cooking adventures crafts

Made and Making: February 2016

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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.


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.


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.



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).



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.


crafts Library

Making without context

This post was sparked by thoughtful conversations with Liz, Kelly, Beth, Marie, and Jenny. Thank you all!

When I was six, my mom taught me how to knit. We made knitting needles out of wooden dowels and beads and she showed me how to make the loops: Up through the front door, run around the back, down through the window and off jumps Jack. When I was older, I took up knitting as my own: I knit a sweater and then another one, and then I was teaching myself cables and lace from books we had, with my mom’s help. I learned about the history of different forms and techniques, and knitting’s modern history. Currently, several (most?) of my local friends are knitters and we talk about our projects, asking each other advice when an issue comes up. We trade tips and ideas and compliments. I read and appreciate all the expertise present on Ravelry–there’s someone else who’s made this, who knows how much yarn the project actually needs, who has a variation that I like even better than the original. Knitting is not only what I create; it is who I listen to and learn from; it is the community of other women who knit.


The maker movement has become hugely popular in the last ten years, and it has swept libraries across the country. There are Maker programs, Makerspaces, circulating Maker items. A lot of times there is a pressure, conscious or unconscious, to be involved in the movement regardless of staff expertise or time/budget limitations. There are many neat things about the Maker movement, but it’s often talked about as if it’s the salvation of libraries. (Others have said smart things about the devaluation of Children’s & Youth Services, which has often done similar programs for years with less funding and recognition.)

What is maker culture? According to Wikipedia, it represents:

a technology-based extension of DIY culture that intersects with hacker culture which is less concerned with physical objects (as opposed to software) and the creation of new devices (as opposed to tinkering with existing ones). Typical interests enjoyed by the maker culture include engineering-oriented pursuits such as electronics, robotics, 3-D printing, and the use of CNC tools, as well as more traditional activities such as metalworking, woodworking, and, mainly, its predecessor, the traditional arts and crafts. The subculture stresses a cut-and-paste approach to standardized hobbyist technologies, and encourages cookbook re-use of designs published on websites and maker-oriented publications.

There’s a really telling word in there: predecessor. On the one hand, reading too much into a word choice on Wikipedia is perhaps a mistake. On the other hand–I’m going to make that mistake, because as I see it one of the major flaws of the maker culture/movement is its ignoring of the already existing and active history and culture of different crafts and arts. These things are not dead, as “predecessor” implies, and when maker culture doesn’t acknowledge and respect the other cultures of creation which are already present, it falls short.


My first memories of creation are pretty clear. I remember my mom teaching me to knit. I remember my mom teaching me to bake bread in my own little loaf pan. I remember my mom teaching me to cross-stitch on a piece of gingham so I could see the squares. In all of these activities, there’s one constant which is: my mom was teaching me and I was listening and learning.

But also: I was learning that all of these skills she taught me required work and time. There are many crafts I don’t do, either through lack of particular interest or through lack of knowledge/time. However, when someone else makes a gorgeous felted toy, or hand-painted bureau, I have some small sense of the skill and work involved and I respect it. There’s a sense of appreciation, of collaboration and support rather than competing to be on the cutting edge. As my friend Marie said:


There are certainly individuals who include arts and crafts within Makerspaces and culture–I’ve heard of libraries with spinning wheels, for instance. And yet, as a general usage, maker culture tends to be STEM-dominated and with a male-oriented ethos to it. I don’t have problem with STEM, except that it’s often assumed to be better than arts and crafts, and naturally on the way to replacing them. And more, even when arts and crafts are included within maker culture, they tend to be subsumed and reinvented, not recognized on their own.

For instance, knitting is not generally considered part of maker culture–unless it’s done with a 3-D printer. Why is it that a sweater knit on a machine is awe-inspiring and innovative, but a sweater knit by a girl is a symbol of “a domestic art from before the freedoms of feminism”? Why is it that what women have created, learned, and taught for years and even centuries suddenly becomes worthy when a male-led and dominated movement discovers it?

I have an answer to these questions.


I don’t want to give the impression that I’m anti-technology, or even tech programs in libraries. For one thing, the internet has made learning crafts more open, by providing people across the world to learn from (helpful diagrams and YouTube videos have saved me more than once). Many of the tech-based programs are really neat in and of themselves (as far as I’m concerned, Makey Makey is wizardry).Nor am I anti-innovation when it comes to crafts. However, there’s a saying I’ve heard in regard to writing which I think applies here: you have to know the rules before you can break them. You should know the history and culture of a craft before you change it.

This is where I see maker culture as an issue. Rather than pausing to learn the history of a craft or what shaped it, maker culture wants to recreate it so it can be produced (as long as you do it exactly right). It creates an expectation of production rather than listening, replacing the relationships between people with a pressure to stay on top of flashy technology which often doesn’t last very long.


I don’t want to say that crafting is some kind of utopian ideal; there are definitely issues of class and race that can’t be ignored. But if that’s true, it’s true of the maker movement as well, which posits a kind of surface egalitarianism while ignoring the work on which it is predicated. (Who exactly is making these 3-D printers, for example, and are they being lauded as makers?) For me, the value of crafting as I’ve experienced it is not only in gaining skills and the confidence to try new things, but in gaining respect for what other people do, in listening to and learning from their expertise and in passing it along whenever I can. It’s in respecting all the many ways we create, not just the ones that are popular at the moment.

Finally, I want to say that I certainly use the terminology of making, both at work where many of my craft programs are under the umbrella of “Make It,” and here where I call my monthly roundup of crafts & food “Made & Making.” It’s not that I want to claim I am somehow better and purer, and that anyone who’s involved in the maker movement is wrong and bad–indeed I don’t think there’s any inherent opposition. Rather, maker culture and the way we talk about it tends to erase the history and importance of traditionally female creation while promoting male-driven tech-oriented creation. When I want is not the dismissal of the maker movement, but a recognition both of the importance and validity of listening and learning–not from experts, but from each other–and of the long history and strength of what is too often dismissed as women’s work.


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.


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

cooking adventures crafts

Made and Making: September 2015

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.

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.

cooking adventures crafts

Made and Making: October 2014

I’ve had a pretty active knitting month, hurray!

The Rose Under Fire sweater has progressed: the back is done and the front is done up till the colorwork starts and then I got distracted.

I made a Secret Project (well, not that secret, it is on my Ravelry page) which I will share next month after it gets to its intended recipient.

I also made an Autumn Blush which I decided part way through was going to be for me. I love the Silk Bamboo for this project and am seriously thinking about buying some more (what I had was a gift) so I can make another one.
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Terrible picture #1: worn scarf-style*

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Terrible picture #2: worn shawl-style

Now that it’s cooled off, I want to finish the Greeny Knots blanket and also knit myself some slippers.

* My digital camera is apparently not working, so I took these with the camera on my computer. TERRIBLE.

Leek, Butternut Squash, and Potato Soup: Hearty, filling, and tasty. Can’t argue with that!

– Country Mushroom Soup from the Beatrix Potter Country Cookbook: This was okay, but nowhere near as good as my favorite mushroom soup (the Hungarian Mushroom Soup from the old Moosewood Cookbook).

– Devon Cider and Apple Cake from The Complete Traditional Recipe Book: I have several apple cake recipes I like, and this is definitely one of them. It’s not at all what Americans would think of as a normal apple cake, but it’s a great recipe.

Herb Roasted Whole Chicken: Great recipe, and I highly recommend making stock with the carcass, because the herb rub gives it a great flavor. (I did, and then made chicken noodle soup with even more herbs and lots of garlic and ginger. YUM.)

Baked Pumpkin and Sour Cream Puddings: I was honestly a bit eh on this one, which is unusual for Smitten Kitchen recipes. I think the ratio of sour cream to pumpkin was a bit too low or something.

Pane Integrale (via the Seven Spoons blog): I like no-knead Dutch oven recipes a lot, and this was a nice whole wheat version. I actually upped the whole wheat to half, and it worked wonderfully.

Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Cornbread: THIS IS AMAZING. I love the flavors and the texture is really nice too. Next time I make it, I think I’d go for 2 cups of onion and mix half into the batter, for maximum caramelized goodness, but definitely a winner regardless.

Edna Mae’s Sour Cream Pancakes: Very nice flavor. I’m not sure if it was me or my pan or the stove, but I struggled so much with undercooking these, though.

cooking adventures crafts

Made and making: September 2014


Pizza with red and yellow peppers, except that I used the cheese from this recipe. It was good, although I did wish that the peppers had caramelized a little more.

Cauliflower Gratin: Really good! I made it in a too-large pan and next time would go smaller (I don’t own an 8×11″) but that’s my own fault.

Pear-Raspberry Pie: The original calls for mini-pies; I made one big one instead. So good–pear, raspberry, and ginger is a stellar combination.

Beef Stew from The Kitchen Sink: I basically made this one as written, although I think it would make for some fabulous variations.

Cream Biscuits: Made these in a hurry which resulted in them looking like the triangular sort of scones. I did about a third of the flour as white whole wheat; they were still excellent! I like the simplicity of this recipe a lot.

Spiced Pear-Pecan Quick Bread: Although I made so many changes to the recipe that it’s not strictly fair to say that I made it. Substituted hazelnuts for pecans, browned butter for oil, yogurt for buttermilk, nutmeg for cardamom. The result was delicious but I unfortunately let it sit out too long and it all went moldy. Booo!

Big Breakfast Latkes from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook: Great weekday breakfast! I especially liked them with a fried egg to top.

Glorified Zucchini Casserole: Recipe in my notebook from unknown origins. It was quite good–a kind of gratinish dish without being a gratin exactly.

Tofu with Peanut-Ginger Sauce from Yahoo Foods: This was disappointing. Not enough flavor, and definitely not good enough to bump my favorites out of rotation.

Still working on my Rose Under Fire sweater–about a third done with the front, which is exciting!

I also started a project to keep at work, a shawl for a friend based on this pattern. Very simple and soothing, great for lunches and breaks.

I’m having trouble finishing projects, which is frustrating, but hopefully both of these will inspire me to stick with it.

cooking adventures crafts

Made and Making: August 2014


Garlic Fries: Mmmm, these were so good. I ate almost all of them straight off the pan. Very garlicky, but delicious.

Zuccini and Ricotta Galette: This was a big hit at the church board meeting I took it to, and for good reason. Simple to make but really good.

Sugar Plum Crepes with Ricotta and Honey: I was on a bit of a ricotta kick because I’d made my own. This was one of my favorite ways to use it–also, I used some of the leftover batter to make savory crepes for breakfast, with ricotta and some sauteed vegetables.

Grilled Pork Chops with Plums: I don’t have a grill, but cooking the chops conventionally worked. Nice flavor and I liked the plums with the pork quite a bit!

Cherry Almond Scones: I made these for my own going away party at IMCPL. In my defense, I really needed to use up the cherries. They were nice and moist, and of course it’s hard to go wrong with cherry and almond.

Blackberry Cheesecake ice cream: This recipe intrigued me ever since Rachel posted it and I finally managed to assemble all of the ingredients at the same time. Really nice rich ice cream, with the bonus of not having to cook anything.

Roast Chicken and Vegetables with Mustard Jus from Working Class Foodies: There are so many ways to do roast chicken and almost all of them are delicious. I seem to remember making a few modifications and I know I cooked the vegetables separately, but this was a really nice company meal. And I ate off the leftovers for days.

100_4093Rose Under Fire sweater, a few days ago.

100_4098Pretty in Purple sweater


Much closer to the actual color for Pretty in Purple

I am kind of stalled on the sleeves for the Pretty in Purple sweater (Ravelry), so I started my Rose Under Fire sweater. Using the Twinned Roses Jumper pattern from Susan Crawford’s A Stitch in Time, Vol. 2 (Ravelry). One of the yarns I’m using is called Hare Heather. Ouch. The actual knitting is going really well so far, although I can’t find my ruler so haven’t been able to do anything the last few days. I’m almost to the armhole decreases on the back and finding the pattern so far easy to read and follow.

cooking adventures crafts

Made and Making: July 2014

I’ve been working on my Pretty (me) sweater, but I’ve gotten a bit bogged down in the sleeves. I need to push past that, because I really want to finish this one and start on my Rose Under Fire sweater.

Lemon Madeira Cake from Complete Traditional Recipe Book: Light, sweet, with a nice crust and slightly tangy flavor. Great everyday cake!

Marbled Eggs from Home Made Summer: This were a bit disappointing–I may not have made the tea strong enough, but they were hardly marbled at all.

Peach and Sour Cream Pancakes from Smitten Kitchen Cookbook: So good. I love the sour cream batter, and this would be great with all kinds of fruit.

Tomato, Mozzarella and Salami Pasta Salad: This makes a huge batch which is great for no-worry lunches. Also great for hot days when turning on the stove sounds awful.

Blueberry Yogurt Pancakes: Really good! Halved the recipe, though, which gave me four pancakes. Maybe I made them larger than the original? Regardless, these are awesome with a dollop of yogurt and a drizzle of honey.

Peach Frozen Yogurt: This was good, but not nearly as exciting as I was expecting.

Homemade Ricotta from Working Class Foodies: Made my own ricotta for the first time! I learned a couple of lessons, but it’s simple enough that I definitely intend to make my own from now on, rather than buying it. Looking forward to making these tomorrow.


Made and Making: Early 2014

It’s been a few months since I’ve managed to get a Made & Making post pulled together. Sigh. Life is busy.

– I made a hat for someone from church, Bramble Beret in black Patons Worsted. Unfortunately, the brim needs to be lengthened a bit and I keep forgetting to do it. This was a slightly difficult project because the black yarn made the blackberry stitch hard to see. I think–I hope!–all the stitches worked out. (My Ravelry notes)

– I also knit the Echo Flower Shawl, which is a lovely, lovely pattern. I used Knit Picks Shadow in a Vineyard Heather, which is a rich, deep red-purple. A very satisfying project.

– It must be the season of blankets, because I’m also knitting the Lover’s Knot Afghan for a coworker. It’s a big project, but not difficult, and I do love knitting cables. People are very impressed by them, but it’s simpler than it looks (take heart, new knitters!). Three-dimensional Celtic knotwork, which is something I really enjoyed doing in the past anyway. This project is temporarily on hold because wool in Indiana in July = misery.

– In general, I suffer from a severe desire to knit EVERYTHING. Ravelry does not help with this.

– I still haven’t really finished the BSJ from my last post. The problem is the sleeves, which need to be sewn up. I started a blanket stitch and that looked bunch and dreadful, but I haven’t figured out a better method. Nor have I felted that bag.

– I bought the yarn for my Rose Under Fire sweater, after my awesome friend Brigid bought the pattern for me as a housewarming gift. One of the yarns is called Hare Heather, which is almost too appropriate.

– I also started the Pretty (me) sweater in a bamboo/cotton mix, since that will be much better for summer knitting. It’s got a lovely sheen to it and is knitting up beautifully.

Thyme lemonade: love the combination of lemon and thyme, but even with the sugar reduced to a cup, it’s on the sweet side. Next time: reduce sugar further, or just add some thyme sprigs to my usual sliced lemon when I fill the water pitcher.

Salmon and Berry Salad: made this for dinner recently. Pretty much followed the recipe except I didn’t have any scallions, and I used 1/2 c blueberries and 1/4 c raspberries. Also topped with some homemade croutons.

– A cousous and chickpea dish that I made up: sauteed vegetables, added couscous and vegetable stock, 1/2 stick of cinnamon. Cooked until couscous was done and vegetables tender, added chickpeas. It was okay. If I made it again, I would sautee the vegetables longer, and maybe on a higher heat so they get seared a little, and add more spices.

– No-knead crusty bread: Used 2 c white, 1 c white whole wheat flour. So good; I want to try other breads, but I know this one will be a staple.

– Also made a couple of good white bean soups, one creamy white bean tomato soup from The Great Vegan Bean Book, the other a recipe of my own invention, with tomatoes, onion, red pepper, and garlic, plus lots of herbs.