More jam

Before, after and aftermath.

I think I’ve got jam on the brain. I suppose there are worth things.

This batch of jam (and by batch I mean just that one jar) was made necessary because of some excessive buying of Greenstring Farm plums. They’re very delicious, but it turns out that I can only eat so many plums and I buy them ripe.  So hurry!  Make some jam.  I used the ripest plums, an overripe nectarine, a really ripe apricot and a handful of strawberries in this batch.

I followed the basic jam making directions found on this site because I find they’re straightforward and make sense to me.  I use 1/2 cup sugar, 16 oz. cut up fruit and the juice and peel of one lemon.  That is all it takes to make a jar of jam. This batch is super tangy and nice and fruity.  The only thing I did differently this time is to use the immersion blender to squash up the fruit.  Berries are easy to squish with a fork, but these plums and friends didn’t want to squish.  The immersion blender blended the hell out of that fruit, so I worried that I’d be making some awful goop.  But the jam gods smiled upon my experiment and it thickened up nicely.  I can’t wait for breakfast tomorrow!

I also found myself with too much zucchini.  I’m sure this is a common situation in many households.  I cracked open my Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts and found azucchinicake Zucchini Spice Cake recipe.  It’s super delicious and a bundt cake!  I chose this recipe because they use butter instead of vegetable oil to make the cake, which is my preference.  Many zucchini bread recipes just are kind of yuck and heavy and chewy.  This is a nice cake.  I used cake flour (since I don’t have pastry flour) and 1.5 cups of ground almonds (not toasted because I couldn’t be bothered).  The zucchini makes the cake moist but doesn’t add much to the flavor, so it’s basically a moist spice cake.  I suspect this will be a good “keeper” when I want a treat without firing up the oven.  I cut most of the cake into pieces, wrapped them in plastic wrap then put them all into a ziplock bag (just like Martha Stewart taught me).  They should be good for weeks!  Who knew too much zucchini would be so delicious.

Scads of scones

Scones, jam and coffee. Good morning!

Today I had to make scones.  Had?  Yes, had.  I have some whole milk in the fridge that I used for a recipe.  I bought a pint of milk since that’s all I could find and only used about 2 tablespoons.  I won’t drink whole milk so I have to find ways to bake with it.  Horrible dilemma, no.

Baking inspiration struck and I made scones.  I dug out my scone recipe which is from a “lifestyle” show in the UK.  Well annoying TV people aside, this is a tasty scone recipe.  A few notes on making this:  I’d start with 400g of flour and add as necessary, or conversely you’ll probably need more milk since that’s a huge amount of flour for that amount of liquid.  If you’re wondering why the recipe calls for buttermilk and I’m trying to use up whole milk, I used a mixture of yogurt and whole milk with a scant teaspoon of cider vinegar to give it a bit more tang.  You can pretty much use any dairy in place of buttermilk – I’ve used yogurt, sour cream or regular milk.  It’s about using up what’s in the fridge.

These are great with some strawberry refrigerator jam.  If strawberries get a bit too old or I just want jam, I make up a jar.  No special equipment or pectin, just use lemon and a clean jam jar.  I use a clamshell box of strawberries quartered, 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar (depends on berry sweetness and your taste – I like it tangy) and juice of a lemon (natural pectin and super tang in the jam).  Here’s a great post on making easy jam if you’re interested in trying it.  Truly easy and super delicious, plus it only makes one jar so you’re not inundated.

Sorry for making you hungry if you’re stuck at work.

Granola chica

I don’t love all kinds of granola, but this one is my total fave.   This is Pumpkin Spice Granola made from a recipe I came across on Everybody Likes Sandwiches.   It’s just a little bit sweet, has kicky spices and is not dry and icky.  And how cute is this batch housed in my new Daiso orange topped jar?  100 yen baby ($1.50)!

Ok, back to the recipe.  This recipe is adapted from The Sprouted Kitchen: A Tastier Take on Whole Foods which I don’t own but will look for,  based on the yummy granola.  I make half the recipe on the Everybody Likes Sandwiches site because I only have one jelly roll size pan and half fits perfectly.  I use rough chopped almonds (not walnuts), skip the sesame seeds and use dried cranberries.  I don’t know what pumpkin pie spice is but I use 1/2 t cinnamon, 1/8 t cloves and 1/4 t each of nutmeg, ginger and cardamon.  I bake it for about 40 to 45 minutes stirring it around every 15 minutes until the almonds are good and toasted.  So good.

Back to my knitting now that I’m fortified with granola.

Stripes on the brain

I think I’m stripe obsessed.  I’m knitting the Paulie cardigan – it’s striped.  I’m dreaming of making a striped Renfrew top but I washed the striped material with some magenta fabric and now it’s got a few blotches (jetlag and laundry don’t mix).  It’s waiting for a hot wash to see what happens.

And then I see this pattern!  Stop already.

How can I possibly resist such striped loveliness?

Today is a dreary, foggy, cloudy day – perfect for crafting and studying.  (That’s for my work thing next week – must pass or no FAA certification…)  Luckily I can study and knit simultaneously.  I plan to sew a bit on the brightest magenta Renfrew top to blow those clouds outside away.  Spring is here, I saw trees flowering in San Francisco on Monday.  No pics as I was driving.  Happy to see the blossoms though.

If you’re more interested in crafty pursuits than making dinner, I can point this Sweet Potato Chili recipe out to you.  Easy and delicious, no one will know it’s so freaking easy to throw together.

Happy February!

Gruel no more

I’ve returned home from that last week and a half of work tired and with a cold.  But it’s OVER!  Back to a normal schedule please.

Despite me thinking that yesterday the holidays were over, every flight out west was jammed to the gills.  I managed to get the very last seat on a flight to LAX which is not SFO but close enough (out of almost 300 seats on the plane – that’s a coup!) and spent a good part of the flight watching Dr. Oz on the TV.  I don’t usually watch daytime TV, but the offerings are pretty darn awful and Dr. Oz was the pick o’ the litter imho.  Unfortunately every time I watch his show I learn too many things and freak out about my lack of fiber/too much salt/lip balm addiction.  Yesterday was about healthy foods.  What could be so bad?  Today I’m waiting for Whole Foods to open to see if they have ground chia seeds.  That’s what can happen!

Yes, chia seeds are the wonder food and I will now hunt them down.  They made muffins with them on the show so I’ll let you know how they turn out.  This morning, in an effort to get back to healthy food eating habits (unlike working in airports where there is no healthy food) I made oatmeal.  I hate oatmeal.  It tastes fine, it’s just wall paper paste and won’t easily go down the old gullet.  But needs must so I found an oatmeal recipe (yes I needed a recipe) and made steel cut oats for the first time.  Voila!  We have a winner.  I added cinnamon, apples and a bit of maple syrup and ate it up.  Tomorrow might be bananas and pecans.  We shall see.  The world of steel cut oats has just opened for me.

Crafty-wise I’ve got nothing.  Maybe some new flannel pj bottoms for you tomorrow?  A bit of knitting?  I’ll see what that good breakfast can do for me.

Curry addict


I’ve been on a curry and lentil kick this week.  The snap above is my lunch, Curried Squash and Red Lentil soup and it’s delish.  I love soup on a football watching Sunday!  (FYI I made the recipe pretty much as written using Penzey’s Maharaja Curry, adding a veg bouillon cube and less water – just so it fit into my soup pot.  Skip the cilantro oil and just add a handful of chopped cilantro to the soup.)

My other curry this week has been from Jorth’s wonderful, entertaining blog – that is super yum too. Good thing I’m not craving something bad for me!

My Gray Cardigan is almost done so I should have something to show for all my sitting around and football watching.  So far so cute, buttonbands and seaming to go.  The Raspberry coat is sitting untouched (but not unloved) – you guessed it.  It’s still not cold, 66F (19C) today and not cooling down.  What this is, is CARDIGAN weather.  Not COAT weather.  Maybe that’s my hurdle – too much nice weather saps my motivation.  I’ll get there, winter will come here sometime.

Tropical storm ho

Everywhere I went last week, I seemed to be following around a tropical storm like a besotted rock groupie.  OMG!  Why do people live in tropical storm places?  Gray rain, flooded and hot.  How can that be?!  My hair is still mad at me.

Oh well, enough about me, here’s more about me.

Here we have my active WIPs. We will not discuss the semi-active projects hanging out with me.

Upper left is the rolled up pattern (sans seam allowances and planned design changes) waiting for next week when I’ve got a big ol’ chunk of time off to work on my Burda Raspberry coat.  I think of you constantly my love!

Upper right is the almost completed Red Scarf for this year’s scarf drive for Foster Care to Success (FCS).

Lower left is the much neglected, but much-loved Different Lines Scarf for MEEEE!  I actually carry this project around in my suitcase but never work on it because I’m always exhausted at work.  I’m trying to work on it on my off days because it’s gorgeous.  The first Stripe Study I made was given to its intended recipient and it’s much-loved and worn.  Because I get jealous since I don’t have one, I’m making the next one for me.  Hah!

Lower right is my dinner and it’s freaking delish.  When I travel (well, when anyone travels) the food choices are awful and usually fried.  When I get home I CRAVE vegetables!  This was my dinner, Weeknight Curry from Super Natural Every Day – it’s a Thai red curry with veg!  Yumm!  I used zucchini, summer squash, baby yukon gold potatoes, Japanese eggplant and Chinese broccoli in this one.  With chicken, of course.  I drank the broth.  Shexy…

Vacation detours

I am on vacation.  I will not be going anywhere.  At all.  Seriously, when you’re gone all the time, home is good.  I may even buy new sheets to celebrate.

When I got back to SFO the other day I thought I’d drive home via Berkeley and a seriously great fabric store there, Stonemountain and Daughter.  I’ve been hankering to make a coat.  I love coats and own several (more than several, but I shall have a clear out soon).  I usually just wear one or two, plus my uniform coat and those coats are all black.  I want to make a coat that’s not black, something a bit more fun.  But not too hard since I’ve never made a coat and I want to be successful.

Stonemountain has an upstairs section where all the fabrics are half price.  They usually have some fab wools and silks up there so I thought it would be worth a look.  I found several pretty coating fabrics – gray, black, brown – but knew that this raspberry Italian textured wool coating would do for my frivilous, non-black coat.  Raspberry!  AND it was $13/yard.

Now to figure out how to make a coat and find a pattern.  I’ll look in my reference books and online, but if anyone has coat making recommendations now is the time to share them.  I also need to find a pattern and that turns out to be the hardest part of all.  The big pattern companies have about 2 coat patterns each in their Fall offerings and one is so 80s it’s almost fashionable again.  Luckily I’ve got years of Burda magazines to look through.  I’m sure I’ll find a few to choose from there.

Also, now would not be the time to point out that it’ll be in the 80s all week where I live, so coat needs are not immediate.

Foodwise, I got a baking stone at Kohl’s sale the other day.  It’s a rectangular “cookie sheet” but I’d never make cookies on the thing.  Pizza and bread yes.  The first thing I made was Smitten Kitchen’s Shaved Asparagus Pizza and it was one of the most delicious things I’ve ever put in my mouth.  Seriously.  I used low fat mozzarella, a bit of cheddar leftover from Mac and Cheese and lots of red pepper to make it hot.  Yum.  I tried the pizza dough recipe from The Bread Bible and that was good and easy too.

While relaxing in my bed fighting off the jetlag, I was watching a Hercule Poirot (my fave of faves btw) and there is said HP rocking a mighty interesting shawl (he’s got a cold in this episode).  Gorgeous colorway, interesting use of feather and fan-like pattern.  Must note that for possible Raspberry coat coordination at a later date.  Also, be afraid.  I learned how to do screen grabs and it’s totally easy…

Must get back to relaxing now!

Yes I can

I mean the “yes,I can” as an answer to a question, rather than as an empowering call to action.

What, indeed, can I do?  Well it’s make a pair of undies.  I wondered if I could and yes I can.  I’ve seen lots of people do it on the blogs and have even come across some ladies making lovely bras.  I’ve no interest in bra making since I’ve got a super common boobage size and get them on sale.  Panties are the cheap thrills of the lingerie game, so I thought I’d start there.

Now you can buy a panty pattern but I just cut apart a pair that I liked but were ready for the trash.  I made my pattern from the cut up pair and made a “muslin” from a tshirt pulled from the Goodwill bag.  My first sample came out perfectly wearable.  I now have a use for the small scraps of knit fabric from sewing projects or a use for tshirts I don’t want to wear.

The panty construction process also had me review all the stretch stitches on my Bernina that I just wasn’t using.  They’re awesome and I used the stretch overlock for the straight seams and plain zigzag to attach the fold over elastic.  I found fold over elastic for 50 cents a yard at my fave Fabrix so I stocked up for future projects.  As you can tell, I’m pretty pleased with myself for finding a way to wear a tshirt on my ass.

I also made another recipe from my new favorite book Super Natural Every Day.  I’ve made several dishes that were all good and today’s soup was no exception.  It’s the Green Lentil Soup and I made the version with green split peas because I like them better.  Yummy!  It’s a bit spicy with a hint of coconut milk and curry.  Yay for leftovers!

This one’s hard to spell

My unbeaded version of Romi’s Celaeno is done!  It’s been pretty much done for awhile, but I just didn’t have time to finish the last of the knitting and block this.  But now that I’m back home I got on that.  I broke out the Thomas the Tank Engine blocking mat and went for it.  I even remembered to block points on this scarf (I forgot on the last scarf – Maia) and I think it’s a winner.  Romi’s patterns are just lacy enough for my taste and very wearable, plus they’re good travel projects.  This is from her 7 Small Shawls ebook, so next up is Elektra.  I guess I’ll be forced to yarn shop to find an appropriate yarn for Elektra…

What else is happening at casa de Sil?  I’m celebrating Christmas way early this year since I have to work from the 18th through the 31st with no time off for good behavior.  I’ve got to fit all my “must dos” into the next week and a half.  It can be done.  I started my “must” list with making SpindleRose’s caramels, these delicious candies are only made once a year.  This years batch came out super yummy because I finally figured out my candy thermometer is a bit slow.  This batch is chewy and rich.  Perfect!  Now I’m off to the gym to work off one or two of the pieces I had to taste test.  Had to!