Saturday, October 24, 2009

Giving Back

I am making my way through those bags  of knitting, but today is about giving something back to the blog-o-sphere.

First I must say that I get the inspiration for 60% of my suppers from bloggers.  During my lunch break at super-corp I log in and let the pictures do the talking.  If it were not for 101 Cookbooks, Joy the Baker, Vegandad, The Wednesday Chef, Orangette and countless others we would eat beans and rice almost every other night.
The other 40% comes from the cookbooks I read and having grown up cooking and eating with my mom.  My mom is truly one of the best cooks ever, period.  I can count on one hand the number of times I ate over at a friend's house.  Part of that stems from my parents wanting to see all of us at the table each and every night (this was not always a fun time for all, but now that I am older I love that they were there every night, good times and hard) and part of it is because the few times I ate my friend's mom's cooking I was disappointed.  I grew up in northern, rural New York which is a serious meat and potatoes place; my mom hailed from a strictly British family in Montreal.  She took her serious butter, sugar, flour roots and mixed them up with urban flair so our suppers were unlike anything served at my friend's homes.
On Sundays we did not tie ourselves to our home by spending the day cooking a roast; instead we went to the beach or out exploring and came home to make your own Italians (Maine style) or my mom's famous hot wings.  We had chicken cacciatore, fantastic soups, calico beans and always a salad; sometimes we only had a salad.  Each meal had at least two vegetables, no more than four ounces of meat (if any) and I cannot remember eating potatoes.  We did not have tons of excess cash but my mom bought (and still buys) food in season, from roadside tables while chatting with the farmers.  We picked strawberries, blueberries and apples and ate corn our in July and August.
You may not know this but the best peaches in the world come from the Ottawa valley in Canada (sorry Georgia but I have tried them all and it is true).  We always scheduled a trip to my grandparents during the height of peach season; my mom comes up to Massachusetts every October to pick apples and brings me a huge bag of South Carolina sweet potatoes from "her guy" packed in her suitcase (I am sure she is on a TSA list) and to her mind there are few things better for breakfast than a Saratoga Hand Melon (these are not sold in stores and I think that makes them all the more tasty).
I love when my mom comes for a visit because I get to cook for her.  I spend weeks planning out the menu; she likes simple, fresh meals with a bit of cream, butter or cheese (she is British).  This past apple picking visit I wanted to make a lasagna because she loves a good pasta dish and because I could make it ahead of time and we would just have to heat it up after a day of exploring.
 Many years ago I came across a recipe for spinach, artichoke lasagna that had no ricotta cheese just a great stew of spinach and artichokes, tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella between the pasta layers.  It was a great hit and we still make it for friends and parties. I wanted something just like that but with fall vegetables.  I looked around the web and at all of my cookbooks and could not find exactly what I wanted, so I bought some fresh whole wheat lasagna sheets, inspected my pantry and fridge and just had at it.  What came out of the oven was the best lasagna I have ever made.
I just wish I had taken some pictures...  You'll just have to trust me, it looked like lasagna.

Friday, October 23, 2009

hello me

I am home alone thanks to radioactive iodine therapy for a hypERactive thyroid. Everyone needs to keep a 8 ft distance from me for four days as I am radioactive. I live in a Cambridge apartment with my husband and two cats so this is not an easy feat. Please let me get a cool superpower for having to endure time away from my man. The cats are off to my sister's house and S and I are orbiting each other during the time he is home.  This is as hard as I thought it would be.

To fill my time I have dedicated the weekend to tackling the many little organization projects that have been piling up around the house.  I spent this morning sorting my knitting bags.  Yes, BAGS! I started putting my current knitting project in one of my many totes and bags so I could easily gather it together and bring it on the T, in the car, to a friends house, on vacation...   Yes, it proved to be convenient not only for carrying projects but for completely forgetting about them. Here I'll show you...

The tan woven basket has 6 skeins of Lion Brand Jiffy in slate waiting to be knit into a cable pocket shawl for my MIL. This is the newest member of the bunch so it will be sitting there for a while.

The green and white Clinic bag holds a half finished Monteagle Bag, knit in a natural hemp from the deep reaches of my stash, started last Christmas day.

The plastic ziplock baggie is home to two completed soles for Aran Isle Slippers.

A 75% finished Christmas stock for S, a 90% finished cup sleeve, one completed sockette and a mess of yarn live in the turquoise bag.

The pale turquoise (yes it is my favourite colour) clutch is for carrying around Embossed Leaves socks.

The denim courier bags is a mess of intarsia.  A pre-felted, 1/3rd knit trivet and 47% finished felted bag.  The bag might be the longest running project; I started it four years ago! 

The red heart bag has a completed (except the bind off and seaming) Cobblestone.  It was my wedding present to S. I finished in August on our honeymoon and when he tried it on it was too big.  Proportionately huge.  I knew this would happen... It was my first sweater; I was on gauge but he is a tall, fit guy whose chest measurement is not indicative of his real size.

It is on the frogging block and I will re-knit it over the Christmas holiday.  The positive is I now fully understand the pattern and I get to knit it in a SMALLER size. I will never, ever knit a surprise sweater again.

On the floor in a plastic grocery bag is an almost finished Kitty Pi.  I started this two winters ago just after I brought home a dog bed big enough for a Saint Bernard for our two cats Gin-gin and Moon-moon to share.  (an aside: we adopted our cats from a Vietnamese/Japanese couple who were moving back to Asia.  This is the Americanization of their original names - they have answered to them for six years now and it sounds totally normal to us) 

Within five minutes Miss Moon, who weighs all of SIX pounds, claimed this entire bed for her own.  Gin will not set foot on it even for treats.  She is twice the weight of her sister so that is saying something.

It looks like I have crazy start-itus but I have actually finished a lot of knitting projects since I started these.  Just last night I finished a pair of Dashing and a pair of Fetching fingerless gloves for ever lovely Kelly and Jody.

Plus two shawls this summer and a host of other things the past four years.  However, I must admit this bag-itus is getting ridiculous so I swear not to start another project until I have emptied at least three of these bags.  Yikes!