Friday, September 30, 2011

My Husband Keeps Bringing Home Bananas

They're not even bunches - they're just random, single bananas, that he's not going to eat because they're already too brown, and that I'm not going to eat because GROSS, BANANAS.

Sooo, banana bread!  I gave away this particular loaf because I'm not going to eat bucketloads of banana bread, plus we had a friend going through a rough time with his wife in the hospital, so homemade bread sounded like something he needed.

1/3 cup milk
1 very ripe banana (peel 'em mash 'em)
1 egg
2 tbsp butter, softened
3 cups bread flour
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup walnuts (chop 'em)

Spread your walnuts on a baking sheet and put them in a 350 degree over, giving them a good flip (I just shimmy the baking sheet) at least once during the cooking.  Keep an eye on them, they burn very fast.  They should start to smell toasty, and that's all you need.  Put all the ingredients in your machine with the walnuts on top and let the white cycle do it's thing on this 1.5 pound loaf.

Warning: it makes your house smell like bananas.  EWW.

This is pretty tasty with strawberry jam spread all over it.  Plus, it's a substantial breakfast!  It really makes you happy for the rest of the day.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Most Interesting Socks in the World

Skew Socks!!!  These were surprisingly simple, despite being totally different from any other sock pattern out there.  What's very obvious is the diagonals, made even more obvious by the fantastic self-striping yarn by RosyRetro.  Commonly, the stripes would look like they do in the ribbing of the socks, but these put the toe essentially on the side of your foot, "skewing" the stripes.

I was amazed enough by the stripes, but then I got to the heel and was wowed.  Another thing that pops up quite a bit in striped socks is that as you work the heel, you stop working the top part of the sock, so while the stripey pattern continues on to the heel, joining the yarn across the front again usually leads to stripes getting out of sequence.  I know, it might seem minor (and really, it is), but now it can still be a bummer when you have some cool striping going, and then you don't.  BUT, with Skew, you never stop working the front of the sock, but instead have a neat "origami moment" where you sew a few stitches together and suddenly you have a heel!  It causes the socks to be pretty snug, being the one downfall of the sock, but when they look so cool, WHO CARES if you can't get them off?!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

So Delicious, and So Easy

This is one of my favorite side dishes, which actually doubles up pretty well as a dessert.  Fresh figs really shine when they're in season, and enhancing the flavor just a bit more can make you wonder why you bothered with the rice and pork chops!  The ones above are too easy.  Cut fresh figs in half, drizzle with local honey, and top with some very finely chopped (or dried) basil.

What more do I need to say?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I'm Playfully Famous!

I woke up this morning to discover my voice was part of A Playful Day's most recent podcast, from when she recently came to visit in California!  Chances are that you're already a listener, but for those that aren't, check her out on her blog or on iTunes.  Not least of all because you get to hear me.  ;)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Never Forget

10 years ago today, history, perceptions, and the world were all changed forever.  We stood by, in shock, and watched the most horrific images we had ever seen, and they were real.  We remind ourselves to Never Forget, though I know I couldn't forget even if I wanted to.

We lived through the awful images of that day, but I remember the positivity that came afterward, too.  I remember Congress, suddenly devoid of party lines, spontaneously standing up and singing "God Bless America".  I remember going to work, and having customers start a transaction with "I just can't believe it."  I remember standing in line for coffee, and striking up conversations with anyone wearing a flag pin, which would turn in to a conversation on how much we loved this country.  Everyone suddenly became instant family, we all knew each other through our shared experience and all had the same opinion on it.  We were doing different things and were in different places when it happened, but we all lived through it together.

God Bless America.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Flat Fishes

These guys crack me up.

I recently got to spend some time at the Monterey Bay Aquarium (which I LOVE because it's the best aquarium EVER), and I was reminded how many cool things our oceans are populated with.  Unfortunately, some of the coolest things are very hard to get pictures of - deep sea jellyfish are nearly invisible to avoid being eaten in the open waters, grumpy-looking eels spend much of their time in caves and crevices while waiting for the next meal, and octopi and great white sharks hate the camera flashes that interrupt their darkened environments (so don't flash them, okeedoke?).

But just because there aren't the best photo opportunities at every tank, doesn't mean you won't see cool things!  Check out the flounder up top again.  These guys are an amazing nod to evolution.  They start out as quite normal fish, and even when you see one not laying on the bottom, it looks quite normal.  And then you see the face.  Both eyes have somewhat shifted to one side of their faces, but have left the mouth behind, making an appropriate flounder emoticon something like :u  They're like the Picassos of the sea.  They can also change color right before your eyes, to look even more like the sand underneath and around them, because if you're just going to lay there when a predator comes by, you have the best odds if you're invisible!


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

'Tato Bread! I Think It's Probably Healthy!

OK.  This weekend I was craving something hearty and substantial.  Something that was "healthier" than regular white bread (which is healthier if you make it yourself, really).  Something to use up some left over mini potatoes before they turned evil.

OMG they're even pretty colors
In to my life came (Po)Tato Bread.  It seems so many recipes call for you to use box/flake/fake potatoes for the sake of not having lumps or nutrition or potato in your bread, but box mashed potatoes are something I gave up not long after I finished college (right around the time I gave up Top Ramen and ironing board grilled cheese sandwiches, I might add).  Potatoes are hearty and delicious and just make you feel good - I was going to use real ones.

Obviously, this meant more work than my standard "chuck things in bread machine and nap for 3 hours" style of baking.  Let's get the unbearably difficult part out of the way:

3/4 cup water, brought to a boil in a saucepan (that water boils FAST, watch it!)
3/4 cup chopped potatoes - I didn't peel mine because peels have vitamins, and also the potatoes were tiny.  I would have laughed at myself peeling such tiny potatoes.

Boil your water, and put your potatoes in the boiling water.  Reduce heat, cover, simmer until you have tender potatoes.  Don't drain, and get to mashing.  When your tatoes are thoroughly mashed, add another 1/4 cup water, and enough milk to make a total of 1 and 1/2 cups milky mashed potato mix.  Some of your water has boiled off, so no, my math isn't crazy.  ;)

NOW BACK TO THE GOOD PART - chucking things in to the bread machine pre-nap!

To your machine, add
1 and 1/2 cup milky mashed potato
4 tsp honey
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups bread flour
1 cup wheat flour (healthy!)
3/4 tsp salt
1 and 1/2 tsp assorted dried spices - I used oregano, rosemary, and basilUse your favorites!
1 tsp active dry yeast

Stretch in anticipation of your nap, set the machine to the whole wheat cycle for your 1.5 pound loaf, and try to resist smelling the kitchen once all those spices and potatoes get going.

If you use the tricolor potatoes, be sure to admire those pretty purple and red flecks throughout the loaf!  I found this bread was hearty and tasty enough to stand alone, but my absolute favorite topping was a very seedy beer mustard straight from a brewery in England.  I actually had to stop myself before going through this precious jar in one loaf!  Man, THAT is a good combo!

Sunday, September 4, 2011


I've sat here staring at my blog for the last 30 minutes and realize that despite the action packed 2 weeks, I don't have a single train of thought that I can put together in to a decent blog post!  At least, not yet.  I think I'm still at a point where I'm trying to get back in to "real" life after entertaining my friend for a week, part of me is still grieving that she's not visiting anymore (you should have seen the meltdown yesterday when my husband declined breakfast and I declared "I have NO ONE to cook breakfast for" and ate a tortilla out of the fridge while wallowing in self-pity), and with too many exciting, diverging thoughts, this is all leading me to having a hard time putting words on here.  So, while I ease myself in to rediscovering how to write my own blog, I figured I could bombard you with my yarn haul over the last week instead.  No, I didn't think there would be any objections.  ;)

Koigu KPPPM - picked up at Imagiknit in San Francisco and will be SOCKS
The Uncommon Thread Heavenly Fingering - my friend gives the best gifts
Cascade Epiphany - this is no workhorse yarn. Total luxury in a skein.
Colinette Jitterbug - a big, bright skein of it!  I have an awesome LYS.
The impossible-to-get Twisted Limone self-striping.  My friend REALLY loves me.