Thursday, June 30, 2016

British Baking

Image result for great british bake off
It is no secret that I am a PBS nerd and I am so excited to hear about the new season of The Great British Bake Off coming out!  I was in England in March and enjoyed a cream tea with my mother and brother and his family in Windsor and my first order of business when I got home was to purchase a dessert tier.  I use it every time they come over for our own family cream tea.  I'm proud to say I keep a supply of cream scones in my freezer at all times ready to be taken out and baked at a moment's notice.  We have a fabulous brand new Hyvee a block away that stocks clotted cream and I make a year's worth of strawberry freezer jam every year so we are set for scone toppings.  I use King Arthur Flour's recipe for cream scones.  You can mix and divide them up, then bake them as needed.

3 c. flour                            1  Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt                           1/3 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla                       1  1/3 c. cream
1/2 c. butter                       additional cream for brushing on top

Combine all dry ingredients.  Cut in butter.  Stir in cream until mixture just comes together.  Divide dough in half.  Pat each half into a 5 1/2" circle about 3/4" thick.  Cut each circle into 6 wedges.  Bake wedges 20 minutes at 425 degrees or wrap in waxed paper and freeze.
John and Amy came last Friday and I baked caramelized onion rolls for our supper.  I used Grandpa Maynerd's mixing bowl, yeast and salt I bought in London, and the wooden spoon I bought in Windsor.  I bought that big container of salt for 33p because our apartment had no salt and pepper shakers.  That is how ill equipped it was.  I figured if I bought the salt, I'd bring it home with me so I did.  Good ol' Tesco salt. 
While the John's were here, we celebrated by opening the package of Tunnock's cakes I'd bought in London but saved until we were together.  They're damned good!  John is being deployed to Uganda next month so it was fitting we all got to share them together.  I have 2 left for my parents the next time I see them.  I will so buy some the next time I'm over there.
My nieces are quite the horse women.  They trained and practiced with my uncle Brad and competed in the Farming of Yesteryear festival in Kiester, MN.  Kiester is the hometown of my mother, my grandpa Maynerd, my uncle Brad, my aunt Mary, a slew of cousins and famously now because of this Preparation H commercial.

So yeah I'm fat.  I've lost 12 pounds without trying since starting on my seizure medication to ward off my migraines.  I find summer is an easy time to sweat off weight.  I've discovered Joy Bauer recently on PBS and one of her substitution ideas was zucchini noodles instead of pasta.  Tonight I made beef stroganoff using ground turkey instead of beef and noodled zucchini instead of noodles.
The tool you use looks like a giant pencil sharpener.  I "sharpened" 3 store bought zucchini (our garden is coming along nicely and hopefully in a week or two we won't have to buy them) and sprinkled them with 1/2 tsp of salt and this is all the water that has leeched out of them.  I'm hoping this is a way to utilize zucchini this summer AND is a diet food!  We'll see!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Lucille, meet Rylie

Dave pointed out to me that the Ramsey County Fair is less than a month away so I've got to step my game up!  I put my knitted jacket on hold to start and finish some smaller projects and I'll try to finish my jacket if I can.  My union is on strike starting tomorrow so when I'm not manning my shift on the picket line, I'll be knitting like crazy.
So needless to say, I've got some crazy Start-itis!  I want to enter another baby three piece set and have had this pattern in my to-knit pile for a while.  I picked up this yarn two years ago at a combination book and yarn shop in Spooner, WI on our way to Dave's brother's cabin.
Here is my progress so far.  I'm about to divide for the sleeves.  The diamond lace of this sweater is very similar to a linen sweater I bought in Estonia years ago.  Our tiger lilies are blooming and quite beautiful.

Here is a diaper cover finished last week for my cousin Christine's new baby boy.  I sent a package of baby items to her earlier this week and it should have reached her yesterday or today.  This is a light cotton yarn that will be cool over a diaper--no redneck nekkid but for a diaper summer babies in this family!  The buttons came from Grandpa Maynerd's button box.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Shepherd's Harvest 2016

Dave and I went to the fiber festival on May 14th and I'm just now getting around to writing about it.  Where else around here can you see this many people gathered together spinning, knitting, felting and sharing what they love with the public?  This was our second trip out to our local fiber fest at the Washington County Fairgrounds and once again we were impressed with the turnout and how family friendly it was. 
I was thrilled with the chilly, almost COLD weather we had this year!  Hand knits weather!  Last year it was hot and humid and the hard core people really tried to wear sweaters and shawls with sweat glistening on their brows.  This year it was not difficult.  I wore my Roosevelt Cardigan, my Wavy Feathers Wimple, and my Windschief hat.  Even wearing all this, I was still chilly at times which is how I like it!  I almost didn't wear my sweater because I'm not happy with how I finished the collar/neckband and didn't want all the other knitters to see it.  I'm glad I did though because I got a few compliments and questions about the pattern.  One lady briskly walked up to me and asked if she could put her hand in my pocket.  Excuse me?  Oh, you mean you want to see how the pocket is constructed?  Sure, knock yourself out.
We looked at all the vendors' wares throughout the buildings.  This was a table at the Mielke's Fiber Arts booth.  I've followed their blog for some time.  They are really neat people but I was too shy to go up and talk to them.  The odd looking drop spindles on the left of the picture are Turkish spindles.  I've never used one but they look so cool next to a garden variety spindle.
I can't remember whose booth this was but I was quite excited to see a charkha in person.  This is the apparatus Ghandi spun cotton on and they can be shaped like an open brief case or in this instance like an open book.  Last year my sister and her three small kids were with us at the festival.  We had a great time but I didn't have time to closely look at all the different things.
We watched this sheep shearing demonstration.  This guy made shearing a sheep look like peeling a banana.  He'd obviously done it a time or two before.  He explained sheep psychology and sheep handling and Dave and I kept saying we wanted to go home and try out some of his moves on Lopi.  We didn't.  We really enjoyed his presentation though.  And he was funny!  Everyone was engrossed in what he was saying and he'd grab a handful of wool and toss it into the crowd and they'd squeal in delight.  He joked that he'd looked to make sure no one was eating anything before he threw it--because of course the event was at the fairgrounds and therefore the first opportunity of the year to eat fair food!  He gave a humorous and informative talk.
I bought two skeins of an angora/wool blend of sock yarn from Kurth Valley Fiber Fiber Mill for $10/skein.  I also got 3 skeins of fingering weight from Knitting Notions for a baby blanket pattern in the book I picked up in Reno this year.  The yellow and gray/blue skeins are for that project although the gray/blue looks more lavender in this picture.  I was inspired by the upholstery on the train in Paris back to the airport...
That slate gray and pukey yellow looks so pretty together.  Those were the colors I was looking for at the fiber festival and I think I came pretty close.  This is the zoomed in picture of the seats...
Here is the complete picture of the train with my younger niece hamming for the camera.  What a nerd!
I love the cool weather because it is ideal for baking and drinking coffee and tea.  My mother is in town for a few days and I greeted her with cream scones, clotted cream and strawberry jam this morning.  We used Maynerd's dishes and had coffee *gasp* not tea because I had to go to work this afternoon.  The weather is going to get hot tomorrow and the A/C might have to go on for the first time this season.
The only good thing about hot weather is it drives the garden crazy.  I went shopping two weeks ago with my sister in law and picked up a garden gnome on clearance at Joann's.  I finally have a garden gnome protecting my tomatoes, so maybe he'll ward off the deer this year.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Maynerd would be proud!

I was making laundry soap this weekend and got to thinking about all the soap slivers I'd been been saving for no particular reason.  My grandpa Maynerd used to make his own lotion soap for his soap dispensers out of his soap slivers by melting it down in the microwave.  I was already grating up the Fels-Naptha and thought I'd try an experiment.
Here is the rainbow of grated soap ends.  I melted it down on the stove with two cups of boiling water.  I let it cool and the result had the consistency of Crisco.  Then I added more boiling water, heated and cooled it again.  I monkeyed around with this all afternoon and into the evening while I was cooking supper.
This is my dedicated soap pot and whisk I use for laundry soap.  When Dave came up for supper and was dishing up his plate from the stove, he pointed at the soap pot and asked, "What's that?"  I quickly said, "Don't eat that!  It's an experiment!"  By the time I was satisfied with the soap, it was quite aerated and reminded me of marshmallow fluff.  I wound up with over a half gallon of liquid/lotion soap.

I have to smile and laugh thinking of my Grandpa Maynerd.  I miss him terribly but I remember funny things about him.  He'd save lint from his dryer for fire starters and soap slivers to make his lotion soap and he always referred to himself in the third person when he spoke to us grand kids.  Every now and again, my mom and aunt Mary would do a blitz cleaning of his house when they knew he wouldn't be home and just clear things out.  I will never forget him telling me, "Your mother threw away Grandpa's lint and his soap!"
Here is the first peony of the season.  My mom happened to email me a picture of all her cut peonies.  I immediately ran out to check our bush and picked the one blossom we had before the rain showers tore it up.  We have 3 more buds yet to open and the shrub roses will be opening any minute!  The background is the new tablecloth I got at Homegoods.  I just love it as a tablecloth but I'm also half tempted to cut it up as fabric!