New Socks

October 5th, 2011

PurpleSock4.JPG

I finished these a few weeks ago, just in time for fall. They are so comfortable – feels like nothing on my feet, except warm. The yarn came from Three Fates Yarns, a friend of mine who does hand-dying.

Thai Noodle Salad

October 5th, 2011

It got really cold in Eugene this week – so sad to see summer go, especially since it was late in arriving. But I still have a pile of farmer’s market tomatoes on my counter, so I made this salad for dinner tonight, for the 3rd time in 2 weeks. It would make a great dinner for those really hot nights of summer. So make a mental note, OK? When tomato season rolls around again, you’ll be ready.

Thai Noodle Salad

Thai Noodle Salad

Thai Tomato-Cucumber Salad with Glass Noodles and Egg
Serves 2

2 oz Bean thread noodles – also known as glass noodles or cellophane noodles. I found them at my Asian market.
2 eggs
1 T vegetable oil
1/3 c. roasted peanuts, chopped

1 T vegetable oil
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
Juice of 1 lime
1 T rice vinegar
1 T honey or brown sugar
1 T fish sauce
1 T soy sauce
1/2 – 1 tsp Sriracha hot chili sauce
1 clove garlic, crushed
Salt and pepper to taste

1 small or 1/2 a large cucumber, sliced
2 medium or 3 small top-quality tomatoes, chopped, and/or a generous handful of cherry tomatoes… Basically as many tomatoes as you can handle. Go crazy!
2 small or 1 large carrot, grated or sliced
2 green onions, sliced
A generous handful of any or all of the following herbs, sliced: Cilantro, mint, basil, Thai basil

Put the noodles in a heat-proof bowl and pour boiling water over them until fully submerged. Let stand 15 minutes.

Heat 1 T oil in a skillet and fry the eggs to desired doneness. (I don’t really do runny eggs, so I fried mine crispy, but I imagine that poached would also be a good way to go for this.) Remove from the pan, and slice up the egg into bite-size pieces.

Mix up the dressing ingredients in a small glass jar with a tight fitting lid so you can shake it well before applying to the salad.

Divide your prepped veggies between two bowls. When the noodles are done, drain them and put a portion in each bowl. (Now that they are soft you might want to cut them up with scissors into shorter pieces.) Top with egg, peanuts, and dressing. Take a moment to admire how pretty it looks, then stir well and eat!

Peach Quinoa

October 5th, 2011

Hey, I’ve been away for awhile. Life happens… Face it better with a good breakfast. This one couldn’t be easier.

Peach Quinoa Porridge

Peach Quinoa Porridge

Peach Quinoa Porridge
4 servings

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water

Per serving:

Pinch salt
Dash cinnamon
Dash cardamom
Dash nutmeg
Honey to taste
1 fresh peach or nectarine, diced
1/4 c. whole milk

Very important: Rinse and drain the quinoa in a mesh strainer. Put 1 part quinoa to 2 parts fresh water in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil; then turn heat to low, cover, and let it simmer for 20 minutes. Check it, if still seems pretty wet then let it cook for another 5 minutes or so. If all the water has been absorbed, replace the cover, remove from heat, and let stand for 10 minutes. Fluff it with a fork.

Prepare as below and serve immediately, or let it cool and keep it in the fridge to heat up one serving at a time:

For each serving, stir in salt, spices, honey, peaches, and milk. Microwave for 1-2 minutes or until heated through.

As I was typing this up, I realized toasted nuts such as pecans or walnuts would make this even better…

9 days with my nephews

May 25th, 2011

IMG_0093

At Christmas time, my dad’s gift to me was a ticket to visit my sister in Texas after her second baby was born in March. April was a busy month, we moved! But early May was perfect for my visit.

My sister SS lives with her family in The Woodlands, a planned community north of Houston. She has two boys; JWS is going to be two years old in June, and JNS was born on March 30th so he was living his 6th and 7th weeks while I was there. Both of my nephews are at very fun ages! JW loves to play, play, play. He likes to read books, mostly so he can turn the pages, and put together puzzles, play with balls and cars, go to the park, and most of all he loves Technology. He’s an expert at scrolling his dad’s iPhone with his chubby little index finger, and he’s always happy to look at photos, videos, and listen to music on the computer or TV. He had a little toy camera that he would pull out whenever I had mine in hand and we would take pictures of each other and with each other. Even the cheap little calculator I keep in my knitting bag was good for some intense button-pushing and number-clearing. His favorite word is “More,” with the accompanying baby-sign-language gesture of tapping all fingertips together. (Meaning, more crackers, do that trick again, let’s watch another video.) He also says “baby,” “cracker,” “juice,” “bubble,” and of course “Mom” and “Dad.” I tried to get him to say “Aunt KT” but he didn’t quite get there.

IMG_0132

JN is a perfect little bundle of baby. He has a pointy little nose, pointy little chin, and expressive eyebrows. Most of the time he looks very serious, but he is starting to give some heart-melting toothless baby grins. He likes to wave his hands around, kick his legs, and he made some excellent progress in the holding-up-his-head department during my visit. I knitted him a stuffed turtle, which my sister named Herman.

IMG_0111 IMG_0074

IMG_0144

On our way to the park. The neighborhood is picture-perfect.

IMG_0146

Along the path. Lots of pretty trees. I went jogging here in the mornings.

IMG_0154 IMG_0155

IMG_0168

IMG_0182 IMG_0188

IMG_0193 IMG_0189

Part of the “big deal” about me visiting Texas was the very different climate! I packed very light – just threw some cotton dresses, tops, and shorts into one of those good-sized carry-on bags. When I arrived, it was already quite warm and humid. My sister’s home is of course air-conditioned, and they have a pool. But to my Oregonized constitution, it definitely felt like summer outside. I got up early to go running before it got too sticky. Then, halfway through my visit, we had a big thunder storm with downpour of rain. That was exciting! And the best part was, the weather was beautiful and non-humid for the rest of my visit. This sunset was made even more enjoyable by the fact that I sat on the driveway in flip-flops to watch it.

IMG_0214

JW and I got to play outside a lot, in the yard and at the park.

IMG_0223 IMG_0227

IMG_0230 IMG_0249

JN is too little to play at the park, but he liked his activity mat, especially when his big brother would turn on the lights and music and Auntie would swing the hanging toys for him. He kicked the crinkly sound-maker all by himself. Who can resist a tiny person in a T-shirt that says, “Hi, I’m new here.”

IMG_0267

IMG_0281 IMG_0300

IMG_0276 IMG_0338

The day before I left we took an excursion to the Woodlands Town Center. It’s sort of downtown-ish, with lots of shopping in a sort of outdoor-mall style. We got sandwiches and ate them outside. It was lovely in the shade.

IMG_0309IMG_0310IMG_0312

IMG_0327

The Woodlands Town Center. It's like a big outdoor mall.

There’s a waterfront area with boats, birds, and fish to look at. JWS would have trotted all around the nearby arena if I’d let him.

IMG_0322 IMG_0319

All in all, it was such a wonderful trip. I had a great time visiting with my sister and just hanging out in her life. We hadn’t had so much time together since we both lived at home with our parents, and so much is different now! We had some major catching up to do. I really enjoyed just playing with JW, holding JN, and helping her with their care. I also enjoyed cooking in her enormous kitchen.

Thanks, Dad, it was a gift I will always treasure.

IMG_0346

IMG_0342

IMG_0356

Eiki

May 6th, 2011

Eiki05

It’s pretty fun having a professional knitwear designer in my circle of local knitting friends. Janel Laidman was working on a lovely garter-stitch lace-edged shawlette at our Monday night meetings for a few weeks in a row. I had been wanting to knit a lace shawl from one of the skeins of sock yarn in my stash, and I’d been perusing Ravelry trying to pick just the right one. But, when I saw Janel’s finished project, I decided I wanted to knit it. Something about seeing it in person… and it’s beautiful. The earthquake / tsunami in Japan had just occurred, so as she was publishing it Janel decided to offer it as a benefit to disaster relief. All those factors converged and I bought the pattern, picked the skein of blue wool/tencel I had from a few years ago at Black Sheep, and cast on. In one month, I was finished! It was a delightful project and a great spring neck-warmer during the remaining cool days.

Eiki04

Ravelry Link

Silk Scarf

May 6th, 2011

SilkScarf

Last June, I was at my Monday night knitting group. We were all excited and buzzing about Black Sheep Gathering coming up that weekend. Some were signed up for classes, some were looking forward to shopping the market for unique yarn and fiber, and some were hoping to catch a glimpse of alpacas.

But, one friend had a different source of excitement. ETW, who has impeccable taste and also likes to keep an eye out for good deals, had found some 100% silk yarn on deep discount at Ben Franklin. I was intrigued. At $17 a ball, I wouldn’t consider buying pure silk. But $4 a ball? Now we’re talking.

That Friday I spent the afternoon at Black Sheep, and purchased quite a bit of yarn. Later that evening, BN and I happened to be out, I think we were going to a movie at the dollar-fifties, near Ben Franklin. It was a now-or-never kind of thing, I wanted to get some of that silk. I picked out a pewter gray.

Stash_LH_Silk

Last fall, I needed a new purse-sized project that was simple and compact enough to carry around and work on anywhere. I was originally going to knit a lace-patterned mobius, but when I swatched the lace pattern it didn’t do the gray nubbly yarn any favors. So I switched to a simple linen stitch and cast on for a super-minimal rectangle scarf. Some people say linen stitch makes them crazy with boredom, but I found it quite meditative.

And I LOVE the finished scarf. It is so soft, warm, not a hint of itch (even with very soft superwash merino, I find my neck can tell it’s there). The neutral color goes with everything. Mmmm, luscious. And to think it only cost 12 dollars!

Ravelry Link

Kung Pao Chicken

April 15th, 2011

KungPaoChicken

Ohhhhhhhh…. Spring. You’re such a tease. That beautiful day for April Fool’s? Not enough. Now that it’s officially mid-April, I’m ready for some more warm days. As I donned my handknit wool socks this morning, I thought, goodness knows I like wearing my handknits but I am so ready to pack them up for awhile!

I have definitely enjoyed the return of the farmers’ market the last few weeks. Fresh bok choi, radishes, and green onions give me hope.

It’s quite nice to have it getting light at 6:30 and not going completely dark until 8.

BUT it’s still so chilly. I’m craving warmth, even heat.

I guess I’ll have to make my own. Who’s with me?

Kung Pao Chicken
Adapted from various internet recipes

1. Marinate 2 or 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cut into 1-inch chunks) in:
1 T white wine
1 T soy sauce
1 T sesame oil
1 t corn starch
4-6 crushed garlic cloves

2. Then make sauce:
2 T white wine
2 T soy sauce
1 T rice vinegar
1 T honey or brown sugar
1 T corn starch
Combine ingredients in a measuring cup, stirring briskly with a fork, and set aside.

3. Start a nice big pot of steamed rice.

4. Prep your veggies:
2-3 medium-to-large bunches bok choi: separate stalks from leaves; slice the stalks in 1/2 inch pieces, cut or tear the leaves into bite-size pieces
2 carrots, sliced
1 small red bell pepper, diced
4 spring onions: separate white parts, sliced, from green parts, coarsely chopped.
a handful of small radishes, sliced

5. Gather your goodies:
2 T vegetable oil
4-8 dried red chile peppers (I used 6 big ones and the spicy was a good, medium spicy)
1/2 cup chopped or whole roasted peanuts

6. COOK IT!

Heat 1 T oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add carrots, and cover to let them steam a minute or two. Remove the cover, add bell peppers, and stir occasionally until beginning to brown. Add white portions of onions. Then add bok choi stems. When everything is nicely browned around the edges, throw in the bok choi leaves and green onion tops and stir until just wilted. Remove all the veggies to a covered dish.

Heat another T of oil. Add the red peppers and let them sizzle for a moment. Drain the chicken from its marinade, and distribute it as evenly as possible in the pan. Let it fry without moving the pieces until browned, then continue to cook and stir occasionally until liquid is evaporated. Remove the pan from the heat, remove the chicken to the covered dish, give the sauce a good stir and add it to the pan. Replace the pan on the heat and stir the sauce until it’s bubbly and very thick – it will thin out when you add the vegetables and chicken back into the pan. Do so, stirring well to combine everything, and then add the radishes and peanuts. Stir again, and season to taste with salt and fresh-ground pepper.

Serve over steamed rice.

Catching Up

January 15th, 2011

Well, hello 2011! The holiday dust is still settling this week, since we only got back from California last weekend. But here we are, a new year. I wonder what the future holds.

BN is no longer a teacher, so we didn’t have to organize our vacation around the academic schedule. I had done hardly any work until the week after Thanksgiving, so I was willing and in fact eager to continue to work through the holidays. BN found me a MacBook Pro on Craigslist, and I was able to stay on top of my current projects while we were visiting our families in San Jose for a little more than 3 weeks. That worked out nicely – I had enough to do that it felt gratifying, but not so much that I had to neglect family time. On Monday, the first day back at my desk, the laptop died. It no longer starts up, except a few times randomly, and soon runs into trouble with monitor flickering and things seizing up. Oh, dear. Luckily we were able to connect it up to our old computer and get the files off of the hard disk.

It seems that iPhoto changed how they do things, so we couldn’t figure out how to get the photos that we took during the trip. We’re working on it… In the meantime, here are some borrowed from my Dad.

I made a wreath for my Mom, at Bloomers Nursery in Eugene.

I made a wreath for my Mom, at Bloomer's Nursery in Eugene.

I was so happy to get some quality time with my two little nephews. They are growing so fast!

GJW is 10 months old and totally adorable. He started crawling during our visit.

GJW is 10 months old and totally adorable. He started crawling during our visit.

JWS is 18 months. He still doesnt have much hair but so smart! He loves books. Here I am cracking up because he thought a coaster was a book and kept trying to turn the pages.

JWS is 18 months. He loves books. Here I am cracking up because he thought a coaster was a book and kept trying to turn the pages.

How many nephews in this picture? 3! My sister is expecting JWSs little brother in March.

How many nephews in this picture? 3! My sister is expecting JWS's little brother in March.

My dad drew my name for this year. He gave me a lovely ceramic bowl, two skeins of Mini Mochi, and a ticket to visit my sister in Houston after her baby is born. What a wonderful gift!

I drew my sister MA’s name, and I knitted her a sweater. It’s 100% organic merino wool, hand-dyed by Textiles A Mano.

ZippyCardigan

Our visit included some crafty endeavors, too – HN and I made glycerin soap. You should try this – we worked from a kit and simply melted the soap in the microwave, tinted it, and poured it in molds. We then cut chunks and shapes, put them back in the molds, and poured more soap in. Fun, fun, fun!

Soap

A necklace that I made

December 20th, 2010

BeachNecklace2

My sister turned 16 last week and for her birthday I made a beach-glass inspired necklace. First I strung all the beads, and then crocheted a chain with each bead in its own stitch. This results in a stronger necklace, and the beads are spread apart slightly to create a nice “vine” effect.

BeachNecklace1

Granola Nirvana

November 18th, 2010

Granola

Granola
Adapted from Blueprint magazine

4 c rolled oats

1 c large-flaked coconut (if using finely shredded, use 1/2 cup)
1/2 c sliced almonds
3 T sesame seeds
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t cardamom
1/4 t ground ginger
pinch fresh-ground nutmeg
1/4 t salt

1/4 c canola or safflower oil
1/4 c brown sugar
3 T honey
1 t vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 300° and put oats in a large glass baking dish or roasting pan. Toast the oats for 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine oats with the other dry ingredients. Stir well to combine.

In a small saucepan, combine oil, sugar and honey. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour the sugar mixture over the oat mixture, stirring and tossing until coated. Pour into the baking pan, and bake for 20 – 25 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, or until ingredients are golden brown and smell delicious.

Store in an air-tight container for up to a week.