Saturday, November 28, 2009

Entrelac Distraction & Thanksgiving

I haven't been posting for a few weeks but I have a multitude of excuses, the first one being – entrelac! I've never been much of a knitter – every scarf seems to turn into a triangle and I never knew how to correct mistakes or go back and make adjustments. About one year ago, my dear (and VERY patient!) friend, Sue Whitmore was actually able to teach me to knit socks. I was hooked! I've made about 7-8 pairs this year. Then this Spring while in our local yarn shop, The Wool Company, (a wonderful shop and the owners are delightful), I saw this very unique scarf using entrelac technique. Entrelac is a knitting technique used to create a textured diamond pattern. While the end result resembles basket-woven strips of knitted fabric, the actual material comprises interconnected squares on two different orientations. Check out a tutorial for this scarf at After many read-throughs and a couple of false starts, I enlisted Sue's help once again. After a couple of afternoons of knitting and ripping out, I think we've finally got it! It's such fun but requires quite a bit of attention in the beginning. I haven't taken a picture yet but will do so soon. Just don't look too closely!
The main reason I have not been posting is that I returned to church – yep, sabbatical time is over. I attended last week for our annual Thanksgiving breakfast and Gratitude service. It's one of my favorites. Whoever wishes to do so is given the opportunity to express their gratitude or share a story. It is a touching and inspirational service. Afterward, we decorated the church for Christmas since tomorrow is the beginning of Advent. Here's my Board President…

Another reason I love Thanksgiving is that it is our wedding anniversary. From my wonderful husband:
  On Thanksgiving 1998, Takashi and I were married on the back patio of my childhood home in St. Charles, IL.  All three of Takashi's kids flew out from OR & CO, my brother and his family came from VA and my sister and her husband came from MN.  Fortunately Linda is Methodist pastor so we were able to be very relaxed about the whole thing.
This Thanksgiving was small in number but huge in food...just 5 of us.  The turkey with apple-cranberry glaze was brined using kosher salt, crab boil spice packet (yes, I use that for pickles too) & coriander and was the best ever. The brining was accomplished with a large plastic bag in the canner using two other water filled bags engineered to allow the bird to be surrounded by the brine.  The menu was rounded out with sausage-chestnut stuffing, mashed potatoes, giblet gravy, glazed pecan carrots, pear harvest salad, Bandon cranberries, fruit jello mold, and Parmesan knots.  Then there was dessert - Dutch apple pie, pecan tassies, and pumpkin bread with cream cheese filling. 

Speaking of apples - here's one that was left on the tree - Takashi picked it on Thanksgiving and we had to weigh it - one apple = 1 3/4 pounds!

Here's an uninvited holiday visitor who has been driving Musashi the Wonder Weiner dog crazy!  He sits out on the deck bench and eats apples out of my bucket of apples to be used later...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Another Project

This week I pulled out my sewing machine and some fabric I bought in Japan two trips ago. I decided to make a table runner and placemats. I topstitched around the edges but did not do any quilting on them yet. We used them on the table tonight and I still haven't decided if I want to do some "meandering" quilting on them or not.

The days are flying by and I feel a sense of urgency as the time to return to work draws near. This weekend I cleaned out more kitchen cabinets; we've cleaned out our garage, the backroom of the rental next door, the shed, and on and on it goes. Hmmm, I think Takashi may be happy to have me return to work!

More Fun in the Kitchen

We have been enjoying some wonderful meals lately…rediscovering some old favorites and trying some new things. We all enjoy tabletop cooking. We've have been using an ancient butane burner that was getting crankier and bordered on being dangerous. Takashi found a great new burner online for only $20.00. We ended up buying three of them – one for our wonderful neighbor/tenant and two for us so we can more easily accommodate more dinner guests. Time to try some new dishes!

Nabe is "one pot" cooking prepared at the table in a clay pot with water or broth using a variety of ingredients . We've been fans of shabu shabu (swish swish) for years – we usually use beef, cabbage, tofu, mushrooms and a variety of other vegetables which are cooked in the pot and then dipped in ponzu sauce with some grated horseradish. We picked up some halibut down at the fish market and it was wonderful!

Last night we made chestnut rice, a traditional fall dish to go with our Korean tabletop barbecue (we used shrimp, peppers, oyster mushrooms, and shitake for the barbecue). I love chestnuts but roasting and shelling them is not easy!! It was worth it though – here's the rice with chestnuts and shitakes in the rice cooker with a little sake added to the cooking water. Yum!

Takashi also made mochi last night for the first time – pounded it by hand – he is looking online at this very moment for a mocha maker! It was delicious coated with kinako – roasted soybean flour. It disappeared before I could get a photo.

Fun in the Kitchen

Having some extra time has allowed both Takashi and I the opportunity to play in the kitchen and it has been very satisfying. I've rediscovered the joy of making my own pasta – it started with the udon and has continued since then. And canning! Oh I had forgotten how much that feeds my soul. One thing I've never made is pickles. The growing season on the Coast is just not conducive to tomatoes but we had to at least try since we have the deer fence this year. We had a few ripe ones but mostly we had a ton of green tomatoes left. I had a few of the spices used for pickles but not all of them so went to the grocery store to pick up some premixed "pickling spices" – yowzers! – expensive! As I looked at the ingredients, I thought, "Hmmmm, this seems familiar." So I checked out the box of "crab & shrimp boil" – yep, almost identical and a fraction of the cost. What the heck, I decided to try it. I threw in some whole garlic cloves, fennel, onions, and jalapenos. Here's the result:

They looked okay…so I put one jar in the fridge and the rest in the pantry. Last week, we opened up the first jar and were amazed! These pickles are absolutely delicious! All three of us really liked them. Guess what we're planting next year?


This past week I completed the "Perfect Harmony" hooking. This was such a fun project. Glad to have the cording, whipping, and binding done. I may do a bit of embellishment at some later date – maybe some beads for shirt buttons….not sure…will see what transpires!
So it was time to start a new project in order to continue my 10 minute daily commitment. This pushed me up against my primary challenge – initiation! How to start a project so quickly…what to hook…how to color plan…what cut do I use??? Help! These are the times when I really miss having a hooking buddy or two nearby or access to a teacher – it is a tremendous help with motivation and inspiration.

Finally I decided to just pick something and do it – who says I have to continue with the same project, right? And if I don't like it , I can always do some "reverse hooking"! I finally chose a pattern by Laura Pierce – sweet little piece called "Wood Rose". Her patterns are lovely – wonderful high-quality backing. Grabbed some wool I dyed last Spring that really wanted to be background…going with very simple color plan and see what transpires.