Monday, April 26, 2010

Maker Monday: week 17

This week I worked on my UNI socks. I love the yarn I'm using. I will take a picture next week to show my progress.

I may be following Sara and her addiction to sock knitting. I love being able to throw my project in my purse and head to a coffee shop to knit.

French Bread: Bread of the Week 17

This week I made French bread from the Bread Baker's Apprentice. They were crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. They were as narrow like bread in France, not the gargantuan French bread you might think of as used as garlic bread here.

I enjoyed the bread with spinach salad with apples, cherries, blue cheese, and a simple balsamic vinaigrette. It was an incredibly springy dinner.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Maker Monday: week 16

This week I finished my socks. I'm pretty sure I'll be wearing them every day. I have never worn socks as comfortable as this.

I didn't think socks would be so enjoyable to make. There is a pretty good chance I'm going to become addicted to sock knitting. It's the perfect project for travel as the entire project will fit in a purse. I am even thinking of keeping a pair at John's house so I don't have to haul my knitting bag back and forth.

Klutzy Dog

Last night I was lying in bed when I heard several thunks on the steps and then Cooper crying. I don't know how he did it, but he managed to fall down the basement steps. This morning he could barely walk so we headed to the vets office. Luckily he didn't break anything. The problem appears to be that the fall aggravated his tumor, so he is in a lot of pain. He's now on serious pain meds and seems to be doing better. I just hope I never have to hear the sound of a dog falling down the stairs again.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Focaccia: Bread of the Week 16

This week was Focaccia in Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge. It seemed so promising. How could a bread that involves herb infused olive oil be bad? It looked beautiful and smelled even better.

But crumb wasn't there. My focaccia looked like pale cornbread. Instead of big chewy holes in my bread there was a fine crumb.
I was saddened that it didn't turn out as well as I had hoped, but I wouldn't have minded so much if I enjoyed the taste. I found it to be too oily. I had one piece with dinner and developed a stomach ache from the oiliness.

Usually when a bread doesn't turn out I'm up for making it again, as I'm sure it will be better the next time. With focaccia I'm going to throw in the towel. I'll stick with South Union focaccia from now on.

Mayor's Ride

Yesterday morning I did my first ride of the year. I'm a little late getting out on the bike this year, as my gears have been sticking and I didn't feel comfortable riding. John was nice enough to spend his Friday night fixing my bike while I was out with Beth.

My bike was fixed just in time. Saturday was the Mayor's Ride for Trails. Jess and I met up in Beaverdale and rode downtown together. We did the twenty mile route and then headed to Smokey Row for a cup of coffee. While at the coffee shop we ran into the bike ninja - a guy that we passed at least five times on the ride yet we never saw pass us. He stopped for a while and the three of us discussed how friendly the bike community is.
A great example of biker friendliness is the guy that took our picture before the ride. He was drafting off of me about 12 miles into the ride. I didn't realize how close he was, and accidentally farmer blew my nose on him. He was really nice about it and admitted he had been following to closely.

Yesterday was not only my first ride of the season, it was my first ride with Jess. Jess is a knitting buddy who will definitely be a biker buddy too. I had a lot of fun riding and chatting with her. She used to race bikes and she is an awesome knitter, so she's pretty much one of the coolest people I know.

Elton John

A week and a half ago I got a call from Beth. She wanted to know if I wanted to go with her to see Elton John. I don't know if it is possible to say no to that, especially if it means you get to spend an evening hanging out with a friend you don't get to see very often.

We decided the best way to start a night out is with chocolate martinis. I wowed Beth with my drink making abilities, and then we headed to dinner.

Beth's husband won't eat Indian food, so it's a rare treat for her. We both managed to eat more food than any person should ever eat in one meal. I figure it was OK, as we were headed to see Elton John, so I knew we would be dancing.

The concert was amazing. We had seats on the floor only 38 rows back. He sang every song I knew of his, and only two I didn't recognize. It was a spectacular evening.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Maker Monday: week 15

I didn't post a maker Monday last week. I blame it on Cooper. Sometimes he just wants me to sit on the couch by him. Last Monday I obliged.

This week I finished my first sock! I'm very excited and can't wait to wear it all the time.

Before I wear it I'm going to finish the second sock. I made a lot of progress last week, and I'm hopeful this week will also allow for some good knitting time.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

English Muffins: Bread of the Week 15

This week I am one dozen breads into the Bread Bakers Apprentice. I am enjoying the challenge; not only do I get to try new breads, I don't have to decide every week what to make.

English muffins can be made as a loaf of in the traditional English muffin shape. For my first batch I stayed traditional, but I may make a loaf next time. You shape the dough into rolls, then cook them on a skillet for six minutes on each side, then finish them off in the oven. It was very easy to cook them on a skillet, as Kathleen lent me her large electric skillet. I think it would have been difficult to get them right on the stove. My muffins ended up a bit thicker than I would have liked, but they were delicious and that is really what matters.

Just like brioche, my favorite way to eat English muffins is with butter and strawberry jam. It's a good thing it's spring, because I'm on my last jar of homemade jam. I hope I don't run out before I make more.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Hiking and Ice Cream

Hot Toddy and I headed to Prairie City this morning to go for a hike at the Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge. There was only one problem - they were burning the prairie.

So we spent some time exploring the learning center. After learning about the prairie we went on a half mile nature walk at the only trail that was open.

After our brief walk we headed into town and got some ice cream at Goldie's Ice Cream Shoppe to fill our stomachs before the drive back to Des Moines.

It wasn't exactly the hike we were looking for, but it wasn't too bad. It was really cool to see a prairie burn in action.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Opening Day

After a long and snowy winter it's hard to believe that baseball season is already here. The Cubs have already broken my heart a few times. I headed to the I Cubs home opener last night to see if the AAA Cubs would be starting the season on the same depressing note that the Chicago Cubs did.

We had the best seats I've ever had at an I Cubs game. We were a few rows up just past first base. Even in the cold I was able to concentrate on the entire game. I didn't even want to get up for a beer and an ear of roasted corn dipped in butter - but I muddled through and purchased refreshments.

It was a chilly game. A player from the other team had his coat brought out to him when he was on first base and ran the bases in a jacket. We were hopeful that the jacket would slow him down. Unfortunately it didn't, and the Sounds increased their lead.

So the I Cubs lost. In the cold. But the truth of the matter is that doesn't matter. We were able to spend an evening with our good friends Jeff and Emily. If you can have a great time when it's 50 degrees out and you're watching your team lose you know that you are blessed with terrific friends.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Thank you Mary-Claire!!!

You will probably notice over the next few weeks that my photos are getting better. That is all thanks to my sister Mary-Claire. Not only has this professional photographer given me tips on taking better photos she's lending me her old camera. Now instead of using a point and shoot digital camera I'm using a Nikon D100. I feel much fancier already.

Now that you know how amazing she is as a teacher and a lender you should check out the website of her company cakewalk studio. Mary-Claire and Heather do amazing work, so you really should hire them.

Cranberry Pecan Bread: Bread of the Week 14

This week I made cranberry pecan bread. It is a sweet braided bread that was perfect for breakfast on Easter morning.

My favorite part about cooking at my Mom and Dad's house is that I have a sous-chef that helps me with everything, from measuring to kneading to braiding. It is a lot of help, especially from someone who doesn't like nuts. He is also very good at pies and whipped cream. If you ever need help in the kitchen I highly recommend Conor.

While I was at home Mom gave me my great grandma's pastry blender. I am lucky to have a piece of family history at my disposal whenever I make pies.

Mom & Dad recently got a flat top stove, so Mom can no longer use the Le Creuset that they got for their wedding over 40 years ago. I was pleased as punch to be able to take home two long coveted pieces of kitchenware. I hope to be using them in 40 years.

I had a wonderful Easter with my family. It was great to be home and spend time together, even if my car did get egged (seriously, my car got egged. And no, I'm not in high school).

First hike of the year!

This weekend I headed home to Cedar Falls for Easter. On Saturday Mary-Claire and I headed to Hartman Reserve to do some hiking. We were both happy that it was nice enough out to get out and enjoy some quiet time in the woods.

The trails were muddy from all of the rain and melting snow, but we managed to find a path. We've decided it's a new tradition and are going to explore new trails the next time we're both home.