Monday, January 31, 2011


Lets try ""

Knit-Along Progress

The left side is done.  Not finished but done.  The pattern got a little vague at the neck so I made adjustments to get it to match the dimensional drawing.

The two layers for the pocket are just loose and there is no edging on the face yet

The right side is cast on and about 4 inches done.  This is really going fast with #13 needles.

On another note, we are expecting an ice storm and the news and weather people are all excited.  At noon they had a special segment on emergency go-kits.  While the news people are a little tiresome, the idea of a go-kit is a good one.  Check out "".

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Cooking that Warms You down to your Toes

Braising makes meat fall-of-the-bone tender and, dare I say, succulent.  This recipe combines two of my favorites, chicken thighs and beans.  Oh, and wine.  I love wine.  And bacon.  You know, the stuff they wrap around chicken livers so that they taste good.  Yeah, I love bacon too.  The best pot to use for this is a glazed cast iron - they hold the heat more evenly than anything else.  But Use What YOU Have.  Just try braising if you haven't before.
               Braised Chicken with White Beans and Tomato

  1           teaspoon  vegetable oil
  4             slices  bacon -- chopped
  6                     chicken thighs
                        all-purpose flour
  1              large  onion -- chopped
  5             cloves  garlic -- minced
  28            ounces  canned diced tomatoes -- with liquid
     1/2           cup  water
  2          teaspoons  chicken base or bouillon
     3/4           cup  dry white wine
     1/2      teaspoon  dried thyme
  1           teaspoon  dried oregano
  28            ounces  navy beans, canned -- drained (2 cans)

Heat oven to 325

Heat heavy large covered pot over medium-high heat.  Add oil.

Cook chopped bacon until crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towel.

While the bacon is cooking, sprinkle chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour, shaking off excess. Add to drippings in pot and sauté until brown, about 3 minutes per side. Using slotted spoon, transfer chicken to large bowl.

Pour off all but 2 tablespoons drippings from pot. Add chopped onion and minced garlic to pot; sauté 4 minutes. Add thyme and oregano, saute briefly.  Deglaze pan with wine.

Add tomatoes, water, chicken base to pan.  Bring to a simmer.  Add beans, chicken and bacon to the pot.
Cover and bake 1 1/2 hours.

Taste and adjust seasoning before serving.  This is important.  Beans can really flatten out the flavor of a dish.  I will often add a dash of cider vinegar just to give an acid balance to something.  It just sharpens the flavor.

I would have posted a picture but we ate it all.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Knit-Along Update

The back is done!  I finished at 7am and, no, I did not stay up all night to do it.  When I blocked it the size was right on target.
I didn't bind off the top - just moved it onto a stitch holder.
I thought this edge detail shows the yarn nicely.

Now to start the front(s).  I am undecided whether to try knitting both at once.  This is fairly simple to do with sleeves and is one of the big advantages to using 29 inch circular needles.  If it gets fouled up there is always frogging!

Note the always useful Altoids tin in the middle right of the photo.  This holds my T-pins.  I have another which is fitted with tiny folding scissors, stitch markers, sewing needles, tape measure and magnifying glass.  This way I can stuff my knitting in my purse with the little kit and go anywhere!  Yea, Altoids!!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Now for the Cooking portion of our program

I think I mentioned that I am a frugal cook.  As such, one of the best bargains I have found that results in some of the tastiest food is a shoulder of pork, also called a pork butt roast.  At 7-9 pounds this chunk of porky love will produce piles of flavorful meat that can be shredded, bagged, tagged and frozen for future use.  Last night was the final bow of a roast I had prepared in May.

The initial prep is simple - Take that huge hunk of meat, cover it in salt, pepper and garlic powder, place in a large roasting pan with 1/2 cup of water, cover with foil then roast at 325 degrees for 4 hours.  Remove, cool then shred into the roasting liquid, removing any bone and large pieces of fat.  I bag up 2 cup portions (actually double bag) label and freeze.

What to do with this meat?
  • warm with a few drops of liquid smoke and serve as pulled pork with the BBQ sauce of choice
  • Add to onions sauteed with a little red pepper flake, add some chicken stock mixed with flour, thicken and serve over mashed potatoes.
  • Layer into corn tortillas with cheese and enchilada sauce, cover and bake.
  • Using green salsa and a box of chicken stock make quick chili verde, garnish with fresh cilantro and cheese.
  • Did I mention hot pork sandwiches?
Last night was the enchilada option using green enchilada sauce, but layered instead of rolled.  And using up that nacho cheese dip left over from football Sunday.  So I guess it would be Green Enchilada Pork Lasagna.

In my area the pork shoulder will go on sale for $0.98 per pound.  Buy two.  Cook one, freeze one.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My first Knit-Along

Last week Lion Brand Yarn announced that they were starting a new Knit-along.  Being a frustrated but enthusiastic knitter I decided that this was the pattern for me.  The instructions were simple, the needles large and the yarn bulky.  Piece of cake.

Yesterday, January 25th, I went yarn shopping.  And it was immediately obvious that everyone in the world had been yarnshopping on the 24th.  Not only was there none of the specified yarn from the pattern available but there wasn't even anything to give me an idea of the weight of the yarn.  So I winged it.  I found a lovely tweedy brown in the Vanna's Choice line called "Barley".  Not quite what I wanted and a lot less color than I was hoping for but a nice soft hand and pleasing non-gender specific color.

I jumped in with both hands and size 13 circular needles (personal preference to do larger projects on circular needles).  And it is flying along.  After 4 hours last evening - and during the State of the Union Address on CSPAN I finished 13 inches of the back of the sweater.
Today is heavy on the laundry so there will be some spots of time for knitting.  In three inches I start the raglan sleeve inset reductions!

Oh, the yarn seems to be working well.  Guage is spot-on.  As far as the size of the sweater, they always seem to run large so the final recipient is undecided.