July 29, 2011 § 3 Comments
This one’s for the kids!
This past week was our company picnic, which is awesomely fun but unfortunately due my current (lack of)mobility issues I knew I wouldn’t get to participate in a lot of the activities. Since I still wanted to be there to hang out with folks and see all the people from the other office and so on, I decided to grab a project small enough to work on in the +90° temps. I’ve been wanting to make a bunch of these for the kids to play with for awhile now, so I sat down and crocheted away. I did try to figure out a good way to set it up so I wouldn’t have to make two pieces and join them, but the ones made separately really did come out better. I actually made a total of 6 (there was a moment of panic when it looked like I’d only made five and the children would have to — gasp! — share, but I found the McGoohan [big nerd points if you get that one] and all was well), but one of the children grabbed hers and ran off cackling gleefully before I had a chance to get a picture of them all together.
Yarn is LB Lion Wool Prints in Autumn Sunset
ETA link to the pattern (oops!): Found it on CrochetSpot
July 26, 2011 § Leave a comment
Ever wonder why some sweaters consider a 42″ bust measurement a small and others call a 40″ bust a large? Over on the Lion Brand Blog I talk about what sizes really mean and how to choose the right one for the sweater you want to make.
July 22, 2011 § 1 Comment
Something has gone horribly, horribly wrong.
I found this awesome tutorial for making ojami (japanese bean bags) a couple weeks ago and thought, “Hey, that does look like fun!” So I decided it would be this week’s FIotIF project. It looked simple enough, and really, it probably is. But when you’re too lazy to look up the instructions on your interwebby device and just trust to your somewhat dodgy memory, things can go — and in this case clearly have gone — awry.
Now that I’m looking at the instructions, I clearly skipped, oh, about 7 steps. And also just made up a bunch of stuff. So I’m thinking I’ll try this one again over the weekend, actually following the directions this time. And I think it’ll turn out great. Because again, awesome tutorial. It’s hardly their fault I’m too lazy to follow them.
July 21, 2011 § 1 Comment
All thanks to Cook’s Illustrated, who I absolutely adore. It is by far my favorite cooking magazine and reference, because they not only give you the recipe and a maybe a little story to go along with it, but they tell you why and how it works. Not only that, they describe the process they used to get to the final recipe, including all the different ways they went wrong. I love that. I try to do it myself for, presumably, they same reason they do: partly so if you want to make a change to the recipe you’ll already know exactly what happens when you do certain things and you don’t have to repeat my mistakes, but also so if one of those “mistakes” happens to be the result you want, now you know how to do that, too. And not only that, sometimes those bits of information can be applied to other recipes and experimentations, once again demonstrating that all knowledge is worth having. I cannot recommend strongly enough that you get yourself access to CI, either digitally or on paper.
So. Brownies. I looooooove chewy fudgy brownies. I hate double boilers. These two things have kept me from making brownies from scratch, well, forever. Because most decent brownie recipes make you melt your chocolate down in a double boiler, and then they result in cakey brownies. If that’s your thing, go with god and Baker’s box recipe and party on. If, like me, you prefer the chewy, fudgy variety brownie that is usually produced only from a red box filled with powder (I always liked Betty Crocker Fudge Brownies, myself), read on.
See, it turns out that the secret to fudgy brownies is not just the right proportion of fats, liquids, and solids but the right types of fats in the right percentages. Brilliant! And best of all (for me anyhow, with my hatred of the double boiler), you do all of your melting in boiling water that’s part of the recipe!
I adapted this recipe very slightly from the published one, and I’ve included the brand names of the chocolates I use –they are not the same as the ones used by CI — because I happen to really like the way this combination turns out. You might like a different combo. Experiment until you find the right combo for you. I tried Ghiradelli unsweetened bars the first time and they have a serious citrus overtone that is, while sorta yummy, not what I’m looking for in a brownie. No matter what combo you choose, these brownies will be chewy, deeply fudgy, and have a lovely crisp top.
(Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, March & April 2010)
- 1/3c. Ghiradelli unsweetened cocoa
- 1/2c. plus 2Tbsp boiling water
- 2oz. Baker’s unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
- 4Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2c. plus 2Tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 2tsp vanilla extract
- 2 1/2c. sugar
- 1 3/4c. all purpose flour
- 3/4tsp salt
- 6oz. dark chocolate chips (those melty ones you get in bulk to make fondue with at the grocery store — I found them in the bakery section — see picture, below)
Preheat oven to 350°. Line 13×9 pan with foil; spray lightly with cooking spray. In a large bowl, whisk cocoa and boiling water together until smooth. Add in unsweetened chocolate and continue to whisk until chocolate is melted. Whisk in melted butter and oil. (CI notes at this point that the mixture may look curdled; I have not had this issue.) Whisk in eggs, yolks, and vanilla. Whisk in sugar. Stir in flour and salt (CI indicates a rubber spatula for this part; I use a wooden spoon and it seems to work fine) until all ingredients are fully incorporated. Fold in chips.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake at 350° 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted halfway between edge and center comes out clean (or with a few moist crumbs). Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan on a rack for 1 1/2hrs. Using foil, remove brownies from pan and place on rack to cool another hour before serving.*
*Okay look, this is 2 1/2 hours of cooling time. I don’t know about you, but there is no chance in hell that fresh brownies are going to get that much alone time at my house. I usually make it about 45 minutes before I start cutting.
July 19, 2011 § Leave a comment
I think I might be addicted to these little shawlettes…especially now that I’ve discovered that a) there are a ton of patterns out there for them and b) many of those patterns can be made with a skein of sock yarn, which I have *ahem* an abundance of. And I don’t really knit socks anymore…it just sort of wore off (mostly because I don’t really wear them much except around the house in the winter, and that seems like a waste of pretty yarn and good knitting). So lets see how many of those skeins I can make into more of these little pretties before I get tired of them, too. Next up is the Out of My Head pattern with my treasured skein of Sanguine Gryphon Eidos in the Tyndareus colorway.
The eagle-eyed among you may spot a rather large error in the completed shawl here. Please note that the error is all mine and is due to my lack of paying attention rather than any lack of clarity on the designer’s part. I happened to be far enough past the error and also far enough into the “OMG I’m almost done I can’t wait I can’t wait” zone that I chose to just leave it be. Also, I found the tracking chart to be invaluable as I worked the pattern. Checklists FTW! (If you download the pattern from Ravelry, both the pattern and the checklist will be available to add to your library/download.)