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cooking adventures crafts

Made and Making: February 2016

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Cooking

Baked brie is PRETTY AMAZING and quite simple! I adapted this to use almonds and rosemary instead of hazelnuts and thyme. I will definitely be making it again.

Egg Stuffed Baked Potatoes: I was hoping this would be a really great portable lunch. It was okay, but I think either needed bigger potatoes or more substantial fillings.

Arborio Rice Pudding with Cinnamon Caramel: Based on this recipe, although I used a different caramel sauce since the original had disappeared. Great creamy rice pudding, and the cinnamon caramel was a perfect complement.

Honey Baked Apples with Cardamom Custard Sauce (Crabtree & Evelyn): *heart eyes emoji* I’ve had baked apples before and not been wild about them, but baking them with the right filling + basted with their own juices, AND THEN making a cardamom custard sauce = YES PLEASE.

Chicken Pot Pie with Leeks and Wild Mushrooms (Crabtree & Evelyn): I used baby portobello mushrooms, not wild ones, but this was still really, really, really good. The flavors were subtle but delicious and the crust was crisp and buttery. This is a rich potpie, but if you’re planning on eating it over the course of a couple of days, just perfect.

Knitting

Lionberry: I’m almost done with this one, which I’m knitting in Knit Picks Stroll Fingering. The color (Duchess Heather) is absolutely gorgeous and the yarn is lovely. I’m finding the pattern frustrating, but I’m not sure if that’s due to me preferring charted lace patterns, or if it’s confusingly formatted. I’m guessing possibly a little of both.

 

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cooking adventures crafts

Made and Making: January 2016

I have to admit that it’s a bit weird writing this post just after what I wrote yesterday. But here we are, nonetheless.

Cooking

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Beef shortribs with vegetables: I sort of made this up–browned the shortribs, then added them with vegetables and cider to the slow cooker and cooked it on low overnight. Good with rice or mashed potatoes

Baked Potato Soup: This was good but not quite as good as I was expecting. Still, when you add a bunch of sour cream and green onions, pretty much everything tastes nice.

Mushrooms on Toast: SO GOOD. The mushrooms were delicious on crusty toast, but would be equally good on pasta or potatoes.

Cabbage and Mushroom Galette: I love slightly homely dishes like this, where the taste is so much more than the sum of its parts. This was really lovely and I definitely want to make it again.

Fried Rice: I based it on this recipe, although I added a number of other vegetables and some leftover pork, sliced.

Tartiflette with Cod from Home Made Winter: I made this with a salmon and blue cheese variation. Really good! And something I wouldn’t have thought of making on my own.

Roasted Cauliflower with Cumin and Coriander: I used a store-bought garam masala because I am not talented enough to make my own. This is such a good recipe!

Leek Toasts with Blue Cheese: This such a simple recipe–toast, crumbled blue cheese, sauteed leeks–but it’s really tasty, especially if you’re a fan of leeks (which I am).

Knitting

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Damask: I finished knitting this shawl for myself just before Nativity, which was really nice! It turned out really well, although I left out the bobbles towards the end because 1) I was concerned about how much yarn I had left 2) I’m not very fond of the way bobbles look and 3) I dislike knitting them quite a bit.

Chevalier: I’m knitting this for a friend and am always done. Did I mention that I’m going to be knitting shawls for friends all year? This is the first, and I’ll talk about it a bit more when it’s to its eventual owner.

 

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cooking adventures

Made and Making: November 2015

I know I’m posting this on a day when the last thing my fellow Americans want to do is think about food. But here we are! This is an all food edition–my favorite recipes from the past month.

Spicy Squash Salad with Lentils and Goat Cheese

Cranberry Orange Breakfast Buns

Twice-baked Potatoes with Kale

Balsamic Braised Brussels Sprouts (I omitted the pancetta)

Cranberry Pie with Pecan Crumble (probably one of the best pies I’ve ever made!)

Wild Rice & Kale Gratin from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

Warm Kale Salad (I used hazelnuts instead of pine nuts and left out the sugar)

Russian Potato and Mushroom Soup

Russian Braised Cabbage

One-Skillet Cheesy Beef and Macaroni (This turned out weirdly spicy for my taste, so I would leave out the pepper entirely next time)

Mujadara with an Egg (Probably the best mujadara I’ve ever had–a great recipe)

Italian Sausage and Tortellini Soup

Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries (I substituted hazelnuts for the pecans, and goat cheese for the Gorgonzola, since that’s what I had on hand)

Pulled Pork from Home Made Winter

Vegetable Stroganoff from Moosewood Cookbook

Apple-Cheddar Pie

Beef, Leek, and Barley Soup, heavily adapted from this recipe

 

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cooking adventures

Apple-Cheddar Pie

This is kind of cobbled together from several different recipes, but turned out really well (and I think would be even better with a good quality cheddar).

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Basic Pie Dough

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
1 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons cold (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

In a food processor, combine flour and salt; pulse to combine. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with just a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining.

Sprinkle with 1/4 cup ice water. Pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed with fingers (if necessary, add up to 1/4 cup more water, 1 tablespoon at a time). To help ensure a flaky crust, do not overprocess.

Transfer half of dough (still crumbly) onto a piece of plastic wrap. Form dough into a disk 3/4 inch thick; wrap tightly in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour (and up to 3 days). Repeat with remaining dough. (Disks can be frozen, tightly wrapped, up to 3 months. Thaw before using.) Makes 2 disks.

Apple Pie

3 lbs tart apples
1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat rimmed baking sheet and oven to 500°F. Remove one piece of dough from refrigerator (if refrigerated longer than 1 hour, let stand at room temperature until malleable).

2. Roll dough on lightly floured work surface or between two large sheets of plastic wrap to 12-inch disk. Transfer dough to pie plate by rolling dough around rolling pin and unrolling over 9 1/2-inch pie plate or by folding dough in quarters, then placing dough point in center of pie plate and unfolding. Working around circumference of pie plate, ease dough into pan corners by gently lifting dough edges with one hand while pressing around pan bottom with other hand. Leave dough that overhangs lip of plate in place; refrigerate dough-lined pie plate.

3. Peel, core and cut apples in half, and in half again width-wise; cut quarters into 1/4-inch slices. In a medium bowl, mix 1/2 cup sugar, flour, salt and spices. Toss dry ingredients with apples. Turn fruit mixture, including juices, into chilled pie shell and mound slightly in center. Scatter cheese over apples.

4. Roll out second piece of dough to 12-inch disk and place over filling. Trim top and bottom edges to 1/2-inch beyond pan lip. Tuck this rim of dough underneath itself so that folded edge is flush with pan lip. Flute edging or press with fork tines to seal. Cut four slits on dough top. If pie dough is very soft, place in freezer for 10 minutes. Brush egg white onto top of crust and sprinkle evenly with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.

5. Place pie on baking sheet and lower oven temperature to 425°F. Bake until top crust is golden, about 25 minutes. Rotate pie and reduce oven temperature to 375°F; continue baking until juices bubble and crust is deep golden brown, 30-35 minutes longer.

6. Transfer pie to wire rack; cool to room temperature, at least 4 hours. [hahahahaha, I did not wait 4 hours.]

adapted from The Kitchen Sink, Smitten Kitchen, and Moosewood Cookbook

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cooking adventures crafts

Made and Making: October 2015

I am posting this late on a Friday evening, which is just about the deadest of times on the Internet. Nevertheless, if I don’t put it up now, I don’t think I ever will, and that would be a pity (at least from my point of view, wrt documenting the things I make).

This month has been a fun crafting month. I am still plodding away on my Wheatsheaves sweater–well, not plodding. Elizabeth McCarten does a lovely job designing her patterns and I’ve enjoyed knitting it. It’s just that I’ve reached the second sleeve and second sleeves are always tedious for me.

But I also made a display at work that took a LOT of time, but that I’m incredibly pleased with. It’s a sort of Brambly Hedge-inspired autumn display, done in watercolor and colored pencil. As a piece of art that I made, it’s near the top of my favorite things ever. (I struggled to take photos of it that weren’t super blurry.)

brambly hedge display 1brambly hedge display 2

I also made, for myself, a kind of floral collage out of colored paper. It’s adhered onto a black background. I’m not quite sure where I want to put it, but I’m thinking maybe my bedroom, where my desired aesthetic is Elven retreat/fairy forest. I’m fairly happy with it, except that if/when I make another, I think I’ll use more brightly colored paper, so that it pops even more against the background.

collage

I also did some cooking! These are highlights rather than an exhaustive list:

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cooking adventures crafts

Made and Making: September 2015

Cooking
Pear Bread: It seems that Pear Bread is okay but not my favorite; it reminded me a little too strongly of banana bread which I’m not a fan of at all. Re-reading Deb’s introduction to the recipe this seems like a problem I should have anticipated.

Jammy Roasted Onions: This is easy and delicious, and wonderful to put on sandwiches or add to other vegetables. Or eat out of the pan, as I have been known to do.

Baguette & Wensleydale: I ate a lot of baguette and cheese sandwiches in the early part of September.

Carry Out Casserole: This was a family favorite growing up, and I have a nostalgic fondness for it. I always use ground beef (not ground turkey as this recipe says) and left out the peppers this time (because I didn’t have any).

Horseradish Potato Salad: Creamy and horseradishy, this was a nice variation on potato salad.

Yogurt & Brown Sugar Cake: I meant to make this as written, but my yogurt had gone bad so I used buttermilk, and I added sliced plums to the top. I would like to make it again with yogurt, because I think it would be a little denser, but it’s hard to argue with buttermilk & plums.

Tvorog: This sounded interesting, so I decided to try making it. It’s a long process, though not particularly involved. The cheese itself has a nice tangy flavor from the buttermilk.

Red Wine Cabbage: I used white cabbage instead of red as that’s what I had, but made the recipe pretty much as written otherwise. A nice side dish with bratwurst.

Apple, Olive Oil, and Lavender Cake from Le Pain Quotidien: I wasn’t sure how I would feel about apple and lavender together, but I ended up liking the combination quite a bit! I warmed honey and dried lavender together and would probably drizzle a little in the batter next time, rather than just letting it collect in the apples.

Easy Mushroom Gravy: Made this and served it over rotini. I really liked the flavors here and would definitely make this one again.

Sauteed Black Beans: Something I made up and didn’t love but which fed me.

Egg Sauce from Moosewood Cookbook: I added a bit more seasoning, as I often find Moosewood recipes a little bland for my taste. I served this over rice and I suspect it would better on potatoes or pasta. Oh, and I didn’t blend the egg into tiny bits because the very thought made me gag; it’s still good with the eggs simply diced.

Plum Muffins: Heavily adapted from the Poppy Seed Plum Muffin recipe in the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.

Macaroni and Cheese: Just the cheese sauce recipe I always make, although I added paprika and mustard this time for a slightly zippier sauce.

Apple and Honey Challah: So good! I’ve been eating it toasted, with creme fraiche, and with butter, with honey, and even soft boiled eggs.

Oatmeal Scones: I cut down on the butter a bit, which seemed like a good idea at the time, but they’re a little on the dry & crumbly side. I like the texture of the oats, however!

Kichidi from Cooking Season by Season: Lentils, butternut squash, and rice. I think the proportions of lentils to rice were off; if I made this again, I would add more lentils for a heartier meal. But the flavors were nice.

Knitting
The big project of the month is Wheatsheaves! This made with a bulky yarn and there’s not much shaping, so once you get past the shoulders it goes pretty quickly. I really like the effect of the border. Now, of course, I have to do the sleeves. I wish I liked vests as clothing, because I want to knit all of the sweaters and none of the sleeves.

After this, I plan to knit a Damask shawl. I already have the yarn for it. We’ll see if I manage to get through without crying over Code Name Verity; it’s not looking very likely.

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cooking adventures

Made and Making: May 2015

Herb Roasted Chicken Thighs: I made these without the potatoes and served them with lemon rice. It’s a simple recipe and very tasty!

Black Tea Cake: I forgot to add the baking soda and powder, so my cake was a little…flat. The taste was still delicious–I made a simple sour cream frosting.

Toasted Oatmeal: I have issues with regular oatmeal. This nuttier, toasted version helped the texture problem, and nothing cooked in butter can be bad.

Broccoli, Cheddar, and Rice Casserole: I made this with brown rice instead of wild rice, and it turned out really well!

Cherry Almond Dutch Baby: So, the texture of this was completely different than what’s pictured in the original recipe–maybe I didn’t mix it long enough? But the cherry almond flavor was amazing.

Cherry Brown Butter Bars: I made these a few years ago and remembered them being really good. They are! This time, I added a little almond extract, which I think was even better.

Lentil-Spinach Stew: So I liked this soup quite a bit, but I think the flavor could have used punching up a little bit. Cumin? Paprika? Not quite sure, but definitely something.

Ginger-Rhubarb Streusel Bread: THIS IS SO GOOD. I hadn’t tried ginger & rhubarb as a combination before, but I rapidly fell in love with it.

Dreamy Cream Scones: I’m always on the lookout for scones that aren’t the American biscuity kind. These are nice British-style ones.

Poached Egg, Watercress and Apple Salad and Mustard Hazelnut Vinaigrette: I didn’t serve this over bread, and I didn’t have hazelnuts so I just left that out. But this was still a lovely meal.

Leek and Swiss Chard Tart: I love a good savory tart, and this was a nice one. (Mmmm, leeks.)

Kasha Pudding (Good to the Grain): I had high hopes for this one, but unfortunately the texture was not at all okay with me. (I have a thing about textures.) I may try again with the barley pudding from the same cookbook.

Polenta with Mushroom Ragu and a Poached egg (Working Class Foodies): This isn’t necessarily a meal I would typically be interested in, but the flavors were a great combination and I discovered I love poached eggs.

Lemon Rice (Crabtree & Evelyn): I think next time I would add a little more lemon zest, but this was a great side dish!

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cooking adventures

Made and Making: April 2015

I have to admit that I’ve been in a knitting lull. The projects I’ve started aren’t holding my interest, but I feel like I have to complete at least 1-2 of them before I start anything new. We’ll see how this goes.

I did make a Secret Project which will have to remain secret until it goes off to its intended recipient.

Cooking
These were made for sharing at church or with others from Palm Sunday through Pascha:
– A vegan lemon-spice cake, using a wacky cake recipe, with a lemon-syrup glaze: This was definitely a hit!
– Chia seed pudding with mango and pineapple, based on this recipe: I wanted to make sure the celiac & gluten-free folks had a dessert option
– Rhubarb and Orange Yogurt Fool from Cooking Season by Season: I followed the recipe except that I added a bunch of whipped cream because 1) why not dairy it up? and 2) I thought the recipe seemed a little skimpy. I’m glad I did.
– Kulich and Paska, from my mom’s recipes. Although I did cut down the number of egg yolks in the kulich, which I think helped with the rising time. I made one big kulich with a braided top, in a 9″ springform pan.
Roasted Apsaragus Soup: I made three times the recipe, which was a good amount, and didn’t puree it, opting to gently mash the asparagus instead.
Leg of Lamb Roast: This turned out really well! And while there are a few steps, it’s really quite a simple process with good results.
– Chocolate Pavlova: My first time making a pavlova, and it worked! It also used up a lot of the egg whites left over from the kulich. I served it with a mixed berry compote and whipped cream.

Other Cooking:
– No-knead bread: low fuss and great results, as always.
– Sweet Peas and Shells Alfredo from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook: The sauce seemed a little dry, so next time I would probably add a bit of cream right at the end to combat that. But I really enjoyed this one–despite the richness of the sauce, it seemed light and springy, and the slight crunch of the peas was really nice.
Asparagus, Lemon, and Goat Cheese Pasta: A similar idea, although simpler to put together. Also very enjoyable.
Parmesan Cream Crackers: A little less exciting than I expected, but I bet they would be great with the addition of a pinch of herbs or garlic.
– Lately I have been wanting to cream all the things. Creamed spinach and creamed mushrooms, and a combination of both plus a bit of goat cheese which I made up. I’m not sure why, but something about the combination of creamy sauce + vegetables definitely seems to be my thing at the moment.
– I also made roasted chicken and then chicken pot pie from a bunch of recipes combined and tweaked.
– And an pan of eggless brownies because I really wanted brownies RIGHT NOW but was out of eggs. They’re more like a giant cookie than anything else, but still good.

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cooking adventures

Made and Making: February 2015

I’m just doing cooking this month, although I did a few crafty things, because that’s how it is.

Sally Lunn bread: used white whole wheat flour which I suspect changed the texture; a pleasant bread with a nice flavor.
– I made a blood orange tart based on this recipe, but changed lots of things about it.
Cranberry Syrup: possibly I did not cook the syrup long enough, because there isn’t much of a cranberry flavor that I can detect. Still good and a very pleasant red.
– I also made a recipe called “Best Buttermilk Pancakes” which I have noted as being from Smitten Kitchen, but which I can’t find anywhere. They’re really good buttermilk pancakes, and next time I make them I will try adding fruit, etc.
Potato and Artichoke Tortilla: I kind of took the idea of this one and changed everything: didn’t preboil the potatoes, used fresh baby red peppers instead of roasted, did 1.5 times the recipe. The people I fed it to didn’t seem to mind.
Beef, Leek & Barley Soup: I made this for a friend, so I didn’t get to do more than taste it, but it’s an incredibly simple recipe and the little bit I had was delicious. I will definitely be making this one again.

From Home Made Winter:
– Rarebits with Pear & Blue Cheese: I halved the recipe and ate these for several meals. Delicious! I want to try a traditional rarebit too.
– Cheese Fondue from Stilton, Cream Cheese and Belegen (gouda): I ate this several times as fondue, which was rich & filling, and then used the leftovers as a cheese sauce for pasta.
– Pizza Bianca: I did caramelized onions, prosciutto and mozzarella, since I was completely unable to find the figs the recipe calls for. An excellent pizza.

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cooking adventures

Christmas cooking and baking

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(Christmas breakfast)

I did a lot of baking and cooking over the holiday season and I thought I’d share some of those recipes separately.

Cookies
Black Forest Christmas cookies: I liked these but I halved the cherries and next time I wouldn’t; mine spread a bit and there wasn’t quite enough cherry to cookie.
Bachelor Buttons: RJ Anderson’s recipe, which I changed by using pear butter instead of raspberry jam. Quite a different effect, but a nice one! And now I want to make the raspberry version too.
Honeyed Rosemary Shortbread: These are definitely for people who like that sweet/savory combination, but they’re really good if you do like that.
Rum Currant Cookies: There is nothing about these that is not good. Bonus: the recipe makes a lot of little cookies, which is great for filling in the cracks on a cookie plate.
– Cranberry Shortbread: This was a bit of an experiment–namely, shortbread with chopped up bits of fresh cranberry. That part was successful, I thought, but the shortbread recipe I used for this one turned out a little too dry.
– Lebkuchen: My family has always done a lot of German Christmas cookies. Lebkuchen are the only ones I attempted this year, but I thought they turned out quite well!
– Cream Cheese Dainties: This is a staple of my mom’s Christmas baking, with rice krispie treats and a maraschino cherry. I didn’t have either, so I left off the rice krispie treats entirely and topped them with a walnut piece. It’s a different effect, but I thought they turned out well.
Nutmeg Maple Butter Cookies: SO GOOD. Obviously not if you dislike either nutmeg or maple syrup, but the flavors are more subtle than you might expect

Other desserts
– Hazelnut Chocolate and Orange Tart: From Cooking Season by Season. If you like the combination of the three flavors, you’ll like this tart. Also nice for people who don’t like desserts that are very sweet.
Chocolate Swirl Buns: SO GOOD. SO MUCH CHOCOLATE. SO GOOD.

Savory things
– Hungarian Mushroom Soup: From the old Moosewood Cookbook; this is probably my favorite mushroom soup recipe ever. Creamy, a little on the thick side, and very flavorful.
– Potato Refrigerator Rolls: An old family favorite from Betty Crocker. I did half plain and half rolled up with cheese and herbs. I liked that effect a lot, but they needed more filling to really be effective.
Mushroom dumplings: I attempted to cook mine in a sour cream-garlic sauce and they completely fell apart. Lesson learned! Cook the dumplings separately! But they still tasted pretty excellent.