Posts Tagged ‘Cooking’

As you may have guessed, I am having a bit of trouble in that department. I did start a new warp. The sett on the thread I used this time was 12 ends per inch, which drastically reduced the number of ends I needed to create. This is awesome, as far as I am concerned. We’ve gone from 432 ends to 216. I am very happy with this. So it’s still five bouts, four of 50 strands, one of 16. Wonderful! …except I made two mistakes that I didn’t see till after the fact.

The first one was that I had gotten so used to following one path on the warping mill, I forgot I had moved the guide thread over by one peg, and wound one bout short. I, of course, did not see it until the bout was done. One of the 50 thread ones, of course. Life would have been so much easier had it been the 16 thread bout.

The second mistake came when I put the five bouts on the loom. Once again, a 50 thread bout…I lost the cross. The bout is a mess.

At this point, I rage quit. Temporarily. As in, I will return to this when I calm down. Probably once the children are back in school, and I have a bit more time.

We’ve celebrated our first Yule and Christmas here in North Carolina. We had a family over for Yule that is as pagan as I am, and for  Christmas it was just the four of us. And I’ve decided I’m going to stop with these huge dinners that I’ve hung onto all my life. We’re only four people. Aneira eats less than a sparrow does, the hubby eats only a tiny bit more as he doesn’t really care for either turkey or pernil, I don’t eat a lot as I’ve been in the kitchen all day and am sick of looking at food, and Bryony will pick over what’s on her plate and complain about nearly all of it except cranberry sauce. For Yule, we had gone simple: a huge vat of chili, to feed eight people.  It was perfect.

Why didn’t I do the same thing for Christmas? Well, based on my own self-psychoanalysis, I can only come to the conclusion that it’s my mother.

My entire life, right up until I had Aneira, my mother did Christmas, and she did it up big. A turkey and/or ham, a zillion sides, dessert, dining room table decorated with a nice centerpiece, and special dishes and silverware that were only seen during the holidays. Some of my best childhood and teenage memories are tied into those holiday meals, and I think they kind of act as my last link to my mom. But Mom has been gone for 13 years now, and I think it’s time that I realized that the holiday meals she cooked also included our extended family, where mine do not. I am hundreds of miles from my closest relative, and hubby has none left on his side. As much as I love seeing those meals hit the table for the memories they evoke, they’re largely a waste of food in the end, because the four of us are never going to finish that much food. So I’ve decided I’m not doing it anymore. Instead of a turkey, it’ll be a chicken with a couple of sides. Maybe I can find a small version of pernil, who knows?


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I did. I said I wasn’t cooking yesterday, but I changed my mind late Wednesday night, due to the nagging of my youngest child. So at midnight, hubby and I were in Walmart, buying the fixings of a turkey dinner. Honestly, I was pretty darn surprised to get everything at that hour. I figured the store would be out of everything by then, but no. So dinner was the ubiquitous turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and deviled eggs, with a Marie Callendar apple pie and two rolls of Dutch banket for dessert.

The banket did not go well, and let me explain why. I haven’t made it in quite awhile, but I hadn’t misstepped this badly on the recipe before. What happened is that I have discovered a job that a Vitamix absolutely cannot handle: making almond paste.

Normally, I use my food processor for that job, but since the reduction in kitchen size, things aren’t always easily accessible now, or it’s a pain to find the space to use them. Such is the case with the food processor. There is precious little room between the cabinets and the counters. The Keurig fits, but the space is cozy, to say the least. The Vitamix does not fit, so it resides next to the Keurig in its two distinct parts. The base to the back, the carafe at the front, because it sees the most use. The food processor doesn’t get used a whole lot, so it lives elsewhere. I didn’t feel like dragging it out, and thought I could safely use the Vitamix for the job. I make almond butter in the thing all the time, why not almond paste?

I’ll tell you why: almond paste is considerably denser. The Vitamix quit, in the middle of the job. Just…quit. And I had to drag out the food processor anyway. As a result, the almond paste has a different texture than it usually does, because I usually chop the almond up very finely, into flour, really. This time, it had a very grainy texture, and was a good deal stickier than usual. It still tasted the same (read: delicious), but the texture was way off the mark. But it was still a hit, so there’s that.

I love cooking when I have an appreciative audience, and lately I have one often. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but Aneira has herself a boyfriend. And given the fact that she is only fourteen to his sixteen, they are never unchaperoned. He comes over, often with his father, and all adults keep eyes on them.

He’s a good kid. He helps, unasked, with the household chores and groceries, and calls me “Ma”. He brings Aneira roses and tells her things like seeing her eyes brightens his day. He’s respectful, and doesn’t resent constantly having adults around. And he’s willing to brave her father and her insane uncles to be with her, which is a big deal. Both of them love sitting down and playing games with us, whether it’s Cards Against Humanity or Dungeons and Dragons. The kid’s a keeper, no doubt about it, but they’re both young, and might decide not to keep each other forever, which is totally normal, of course. By the same token, this could also be my future son-in-law, so it’s a good thing all parties get along! But since he’s been around, I cook for six almost as often as I cook for four. And it’s lovely to have them enjoy it, so I’m happy to do it!

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Though tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I am not cooking for it this year. The tiny kitchen is more than a little daunting. I do plan to cook for Yule, which gives me a month to work out the logistics of cooking a huge meal with many components, in a kitchen the size of a postage stamp, which I will necessarily be sharing with whichever child is selected to do dishes.

The deal is, if I have to cook, someone other than me does the dishes. It is Law.

That being said, though I’m not doing the big turkey day extravaganza, I do find myself in a baking mood today. I haven’t done any since we moved, and there are a couple of things I haven’t made in awhile that I’m craving, both being my versions of things at the Dutch bakery back in Colorado.

First is the bacon/ham/gouda quiche that they made there. I haven’t made it in at least a year, primarily due to complaints that I made it too often. I figure I’ve waited quite long enough, and that’s what I’m making for breakfast this morning.

I also want to make some Dutch banket. I miss the homemade almond paste filling the flaky puff pastry, warm right out of the oven. And it’s a holiday pastry, so it falls right in line.

I’ve been up since 4 am. I don’t know why I woke up then, but I did. I wish I could blame these cravings on that fact, but no. I’ve been thinking about the quiche for several days, and because I was introduced to both the quiche and the banket at the same place, it follows that both would come to mind at the same time.

Sigh. Looks like I’m getting up to start the day. I need to get some ham, almonds, and powdered sugar so I can get to cooking…

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Accidental earrings

There have been a couple of these this weekend. First, I was playing with helm weave, which is a chain maille weave that involves two parallel lines of rings connected by smaller rings and capturing a third row between them. The third row isn’t connected in any way to the other rows, other than capture by being surrounded. It’s one of the many I hadn’t tried before, so I wanted to give it a shot. I tried it the first time with aluminum rings that followed exact sizes in a pattern, and came out with a pretty little ring of rings. No particular use for it, just practice. So then I started playing with other rings that were supposed to meet the aspect ratio criteria, and by numbers, they did…but they didn’t work for helm. They were far too tight, no movement at all. So I posted to a chain maille group on Facebook, and someone suggested using what I had made as zipper pulls, which triggered my own brain to think of earrings, so that’s what they became! Thus: a happy failure.

The success portion of our program came from New England clam chowder. This is a meal that I have tried to make many times, and never got it right. Every attempt at this soup wound up in the garbage disposal. No exaggeration: Every. Single. One.

My last attempt was at least…let’s just say, a really long time ago. I had given up. I had access to Red Robin and Red Lobster, and they both had excellent bowls of clam chowder; I had no need to make it myself. And for what it’s worth, in my opinion, Red Robin serves a better version than the Lobster. Go fig.

The finished, delicious product

Anyway, I no longer have access to the rouge-chested little avian, so if I want good clam chowder, I will have to make it myself. In recalling past attempts, I have to admit I wasn’t best thrilled with this solution. But canned clam chowder is not that good, even after doctoring it, and after the tandoori chicken turned out so well, I was less hesitant than I might have been, and off I went to find a recipe.

It isn’t hard to find a good recipe on Google. In fact, there are so many it’s hard to choose. I finally settled on one from reluctantentertainer.com that wasn’t too complicated as far as ingredients or directions, and got to work. I only had to go out and buy one ingredient that isn’t a staple in my house: leeks. I don’t recall ever having eaten a leek in my life, and I didn’t know what to do with one. Again, Google was my friend. There was actually a video to show you what parts of a leek to use…which is a good thing, as it looks like a gigantic green onion, and I would otherwise have also used the green part.

I followed the recipe to the letter, and once I reached a point of testing the flavor of the chowder, I decided one ingredient was lacking, and that was white wine. I added a half cup, and after cooking off the alcohol, the soup was absolutely, totally, divine. I was honestly shocked. I was fully prepared to have to cook again after dumping a failed soup down the disposal, and now I didn’t have to. Even my kids loved it. And a new recipe was added to the list of things I could cook on a dull day.

I don’t normally tweak a recipe the first time out. I generally wait till I’ve made it a few times, then add or take away things as I feel are needed or not. The cayenne in the tandoori chicken doesn’t count: I have children, and extra spicy food doesn’t work for my youngest at all, so all I did was reduce the amount there. Nothing added, no ingredients fully removed. With the clam chowder, though, I felt as though it was missing something. It was just “okay”. But then I remembered a white clam sauce recipe that I’d gotten from Pinterest. That recipe included wine and stated it was optional. I’d always made it with the wine, except for one time, and that one time, the sauce was actually inedible to me. So I thought, maybe that’s the same problem here, and it was.

A gazillion years ago, maybe I was just impatient. Maybe I made too many substitutions because I didn’t have whatever was needed and thought they would work. Whatever my block was, I’m glad it’s gone now!

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If you have never seen “My Cousin Vinny”, go and rent it immediately, especially if you’re from New York. It stars Joe Pesci, Marisa Tomei, and Ralph Macchio, and is one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. Joe Pesci is a typical Brooklynite, heavy accent and all, an untried attorney, and he and his fiancee, played by Marisa, go down to Alabama to defend his cousin, played by Ralph Macchio, and his roommate against a murder charge. There are two scenes in the movie concerning grits that are absolutely hysterical.

Southern cooking is not something I experienced in my house growing up. My parents were both first generation West Indian-Americans, so the things my mother cooked were generally Caribbean food, or really common American dishes that you’d find in any Good Housekeeping magazine: burgers and fries, meatloaf, etc. They were also health nuts before it was a thing, so my mom never fried anything. My mother’s version of fried chicken was breaded and baked, and I don’t recall her making even that very often. So, as a result of my upbringing, I can’t say I’m good at frying anything, and there are some aspects of cooking I’m only learning now, grits being the big one.

At the top of that list is grits. A former roommate of mine introduced me to grits with butter and bacon years ago when discovering that I don’t like hot cereal. I can’t stand the stuff. Don’t come near me with cream of wheat, farina, or oatmeal. Cream of wheat and farina, I won’t touch under any circumstances. Oatmeal only if baked into cookies. I don’t know if it’s a texture thing or what, but hot cereal repulses me altogether.

The grits not only didn’t bother me, but they were actually good. I’ve tried one other variation on them since, grits and cheese, and discovered that I didn’t like that one at all. Now I stick with just butter and bacon, and I’m happy.

One thing I’ve learned about cooking grits is that you cannot use a plastic or vinyl spoon for stirring them. You’ve got to use metal or wood. Plastic and vinyl get melted! I was shocked when I pulled my vinyl spoon out of the pot and it was warped. I can stir anything else hot with a vinyl spoon…except grits. I thought maybe it was the density of the grits, but I’ve stirred mashed potatoes, which is more dense, with the same spoon and not had a problem. It’s like something in the grits themselves amplifies the heat and melts plastic. Fresh out of the pot, they have the consistency of…hot glue is the only thing I can come up with. Which, I guess, is why one of the more humorous things I’ve heard is that if you have an abusive husband, you should dump hot grits on his lap. The general consensus is “That’ll fix ‘im!” And all I can say, while laughing, is that hot grits in the lap will do far more damage than a hot cup of coffee.

The courtroom scene in “My Cousin Vinny” where Joe Pesci interrogates someone about cooking grits, I am sad to say, was my inspiration to only use regular grits, which take about twenty minutes to cook. Pesci asks the witness if he prefers instant grits, regular grits, or al dente, which confuses the man, but he smirks and says “No self-respecting Southerner uses instant grits”, to the agreement of the rest of the courtroom, so of course, when we got here, I only bought regular grits. When in Rome…

But, sadly, just since we’ve been here, every store I’ve gone to has stopped carrying regular grits. All I can find now are the instant or the 5-minute grits. Oh, well.  At least no one can say I didn’t try to be a self-respecting Southerner!

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I’m not a huge chicken fan. I never have been. I love my red meat. The only chicken I ever liked is fried, whether cold or hot, doesn’t matter which. However, since being told I am diabetic, I am trying to eat healthier foods. I don’t always succeed, but I’m trying, which means that I’m eating healthier than I was previously, but not quite as healthy as I could be. Moderation is what I’m going for, and a lot more likely than cutting things completely out. A lot of that has to do with shopping for groceries. Eating healthy isn’t cheap. It’s a lot more expensive to buy the healthier yams or sweet potatoes than it is to buy regular white potatoes, especially when you are feeding a family. So we cut back on some of the less healthy items and increase the healthy a bit: moderation. I have no problem with the idea of eating more fish, but the other half is deathly allergic to it, so I only do fish on those nights when I’m in the mood to have to cook twice, or when there’s a little extra money for him to have his beloved Taco Bell (yuck), and the girls and I can have whatever we prefer. Given the choice between fast food, so-called Mexican food or seafood, my girls nearly always choose the gifts of the ocean.

Since I can’t always do fish, and I’m cutting back on red meat, and fried chicken is about as unhealthy as it gets, I’ve had to be more creative in getting myself to eat chicken. It’s difficult. Offer me red meat in almost any form, and I am totally there, plate in hand, saying “Please, may I have some more?” But chicken? Meh, not so much.

Cue a trip down to Greenville this summer to get Aneira’s eyes examined. I couldn’t get an appointment in town until well after school started, and she needed new glasses before that, which meant going elsewhere. I couldn’t remember what time the appointment was, exactly, and couldn’t reach the office before leaving the house, so I decided to err on the side of caution and head out early in the morning, because I assumed that was when the appointment was, and the office was an hour away. Better to be early than to be late.

Oh, boy, were we ever early! The appointment wasn’t until the afternoon! Well, I wasn’t driving home just to turn around and drive back again, so we decided to wander around Greenville, which is a bigger town than the one we ended up in. And by lunchtime, while browsing a downtown shop, we got a recommendation for the Indian restaurant across the street as being not only inexpensive, but actually good. So off we went.

Now, it should be said that Aneira is not wild about trying new cuisine. But she’s opening up to it as her taste buds mature, so she agreed to this venture, and we ordered the buffet, which offered plenty of vegetable dishes, but there was only one meat on offer: chicken. And being the carnivore that I am, meat is always first on my list, even if not my preferred type. And the tandoori chicken was the least spicy offering, so I tried it.

This is what chicken dishes aspire to be. I pretty much melted on the spot. It surpassed every chicken dish I’d ever eaten in my life. I got Aneira to try some, and she gave it a tepidly favorable response. Well, that’s okay, better than I expected from a fourteen year old trying something new.

Several weeks passed, and Aneira made an astonishing request for dinner: she wanted tandoori chicken. There are no Indian restaurants in our town, which she knew, and that meant I would have to make it. Oooookkkaaaaaay…I have zero experience in cooking actual Indian food. However, a lot of Caribbean food is influenced by the Indian populations in the islands, and I do have some experience with Caribbean. But I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to get the ingredients I needed, and I certainly wasn’t sure if it would taste anything like the restaurant’s version. But the fact that she had enough faith in my cooking to ask was enough for me. I found a recipe online at a site called Simply Recipe, and headed off to the store, where I did find garam masala. It’s fairly easy to find even Asian ingredients at a normal grocery store, even in a smaller town, but I was pleasantly surprised to find the garam masala at the local Harris Teeter.

Garam masala wasn’t the only thing I didn’t have on hand. I also needed ginger, which is not as big a deal to find. And I always have ground ginger in the spice cabinet, but fresh ginger, no. Same for plain yogurt. All three items are now a normal part of my kitchen supplies.

The recipe was easy to follow. The hardest part of it was making the marinade, and that wasn’t difficult, just time consuming and something that needed to be done early in the day, which is when I am least likely to want to do it. Dinner isn’t until evening; I generally don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen until I have to. As much as I like to cook, this smaller kitchen has been a challenge, and I’ve been avoiding it.

I am proud to say, the tandoori chicken was a hit, at least with the kids. Hubby, not so much, but the kids loved it. And I did too: it tasted just like the restaurant, and is also delicious cold. I was so happy with the results that it is now, much to hubby’s dismay, a part of the kitchen repertoire. If I must eat healthier, I’m going to find the tastiest way to do it!

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A soon to be done chain maille bracelet in rainbow niobium.

Nope, I’m not a Game of Thrones fan. Before anyone who is flips out, I did read the books, years before the series, and didn’t like any of the characters. I’ve gotta be able to connect with a character, and pretty much none of them were really likable people. I re-read them again after the series began, and tried the series itself, and just couldn’t do it. The only characters I liked were the direwolves. Sorry, no converts here.

But the post is more about the fact that winter is coming, which means the holiday season, which starts with Halloween in this house. And which honestly didn’t occur to me until just this second. After I’ve started on the Yule-themed tatted bookmark. Well, it won’t be the first time I’ve had more than one project going at once! Time to find my Halloween thread!

I started Yule shopping for the kids a few months ago, so I’m just about done with that, except for two items. Which I’m not going to mention, as Aneira is now more internet connected and may read this! I’m pretty proud of the fact that I’m done a couple of months early, actually, and now I’m thinking in terms of handmade things I can add to the mix. Fall, winter, and holiday themed things maybe. Some amigurumi toys. Bracelets and necklaces. Bags, although I did that once already. Fortunately, they’re girls, and we can never have too many bags, bracelets, necklaces, or stuffed animals. And don’t think I don’t have my own stuffed animals, because you’d be dead wrong!! There’s a whole box up in my bedroom waiting to be unpacked as soon as I make enough room for them! And I’ve no shame in admitting it; I even sleep with a Stitch pillow, and no one better touch him!

L – R: beaded kumihimo, Byzantine in niobium, Byz in titanium, box weave in aluminum, JPL3 in aluminum, and three more JPL3 in niobium.

I’ve worked on a few things since we’ve been in the new house, all portable crafts, since I can’t justify tying myself to the looms just yet, until the house is fully unpacked, as much as I’d prefer not to wait that long. But I have to be a responsible adult for some things, so there you go.

I finally learned some beaded kumihimo, which is somehow both challenging and yet easier than I expected it to be. I learned a couple of new chain maille weaves, and expanded the tatting shuttle collection a bit. One day, I’ll have to photograph that as a group. And the plier collection has grown as well.

I honestly thought I was crazy with that one. I think I have about ten sets of pliers currently, and I thought I was going overboard with that many, but I’ve since discovered that many maillers have a lot more than ten!!

Dreamlit tatting shuttle

As much as I usually say something pro/con about my many tools, it occurs to me that I’ve never said a word about my pliers! Never even thought about it! I think it’s because the other tools I’ve talked about here have been tools specifically made for fiber arts, where pliers are a common household tool almost from birth. Yes, the ones I have serve a specific purpose, but still fall into the category of pliers, and I’ve never thought much about them. So that’s an idea for a future post.

There’ll be one about the Dreamlit tatting shuttle too…those are new, and I’m just trying them out for the first time.

Ooooo, and I learned to make tandoori chicken!!! What a hit that was with the kids! Not the hubby, so much, but the kids loved it. Aneira and I had gone to lunch at a little Indian restaurant while waiting for her eye exam, and it was the first time we’d had tandoori chicken. SOOOOOO good! And Aneira asked me a month later to try making it, so I did. I didn’t expect it to come out all that great, not the first time, but it tasted just like the restaurant! Needless to say, that’s been added to the repertoire!

Well, the dogs have just put in a howling appearance, so I’d better go see what’s going on with them. Happy crafting!

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Recipe Time!

Toss Together Chicken Pasta, before the noodles are added

I don’t think I’ve ever posted a recipe before. It’s not that I can’t cook. I’m what I term “fluffy”. The words “fat” and “obese” aren’t allowed in my house. I’m not grossly overweight, but let’s just say the loss of a few pounds would not be a bad thing. Anyway, I became fluffy because I love good food, and I love to cook it myself because eating out all the time would be prohibitively expensive. The reason I don’t post recipes of my own is because I’m an “eyeball” cook. You know, you keep adding oregano, or whatever, until it looks right to you, or tastes right. I don’t always cook that way, especially when following someone else’s recipe, but with my own, yeah, it works that way.

So I call this the Toss Together Chicken Pasta, and I actually tried to take notes since it came out so well last night. So here goes.

Ingredient list

3 large boneless chicken breasts, cubed

1/2 red onion, coarsely chopped

1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped

Parsley to taste

Oregano to taste

Salt to taste

Pepper to taste

Flour to thicken the sauce

1 16 oz box rotini noodles

In a large, deep pan, heat the olive oil and butter together. Add the garlic and saute until golden. Add the bell pepper and onion, continue to saute until it begins to soften. Add the chicken, parsley, oregano, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to the pan. Cover and simmer on medium low heat until cooked through. In a separate pot, cook the noodles according to the box instructions and set aside.

When the chicken is cooked through, remove it and the vegetables from the pan. There should be a good amount of cooking liquid left in the pan from the veggies. Whisk in flour a little bit at a time to thicken the sauce to your satisfaction, and return the chicken and veggies to the pan. Add the chopped tomatoes and simmer about ten minutes. Add the cooked pasta noodles, mix well, and serve.

You can add other things to it as well. I’ve made this with chopped Portobello mushrooms too, because mushrooms!

I paired this with Guacamole Egg Salad. That recipe can be found at a blog called Nutritious Eats; it isn’t mine. I love egg salad, and I’d been craving it, but I didn’t want the same old, same old, so I went looking for something different and found this recipe. It looked so delicious, I had to try it. I love eggs. I love avocado. I love lime. And fresh cilantro. And bacon. Who doesn’t love bacon? Admittedly, I did not use the jalapeno called for in the recipe, but I used everything else, including replacing mayo with plain Greek yogurt, something that never would have occurred to me as a suitable replacement. But it worked.

OMG, was this delicious. It’s even better the second day. This was so good, even my kids liked it. Aneira doesn’t like cilantro at all, and Bryony is not a huge fan of bacon (I know. It’s a real failing.). Both of them scarfed this meal like they were never going to see food again.

Guacamole egg salad is a bit more time consuming to make than run-of-the-mill egg salad, I will say that. Average egg salad is cook and chop the eggs, add mayo and mustard, mix, and voila. This definitely took longer, but every bite is so worth it. Bon appetit!!

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Leg of lamb steak, with a side of basil pesto pasta. Yummy!

As you can see, I’m trying to come up with more interesting post titles, while also making sure I’m not using titles I’ve used before. It’s harder than you might expect. The blog is over a year old now, and the more posts you have on similar subjects, the more likely it becomes that you may post something with a title you’ve used before, which wouldn’t be good. I imagine the site would tell me if this is the case; at least, I hope it would!

Obviously, I’m not actually cooking with wire. But I was cooking tonight. My palate-challenged family had leftovers from a recent trip to Rasta Pasta, so I could make whatever I wanted for myself. Until I’d remembered the leftovers, I had been wracking my brain for what to cook. Not only is my family incredibly picky about food, the PIP is allergic to fish and shellfish, as in anaphylactic shock if he eats it. Canned tuna apparently is fine, because it’s so processed. Fresh fish, though…

Our doctor has told him that he has very likely outgrown the allergy by now, but I think the only way I’m going to get him to try any fish other than tuna would be to park at the emergency room and have him eat it there! That way, if the doc is wrong, and he still has the allergy, at least we’d be where he could get help.

The girls and I are huge seafood fans, so we’re really grateful that they didn’t inherit his allergy. They love shrimp and crab legs.

But all of them are extremely close-minded about anything they perceive as new or odd. The kids won’t touch curried goat or lamb in any shape or form, and neither will he. He’s also squeamish about anything with bones in it, so when I roast a chicken, I have to carve all the meat off the bones and get rid of the carcass before he lays eyes on it. He’s also not a huge fan of either chicken, pork, or steak, though he’ll eat them. His favorite meat is ground hamburger. Well, once you’ve done spaghetti sauce, meatloaf, chili, and burgers, you’ve pretty much exhausted what you can do with it. There are about a billion variations of those recipes, where you add or take away ingredients, but you’re still talking about meatloaf, etc. I’ve been hunting for new things to do with it that everyone will actually eat without complaint.

Tonight, though, I was cooking for me, which gave me a lot more choices, and I didn’t know what I wanted, so I was flipping through recipe books.

Let me tell you something: Costco has a different set of recipe books for sale every time I walk into the store, and I always make the mistake of stopping to look at them because I’m aware of that fact. And every time, I find one (or more) that interests me. Usually at least two. And I’ve been building up my cookbook collection thanks to Costco. So I hit these books tonight, looking for inspiration. In the end, I decided to make a leg of lamb steak with pesto pasta. I have a very deep love affair with pesto. In Arizona, there’s a sandwich shop called Baggins, and when I first arrived in Tucson, they carried pesto pasta salad that was absolutely delicious. I’ve been trying to recreate it since they discontinued it a year later. I haven’t gotten it yet. I’ve gotten close, but not quite there. One day I’ll attempt to make pesto from scratch. I’ve been using store bought pesto, adding pine nuts, parmesan cheese, and diced bell pepper. It’s been good, but it falls short of Baggins’ version. One day, though, I will get it right.

Practice piece of Yoola Infinity Necklace.

I finished up the practice infinity necklace. It was going to go to Aneira, but then I realized that it was really more of a practice piece. There are so many mistakes in it, loops of different sizes and such. Toward the end, I think I finally got a grasp on it. The loops became a lot more uniform, but that only happened within the last fifty rounds. I also accidentally cut some of the purple wires in the process of cutting off the hot pink base, which meant I lost the tail that was supposed to be used to lash the two sides of the end together, so I had to unravel about four rows back to get the right length tail for the purpose.

Now that I think I have a grasp on what I’m doing, I’m going to start a new one. I have some 28 gauge, dead soft sterling silver wire that I think would look fantastic with that design, but I think I may try it again with craft wire first. Craft wire is a bit less expensive if I screw up, and like I said, I think I have a grasp on what I’m doing! Until I can say I’m absolutely certain I know what I’m doing, I should probably save the good stuff!


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Bryony's bag...nearly there!!!

Bryony’s bag…nearly there!!!

YES!!!!! The worst part of Bryony’s bag–the body–is finally done!!! I’m working on the drawstring cord and the shoulder strap now, both of which are easy. And once I’m done, it may be a very long time before I attempt a bag of my own. Okay, probably not true, as I’m working on a design for a drawstring backpack with Roman Reigns’ symbol on it, but I may have to rethink the colors. Because his ring attire is black, I thought the backpack should be as well, but working with black yarn down in the manacle, as dim as the lighting is down there, would be an utter nightmare, even with my lighted crochet hooks! And an adult-sized backpack is going to take a good bit longer to make than the child-sized bags I’m just finishing off. Assuming, of course, that I don’t wind up having to restart that bag three times!!!! So a color change may be in order.

Since my original plan was the bag in black with the symbol in white, I did think about simply reversing the colors, but white gets dirty too quickly, and the dirt shows quite well, so that’s kind of out. Black symbol on a red background is a possibility, but not my favorite color scheme either. This will take some thought, and I’ve got plenty of time to worry about it!

I know this post is short, but blame the time of year! I’ve got to get back to this thing and finish it off, and I’m also trying to get the house presentable for Christmas Day. The children seem to have an aversion to keeping any room in this house clean for longer than three seconds. And I’m doing the huge feast for Christmas as well, so I need to start what can be started early so I have less to do on the day. Because, yeah, that’s gonna happen. Right.

So, to all, my holiday greetings: Happy Solstice, Blessed Yule, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa, Happy Holidays, Feliz Navidad…I’m sure I’m forgetting some, so please forgive me!

Edited: Five minutes after I published this post, the unthinkable happened–I went to test the drawstring length against the bag and put it through the holes I’d made for it to make sure everything was copacetic…lo and behold, I had somehow forgotten to put in the last hole!! As a result of that mistake, I’ve had to rip back the entire shoulder strap  and three rows of the body: in excess of roughly five hundred stitches. I’m currently trying to decide if I’m going to scream or cry. 


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