from sides and a toothpick inserted into the center will come out clean. Spread frosting over cake while warm.


3/4 sticks butter
3 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
6 oz. organic cane sugar, powdered

1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Melt butter. Remove from heat. Add milk, vanilla and sugar. Mix well. Add pecans and mix well.


Monday, March 26, 2007

Yummy Greek Yogurt

I started eating greek yogurt last December as an alternative to ice cream. I kept seeing greek yogurt at TJ's and wondered why it was so popular and what made it different from regular yogurt. So I tried a box of Fage nonfat and loved it, it's really delicious. I needed something healther to eat instead of ice cream and quickly became hooked. I thought it would need fruit like regular yogurt but discovered it's delicious with just a little sweetener, I like to use agave nectar. Then, I tried the full fat version, incredibly rich (!) and TJ's store brand. For eating straight out of the box, I like to stick with Fage.

Well, this was starting to cost quite a bit and I've made yogurt at home before so I thought I'd try making greek yogurt. If you've never made yogurt, these are good instructions to start with. I use a pint of Fage Greek yogurt (non-fat or full fat) and 1 1/2 gallons of organic low-fat milk. I get the 3 half-gallon boxes in a case from Costco and make it all at once.

I also don't like to deal with a lot of small containers so I pour all the scalded milk in a big stainless steal bowl that I've sterilized. After it's cooled to around 120 F, I stir in the yogurt, cover the bowl and put the whole thing in a hot water bath in the sink. I keep the hot water bath at around 120F, changing the water every 1.5 - 2 hrs. After around 6 hours, it looks set.

If the weather is warm, I'll leave it in a cold oven overnight instead. Once it's set, it goes into the fridge for 24 hours. It's yummy like this but to make it really like greek yogurt, it needs to be strained. I line a strainer with cheesecloth or coffee filters and strain for 2-3 hours. If you strain it overnight you'll have yogurt cheese.

Store in covered containers. Enjoy!


Friday, March 23, 2007

A Little Obsession

Lately, I've become a little obsessed with enamel cast iron cookware, those shiny expensive heavy pots in bright colors. Actually, I'm a little obsessed with finding some at a good deal.

It all started with the Jim Lahey's No-Knead Bread recipe that was written up in the N.Y. Times. He used a large enamel cast iron dutch oven, I think it was Le Creuset, to produce that beautiful crust. Of course he said that any heavy pot will do and I made it in my Calphalon and it turned out great. See?

Around the same time, Cooks Illustrated rated dutch ovens, most of them being enamel cast iron. Of course Le Creuset rated very high, but it is also very pricey at $270 retail. They also rated the Chef Mate dutch oven available at Target as a best buy at around $40. So everytime I was at Target I would look for the pot but I never found one. Some message boards said there was so much demand it was hard to find.

In the meantime, I had also decided to find an alternative to my teflon pans due to the toxicity warnings. I have a lot of pots and pans and I hate to say it but the teflon is really convenient to use because its so easy to clean. I have an alternative pan for most things I make, the main exception is omelets. Lately, I've been using a Calphalon pan but it works horribly. Seems like more eggs get stuck to the pan than become part of the omelet and it just doesn't get that lovely shape and texture. I read somewhere that enamel cast iron is a good alternative for teflon pans.

I've also googled and discovered a whole bunch of enamel cast iron fanatics and brands like Staub, Mario Batalli, vintage Descoware, Copco, Dru, etc. I read about a Staub outlet in France and how one lady was trying to justify a vacation there. Unfortunately, I missed out on the huge Staub sale at Amazon, apparently there were great prices but they have sales a couple of times a year so I will try to wait patiently. I also read that sometimes Costco's in Canada offer great deals on Staub and am hoping they will bring that over here.

I had pretty much given up on the Chef Mate, then one day I was out in the boondocks and saw a Target and thought maybe they will have one since it's less crowded. I found it! It was hiding in the utensils section, bright red, no chips. Yay! It's super heavy and works great, browns really well.

I still need a pan for omelets and would like a small cocotte too. Am trying to wait patiently for those.

Sunday, March 18, 2007


I'm so happy, I scored this Vogue Knitting book, Very Easy Knits, on PaperBackSwap.com. In hardcover! It came in the mail really quickly and is in great condition. This is my favorite knitting book that I've seen so far. Although the styling, photos, hairstyles, etc. are a little dated, most of the items are basics.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Healthier Chocolate Chip Cookies

It's already started snowing and there is a winter weather watch through Wednesday. What's better than baking cookies when cooped up inside? I love chocolate chip cookies and have been working on making them a little healthier, giving them some nutritional value and trying to eliminate those big sugar highs and lows when I eat too many. I've been experimenting with agave nectar and whole wheat flours and unfortunately have thrown out many batches.

This batch turned out pretty good. I gobbled up two cookies right away and am resisting very hard right now. This is an adaptation of Cooks Illustrated's Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies. I'm very pleased with the whole wheat flour and reduced sugar ... next up, reduce the fat level.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/8 cups organic whole wheat pastry flour -- (2 cups plus 2 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
12 tablespoons unsalted butter -- (1 1/2 sticks) melted and cooled until warm
1/2 cup organic evaporated cane sugar (or light brown sugar)
1/2 cup agave nectar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Mix flour, salt, and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

2. Either by hand or with electric mixer, mix melted butter, agave nectar and sugar until thoroughly blended. Mix in egg, yolk, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients; mix until just combined. Stir in desired amount of chips.

3. Refrigerate batter until cold, preferably overnight.

4. Form scant 1/4 cup dough into ball. I use a scooper, it looks like a small ice cream scooper. Place formed dough onto parchment paper-lined cookie sheets, about 9 balls per sheet. Flatten dough with slightly wet fingers or back of spoon. Dough balls should be about 1/2 inch thick.

5. Bake until cookies are light golden brown and outer edges start to harden yet centers are still soft and slightly puffy, 10 minutes (start checking at 8 minutes). Do not overbake (unless you like cakey cookies). Immediately move parchment with cookies onto a rack to stop cooking and cool. Once they are cool, I like to freeze the cookies I won't be serving right away. When thawed and re-warmed, they are just like fresh baked.


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

New Year

I hate being sick. My allergies were very bad in November and my doctor has told me when that happens I have to be very careful to prevent a sinus infection. Well I was fighting it and trying to ward it off. I realized it got me though when I kept wanting to spend the whole day in bed, in addition to coughing up some nasty colored stuff. I got some uber strong antibiotics from the doc, didn't recognize the name of the stuff and when I googled it, it said it was the last resort meds when others haven't worked. Even then, it took a while.

I was barely able to get the package together for my holiday swap pal, made a couple of cute ornaments, slippers, shawl, can't remember everything. Ooh, I wish I could have taken pics.

For short periods, I worked on some knitting projects. I got this marble yarn I'd been eyeing and made a pair of fingerless gloves. I was a little worried about all the shaping and doing the fingers. Very nice!
I also started the Donna sweater with my bag of Cache yarn that I've been accumulating with discount coupons. I had to make a lot of adjustments, crossing my fingers, hope they work out. I've finished the back and am working on the front now.

Last, I've been wanting to do a diagonal wrap for a while so I finally got that started too.
Now that I'm feeling better, I wanted to let you know that I've got some new cool crochet patterns coming soon. Perfecting the details now. Stay tuned!


Template by suckmylolly.com