Category Archives: foodies!

The other Portland (port o’ call)

Our Vogue Knitting Cruise also made a stop in Portland, Maine.

One of the many lighthouses…

Unlike Newport, Rhode Island, and Bar Harbor, which involved a tender (small boat to get from cruise ship to port), Portland has a deep water harbor that accommodates cruise ships. We could just walk on and walk off! With proper documentation, of course.

Windy!

We had a trolley tour of Portland, which ended at Port Fiber yarn shop. Port Fiber is owned by Casey Ryder, with whom I’d meet up again the following week at Knit Maine.

Mary Jane Mucklestone and Bristol Ivy

Designers Mary Jane Mucklestone and Bristol Ivy came to show samples and talk about knitting in Maine. Seeing and touching samples in real life is always so compelling!

Selfies were taken, of course.

Mary Jane
Bristol

You know I’m not much of a yarn stasher. But I love a yarn with a story, and couldn’t resist this.

Casey imports and distributes yarn for Cashmere People Yarns. These yarns are ethically sourced, handspun and hand-dyed by women in Tajikstan and Afghanistan.

Each skein has a picture and bio of the spinner, which I find charming. My skein is a two ply fingering weight cashgora, which isn’t a blend of cashmere and angora fiber. It’s actually from cashgora animals, which are a cross between Russian fiber goats and cashmere-type goats in Tajikstan. My skein is in the Atlantic colorway, which I thought was appropriate for this cruise souvenir. I’m planning to knit a Zephyr shawlette, which starts at the skinny end and I can knit til I run out of yarn. Or if I get wild, I’ll design a new thing that’s similar. (If you want your LYS to carry this luscious yarn, have them contact Casey Ryder at Port Fiber.)

Kathy and me

I also took the opportunity to meet a longtime friend from my piano forum. I’ve met up with other piano and knitting friends after knowing them online. It’s fun to meet in real life; you just pick up the chat where you left off. (The first time I ever did this, DH was worried that I was meeting up with an axe murderer. Hasn’t happened yet!)

Lobster roll at Gritty’s

We went to Gritty’s so I could fulfill the lobster roll on my bucket list. It was delicious! But spendy. I think I enjoyed my unphotographed lobster Cobb salad at Stewman’s in Bar Harbor even more. Less guilt…it’s a salad, right? (And split with a friend…with fries…)

Pilot boat guiding us out of Portland
Knit Fit kit

Don’t forget I’m giving away my Knit Fit kit; see this blog post for details on how to enter to win! We got these in Bar Harbor, which I previously posted about in order to get this party underway. My next post: O Canada! Two more ports…

One night in NYC, pre-cruise

I flew into NYC the day before boarding for the Vogue Knitting Cruise. On the non-stop Portland to JFK flight, I inhaled a book called The Boys by Katie Hafner. It’s about relationships, pandemic isolation, parenthood, and more…with a great twist that I never saw coming. This is Katie Hafner’s fiction debut; she’s the author of several non-fiction books, and when I met her at Sonata piano camp in 2002 she was writing for the NY Times. I loved this book, and I highly recommend it.

Dinner at Ichiran

Late in the book, the protagonist has dinner in New York city at a ramen restaurant that is known for solo dining. I was alone, so I googled and found Ichiran. The restaurant has long counters with folding side panels, so you are alone at a booth with your food. If you’re with a friend, you can fold the panel back and be side by side, together. The curtain goes up, you place your order (written), and never see the server’s face. The ramen shows up, and the curtain goes back down. The idea is to concentrate on your food, but I think for introverts and solo diners, the point is to be alone without feeling like a weirdo! At least it was for me. And the tonkotsu ramen was delicious.

I had time for a bit of a walkabout on Sunday morning before boarding, so I’ll share some favorite sights.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral
Atlas at Rockefeller Center
above a doorway at Rockefeller Center
Window shopping on Fifth Avenue, love those animal prints
In the window at Bergdorf Goodman

I loved this dress. I want it. Dolce & Gabbana. $7800. I don’t want it that badly, and it would have to be shortened, anyway. Nope. But isn’t it gorgeous?

Me, in my $20 dress, ready to sail on the Norwegian Breakaway

Don’t forget, I’m giving away my Knit Fit kit on this post over here. Leave a comment there to enter!

Pesky-tarian

What happens when DH decides to go vegetarian/pescatarian? Check out my guest post for Voices of August on the Rough and Rede blog.

I went looking for my previous guest posts, and they’re on the previous Rough and Rede blog (blogspot instead of the current wordpress site). It took some hunting! Here are the links to those posts: Because I Can in 2013 about snorkeling and my relationship with swimming, and The Empty Nest in 2012.

Blueberry desserts, on repeat

I finally got around to baking that blueberry nectarine galette, and it was delicious.

Served à la mode. Happy Bastille Day!

It took me a while to get to it, because I had a hankering for cobbler, and I needed the kids to come over for dinner to help eat it. I took it outside to cool, so Calvin couldn’t get it. Love that early evening light, so directional!

This is the first time I’ve made the galette this large. I think I prefer them smaller, more like a hand pie. So I’d make a half recipe of the crust here, which I usually do, but divide it in two next time. (A quarter recipe per galette, which is the size of the one in the collage below.) And then just fill it in with whatever fruit is on hand. Which means blueberries, for now.

I’ve put 2 gallons of blueberries into the freezer, but during blueberry season I’m always looking for ways to use them fresh. I’m dreaming of a parfait with a crushed gingersnap bottom, vanilla pastry cream, blueberries, and whipped cream layered.

Like the blueberry cream pie (upper right corner), but in 8 ounce jelly jars. Or! Crushed lemon wafer cookies, lemon curd, whipped cream, and blueberries. Also in cute jars. Tall small mouth jars? Short wide mouth jars? A baked crust in the jar? Hmmmmm. As long as the berries keep coming, I have time to play.

Do you like to play in the kitchen? I’m always thinking about how I’d like to tweak things!

Blueberries galore

The 25 year old blueberry bush is in overdrive this year. I’m picking, picking, picking. Two gallons so far, and there’s more. We have some raspberries, too.

So far I’ve baked a blueberry cobbler for a friend recovering from knee surgery, a blueberry cream pie for tonight’s happy hour gathering, and I’m planning to bake galettes tomorrow. DH won’t have the cobbler or pie (can’t present those with a chunk cut out!), so the galette is for him. Recipe posts are hyperlinked, in case you need to make these, too.

Mmmm, cinnamon rolls

I’m deep into cinnamon roll experimentation. My sister gave me some Penzey’s Vietnamese cinnamon, so it’s cinnamon roll season. FIrst I made the recipe that came with the cinnamon; it was a no-yeast version. The dough was really wet and messy, but the rolls were good.

Then I tried the NYTimes no-yeast cinnamon roll recipe. The dough was easier to handle, and they were pretty. A little too salty, but also good.

A friend recommended this yeast cinnamon roll recipe. This version involves pouring heavy cream or half and half over the rolls before baking. Another friend recommended braiding and rolling the dough into knots, which I’ll try next time. I wasn’t sure my yeast was still good (April 2020), so I didn’t want to get too ambitious.

I even iced them. They were fabulous! And the yeast was a little slow, but things turned out fine. Yeast rolls are alway so much better than quick rolls, but they do take a little more effort.

Biscuit approves. Happy Sunday!

I’m still knitting my kep, but it’s not mindless knitting because of the chart. I need some knitting for multi-tasking, so I’ll be designing something a little simpler for this yarn.

Knitted Wit Sock, in Kiss and Teal and The Future is Bright. I have two ideas, so I need to pick one and then swatch a bit. Perfect for a three day weekend here in the US.

What are you knitting?

Delicious!

September is my favorite month. Birthday, anniversary, a chill in the morning air that evokes that back to school feeling, and time for woolies.

(not this week, but it’s us)

It’s been a delicious week. I celebrated my birthday with friends and family, repeatedly. The kids came over and made kalua pork (instant pot ftw), and spam musubi, as part of a Hawaiian themed dinner.

DH and I celebrated our upteenth wedding anniversary a week later.

Tomato, avocado, cucumber, lime, stone fruit

This was part of our anniversary dinner at Républica, a restaurant in NW Portland. The restaurant was recently featured in the LA Times. Dinner was delicious, and exquisitely plated. The co-owner/pastry chef is the daughter of a friend; I’ve known her since the kids were in preschool. It’s so great to see her doing something she loves, and doing it so well.

Corn brûlée, with ice cream and blueberry compote

And I celebrated a friend’s birthday yesterday with a wine tasting/blending party. We tasted three single grape pinot noirs, and then played with blending them.

Mmmm, Brooks wines.
Beaker blending, so mathy

I baked a flourless chocolate torte, which we paired with an ice cream sampler. The new way to blow out birthday candles is by waving your hands at them. Thanks, pandemic! Still fun.

Time to get back to work! How’s your September going?

Plum deliciousness

You know I have a long-standing passion for yellow plum jam. Yellow plums are my all time favorite for jamming, and and for eating.

I made 2 batches (20 half pint jars) of ginger/plum/bourbon jam, from just two bowls of plums from my friend Linda. I thought I was done for the year.

Darn kids, I thought. Who’s dropping lunch reject plums on my dried up front lawn? Then I looked up, and realized the truth. The plum trees that I planted 10 years ago, that never produced fruit (well, one tree made two plums about 5 years ago), have decided that this is the year. Maybe they like being heat stressed, or they think they need to reproduce because the heat is going to kill them. Whatever.

I got on a ladder, and picked 19 plums. That’s the harvest, between the two trees. They’re oddly large, and the fruit is firm, like an Italian prune. I think they’re a Japanese plum, but I’m not sure; 2011 was a long time ago. The plums aren’t especially juicy, and they’re fairly tart. I don’t want to make more jam; purple plum jam isn’t as delicious as yellow plum jam, at least to me. What to do?

I put out the question on FB, and the answer was: Plum Torte. The famous NYTimes recipe from Marian Burros, to be precise. I remembered that Smitten Kitchen also had a take on it, and another friend referred to the Food52 version. Excellent references, all. I did a mashup of the three using:

3/4 cup all purpose flour plus 1/4 cup corn meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
Large pinch of salt
3/4 granulated sugar
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) salted butter, softened
2 large eggs
5 plums quartered and pitted (because mine are so big)
omitted the fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon chunky sugar and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon for garnish

Cream sugar and butter, beat in eggs, beat in dry ingredients. I put mine in an 8” springform pan, because that’s the one I have. Top with plums, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or til done. Cool, remove from pan, celebrate!

I told you the plums are oddly large. The recipes call for 12 small Italian plums, halved, and a 9” pan. If I had halved the plums, I could probably only fit 4 in the pan, so I cut them lengthwise, twice, and made a flower/sunburst with them. They sink into the cake,, so you’d never know, and I forgot to take a picture before baking. I’m not a real food blogger!

We loved this so much, I had to make it a second time, because we still have a few plums left. Also, I wanted to tweak it a bit; I used more corn meal the first time, and it was crunchier than I like. I have medium grind cornmeal, because I use it under pizza on the pizza stone. A finer grind would be ideal, but I don’t use corn meal often enough to have more in the pantry.

This cake is actually for dessert tonight, but I wanted to take a picture for you. And now I have to taste it. Such a sacrifice. Delicious!

Book getting closer to real

I finished the final design for my book last Wednesday night, just in time for our photo shoot on Thursday morning!

My publisher is in Salem, Oregon, so we met at Archive Coffee and Bar in Salem. Cute place. Nice coffee. I didn’t partake at the bar, but it looks impressive.

I can’t show you my actual knitting, so check out this artful blur. Yarn is Hazel Knits Artisan Sock, in Iris and Cackle.

More blur. But I’m looking forward to sharing these projects with you this fall! Progress on the book is coming along; I have two more items that need to be photographed, and then a bunch tutorial photographs. I’m not the photographer, so I’m not too fussed about that. But the patterns are finished, and the tech editing is also done, as of last week. Now I just need to do all the writing for the parts before and between the patterns. I’m on my way!

I also need to do some work for a video class that I’ll be recording in August, for a September event. Deadlines for that are coming up soon, too. I’m glad I can shift my work around to fit my very flexible schedule.

You know what doesn’t respect a schedule? Ripe produce! I picked plums at my friend Linda’s house, which meant I had to jam them right away. I made plum jam with ginger bits and bourbon. And because I couldn’t find a record of my final be all and end all recipe, except in Facebook comments on a post from last year, I’m noting this here. Sure Jell recipe, and at the end add a generous 1/4 cup bourbon, and 1/4 cup Penzey’s Sweet Ginger Bits. Perfect.

Also, it was such a pretty picture, I ran it through the Waterlogue app to “paintify” it. Happy summer!

Ginger Chocolate Scones, redux

I’ve been making chocolate chip scones for decades. The ancient recipe lives on my refrigerator, and is getting harder and harder to read. It used 4 tablespoons of butter, and milk. They were nice, but not particularly luxe. Along the way, I’ve modified things a bit.

Ginger Chocolate Scones

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F

2 cups flour (not whole wheat; I used unbleached white)
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder (not soda)
1/2 tsp salt

8 Tbsp (1/2 cup) cold butter

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/4 cup candied ginger bits (I like Penzey’s)

1/2 cup half and half (just barely, or it will be too wet)
1 egg, scrambled

Combine dry ingredients and stir. Cut the butter into pieces and then blend them into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter. Stir in chocolate chips and ginger. Scramble the egg into the half and half, and then pour it into the flour mixture. Stir until blended, then knead on floured surface about 10 times. Form three balls with the dough. Pat out balls into circles about 7 inches in diameter, slightly mounded in center. Cut each circle into six pieces. Place on ungreased cookie sheet, cover with a towel and let rest for 10 minutes. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until just golden. Cool on rack. EAT! To reheat, warm in toaster oven on lowest setting.

Makes 18 dainty scones.

One step closer to letting you know about my new project! Soon.