Monday, January 31, 2011

Socks and an Amazing Weekend

If you had told me five years ago that the most fun I would have in months would be at a knitting retreat I would assumed you were crazy. Times have certainly changed. I have a wonderful group of knitting friends, and spending a weekend knitting with them was just what I needed.

I stayed up knitting until 2 am. Next year I am getting a room and staying all night. Next year I am also taking a picture of everyone.

I worked on a hat at the retreat. Carla, Jess, and I are doing a knit along making very cool hats. I hope to have my hat finished next week so I can post it. Until then I have photos of two pairs of socks.

I made a brown pair for work. There is a leaf pattern on the side. I think the pattern look stupid with variegated yarn, but I didn't hate it enough to frog it. It was good practice with lace.

I also made a pair of socks for Valentine's Day. The are my favorite pair of socks.
Seriously. Could they be any cuter?

They even have hearts up the back. They are so cute I haven't worn them yet. I want to save them for a special occasion. I think Super Bowl Sunday might be the day. I'll make sure to fill you in next week.

Meatless Yumday

At this point every winter I start wanting soup for every meal. This week I went with Peanut and Squash Soup. It looks gross, but it's really good.

It combines peanut butter, butternut squash, and crushed red pepper. It's three of my favorite flavors in one filling soup.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Meatless Monday

I love Asian food. Spicy noodles in a bowl with tofu and vegetables is one of my favorite meals. I usually head out to pick up some pad thai when I'm in the mood for noodles, but this week I decided to make my own.

I wend with Spicy Malaysian Style Stir-Fried Noodles from my new Cooking Light Vegetarian cookbook. My grocery store didn't have baby bok choy, so I went with regular bok choy. I also had to sub hoisin sauce for sweet bean sauce.

It was delicious. I even liked it cold the next day as lunch. I'll be making it again, and using sriracha to kick it up for leftovers.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Hike of the Month Club

This year one of my resolutions was to hike with Hot Toddy at least once a month.

On Saturday we headed to Brown's Woods for a 2 mile hike on snowshoes. It was about 15 degrees when we headed out. After a few minutes on the trail we were warmed up and able to enjoy the snowy scenery. We ran into a few other groups out enjoying the trail. Everyone was cheery and ready to chat. I think everyone was just happy to be out of the house.

I'm glad we were able to get outside and enjoy winter, but I'm looking forward to a hike in shorts.

Legwarmers and Toe Up Socks

I've been busy knitting this year. I hope to knit at least one pair of socks a month.

My first pair of socks this year was my first attempt at toe up socks.

I knit too much foot before I started the heel. That means that John has a nice pair of hand knit socks with a slightly girlie leg pattern. He refuses to wear them out of the house, but does enjoy wearing them around the house. The photos don't do the yarn justice, it's a beautiful deep blue and purple.
Other than the long foot mistake I loved making these socks. I can't believe how much faster toe up socks knit up. I'm excited to make another pair.

Last weekend I headed up to the McCarty Family Christmas with Kathleen, Ellie, and Rowan. During that trip I made a pair of legwarmers for Ellie. They are lime green, which is her favorite color. It was the perfect car project - two k1, p1 tubes. I was thankful she didn't want them too long.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Meatless Monday

It's snowy and cold here in Des Moines. It's perfect for soup. One of my soup standbys is Curried Lentil Stew. It's hearty, delicious, and healthy.

It's too dark for photos, so you get the recipe. I've been making it for so long I don't remember where the recipe is from.

Curried Lentil Stew
1/2 c chopped onion
2 t. curry powder
2 t vegetable oil
2 1/2 c water
2 c cubed rutabagas, turnips, or parsnips
1 c sliced carrots
1 c dry lentils, rinsed and drained
1/2 t salt
1/8 t pepper
1 9 oz package frozen peas
3 c V8

In a large saucepan cook onion and curry powder in hot oil for 3 min, stirring occasionally. Add water, rutabagas, carrots, lentils, salt, and pepper. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, 15-20 min.

Stir the peas into the soup. Return to boiling. Reduce heat. Simmer, covered, 6-8 min or until vegetables and lentils are tender. Stir in the V8 and heat through.

The original recipe called for frozen green beans, but I prefer peas so I switched it up. I usually leave out the salt because there is so much in v8 extra just seems excessive.

Friday, January 7, 2011

My Year in Bread: What I learned

Last year when I resolved to bake a loaf of bread a week I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I knew that I would become a better baker, I just had no idea how much I would love it. Or how much I would learn. Or how much of a bread snob I would become.

I hope you have enjoyed joining me on my journey. After baking at least one loaf a week I picked up a few things that have made my life easier. Here are my five favorites.

Instant yeast. This stuff is great. It cuts the rising time significantly and you don't need to wake it up. I keep a big jar of it in the freezer. I've only had to restock once.

A KitchenAid mixer. You can make bread without one, but using a dough hook speeds up the process significantly. As an added bonus you can clean off your counter and prep your rising bowl while the mixer kneads.

A dough scraper. This $2 item worked like a charm getting sticky dough out of the bowl. I cannot imagine making focaccia without it. If you ever use a bowl for any sort of mixing I highly recommend it.

A bench scraper. This tool is great for cutting dough into bits for rolls or bagels. It also works to scrape off the counter and remove all of the flour and dough residue. I can't imagine how annoying it would be to make rolls and clean my counter without this tool.

A kitchen scale. I use it for weighing the ingredients prior to mixing. When I make bagels I weigh out each piece to ensure uniformity. When I'm not baking I measure cereal, cheese, crackers, and just about any food item with a weight listed in the serving size. I splurged on this scale and it was worth every penny. The display lights up for low light measuring (it happens more than you would think). The display also pulls out so if you are measuring ingredients in a large bowl you can read the display with ease.

I am going to continue baking bread this year. However, I will be relaxing the pace of bread making. This year I'm going to explore vegetarian cooking. I tend to make the same 5 dinners over and over, so this year I am branching out.