Sunday, February 28, 2010

Buffalo yarns, Portabellos, and Sepia Jazz

Here is the first of the four little wraps I promised for our Chinese friends.... this one is for Anne and is made of 100% American Buffalo fibers- a nice rich bison-brown color.Soft and lofty, this should keep the wind off her lovely neck!
And here, the Portabello Mushroom kit from Stan and Bev, is beginning to bloom We got a couple nice sized ones to make an omelet with - and there are more coming.m!

Lastly, Missoula's annual Hospice Ball was this week - Jonathan played with the Ed Norton Big Band  

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Persian Chicken & Rice - you'll never go back!

A friend of ours invites a bunch of us over for music making, a bottle of wine, and dinner every so often - and we always have a grand time. But, I have never appreciated her hospitality more than last week, when she had us over and served us "Persian" Chicken and Rice!

We walked in the house and dinner smelled.... enticing, a bit floral, and toasty. She set out the dish, and the browned chicken looked lovely nestled in a golden rice pilaf. But it was the first bite, and then the second, that sent me over the edge - I might have actually moaned at the table. Composing myself again, I casually asked (while pouring her another glass of wine) if I could peek at the recipe - she claims to have gotten it from a piano student's mother years ago. The next day, I picked up a fresh chicken and an orange, and I was cooking!

It's actually the rice that is "Persian"... and you could make the rice as a stand-alone side dish. Here's how:
cook 1 1/2 c. jasmine , or other fragrant rice, in lightly salted water until done. (I use 1 1/2 c. rice to 3 c. water and it only took about 15 minutes, once it was simmering under cover)
Peel a nice juicy orange, cut the peel into small (1/8th inch) strips and cook in boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain and mince; set aside. Eat the orange as an appetizer.
Shred carrots to get approximately 3 cups (I used 8 medium carrots) and saute them in 1/2 c. butter over low flame for 8 - 10 minutes. To the carrots, add the orange zest, with:
1/4 c. slivered or sliced almonds
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8th tsp saffron (I used my tiny tin of threads Amelia brought back from India! If you have no saffron, use a pinch of turmeric for color)
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
cook a minute or 2 longer, then add 1/4 c. water and boil rapidly until it evaporates. Stir in the cooked rice. At this point, you could serve the rice alone, or continue as below for the Chicken and Rice version!
Start with the Chicken first if you want to make this as a combination dish.....
Brown 1 or 2 cut up chicken(s) in a bit of oil. When nicely tanned, add 1/2 c. broth (or water + bouillon) and simmer until the chicken is tender - I kept it covered for most of the time, taking the lid off for the last 5 or so minutes. When rice is finished and combined, pat is into a large, greased casserole dish, and nestle the chicken pieces into the pilaf. Bake, covered, 20 minutes at 375.
We serve it with curried sweet potatoes and spinach - a quick stove top dish that changes every time we make it, but always includes chopped crystallized ginger .

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Birthday Boy's Best Presents!

This greeted Jonathan on the morning of his birthday...
a luscious chocolate cake (re-make of a family recipe) and an almost-there-just-a-few-more-rows-honey sweater......
The sweater was finished three days later, as was the cake!

Jonathan's Super Chocolaty, No Crumb Left Behind, Gluten-Free, Very Good Birthday Cake
(yes, we were still eating off the Christmas plates.... they finally got put away for the year after finishing the sweater - I've got priorities, after all!)

The original version of this cake featured rich milk chocolate flavors, a moist buttermilk crumb, and has been the "Rose Family" birthday cake since Jonathan and Louise's childhood. This year, I made a Gluten free cake, and incorporated super dark chocolate for a "mature" guy's birthday cake!

Sift together - or dump in a large bowl and "fluff" with a fork! - the following:
1 c. fine brown rice flour
1 c. almond flour
1/2 c. each: tapioca flour, potato flour
1 tsp. xanthan gum
2 c. sugar - we use organic unbleached sugar
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
Melt (use either double boiler, or melt in the microwave for about 1 minute)
6 Tbs. dark cocoa powder (Hersheys has a "Special Dark" cocoa!)
1 C. water
2 sticks of butter (oh, come on, it's a birthday cake!! use 2 sticks :-)

Mix the hot and dry ingredients together in the bowl of a stand mixer, then add:
1/2 c. buttermilk
with 2 eggs beaten into it, along with
1 tsp. vanilla
and mix until incorporated.

Bake at 350 degrees in a greased and floured* 9 x 13 pan, 30-40 minutes.
* chocolate cake hint: "flour" the pan with cocoa powder - this avoids any unsightly white specks on the bottom of the cake!*
6 Tbs. Dark Cocoa powder
6 Tbs. milk
1 stick of butter (yes, we are up to 3/4 pound of butter in the completed cake - sheeesh! it's a birthday cake!)
Melt the above ingredients either on stove top or in microwave as before.
Stir in:
1 pound box powdered sugar + 1 tsp. vanilla
until smooth.
Make the frosting and pour it over the hot cake when you've pulled the cake from the oven! As the cake and frosting cool, the frosting rather melds into the cake, and becomes like a roof of fudge.

Jonathan's Cobblestone Sweater was made from wool spun from the sheep our friends Karen and Daniel raise near Ronan Montana on a ranch that looks out over the Mission Mountains. I had to adjust the pattern significantly in order to use the bulky weight yarn (instead of the worsted weight the pattern calls for).
After starting a sleeve a couple of times (why "swatch" if you can just cast on and go?) I ended up adjusting the stitch counts down to approximately 85% of the original, and used size 10.5 needles. The short Row section for the yoke was the most difficult to fudge this way - I have kept my notes, and will post them on Ravelry so they link to the pattern for anyone else interested in using bulky yarn for this pattern.

I love how it looks like chain mail on my handsome guy :-)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

OK, Here we go! Let's see if I can finish 2 (out of the 4 promised!) Chinese New Years gifts between the Opening ceremonies and when the flame is extinguished!
I have purchased (at dear price!) a skein of American Buffalo Yarn - fingering weight, 2 ply - as soft as a cloud!

First 2 shawls are for Annie and Rosita.....After that, I promised both Cassie and Anne as well. When I showed a variety of patterns to all 4 friends last night, they ALL chose the same pattern!
I will have to figure out how to make this a interesting challenge as well- what can I do to the basic pattern to create something absolutely unique for each woman?!
Stay posted!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Makes you wonder....

Makes you wonder Who would be able to vote if we had literacy tests.

.....about Tom Tancredo.....and his friends..... and who he thinks are his followers?!

Former Congressman and 2008 Republican presidential candidate Tom Tancredo told an audience on Thursday at the Tea Party Convention in Nashville that "people who could not even spell the word 'vote', or say it in English, put a committed socialist ideologue in the White House."
"His name," Tancredo said, "is Barack Hussein Obama."
Tancredo delivered the opening keynote speech at the convention where several hundred Tea Party conservatives have gathered.

Makes you proud to be an American, don’t it?

Of course, the thing they’re ignoring is that Barack Obama, and his wife, could have passed any literacy test invented by the good ole boys who spell those signs.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A trip to China always means I get to find new yarn shops - thanks to's China Knitters forum, I have found more than a few!! Here I am in front of Cheer Wool (see their English web site here) in Hong Kong. Following the directions I had in hand, we found a very tall (20+ stories) building shrouded in blue plastic and bamboo scaffolding. Thinking that we must be mis-reading the street numbers, we walked around the block again a few times, and finally asked in another shop if they knew where the yarn shop was. It was, of course, about 2 blocks up on the opposite side of the street... always an adventure!

I found some Australian cashmere and purchased some children's needles and scissors for Nan. Alas, at age 3, Nan was more interested in the scissors than the yarn. Oh well, there is always next trip to indoctrinate her!

While Nan played "cooking" with her scissors, I finished up 3 washcloths to leave with our friends ....