Monthly Archives: December 2015

“The Special Beans”

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So I’ve been home about a week and a half now and I’m bored.

Not in the sense of “I-have-nothing-to-do” definition of the phrase. No. It’s more like “I-have-lots-to-do-and-don’t-feel-like-doing-any-of-it”.

I started socks and cast on for an afghan for the living room couch, which needed a big jump start since I screwed up the first couple of rows. I still have socks that need mates, fingerless mitts that need thumbs and my little crafting area in the living room is quickly descending into crafty chaos. I have knitting stuff in with my crocheting stuff and crocheting things in with the knitting things and the next thing you know cats and dogs will be living together and all hell will break loose.

Ahem.

Anyway, part of the problem is going through the whole recovery process again. I figured that going down this road wouldn’t be such a big deal the second time around and while it really isn’t, it’s still yet another chunk of time where I’d love to Get Things Accomplished. And every time I start down that path, the brain steps in and says, “Yeah, not so fast. I’m healing up here. Let’s go and take a nap.”

Which is all very well and good, but I’ve become absolutely used to knocking things off of my to-do list left and right. I haven’t picked up my DayRunner in a couple of weeks and I can’t remember when my spring semester starts. One of the happier consequences about getting back to “real life” in the spring was being able to organize my life around working again. I hadn’t realized it at the time, but structure is good and it was something I craved.

And because of that, it was nice being able to sort of slip back into doing something food-related yesterday afternoon. As usual, we did our weekly food shop and since it was cool, it was really sweet to be able to put something together that wasn’t very hard to do. This recipe comes from “The New England Cookbook” and even though it looks like it takes a long time to cook, you can pull this together and be eating in about an hour, if not less. I thought there was some leftover oatmeal molasses bread in the freezer, but it turns out it’s all gone. That’s okay. Multigrain crackers and goat cheese worked just fine, too.

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Oooh!

Incidentally, this is the kind of “pantry dish” that you always hear about. You can absolutely substitute white or cannellini beans for the chickpeas and spinach is fine in place of the chard. Any type of a small pasta will work and a bit of tomato paste instead of the canned chopped ones.


Chickpea and Pasta Soup

  • 4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 rib of celery and celery leaves, chopped
  • 4 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 7 cups of vegetable broth (chicken would be fine too, if you must)
  • 2 14.5 oz. cans of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes
  • 4 oz. of small pasta, like ditalini or elbows or small shells
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes (I use 1/8 tsp., so do what you like)
  • About 3 or 4 large Swiss chard leaves, trimmed and chopped small-ish
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Pecorino Romano cheese

 

  1. Heat a large soup pot and warm up the olive oil in it.
  2. Add the celery and garlic and let it cook for about 2 minutes. Do not let the garlic burn!
  3. Add the broth, chickpeas and the tomatoes. Give it a bit of salt and pepper since it’ll need a bit of it. Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat and let it cook, partially uncovered, for about 10 minutes or so.
  4. Now add the pasta, sage and red pepper flakes. Let it cook for about 5 minutes and then add the chard. Give it a good stir, put the lid on and let it cook for another 5 minutes. That should do it.
  5. Check for salt and pepper and enjoy!

“Home Is Wherever I’m With You”

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And just like that, I’m done.

My aneurysm has been, according to my neurosurgeon, perfectly clipped and I’m well on my way to recovery.

Yay!

Okay, I look like hell. My left eye is all bruised, but that happens with brain surgery. And I get wiped out pretty easily, but that also happens with brain surgery, too.

And I don’t feel all that bad. Considering that I had major surgery three days ago (Wednesday was three days ago, right?), I’m doing okay. I bought beautiful yarn and picked out a gorgeous pattern for me to work on while I’m getting better. I make no promises; I will probably fall asleep somewhere in the middle of it (more than likely while I’m turning the heel) and I’ll be taking extra strength Tylenol for the next couple of weeks, too.

Yes, I do have the good drugs. Ahem.

Well, I won’t take them while I’m knitting, or that heel’s going to end up looking like a…well, not a heel, okay?  Probably not a great idea to do any knitting under the influence of Percocet.

Definitely not a good idea. Ahem.

So, time for tea and sock knitting and some Villanova University men’s hoops.

And probably a nap.

“Mind Your Own Biscuits And Life Will Be Gravy”

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So one week from today I’ll be in my hospital bed at Temple University Hospital, recovering from my aneurysm clipping surgery. And, touching wood and turning around three times and spitting for good luck, I may even be back home by now. Hopefully this will be my last big surgery for a very, very long time, if not forever.

Since this really is brain surgery, I’m going to be hanging around the house for quite awhile. The Brain Guy said recovery time for a craniotomy is about a month and that I should be taking it easy for at least that, if not longer. If you’re a regular reader of this little blog o’ mine, you already know “me” and “taking it easy” don’t really belong in the same sentence. I adore a really good afternoon nap and there’s not too much I love more than hanging around the house in a flannel shirt and some yoga pants, but I’m an antsy little thing.

So I thought (ha!) it would be a fine idea to pull out some of the knitting I put aside when I started learning how to tote up debits and credits back in September. It seems that I’ve got half of one sock done, another sock that needs its mate, a fingerless mitt that needs its partner as well as its thumb, a ridiculous amount of yarn for two sweaters and a duster as well as a pullover I started in June with high hopes of wearing it in, umm, October.

Which was two months ago. Hey, yarn doesn’t go bad.

And it was in that spirit that I decided (ha!) I needed two more projects to keep me amused while my noggin’s healing. I’ve been doing a fair amount of yapping about crocheting and knitting afghans for awhile now, so I figured it would be a good time to put up or shut up and get started, already.

My other justification for buying more yarn…I mean, starting two new projects is this: I need simple stuff to work on. None of my current projects really qualify as “simple”. I love the complicated cables and colorwork and little tiny DPNs and skinny sock yarn. I mean, love. In reality, what I’m really going to need are things that I don’t really have to think about too much.

So here’s the crocheted afghan pattern and it’s a beauty. I’m using Berroco Vintage worsted in all the colors since I think I’m going for a millefiore inspiration with this. I have a vague memory of someone in my family collecting millefiore paperweights when I was a kid and I was fascinated with them. This is going to be for our queen-sized bed and each triangle motif is about six inches across, so I’m going to need a whole boatload of these. I have no idea how many exactly or what colors I’ll be using yet. I’m making this up as I go along.

Why, no, I haven’t really thought about putting them all together yet. One challenge at a time, ‘kay?

And here’s the knitted afghan project for the couch. In my knitting world, this qualifies as “simple” because that sucker’s 20 pattern repeats across. I can live with a few “purl through the back loop” every fifteen rows or so, even though those words usually make me twitch.

I’m also going to get some special, luxe yarn to take with to the hospital with me so I can start a pair of very simple socks. If the yarn is beautiful, you don’t need to do much with it to bring out the best in it. I’m going to be recovering from big, icky surgery and I have every intention of being very, very, good to myself.


 

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Pass the butter, please.

So here’s something I’ve been making for ages. They’re from one of my favorite cookbooks of all time (“Moosewood Restaurant New Classics“). They’re great with a bowl of soup or stew and the kitchens smells like heaven while they’re in the oven. The only drawback with these beauties? They’re scones, so they only last for one day. That problem is easily solved, though. Just eat two.

Rosemary Garlic Scones 

  • 2 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary (you can use 1/2 tsp of dried, but they’re so, so much better if you use the fresh)
  • 2 cups unbleached white flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 Tbsp cold unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°. Line the bottom of a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly oil it.
  2. In a small skillet, heat 2 Tbsp of the oil. Add the garlic, pepper and rosemary. Simmer for about 1 minute (do not let the garlic burn) and remove from the heat.
  3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Using a pastry cutter, two knives or your fingers (which is what I do), quickly cut the butter into the flour until it’s evenly distributed. Add the seasoned oil mixture and mix well. Quickly stir in the buttermilk to form a a soft (but sticky) dough.
  4. On a lightly floured board, lightly knead the dough so it holds together. Lightly pat it into a 6″ circle and cut it into 6 wedges. Place them on the prepared baking sheet and lightly brush the tops of the scones with the remaining 1/2 tsp of olive oil. I always forget this step.
  5. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the scones are golden brown. Don’t over bake these suckers or they’ll be dense and dry.
  6. Enjoy!

 

 

 

“C Is For Cookie And That’s Good Enough For Me”

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Every once in awhile, I get obsessed with something.

It might be a particular kind of yarn (no surprise there, I’m sure), the perfect crocheted afghan pattern (which I’ve finally found) or an old cookbook I remember from the 1980’s. And I have to be careful since I’ve got the kind of personality that doesn’t let go of things like this easily. I know all too well what happens; I fall down into the rabbit hole of the Intertubes, never to been seen or heard from again.

This time it was a cookie. A chocolate chip cookie to be exact, and it was a recipe that my mom made for Christmas when I was in the fifth or sixth grade. They weren’t the typical, thin, crisp cookie, either. These were thicker, a little lumpy looking, and she used the mini-chocolate chips instead of the usual Nestle suspects. She stored them in those old-fashioned cookie tins and they were hidden in the coat closet in the basement. Of course I found them when I was poking around looking for my gifts.

I hope she’s not reading this.

Anyway, they were delicious. They weren’t Toll House cookies, they was something a little different going on there. To this day, I don’t know what recipe she used and every time I see a recipe for chocolate chip cookies I’m absolutely compelled to see if it might, just might, be The One I’ve been looking for. I still haven’t found it, but you can be sure I’m still searching for them.

cookies

Nom nom nom.

In the meantime though, I made these a few weekends ago. This is one of those recipes that I’d been looking at for years, always saying, “You know, I have to make these.” There is a lot going on here that’s different. There’s whole wheat pastry flour along with regular white flour and dark brown sugar instead of the usual mix of white and light brown. And they’re not thin and crisp; they’re thick and hefty and a little bit chewy. If you like a soft-baked cookie, you’ll go nuts over these.


 

Big  Chocolate Chip  Cookies 

 

  • ¾ cup of unsalted butter, at room temperature (I used Earth Balance)
  • 1 ½ cups dark brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups unbleached white flour
  • ¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsps pure vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 2 cups chocolate chips (I used chocolate chunks)
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts and/or raisins (I didn’t)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until smooth. Beat in the eggs until well blended.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda and salt.
  4. Stir in the flour into the butter mixture, mixing well. Add the vanilla and the water and stir in the chocolate chips.
  5. Add the nuts and raisins if you’re using.
  6. Drop the batter by ¼ cup measures onto the baking sheet (this will make 3” cookies), leaving about 2” in between each.
  7. Bake for about 10 minutes, but check them around 8 minutes in. When they’re done, let them cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes, then put them on a cooling rack to finish.
  8. Enjoy! These are really, really good.