Category Archives: foodies!

Happy Thanksgiving, and meet Zephyr!

Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s been a great year, knit-wise. I’m grateful for a life of designing and teaching, and meeting lots of fun knitters along the way. Knitters are the best people! We don’t have to agree on everything to be able to knit together. (Steek? Yes! Kitchener? No!)

The Indie Design Gift-A-Long is in full swing on Ravelry. Go join the group, use the coupon code giftalong2016, and join the KAL/CAL fun!

Zephyr Shawlette

I’m introducing another new design today. This is the Zephyr Shawlette, an asymmetric triangle knit on the bias. It’s named after the west wind. The lacy arrow represents the wind blowing west to east. The eyelets are like bubbles rising on the wind. I love that the yarn I used is called Bollicina, which is Italian for bubble. It’s 65% cashmere, 35% silk which makes it soooo luxurious. Sadly this yarn is discontinued, but any other fingering weight yarn will make an equally lovely Zephyr.

Zephyr wingspan

I had 550 yards, so this knit up into a gorgeous large wrap. The pattern is easily adapted to your yardage; it starts at the narrow point and grows from there.

Zephyr Shawlette gradient wingspan

Ann Berg test knit this for me with a Canon Hand Dyes William gradient, 460 yards of gorgeous shifting color.

Zephyr detail

And Rachel Nichols test knit this for me with the Fiber Seed’s Sprout fingering in Robin’s Egg, 480 yards.

Thanks for knitting, ladies! And thanks to Amanda Woodruff for tech editing. This is one of my favorite kinds of knitting, mostly stockinette so I can read blogs or my Kindle, or watch TV, and only pay close attention for a little bit. It would also be great for meditative knitting.

The pattern is on Ravelry, and it’s 15% offf through December 5, 2016, no coupon needed. But if you’re subscribed to my mailing list, you can get 20% off instead, with a coupon code from my newsletter. Let me know if you’d like to subscribe.

Trellis Vines Mitts

One more new release this week, this one through Knit Picks. I’m releasing a mitts only version of my Beanstalk Mitts and Scarf. It’s called Trellis Vines Mitts, and they coordinate with my Trellis Vines Stole Poncho.

Trellis Vines Stole Poncho

Same lovely lacy leaf and trellis pattern, using the same sport/dk weight yarn.

What else is going on? I’m taking a Harmony Singing by Ear class with Anne Weiss over at Artichoke Music in Portland. I’ve sung in her classes before; she is knowledgeable, supportive, and fabulous. I put class to use last weekend while singing with friends in church. I’m the low harmony on the verses of this version of Leonard Cohen’s “Anthem.” Click this link if you want to listen.

Rolling up my sleeves and getting to work in the kitchen. Here’s the recipe for my favorite turkey stuffing. My Baba (daddy) used to make it this way. I love that he used to just make things up, and suddenly we had our own Chinese version of an American tradition. I miss him lots, since 2001.

Chinese Sausage/Oyster/Water Chestnut Rice Stuffing, enough for a 15-20 lb turkey
2.5 cups uncooked rice (I like brown medium grain, but whatever you have is fine)
3 Chinese sausage (lap xuong)
2 (two) 8 oz jars of fresh small shucked oysters, drained and cut in half if they seem large
3 stalks celery, sliced 1/4 inch on diagonal
1 onion, chopped
1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained
3 eggs, scrambled (if you want it to be prettier, cook separately before adding so you have ribbons of scrambled egg)
1 tbsp soy sauce

Pre-cook rice, along with sausage. (Lay the sausage on top of the rice when you turn the heat down after it boils; they will be perfect.) When rice is done, remove sausage and slice 1/4 inch on diagonal.

Now it’s time to really cook!
Sauté sausage, onion, and celery in 1 tbsp oil. When onion is soft, add oysters and cook until they are just barely done (there will be a lot of moisture in the pan). Add water chestnut and eggs; cook ’til eggs are done. Beginning adding rice, one cup at a time, working it in. You may not use all the rice. When you have enough rice worked in (so that the ratio of rice to goodies looks right), add a bit of soy sauce for color (go lightly!). Salt and pepper to taste. Stuff the turkey, or not!

This is basically fried rice, with oysters and chinese sausage. yum….

I hope you’re having a peaceful weekend with people you love. Lots of time to knit while waiting for a turkey to roast. And then the mad rush to make gravy. Cheers!

Eek, steeks, like a BOSS, and tea

I had the pleasure of teaching my Bucket List Coffee Accessories class last week and this week at Twisted.

steek promo

This class covers the basics of two color stranded knitting, knitting a steek, reinforcing a steek, and CUTTING the steek. Not for the faint of heart, but knitters are brave! And it’s such a quick knit, it’s not so scary after all.

Crocheted Steek prep

Here’s the before picture: Steeks reinforced with single crochet.

Cutting the steek 2

Cheri makes the CUT!

Steek cut done

And done. Check out John’s double mug rug; a clever way to avoid magic loop/2 circulars/dpns. He used a 16 inch circular needle and will have two mug rugs after he cuts that SECOND steek. Brilliant!

Afterward, we celebrated with bubbly, and worked on finishing our edges. A total win for all. I love teaching knitters to be the boss of their knitting, and what’s more boss than steeking?

Have you cut a steek before? Or is it on your bucket list? My Bucket List pattern provides full instructions for your first steeked project, in a small user-friendly project. Go for it!

In between class last week and this week, I planned, prepped, and served high tea for 60 with my bestie Carole on Saturday. A few pictures, so I can find them later!

High tea

The room

Kerri's tea cup

It all begins with scones, clotted cream, jam (no scone pic, too busy!). This tea cup is from my friend Kerri in Massachusetts.

High tea savories
Savories

Pumpkin mousse shooters high tea
Pumpkin mousse shooters

High tea sweets
Sweets. There was a fruit plate, too, but it went out the kitchen door before I could get a picture.

It was a very lovely afternoon, a welcome respite from an ugly election season. More civility, please.

Thanks to those who have signed up for my new email newsletter! I’m exploring Mail Chimp and figuring out how it works. It’s pretty spiffy! If you haven’t joined the newsletter yet, and you’d like to, tell me in the comment section below. You’ll receive a newsletter once or twice a month with news and special offers, and my Lobelia Shawl pattern as a thank you for signing up.

Knit on!

Bang Out A Sweater next week?

When I saw that Kay and Ann over at Mason-Dixon Knitting were starting a #BangOutASweater KAL with Mary Jane Mucklestone’s Stopover pattern, I tried to resist. I have several projects already in the works, and don’t really need one more.

But if I did decide to knit along, what colors would I use? I played with some colors online. Just looking, you know. As one does.

Lett-Lopi colors

I wondered what they would look like in real life? I went to the Knitting Bee to check. And then I bought the yarn. Oops. But Létt-Lopi isn’t very expensive on the yarn continuum, so I didn’t feel too guilty. I could put it away for later when I have more time, right?

My friend Claudia came over to bake bagels and sing with me the other day. (She, Becky, and I sing as the Pie Birds.) The bagels turned out great.

bagels with Claudia

I told her about the BangOutASweater KAL, and she was all in. She went from my house to Dublin Bay to get yarn. I’m such an enabler! (And can I say just how lucky we are in Portland to have 15 yarn shops in the area, and TWO that carry Lopi?) She sent me this picture.

Létt-Lopi for Claudia

I guess this means I should knit along with her now, instead of later. I swatched yesterday (in the round! and wet blocked!) and also sampled color placement. The size didn’t change when I blocked it, but the yarn fuzzed up marvelously and filled in the gaps at this loosely knit gauge. Perfect.

Stopover color sampling

I like the top sample better; the gray and blue pop against each other at the bottom of the peacock feather. The green and blue are too similar in value to each other and mush into each other in the bottom sample. Here it is in monotone; you’ll see what I mean.

lett-lopi monotone

So I’ll run with the color placement in the top sample, but I’m not excited about the green as the accent color pop. I may use cherry red. Or sunshine yellow. Hot pink? It’s only used in that one row, so I’ll check my stash of leftovers (Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride) to see if I have anything that works. Otherwise, back to the yarn store. Oh, darn.

How about you? Do you want to bang out a sweater with us? It will be quick. And fun! Check it out here on the blog, on the Mason-Dixon Knitting blog, their Ravelry group, and Instagram, where the hashtag is #BangOutASweater.

Happy Thanksgiving

The turkey is in the oven, stuffed. The rice for the other stuffing (rice/oysters/Chinese sausage/water chestnut, my Dad’s recipe below) is cooking. The stock for gravy is simmering. It smells wonderful in here.

So I’m taking a moment to say thank you for reading! And for knitting, especially if you’ve ever knit one of my designs or taken a class with me. I love what I do, and love being able to help you knit, too.

Kilter Indiecita

I’m currently knitting a worsted/Aran weight version of Kilter. This is Malabrigo Rios in Indiecita. Loving it so far.

Hoping your day is full of family and peace, whether or not you celebrate Thanksgiving.

Baba’s turkey stuffing

2.5 cups uncooked rice (i like brown medium grain, but whatever you have is fine)
3 Chinese sausage
2 8 oz jars of fresh small shucked oysters, drained and cut in half if they seem large
3 stalks celery, sliced 1/4 inch on diagonal
1 onion, chopped
1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained
3 eggs, scrambled (if you want it to be prettier, cook separately before adding so you have ribbons of scrambled egg)
1 tbsp soy sauce

Pre-cook rice, along with sausage. (Lay the sausage on top of the rice when you turn the heat down after it boils; they will be perfect.) When rice is done, remove sausage and slice 1/4 inch on diagonal.

Now it’s time to really cook!
Saute sausage, onion, and celery in 1 tbsp oil. When onion is soft, add oysters and cook until they are just barely done (there will be a lot of moisture in the pan). Add water chestnut and eggs; cook ’til eggs are done. Beginning adding rice, one cup at a time, working it in. You may not use all the rice. When you have enough rice worked in (so that the ratio of rice to goodies looks right), add a bit of soy sauce for color (go lightly!). Salt and pepper to taste. Stuff the turkey, or not!

This is basically fried rice, with oysters and chinese sausage. yum….

Knitters’ tea party, prize winners

Tea and knitting, a winning combination. When a table is set with yarn as part of each place setting, you know it’s going to be good. (Yarn is from my stash, which needed thinning. Everybody wins!)

tea and yarn

My buddy Carole and I put on a knitters’ tea for a friend’s fund raiser in Salem on Sunday. I brought a small trunk show with me so knitters could touch and feel and try things on. I forgot to take a picture, sorry.

plum deluxe tea

Our teas were from Plum Deluxe: Andy Hayes is an online tea blender and purveyor based here in Portland. Our two teas were Afternoon “High Tea” Tea, a lightly caffeinated tea with notes of peach and pear, and Everything is OK Herbal Tea. They were both delicious. The teas arrived in this signature purple packaging, which smelled wonderful! I kept sniffing it. Andy also provided us with a goody bag of 2 teas as a door prize. And his postcards made our table that much prettier; you can see them in front of the yarns in the table picture above. Thank you Andy!

As always, we began with scones, butter, clotted cream, and jam. The jams are from my kitchen; we had yellow plum bourbon, red plum with Krupnik (a spiced honey liqueur), and strawberry balsamic. Again, I forgot to take a picture, but I was busy!

savories

Next come the savories: Clockwise from left: Cucumber sandwiches, chicken salad in lettuce cups, pear and gorgonzola crostini, caramelized onion and feta tarts.

Conversations about knitting, and then come the sweets. First,

pdxknitterati trifle mini wine glass

English trifle in mini wine glasses. I love these little glasses, we use them for lots of desserts. Carole and I each have a set, so we have 24 readily available. And she gave some to her other friends, too, so we have at least 48 if we need them! That’s smart gifting…

high tea sweets

The rest of the sweets: Clockwise from upper left: chocolate chip shortbread, pumpkin tarts, lemon bars, and chocolate truffle drops in the center.

pdxknitterati knitters tea

It was a lovely afternoon with knitters. Note that Donna on the right is wearing her Zen Rain Shawlette. I love it when knitters wear my designs! Thanks to all for a fabulous time.

And now, drum roll please: The winners of the Lobelia Shawl-inspired giveaway are: Emme for the Mint Mojito yarn and a copy of my Fern Lace Shawlette pattern, and Noreen for the Huckleberry yarn and Pacific or Lobelia. I’ll be in contact with you to arrange your prizes! Thanks to everyone for their very kind comments. Thanks for playing!

Even more gradient yarn, and pretty food

knit circus come what mayKnitcircus Greatest of Ease, Come What May

The pink is shading ever so gently, getting paler and paler. Heading into cream (why does this look like dessert?); the gray will come later. Pink and white roses, gray rain clouds? Whatever, it’s gorgeous.

Black Trillium Fibres Periwinkle

This is waiting in the wings. Black Trillium Fibres Lilt, in Periwinkle.

In the meantime, there’s been a lot of pretty food! I hosted my annual Pinot & Piano fun-raiser a couple weeks ago. I provide piano and dessert. My co-hosts provide wine and music. It all comes together in a lovely evening for 16 guests. This year’s desserts:

flourless chocolate torteFlourless Chocolate Torte

puff pastry pear tartPuff Pastry Pear Tart, served with Bourbon Caramel Sauce

pomegranate panna cottaPomegranate Panna Cotta

These aren’t as big as they look; they’re served in mini wine glasses.

mini wine glass dessert

Love these glasses for presentation!

baking bagels

Last week Sue (Tango Mango) taught us how to make bagels.

bagel

We had them for lunch!

panna cotta

And panna cotta with raspberry sauce for dessert.

What pretty things are you making? Knitting? Food? Other?

Lobelia sneak peek, knit nite

Here’s a sneak peak at Lobelia. I think the lace pattern looks like little lobelia blossoms.

lobelia lace

This is 150g of Thrilling by KnitCircus, Starry Night colorway. The initial write-up is done, but you’ll have to wait a little longer for the pattern. I’m knitting up a version for a 100g/400 yard skein. Because, options.

KnitCircus Come What May

This yarn is KnitCircus Greatest of Ease, a super wash merino/nylon blend. Colorway is Come What May; I received it as part of my Kickstarter package supporting Jaala’s new studio. Gorgeous!

In other news, we had knit nite on Wednesday, and we actually knit! There are two grandbabies on the way, so there was some blanket knitting going on. I guess zigzag/chevrons are in!

knit zigzag

I made my new favorite quinoa salad. You can pretty much throw all your favorite things into quinoa, dress it a bit, and it’s delicious.

quinoa salad

Summer Quinoa Salad

! cup quinoa
1 cup frozen shelled edamame
1 avocado, diced
1/2 lb grape tomatoes, various, cut into halves
1 15 oz can garbanzo beans, rinsed & drained
1/2 cucumber, cut into bite sized pieces
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

dressing
4 T fresh squeezed orange juice
4 T olive oil
4 T apple cider vinegar
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp sugar or honey
1/4 tsp salt
liberal grind of black pepper

Rinse quinoa. Put in pot with 2 C water. Bring to boil, cover & simmer 20 minutes until water is absorbed and quinoa is tender. Fluff with fork and transfer to large bowl to cool.

Cook edamame according to package directions. Cool.

Assemble all dressing ingredients and shake in a jar.

When quinoa and edamame are cool, combine with all other salad ingredients. Add dressing to taste. Serve at room temperature. Serves 6-8, depending on how hungry you are…

Do you have a knitting group? We don’t meet as regularly as we used to, but it’s always a pleasure to get together to share food and knitting!

Swatching and blocking, yarn and ice cream

Do you always swatch? Do you always wash and block your swatches? True confessions time here: I don’t always swatch, and when I do, I don’t always wash and block it. This has come back to bite me several times. Lesson learned! I’ve modified my approach: If the yarn is familiar to me, I might dive right in. A new yarn? It’s best to do my homework.

knitpicks galileo

This is Knit Picks Galileo in a deliciously plummy color called Urchin. It reminds me of these shield urchins I saw last December.

shingle urchins hawaii

But I digress.

This ia a new to me yarn. It’s sport weight, a 50/50 blend of Merino and Bamboo viscose. Two ply. It’s deliciously bouncy and round to knit with. Occasionally I’ll split the yarn with the Hiya Hiya Sharps that I’m knitting with, but I want that pointy tip for the lace stitches I’m working. It’s a reasonable trade-off.

The ballband recommends a size US 3-5 needle. I started with a 7, just for grins, because it’s going to be lace. Definitely too floppy. I swatched with a 6, and it felt pretty good, but I thought I’d push the envelope and swatch with a 5, too. It felt a little full on the needle, but surprise! It was my favorite of the three blocked swatches. It relaxed a lot from the bouncy knitted piece, but it also had more of the structure it needed to make this lace behave. So glad I swatched AND blocked in this instance. I’ve been knitting like crazy, and I’m halfway done with the project. No pictures; it’s a secret for now.

Speaking of plummy, my friends offered me plums from their super-productive tree again this year. I picked two colanders full, which was enough for two batches of jam.

yellow plums

I thought I’d come up with my perfect plum jam last summer. That was before I had some plum bourbon jam on a mini-doughnut at Pip’s Original Doughnuts. And over the year I’d also decided that I like a more traditional pectin set for plum jam. (Pomona’s is still my go-to for strawberry, and no pectin at all for raspberry.)

pdxknitterati bourbon plum jam

After the first batch, I went for the trifecta of favorite things: Plum, bourbon, crystallized ginger. Heaven. Not particularly boozy, but a extra depth of flavor that plain plum jam doesn’t have.

Notes for myself:

6 cups chopped plums
1/4 c water
Bring to boil, simmer 5 minutes. Add 1 box Sure-Jell pectin for less sugar (pink box) mixed with 1/4 cup sugar. Bring to boil.

Add
4.5 cups sugar
1/4 cup bourbon
1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

Boil 1 minute per pectin package drections, water bath process for 10 minutes (sea level).

Yum.

I must be an extravagant measurer, or maybe I should re-measure my plums after the first simmer, which I don’t, but I always end up with a bit more jam than I’m expecting. I can only process 8 jars with my stockpot/orange silicone trivet setup, and that’s my expected yield. Maybe it’s the added bourbon, ginger, water? Anyway, the extra jam goes into a jar and into the fridge. I had extras from 2 batches in the fridge, so I did this.

pdxknitterati plum bourbon jam ice cream

Plum bourbon jam ice cream. It was a good reason to use the ice cream maker the kids gave to me a couple years ago. And they were coming for dinner!

pdxknitterati plum bourbon jam ice cream

Tastes as good as it looks!

Inspired by Erica’s recipe, but I doubled it and adjusted it for sweetness:

2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup plum bourbon jam
up to 1/4 cup sugar, to taste

Mix milk, cream, jam. Taste! Adjust sweetness as desired. Process in ice cream maker 25-30 minutes. This is a soft set; I put the ice cream in a storage container in the freezer for a couple hours before serving for a firmer set. Delicious. In a perfect world I might make a custard base for a smoother texture, but that would mean more work. I wonder if I’d like it with half and half instead of cream? This is like swatching, with food! But I’m guessing that laziness will win out, and this simple version is probably how it will always happen at my house.

I think this would be spectacular with strawberry balsamic jam, with some additional sugared strawberries thrown in. Just sayin’.

So, extravagant swatching, blocking, measuring, eating! What is your extravagance this summer?

Jamming…strawberries

Last month I bought some Hood strawberries, local berries that are so delicate they don’t go for sale outside the area. They’re tender and sweet and perfect. We ate some, and I made a small batch of strawberry balsamic jam with the rest.

strawberry balsamic jam

Three little jars of heaven. I liked Marisa’s recipe at Food in Jars, but I prefer my strawberry jam less cooked, so that there are still chunks of berries and a lighter color and less cooked flavor. This recipe uses no added pectin, so you have to cook it longer for it to set as jam. Still, delicious.

This week California berries are on sale at the supermarket for 99 cents/pound, so I decided to have another go at it. I bought 3 one pound boxes of berries, and used them all. A bit more than planned, but I don’t really like fresh strawberries, so there was no use in keeping some back!

I decided to use Pomona’s Pectin, which works with less sugar and the cooking time is minimal. You might remember my plum jam adventures from last year with Pomona’s Pectin. Ultimately, I decided that plum jam really wants to be made with traditional pectin and more sugar for that jewel-like set, so I’ll be back to that this summer. But for strawberries? Perfect.

strawberry balsamic jamsNo pectin on left, Pomona’s on right

I like the fresher taste and bits of fruit in this version with less cooking time. The only thing that I didn’t love is that my fruit wants to float in the jam after processing. Marisa says that it’s due to air trapped in the fruit, making it lighter than the rest of the jam. Possible fixes: Cut the fruit smaller (I wanted chunks, so no), macerate fruit with sugar overnight (too late for this time), or swirl fruit in jars as they cool (bingo).

fruit floating jam

I guess I missed one of the jars! I’ll keep that one for me, and mix it up when I open it. I have 4 half pints and 6 4-ounce jars.

The instructions for Pomona’s Pectin say to mix the pectin with the sugar, I think so it doesn’t clump. Next time, I’ll keep back half the sugar to mix with the pectin, and use the other half to macerate the berries overnight. Problem solved.

Notes to self for next year’s strawberry, with or without balsamic:

Strawberry balsamic jam

6 cups mashed berries, a little less than 3 pounds (I gave them a quick whirl in the food processor)
3 cups sugar (I might cut it back to 2.5 next time)
3 tsp Pomona’s Pectin
3 tsp calcium water
2 TBS balsamic vinegar, or more to taste

Combine fruit and 2 cups sugar; macerate in refrigerator overnight.

Canning day: Combine pectin with remaining sugar; set aside.
Add calcium water to fruit. Bring to boil. Add remaining sugar and pectin. Return to boil, stirring to dissolve pectin. Remove from heat.

Fill jars to 1/4″ from top, wipe rims clean, screw on lids. Process 10 minutes in boiling water bath canner. (Sea level, your altitude may vary! See instructions in the Pomona’s Pectin packet.)

Yield: 8-9 cups

If fruit still wants to float, swirl in jar after cooling 30 minutes. Any sooner and it’s still too liquid to keep it from floating back up.

What else? I noticed that a vine has taken over our dead bamboo stand. I thought it might be morning glory, which would need to be removed. It’s been growing on the bamboo for a couple years, wispy and delicate. But this year it’s very vigorous, and covered with buds, which don’t look like like morning glory.

passiflora overtakes bamboo

Yesterday it came into bloom. It’s too high for me to see from the ground, so I took this picture through the window.

passifora

It’s a passionflower (passiflora) vine! I think it was a volunteer from the neighbor’s yard. Pretty, but I can see how it might get out of hand. In fact, it is jumping over to the lilac on the left, so I pulled some down.

passiflora

Should I let it run free, as long as it leaves my lilac alone? The lilac needs pruning, so that will leave space between. But this thing is WILD! I read that some varieties make fruit, and so I guess I’ll wait it out. Passionfruit jam?

Are you jamming this season? I’m looking forward to plums. This year it’s going to be plum bourbon jam…

Tiny harvest is tiny

The blueberry crop is still going strong, despite the best efforts of the birds and squirrels to make me share. The new raspberry plants have given me almost a dozen berries. I wasn’t expecting any this year, so it’s all bonus.

raspberry blueberry

I ate the first raspberries immediately, and then I saw Sue’s raspberry post. Wish I’d seen it earlier. What a great way to make a tiny harvest special! I had to try it. Click the link for her gorgeous photo.

raspberries and chocolate

No, they’re not giant raspberries, but isn’t it cool how close my iPad can get without zooming?

Monday we went for a short hike from the Hoyt Arboretum up to Pittock Mansion. I always think of hiking as something you do elsewhere; it’s so nice to have very local options. This is inside Portland’s city limits.

maidenhair fernMaidenhair fern

buzzWhy hello there! (What kind of flower is this?)

hikers

And of course, any outing with Sue, Mimi, and Kelly means food! We had lunch at Pho Tango in Hillsboro. Fabulous!

bun bo hueBun bo Hue

spring roll

I always thought the vegetables were garnish, just eye candy, but Mimi says you eat them wrapped around the spring roll. That makes a spring roll way more interesting.

yucca and coconut

Mimi made dessert. Yucca and shredded coconut tossed with toasted sesame seeds and a bit of sugar and salt. Sounds odd, tastes great!

Summer is in full swing here. It’s supposed to be 100 degrees (fahrenheit) this weekend. Time to water…again.