Thursday, June 26, 2008

Leapin' Lizards

Lizard Ridge Dishcloth with a side of Tribble

Pattern(s): Lizard Ridge Dishcloth, Tribble (with the leftover yarn)
Yarn: Lily Sugar 'n Cream from stash

  • Great pattern to learn wrap & turn stitch, and of course how to hide the wrapped stitches.
  • I finally figured it out on the last repeat with the help of Cat Bordhi's tutorials:

Monday, June 23, 2008

Soup Sabbatical

I've decided to take a break from soup making for a spell. Reasons?
It's hot.
I hate routine/schedules in the summer. Making soup once a week seemed like a routine-type activity to me.
It's really hot.
I wasn't eating as much soup as I would during the school year.
Because it's so freakin' hot!

Also, in an attempt to clean out my pantry, I have all this other soup to eat when I feel the urge.

Some proof we actually got some rain over the weekend. A pittance to add to the 1/100th of an inch we've received so far this month. Water restrictions, here we come!

DH is known for his rib makin' abilities and decided to try out a new technique he read in the newspaper a few days ago.

Crockpot ribs!

1. Take whatever ribs are on special at the grocery store and rub them with your choice of spices. Cut them up into serving portions (4-5 ribs a hunk).

2. Coat the slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray, put in the ribs, and cook 4 or 5 hours on high, or 8 hours on low.

3. At this point, the fat has cooked out of the ribs and they're almost ready to fall off the bone. Heat the broiler on your oven to high.

4. Drain ribs and coat with barbecue sauce, then run them under the broiler until they sizzle.

These were fantastic! We wished we had made more!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Austin Yarn Crawl

Yesterday Juanita and I headed up to Austin to check out their yarn stores. Our first stop was The Knitting Nest.

I ended up purchasing some Trekking pro natura in color 1545(purple) and a cute yarn "sauce bowl." I LOVED this store! The location is perfect (southside of Austin-I'm from the north end of S.A.), the layout is great-lots of room to sit and knit, the owner was fantastic! She even threw in a free measuring tape. The fact that people can bring food and drinks-there's even a mini-kitchen in the back for SnB makes it such a homey place. One I'd definitely frequent if I lived a bit closer. The pics Franklin drew on the wall were great too!

Our 2nd stop was the Yarn Mecca of Austin-Hill Country Weavers. It had been 2 years since I last visited and was truly overwhelmed with the selection. I had yarn ADD. The was no way I could maintain eye contact for more than 2 seconds before getting distracted. Some Shi Bui sock yarn-color 5001 tricked some cash out of my wallet and made its way into my bag.

Our third stop was Gauge Knits. The owner was so sweet and patient when I called for directions...twice...
I ended up purchasing a really cool project bag, Peace Needles, Lorna's Laces in Jungle Print, and some of the softest sock yarn ever-Panda Silk in periwinkle tones. Karli-the owner was kind enough to recommend our delicious lunch location: Russell's Bakery and Coffee Bar. An excellent place for a soup/sandwich type lunch and of course something sweet.

Our 4th and final stop was Bluebonnet Yarn Shoppe. I fell in love with the Katia Jamaica yarn-color 4010 and purchased some along with a cute knit themed greeting card.

By this point we were pooped! We had such a fun day! One we'll have to do again!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tribbles in Triplicate

I'd had 1870Pearl's Tribble pattern (Ravelry link here) in my mental queue for awhile now and finally decided to try them! Its a great pattern to use up the leftover bits of cotton dishcloth yarn. When I looked through my Sugar 'n Cream stash I decided to go with colors that matched my favorite ice cream-Neapolitan.

Knitting them was fast and easy, figuring out how to make the "swirl" took much longer. After looking around on Ravelry I was relieved to find out I wasn't the only one who was having a hard time. Finally figured it out though.

The step that trips up most people is when you are sewing up the sides (after connecting the diagonal ends). That's just it, you don't actually sew them up. You just do a running stitch around the "lip" of the cylinder like this:

Once you've gone all the way around. It should look like this. Do the same on the other side.

Now you're ready to pull it tight. Really tight.

I also pulled one string through to the bottom so you were weaving both ends on the same side and did some creative weaving in of ends.

This is a perfect pattern for a "quick knit" and way to use leftover bits of yarn.


Monday, June 16, 2008

Soup Week 24: Tom Ka Gai

Wow! It's hard to know where to start for this week's soup. I am a huge fan of Top Chef, so when Lisa won raves for her Tom Ka Soup Dumplings with Organic Chicken recipe my "soup radar" definitely went off. I checked out the recipe and concluded that since I was making such a small amount it was going to be too much of a hassle. Then, with the help of the Top Chef Ravelry group, I discovered a more basic recipe here.

After reading the reviews, I decided to make the soup more authentic by substituting ingredients with the help of a local oriental grocery store. So, in the end it was a combination of the two recipes. Since not everyone may want to trace down the Thai ingredients, I'll post the original recipe with my substitutions noted on the side.

Tom Ka Gai
(Coconut Chicken Soup)

READY IN: 35 Min

6 ounces boneless, skinless chicken meat
1 tablespoon and 1-1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root ( I used galangal-thai ginger)
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper ( I used thai chili paste)
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric (I omitted this-it just turns the soup bright yellow)
1 tablespoon thinly sliced green onion
1-1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro

I added: 1 stalk lemon grass and some kaffir lime leaves

1. Cut chicken into thin strips and saute in oil for to 2 to 3 minutes until the chicken turns white. (I just poached some chicken earlier in the day)

2. In a pot, bring chicken broth to a boil. Reduce heat. Add ginger, fish sauce, lime juice, cayenne powder and turmeric. Simmer until the chicken is done, 10 to 15 minutes (less if using pre-cooked chicken). This is where I took some lemon grass-you can see the stalks- some kaffir leaves and also simmered them.

3. Turn soup to low (make sure it is not boiling) add coconut milk stirring constantly so it will not curdle. Strain out the lemon grass stalks and kaffir leaves.

4. Many reviewers suggested serving over some rice, I served mine over udon noodles. Sprinkle with scallions and fresh cilantro and serve steaming hot.

This was soooooo good. Infact, this was the bowl less than 10 minutes later-which is saying a lot since it was 100 degrees outside and not exactly soup weather.

  • I really enjoyed using the Thai ingredients (galangal, lime kaffir leaves, lemongrass, chili paste) but am confident (based on the reviews) it would taste just as great with the easier-to-find ingredients.
  • Be sure to read all the reviews for suggestions to the basic recipe.
  • The tumeric supposedly just made the soup bright yellow, so I just left it out.

  • Whatever you do, don't smell the fish sauce.
  • This was such a good soup and made me want to look into cooking more Thai recipes!

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Happy WWKIP Day! WWKIP=World Wide Knit in Public. Fellow SnB'er and knitting friend Teri invited me to knit at our local Borders (and SnB location) for our participation today. There was a bigger "shindig" at one of the LYS but we wanted to be indoors with the AC. She even showed up with her own sign!
Coincidentally, we both showed up to work on bags. Hers-Elisa's Nest Tote, Mine-Everlasting Bagstopper. We got hopped up on caffeine and knit away for about 2 hours and each switched to other projects.
What a fun way to spend the afternoon!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Household Mysteries

Now that I've officially been on vacation for one week and have had a chance to get reacquainted with the house (I swear the last month of school was a blur), certain questions have popped up:

Dead or Dormant?

This plant was doing, "ok" until about a week ago when all of a sudden all the leaves fell. Is it a goner or just hibernating?

How have I managed to accumulate 5....5 cans of Pam?

Somehow I've acquired 4 bottle of Worcestershire sauce!

I'm sure this is due to Party Mix making in November/December, but still-4 bottles? This is also true with vinegar, white corn syrup and a few spices.

Not pictured, but another McPurlypants Household Mystery is why is it that the toilet paper rolls always seem to need changing when I'm in the loo? We have 3 bathrooms and I swear its a conspiracy!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Summertime Melon Soup

The inspiration for my 23rd soup of the year came from one those mini-cooking magazines at the grocery store check-out stand. It was a Taste of Home, Summer Appetizers edition. I'm such a sucker for those things!

Summertime Melon Soup

Source: Taste of Home mini-magazine: Summer Appetizers
Serves: 3-4 (I halved the original recipe)

2 1/2 cups seeded cubed watermelon
1 cup fresh strawberries
2 tablespoons sour cream (I used low-fat and it tasted just fine)
1 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1 to 2 cantaloupes, optional
Additional fresh strawberries, optional


Combine watermelon and strawberries. Puree in batches in a blender or food processor, adding sour cream, milk and sugar to the last batch. Pour into a 1-qt. container; mix well. Cover and chill at least 3 hours.

To serve soup in cantaloupe bowls, cut cantaloupes in half; hollow out melon and seeds, leaving about a 1-1/2-in shell. Cut a decorative edge if desired. Add soup; garnish with a strawberry if desired.

I plan on having the "soup" with a muffin or two for breakfast for the next few days.

Mmmmmmm..Buttermilk Berry Muffins

Note: One soup I won't be making from the magazine is the Icy Olive Soup-blech! But it was filled with many other delightful recipes.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Wild Knitting Woman

Look what was waiting for me in the mailbox a few days ago!

My Mom visited a yarn shop with a friend of hers and saw this and bought one for me. I love it! It's a pin about 3" tall and is cuter than cute! I think it was her way of celebrating the fact I actually finished knitting all the fish and to get going on the seaming. The blanket is for her after all.

I also added to my yarn/knitting accessory collection by purchasing the following:

Noro Kureyon Sock Yarn in color: S40
a Lady Bug tape measure from Lantern Moon

I've been wanting to try out the Noro sock yarn ever since I heard of its existence. Anyone try it yet?

Today was my first official day of Summer Vacation. I decided earlier in the week to kick off the first day by getting my haircut and a pedicure. Like my new red toes?

I decided I just might make this a tradition! It was a great way to relax and feel pampered after a challenging year!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Tomato Soup with Herbs and Wine

ETA:  It occurred to me as I was putting everything away that this soup is VERY similar to la Madeleine's Tomato Basil soup.

My 22nd soup recipe for the year was found in the local newspaper a few weeks ago. Every Wednesday there is a "Taste" section which focuses on food/restaurants. This particular week there was a big article on herb gardens with some accompanying recipes. I was drawn to this recipe mainly because the herbs used (thyme and basil) were found in my herb garden. For some reason, both herbs are going crazy with growth this year. I can barely keep up with the basil.

This recipe is also significant in that it's my last week of soup lunch for work until the end of August. Students are done on Wednesday, teachers on Thursday-woo hoo!

If you like that creamy tomato flavor, this is the recipe for you!

Tomato Soup with Herbs and Wine

Source: San Antonio Express News- adapted from Southern Herb Growing by Madalene Hill and Gwen Barclay

2 cups fresh tomatoes, peeled, or canned tomatoes
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon thyme OR other culinary thyme
1 tablespoon fresh basil OR 1 teaspoon dried basil
Pinch of pepper
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup fat-free half-and-half
½ cup dry white wine

1-2 tablespoons mixed fresh herbs, such as slivered basil, thyme leaf, parsley, for garnish

1. If using fresh tomatoes, chop and simmer in saucepan with butter until soft. Cool slightly, then purée or blend. Return to saucepan. If using canned tomatoes, blend, then place in saucepan with butter and heat until warm.

2. Stir flour into ¼ cup water, then add to tomatoes, stirring.

3. Then add salt, lemon thyme, basil and pepper. Bring to a simmer, stirring. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

4. Stir in soda and fat-free half-and-half. Cook over low heat until slightly thickened. Do not boil. Stir in dry wine and heat to simmer; let simmer 15-20 minutes. I couldn't wait the 15 minutes and had some after about 5 minutes-it was wonderful!!!

5. Serve in cups, sprinkling more fresh herbs on top for garnish.

Makes 6 (1/2-cup) servings. Approximate nutritional values per serving: 130 calories (58.9 percent calories from fat), 2 g protein, 7 g carbohydrate, 3 g sugar, 1 g dietary fiber, 8 g fat, 25 mg cholesterol, 660 mg sodium.

My Notes:
  • This recipe came together pretty quick and was a nice break from the sauteing of garlic/onions.
  • I made the recipe as is quantity-wise and it made enough for 1 bowl immediately and leftovers for 3 lunches during the week.
  • I used 2 c. canned diced tomatoes(drained), regular thyme from my garden, and squeezed some lemon juice in for that flavor.
  • To lighten it up: Use 1 tablespoon instead of 2 tablespoons butter and save 10 calories and 1 g fat per serving. I'd probably add more tomatoes and less cream next time to make it a bit healthier and not so creamy.
  • This just begs to be eaten with grilled cheese, but I made some pimento cheese sandwiches. Recipe also found in the same section-same week.
  • Many of my soup recipes call for wine and since I only like a glass now and then, I've started buying the mini-bottles in the 4 packs which works great for recipes like this.