Sunday, September 28, 2008

Hi there, hello.

I've been back in the states for just over a month now, and I can't believe how quickly September has passed. For those of you who are here for the knitting, fear not! There will be a finished sweater posted soon. Just need to sew the sleeves in and fine some buttons. Also good news is that I ordered some new yarn for a sweater I would like to design. I'm going to try to make standard sizes on this one, rather than one-size-fits-meghan. I hope to really get trucking on these knitting projects since I have so many ideas I'd like to explore.

I must say that one of the best things about being back in the US is being able to find good Mexican and Southwestern cuisine! It's chile roasting season here, and I went to a small festival in town this weekend. The tamales I bought were not stellar, but the chilies sure were pretty.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Rockin' the details

I went to a great concert last night. It was at a very small venue, where you can easily stand right up at the stage, if that's what you're into. Plus, it is only 10 minutes from my new place, and parking is readily available. This sure beats driving to Philly!

Speaking of Philly, Dr. Dog is a great Philly band. They had a ton of energy last night. They're sound is modern indie rock with hints of Beatles harmonies and soul.

Delta Spirit was one of the opening acts. I didn't recognize their name, but I actually had heard this one song before. They were really good! I would definitely go to see them again.

I have this huge collection of scarves, shawls, sashes, etc. but very rarely do I ever use them. Yesterday, I tried on this blue button down shirt, which I bought because I loved the texture of the fabric. The fit made me feel a bit shlumpy though--it's on the baggy side. I was pretty proud of myself when I got the idea of using this sash from a dress I had made in Cameroon as a belt for this top. It gave my outfit a new point of interest, and also gave the shirt some waist definition. Here's a close-up of the faux batik African wax print fabric.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Easy late summer recipes

I indulged in a few decadent yet easy recipes this week. It's still very warm where I'm living, so I'm focusing on preparing light salads and recipes that involve minimal oven time. I hope you enjoy these recipe features as much as I enjoy cooking them up!

This chocolate mousse turned out so much better than I had expected. It was thick and smooth with a rich chocolate flavor. Just a small amount is enough to tame your chocolate cravings. I wouldn't necessarily say that it is a healthy recipe, but throwing a bit more protein into your desert probably helps you feel more satiated.

For lunch: Whole wheat pita with tarator sauce, cucumbers, sprouts, and tofu.
Tarator sauce is a delicious Middle Eastern condiment featuring pine nuts and tahini. I've been obsessed with tahini for several months now. I find that this goes very well as a spread on sandwiches, as a dip for pita chips, or on top of steamed veggies.

1 cup pine nuts
2 small cloves garlic, minced
6 Tbs. tahini
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 Tbs. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Cayenne or paprika to taste (optional)

Puree the pine nuts and garlic in a food processor until they form a paste. Add the tahini and lemon juice and puree again. With the machine running, add cold water by the tablespoon until the sauce is thinned to the consistency of sour cream. Add olive oil for a slightly more spreadable consistency. Season with salt and pepper, more lemon juice if you'd like, and cayenne or paprika. Enjoy!

These cookies are fantastic. Not only do they have a delicious, caramel and cinnamon flavor, but they are also quick to make and you probably already have all of the ingredients on hand. I will certainly put these on my list of easy treats to make for pot lucks and parties. Normally, palmiers are my standby easy cookie.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Shalom no Ibama

The Shalom pattern has been translated into Portugese here.
O Shalom padrão tem sido traduzido para o Português aquí.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Mixed berry-almond gratin

I've been dying to bake all summer long. Maybe it was all of the delicious bread and pastries I ate in Sydney. Or maybe I was just missing all of my good kitchen gadgets while away from home. Despite the fact that it was 102 degrees outside yesterday, I could not resist the urge to turn on my oven to make this mixed berry-almond gratin from an old issue of Eating Well Magazine.

Although mine did not turn out as beautiful-looking as the magazine photo, it was perfectly tasty and very easy to make. It is much like a cobbler, in that the base layer is composed of three cups of mixed berries. The topping, however, sounds a bit strange when you first see the recipe. To make the cream, you combine toasted almonds, sugar, a little flour, an egg, almond extract, butter, and silken tofu! I imagine this is significantly better for you than heavy cream, and I think with a small amount of tinkering this could easily be made vegan.

The end result was very good. The creamy topping has a loose cake-like consistency, with a nice almond flavor and flecks of ground almonds throughout. The tofu is completely indiscernible in both flavor and texture. I've heard about people using silken tofu to make chocolate mousse--perhaps I'll try that next! [Recipe]

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Convincing results

I think I've had a change of heart on this whole shawl business. I finished my Matilda shawl the other day, and I really like it! I used Filatura di Crosa Centolavaggi yarn held doubled on US 3 needles. It was a very easy pattern to follow, though ripping back to an occasional mistake was no fun at all. Lifeline yarns would be a good idea, but who has time to stop and put one in? I'd rather live fast and dangerously. [Ravelry link]

I'm back in the US after a summer of traveling, and have been settling into my new home in the Southwest. This week has involved a bit of unpacking, and a whole lot of weeding. Apparently the weeds in the desert can grow to 6-foot-tall thorny bushes in a matter of weeks. I've never had a garden before, but have always dreamed of growing vegetables. If I have any energy left after clearing the weeds I'd like to make that dream a reality! Luckily, it seems that it will be hot enough here to grow veggies year-round. I'm hoping to attend a workshop at a local farm next week on planting a winter garden--that should be a good start.

Among the things I unpacked were my fabric finds from Thailand and Australia. I bought a lovely plain-woven cotton and silk fabric (green), some very cheap cotton gingham, a black and white cotton canvas print (I thought this might be nice for some little pouches or something), a vintage fulled wool (perhaps a small purse?) and this great indigo-dyed resist printed hemp fabric from Thailand.

The hemp fabric is very skinny and very very long. It is made by the Hmong women, who would fold it into fine pleats and sew it to the bottom of their skirts:

I bought the green silk/cotton fabric after seeing this Kate Spade ad. I just love that ruffled neckline:

In other exciting news, I just bought cheap tickets to see a bunch of great music in the next two weeks: My Morning Jacket, Okkervil River, Dr. Dog, and Sea Wolf. There are a few others coming through town soon as well. It feels like I'm packing my entire summer into a few short weeks, since I missed most of it while in the Southern Hemisphere!