Saturday, November 6, 2010

Roast Chicken and Veg

Buying chicken whole is a much better deal then buying assorted bits. Not only do you get a couple awesome meals out of it, you can use the leftover bones and chewy bits to make a nice stock.

  • 1 chicken. Mine was a 4.5lb
  • Assorted root vegetables. These can be carrots, rutabaga, potato, celeriac, beets, parsnips.. You have so many options. Just choose your favorites.
  • a bundle of fresh herbs. Thyme, oregano, basil, and tarragon are all good choices.
  • 1 lemon
  • Butter and olive oil.
Make sure your chicken isn't frozen, and take it out of the fridge an hour or so before you're ready to start cooking. Turn your oven up to 475.
Chop up your veggies. I prefer mine to be pretty big, so I don't take very long doing this. I put them all in the roasting pan, and drizzle some olive oil over them all. I also threw in a bit of dried rosemary.
Take your lemon, poke it full of holes, and shove it into the chicken's cavity. I also put the bundle of herbs in around the lemon, and a pat of butter.
Nestle your chicken into your bed of vegetables, and rub its skin all over with olive oil. I shook some pepper on top of that to give it a bit of zing.
Pop it in the oven, and immediatly turn it down to 400. Let it cook for about 20 min per pound. Every 40 min or so, I took it out quickly just to brush some of the juices onto the skin. You'll know it's done when you can cut the meat deeply with a knife, and all the juices run clear.

Make sure you save your drippings! You can use them immediatly to make gravy, or you can do what I did and pop it in the fridge. It's great in soups, and the fat that rises to the top is awesome for frying up the leftover veggies tomorrow morning for breakfast.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Cough Drops

I love candy. And I hate coughing. I also have a fully stocked herb cupboard. And way too much icing sugar.

There are a ton of different herbs you can use to make your cough drops. These contain Licorice root (chest and throat soother), sage (sore throats), peppermint (decongestant and expectorant), elder flower (soothes irritation, and helps unclog sinuses), and horehound (pain reliever, avoid if pregnant).

These are only a few herbs you can use in your own cough drops. If you know of a commercial tea that helps sooth what ails you, steep a good strong pot of it and use it instead.

Mix the tea with sugar on a 1:1 ratio. A cup of tea, to a cup of sugar. I did two cups of tea, so two cups of sugar. I also threw in 1/4 tsp of Cream of Tarter, which helps prevent the sugar from crystallizing.

I threw this together in a nice deep pot, clipped my candy thermometer on, and set it to Med High heat. Use a candy thermometer! This is vital, as sugar that is too hot will caramalize, and sugar that is too cold won't set into nice hard cough drops. It's amazing how quickly these changes can happen!

Only stir until the sugar dissolves. I've found this happens pretty quickly. After that resist the urge to stir! Stirring encourages crystallization, which isn't at all what you're looking for in a cough drop. If you notice crystals are forming on the side of the pot, just push them down with a brush soaked in hot water.

Your mixture will bubble quite quickly up to around 235 degrees, then will hover there for a little bit. Around 20 min to half an hour. So don't panic, go set up your candy molds. All I did was fill a baking sheet with icing sugar, and use a food colouring bottle to mark a whole bunch of little divits to pour the candy into. It's really easy.

Once your candy hits 300 degrees, not a degree below or above, remove it from the heat. At this point, I stirred in 1/4 tsp of Cinnamon extract. I could have also used vanilla, but my extract isn't prepared yet. Go here to make your own too!  Feel free to play around with flavours here. The candy will bubble a bit when you add the extract, so don't panic. Just stir it around and move over to your molds.

Just pour carefully into your candy molds and you'll be fine. I was a little careless in mine, but it's all ok. I did have a little bit left over, which I poured onto a marble slab. It made a little cough drop window.

Enjoy your cough drops! Play around with flavours and herbal combinations to your hearts desire!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sausage Carbonara

I was very hungry.. and we had some sausage left in the fridge that needed to be cooked before it went off.

4 - 5 Italian Sausage
4 slices pancetta, sliced into pieces
500 g linguine
4 large egg yolks
100ml whipping cream
50g Parmesan cheese
zest of 1 lemon
sprig parsley 

Slice open the sausages, and roll the meat into small meatballs. Gently fry until they're golden brown, and add the pancetta.

While this is frying, start boiling your water for the linguine. Once it's boiling, boil it for about 7 min

While your pasta is boiling, whip together the egg yolks, whipping cream, Parmesan cheese, lemon zest, and chopped parsley.

Drain the pasta, and quickly toss with the egg mixture while it's still hot. The heat of the drained pasta will gently cook the eggs without scrambling them.

Amazing. With plenty of leftovers.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Eggs Florentine with Blender Hollandaise

I was very nervous about trying this recipe, as hollandaise is notorious for being difficult to make. The meal actually came together in under 15 min.

For the Hollandaise:
2 sticks butter
3 egg yolks
juice from one lemon

For Breakfast serving 2 people:
2 english muffins
4 slices smoked bacon
1 bunch spinach
2 eggs

Throw your bacon in the pan while it's cold, and set it to warm up to medium heat. This makes sure that your bacon doesn't curl up and become difficult to work with. This is probably the longest step.

While your bacon is cooking, put 3 egg yolks in the blender, and melt your butter till it's nice and hot. I used the microwave, because I'm a purist like that.

When the bacon looks pretty done, shuffle it to one side of the pan. You have a choice here. You can poach your eggs (traditional), or for the sake of a fussy boyfriend, you can fry them. I chose to fry.

Crack your eggs in, let them fry nicely. I usually break the yolks. When they look done, I put my toasted english muffins on the plate, layer them with bacon, and put the egg on top. This empties my pan, and I can throw the spinach in to wilt for about 3 min. Make sure you use the bunch! It may look like too much, but you'd be surprised how much it wilts.

With my spinach in the pan, I start the blender on low to get the eggs moving. With my butter nice and hot, I very slowly pour a thin stream into the blender while it's still running. It's important to do this slowly! When the butter is all gone, I add the lemon juice.

Just before serving, spoon the sauce over the entire meal. You'll probably have extra, and it'll keep for a couple days in the fridge. Serve it with vegetables, mashed potatoes, it's even good over steak!

Friday, October 1, 2010

English Muffins

I was craving some breakfast sandwiches, but I seriously hate spending good money on those muffins. Luckily, I have time to spend making some.

1 cup milk
2 tablespoons sugar
7 gr traditional yeast
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup melted shortening
6 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

Heat the milk till it bubbles, stir in the sugar and let it cool. Pour the yeast into the water, and let it grow for about... 10 min. Once that's done, combine the milk/sugar, yeast/water with the melted shortening, and combine with 3 cups of flour. Add the salt. Keep mixing, slowly adding the remaining flour till it's a nice soft dough. You might not need all the flour!

Cover it up and let it rise for about half an hour. Roll it out to about 1/2 inch, and cut rounds with whatever means you have. I used a Motts Clamato glass.

Set these out, and let them rise for 1/2 an hour.

Heat a frying pan on med heat, and fry the muffins for 10 min on each side.


Tomorrow, the thrilling conclusion of the muffins.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Vanilla Extract

When my mother was diagnosed with Celiac, she was actually really happy to finally have a reason for all of her medical difficulties. As we delved into her new diet however, she began to realize just how many of the food products we eat every day contains gluten!

Even her two favorite kitchen staples, vanilla extract and balsamic vinegar, fell prey to gluten, having added caramel colour.

This bothered me as well, and I decided that my mother shouldn't have to go without her staples. I decided to make vanilla extract for her, the way we used to back in the day.

This is actually ridiculously simple. All you need is vodka, and some good quality beans.

The vanilla beans were no problem. You can get them at most decent grocery stores, but I decided to purchase mine off e-bay. They were MUCH cheaper that way, and I knew exactly what beans I was getting.

The vodka is easy as well. I used potato vodka in mine, because it's going to my mother, and I wanted to be extra sure that there was no way any gluten could get its sneaky little way into my extract. Chopin vodka comes in a nice bottle too!

All you need to do is split the vanilla beans in half lengthwise, not all the way, leave them sticking together just a little bit. Stuff them into a jar, and cover them with the vodka. This needs a couple of weeks to soak, so just wait until it gets that nice brown colour we're all used to.

Simply pour and use! I poured mine back into the bottle the vodka came in for show. When your extract levels dip, simple add more vodka and wait for the colour to come back. These beans will last for a good long time.

Enoy the amazing flavour that is TRUE vanilla.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Apricot Yogurt Muffins

No time for breakfast? Make it the night before!!!

Apricot Yogurt Breakfast Muffins

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup unbleached flour
2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 brown sugar
2 tbsp wheat germ
3/4 dried diced apricots
1 - 8 ounce container plain (or vanilla) yogurt
4 tbsp canola oil
1 egg
zest of 1/2 orange
juice of said orange

Mix all the dry ingredients except the fruit, make sure it is blended before adding the fruit and tossing to coat. In a seperate bowl, combine all the liquid ingredients (make your own yogurt to be super stellar!). Mix together, stirring only to coat.

Pour into muffin tins, bake at 400 for 15 min

These freeze really well, so I make a batch or two, and freeze them two to a bag. Just take them out the night before, and you've got a healthy breakfast on the go.

Not-So-Sundried Tomatoes in Olive Oil

Summer is nearly over.. So it's time to save the tomato harvest.

I've already done two batches of diced tomatoes, and a large batch of tomato sauce. With more tomatoes STILL at hand, I decided I wanted to give dried tomatoes a whirl.

Tomatoes take between 12 to 24 hours to dehydrate completely. Ours took about 14 hours.

Once they're dry, you can store them under olive oil in a dark, cool cupboard.
In a mason jar, do the layer system!

Layer tomatoes
Pinch of salt
Pinch of garlic
Pinch of dried oregano (I used fresh from my garden)
Layer fresh basil leaves

Keep these layers going until you reach the top, then fill the jar with olive oil to cover. Press the tomatoes down a bit, and add more oil if you need to keep everything submerged.

Wait for 6 - 8 days before eating, so the oil can soften the tomatoes and the herbs can do their thing.
Easy! The longest part was waiting for them to dry!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Frozen Chocolate Pots

This is a slightly modified version of Jamie Oliver's Chocolate Pots. I had to change it a bit according to what I had, and I accidentally left them in the freezer while cooling them. Turns out, that was an awesome mistake.

1 cup whipping cream
7oz semi-sweet or dark chocolate (I used Bakers)
2 large egg yolks
3 tbsp rum
1 tbsp + 2 tsp butter (I used my homemade unsalted)

Heat the cream until nearly boiling, and let it cool for about a minute before adding your chocolate. Stir until it's all creamy and melted, then beat in the egg yolks and rum.
Let it cool a bit longer, and mix in the butter. Make sure you let it cool, or it'll split. If it splits, add a little milk until it smooths out.
Put this aside, then beat your egg whites to a stiff meringue. Fold it in!

I poured these into espresso cups to serve, and put them in the freezer.
It tastes like a dark chocolate ice cream.. Yum yum.

School again School again

Well, I'm back in class for my final year at George Brown. After 5 years in school, I'll be leaving with a piece of paper proudly held high, ready to enter the 'real job' market.

This year is going to be challenging, but I must say I'm really looking forward to it. This is due in part to a deal I made with my partner.

We've agreed that I'm cutting back on my work schedule to allow more time for me to spend at school. However, this also means that I may not be able to pay my regular rent, so my partner is reducing my rent in exchange for cooking meals on the nights that I'm home.

Sweet deal? I think so!

Monday was homemade pizza, basic bread recipe topped with onions, mushrooms, and broccoli, all sauteed in balsamic vinegar. Goat cheese and mozzerella strewn across the top.
Tuesday was garlic mashed potatoes, with a steak served rare and mixed greens topped with homemade butter.
Wednesday (tonight!) is going to be homemade bread, with a Moroccan chickpea and rice stew.

I'm not really sure what makes the stew Moroccan, but I'm very excited to give it a try. I saved a bit on the cost by using dried chickpeas, and leaving them soaking overnight. I'm also slashing a bit of the price by using my homemade canned tomatoes, which cost me about $1 a jar. This recipe can be made vegetarian by using a vegetarian stock instead of chicken.

I'll post the complete recipe with a picture tonight after it's finished.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

First ever chocolate mousse.

I decided tonight should be a special night for me and the boy, so I stole some inspiration from Julia Child.

6 ounces bitter or semisweet chocolate
6 ounces unsalted butter
1/4 cup dark brewed coffee
4 large eggs, seperated
2/3 cup sugar, plus 1 tbsp
2 tbsp dark rum
1 tbsp water
pinch salt
1/2 tsp vanilla

1. Heat a pot with water in the bottom, and in a bowl that sits in the top of the pot, melt together the chocolate, butter, and coffee. Stir till smooth and remove from heat.
2. prepare an ice bath, a big bowl of water with ice.
3. In another bowl that can sit on top of the pot, beat together the egg yolks with 2/3 cup of sugar, rum, and water until it looks like runny mayo.
4. Remove from heat and place in the ice bath. Keep beating until it's cool and thick, then fold the chocolate mixture into the yolks.
5. In a seperate bowl, beat the egg whites with the salt until they start to hold their shape. Add the tbsp of sugar and continue to beat until thick and shiny, but not stiff. Incorporate the vanilla.
6. Fold one third of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then the rest of the whites until just incorporated. Don't go crazy, or you'll lose the lovely volume you've just created.
Refridgerate for at least 4 hours, until firm.

You can keep it in the fridge up to 4 days.

Mine looks lovely, and I just popped it into the fridge. Licked the spoon clean, and I must say it tastes amazing. Can't wait for it to be done!!!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Knitting gets me to thinking...

I'm working away at a project that I never really thought I'd see the end to. When I first started slipping back into my knitting, my mother gave me some beautiful yarns, in the hope that I would knit myself a nice warm wrap for the coming winter. The colours were beautiful, the tones of autumn captured perfectly in a warm fuzzy blend, that promised to take some of my country background deep into the city with me.

My only issue with the yarns was the fact that the project was all one single stitch. The knit stitch. I would knit 140 stitches across, break the yarn to leave a tail, attach an opposing yarn, and knit all the way back. The result would be a long stretchy wrap, that was moderately fuzzy and had an attractive fringe on both ends. Attractive in theory, but I couldn't get myself interested in knitting the exact same stitch over and over again. After 5 rows, the project went onto the shelf, and eventually, into my sealed and packed away knitting container.

It's been two years, and I'm working on it again. I've made some very decent progress, and I'm over halfway done. I found that listening to audiobooks was a huge help, as it kept my mind busy while doing the same repetitive motions.

But, I got to thinking. Working on this wrap reminded me a lot about the work I was doing in my relationship. In a lot of ways, it felt the same way. Doing the same repetitive motions, over and over, sometimes distracting myself and just plugging away to get to the end result.

So, what am I creating with my relationship? Am I working towards a fuzzy shawl to keep my neck warm under my jacket, am I knitting a sweater to wrap myself in to keep safe, or a pair of socks to keep me moving through the times that come?

I haven't quite figured out what I'm weaving together with James. I probably won't have any idea until I look back at the partially completed project. I just have to keep reminding myself not to let it get so repetitive, to not see it as a chore that has to be accomplished to reach an end. I need to turn my relationship into a fun knitting project, one of the ones that keeps me occupied from start to finish, and that I revel in watching grow under my fingertips.

Perhaps it's time to teach him how to knit too?
Probably not the answer...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Blast from the Summer of '08

Today, I finished a project that I'd given up for dead. I'm not the only one to feel this way about the project either, everyone who has ever seen me knitting it agreed with me. It was probably never going to get done.

But I had a bit of spare time today, and sat down to try to finish the last mile.

The Nico scarf. A gorgeous bamboo yarn, that cost me over 50 dollars at a time when I barely had two loonies to rub together. It was a bit of a staggering investment at the time, but one I was happy to do for a very special guy.

Nico decided to take me under his wing soon after I broke off a two year relationship with my first serious boyfriend. We met each other at work, bonded over anime, and ended up spending the summer in each others company.

Nico encouraged me to finally file my taxes, take my customer service to a new level, learn to seperate sex from love, and how to find the most flattering styles for my generous ass. He sat with me through my miscarriage, answered the phone at 2 am to listen to me bawl, made my stylist chop my hair off and got me to colour my hair for the first time.

So Nico, here's to that night we spent running around Toronto, celebrating my recent break up with a new hair cut and a night on the town. Here's to singing Katy Perry at the top of our lungs down Queen St, and sitting on the Jack Astor's Patio giggling over the cute waiters. Here's to the morning shift, dancing around each other and trying not to drop everything. Here's to one of my favorite drinking buddies. Here's to Nico overcoming his initial reservations about the new man in my life, and accepting that I love to be in love. Here's to Nico, for still being around today.

Nico, thanks for that amazing summer, my first in Toronto. Thanks for making it so special to me, a summer I'm not likely to forget in a loooong time.

I hope this scarf keeps you warm this year, and that it lasts you for a good long while.

Thanks babe <3

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Easy Homemade Granola

I went to make myself breakfast the other day, I was picturing an amazing yogurt parfait with my leftover frozen mango and berries. However.. The man I live with decided to empty my cupboard, and no granola was to be found!

I had to improvise.

2 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup whole almonds

In a large bowl, toss the oats with the cinnamon and salt.
In a medium bowl, stir together the oil, honey, brown sugar, and vanilla. Whisk until completely combined.
Pour the honey mixture over the oats mixture and use your hands to combine them: Gather up some of the mixture in each hand and make a fist. Repeat until all of the oats are coated with the honey mixture.
Pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Spread it out evenly, but leave a few clumps here and there for texture.

Bake for 10 min at 325, and flip with a spatula. Return to the oven at 5 min intervals, stirring each time until the granola is nice and crisp.

Serve with homemade yogurt, with some maple syrup drizzled on top, and fresh fruit to personal flavor.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Easy Chicken

I love making chicken.. but an issue I always tend to have is that it dries out. So... I came up with this.

Double handful of mushrooms
1 red onion

1 tbsp coriander
1 tbsp sage
4 cloves garlic
splash lemon juice
couple glugs of Red Wine Vinegar

Chop up the mushrooms and onions, toss them into a mixing bowl.

Throw the coriander, sage, garlic, and lemon juice into a mortar, and bash it all together with a pestle. Once it's good and mashed up, toss it into the onion and mushrooms. Drizzle some vinegar on top, and give it a good toss.

grease your pan with some olive oil, and put the mushrooms in. lay the chicken pieces on top.

Get some wax paper wet, and lay it over the chicken. Put it in the oven at 350 for about 20 min.

Smells SOOOOO good when it comes out! Serve with roasted potatoes and carrots.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Easy Peasy Pickles!

I got an amazing deal the other day, greenhouse grown Ontario baby cucumbers for 2 dollars a pound. I sent my boyfriend to pick up 3lbs.

Then.. I had to pickle them. I was slightly worried because I've never actually made any kind of pickle before. It's something my dad does almost every weekend, and while I know the theory.. I've never done it in practice. So here we go. Basic Dill Pickles.

3lbs pickling cucumbers (cut a small slice off both ends)
2 cups white vinegar
2 cups water
2 tbsp pickling salt
1 tbsp sugar

for each jar:
2 tbsp dried dill ( I used seed)
4 cloves garlic
2 tsp mustard seed

Basically, put your seeds and garlic at the bottom of a (still hot) sterilized jar, pack your cucumbers on top, and fill with boiling brine. Put a sterilized lid on top, and wait for the POP of success.

The garlic apparently normally turns blue.. I thought it was the strangest thing to see. But apparently it's normal, so I'm sticking to it. Make sure you wedge the cucumbers in such a way that it prevents them from floating and poking out of the brine.

Wait about 4 weeks before sampling, to make sure they've pickled properly.


It's slightly awe inspiring how many eggs I'm going through now that I'm trying to eat healthy. I can't keep them in the fridge, and I used to watch them go bad on a regular basis!

My attempts at improving my diet are going really, really well. I've got 3 jars of pickles all set up, my garden planted, my spinach just beginning to pop out of their shells. I'm normally not a huge fan of spinach, and it's not a food I remember my parents regularly shelling out when I was a kid.

But.. I find I really like baby spinach with a bit of salad dressing, and I'm sure it'll taste great braised a little bit. They're growing so well, and I'm so proud of them. The only difficulty is keeping the kitties away from what looks like a litter box!
The basil.. Oh the basil. One of my favorite fresh herbs to cook with, and one of my greatest growing defeats. Turns out it's pretty delicate, and couldn't handle how cold the nights got here in Toronto last summer. As soon as I moved the plant indoors however, it did just fine. Never quite exploded like the mind though.

I bought this plant for 2 dollars yesterday from a little greenhouse down the street, and as usual, I'm in love. Fresh basil has a flavor that really pops out of a dish, and as such goes great with flavors like tomatoes, cinnamon, or even just the leaves tossed into a garden salad. (planted my garden mixed greens yesterday.. Can't wait for them to grow!) The stalks shouldn't be wasted, stir fry them into any dish for a nice basil flavour with a crunch.

Basil is a delicate herb, as I've already mentioned. The one I'm growing is a "Sweet Basil, or Ocimum basilicum, which lends itself beautifully to pasta, salads, or pesto. This is the variety most of us recognize from the grocery. The flavor is so much more intense if you raise it for yourself, the ones the supermarket raises are never really exposed to the elements, and don't develop the same flavor. Mine grows quite well in pots, and it LOVES some heat. The nights NEED to be above 13C, or the plant will suffer.

Don't cook it for very long! Or the flavor will be ruined! The flowers have a lovely scent as well, and should be planted next to tomatoes to provide their neighbor with some aphid protection.

My personal favorite basil recipe is a Jamie Oliver creation, and it just never tastes the same unless made in summer with fresh basil.

Slice up a red onion, and saute it with a bit of olive oil, a tsp of cinnamon, and the couple stalks of basil, with the leaves set aside for later.

When the red onion smells wonderfully sweet and have gone transparent, add a can of diced tomatoes and a can of tuna (if you can, used the tuna that's packed in oil)

You're done! Let that simmer for about 20 min to develop the flavors while you make your pasta of choice. Just before serving, sprinkle the reserved basil leaves on top of the dish.

Magnific. Best way to enjoy basil.

Monday, March 1, 2010


I had a lot of thinking to get done today. I'm coming out of it no further ahead then I started.

I woke up alone today, even though my boyfriend had told me he would wake me up with him. I didn't make it to the tech office, so I haven't gotten the tools I needed to work on a personal project. Oddly enough, a project I wanted to undertake to make something beautiful for him.

I woke up alone today, and I couldn't find my glasses when I did. My eyesight is so bad that I spent a good half hour crawling around on my hands and knees before I finally broke and called my boyfriend. He knew exactly where I'd left them, as well as the location of the metropass I couldn't find. Needless to say, I feel stupid.

I woke up alone today, and felt like my world was falling apart. My boyfriend and I had a fight last night, and he was angry, or indifferent, enough to break his own rule about always giving a kiss goodbye. I can't help but think that he simply didn't care. My cell phone isn't ringing at all, while normally he texts me constantly during his shifts.

It's a day to sit and reflect. Study, learn, and apply. I learned how to make mayonnaise today, although I'm not sure how I'll be able to go through a cup of it in a week. I pondered finding a local egg farmer, and getting some of those beautiful eggs I remember buying up in mennonite country. I thought about my meat selections, and how hard it was to find locally raised meat. I dreamed about deviled eggs.

In the end.. Nothing has changed. I have my glasses, but I'm still in trouble with my boyfriend. I learned that making mayo would be relatively easy for me, and would save me some money, but I haven't made any. I'm making said mayo out of non-local eggs. I'm still meat starved.

And now I'm heading to work, a bit early because I don't want him to come home and have everything be so quiet and awkward. At least at work I can put on a fake smile and feel like it's worth it.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


I've spent a couple of days trying to find my inspiration for. well. life. I know what I want in the end, and I've started funneling money into a savings account to try to get there. Unfortunately, putting 20% of your paycheck into savings means that money starts to get a little tight. I have no need to panic, I can pay my rent and all.. But I still worry.

I'm stressing a bit more because of a new jewelry design I'm trying out. I'm cutting apart a bunch of antique spoons I have lying around, and trying to make them into something new.

The picture to the right is one such bracelet, the silver chain was handmade by myself, and has been soldered so the rings won't EVER spring apart. The silver spoon was found by my father, and has since been curved to match my wrist.

I love it, but I have no idea if I'll be able to market it or not. It's a lovely bracelet and moves easily on my wrist, but I don't know if I'll be able to sell it at all. The thought really worries me.

I'm having trouble remaining inspired right now, because I'm really stressed about my money situation. I shouldn't be, but I can't help it. My savings are going great, but my spending money is tight. Why does it have to be so hard?

Not only that.. my hours have been cut lately. Whoo hooo.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

What is Love?

This is a question that I don't think I'll ever be able to answer. I used to think that love was that butterfly feeling I got in my stomach every time I thought about my lover, or the pride I felt in telling people about him. I came to feel that love was accepting all of my partners flaws, and working around them. Never expecting them to fix themselves.

For a while, I thought love was being able to share my lover with whoever he pleased.

Now, I'm neck deep in another relationship, and I still don't think I know what love is.

V-Day has come and gone, as well as the change to commercially prove how much I'm 'loved'. My partner and I didn't really exchange gifts, and we stayed in that day. Shared a bottle of wine, cooked my first stew and baked bread to go with it. Ended up having a fight over a pair of pants I was trying to expand, and I went to bed early. He came in an hour later, and spooned me until we fell back asleep.

What is love? Can it all be wrapped up in a butterfly feeling that disappears after a few months? Is it accepting your partner's flaws and trying to fix them? Is it simply doing whatever your partner wants, personal reservations aside?

I'm a very monogamous person. Similar to a sparrow actually, I'm loyal to my partner, but if my first love is lost, I can learn to love again. But that can't be all that love is.

But then, I can't accept the definition that love is all forgiving and happy. I look at couples that never have an argument, gush all over each other at any given opportunity, and sacrifice their social lives for each other and I just think it's sad. Or is that my jealousy speaking? Is that what love is?

My partner and I argue over stupid things. I can't remember the last time he gushed on about how much he loves me and how perfect we are together, in fact, I don't think he ever has. I have a fully active social life outside of him, although I'm always up for combining the two.

I find when I'm at school, I hope I have enough time to stop at home before work so I can see him. When I'm upset about something he's done or forgotten, I can't help but think about how sad he looks when he knows I'm upset. When I'm cleaning up the kitchen and wish I didn't have to do it, I remember how yesterday he cleaned a lot of the apartment without me asking. When I'm in bed angry and alone, how he comes to bed and pulls me close for a hug before we fall asleep.

What is love? My partner hasn't sworn his undying love for me, he hasn't promised me that we'll always be together, there's no word of a proposal on the winds. Everything that my former lover said to me, hasn't happened in this relationship. Yet, somehow, it feels so much more real to me, so much more possible then what I had before. I worry sometimes, if maybe I'm a little bit more emotionally invested, if maybe I should stop counting my eggs before I count my chickens. Maybe my love of self reliance will prove to be too much, and he'll leave me for a beauty queen who only wants to afford her next bottle of shampoo. Anything could happen, yet I'm always hoping for the best.

Anything could happen. We could go anywhere at this point. But I really just hope he lets me stay on the ride long enough to get the picture near the end.

Is this love?

Friday, February 12, 2010

On Clothes and Thrift Stores.

After multiple conversations with my girlfriends, I've decided to break out my old sewing machine and actually learn how to use it properly.

That being said, I'm on the look out for fabric I can use to sew Tibet-style pants for summer. I'm going to grab some fabric tomorrow to add some side panels to a fav pair of pants I have, so I can wear them again.

My mind is full of sewing ideas. Really didn't help with the fascination.

Might just end up going to Kensington, and buying a crap load of oversized Tshirts to rip apart.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


Whipping the top off and getting a good smell... Perfect Yogurt!

The only problem is, it's a little runny. This problem can be fixed by adding some powdered milk.. but I'm going to fix it the same way I made cream cheese. Just take away a bit of the whey.

Same layering of cheesecloth, and inverted the entire jar over a rack, with a bowl to catch the whey that drips out.

I really didn't think this experiment worked.. Thank the gods!

Sour milk and yogurt.. Is there really a difference?

My yogurt experiments continue. After a very successful cream cheese making, I decided to try my hand at making my own yogurt again.

Making cream cheese is actually so simple. I simply grabbed a square of layered cheesecloth, thick enough that I could barely see my hand through it. I lined a bowl with this, and scooped a small container of balkan yogurt into it. I pulled the corners up so the yogurt was contained into a ball, and clipped it with a bag clip suspended over a coffee cup.

8 hours later, all the whey has dripped out of the yogurt and left behind cream cheese! Hurrah!

The cheese is a bit sharper tasting then regular cream cheese, but I'm pretty sure that's because mine has no added sugars or preservatives. I mixed in a little dill and garlic, and it tastes amazing on bagels.

The next frontier: Yogurt!

I have tried this experiment many, many times. Every time, the yogurt just doesn't really do much. It floats on top of the milk and begs me to end its life. So, I try again.

I took a bag of whole milk, heated it over medium heat until my thermometer (stolen from work) registered 100 degrees F. My mother recommends 185 for next time. Food for thought. Once I reached 100, I plopped my little cup of yogurt into the bottom of a mason jar, and poured the milk over it. Mix it up, pop it into the oven with the light on, a sort of incubator.

8 hours later, and I'm pretty sure my live cultures are flipping me the finger, if they had any. The milk hasn't done much, so I'm going to let it sit longer. Apparently my friend used to let hers sit for days... Not sure about that one.

Well... It's thickened, but I'm not sure if it's spoiled or if it's yogurt. I'll convince my boyfriend to taste it, and then I'll let you know. Over out.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Exhausted with things.

This morning I had a fight with my boyfriend. It was over how much stuff we're trying to fit into our one bedroom apartment. We have too much furniture, namely a couch I would like to get rid off. And too much stuff, piled on a table near what is supposed to be a work area for my jewelry.

I'm really tired trying to deal with the mess in my apartment, and I've been taking steps to try to reduce it. I've been keeping the kitchen as clean as possible, as well as the kitty litter. But.. I don't think I can do it all on my own, and I'm getting so tired of it.

I left this morning angry, crying, and without saying goodbye. I came home to an empty house, made myself dinner, and a really simple bread pudding. I have a tiny little crock dish I baked it in, using day old homemade bread. It was a depressing meal.

And my cat is in heat, for the 2nd time in about 3 weeks. I'm so tired of it. I hate how much she sprays.


Last night I baked bread again. I used my standard recipe, flour, honey, salt, yeast.. And I couldn't help but be amazed again with how magical it all is.

I poured about a pint of tepid water and blended it up with some local honey I'd purchased at the end of summer from a friend. About 24g of yeast went in on top of that, and I remembered I was bothered at how the yeast all clumped up together and refused to separate. I shrugged, and left it alone on the counter to measure out my kilo of flour.

It's amazing what a bit of warm water, honey and yeast can produce. The water fairly boils with the activity of the yeast, and a gorgeous yeasty smell akin to a pint of beer drifts into my kitchen. By the time I'm done with my flour, the yeast has puffed up on the surface of the water nearly a half inch thick, and growing.

I stir this all down into the water, add it gradually to about half of my flour, and just have at it. The smell is incredible, fresh yeast and flour making a gorgeous heady bouquet that quickly fills my kitchen. The dough comes together beautifully, and within 15 minutes is rising away happily in my slightly heated oven.

I remember being startled when I opened the oven door about 40 minutes later, the dough had amazingly tripled in size and was giving off hints of the amazing smells that would pour forth during the baking. It beats down quite quickly, and I seperate it into two sections to let it rise just once more.

How amazing is it, that just a little bit of yeast can provide this much growth? It's amazing to me that it's so simple to have this pleasure right here, in my very own kitchen for mere pennies.

I see students all over the city buying into the vegetarian diet, buying massive heads of broccoli and bok choy, off red tomatoes and crisp baby peas. All remarkably out of season and a mere shadow of the true flavor of produce fresh from the garden. They buy expensive, whole grain, omega added loaves of bread to bring home. Yet none of them know how this food is really supposed to taste, how amazing it is to know that the food you're eating started out so simple, and with the simplest ingredients. None of them are feeling the satisfaction of knowing that the food they're eating was created with their own hands.

I can't wait until the day I can provide entirely for myself, off my little piece of land somewhere, and teach my kids the pleasures of planting the seed, tending for the plant, and eating the final bounty exactly when it's meant to be eaten, at the height of ripeness and flavor, in season and straight from the ground before them.

The things I would do with just a little slice of land!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Moving on.

Turns out, the sock I knit was too short for James. In fact, it barely reached my calf. Fit my feet amazingly though.

So I'm going to make another one of these, but I'm going to keep it for myself.

The sock that I'm working on for James, I'm doing in a completely different way. I'm knitting from the toe up.

Recap from last post:

Using Judy's Magic Cast On, I cast on 24 stitches, which is half of the required stitches for the main part of the foot. Using one circular needle and two DPNs, I increase 4 stitches every other row, just after the first stitch on each needle, and before the last stitch on each needle. I do this until I reach 48. My 5x1 rib is on the circular needle, which has 24 stitches. I work stockinette stitch on the other 24 stitches, which are divided evenly on the two DPNs.

I count my circular needle as Needle 1, and my DPNs as needles 2 and 3.

I worked this 5x1 rib and stockinette until I'm about 3 inches short of the required foot length. As James foot is 9.5 inches, I was supposed to take the pattern to 6.5. I accidently took it to 7.5.

At this point I start increasing for the gusset. My original pattern has the stitch count before the gusset as 64, so I'm going to increase to this number. To do this, I make 2 increases every other round. Knit needle 1 in pattern, K1 M1, knit all on needle two. Knit all stitches on needle three to the last stitch, M1 K1. Round two, knit all stitches as presented.

I then reach 64 stitches, and run into an issue. My pattern book of choice doesn't really give much help with regards to different gauges. After doing a little bit of digging, I realized that I needed to turn the heel by working short rows IGNORING the gusset stitches.

So to turn the heel, I worked it as follows:
Row 1: Knit stitches as presented on needle 1. Needles 2 and 3 have 20 stitches each. K30, kf&b, k1, w&t.
Row 2: P22, pf&b, p1, w&t
Row 3: K20, kf&b, k1, w&t
Row 4: P18, pf&b, p1, w&t
Row 5: K16, kf&b, k1, w&t
Row 6: P14, pf&b, p1, w&t
Row 7: K12, kf&b, k1, w&t
Row 8: P10, pf*b, p1, w&t

Knit to the end of needle 3, and Knit all stitches as presented on needle 1.

Now my heel is turned, even though I had to drastically fudge the recipe. Now I have to make the heel flap! I realized that in making the heel flap, I have to work short rows on the middle stitches, gradually incorperating the gusset stitches with ssk and k2tog stitches.

Row 1: Knit all stitches on needle 2, and knit stitches on needle 3 until 16 stitches remain. Ssk, turn.
Row 2: Sl1, purl all stitches on needle 3, and purl stitches on needle 2 until 16 stitches remain. P2tog, turn.
Row 3: *S1, k1*, repeat from * until you reach the point in the work where you turned the work. Ssk, turn.

Repeat rows 2 and 3 until all the gusset stiches have been worked. You end with a purl row. Divide these stitches onto your two needles again. When I ended the purl row, I had 56 stitches. According to the pattern I was modifying, I needed 48. To get this number, I knitted *k2, ssk* until I reached the end of needle 2, and then *k2tog, K2* till I reached the end of needle 3.

And there I am! I'm ready to start working on the 5x1 rib up the calf. I still have to figure out where I'm doing my increases, but at least I've decifered the pattern this far. I'll make James try on the foot when I get home, and then I'll start the calf.

Phew! 2 hours of fudging different knitting patterns until I figured out the basic theory behind turning a heel. Everything works around the gusset stitches, just remember to work my short rows INSIDE them, not with them. This is going to be helpful for later patterns!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Knitting frusterations...

I've finished the first of the kilt hose pair. Unfortunatly, it comes up slightly short on my leg. Hopefully, my boyfriend is stubbier then me, and the kilt hose will fit him. Worst case... Looks like I'm unraveling a sock. A very. Long. Sock.

Just in case, I've started a second sock from the toe, heading up the leg. It's going to require a lot of improvising though.. I used Judy's Magic Cast on, slightly improved, to cast on 24 stitches. I increased every other row until I hit 48 stitches, which is the number of stitches required to case the foot in the original pattern. Right now, I'm doing the 5x1 rib on the top of the foot with one needle, while the two other needles are in stockinette stitch to form the bottom of the foot. Once James gets home and tries on the first sock, I'll know whether or not I should continue.

My only problem with changing the pattern to a toe-up improvisation is that I'm not sure when I should do the increases to form the calf. I could guesstimate the length, using the completed kilt hose as a guide. However, the original kilt hose could be inaccurate.. Given that I'm unsure it will even fit.

So, I'm a little upset. I really don't want to unravel this sock all the way to the leg, but that will be my only option if it doesn't fit him. Obviously, this is really not what I want to do, but I don't really see any other option. I'm really frustrated, and quite frankly disappointed that I wasn't more careful. I'm in school right now to become a goldsmith. Yet, here I am messing up measurements in my knitting. Is this not what I'm supposed to be learning to prevent?

Measure first, knit second?

I'm just angry right now, and I really hope the worst doesn't come to it. I don't know what I would do with myself if it doesn't work out. I'll just have to wait until James gets home and tries it on. We'll go from there.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Confusion sets in..

I knew this sock was too easy. First little issue was when I was knitting the heel flap. By doing all the decreases, I wind up a stitch short. Hence, ignored a decrease. Wound up with a hole after turning the heel and picking up stitches to form said heel.

I can deal, I can deal, keep knitting.

Repeat decrease rounds 7 times to bring stitch count down to 48. Problem. Need 8 decreases to do that. WTF is going on. I need 48 stitches, just do the 8 decreases.

We'll see how this ends up tomorrow. If these don't fit him, I'm wearing them myself.


Turns out lately I've been busier then I thought possible. With school ending for the semester, I had to finish all of my projects to get them ready to hand in. I had three projects left, plus an in class practical exam. I organized my time, and figured I wouldn't have an issue getting everything finished.

Turns out, I ended up in the hospital for two days with appendicitis, and on medication for a week after that. During that time, I physically had no energy what-so-ever. Meaning I didn't work on any projects, except for my in class practical exam. Meaning that I had to ask my teachers for an extension for my projects, to which they generously offered the last day of school. I spend the second-last day of school working frantically for 8 hours in the studio. But I pulled it off! I managed to finish all of my projects, a feat that a lot of other students weren't able to do, but I was! Hooray!

I've also managed to do quite a bit of knitting in the past couple of weeks. Right now I'm working on a pair of kilt hose, using a really good pattern I found off knitty. The only issue I have with the pattern is that errata is available on ravelry, but still hasn't changed the available pattern.

I ran into a couple of problems while I was working on these. My first problem that wasn't simply difficulty with the pattern, was that when I turned the cuff inside out to knit the leg, I realized I was one stitch short in the round. To solve this, I just added a stitch to the end of the round. Knitting commenced. This kilt hose uses a number of decreases along the calf to for the sock, which makes for a really nice dagger style look.

Unfortunatly, my decreases didn't seem to quite line up properly, so I fudged quite a bit to make the lines even during this stage. I only decreased 15 times, where the pattern says 17. But when I do my own count, I should have done 18 decreases. I haven't heard anyone else have this problem, so I'll assume it was my own inexperience. I'm working on the heel flap of these kilt hose now, and I can't wait to see if they fit him or not! I've also recently bought a new book, Sock knitting from the Toe up. I can't wait to give this book a whirl, the patterns and concept look so amazing. So.. That's my life in a nutshell. Tomorrow I start school again, an 8 am class for metal casting. I'll take pictures, and we'll see how well it goes. <3