01/4/16

Adieu and Bienvenue

It’s amazing the way the time passes. Just a few short days ago, we bid 2015 farewell. And now we’re into the swing of 2016.

No pointed resolutions for me this year. No list of goals no score against a rubric.  No report card.

I’ve been meditating on these words from William Saroyan’s The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze for these few preliminary days of the year, and so I think that that’s what I’m going to stick with.

“Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”

That last sentence, while true, is a little bit fatalistic for this rose-coloured glasses wearer, I’m feeling some resonance in the rest of the sentiment. And so, I toast to embracing opportunities and, rather than just living, to be wholly alive with all our might. I hope we all have a great year!

Maple Ice Cream

(Recipe adapted from my friend Trish, the ice cream expert!)

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3/4 Cup maple syrup

1 1/2 Cups milk

1 1/2 Cups table cream

2 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp salt

2 eggs

pecans (optional for sprinkling overtop)

Directions

  • Pour the maple syrup into a medium sized saucepan, and set it over medium-high heat. It’s only 3/4 Cup, but it will bubble up a lot, so stick with a medium sized pan. Boil the syrup for 5-10 minutes until it has reduced by around 25%, leaving you with ¬2/3 Cups of reduced syrup.

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  • Stir the milk, cream, vanilla, and salt into the saucepan and bring the mixture just up to a boil.
  • While the milk, cream, and syrup are heating, crack the eggs into a mixing bowl, and whisk until they are light and fluffy.

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  • Temper the eggs by drizzling in about a ladleful of the hot dairy into the eggs, mixing like mad all the while. Because the eggs have been brought up to a closer temperature to the syrupy milk, they’re less likely to scramble when you pour them into the saucepan.
  • Heat future ice cream, stirring constantly, until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  • Chill for at least two hours (overnight is even better).

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  • Pour the mix into your ice cream maker, and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • If you are going to use the pecans, add them to the ice cream maker in the last few minutes of churning, or stir them into the ice cream once it’s been poured into the container in which it will be stored. (Living with someone who has a nut allergy, I just sprinkled a few on top of my scoop but left the ice cream untainted so that we could share.)

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I feel as though a number of the last recipes posted up here have included maple syrup, but it’s just so good! This ice cream came out so sublimely silky smooth and delicious. This is the flavour I am most likely to order at an ice cream shop, so I’ll be sure to be making more maple ice cream in the future.

12/3/13

Knit, Purl, Knit, Purl

I finished all of my Christmas knitting projects a few weeks ago which made me feel pretty pleased as punch, as any of you who craft know, Christmas knitting projects tend to get finished in a frenzy on the 23rd and 24th of December. The day has a way of sneaking up on you. At least it does on me. Not this year!

This is going to be a rather home made kind of Christmas, so I had been knitting up a storm to boot. When suddenly all of the gifts were finished, ends sewn in, I still had this magnificent momentum and energy to get more knitting done. So, I made a little something for myself!

I’m excited to show you all my Christmas knitting projects, but I can’t until the day passes. I’d love to share but I simply couldn’t risk ruining the surprise. So, you’ll have to make do with my latest project.

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I started in on Emerantha by Susanna IC using a Schoppel Crazy Zauberball (such a fun yarn to work with! It is a little bit prone to tangling if you use it as a center pull, but then it’s a surprise every time the color changes! You don’t know what is coming next!)

But then, half way through the bottom lace section, I made a pretty nasty mistake, and had worked across an entire row (all 345 stitches, for those who are counting) before realizing what I had done. So, I frogged the whole thing and started again.

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Insert frustration here. But this is what you get when you don’t watch what you are doing carefully. That, and frogging is a part of being a knitter. It was just so much work to do just to pull it apart.

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When I finished the bottom lace portion, I reached another point of confusion. I found the way that the short row instructions were set out was a little bit confusing. But after watching some videos on youtube, and learning that German short rows are my short row of choice, I managed my way through.

I couldn’t manage to get my short rows to work out so simply that the the top edge lace didn’t need some fudging to be both centered and with the right number of repeats, but where a pattern fails you (or you fail a pattern) innovation can go a long way. I also learned some good techniques that I’m sure I’ll use in the future, including placing beads in a pattern (so cute!) and the aforementioned German short rows.

To be honest, I can’t say that all of the trouble I ran into was the fault of the pattern. I do feel that there were parts that weren’t as clear as I would have liked them to be, but luckily years and years and years of knitting experience let me muddle through to having a pretty piece at the end.

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I have the shawl being blocked right now, and I really do think it turned out quite lovely! Please ignore the detritus of clutter on my dining room table.

And now, for likely what you really came here for: the food!

Spiced Pecans

(recipe from Lydia H.)

1 lb pecan halves

1 egg white

1 tsp cold water

1/2 Cup sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

a sprinkling of freshly ground nutmeg

Directions

  • Separate the egg putting the white into a large mixing bowl.
  • Add the teaspoon of cold water to the egg white and whisk until quite frothy.
  • Add the pecans to the bowl and mix until all of the nuts are coated with a slick of frothy egg white.
  • In an different, smaller bowl, combine the sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg stirring until they are evenly mixed.
  • Sprinkle half of the spiced sugar over the nuts, stirring to distribute it. The egg white will hold the seasoning to the nuts. Repeat the process with the remaining spiced sugar.
  • Topple the nuts onto a buttered cookie sheet, or a cookie sheet lined with a silpat, and bake them in a 225° F oven for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and allow the nuts to cool before serving them as a delgihtful snack before a holiday dinner, or packing them into hostess gifts.

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Lydia is the mother of a really good friend of mine, and she makes these nuts for Christmas. They are legendarily good. I felt so fortunate when she shared the recipe with me.

Her spiced pecans are deceptive, they really aren’t so difficult to make, and they use rather everyday ingredients, but taste like they took a good deal of toil to make and make a person think there must be a secret ingredient. I guess that’s the nutmeg?

Mr doesn’t have a review this time, as he is allergic to this tasty treat, but the first time I made these spiced pecans he came downstairs to the kitchen and asked what smelled so good, so that is something.

This time last year: Caramelized Onion and Bacon Dip

And the year before: Butter Tarts

And the year before that: Cheater Tortellini