Monthly Archives: June 2013

Colors of Summer

Favorite Colors of Summer:

Blue

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Freezing blueberries is easy. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a sheet of foil, then lay a kitchen towel on top. Rinse a whole bunch of just picked berries or just bought berries. Transfer them to the towel. Give a little shake to give the towel a chance to absorb all the excess water. Carefully remove the towel. Pull out enough berries to have just one layer of berries in the tray. Freeze until firm and then transfer to a plastic bag for safe keeping in the freezer.

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What do you do with the blueberries you pulled out of the tray? Why, eat them, of course! I still have probably 8 pounds of blueberries to get through. It’s a good thing blueberries keep well in the fridge.

Red.
This is possibly our all time favorite color so far this season.

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The boys kept saying over and over how this is their favorite shade of red. I agree. I loved watching them work together to pit all 6.5 pounds of cherries that we picked. Having little helpers around is really great.

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We made the sour cherry jam that I made last year, only I doubled the recipe and added 2 tablespoons of kirsch at the end. Booze=yum! We had enough cherries for jam and a tray to freeze for later.

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The jam is heavenly when combined with greek yogurt. Summer color doesn’t get much better than this. What’s your favorite color of summer so far?

Better with a Deadline

A couple of weeks ago, I started a whole slew of new projects, four sweaters, a shawl, and some socks. Predictably, progress has been incremental on all of these. It turns out that one hour a week per project does not produce much in the way of visible results. However, I did manage to finish those socks for father’s day, and this week, I finished another pair of socks for Camp Loopy.

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It turns out that I get more things done if I have a deadline. However, I do not like having a set schedule. I prefer to have a to do list to get through and the flexibility to work on things as the spirit leads, instead of tying myself down to working on X project on Monday from 10-11 and then Y project from 11-12. If I have a deadline, I tend to make that project a priority, but that in no way means that I work on it exclusively. I must have variety in order to stave off boredom, which is why I loved knitting these socks.

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There is just enough variety in the pattern to make the pattern interesting, but the pattern repeat was simple enough to memorize after a few inches. The yarn was a treat to knit with, Skein Top Draw sock yarn in the color Kaffir Lime. So far, the Skein yarns I have used have been wonderful. They are dyed in such a way that prevents pooling (that unfortunate thing that happens when colors line up unattractively), but still provides a lot of color interest without being busy.

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Here’s one project that seemed to bore me to tears at times, but is finally done this week as well. My notes tell me that I cast this project on in March of 2012. 15 months later, it is finally done. For some reason, I had a lot of trouble learning the pattern repeat on this one, so I was always counting stitches and getting irritated. Also, I did not love the yarn. It’s wooly, which is not a bad thing, but it was kind of a sticky wooliness that I found hard on my hands and the texture made it difficult for me to get into any kind of rhythm with this project.

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Also, I did not like the collar as written in the pattern, so I made up my own thing, which I like better. It looks kind of funny in the photo above, but folds down nicely. Now, I just need to find some buttons for it. That might take awhile, because I have no real deadline for this sweater. So, you see, without a deadline, a sweater can take me a looooong time to knit.

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Next month, I will be attempting to knit a sweater in one month for my Camp Loopy project. I hope I can do it. What about you? Do you work well with a deadline?

Drive By Blogging

On the way to go blueberry picking on a hot summer day, I get a little knitting time in the car.

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We are celebrating someone’s birthday today. There are plans for pizza (or pasta), sushi, and ice cream.

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Summer is turning out to be busier than I thought it would be, so there might be more of these on-the-go posts. Hopefully, you will still find them fun and interesting. More about the blueberries later!

Cookie Quest, The Final Chapter

When I last talked of oatmeal cookies, I mentioned how I disliked the soda flavor that seemed to be prominent in most oatmeal cookie recipes. Well, I did manage to find a recipe with no baking soda and it is a recipe I have made many times before, with varying results. It’s the Oatmeal Raisin cookie recipe from Baking Illustrated by the Cook’s Illustrated people. I remember way back, many moons ago, when I first made the recipe that I thought they were fantastic, but the past couple of times I made them, They have been much less than fantastic. They were dry and kinda hard. But, there was no baking soda in sight, just a little baking powder.

So, I decided to take matters into my own hands and figure out an oatmeal raisin cookie recipe that I could love. Several (almost a dozen) batches later, here is the result.

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There are a couple of things that make this recipe different from others. Firstly, it calls for both baking soda and baking powder. The soda helps to keep the cookie soft, but there isn’t so much that it is a prominent flavor.

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Secondly, one of the things I liked about the cookies I made awhile back with my leftover rummy fruit mix was the orange flavor that came through from the candied orange peel. So, I decided to throw in a little orange marmalade to bring in that citrus flavor. Why marmalade and not candied peel? Well, I am all out of candied peel right now, that’s why! Plus, it is easier to obtain than good quality candied peel. Actually, I have never seen good candied peel for sale in the store. I have always made it myself. Try to find marmalade that has a lot of peel in it, not just a few bits floating around in gel. You’ll get more texture and orange flavor.

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One thing I tried and left out of the final recipe was soaking the fruit in some rum or grand marnier. I liked how the fruit was moist, but it was throwing off the moisture balance of the cookie. Still, if you have dried fruit that is drier than usual, more like jerky than softly dried, you may want to macerate the fruit in 1/2-1 tablespoon of hot water or booze for at least 15 minutes. Just be sure to cool and pat the fruit dry before adding it to the batter.

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These cookies are good with any combo of fruit, nuts, and chocolate. The version pictured here has raisins and a cup of chocolate chips thrown in. During holiday time, I would probably use cranberries and white chocolate. Whatever you decide to put in it, they will be tasty–crispy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside, with bursts of orange and chocolate flavor.

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They are just right for the cookie jar.

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Orange Oatmeal Cookies with Fruit

Makes about 4 dozen 3 inch cookies. If you don’t want to bake the full batch of cookies at once, form the dough balls onto a baking sheet and freeze them. When they are frozen, take them off the pan and put into a plastic bag to store in the freezer. This way you can bake as many or little as you need.

215g or 2 sticks (8oz) unsalted butter at room temperature
150g or 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
150g or 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
85g or 1/4 cup orange marmalade
106g or 2 large eggs
10g or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

215g or 1 1/2 (7.5oz) cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

185g or 2 cups old fashioned oatmeal (do not use the instant kind)
195g or 1 1/4 cups raisins or dried cranberries or other fruit
180g or 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (325 if using a convection oven). Line your baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Combine butter with sugars in a mixer bowl and cream on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the marmalade and vanilla extract. Then, add the eggs, one at a time and mix at medium low until fully combined. You may need to scrape the bowl once or twice.

3. Whisk together the dry ingredients (not the mix-ins) together in a medium bowl. With the mixer running on low, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until almost fully combined. A few streaks of flour are ok.

4. Add the oatmeal, fruit, and chocolate and mix on low until just combined. Give the dough a few stirs by hand at the end to ensure all the batter is smoothly mixed.

5. Using a medium sized cookie scoop or a large tablespoon, scoop the dough onto the baking sheets at least 2 inches apart. Flatten the dough balls slightly with your fingers. Bake 12-15 minutes or until the cookies are golden brown and no longer look wet in the center. Cool on pan for at least 5 minutes before removing to a rack.

The cookies will keep in an airtight container for several days, but they will lose their crispness after the first day.

Snapshots

My mind is a bit scattered and distracted right now, but I am still taking photos, so that’s what I am offering today.

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Yesterday, I took photos of the father’s day dinner we had. Maple orange glazed salmon, steak, quinoa (which we all decided was just ok, would be better mixed with other things), and grilled asparagus.

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And, I took pictures of dessert. Apricot raspberry upside down cake using this recipe by David Lebovitz.

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Unfortunately, this is the only picture of the father. These are the Sign of Four socks by Knitspot that i was able to finish in time to give as a father’s day present. Hope you had a great weekend!