Dr. Amy Jones loves watching people take showers. I’m serious. You’ll be in there, scrubbing away, and suddenly realise that there’s a cat sitting on the toilet tank and staring at you. Anyway, it appears she’s not the only pet to do this.
Month: December 2007 (page 1 of 6)
Mini Socks and Swatches
I whipped up two little objects last night. The first is a little “Sock Blocker Keychain,” which came in a kit from Robyn’s Nest. Isn’t it cute? I believe the yarn was Lorna’s Laces. The second project is a swatch for my planned Easter Show entry this year: “Road to Golden” from the Fall 2007 Knitscene. (You can see pictures of other people’s versions on Flickr.) I was a bit worried that the acid yellow is too bright and lairy, but so far everybody I’ve showed it to likes it. What do you think?
I took another step on the road to Grumpy Old Ladydom yesterday. The Snook and I somehow got the very stupid idea to head into Myer to look for a new coffee grinder. Of course, everybody in Sydney seems to have had the same idea. (Note to self: When you see police directing foot traffic in and out of a department store, come back another day.) It took us 20 minutes to get from the entrance to the escalators, and it was just a Gauntlet of Suck. We were packed in shoulder-to-shoulder, and yet there were idiots trying to push baby carriages. I passed Titsiana the Thief at one point; she must’ve been having a field day. (The Snook suggested I point her out to the security guards, but there was just no way.) Anyway, we finally made it within sight of the escalators and joined the queue of people heading upstairs. I stepped on and immediately gritted my teeth. People were just standing all sprawled out on both sides. With a quick look of apology to the Snook, I finally did what I’ve been longing to do: I yelled out, “STAND TO THE LEFT, PLEASE!” Amazingly, people jumped to the left as if they’d been shot. I was able to walk right up past them all in about two seconds. Snookums says it reminded him of Fezzik clearing the road in The Princess Bride. I can live with that.
Widdershins in Noro Kureyon Sock
These socks gave me carpal tunnel, I swear. I swore on Christmas Eve that I’d finish them over the holidays, and I spent pretty much every spare minute on the 25th and 26th working on them. The pattern is Widdershins, adapted to be knit on two-circulars. I used Judy’s Magic Cast-On for the toe, and it was AWESOME! I’ll definitely be starting my toe-up socks this way from now on. My biggest problem with the pattern was simply one of gauge, which is really my fault. Fifty-four stitches (with cables) is just too tight for my foot at my normal sock knitting tension. So I ended up increasing a bit more than directed throughout the foot, which meant that I had to wing it quite a bit on the heel. That’s probably why the heel doesn’t fit quite as nicely as the one in the picture. Oh well, they’re still wearable. I also reversed the cable twist on the second sock so they’re mirror images. The other fun thing I did was use a tubular cast-off for the cuffs. I’d never done it before, but the Knitter’s Book of Finishing Techniques has really great instructions. I did it too tightly the first time, but I unpicked it and did it properly. It looks really nice.
Oh, and the yarn? Yeah, that’s the new Noro Kureyon Sock yarn. It’s not available in Australia yet, but the supplier sent me a ball so I could test it out. It feels pretty rough to knit with (like any Noro, really), but the colours are just fabulous. It’s also got a really long colour repeat, so you’re going to have to unwind half the ball if you want your socks to match. I was also impressed with just how far a single 100g ball went. These are really long! I’m wearing them today and they feel a little itchy, but not too bad. I’ll report back once I’ve give them a good wash. (More details are on my Ravelry notebook, for those who are members.)
The Snook and I were debating accompanying the photobloggers on their trip to the Zoo yesterday, but late Christmas Eve we realised we were having an HRE (“ham-related emergency”). (The emergency being the shocking lack of it in our diet.) So we spent most of Christmas Day relaxing at home and tending to a massive five-pound ham. We followed Nigella’s recipe, which entails braising the pork in Coca-Cola for 2.5 hours, then applying glaze and blasting it in the oven for a few minutes. It was delicious. We also had mashed potatoes (with truffle), glazed carrots, and steamed broccoli. For dessert, I went with another recipe from my 1965 CWA Cookbook. This time I tried “Delicious Pudding” (December 2), or “Lemon Delicious” as it’s more commonly called nowadays. Unfortunately this one wasn’t quite such a success…
I followed the pudding recipe to the letter, but the thing just WOULD NOT SET. I pulled it out of the oven after the prescribed half hour, and it was just milk soup. So I put it back in. It was well after an hour before it started to thicken at all. I’ve since done some research online, and all the similar recipes I can find (like this one) use slightly less milk – and sometimes more egg – and recommend baking for longer. So if I make it again, I’ll probably make some adjustments. Here’s the original recipe…
Ingredients: 1 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon butter, 1 heaped tablespoon flour, 1 1/4 cups milk, 1 lemon (juice and rind), 2 eggs, pinch salt. Beat butter and sugar to a cream, add lemon juice and grated rind, yolks of eggs, flour, and the 1 1/4 cups of milk, lastly add the well-whipped whites of eggs. Mix lightly together and bake in a pan of water in a slow oven 1/2 an hour. When doubling this recipe add only 2 cups of milk, not 2 1/2.
Hey, I just realised that the pinch of salt never gets used! What the heck was it for? Was I supposed to use it when whipping the egg whites? Because I didn’t. As for the “slow” oven, both Rodd and his Mom felt that it was around the 150Â°C mark, but I think I could go a little higher next time. I also might try incorporating the egg whites a little bit more; I wasn’t sure whether I should have floating islands or a total incorporated custard. The taste was pretty good, albeit incredibly rich. I think I might cut the sugar a bit next time, or else serve only a tiny bit to each person!
The in-laws came down to visit last week, and Ma Snook bestowed upon me one of the family heirlooms: a genuine 1965 Country Women’s Association “A Dessert for Every Day of the Year” calendar. (She knew I’d been eyeing one at the 50’s Fair a few months ago, but some woman bought it out from under me while I was deliberating.) This thing is AWESOME. It has desserts that I’ve never heard of using ingredients I’ve never heard of measured in completely archaic units. (I had to look up what a gill equates to.) After having a good flip through, I decided that my first foray into the exciting world of Australian puddings would be the “Fruit Flummery” (January 7, for reference). A flummery, for those not familiar, is a soft, sweet dessert made from thickened fruit. (Think “jam” but a little more bland and wobbly.) This version seemed pretty simple and only had a few ingredients. What I should have realised is that cramming 366 recipes (including one for Leap Day!) into a small calendar means that there’s some serious editing happening. This little recipe – a mere six sentences – left out the fact that this sucker needs to chill for a good six hours or so. So my flummery, which was started on Sunday evening, ended up being our Christmas Eve treat. Here’s the recipe.
1 1/2 cups cold water, 1 small cup sugar, 1 tablespoon powdered gelatine, 1 tablespoon plain flour, mixed to a paste with cold water. Put all in a saucepan; stir till boiling, cook for 3 minutes, put in a basin and allow to cool. Add juice 2 small lemons and 6 passionfruit. Beat till thick and creamy. Serve in glass dish, decorated with cherries.
Looks simple at first, doesn’t it? First hurdle: What’s a “small” cup? I decided to pretend I was a housewife in the bush and I literally just used a small cup. So there I was, mixing gloopy flour paste into a pan of hot clear sugar gelatin and thinking, “What the HELL am I doing?!” I predicted that this was going to be Jellied Ass. After it had “cooked” for 3 minutes, I pulled it out and poured it into a big bowl. Then it went into the fridge. An hour later it was still warm. This is when I realised the recipe was leaving out some vital time information. I went ahead and added the lemon juice at this point, along with a couple chopped up peaches. (Have you SEEN the price of fresh passionfruit these days??) Then back into the fridge. A few hours later, we’d resigned ourselves to not having flummery that night. It had sorta set up around the edges, but it was still pretty much soup in the middle. I was now riddling over the next instruction: “Beat till thick and creamy.” How the hell does clear Jello with fruit in it get thick and creamy? So I plugged in the electric beaters and went to town on it. It actually did get kind of creamy and frothy. Satisfied that I had done my wifely best, I put it back in the fridge for the rest of the night.
Tonight I was ready for some flummery! It was completely set: not as hard as Jello (as I’d feared), and once I’d sorta chopped it up with a spoon, it was nicely soft and squidgy. I decided to make a sort of trifle out of it, layering it with whipped cream (which I whipped MYSELF!) and passionfruit (from a can). We decorated the top with boysenberries. It looked great, but the proof of the pudding… You know. I’m happy to report that it was FANTASTIC. I was seriously expecting it to be bland at best (and NAST at worst), given that it was pretty much just sugar with a tiny bit of flour and gelatine and fruit. Instead we both licked our cups clean. I’m definitely going to score this one as a victory for 1965.
Incidentally, if anybody is interested in seeing a modern, properly written recipe for flummery, I found one here. I only discovered that after I’d done all the work, but I was pleased to see that my guesses (like with the beaters) were correct.
Hmmm, now what shall we try NEXT?
As I’ve finished all the books you guys recommended last winter, I figured it was time for some new reading material. Next in the queue are:
- Atonement by Ian McEwan. I’ve been reading the film reviews with interest, and I noticed that most of them made a big deal about how it’s okay, but the book is SO MUCH better. It was Kevin‘s review that really sealed it for me though, so I headed over to Dymocks to pick up a copy. They had about 500 of them, and they all had Duck Face plastered on the cover.
Me: Excuse me… Do you have any copies of Atonement that DON’T have Keira Knightley on the cover?
Staff Member: Yeah, I’ve got some hidden here behind the counter.
She really did. So now I’ve got it, but I’m finding it hard to make much headway. Not that it’s boring or anything; it’s just that every time I start reading it, I zonk out within ten minutes. I’ve heard there are some war scenes in it later, so I’m hoping it’ll pick up soon.
- The Ladies of Grace Adieu by Susanna Clarke. The Snook and I both enjoyed Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, so when I saw that her next book was now available in paperback, I had to get it.
- The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. That suggestion came directly from this AskMeFi question, where someone asked for books similar to Jonathan Strange, books that are really dense with detail and often mash genres together. I don’t really know anything about this book other than it was a movie with Sean Connery (which I haven’t seen), but it was universally praised so I’m going to give it a go.
Have you read anything good lately?