Thursday, December 14, 2006
Ah, yes. Here it is: the final report on the egg nog. After aging in the fridge for 3 weeks as per the recipe, The Boy and I cracked this stuff open and had ourselves a little taste.
The first thing that we noticed, of course, was the deeply alcoholic smell wafting from the jug. I figured this was a good sign, because how could the milk and eggs possibly go bad with that much alcohol sloshing around in there. Next came the sexy pin-up photoshoot of the nog in front of the tree, and then finally we were ready to take the first sip.
Whoo. Wow. Wow, wow, wow. The nog turned out really strong and smooth. There's a bit of an alcoholic burn that shows up on the middle of the tongue, but after that it goes down sweet and smooth. It's quite lovely, with a much better (less thick-and-gluey) mouthfeel than the regular store-bought stuff. Ladies and gentlemen, I think we have a winner.
My only quibble is that I swear I can detect a faint hint of the bad brandy I used to substitute the cognac, and it's possible that I'm right. So to test this theory, yesterday I whipped up another batch, with The Boy donating half a cup of some really nice cognac he likes. The pouring went smoother, and I spilled nary a drop transferring it from the pot to the jug. This batch will age just a little less than the called-for 3 weeks, and then we'll be sharing it around at whatever New Year's Eve party is lucky enough to host us. Until then, it sits in the fridge undergoing whatever magical chemical reactions it takes to transform from a bunch of dairy-and-liquor to the sublime concoction it's meant to be.
Saturday, December 9, 2006
That's what's happening, yes yes! This morning when I finally woke up I was actually breathing through my nose! And my throat wasn't hurting quite as much as yesterday morning. Of course the breathing thing changed as soon as I sat up... and my throat is still hurting as I type this, which may have something to do with the fact that my ears feel like they've been draining. Yeah, eww. But still, can the end be far away? I think not.
And as far as the christmas knitting goes, well, I've made a lot of progress since I started... back in September. But I've still got a ways to go in the home stretch, partly because I keep adding new projects on. The person who was going to get the Worms and Fish scarf will not be getting that, but will be getting something that is, hopefully, a better fit for him. I'm also mostly, but not quite, done with the third Knitty Pocket Creature for the arctic-dwelling niece. When that's done I've still got the finishing touches to put on all three. I'm still working on the soon-to-be-mismatching yarn mittens for myself. And there's the felted thing for The Boy, which is yet to be started. And then, I've added on two more projects that will probably not be done in time: a lace scarf for the mom-type person in my life, since I totally missed her birthday last month, and another pair of Fetching gloves, for my sister's birthday. But that one can maybe wait a bit.
Wednesday, December 6, 2006
Today was a good day; I was up and dressed before 6 pm, I met with the lady who's going to host my practicum next semester, wrote up a proposal, and got some paperwork signed by my advisor and turned in. I also had enough energy that I decided to get up and fight this bug, so I went and stocked up on sicky supplies: juice, kleenex, peppermint tea and Nyquil (because I was out of those things) and some of those effervescent vitamin-and-herbal tablets. I figure it can't hurt, so why not give it a go?
But let me just say that I am so, SO relieved to have gotten my practicum (like an internship) sorted. Yep. Starting January 8th I'll be interning at the Wilmot branch of the public library. If I weren't so light-headed from the Sick, I'd get up and do a little dance.
And ohhhhh, I've got some knitting pictures to share. I can just sense your enthrallment. Well, it's nothing too exciting, but I finally got over my second-sock-syndrome and started on sock #2! Got almost two inches of the (boring, boring, boring) leg ribbing done last Friday night whilst having tea with Erika, just before the Sick settled in. And while I was sitting there, who should show up in the cafe but the lady I usually see working at Kiwi, the LYS. We chatted a bit about my slow sock progress (I started these suckers back in May, I think), and she offered to teach me how to knit on two circulars instead of the dpns, and added that since I'm a continental knitter, the circulars might make the work faster for me. Ooooohh, "continental knitter," that sounds so sexy! Just like that Prince song, "The Continental." Yep, that's me: doing the knitting how it wants to be done.
Aaaaaaand, I've got two out of three of the Knitty pocket creatures nearly done for my niece in Alaska. I think they look a little demented, but cute demented. Or am I just deluding myself? I'm not totally sure I'd want to play with/keep these things around if I were my super-girly (but still incredibly tough) niece. Is this another case of me knitting someone a gift because I want to make it rather than because they'll like it? Only time will tell, I suppose. Or maybe it won't. I mean, how hard would it be to tell a little white lie over the phone?.... "Oh, sure Ang, Ailie uses those creepy - I mean, cute - little things every day.." Well. Not too hard, I suppose. So far the one on the left is my favorite, because of his eyes and because he doesn't have any arms. The one with the orange hair turned out a little too rasta... or a little too Carrot Top, take your pick.
And finally, some sad news. For those of you who knew them, the super orange and green wristies I made last year are no more, due to the loss of the right-hand wristie at the movies on Sunday night. I called the theater to check lost and found as soon as I realized what had happened, and the Boy even went over there in person the next day, but no luck. So tell me, dear blog-friends, would it be too Michael Jackson to make myself a new, non-matching glove/wristie? Is it ok to mix and match? I eagerly await your tender advice. Perhaps it's the loss of the beloved wristie, or perhaps it's the fact that I'm off to the Bitter North in 2 short weeks, but I was finally moved to try and make something out of this freebie yarn Jacey sent me, called Sorbet Clouds. It's not really my color, not really my thing, but as soon as I started to knit these thick-and-bulky mittens, I fell a little bit in love. The colors are much softer and girlier than I normally go for, and the yarn itself is fuzzy enough to give off a halo... it's kind of like coming home to the girl I could've been, if things had gone a little differently back in high school. But, as is my usual curse, I don't have enough yarn to completely finish the second mitten, so these will be a little punk too by being finished in a non-matching yarn. And you know, I'm actually starting to like that look. I just need to work on making it look a little more on-purpose.
Tuesday, December 5, 2006
Whatever this new bug is I've caught, it's really doing a number on me. It's been going strong since Friday night and there haven't been too many signs of it letting up yet. At least the symptoms have been changing a bit here and there, just for variety's sake. Gone are the achey muscles and sinus headache, in exchange for mucous: runny nose and expectoration. This morning it was so bad I almost thought I had another case of the dreaded lung butter.
There's nothing for it now but to do what everybody always tells you to do in these situations: relax, drink the fluids, stay home and rest. For whatever reason, I always seem to have a hard time with just letting go and being sick. There's no way I could work in this condition, but I feel guilty for staying home. If I don't accomplish something every day, I feel like a bit of a failure. And I keep pushing myself a little bit too far every day, hoping that if I just act healthy enough, this thing will quit. Like a childhood fantasy, right?
So chalk today up as an exercise in letting go. It's mid-afternoon and I haven't showered or changed out of my pjs. I haven't checked my email, or paid those bills online yet, or washed dishes. I have managed to take a 2-hour nap. I've done a little knitting, which I'll talk about on another post. But now I've got to go... I can't keep my virus waiting.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
You are The Lovers
Motive, power, and action, arising from Inspiration and Impulse.
The Lovers represents intuition and inspiration. Very often a choice needs to be made.
Originally, this card was called just LOVE. And that's actually more apt than "Lovers." Love follows in this sequence of growth and maturity. And, coming after the Emperor, who is about control, it is a radical change in perspective. LOVE is a force that makes you choose and decide for reasons you often can't understand; it makes you surrender control to a higher power. And that is what this card is all about. Finding something or someone who is so much a part of yourself, so perfectly attuned to you and you to them, that you cannot, dare not resist. This card indicates that the you have or will come across a person, career, challenge or thing that you will fall in love with. You will know instinctively that you must have this, even if it means diverging from your chosen path. No matter the difficulties, without it you will never be complete.
What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
There are really only 3 good things about the fact that the christmas season now starts well before Thanksgiving, and all of them have to do with drinking: 1. holiday-flavored coffee at Starbucks, 2. winter-seasonal beers, and 3. egg nog.
Yes, the nog! Though the packaging is covered in red and green holly, this is one christmas tradition that can never get here soon enough. Thick and creamy, it may well be the perfect winter drink. You can booze it up and get sloshed, or you can add it to coffee and get caffeinated, and since it's usually served cold it makes a great treat during our desert's 89-degree winter days.
And I'd decided that this would be the year I tried to make some of it myself, having no real idea what went into the process. So a couple of days ago I started looking for egg nog recipes online. Most of what I found didn't quite stir me to excitement and action, until I decided to search the Chow recipe archives. To my surprise and delight, Chow was running a feature on egg nog, complete with recipes and an explanation of why it's ok to age nog in the fridge for weeks on end. Chow, if you don't know, used to be a great new food and cooking magazine, and is now a great online food and cooking magazine. Go check them out.
So this Chow recipe seemed exceedingly simple and sounded great and old-fashioned, since it does call for the nog to be aged 3 weeks in the fridge, allowing for certain chemical processes and flavor melding. So tonight I went out and bought the ingredients, all gung-ho to get my nog on its way to the 3-week mark.
And unless you've got a ton of spare bourbon, rum and cognac laying around, this shit is es'pensive to make. It calls for 1 L of bourbon, 1/2 C rum, 1/2 C cognac, 1 dz eggs, 1 qt milk, 1 C heavy cream, and 2 C sugar. And a pinch of the kosher salt, if you please. Now, if you look very carefully at that first picture, you may notice that I've swapped out the cognac for brandy, and not the good stuff, either. This is the mega-cheap brandy, and it'll peel the skin right off of the insides of your nostrils, I know that. The reason for the switch is that the grocery store didn't have cognac, and I just couldn't be bothered.
I started out following the recipe, separated the dozen eggs (and only 1 of the yokes broke!), added the sugar, and mixed. Then in went the milk, cream and liquor, and mix again. After that it was ready to go into the jug and then the fridge...
And that's when the situation got ugly. Now, I don't happen to own any mixing bowls with a pour spout, and actually all my mixing bowls that are big enough to accommodate this recipe are still over at the Hidden Fortress from James' party. So I used a great big pot. And when I tried to pour from the pot into the funnel into the jug, my beautiful nog went everywhere. So, I got out this little glass pitcher that does have a pour spout, and tried transferring the nog from the pot into the pitcher, and then to pour it into the jug. Well, it still went everywhere, and there just wasn't anything I could do about it. As you can see from the picture, the jug is far from full, and since this recipe is supposed to make a gallon, I estimate that between one-third and one-half ended up on my counter. It is quite tragic.
But now it's safely in the fridge, getting good and old. Check back three weeks from now for news on the tasting!
Thursday, November 16, 2006
OK, so what have I been doing all week? Knitting and cooking of course. For the cooking, scroll down.
But for the knitting, look here... pictures! Of finished and not-quite-finished objects! Yay! Here are those Fetching gloves from Knitty, unblocked in green superwash wool and blocked in fantastic red alpaca. The cabling is hard to see in the fuzzy alpaca... also I fucked up the picot bind-off on the right glove, which is actually not in the picture. The red ones are a christmas gift for my step-mom Bev, and hopefully she won't notice the mistake... one definate plus to knitting for a non-knitter.
I also finished the Worms and Fish scarf, which is probably the coolest thing I've knit all year. Maybe even the coolest thing I've knit ever... But. I'm having misgivings. What if the person for whom it's intended doesn't like it? I made him a Merman hat last year, which kind of matches the scarf, but he hasn't worn the hat yet. If he doesn't like it then he won't wear it, and this scarf must be worn! Not wearing it would be a crime. So, do I ruin the christmas surprise by sending him a picture and asking point blank if he'll wear it, and thus risk having to knit him something else... or do I give it to him and simply badger and guilt him into wearing it? My Catholic upbringing says, "Badger and guilt! Badger and guilt!" but what do you think I should do? Has anyone else had a similar dilemma they'd like to share?
This weekend I also cast on a hat made of this lovely cotton I found. Normally I tend to drift toward just the wool sections when I'm in the yarn store, but the beautiful colorways and soft texture of the Patagonia Nature Cotton was just irresistible. Really, I didn't think cotton would be this soft and lovely. This stuff may just have made a convert out of me, and since I live in the Sonoran Desert, cotton is probably smarter. I chose color 205, which is variegated greens, and color 216, which is mostly dusty blues with some greens and browns mixed in. I've been alternating the colors every other row. And up until yesterday I'd just been knitting it under lamplight so I wasn't sure how the colorways would blend. Yesterday I finally took it out in the sunlight to get a look, and I'm pleased. The second picture shows the colors a little truer... Very manly, I think.
And this weekend I also made my favorite chicken soup from scratch. It's tried-and-true, total comfort food, but I keep wondering if there isn't some way I could spice it up a little. Does anyone out there made chicken soup from scratch, and if so, what's your method? Mine takes me two days to do. The first day is just making the stock by boiling a whole chicken, spices, garlic and onion, carrots and celery. Then I strain out and toss the veggies, pick the carcass, and put the stock in the fridge overnight. All the fat forms a solid layer on the top (eww) and the next day I can just scoop it off. Day two finds the stock, chicken, and fresh veggies cooking again to make the actual soup. Usually I cook noodles or rice separately and add them at the end, but this time it was pearl barley, which I liked. It's awfully good soup, but does anyone have a suggestion to make it better? I'm all ears...
Oh, and finally I got my camera back after James' great birthday bash a couple of weeks ago. I made him a sort of sea-change chocolate cake with ganache icing, and a fresh raspberry and ganache filling. And oh yeah, I poured Kahlua into the cake itself after it cooled. Folks seemed to like it. But really I was most proud of the decorations... notice that some of the sea creatures are attacking tiny plastic babies. Such fun.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
So, what am I working on right now? Well, I'm working on knitting my second pair of fetching gloves from knitty, this one for my grandma for christmas. I'm on the second hand, past the wrist cables, and I can't wait to be done. I'm using this superwash wool, which I've never used before. I'm not sure I like it. We'll see if they get any softer after washing and blocking.
Then yesterday I also cast on a new scarf, this one is also going to be a gift for someone. I'm so far really pleased with the way it's coming along. Most of it is just garter stitch, with purls, increases and decreases thrown in whenever I feel like it. What's making it interesting is that I'm using this great yarn called Jealous from the lovely Jacey of Insubordiknit. It's wonderful - green and plied with some kind of blue cord, with tons of twisted cocoons that look like grubs, and then slubs of sparkly blue tinsel here and there. I got the yarn a while back and have been pretty unsure what to do with it... until yesterday when I thought to pair it with this cheap blue thick-n-thin novelty yarn I got last year from Jo-ann's. The result is weirdly fantastic. It's almost finished and I'll have pictures up as soon as I get my camera back from the Hidden Fortress. So, that's the Worms and Fish scarf.
And apparently I am a glutton for punishment after all, because last night around midnight I was within moments of casting on sock #2 of the socks I meant to knit back in June but never finished. After putting it aside for a while and thinking that I might never knit the second sock because the first one was such a pain, I pulled out the yarn and decided it was no longer quite as hideous as it was this summer. So, I will pick it up again soon, but luckily I talked myself out of actually starting it last night. Here's how the first one turned out:
Friday, November 10, 2006
For now, let me start with a short anecdote. A little while back I was getting some coffee in a Circle K one morning, and nearby there were two high school boys, one of whom was also getting coffee. HS boy A was watching HS boy B pour sugar into his coffee, stir it, and pour in more sugar. After a couple rounds of this, A said to B, "Watch out, man, you're gonna catch the diabetes!"