cooking & food

I feel like I blinked once and it was April, then I blinked again and it was May, and then May got swallowed up by wool and travel and friends. And now it’s the end of June.

I’m still here; I’m enjoying living in Boston and continuing to work with fiber and with scientific editing. The Arnold Arboretum is one of my very favorite things about where I live. Lots of green space (though it turned white for a few months), some wildlife…and it’s clearly favored by a few other fibery people, too.


I’ll post about fiber things and travel (including my spindle-spinner’s tan line) soon, but first, a recipe. I promised Anju that I’d write this up, and it was a wonderfully easy and decently nutritious thing that I can imagine other people also appreciating. So!

We were discussing dinner options, and Anju sent me a link to this recipe for butter chickpeas. It sounded interesting, but my dislike of tomatoes means I don’t keep tomato products around. (I also don’t keep cream in the house.)

My variation:

3 tablespoons garam masala
1 t black pepper (I’m pretty sure my garam masala doesn’t include black pepper)
sriracha to taste
2 cans (the ~15-ounce kind) chickpeas, drained
2 T tamarind-date chutney
1/3 c plain yogurt (I like Seven Stars reduced fat because it’s just milk and bacteria)
1/2 lb frozen chopped spinach
1/4 c white wine

Okay, that’s more than 5 ingredients, and it does require care in timing for adding the yogurt (too soon, and it’ll curdle; I turned off the heat and waited a minute or so), but I expect it to recur at least once this summer. Effectively doubled, at least for the chickpeas, it made a good meal for me four times over, even without rice. (I can be a very lazy cook.) It came out a little bit more sour than I’d’ve preferred, but I think subbing some other form of hot pepper for the sriracha and maybe adding some tahini would make it more balanced in flavor.

Not a travel post!  Whee!  There’s still a fair amount going on, though rather different stuffs.  First, as many of you know, there’s a spinners’ event called the Tour de Fleece in which much yarn is made during the Tour de France.  (Some people watch the TV coverage of the bicycling, but lots of us don’t.)  I got a fair bit of spinning done this year.  Less than I’d hoped, I’ll admit, but I’m happy with my pile of fresh yarns.


These are Shetland, Wensleydale, Polwarth, Merino/silk/camel, and Merino/Corriedale, with a couple of partly-spun batts (not my carding) in the back.  I also finished spinning a couple of other yarns that didn’t make it into this photo.  (The ones on the left side here have been washed; the ones on the right have not.)

One of the things that’s been distracting me from spinning and job-hunting has been raspberry-picking.  It’s taking even longer these days, as it’s the peak of the first crop of red raspberries (there’re fewer black raspberries, so they’re faster to pick).  This is what I picked on Thursday:

Good thing I grabbed the larger bowl.

Yes, there are some not-raspberries in there.  That bowl holds about two quarts, though, and it was totally full yesterday and overflowingly full today.  Which is why there’s also a (second) tray of raspberries in the freezer, plus two batches of raspberry jam on the counter.

The garden is full of lovely inedible things, too:



That’s a black-eyed Susan and a buttonbush in bloom.

A.k.a. breakfast, since I’m sorta tired of snow pictures and the new snow is sorta hard to distinguish from the snow that was still there from the last two storms, at least from my kitchen windows.



Yum. (I stopped for groceries on my way home last night, at which point I got this (locally made, not necessarily locally-milled) croissant and the local chevre that I’m eating it with.)

The fall jamming edition:

cranberry applesauce

I’m calling it cranberry applesauce, though apple cranberry sauce would be similarly appropriate. It’s got a flavor much like cranberry sauce (with undertones of apples, scotch, and various baking spices), but the texture of mostly-homogenized applesauce. I cooked it for a really long time to get the apples to cook down that much. I don’t buy cooking apples, since my main use for apples is eating them whole (well, okay, biting pieces off, but not cutting with anything other than teeth)–I just cook with the squishiest of the generally crisp apples I like to eat. This means that jamlike things take longer.

In other appley news, I’ve gone through enough of the 20-pound bag of Gold Rush that I bought a month ago that I happily signed up to get another one a week from Sunday. Mmm, apples.


I’ve been doing a bit of fibery stuff, to try to stay sane for working a lot. The most recent spinning:

I decided I needed some plain wool to spin, of a breed I hadn’t spun before, and for which I didn’t have any particular project in mind. So I dug my Acadia out of the fiber pile (it’s a stack of bins, or it’d be spread all over the floor) and set out to spin a 3ply. The talk seems to have been right–Finn is quite nice to spin. That’s one ply all spun and the second one started.

I’ve also been knitting some; I’ve nearly finished turning the heel on that sock. Yes, it takes more than a week to turn a heel when I’m only knitting a row or half a row or something at a time. Maybe this weekend? Of course, I’m also planning to start a new pair of socks: I’ll need concert knitting, for someplace darker than World Cafe Live.

So, as I said, I spent a lot of last weekend cooking.  In fact, I’m still eating leftovers–it’s a good thing I don’t mind doing that.


Lamb/cauliflower/carrot curry. Local ingredients: ground lamb, cauliflower, carrots, onion, garlic, milk.



Roasted veggies. Local ingredients: cauliflower, beets, carrots, parsnips, onion.

Once I ran out of leftover rice, I switched to eating the lamb curry over the roasted veggies.  Not bad at all.



Granola. No local ingredients that I recall, except for the maple syrup. I usually make granola with honey, but I had just barely enough maple syrup in the fridge for this granola, so I figured I’d use it, instead, and get to open a new jar of syrup. This was a clean-out-the-freezer batch of granola, too–I put in the remaining bits in bags of hazelnuts, almonds, wheat germ, pecans…and enough of the wheat bran to fit it into a smaller jar. And it’s tasty. Mmm.


I’ve also been doing a bit of weaving, on and off, since I set up my loom. I finished that first sample; it’s pretty clear that I gradually learned how far to pull the weft before beating–the edges are much nicer toward the end than at the beginning.


And then I decided to play around with two-heddle weaving, to see if I could make patterns.


It didn’t come out amazingly well, but I think it’s a decent step, considering how much planning I didn’t do. Next time, for example, I’ll know to pay more attention to the exact order in which I tie the first couple of warp threads to the front apron rod–it didn’t matter much in the plain weave, or if it did, it all worked fine so I didn’t notice, but part of the reason I got impatient with this sample thingy is that I messed up the beginning of the warping. The weaving set on flickr includes closeups of several of the patterns I managed; I think the half-basketweave looks pretty nice on both sides, but I need to write stuff out and maybe just play with threads a bit in order to figure out how to get twills.

Both of these samples were warped with Rowan Linen Drape; the main weft is probably Cascade 220.

As I said, though, I was getting a little frustrated with the two-heddle sample, so I figured it might be time to warp for an Actual Project, one playing with color more than texture (well, texture just in yarn and not in weave structure). I hope it will actually turn out to be useable…


The idea is that it will become a scarf. The warp is two colors of Silky Tweed (I had one ball of teal, and two of green). Halfway through warping, I remembered having heard that it doesn’t do well as warp, but it seems to be okay so far. Probably in part because I’m not trying to make a really dense fabric (going for drapey, just hoping it’s not too terribly open and floppy) and in part because it probably wants a denser epi. But I still only have 10-dent heddles…for now.  The warps visible in this picture are a smidge of handspun merino (the light blue at the bottom), some of each color of silky tweed, and some…Mountain Colors, I think.  It’s a mohair-blend single, in “New England Autumn”, which includes almost exactly the same teal as the teal silky tweed.  I have the rest of these, plus a couple other yarns that seemed to go; I’m going to do more or less random stripes, trying to keep it somewhat balanced so it’s not too colorblock-y.


Anyway!  Enough typing for this evening, unless I’m going to do some actual work.

• I’m still spinning on my way to work most days. Yesterday morning reminded me why (aside from spindle productivity) it’s such a good thing–without it, I’m a little too likely to fret about the time, and the weather, and all sorts of other work-related things that I can’t actually do anything about until I get to lab. Especially now that I’ve messed up a second pair of earbuds so that the left one doesn’t work.

• I’ve actually done a decent amount of cooking lately. Still probably less than ideal, but I made these

black raspberry muffins

a week and a half ago. The black raspberries I’d bought the day before were already starting to go fuzzy, so I picked out the icky ones, cooked the rest of them down a bit with some sugar (like jam, but not that cooked), and subbed the raspberry mixture into my standard muffin recipe (in place of the milk). The seeds were a little annoying, but they were otherwise quite good.

And I spent Sunday evening in ridiculously geeky cookery that I’ll talk about later, when the person who took the pictures gets a chance to upload them.

• There’s been a teensy bit more knitting on the Estonian lace scarf. I was thinking about photographing it with something for scale, since it was mentioned that it kinda looked like a stole rather than a scarf, but I’ll just say (for now) that it’s maybe six inches wide and knit on US1s.

• I’ve finished the first half of the merino/bamboo Sumac singles and started on the second half. It still amazes me how differently spindles spin with a full cop versus a tiny starter one.

• I finally skeined up the Jacob roving from Gnomespun, though I still haven’t (wet) finished it. It seems to be about 660 yards. Here it is with Mel, who’s wondering why I leant it on him (and maybe why he isn’t enough reason by himself for me to pull out my camera):


• I’ve signed up for the Ravelry edition of this year’s Tour de Fleece, for which I have joined Team Suck Less, with the goal of spinning a mile not in a day, because I can’t commit a whole day to spinning any time soon, but on my spindles over the three weeks of the Tour. (And the side goal of spinning fast enough for the theoretical production of a mile of singles, at least, in a reasonable length day.)

• It’s now July, and I have yet to install my air conditioners this year.  This is wonderful.

What to do on a ridiculously hot Sunday: spin, knit, read, bake before it gets too terribly hot, and take better pictures of the new shawl:



This is Mim‘s Adamas pattern. I knit 12 repeats of the second chart rather than 14, because I was worried about running out of yarn, and then added two extra repeats of the last two lines of chart 3. I have some yarn left, but I’m happy with the narrow stripe of dark blue/green at the edging. I do need to redo the second half of the bindoff, and I’d like to eventually reblock the shawl on a surface that’s actually big enough for it, but I may try to keep the more rounded, less triangular-with-deep-scallops shape that it has now.

If I try a project like this again–making a color-graded yarn by blending two fibers–I want to make maybe five mixed-color batts instead of three; the shift from the light green to the first blended bit is more abrupt than I’d hoped.



I think I’m going to have something cold to drink and maybe another rhubarb muffin now.

Yesterday was absolutely beautiful–some of my favorite weather. Sunny, gorgeous to look at, warm enough to not completely freeze but still cool enough for a fleece vest, a handknit scarf, and handknit mitts.





(I also saw a few open blossoms on a cherry tree, but the light was wrong and I was in a hurry.)


Not much fibery stuff to show, because my parents are in town and we’ve been going out to dinner (it’s hard to knit on the bus when I’m also trying to keep my leftovers from falling off the seat next to me), but I can offer a highly enthusiastic recommendation for the Italian restaurant we went to last night: Bistro La Baia. Everything, from the bread through the mussels, baked mushrooms & shrimp, salmon with mustard sauce, salmon with walnuts and citrusy cream sauce, lobster ravioli, and tiramisu, was delicious. (That’s two appetizers, three entrees, and one dessert, for three people, with about two meals’ worth of leftovers.) And it was very reasonably priced. … Can you tell I’m planning to go back there?


I like lights at midwinter.  And, though I occasionally miss going out to my aunt’s farm to cut a smallish Eastern redcedar (juniper), the table-sized fake tree is much, much more convenient.



Christmas Day is one of the few times when I watch the sun rise.  (Even if I’m up that early on other days, I’m usually busy and not watching.  For whatever reason, though, I kept waking up early last week.  I suspect it’s the extreme quiet at my grandmother’s house–it’s unsettling.)


on the bike path

My dad and I only managed one walk along the bike path, but it was a lovely, lovely day.



We did a bit better as far as cookie-baking–we made oatmeal cookies, chocolate crackups, and an improvised nutella cookie, which we served along with gjetost (my new favorite dessert cheese!), some Earl Grey shortbread that I made here for a cookie swap, and neighbors’ banana bread and hermit cake.  (Speaking of which, if you have a recipe for hermit cake that you know and trust, would you send it to me?)


I also did a bit of knitting and spinning, but I forgot to get pictures in daylight, so that’ll show up later.


(The real highlights, of course, were getting to see my parents, grandma, and other family.  And it was also lovely that all of my gifts went over well, including the neckwarmer.)

I have no time, and Friday snuck up on me again, so here are a few hopefully-eye-candy-like pictures of some of what’s been keeping me busy. (No pictures of work, though.)

(a neckwarmer/cowl thing. out of oldish handspun from Spirit Trail fiber)

(apple-maple jamlike stuff. will be blogged on FTP when I have time, maybe tonight)

(fresh yarn! two of three October Hooves batts from Enchanted Knoll Farm)


Happy Thanksgiving to those of you who’re celebrating; happy weekend to those of you who are not.

caramel-oatmeal brownies

I really wanted to do some baking the other day, so I pulled out a recipe I’d been meaning to try for quite a while: Caramel-Oatmeal Brownies.

I used turbinado sugar instead of regular brown sugar, and I added slices of pear between the layers, but otherwise I followed the recipe as closely as I ever follow recipes. The oatmeal cookie layer is resistant to cutting, but the brownies are really tasty. (Oh, how I love chocolate and pear together. Lots of fruits, really, but I don’t often eat pears for texture reasons, so they’re more exciting in baked goods.)

If you have oats that are slightly more processed (quick oats or something; I think even regular commercial oats are often flatter than the ones I buy in bulk from my local co-op), they might work better.  If I’m using these again, I might scant the oats a smidge or use a little bit more liquid in the cookie layer.

(No, that’s not a giant brownie–it’s on a saucer.)

Pun incidental but apt.

cinnamon-bun bread


This is the cinnamon bun bread from Baking Bites. I followed the recipe as closely as I ever follow any recipe, which is to say that I think the only actual substitution I made was soymilk for cow milk. (Still not vegan, since it also includes an egg and some butter.)


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