Puff the magic pastry, encore

Happy new year!

Apparently I’m a fan of the repeat, especially for things that are quick, easy, and look good. My Stopover is a case in point.

Stopover Korknisse

So are Korknisse.

I’m also a fan of the quick and easy in the kitchen, but it has to be delicious.

One of my go-to desserts is a simple pear tart. Fresh sliced pears tossed with lemon juice, arranged on a bed of puff pastry, brushed with butter and sprinkled with sugar before a little turn in the oven.

puff pastry pear tart

Paired (peared? hah!) with my favorite bourbon caramel sauce, this is a heavenly dish. My favorite aunt sends me pears at Christmas, so we had pear tart with Hanukkah dinner last Saturday.

What else can you do with puff pastry? These chocolate chip pinwheels showed up in my Facebook feed as something I did 3 years ago. Looking at the recipe, I thought it could benefit from a hotter oven than the previous go-round, so I had to try it again to figure out time and temperature. We had these on the last night of Hanukkah yesterday. A week bookended with brisket, latkes, and puff pastry is a good week indeed.

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Chocolate pinwheel puffs
Yield: 9 pretty puffs, and two not so pretty ones

Ingredients:
1 sheet frozen puff pastry (I used Pepperidge Farm)
3/4 to 1 cup mini chocolate chips
1 egg
sprinkle of sugar, optional

Thaw puff pastry for 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Use a little non-stick spray in the bottom of a standard muffin tin to keep melted chocolate from sticking, or paper muffin cups.

Use a rolling pin to roll out dough to about 12″ by 12″, not a lot thinner, mostly just to roll out the creases. Sprinkle mini chocolate chips over the surface. I’m guessing on the amount, you could go lighter or heavier if you want. Let your conscience be your guide. Mine looked like this. (sorry, bad kitchen lighting)

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Roll the dough up into a tube. Scramble the egg to make an egg wash, and brush some on the edge to seal the roll. Slice the roll into 1 inch pieces. Place the pieces into the muffin pan. They look like they’re too small for the pan, but they’ll puff up. The two end pieces won’t be as pretty; you can add additional chocolate chips to make up for it. Brush the pinwheels lightly with the egg wash, and sprinkle them with sugar for a bit of sparkle and crunch if you’d like.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15-17 minutes, until pastry is golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack. Eat the not quite so pretty end pieces first to hide the evidence.

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I’m on to blocking for my Stopover. I was shocked at the difference in feel between the unblocked red sweater and the blocked blue sweater. Blocking is magic with Lopi! I’m hoping it’s dry tomorrow, so I can show you which color I chose for the color pops.

Happy knitting, and happy munching!

Same song, second verse

I finished knitting my Stopover last night, and it’s on to the color pops! I like duplicate stitch for this part, so I don’t have to commit to a color until the very end. I used the spring green last night. In the light of day, I’m not sure it has enough pop when used as single stitches.

Stopover color pop

The other auditioning colors, from left to right:
Lopi yellow, Lopi orange, Lopi rose, Malabrigo purple, and Malabrigo yellow.

I like the Lopi yellow, except it makes the red start to read more brick than garnet. I like garnet. The rose is monochromatically girly. I could also keep the spring green. What do you think?

To me, this is the most fun part of the project!

Stopover to Aloha

Is my Stopover done?

Stopover red aloha

Nah, who knits with Lopi in Hawaii? Well, me, just for a bit, but I also brought some linen to play with. This is the Euroflax Sport mini skein set from Mason Dixon Knitting, in Sea.

Euroflax minis

Euroflax minis in mason jar

I think they are spot on with the colors! I had an idea for this set, and after six swatches, I think it knows what it’s doing.

Aloha knitting

It’s on hold, now that I’m home, and cold! But the plan is set.

Stopover sleeve

I knit a sleeve on the flight home, stopped to prep for Hanukkah and Christmas, and knit the other sleeve in the last couple days. I didn’t have my row counting stitch marker with me on vacation, so I made do with a piece of contrast color yarn, flipped from front to back or back to front each time I made an increase. One must make do with the tools at hand. I think I actually like this better than the row counter; it’s very visual.

Stopover three tubes

I now have three tubes, and am headed toward something resembling a sweater. I am really looking forward to wearing this! In the meantime, here are some vacation pictures because, aloha.

Moonset Dec 13 2016 Maui

Moonset Dec 13 2016 Maui

The full moon coincided with the beginning of our time on Maui, and you know how I am about the moonset. So glad I took my real camera with me; the iPhone can do most things, but not this.

Lana'i Cat Sanctuary

We had a couple stellar day trips. One was to the Lāna’i Cat Sanctuary (512 cats!) on the next island over. Fun day, with two ferry rides, drinks at the Four Seasons, and some tide pooling on a very beautiful beach.

Whale spout off Lana'i

We saw three whales playing near a sailboat in the sunset from our ferry back to Lahaina.

Family 2016

My favorite day included a hike to the Nakalele Blowhole. This is Mother Nature at her most impressive.

Nakalele Blowhole

Nakalele Blowhole Maui

Rainbows everywhere! (If you’re curious about the gifs, I’m using an app called Motion Stills, free from Google, that makes gifs from iPhone “live photos.” It has image stabilization, which is awesome. It can also make short videos from the same photos.)

Maui sunset

We really enjoyed the wraparound lanai on our rental condo. We had views of Lana’i and Moloka’i. Erosion has taken away the beach, but we were there for the views, including monk seals and green turtles swimming past. A perfect getaway.

knitted wit cedar and sprinkle

Sneak peek at a new shawl design debuting in January. Until then, aloha!

Four Seasons Lana'i

Quick boozy gift recipes

We ran away for a little aloha last week, but I’ll catch you up on that later.

Pog mimosa coffee knitting

We returned home on the 19th, and I’ve been scrambling ever since. I’m hosting Hanukkah dinner tonight (Christmas Eve), and Christmas dinner tomorrow. Busy busy, but I managed to put up the Christmas lights and crank out a few non-knitted gifts. Two are super quick, and one is worth a little extra time. You can make something a little something for friends you’ll see between Christmas and New Year’s, or save these ideas for next year.

Irish cream

First off, and new on the hit parade: DIY Irish Cream, adapted from Smitten Kitchen. This comes together in 5 minutes, and makes three of these cute 8 ounce bottles. (You get 30 oz of liquid, but I barely filled three of these 1/4 liter (8 oz) bottles the first time I made this. No worries; just adjust your expectations accordingly.)

1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup (235 ml) heavy cream
1 (14-ounce or 415 ml) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
9 oz Jameson’s Irish whiskey (original recipe calls for a cup, but 9 oz fills the bottles just a little better, and yum)

In a small bowl, whisk cocoa powder and a spoonful of cream into a paste. Add more cream a splash at a time until the paste is liquid enough that you can whisk in the rest of the cream. Transfer to a pitcher, and whisk in condensed milk, whiskey and vanilla. Bottle for gifts. Keep refrigerated for up to two weeks. Seriously, how long do you think this will last? Give it a good shake before using; the cocoa wants to sink, and the cream wants to rise to the top. Of course!

Bourbon caramel sauce

Bourbon Caramel Sauce, recipe from Danielle Centoni. I’ve made this many times, and it always gets raves. We’ll be having some with ice cream on a pear tart tonight. My only warning on this one is don’t get greedy when caramelizing the sugar. It can go from perfect nut-brown to burnt in a blink. Brown enough is brown enough! This makes 2.5 cups; I’m giving it in little 4 ounce jars, because a little goes a long way.

P1060593

My aunt sent me pears again this year, and in return she’ll get some cranberry pear bourbon jam. I get jam, pear tart, and pears for eating fresh. A good deal for both of us!

Cranberry/Pear/Bourbon/Ginger Jam

4 cups cored and chopped pears (I left the skins on)
4 cups fresh cranberries
3 cups sugar
1/2 lemon, juiced and zested
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup water
1/4 cup bourbon
1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger (optional)

Combine chopped pears, cranberries, sugar cinnamon, lemon juice and zest, and water in a large pot. Stir to combine and let it rest until the sugar has begun to dissolve, about 10 minutes.

Place the pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat simmer for 15-25 minutes or longer, stirring regularly, until it thickens. Add bourbon and ginger, and continue cooking until jam coats spoon without running off.

Ladle jam into prepared jars. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings and process jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Makes 5 half pints. (If you need more thorough instructions for processing, go to Food in Jars! I’m assuming that you know how to jam.)

Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas to you! Did you make food gifts this year? What should be on my hit parade for next year?

Christmas not Christmas colors

I love my blue Stopover sweater; I wear it a lot! The sweater is light as a cloud, and the Lopi yarn does not pill at all.

BangOutASweater FO

I knit it last spring in 8 days during the BangOutASweater KAL. I’ve decided I need another one, this time in red.

Red stopover colors

My first color combo made sense in the skein, but when I started knitting my swatch the black was too harsh. It was red, black, and one of the grays. Note how the black is the darkest tone in the picture above. I wasn’t happy, so I pulled out some pink and green from my leftovers to see if that helped. I wanted a cloudy feeling to go with my light as a cloud sweater.

Ice storm

We had an ice storm last week, and that meant I couldn’t get to the yarn store to pick another color. I almost got desperate and cast on with the green to go with light ash and red, but was afraid it would be too Christmassy.

On Saturday things were thawed enough that I could stop at the Knitting Bee and pick another color, as well as teach at For Yarn’s Sake. Here’s what I have now.

Red Stopover

I love that the garnet red as the main color is the deepest tone, just like the lapis blue is on my original sweater. The light ash and white are like frosting at the edge. I’ll still use the spring green, but only as the color pops on the yoke (where the yellow is on the blue sweater). Just a little Christmas, but not overwhelming. I’m cruising along, and have finished one ball of red and am on to the waist shaping. Go, go, go!

Kilter Coco

What’s on your needles? Are you gift knitting? Done? I finished my Kilter hat for Mom, and it’s on its way and hopefully will be helpful on her trip to Antarctica. I want pictures!

Free kitty knit patterns

These kitty knit patterns have come across my Facebook, Instagram, and blog reader feeds. Do you feel the need to knit a kitty?

The Window Cat, Sara Elizabeth Kellner

The Window Cat is available on Ravelry, courtesy of designer Sara Elizabeth Kellner of Rabbit Hole Knits.

Tiny Window Cat by Sara Elizabeth Kellner

Tiny Window Cat is the mini version, also courtesy of Sara.

Mini Kitty Pouf by Molly Rivera

And this Mini Kitty Pouf is a bigger cat, free only until December 12, through Knit Picks. Kudos to designer Molly Rivera for a cute and hugggable kitty pattern.

Biscuit and Mookie

I don’t think these kitties are for your kitty. Biscuit doesn’t seem to want a plush cat for herself!

Knitting away: Kilter Hat, Christmas, Hanukkah, Addi Giveaway

December is always such a busy month! Our pop-up show/shop was a great success. I sold all but one of my knit pieces, and am happy to know that they’re going to be well loved out in the world.

Kilter

One piece was my Kilter Hat, which looks great on my friend Sharyn.

Kilter

I put it on my Facebook page, and now I’m knitting one as a gift for Mom (DH’s mom) at her request in Malabrigo Rios. I’m not usually a deadline gift knitter, but I really want this to be in her hands before she heads to Antarctica later this month. I got this much done at knit nite last night. Knit like the wind!

Kilter Coco

The color is Coco, which makes me giggle, because that was Biscuit’s name, between Trix and BellaTrix.

Super cabled Christmas Stocking

I also finished my Super Cabled Christmas Stocking on Thursday and sold it along with its red sibling on Friday. Quick work!

Knit nite

Knit night last night was fun, and Biscuit participated fully. Note that she has a chair, and I’m sitting on the floor.

I haven’t decorated my house for the holidays yet. I’m wary of putting up my usual mini-tree because I keep catching Biscuit on the piano. I wonder how she’ll behave with menorah candles? This is my usual setup:

Christmas Hanukkah

And will she pull down the stocking holders from the mantel? One of these moose weights could knock her out.

pdxknitterati christmas

Guess we’ll find out…

Addi Turbo giveaway: The winner according to Random.org is commenter number 1, Anne Westbrook. Anne, I’m sending you an email to get your snailmail addy…for your Addi! Congratulations.

Onward!

Counting cable rows, Art&Craft Pop-up sale

While I’ve got this giant yarn on my needles, I thought I’d share the tip I learned from Norah Gaughan in her two-sided cables class at Columbia Gorge Fiber Festival. (That’s 2 CGFF-related posts in a row. It was a great trip!)

Counting cable crossings

How many rows has it been since I cabled? See the hole where my finger is coming out? That indicates last cable crossing. The first ladder next to my finger is from the cable row. The three other ladders over my finger are the three rows that followed. My thumb is pointing at the ladders, just to be helpful. This shows that I have worked the cable row and three more rows (actually rounds here). According to my pattern, it’s time for my next cable crossing!

Thanks to Biscuit (Bisquee) for helping. If you’d like to follow her on Instagram, she’s @thebiscuitreport. If you’d like to follow me on Instagram, I’m @pdxknitterati. I gave her a separate account so my account could be more focused; we’ll see how that works!

Don’t forget I’m giving away my Addi Turbo US 17 circular; see previous post for details and to enter for a chance to win it.

And I’m about to start the toe of this Super Cabled Christmas Stocking, after this last round of cables. Should be done today. Which is good, because I need it tomorrow. I’m teaming up with several local artists for pop-up Art&Craft Show and Sale.

Pop Up Flyer

There will be paintings, pottery, fused glass, jewelry (earrings, wrap bracelets, more), quilted items, greeting cards, and lots more.

I’m selling a lot of my design samples, because I need room for the next generation. And these deserve a chance to be worn in the world. Here’s some of what I’ll have there. If you’re local, come and say hi. I’ll be there on Friday (tomorrow), and my knits will be there throughout the weekend (although I’m hoping they’ll all be sold by the end of Sunday). Here’s a small sample of what I’m bringing. There’s a lot more…

Pop up knits

Knitting au naturel, Addi Turbo giveaway

One of the things I learned in Carson Demers’ ergonomics class at Columbia Gorge Fiber Festival is to take stock of your knitting, and try not to have all of your projects be the same. In other words, they shouldn’t all be fingering weight lace shawls on size 4 needles. That’s kind of hard for me, since usually I have two of these, one a thinking project (the current design conundrum piece) and one a non-thinking project (git ‘er done!). So for me, they’re same same but mentally different. I don’t usually think about having projects that are physically/ergonomically different.

Right now though, I have two projects that are physically very different.

Alpaca yarn

I’m knitting/designing with this two-ply fingering weight spindle spun alpaca from Peru. The yarn is a prototype from a women’s cooperative there. This isn’t what the end product yarn will always be like, but it’s pretty fun to work with.

mystery alpaca project

So soft, so fuzzy, so warm. And the romance of the story is awesome.

Super Cabled Christmas Stocking

My other project is my Super Cabled Christmas Stocking (expialidocious!). I gave away the original prototype last year to someone who needed one but didn’t have time to knit it, and was given the same un-knitted yarn in return. I recently saw this yarn in my stash, and decided to knit it again. Super quick! I think it will be done in 3 evenings. I’m already past the heel turn, and it’s only 9 rounds of instep to the toe shaping.

It’s funny how I’m knitting both of these projects with undyed wool. Maybe if my knitting projects are physically different, there still has to be something similar about them. Too funny.

Mini needle review: Last time, I knit the stocking with an Addi Turbo needle, US 17, 20 inches. The fat cord is brilliant in that the stitches don’t have to transition between a skinny cord and a fat needle, but this particular yarn doesn’t slide freely along the cable. Also, the very blunt tips made my cabling without a cable needle a little slower.

Addi Turbo US 17

I bought a Hiya Hiya Sharp US 17, 16 inches after the first evening’s knitting. I probably could have used a 24 inch needle (it doesn’t come in 20 inch) since the stocking circumference is 28 inches, and it would have longer tips (more comfortable), but I didn’t think of it. Still, things are going swimmingly, even with a regular skinny cable. No transition issues. And the longer, sharper taper on the tips are making the cabling easier, too. Win!

Rather than keep a needle that I’m not going to use again (since I have the new needles), I’d like to give these Addi Turbos away to one of you. Leave a comment on this post by Dec. 6, and I’ll pick a winner, USA only because of shipping for this one. These weren’t my favorite needles, but your knitting style and yarn may make them perfect for you.

The Super Cabled Christmas Stocking is one of the patterns I have on sale 25% off in the Indie Design Gift Along, and that sale ends tonight (Nov. 30) at midnight EST with coupon code giftalong2016 (scroll down to see bundle on this page, bundle only good through tonight). It’s also available through Knit Picks for $3.99, but won’t be in your Ravelry library. Knitter’s choice! I’ll keep this one pattern on sale through Ravelry at 20% off through December 6 with no coupon to entice you to knit it, and maybe with this Addi Turbo needle. Good luck!

Reminder: I’m having fun with my new email newsletter; let me know if you want to subscribe. Still not automated! So leave a comment for that, too, if you’re interested.

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!