Thursday, October 22, 2015


A new section has been added to my web page—A collections of recipes. Some are favorite recipes— that were first featured on my blog; these have been edited and improved. Others are new recipes appearing for the first time. Find them in the left hand column, Recipes and Cooking,

There are 5 recipes, so far, and many more to come. Several breads, and more soups, and a few one dish meals. Most have been published before, and some are ones I have worked out on my own, others are ones I have adapted to my taste.

I always start the fall by filling my freezer with warm savory foods—soups and stews and roasted meats, so when I come home, cold and tired, (from anywhere) I can make a quick dinner of what I have previously prepared; with just a quick reheat in oven (or micro wave oven)  These recipes are as much for me, to use, as a refresher, as they are to share.

As a child, my mother complained I was a picky eater—I was to some degree. But mostly, we just had a different sense of taste—The vegetables I liked, she didn't and her favorites, were my least favorites.

A match made in hell. And it wasn't just vegetables—I love Chinese food—she hated it. I love nuts (every sort and kind!) Nuts were another food on my mother's never to eat food. She loved cured meats (ham, brisket), and pickled pigs feet(or trotters as she called them)-- and I dislike these foods (Yes, I am Irish, and NO, don't like corned beef!)

Part of her flavor profiles of tastes, was formed in her youth—and by the depression—in general, and living in a poor country, with limited access to imported foods.  So she grew up eating a narrow range of foods. My father was more adventurous, and exposed us to a wider range of foods, but he worked full time—and rarely cooked.. so we got exposed to lots of fruits, but not a lot of cooked food—Cooking my mothers purview—And she rarely add anything she hadn't eaten in her childhood. This did change as she got older, but by then, I was off on my own, exploring new foods on my own.

In both Ireland and England, the slogan “Heinz means Beans” was a long standing advertizement, and beans feature in “full Breakfast” meals. But in our house, when I was growing up, a single small can of pork and beans (an 8oz, can) sufficed—for a family of 7. Servings of beans consisted of so few beans, you could readily count them.

And that was the only beans that were served. Over the years, I have expanded my tastes (and like pork and beans the least)--Now chick peas, (in soup, in humus, as felafel, or curried) are a regular part of my diet, and so are Black beans (mostly as soup, but occasionally as a side dish). Kidney beans, pink beans, small white beans, too, are in the mix. They show up in chili, (real made with dried chili's and no tomatoes, and eastern (US) style with chili powder and tomato), and in US Senate bean soup, or curries, too.

Lentils are in the mix, too. But they were never favorites. But I have discovered French green lentils, (about ½ the size of common green lentils, and very small black lentils (and other colors, too!)

To show the scale, here are a few lentils, (dry) nestled into the finger holes of a small scissors. Look how small those black lentils are! They cook quicker than larger lentils, and have a lovely flavor. I like these cooked with a few vegetables for lunch and in soup, and in a tomato based curry sauce (made with several spices, not with a yellow curry powder)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

It's been Weeks

 Once again, its a long time since I posted here. I've been busy—New knitting videos on my web page, and more to come (very soon) and other work there, too. I've also been working on a scarf (that is about to bite the dust...6 inches in, to a complex lace, and too many errors have crept in, and I don't like the results, even where it is perfect—so I will have to rethink my plans. I spent a lot of time creating a chart for this—I'll keep the chart—it might work for socks..

It's been weeks filled with busy, work, nothing useful or accomplished. Little things like putting aside the dribs and draps of left over yarn (still in sock kit bag) and restocking the bags ( New business cards in one, hand cream in another, and so on) but I haven't packed any new kits (YARN!) I still have 1 kit to do) and 2 kit as a UFO,(the lace topped Swizzle, and Rubeckia from the spring). January might be a good time to make a set of new kits.

I did, finally, make a start on my next pair of socks, They are now just a half dozen rows short of 7 inches, (and the start of the heel). I have been thinking about making another vest/shell in sock yarn-(hot pink). The yarn is in sight, packed in a clear plastic bag, crying to be started. I have resolved not to start it thought till the current pair of socks are completed. I haven't decided on a pattern either—Lace panels? Or all over lace?

I said in my last post (almost a month ago), I was going to make a pair of stranded work socks, but there wasn't enough contrast—I had some left over KnitPicks sock yarn in Pumpkin, and a pre-divided skein of Lion Brand Sock Ease in the Red Hots color way. Both are great fall colors. The KnitPick yarn is left over from the pumpkin pie socks I knit for my grand daughter a couple of years ago.

So, I changed over to a HUGO inspired pattern Not quite HUGO, but....Partly because I hadn't planned to do Hugo after a cuff-- I tried a few rows of simple spiral pattern—and it was a flop. I didn't even bother to undo those few rows. Can you see them? It's pretty easy to see where I started the Hugo like pattern-- I switched over in the evening, which is when my brain goes into low gear—I should have divided the front stitches into more even groups but no matter. I have the key elements, with biases side panels, and the center straight.

I have gotten over my annoyance at loosing my size 1 needle—Here is the edging I worked out for the sock. The main yarn (Reynold's Swizzle) is simple sock yarn—widely space stripes.. It's not quite busy enough to NEED a plain sock, but not quite plain enough to need a fancy pattern.

The lacy cuff detail was a sort of compromise. I like the big open lacy picots—there aren't nearly enough top down picot edges. The green isn't a perfect match for the green stripe in the yarn, but it is close. I will break down and buy another size one needle--(soon) and get back to work on these socks.

I've gotten some soup made (and Monday was a soup day—36° (circa about 3 to 4°.)in the AM, and about 13°C---Low 50° in the mid afternoon. Unseasonable cold (a normal high temp is 60 to 65 (16° C or a bit more). I was out all day, taking a Historic tour of lower Manhattan with a friend, and lunching at Fraunces Tavern—Something GW did 200 years ago, or so. I had oysters for the first time in my life, too. Well, make that raw oysters—they were lovely. For most of my life, oysters were out of my price range, and I was reluctant to spend that much money to try them—Now I know they are worth the price!


Wednesday, September 23, 2015


Worst case scenario has played out.

After a half dozen tries, I finally figured out a lace edging pattern (I have it saved somewhere, but couldn't fine it... I eventually found a swatch, re worked it, and documented it.)

First sock was cast on, and the edging work. Then I discovered I had lost one of my circular needles.. a size 1—and I don't have another one. The edging is a pretty one, but it requires 145 stitches to be cast on to yield 64.

I am putting the socks aside for the moment, and doing something else.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Bath Mats and A Hand Towel

But no progress made on the socks. Not that I haven't tried. I messed up 3 times in the first few rounds (rows really because I messed up in the first round)--so they were frogged. I'll get back to them today.

Bath mat 3 was completed Saturday in the AM—I used 4 of the 5 skeins to make a square about 19 inches by 21. I won't know the actual final dimensions till I give it a wash and machine dry. It will shrink and change size but—what ever the measurements, it will be a nice size.

I took the last skein, and made a matching guest towel. Right now, it's 10 X 15—it too will change size, but the knitting is tighter to start. . This yarn was labeled “worsted” weight, but its a light weight worsted. The kit came with a pair of size 9 (5.5mm) bamboo needles (it would have taken an eternity to knit this cotton on bamboo) I make the bath mat with the yarn held doubled, and used a size 11(8mm) needle. I think I could have gone down to a size 9—seed stitch, like ribbing tends to work better knit on smaller needles. But I didn't, and the fabric is very loose, open and drapy.

I made the towel with a single strand, and a size 6 (4.25mm) needle. It's a bit firmer, but not tightly knit by any means. I am surprised sometimes that there are scores and scores of patterns and projects for wash clothes, but very few for towels.. I don't know that I would want to knit a bath sheet (an oversized bath towel) but hand towels? Why not?

So, today, I will once again cast on the socks. The yarn is Reynolds “Swizzle”-- in a light grey.
The first few times, I started with a plain edge—but I think I am going to change this time. I like thetriple edge I did last time-- This time, I will do something else. The grey color way has pink, orange and green stripes. I am sure I can find something to match—Some Lion Brand Sock Ease in the solid pink might do—but I might go with the green..(in an other sock yarn)

My S-I-L has tried on the socks, and they fit—I'm sure I will hear more about the next time I see him. I found that I have 4 skeins of Kroy sock yarn in Royal Blue in my sock stash.  The next pair I knit for him will be blue.(He as beautiful blue eyes, and wears a lot of blue to accent them--The girls have his blue eyes, too) 

The Royal Blue is a bit bright—I might take some navy or black and make stripes on the leg portion—This will darken the sock a bit, and will leave me with 2 skeins of the blue for me.  That I have 4 skeins just goes to show you that I like the blue... Besides, I wear a lot of Denim, so blue socks are always useful.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Bath Mat? Or Bath Runner? And More!

Yesterday morning saw bath mat 2, the striped one, done. It's more of a bath runner, than mat. About 12 inches wide, and 25 inches long...I have some yarn left over in every color—clearly, I could have made it wider, But, no matter. It is more of a runner shape than a mat shape, but it will do the job.

On my way to visit the girls yesterday (it was Library day once again for the first time in weeks) I got socks cast on, and a single row worked, but I didn't get the socks joined into rounds, and repositioned as 2 socks on 2 needles.  But I am back to down town Flushing again today--I will be picking up my daughters share from her CSA--and will get more knitting done on the bus ride to and fro.

There are several methods for casting on and setting up 2 on 2 socks—you can see my method on the Golden Apple Face book page –here is a direct link to the video.

I got nothing done on the way home—my daughter was off to end of summer get away—in NJ- and since she would be driving past my house, she dropped me home.

Once home, I should have continued with the socks but instead...

This is an unknown cotton yarn. 7 or 8 years ago, a celebrity knitter out in California—one with a yarn store for the stars—expanded and created kits for knitters. All the projects were simple ones. Knit in garter stitch, on huge needles. The kit had a project bag, some yarn, an oversized bamboo needle and directions.

This yarn is from one of these kits. The project was a simple poncho, knit on size 10(or so) needles in a very open light weight fabric. The cotton yarn is almost a boucle. The yarn is a loosely spun cotton with a heavier thread wrapped round it. If you are familiar with Lion Brand Homespun yarn, you know the type. The cotton core is less splitty than Homespun, but it has the same lightness. 

I have made shawl and blankets from LB Home Spun, and they are very light and airy—and warm too. I don't much like the yarn for clothes, it is so soft and drapy I feel it looses shape...but it is great for blankets and shawls. 

Meanwhile, theses knit kits were (to my thinking) over priced. I wasn't alone in my thinking. A year later, I found 2 in the remained bin for $5 (originally $30!) and for $5, I grabbed them. The yarn is 100% cotton (and natural fibers are always worthwhile) and the zippered plastic bag made a good project bag. The bamboo needles were gifted to a newish knitter who liked big needle projects—I had no need for another pair of largish needles (I prefer to knit finer yarns on smaller needles). The second kit had black yarn, not natural white, in a wool/synthetic blend--it became a hat for charity years ago.

So the cotton has been hanging around waiting for me to knit it up. I was worried as I started—I wasn't sure there would be enough for a bath mat. Not that I knit that densely—I usually knit a bit loose and then full by washing in hot water. But I had no label, and no idea of the yardage, and it didn't feel like much yarn by weight.

So here I am, with skeins one and two (of 5) nearing completion. The mat is 17 inches or so wide, and 9 inches knit. Finished it should be about 17 by 20 or 21 inches. Fulled it will grow to 18 inches wide, and shrink to 19 or so inches long. And almost square. I will also end up with 1 full skein of this yarn left—maybe a guest towel will be made to match .

It is, as you see, the dreaded seed stitch. But its not to bad. The cotton is light, and the work is loose Seed stitch with its k1, p1 nature is like a ribbing.. It really should be worked on a smaller needle--Its going fast—most of this was knit last night (another inched was added this morning. This bath mat should be done sometime tomorrow—and it will be the third in the set.

One rectangle(in a golden ratio) , another rectangle (almost a runner in shape) and the 3rd, a squarish shape. A small dent made in my cotton stash—and a small collection of bath mats added to my bath linens (that aren't linen at all but cottons!)  

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Plan

Yesterday,  was to cast on for my next pair of socks. I have the yarn, and the needles and everything ready to go in a sock kit bag.

But, first I needed to put away the 6 oz. of cream colored cotton, into the cotton stash bag. While I was doing that, a bunch of skeins JUMP OUT and landed in my lap. The demanded to be made into a bath mat—immediately.

So, the socks were put aside, and the yarn was sorted, and this emerged

It is, (or rather will be) a smaller mat than the first one—its about 14 inches wide (and will get a little wider as shrinking cotton always results in one direction getting wider, and the other shorter) and will be shorter too. Finished size, before washing and drying will be 14 inches by 24.  Small, but my bath room is so small, it will be fine.

It's just about  half done--the pink/taupe/pink mark the mid point—the next half will repeat the first. White, brown, white and taupe/pink/taupe, white, brown will be repeated. I really like symmetry—and balance. 

The mat is shown on one of my taupe towels. A good match I think. The pink has a coral/peach tone, and none of my pink towels do, but that's OK. I like things co-coordinating more than perfectly match match.The edges aren't as uneven as the appear, the mat is draped over the towel, and is folded a bit.

I am working the ends in as I go, I noticed it was getting too bulky on the right side edge, so I started to alternate, and work some of the garter in purls—and it is looking better. Purl garter is a good way to practice purls—and to learn how to work an even tension. Working in purl garter allows me to alternately start the new colors on both right and left edges.

So that is my story and I am sticking to it. I will start the socks to night—tomorrow is Wednesday, and since the car is still pending, I will be taking the bus, and will be knitting. I think I will continue with cotton, (bath mats and potholder, and even a couple of place mats) for the rest of the month—and then take on a bigger project.. a vest, or maybe even a sweater. I have both in my queue.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Progress—to the Point of Being Done!

By dinner time Saturday, I was 12 inches on. By bed time, another 3 inches! So I started Sunday with 15 inches, and I liked the look—in effect, a 3 x 5 ratio--(a golden ratio) So I thought, well a few more rows, since the cotton is likely to shrink (row wise) and stretch width wise when it get washed, and I will be done.

So I measured a half dozen rows later, and—It was still 15 inches. Impossible, yet very common—every knitter has experienced it. Phantom progress. An other half dozen, and it was just shy of 16 inches. This mat is just refusing to add length! I added another half dozen rows and it jumped to almost 18 inches—So I bound off, late Sunday evening.

I still have a lot of the cream yarn left, (the finished mat weights 10 ounces)—So I have been thinking about the next mat—and how to use the remaining cream. I worked the mat using 2 strands held together, so about 5 oz (twice). This leaves 6 ounces—or more than enough to make a double strand mat using cream as one strands. So that is one option.

I might do simple (all cream) stripes with some alternately solid ones. And some tweeds, too. Solid cream, then a tweed of cream and a color, then a solid stripe of a color, and then back to solid cream. Or maybe solid cream, tweed, solid, tweed, solid cream.. And then repeat with a different color.

Taupe for one color, and pink for another, and blue, and magenta, then a green, and maybe a pastel pink and finish off with a chocolate brown---I'll have check my stash and see exactly how much yarn of each color I have.

The next mat will be knit starting with few stitches, (about 15 to 17 inches across) and the stripes will stack up. I'll need more rows, but the stripes will keep me moving along.

I had started out thinking about TEXTURE--A basket weave maybe—or seed stitch—though, I am not sure about a bath mat in seed stitch—that is an awful lot of seed stitch.

I have a knit towel that I did in seed stitch –its hand towel (guest towel size closer) and I remember thinking , as I was knitting it, that it was a lot of seed stitch! The cream and taupe cotton tweed I have is finer than worsted—I might make a pair of hand/guest towels out of that yarn, in a seed stitch. 3 hand knit guest towels will make a nice set.

Well, it something to think about.

Mean while—I never did the socks cast on, so that's the project for today—I might also cast on for Mat 2—It was fun to finish something in a weekend.