29.9.11

puppyboy!

i'm finally doing it - posting my first knitting pattern for sale! it's a one-skein hat and mittens set, with just enough cute.

and of course the model is the cutest thing of all!



the puppy-ness is worked in textures rather than colours, so it's not "too too." it's mostly garter stitch, for extra thickness for warmth. best part: when the kiddo is running and the ears flap in the breeze! three sizes, for baby, toddler, and young boy, in ella rae or briggs & little (for bigboy durability!)

ok, here is the link for sale on ravelry:



and here is the posting on etsy!

28.9.11

!

so the kiddo needs a bigger back-pack (his is perfect for someone his size to carry, but too small to hold all his school stuff). so i thought i'd see if little brown wren - makers of his beloved monster bag - had a backpack for harry. but little brown wren seems to be no more! all i found was an abandoned facebook group. no worries, i thought, i'll get corduroy and make one myself. the kiddo was inching towards some kind of lightning mcqueen monstrosity, but i steered him towards an appliqued monster riding a red bicycle. which got me looking for pictures of red bicycles, which led to the best red bicycle of all:



whee!

meanwhile, the secret surprise knitting project continues (80% done! except of course i forgot to bring the smaller needles with me to cast on the second sleeve! most of the hurdles with this project actually have been me-forgetting-to-bring-stuff-type issues) and i am starting to design a dalek costume for hallowe'en!

25.9.11

"seconds, please" gluten-free sticky toffee pudding!

this week's experiment in gluten-free baking for the holidays involved a different tactic. instead of using the awesome jeanne's gluten free flour, i wanted to try using chestnut flour. after looking at a bunch of recipes which were all variations on the traditional castagniaccio - which seemed flatter and firmer than what i was looking for - i hit upon the idea of sticky toffee pudding! a recipe i had long wanted to try, but never got around too. the sweet nuttiness of the chestnut flour seemed like it would be a perfect match for sticky toffee.



i did a lot of reading and researching, looking at various recipes which all had the same basic ingredients (eggs, flour, butter, sugar) with slight variations on the theme. i found one that was made in a bundt pan which i liked the idea of (pretty! festive!) but the recipe seemed to be written down wrong and missing key ingredients. i found a couple that mentioned soaking the dates in tea, which i thought sounded lovely. and i found this article from the guardian which suggested there was no need to fuss with the mixing of the ingredients, which sounded good as well. also, their suggestion of using a food processor to blend in the dates sounded very orthodontia-friendly, although i only have a mini-chop so i used a stick blender.



for the flour, which measured 1 1/2 cups, i decided to use a mix of chestnut and a version of jeanne's, but to keep it simple i just used one rice flour (the "fancy" one) and arrowroot instead of tapioca solely because i had it on hand and wanted to try it. and xanthan gum, which seems to be key. i also dropped the amount of butter in the recipe by 2 tablespoons, to accommodate the added richness of the flour.



the various toffee sauce recipes were all over the map, with measurements of cream ranging between 2 tablespoons (not enough!) and 2 cups (seems excessive, and more than i had on hand), and some having no butter at all (which seems just wrong). also, there was the whole weighing things out by the gram issue (i weighed the brown sugar, then packed it into measuring cups so i won't have to weigh in the future). next time i'll use a slightly bigger pot, as the sauce looked perilously close to boiling over, and i had one small spill.



the results are excellent! my test subjects both had seconds, as did i.



chestnut sticky toffee pudding (gluten free)

batter:
1 cup chopped dates
1 1/4 cups hot tea
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
pinch salt
5/8 cup soft butter (1/2 cup + 2 tbs)
3/4 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1 cup chestnut flour
1/4 cup arrowroot flour
1/4 cup fancy rice flour (so it is called at the health food shop where i got it, it may or may not be the same as "sweet rice flour" aka mochiko)
1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 1/2 tbs gluten-free baking powder (n.b. the one i use specifies that if the recipe calls for 1 tbs, you should use 1 1/2. so if you have one that can be substituted one-for-one, just use 1 tbs of baking powder)

sauce:
3/4 cup whipping cream
2/3 cup brown sugar (packed)
1/4 cup butter
1/2 tsp vanilla

combine dates and tea and let sit for at least 10 minutes, then stir in the vanilla, baking soda, and salt.

combine butter and sugar. add the still-warm date mixture. mix with a stick blender till combined. beat in eggs the same way.

combine all the remaining dry ingredients. stir into the wet ingredients until just combined.

butter a bundt pan and dust with arrowroot flour. pour the batter into the pan and bake for 35 or 40 minutes at 350f. let rest in the pan for 10 minutes before turning out onto a platter.

meanwhile, make the sauce: combine all ingredients in a pan (being aware that it will grow while cooking!) bring to a boil, and cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring and making sure it doesn't boil over. let cool a bit before pouring over top of the pudding.

serve with more sauce and cream!

today is sticky toffee day!

meanwhile, i killed some valuable time yesterday charting space invaders! i am going to make the kiddo a cowichan sweater along those lines. had thought of using the bmp charts, the the gauge is so way off i had to start from scratch! ah well. i havne't even cast on and i'm already fretting that i won't have enough yarn. current plan is to start with the fronts and backs, and then maybe do the sleeves in plain grey or some different motif or colour scheme if i'm running out of the dark yarn. there's a great pic on the wikipedia page of the actual arcade console, maybe that will be my inspiration?

20.9.11

ooh

i think i may have had a brilliant idea. i was thinking today about what the alternate thanksgiving dessert should be, probably using chestnut flour to be gluten-free. and then it hit me: sticky toffee pudding with chestnutty goodness! how yum would that be? i think i will be baking this weekend!

19.9.11

gluten-free pastry!

i had pie for breakfast! that should happen every day. it might this week, actually, if we don't polish it off tonight!

this pastry is inspired by jeanne's gluten free flour mix, with minor tweaks due to availability. so glad i will be able to bring some treats to thanksgiving that everyone will be able to enjoy (except for my crazy husband who doesn't like pumpkin pie - but i'll bring along a cake for the non-pumpkin-eaters. i have a half kilo of chestnut flour to start that experiment!)



gluten-free peach pie

pastry:
1 1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup "fancy" rice flour
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbs sugar
4 oz cold butter, cut into bits
4 oz cold lard, cut into bits and frozen
1 tbs apple cider vinegar
a few tbs ice water as needed
extra tapioca flour for rolling

filling:
8 medium-small peaches
1 tbs tapioca flour
1/4 cup sugar
freshly grated nutmeg

milk & sugar for glazing

combine the dry ingredients for the pastry and mix well.

rub the butter and lard into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles bread crumbs (sometimes i found i had to stick the bowl back into the freezer, as it was threatening to get mushy)

sprinkle vinegar over dough, blend in with a fork.

sprinkle ice water over dough, a little at a time, until it holds together.

divide into two portions, one slightly larger than the other. shape into discs and chill about 20 minutes, not till it's rock solid.

roll out the larger piece to line a pie dish (i'm a fan of pyrex). roll out the smaller piece to cover it. both pieces should be under 1/4" thick. return both pieces to the fridge to chill.

meanwhile, peel the peaches by plunging into boiling water for 2 minutes and then into ice water. stone them and slice them.

combine tapioca, sugar, and nutmeg. toss with the peaches.

fill the pie shell with the peaches, brush the edge of the pastry with water, top with the second round of pastry and press around the edge to seal. cut a few slashes in the top to let steam escape. if you like, decorate with cut-out shapes from leftover pastry. brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar.

bake at 350F for about an hour, till golden and lovely.

18.9.11

oh, wow

i've started experimenting with gluten-free flours, because it seems like everyday someone else turns out to be gluten intolerant. most recently, a cousin's husband found out he can't take gluten, and as the designated baker of thanksgiving, i thought i should start early to figure out a tasty flaky pie crust he can eat.



i found a web page that made reference to jeanne's gluten free flour mix which seemed to understand what i was looking for: no extra fibre or extra nutrients or extra health, just light & flaky goodness.

says she:

I have noticed that many gluten-free bakers have determined that their goal with gf baking is health-related. These bakers use certain flours over other ones because they are more “healthy” than others. So, these folks don’t use rice flours because they feel they’re not as full of nutrients as, say, quinoa flour... It drives me crazy when people tell me they think gf baking tastes weird and then I find out that it’s because bean or some other strong-tasting flour was used... My goals for baking don’t fall into this category. I like to think of myself as falling into more into the Julia Child category of bakers. I don’t bake brownies, for example, because they’re healthy. I bake them because I love to bake, I like the craft of baking, I want a treat, and brownies are yummy.


yes!

now, her recipe called for "sweet rice flour" aka "mochiko" which i didn't find. i did find something called "fancy rice flour" though, and hoped for the best. i also didn't find white rice flour, so doubled up on brown. today i made a trial pie, enjoying possibly the last peaches of the season.




the pie came out of the oven 5 minutes ago, so i haven't had a slice yet. but it looks gorgeous. and i ate a bit of pastry that flaked off the edge - oh, yum! then i broke off more pastry and ate it. yum. looking forward to a late-night pie feast. recipe later. now i'm off to dinner.

15.9.11

the aviator

last night the husband was out so i did a little knitting on the secret holiday gift. whee! i thought i'd watch a movie while i was at it, and settled on the aviator. it had long been on my "watch this one day" list both because i love the era, and was intrigued about howard hughes. obviously i know who he was, when i was a kid he was always in the background as the billionaire with the long fingernails, in roughly the same category as the bermuda triangle. but i never really had a clue who he was or what he did, i have to say.

so, the film was interesting on that front. and, what eye candy! gorgeous sets, gorgeous costumes, gorgeous everything. cate blanchett was wonderful - i wasn't sold on her performance in the first scene - it was much too "look, i'm doing hepburn!" - but once she settled in she really inhabited the role. and i got a lot of knitting done. i kept thinking "ack, how late is it? but it can't be that late, i started watching at seven-thirty." but eventually i just felt like i was dully staring and waiting for it to be over. waiting and waiting. i have nothing against long films - if they're filled with stuff. magnolia or doctor zhivago i could watch over and over. but the aviator? there just wasn't any there there.

the highlight for me though: spotting this guy! as kate hepburn's brother, the painter. no lines, sadly, but what a kick to see lovely joe cobden dining with blanchett and dicaprio!

14.9.11

hmm

well i don't think my husband is actually reading here (comment if you are, ok hon?) but i'm treading carefully regardless.

but i'm also wanting to make notes on something i've figured out.

when i've done this kind of project before, there's a piece i've always knit separately and sewn on. the inspiration for this project looks as though it's knit seamlessly at this point. i like the look of seamlessness, but i don't really like how the piece sits knit their way. so i'm doing some fiddling with short rows that i'm really pleased with! there may be some seaming around this part anyway, or there may be some cleverness with a 3-needle bind-off. we'll see.

13.9.11

working working working.

so hard i got strep! i tend to get strep anyway, and i think the workload has been too much for me. so today i spent a few hours in a waiting room to get medication. good thing i brought my knitting! i am almost done the second piece of the super secret holiday project. woo! this is going to be awesome.

p.s. there are loads of photos and notes and whatnot over at ravelry, if anyone other than my husband is interested.

4.9.11

lunch break

another busy weekend! after spending yesterday with extended family, and before tomorrow's full slate of neighbourhood kids, today is my day to be productive! so far did another 20-odd rows on the super-secret project, made apple fritters for breakfast, picked up a new-to-me bicycle, took a load of stuff to goodwill, got mega groceries (two trips: the cheap place and the good place), failed to return empties due to lineups, talked the kiddo into picking up his toys so i can clean, and made spaghetti sauce. currently simmering onions for bbq sauce; also on the plate for today is lasagna and potato salad. and soup. and i still have to clean. eep.

3.9.11

hmm

after musing about whether i could safely post about my secret surprise xmas project, my husband said yesterday "i'm sorry i never read your blog honey, i really should." i said nothing. but i shan't be posting any pictures of anything secret that's for certain! but i did cast on this morning.

1.9.11

whee!

yarn for secret xmas surprise gift has arrived! i can probably post about it here since i am fairly certain my husband doesn't read my blog, but i'll wait and see for a moment at least.

in other news, i submitted a pattern to knitty! barely made it for the deadline today. cross your fingers for me please! i've never submitted a pattern anywhere before.

i've also got another pattern in the works which i'll probably be posting here shortly. although part of me thinks i should maybe put my various boy patterns together into a little booklet? we'll see. i was thinking i could put these recent patterns together with a couple of boys' curling sweaters (baby loves birds and 20000 leagues). maybe i'll see if i can get anyone to test-knit the sweaters and see how it goes from there?