Sunday, September 28, 2014

Ratatoille

Judging by the number of grad student food blogs out there, I am not the first to look at the pile of papers to read, grant applications and manuscripts to write, and important dissertation documents to work on and think, "You know, a Thomas Keller recipe is the perfect thing to make for dinner." His confit byaldi is the basis for the signature dish in the movie Ratatouille. And takes roughly four hours to make. Let's get started:


I tossed the eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, and roma tomatoes through my food processor to get nice, thin, even slices.


Next up is the piperade, the base sauce for the dish. I omitted the parsley and used dried thyme leaves instead of the sprig of thyme as per the recipe, and then left it in instead of discarding it.


Then I spent an unreasonably long time arranging the vegetable slices in my 9"x13" pan, fanning them out just so and hiding the last bits of vegetable slices between the rows.


It took a long time, but this was pretty much the last week I'd be able to get these vegetables from the farmer's market and I'd been wanting to try this recipe for a long time. We served it with quinoa. It was amazing, and if you are a grad student (or anyone else) with time on your hands or the desire for intense procrastination, I highly recommend this dish!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Dreaming of Yarn

I put the yarn on her spot while knitting one evening. She didn't let that deter her naptime:


Adorable!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Evil Herbivore

This was a fairly quick stitch, and I am thrilled with the results! The framing leaves a bit to be desired, but based on the dimensions I'm not yet sure what to do next. If you're not a fan of Eddie Izzard, this clip should make this (slightly) less strange and confusing.


Supplies: DMC Bright Ideas Lemon Twist, 14 ct, some sort of dark brown DMC (780?) for the giraffe, DMC Light Effects in Dark Ruby Red (E815) for the words, 2 strands for all
Timeframe: July 20-ish - September 18, 2014
Problems: None!
 

I absolutely love giraffes, love the font they used, and finally found a reason to pick up some of that obnoxiously loud DMC fabric. There's far too much white space (yellow space?) on the top and bottom, but I'm not sure if an oddly proportioned mat would make it look better or stranger. A different frame might also work, but I get my frames from Goodwill and the only other frames that would work were scratched up. I could see a thick wood-toned giraffe print frame working well!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sunday is for Baking

This week, I'm making French Onion Soup. This recipe really pops when you use sourdough bread and Gruyere. Living in Indiana, we don't really have good sourdough here, and the one place we can get it from has a very thin, soft crust that I hate paying $6 a loaf for. It was time to revive my sadly neglected and dormant sourdough starter, living in a Ball jar in the fridge. Since it would take a few feedings to bring it up to happy, I went looking form some simple recipes to use the discarded, not-very-active sourdough in, and King Arthur Flour had just what I needed.

Happy sourdough, fed and doubling in size
Using the semi-active starter discard from feedings three and four, I got some amazingly light and airy popovers, one batch with cheddar cheese and lemon thyme for dinner on Saturday (no pictures, we ate it too quickly!) and one batch for breakfast on Sunday with various jams. You just whisk the five ingredients together and toss it in the oven for 30 minutes; this is a great, easy recipe, and perfect for anyone who is actually discarding and feeding their unused starter weekly as recommended. I may in fact start doing that just so I can make these popovers every weekend!

With apple butter!

Using my now very happy starter, I made a loaf of sourdough bread using a very basic recipe from Cultures for Health. Many other recipes have you adding additional yeast to shorten the rise time, but that really cuts down on the sourdough flavor and takes over from your local yeasts living in the starter.


Finally, I made a couple of loaves of simple sandwich bread using my take on this recipe (and accidentally turned the temperature up too high - d'oh!)
  • Proof 4.5 tsp yeast in 2.5 cups of warm water
  • Mix in 1 Tb melted butter, 1 Tb salt, and ~7 cups of flour
  • Knead for approximately 10 minutes, or until the dough stretches instead of tears when you pull on it.
  • Let rise covered for 1 hour, punch down, divide into loaf pans, let rise for another hour
  • Bake at 450 F for roughly 25 minutes

The best part about bread baking is that it's a little bit of hands-on time every hour or so. Mix the ingredients for 10 - 20 minutes, work for a solid hour, then take a break and punch down the bread. It provides both an excuse for taking a break (must do step next on the bread) and a reason to not take a break (you have to stop at the end of the hour anyway, just keep working 'til the timer sounds). And then you get bread! Now, do I freeze the second loaf from each batch, or will we eat the first loaf too quickly?

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Walking Project

(Written back in June, finally took pictures!) I'm planing to hike the John Muir Trail this August. To prepare, I'm walking 4 miles to work (with a stop at the gym at mile 3.6) and typically walking back home again. Since this is all easy sidewalk walking, I often knit as I go. Since classes started, I have not been walking in because at least two days a week I am in before sunrise and don't want to take so much time out of the other days. So I knit at the gym instead!


Recently, I started a hat for my niece for Christmas. The circular needle I grabbed was just barely small enough for the collar, so the first few rounds were a bit of a fight to get the yarn stretched out and spaced so I could knit. Once I got a few rows in, there were no further problems. I seem to say this about a lot of projects, and this one is no exception: I'm very pleased with it! I made it while walking and reading in a couple of days using up four partial skeins from prior projects, it looks great (in my opinion), should fit well, and it's a Christmas present done six months early. Practically perfect in every way.


Yarn: Malabrigo Rios in Purpuras and Rios, Heartland in Isle Royale and Olympic, and Dream in Color Classy in Cool Fire
Needles: US8/5.0mm
Timeframe: June 26 - 27, 2014
Mods: Slipped the first stitch of every row, used multiple colors and knit the entire first row of a color change.
Problems: None!

With all of the super soft worsted weight yarns I used, it is a super soft, squishy hat that should fit for this winter and probably the next one or two as well. I just hope she doesn't end up being in a "no hats" phase when she gets it!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Finished Scarf

I ripped and re-did the last two rows so MANY TIMES! First I didn't have the correct amount of spaces for the border - it needs to be divisible by two but not four, and I had 40 spaces. I realized this halfway through the border, so ripped back 1.5 rows. Next I thought I was running out of the red too fast, so I did just sc and dc, skipping the hdc for the picot border. That wasn't necessary, so I ripped it back and re-did it.


This was all after ripping back the four rows from the first attempt.

It came out well in the end, using nearly all of the yarn I had for it. The beads look nice, the braids work, and I only wish it were a touch larger.

I seem to be making an odd face, but the scarf came out well!
Pattern: V-eekender Scarf/Shawlette (mine)
Yarn: Sol Alpaca Silver Wind, a gift from friends who went to Peru, and some hand-dyed Knit Picks Bare for the beaded edging
Hook: 5.5mm/USI
 Timeframe: August 14 - 17, 2014
Mods: Two colors, two rows per color 'til the end, fewer rows due to less yarn.
Problems: Amount of yarn
I had just under 4 grams of yarn left, so I whipped up a quick little cat toy for the cat who kept sitting on the scarf while it was in-progress. She would grab the yarn, pile it on the scarf, and sit on it all like a dragon on her hoard, so she gets a toy out of the scraps. It occurs to me that I may be rewarding undesired behavior. She's so freakin' cute, I'm not sure I care!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Chugging Along

There haven't been that many projects I've worked on or finished this summer, but there have been a few. I'm still working through the pile of cross stitch projects I set up for myself a few months ago, slowly but surely. Right now, I'm working on another Day of the Dead biscornu as a gift and recently finished the thought-it-would-be-quick sunflower towel:


This is from a kit and I originally thought it had the sunflowers dancing across the entire towel. It did not. It was supposed to just have the three center ones so it is nicely stitched when folded, but with 60% white space on either side. I did not like that. Luckily, it had enough floss for an extra sunflower in each empty third. This one's going in the gift pile, but does not yet have a recipient.


Anyone out there have a sunflower-themed bathroom or kitchen?