Saturday, August 11, 2007

Much Ado About Nothing

Aye, me, I've been such a sluggish blogger!

There really is nothing new to report, which is why there has been no blogging lately and I'm left to report this:

I am Marianne Dashwood!

Take the Quiz here!

This is completely unimportant and has no relevancy whatsoever, but comes as no surprise to me and made me very happy nonetheless. I've always related so much to Miss Marianne and have always wanted to be her. But it is so hard to reconcile the romance of Marianne Dashwood to my 21st Century American suburban life. Sigh. Still, I girl can dream, can't she?

Oh well, back to reality. We've hit a bit of a bad patch around here.

The weather has been most foul, MOST foul! Stifling heat, maddening humidity, heat indexes up to 109 degrees, ugh, it's been appalling. I just know there are Dementors breeding out there! I really shouldn't complain too much since this is how the weather usually is all summer long and this year we've only had a few scattered days of it. But still, waking up in the morning to find every window in the house fogged up like the bathroom mirror when I get out of the shower is NO FUN AT ALL! I would much rather be too cold than too hot!

In addition to the unwelcoming weather, there seems to be a sinister presence in my kitchen. Maybe Daria is right and I really do have a boggart in the house and it has now decided to turn its attention directly onto my kitchen. We have seen nothing but food behaving badly around here. Because, as we all know, it must be the food rather than the cook!

I don't know what it is, but everything seems to be going amok in here! I brought home some lovely peaches least week that had "peach cobbler" written all over them. I was even going to take pictures of the cobbler in progress and then again in its finished glory. I hauled out my trusty America's Test Kitchen cookbook (the love of my life lately) and followed to the letter the instructions for peeling peaches. Heh. Easy-to-peel-peaches my eye! I haven't had such an unpleasant experience since the last time I decided to dust and vacuum the dog's domain under the piano and was thrown into a three-day sneezing fit! By the time I was finished peeling I had decided a bowl of sliced peaches was exactly what I wanted. I covered them in plastic wrap and shoved them angrily into the fridge to be eaten later on top of ice cream, pound cake, cookies, or whatever else we fancied.

A few days later The Viking informed me of his great need for egg salad sandwiches for lunch. Once again, I placed my trust in the good people of America's Test Kitchen and followed carefully the instructions for hard-boiling eggs. I know what you're thinking: who needs instructions for hard-boiling eggs? Well, it does matter how you do it (despite anything The Viking says) because you don't want weird-colored yolks, or, tough whites, or stubborn, hard-to-remove shells! So I took great care in boiling those eggs...

You guessed it, that blasted kitchen boggart struck again and those eggs turned out to be the most difficult dozen I've ever peeled in my life! They looked like I'd peeled them with my teeth when I was done! Luckily they were being chopped up in a salad and not being refilled and displayed or anything or I would have been in tears! If it wasn't for the fact that I was very hungry and had nothing else to make for lunch, I would have smashed those eggs all over the How To Hard Boil Eggs page of that cookbook and slammed it shut, thereby sealing those pages together henceforth rendering them forever unreadable.

A few days after that I made a lasagna. Now, I've made this dish before and have had few problems. But this time, I was merrily sauteing and measuring when I realized I was clean out of eggs. I needed an egg for the ricotta cheese mixture. What happened to all my eggs? Oh, that's right, the egg salad, grrrrrr. So, I had to make the lasagna without the egg. And then I ran out of noodles. I have never run out of noodles before! And I know I checked before I went shopping to make sure there were enough! I don't know who it is, but somebody's been snacking on raw lasagna noodles! Fortunately, my family does not really care how pretty a lasagna is, as long as it's cheesy, so crisis was averted that time.

Now, I know what you must be thinking: was that lasagna recipe from America's Test Kitchen? And to that I reply, "DON'T EVEN GO THERE!" I will not have our great nation's Test Kitchen questioned like that! They test things, everything! They make all the mistakes so we don't have to! I love them, you hear me? Love them! There's just a boggart in my kitchen. Or, perhaps, maybe I just haven't been paying close attention due to the Dementor-breeding-mists outside.

Anyway, things have been clearing up, both inside and outside of my kitchen. Rains rolled in yesterday and swept all the nastiness out of the atmosphere. Last night was cool and dry, perfect sweatshirt weather. We got into our sweats, brought out the throw blankets, made brownies and watched movies last night. We slept with the windows open, a perfect way to clear one's head and sweeten one's slumber. It was like a preview of fall. And today has been the most glorious day since last October. The sun is bright, but the air is mild and almost crisp. It's got me thinking of apples, pumpkins, cider, chili and beef stew. I keep having to remind myself it's only August 11, that we have at least 3 weeks of summer left, three weeks in which the weather can go straight into the toilet once again. But for now, it's wonderful!

And cooking-wise, things have improved. Last night we had one of our most favorite of summer meals, Gyro Burgers with a Greek Village Salad. The Salad recipe is Rachel Ray's (one of my absolute faves of hers) and the burger recipe I found online (can't remember where). Every time we have it we exclaim with our mouths full how much we love this food! I make homemade tzatziki sauce and smear it all over the burgers which we wrap in pitas. The salad has huge chunks of ripe tomatoes, red and green peppers, cucumbers, feta cheese and black olives in it. It's wonderful as a topping to the burgers or just as a side salad. There's still some left; I'm eyeing that for lunch.

Tonight we're having (dang) quesadillas leftover from the other night. I had never made them before and they were from America's Test Kitchen and they were brilliant so there!

Looking ahead, I'm thinking Thai Coconut Chicken Soup, Tacos, Marinated Pork Chops, Spaghetti, and a fresh fruit and veggies night (corn on the cob, tomato and cucumber salad, peaches and blueberries) for this week. There's also a Moroccan Chicken recipe I've been dying to try so maybe I'll throw that in there too.

In other news, have I mentioned my new knitting endeavor? I learned to knit a few years ago and have finally decided to branch out from scarves to sweaters. Most specifically THIS sweater!

I've been wanting to knit my children Weasley sweaters ever since I saw Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone and have finally this year is the year! I've got the pattern and some nice, new, smooth, sexy, bamboo needles and I know which kind of yarn I need, though I haven't gotten it yet. Best of all, Lobelia, a most fantastic knitter in her own right, is helping me. And boy is she sorry already! I've called her no less than 4 times this week with knitting questions of various levels of inanity.

You see, I held off on buying yarn because it's been a while since I've knitted and I figured I'd need some practice first. I have some semi-crappy yarn left over from my very first project, a Gryffindor scarf for Red Headed Snippet that looks pretty good but curls in on itself so fiercely it may as well be an overly long Gryffindor tube sock (I'd share a pic but it's packed away in the basement). I decided to brush up on my skillz using the old yarn and quite unhappily discovered I have almost no clue what I'm doing! I called Lobelia after noticing that halfway through each row of allegedly "purling" I was overcome with the desire to throw myself off the top of a very tall building. And what was supposed to be a stockinette stitch turned out looking like this on the "front":

And this on the "back":

Thankfully, Lobelia is very patient and successfully talked me off my ledge and onto some very helpful websites. The one I like best is here, It has videos, VIDEOS, man!

So, I've spent the week calling my sister, watching videos, messing around with yarn, knitting, purling, tearing out stitches, dropping stitches, barely saving stitches and knitting and purling again, and I think I've settled on a wonky way of accomplishing what I need to accomplish. I like knitting Continental style, but purling English style also known as throwing or American style (the fact that this technique is known as both "English" AND "American" style just strikes me as immensely funny, but that could simply be because I'm an American Anglophile, but I digress). I've also found that by using a technique called knitting backwards, I can knit much faster. Basically, after I've knitted a row, I just knit again holding the needle full of stitches in my right hand and using the left needle the same way I just used the right to knit the stitches onto the right needle. So I never have to turn the needles; I just keep them in the same hands and knit the stitches back and forth from one to the other. Confused yet? I don't think I can explain it any better, but it works, at least for a stockinette stitch. So I think I'll stick with it. Cause purling's a bitch!

So now, after a week of trying and retrying and actually learning the correct way to do things (and, bear in mind, working with semi-crappy yarn), this is the bumpy mess I have to show for it all:

It just doesn't seem fair somehow and I am REALLY nervous about getting the good yarn and starting on it in earnest. I just keep reminding myself that these sweaters are supposed to look homemade and imperfect and that my children will love them no matter what. I sure hope so anyway.

Maybe another week's practice will help.

Okay, gotta run. There's laundry to be washed and beds to be changed. And I need to find some way to get outdoors and enjoy the unseasonable weather.


Lindy said...

We must be sisters. I took that quiz a few days ago, and turns out I'm Elinor Dashwood. lol

My mouth is watering after reading this post. Do you cater by any chance?

Lindy :)

robiewankenobie said...

do you have a local stitch 'n' bitch? ours is really helpful with straightening out foibles.

Durf said...

I liked reading about your adventures in cooking. I think maybe you were just having an off-day when the disasters happened. I feel that way sometimes when I cook. Sometimes you just can't get it right, even though you've done it right in the past.

cottage by the river said...

I wanted a sweater for my son with a g for Griffin. My Mom took a navy sweatshirt and cross stiched a G in red, it is so cute.