Simple Scarf

My photography will never do this scarf justice.  It is simply beautiful.  And it is so soft.

Simple Scarf

Malabrigo merino, worsted weight wool in Nostalgia (623)

The yarn used to make this scarf has been sitting in my stash for about a year now.  It has not been there for lack of interest, conversely I just had not been able to decide which project would be worthy of such an interesting yarn.   Last week when I went rummaging through my stash looking for a new project, I decided it was time to get this beauty out of the box.  I rolled it into a ball by hand, admiring the color variegation, and examining the spin consistency.  It was by far one of the best quality wools I had every had my fingers in.  The color and texture of the yarn was so interesting, that I felt anything more than just a simple pattern would be too distracting;  therefore, I decided on just a simple, single rib scarf.

Materials

1 skein Malabrigo worsted merino wool (210 yards/3.5 oz)  in Nostalgia (623)

1 set US size 10 needles

1 tapestry needle for weaving in ends

Gauge

4-5 stitches/inch

Pattern

Cast on 28 stitches using an alternating knit and purl cast-on.

Row 1: *k1, p1; repeat from * to end of row.

Row 2: *k1, p1; repeat from * to end of row.

Continue working in the single rib pattern until all but 24 inches of yarn remain.

Bind off in a k1, p1 pattern.

Weave in both ends.


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Chalice Lace Knit Hat

For many months, I have meant to make a hat for my friend, Maria.  Okay, if I’m being honest, it has probably been closer to a year and a half.  While flipping through my Encyclopedia of Knitting I came across a chalice lace pattern that is very similar to the leaf pattern used in the Foliage hat of which I am so fond.  So I decided to give it a try to design a hat using the chalice lace pattern.  Although I feel the pattern could use a bit of tweaking, I am very pleased with the outcome.

Chalice Lace Hat

Yarn:  Naturally Caron Country in Naturally (00007)  75% Microdenier Acrylic 25% Merino Wool.  This yarn is machine washable and can be put into the drier.

Needles:  US size 8 double points.

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A Quick Coffee Tip

A quick tip for the day. When making hot cocoa from a
packet try using coffee instead of milk or water. A fast, easy,
cheap way to have a mocha. Yum!

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Flamestrike Soup

This is probably my husband’s favorite thing I cook.  It is an adaptation from a recipe in one of his old Dragon Lance books.

Flamestrike Soup

We make no pretense about our dorkiness.

We have been making it for years, changing things here and there, until this last time, and it was decided to be perfect.  It is one of those great dishes to make at the end of a day when you realize you have had no vegetables, and want to make up for it with one meal.  To its disadvantage, it has many ingredients,

Flamestrike Soup

and takes a bit of time to put together, but it is definitely worth the effort.  Continue reading, and I’ll share some shortcuts I’ve discovered along the way.

To start, chop an onion and throw it into the bottom of a large pot.  Grab some spicy Italian sausage and put it into the pot with the onion.  I use turkey sausages and cut them out of the casing so it cooks up like ground beef.

Flamestrike Soup
Flamestrike Soup
Flamestrike Soup
Flamestrike Soup

While the meat is browning, chop up a couple of cups of celery,

Flamestrike Soup

a few carrots,

Flamestrike Soup

and some mushrooms. I buy the pre-washed and sliced mushrooms as a shortcut. You can do the same for the carrots, and I frequently do. Today, I just had whole carrots in the fridge already.

Flamestrike SoupThrow all those veggies into the pot with the meat and onions.

Flamestrike SoupAt this point the kitchen is smelling good, and the pot is looking delicious.

Chop up half of a green pepper and throw it in, too.

Flamestrike SoupNow you need 5 cups of cabbage. For the longest time I chopped up a head of cabbage. It took a long time, made a mess, and was the primary reason I didn’t make this dish as much as my husband would like. Then one day, while shopping for ingredients I had an epiphany:  coleslaw mix is pre-shredded cabbage. Score one for Elizabeth.

Dump the whole bag into the pot. It is starting to get crowded in there. Every time I make this I worry that there won’t be enough room. There always is. Cabbage really cooks down, like spinach.

Flamestrike SoupAdd tomato juice, and chicken broth to the pot.

Flamestrike Soup
Flamestrike Soup

Take a deep breath. I realize it feels as if you have emptied the entire refrigerator into this pot already, now you just have to give it some flavor. Oh wait, I forgot you need to add some pasta.

Flamestrike SoupSlice a lemon, and squeeze the juice into the pot,

Flamestrike Soupalong with some worcestershire sauce,

Flamestrike Soupsome Italian seasoning,

Flamestrike Soupsalt,

Flamestrike Soupand finally pepper.

photoBring the soup to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and allow to simmer for 30-40 minutes until all the vegetables are tender.

Flamestrike Soup

Flamestrike Soup adapted from a recipe in Leaves from the Inn of the Last Home

Prep Time: 30 minutes  Cook Time: 30-40 minutes  Servings 12-15

Ingredients

1 lb spicy Italian sausage

1 small onion, chopped

2 cups celery, chopped

4 large carrots, chopped

2 cups of mushrooms, sliced

½ green bell pepper, chopped

5 cups cabbage, chopped (I use coleslaw mix)

5 cups tomato juice

5 cups chicken broth, low sodium

1 cup pasta (macaroni, penne, egg noodles all work great.  I use Barilla Plus)

juice from a large lemon

2 Tbsp worcestershire sauce

2 tsp Italian seasoning

1 tsp salt

black pepper to taste

Preparation

Remove all casing from the sausage and brown in the bottom of a large pot with the onion.  Add  celery, carrots, mushrooms, green peppers, and cabbage.  Allow to cook for a minute or two and mix well.  Add  tomato juice and chicken broth followed by the lemon juice, worcestershire sauce, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.  Mix well to combine seasoning.  Cover and bring soup to a boil.  Reduce heat and continue to simmer for an additional 30-40 minutes until all vegetables are tender.

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Variations on a Snickerdoodle: Cocoa and Vanilla Chai

Snickerdoodles just might be my favorite cookie.  The more I make them, the more I love them.  My friend, Mary, over on Books and Bites has an excellent recipe that comes out perfect every time.  You can see my step-by-step adventures in baking them here.

So, you might find yourself wondering why in the world would I mess with a good thing.  Well, it is because I had this packet of Elephant Vanilla Chai tea

that happened to fall out of my cabinet as I was getting the cinnamon out, and I wondered what would happen if I rolled the dough around in that before baking.  Then, simply because I had the word “vanilla” in my head, the next thing that followed was “chocolate”.  I pulled out some cocoa powder, too, while I was at it.

I followed the recipe on Books and Bites linked above, then in addition to the cinnamon sugar mix in one bowl, I used the packet of Elephant Vanilla Chai in a second bowl, and a tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder and a tablespoon of sugar in a third bowl.  Then I rolled the dough balls in each of the various coatings.  The results are delicious and definitely worth a try the next time you get an urge to make a snickerdoodle.

Elephant Vanilla Chai Cookie

Vanilla Chai Snickerdoodle

Cocoa Cookies

Cocoa Snickerdoodle

The Original Snickerdoodle

Original, Cinnamon Snickerdoodle

Pile of Cookies

Pile of Cookies

The original, cinnamon snickerdoodle is still my favorite; however, my husband is partial to the vanilla chai.

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Velvety, Homemade Pumpkin Soup Recipe

A few weeks ago something unusual happened at my house:  it snowed.  Not only is snow rare here in our part of NC, it was unseasonably early.  So much so, that there were still pumpkins out on the front porch.  I picked them up, and then decided something had to be done with the poor things.  They were small pie pumpkins that had not been turned into Jack-o-Lanterns.

Pie Pumpkins Two years ago, I made homemade pumpkin puree from the leftover pumpkins, and baked it into all sorts of delicious breads and cupcakes.  However, this year, with the snow on the ground, I had an urge to make something warm and savory.  I searched the internet for recipes for pumpkin soup, and found many that sounded good, but not one that seemed complete.  Pasting together many ideas, I created this recipe, and I very much enjoyed it, especially reheated the next day.

To start, cut the stems off the pumpkins then cut them in half.

Pie Pumpkins with Seeds

Next, remove the seeds.

Pie Pumpkins No SeedsDrizzle the pumpkins with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.  Place them flat down on a cookie sheet and bake at 350°F for about an hour.

Pumpkins Pre-RoastingRemove the skins from the pumpkin.  After roasting they will come off easily by hand, or a large spoon can be used to scrape out the flesh.

Pumpkin Post Roasting
Scooping Roasted Pumpkin

Place the pumpkin in a large mixing bowl, and beat on medium speed until well blended.

Pumpkin PureeIn a large pot add some olive oil,  chopped onion, and  garlic.  Let the onions cook until they become translucent.

Cooking Onions 2Add the pumpkin, some water, beef bouillon cubes (chicken or vegetable could be used, beef is what I had), cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, clove, cayenne, and brown sugar brown sugar.  Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the soup comes to a boil.

Pumpkin SoupSlowly add a cup of heavy cream, cover, and cook on low heat for 30 minutes.

Pumpkin Soup 2At this point if you are starving, unable to handle the delicious smell coming from the kitchen, or are just out of time, you can give it a good whisking and serve it up with some crusty bread and call it a day.  However, if you can take an extra 10 minutes to blend the soup in the blender, magical things happen to the texture of the soup.  It becomes thick, and creamy, and velvety.  Unfortunately my photography skills do no justice to the change that happens in the blender.

.
Pumpkin Soup Post-BlendNow scoop this into some bowls, along with some crusty bread, and a green salad if you are feeling adventurous, and enjoy.

Pumpkin Soup Final

Velvety Homemade Pumpkin Soup

Prep Time: 1 hour  Cook Time: 30 minutes  Servings: 8-10

Ingredients

3 small pie pumpkins, roasted and puree (approximately 3 to 4 cups)

¼ cup olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 tsp garlic, chopped

3 cups of water

3 beef bouillon cubes

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp ginger

½ tsp nutmeg

¼ tsp cloves

¼ tsp cayenne pepper, ground

2 Tbsp brown sugar

1 cup heavy cream

Preparation

Pre-heat oven to 350°F.

Remove stems and seeds from pumpkins.  Drizzle the flesh side of the pumpkin with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.  Place them face down on a cookie sheet, and roast for 1 hour.  Remove the flesh of the pumpkin from the skin, and puree it in a large mixing bowl.

In a large pot, heat the oil, onion, and garlic.  Allow the onions to cook until they become slightly brown and translucent.  Add the pumpkin puree, and all other ingredients, except the cream.  Whisk together, and cook over medium-high heat for until the soup comes to a boil, stirring frequently.  Whisk in the heavy cream slowly, reduce heat, and cover.  Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Place soup in a large blender, or food processor, and blend for several minutes.

Serve in individual bowls with crusty bread and a green salad.  Enjoy!

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Buckeye Balls: Candy Recipe

Anyone from Ohio knows that aside being the mascot for Ohio State, and a type of tree that has a nut that looks like this.

A buckeye is also a delicious peanut butter and chocolate candy that looks like this.

Final BuckeyesAs long as I can remember my mom made these every Christmas.  Once I started going to Ohio State, I started making them to take to football parties.  Now that  football season is over, and it is time for Christmas, I found myself in the kitchen today dipping peanut butter balls.  Although they are simple and straight forward to make, they do require a bit of time for rolling and freezing the peanut butter balls.  They are, however, entirely worth it.

To get started, allow a half of stick of butter to soften to room temperature.  Then mix it in a kitchen mixture until it is smooth.

Softened Butter for BuckeyesAdd a couple of cups of peanut butter.  Don’t use the all natural, separating style of peanut butter.  A smooth, creamy, homogenized type works best.  If you spray the measuring cup with some non-stick spray first, the peanut butter doesn’t stick and is much easier to get out of the cup.

Adding the Peanut Butter

Mix until the butter and peanut butter are well mixed, and smooth.

Peanut butter MixNow add some powdered sugar one cup at a time.

One Cup of Powdered Sugar
2 Cups of Powdered Sugar
3 Cups of Powdered Sugar
4 Cups of Powdered Sugar

until you have a very thick, and crumbly peanut butter mixture.

Finally grab a small scoop,

The Scoopand a comfy place to sit, and get ready to roll some peanut butter balls.  Using the scoop will allow the balls to be uniform in size, which will make the dipping easier.

Scoop some peanut butter mix into your hand

A perfect peanut butter portionThen roll it into a smooth ball

A perfect peanut butter ballContinue this process until all the peanut butter mix is turned into little balls and placed on a tray.  If you can recruit some help for this stage, please do, as it can feel like a small eternity while you sit there rolling balls. Once you finish, place the tray into the freezer for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the balls are frozen solid.

peanut butter ballsOnce the peanut butter balls are frozen, but before you take them out of the freezer, grab a couple of bags of chocolate candy melts.  I use the Wilton in both dark and light cocoa.  I can’t make up my mind which I like best.

Chocolate Candy MeltsMelt the candy melts, with a teaspoon of vegetable oil, in a small dish.  I use a liquid measuring cup and the following method:  microwave for 30 seconds on 50% power, stir, and repeat until candy melts no longer hold their shape.  For one bag, it took 3 iterations in my microwave.

Start

Before melting began

One melt

After first 30 seconds.

two melt

This is after the second 30 seconds.

Three melt pre-mix

After the third 30 seconds.

Three melt post-mix

After mixing the third 30 seconds.

Once the candy melts are completely melted, add more vegetable oil if needed to thin the chocolate to a good consistency.  I had to add 2 teaspoons to get mine to where I could pick up a spoon and have it run off easily.

Perfect Chocolate

Perfect dipping chocolate.

Taking out 6 peanut butter balls at a time from the freezer, place one on the end of a toothpick and quickly dip it into the chocolate, leaving a small portion uncovered, and place it on a piece of wax paper.

Getting Ready to Dip
Dipping
Dipped
Landed

Repeat this process until all peanut butter balls have been coated.

All the buckeyes

The chocolate candy sets within minutes.  The candies can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator or freezer.  Enjoy!

Buckeye Balls

Prep Time: 1 hour, plus 40 minutes for freezing Cook Time: 30 minutes for dipping  Servings: 3-4 dozen

Ingredients

¼ cup (½ stick) butter, softened

2 cups creamy peanut butter (not all-natural)

4 cups powdered sugar

2 bags of Wilton light or dark cocoa candy melts

6 tsp vegetable oil

Preparation

Line baking sheets with wax paper

Beat peanut butter and butter in a large mixer bowl until creamy.  Beat in powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until mixture holds together and is moistened.  Shape into 1-inch balls;  place on prepared baking sheet and freeze for 30-40 minutes.

Melt the candy melts with 1-3 tsp of vegetable oil in a small, uncovered, microwave-safe bowl on 50% power for 30 seconds; STIR.  Repeat until candy melts are just melted, and no longer hold shape.  Add additional oil if necessary to obtain desired consistency.  I used 3 tsp of oil per bag of candy melts.

Dip peanut butter balls into melted chocolate using a toothpick, leaving a small portion of the center uncovered.  Shake off excess chocolate and scrape bottom of the candy on the side of the bowl.  Return candy to baking sheets until chocolate it set.  Store in a covered container in the refrigerator or freezer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Quickie Socks

For almost a year I have owned The Joy of Sox by Linda Kopp, and last week I finally decided to go through it and find a pattern that would work with some yarn I already had in the house.  Finally on page 59 I found a pattern for “Quickie Socks” that called for a worsted weight wool, and size 5 double point needles:  all things I had right at home.  The pattern is an interesting reversed rib, that is fun to work, and goes by quickly.  The pair was completed in less than a week.  According to the size chart in the book, the 9½ inch sock would fit a medium-sized woman’s foot shoe size 6 to 9.  When off the foot, it looked awkward, and I was having a hard time believing it would fit such a wide range.

Quickie Socks 2After trying the sock on my 6½ foot, a friend’s 7½ foot, and my mother-in-law’s 8½ foot I was finally convinced this sock was the correct size.  Once it is on a foot, all awkwardness disappears, and it is quite magnificent.

Quickie SocksI used naturallycaron.com Country yarn in taupe. This yarn is 75% microdenier acrylic and 25% merino wool, and is machine washable.

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Simple, Beautiful, Knit Baby Blanket

I made this blanket a few weeks ago, as a favor for a friend. It came out lovely, for such a simple garter stitch blanket.  Usually I am not a big fan of making blankets, but the yarn was so nice to work with, I enjoyed making this.

Striped Baby Blanket for Girl

WOOL BAM BOO
50% wool, 50% bamboo
118 yards — 50 grams
5 1/2 sts/inch on size US 6 (4mm) needles
Hand wash cold
Dry flat

Brown
Color 1678
Lot # 20107

Beige
Color 1650
Lot # 13743

Pink
Color 1689
Lot # 13733

Green
Color 1672
Lot # 20117

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Not Quite my Grandma’s Stuffing: Vegan Holiday Stuffing Recipe

If you ask anyone in my family what is the best part of Thanksgiving, without a doubt the answer will be Grandma’s stuffing.  So, when I moved away from Ohio to North Carolina and didn’t come home for the first Thanksgiving ever, I was on the phone with Grandma begging her to give me instructions on how to make it.  It just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving with out it.  In the fashion of so many grandmothers out there, she was more than happy to tell me how to make it:  you need stale bread, some butter, some onions, some celery, some chicken stock, an egg, and some poultry seasoning and sage.  When I asked her how much,  she paused and said, “Well just enough for however many people you have coming over.  You don’t want the bread to get so wet that it is mushy, but you don’t want it to be too dry either.  Oh, and don’t forget to cut a piece of fat from the turkey’s neck to place on top before you bake it” That was all I got. My grandma doesn’t measure anything.  So I read some recipes online, and talked with my mom who has helped her make it for years.  That first attempt wasn’t so bad.  It wasn’t Grandma Gehlert’s, but it was good.  Each year it has gotten better, to the point that I think it could pass as hers with my family now.

This year we had Thanksgiving with some friends who are vegan.  Thanksgiving is just NOT Thanksgiving in our house without Grandma’s stuffing.  Also, it is more than just stuffing:  it is love, and happiness, and everything growing up that is good about the holidays with family and friends.  I was determined to give this to my friends and family without having to make two dishes.  So I set off to convert my Grandma’s stuffing into a vegan dish, and I succeeded.

To get started take a large loaf of french bread and tear or cut it into little pieces.  Set them out on a large baking sheet to dry out over night.

photo

When you are ready to make your stuffing, spray the dried pieces with a butter flavored cooking spray, and sprinkle with salt, coarse ground pepper, poultry seasoning, and rubbed sage. Toss the pieces several times to make sure they are well coated.

photo

Place the seasoned bread in a 250° oven. Bake for 15  minutes, stir, and bake for 15 more minutes. The bread will be completely dried out, and resemble croutons.

photo

While the bread dries in the oven, chop one small onion, and some celery. Melt a stick of Earth Balance (vegan butter) in a medium sauce pot, and cook the onions and celery until the onions become translucent. Add a couple of cups of vegetable broth to the vegetables and bring to a boil.

photo

Lower the heat and allow to simmer until the bread is ready. Once the bread is ready, pour the broth over the bread crumbs.

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Gently mix, until all the bread is coated and place a couple pats of Earth Balance on top. This might look a bit too wet, but the extra moisture helps to compensate for the lack of egg and turkey skin.

photo

Cover with foil and bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes until the top becomes crispy.

photo

 

Vegan Holiday Stuffing

Prep Time: 30 minutes  Cook Time: 40 minutes  Servings: 10

Ingredients

1 large french bread

butter flavored cooking spray

1 Tbs salt

1 tsp coarse ground pepper

2 Tbs poultry seasoning

2 Tbs rubbed sage

1 stick of Earth Balance butter spread, plus 2 extra Tbs

1 small sweet onion, chopped

3 stalks of celery, chopped

2 cups vegetable broth

Directions

Cut or tear bread into small pieces the night before making the stuffing and allow them to dry over night.  When you are ready to make the stuffing the next day, place the bread on a large baking dish, generously spray with butter flavored cooking spray, and season with salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, and sage.  Toss well to coat all bread. Place bread in a 250° oven and bake for 30 minutes, stirring half way through.

While the bread bakes, chop the onion and celery.  Melt the Earth Balance in a large sauce pan and cook the onions and celery until the onions become translucent.  Add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until the bread is finished.

Pour the broth over the bread and gently mix until all bread is coated.  Place stuffing into a medium-sized baking dish, place a few pats of Earth Balance spread on top, and cover with foil.  Bake for 30 minutes at 350°, then uncover and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, until the top becomes brown and crunchy.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.  Enjoy.

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