Hello and Happy New Year to you! I know I’m a little late saying that, but up until last week, I was still sick with that annoying bug that I had last time I was here. It has been a long time since I was sick for that length of time and towards the end, I must admit, I was losing my patience with it. Anyway, I am feeling much better now and really glad to get back to things that got neglected while I was sick.
Well, it didn’t quite happen. While I was sick, there were whole days that went by without knitting a single stitch of anything. However, a week and a half ago, when we were expecting a big snowstorm, I pulled it out and decided to try to finish it. I had the entire yoke and collar left.
By this past weekend, I had made it to the collar, woohoo!
And now it’s all done, yay! Well, almost. There are a couple of things I have to do first. First, I need to pick buttons.
Awhile ago, I was helping a friend clean out her apartment for a move, and she gave me her entire button collection. What a treasure trove!
After spending some time digging through them, I chose four options.
Which do you think?
There’s also a little problem with one of the sleeves.
See that funny line of knitting in the middle of the sleeve? The yarn went all weird and wiry there. In true denial fashion, I kept knitting, thinking that maybe it would correct itself in the blocking. As you can see, it did not. So, my next plan is to do a duplicate stitch over that section because the last thing I want to do is rip out the sleeve.
After finishing the knitting on this one, I felt that maybe I could ride this finishing wave, and I got out all my other wintery sweater projects that are in progress.
This is Strokkur by Ysolda Teague. The bottom of the body is done and is awaiting sleeves to go on. I also need to choose two out of the three colors in the photo to use for the colorwork yoke. I think I’m leaning towards pink and white.
Do you see a theme?
I must really want a dark grey yoked sweater very badly, but I guess I don’t like to knit sleeves! Well, we have another little snowstorm coming soon, so maybe I can use that to make a little more progress on one of these.
Or maybe not. Because I have been into starting new projects lately. More on these later.
How’s your 2018 going so far?
This past week I have been sick, not horribly so, but sick enough that I’m not getting much sleep and daily activities seem to require a lot of effort. The kind of sick that requires lots of over the counter measures and an all day supply of hot tea to be functional. Germs don’t really care if you have 20 dozen cookies you want to bake or gifts that need to be bought or loaves of bread to bake. They just come on in and take over your life when they feel like it and we just have to sit back and watch it happen. What little energy I have, has been devoted to baking. The house is a mess, no presents have been wrapped, and meal planning for the holidays has been almost nonexistent. I did buy a ham. That should feed us for a couple days. We’ll survive on cookies and ham this Christmas.
The boys were a big help to me over the weekend when we baked up cookies for packages that needed to be sent and for a cookie exchange.
Most of these doughs were made and frozen before I got sick and they just required cutting, decorating, and baking. Then, when the pizzelle maker came out of the pantry, the husband got in on the action as well.
Making pizzelles is a four person operation: one to scoop (that was me), one to time, one to remove the cookies, and the last one to cool and pack them.
The boys also did most of the packing up.
We put each type of cookie in its own tin so that flavors and moisture levels don’t mingle. Then the boys bagged up a lot of cookies and packed up the boxes we wanted to mail out.
Which reminds me that I never announced the winner of my giveaway! It was Sara, also known as crazysheeplady on Instagram. She has a great blog called Punkin’s Patch where she documents her life as a sheperdess. Hopefully, her package will get there in the next day or so. Thank you to everyone who entered!
Once those cookie boxes were sent out (also known as stage 1 of Christmas baking), I turned my attention to stage 2: breads. First on the agenda was Panettone.
I make these every year with the same recipe. The only thing I change is to substitute candied chestnuts for half of the fruit/candied peel mixture. This year I also decided not to do the glaze. It’s very messy and stuff falls everywhere when you turn them upside down to hang. I just sprinkle them with a little pearl sugar and it looks pretty enough for me. This year, I also tried a version with dried pear and chocolate. We’re looking forward to trying that one.
One advantage to being sick and homebound is that it has allowed me to develop a rolling schedule for feeding the starter and building these bread doughs. If I time it right, I can bake a pandoro in the morning and a panettone in the evening. Of course, last night’s pandoro did not rise in our cold kitchen, so it is getting some remedial time in our furnace room which is the warmest room in the house.
Hopefully, these will turn out well and we’ll have some yummy bread to go with our cookies and ham. Maybe I should try to cook something red or green, too. How about these. Would these count as a vegetable?
I thought we were done with cookies, but I had to squeeze these in for my younger son. I’ll tell you the story next time!
Hope your holiday preparations are humming along! What are your strategies for getting it all done when time is running out?
Ok, after my head start last week on Christmas baking, things stalled for a few days while we were busy with other things. One of these things involved a fantastic cake made by the husband!
This is the Blackcurrant cake from Sweet by Helen Goh and Yotam Ottolenghi. The cake is made in a big sheet pan and then cut into strips.
The strips are spread with buttercream and then rolled up into one big spiral. The result is a small, tall, and incredibly cute cake.
Here’s what it looks like when you cut it open.
Isn’t it fun? And it was tasty as well. We did not have blackcurrants, so we used some strawberry peach jam instead. The jam made it extra sweet, so next time I would try to pick something that has more tart than sweet flavors. A lemon curd would be yummy or, better yet, passionfruit!
After we polished off that cake (It didn’t take long; the cake is only 5.5 inches in diameter), I continued my Christmas baking with a new bread recipe from the Bake from Scratch magazine. Have you heard of this magazine? I first came across it a couple of years ago and was taken in by the great photos and feature articles. The current issue has an article about Christmas wreath breads, and you know how much I love sweet bread recipes! That, and the fact that a few of them are Scandinavian inspired, just compelled me to buy the issue just to try them. The first one is a twist on a Norwegian Julekake. It has a cranberry jam swirl that is made by prepping the dough cinnamon bun style. Then you slice it in half lengthwise and twist it to make this pretty shape.
The recipe called for candied lemon peel, but we thought that chocolate would go well with the cranberry. From what I understand, a Julekake is usually made in a boule shape and is studded with dried and candied fruits and peels, so this is quite a “twist” on that traditional bread!
The dough was wonderful to work with and gave me no trouble at all. I doubled the recipe and made three loaves. The bread is beautiful once baked, and is wonderfully scented with cardamom. Sadly, two of the loaves are a little over baked. After a year and a half, I still feel like I am getting to know my oven. This time, I learned that I can’t bake two large loaves side by side in the oven or else the edges will burn. This is actually probably true of most ovens. If you don’t leave enough room for air to circulate around your pans, you get uneven baking (sad face).
Anyway, the bread is supposed to get an icing, which I will do when I serve it to a larger group, but for now, it is perfect with a cup of tea or coffee at breakfast! That’s all the baking for now, but I have done some prep work for future baking. I had to make a new batch of candied orange peel because a batch I made earlier had gone moldy (another sad face here). Also, I was able to find a really nice buddha’s hand citron over the weekend, so I made some candied citron as well.
Some of you may remember that I usually do a giveaway this time of year with a 12 days of Christmas theme with 12 posts. I’m not sure that I can do 12 posts this year because of our crazy school and sports schedule, but I still plan to do a giveaway. More details soon, so stay tuned!