Friday, December 30, 2011

Just vote

I've noticed a recent increase in blog traffic, and I know that this is a kind of annoying think to ask, but I'm doing an online design competition to benefit the boys and girls cub of America. I need to get into the top 50 popular designs to have a shot at winning. I'm up against a lot of bloggers and tweeters with tons of followers, but if every one of my 200 daily visitors votes, It would give me quite a boost

Here is my design. It uses dip dyed leather in a cool earthy tone and a bright color pop for some extra interest. The style is somewhere between the neon trends of this season and the predicted natural tones for next fall/winter.

Please go vote, it will really help me out

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

eight days of FRIED - day eight: Marshmallows

For the last day of frying, we saved the most exciting and decadent concoction. Tempura marshmallows were secretly prepared alongside fruitcake slices and then frozen for a few days. My sister, who is a trained chef, recommended freezing as a way of keeping the marshmallow solid in hot oil.
You can kind of see the hot marshmallow and chocolate leaking out of the bottom. Oh yeah, we stuffed the marshmallows with chocolate before battering with tempura batter.
The marshmallows actually taste fruity. Let them cool a bit before you take a bite.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

eight days of FRIED - day seven: Latkes revisited with bacon

Tonight we made another batch of latkes (because they are that good) using the basic recipe. If you would like to add bacon to your latkes, you'll want to add one half pound for every 3 pounds of potatoes.
Cook the bacon and crumble it and add the bits to your latke batter.

You can see the bacon pieces in these latkes.

After making your bacon latkes, invite one of your friends over to watch some late '80s Chanukah specials on VHS.
If you too want to watch the classic Bubbe's Boarding House Chanukah special, the whole thing is online here.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

eight days of FRIED - day six: Fried pickles and olives

Tonight we didn't make plans before frying, so we went to the fridge for inspiration. There was a jar with one pickle and a jar of olives in the fridge door as well as a bowl of tahini sauce. We sliced up the pickle and dried them and some olives on a paper towel.
We dredged everything in tahini, then coated in plain bread crumbs. A pan of oil was heated to 350 degrees and we began with some pickle slices.

As soon as the water content of the tahini cooked off, the breadcrumbs just fell apart. I am assuming this is because tahini is an oil based sauce. A water based binder will resist mixing with the hot oil, but more oil will not.  The remaining uncooked pickles and olives were dipped in milk and again covered in breadcrumbs.
This time, everything stayed together, browning nicely in the oil.

The result of this night's experiment is some of the most delicious fried food ever made in our house. The pickles are extremely delicious. The tahini flavor is not very strong, but definitely noticeable. You probably have to taste them to understand how well the flavors mix.  The only modification I would recommend is to use Spanish olives which are less salty than kalamata.

eight days of FRIED - day five: Chanukah fried fruitcake

Tonight is Christmas eve. There are a lot of people who celebrate it and we though it fitting to choose something Christmassy so everyone can celebrate together. Tempura fruitcake seemed like a good choice. I like fruitcake, so we always get one at Costco around this time of year. Many people, however, are rumored to really hate fruitcake in any form. They come in festive tins and are endlessly re-gifted.

This year I would advise a different approach. Keep your fruitcake, go look at Martha Stewart's recipe for tempura batter, and deep fry it.

The batter is supposed to be lumpy. Also there is an inch thick slice of fruit cake in there.
There will be a lot of bubbles with this batter. Immediately your kitchen will smell like a Japanese restaurant.With extra batter, we added some fried pecans to the pot, they make a nice snack or garnish.

The tempura batter, as you can see, is very crispy and light.
So, here it is. Tempura fruitcake for Chanukah and Christmas with a garnish of fried pecans. The Kirkland brand cakes use mostly red and green cherries, hence the bright, seasonal cross section. Hope you enjoy. This one really, really is worth at try.

Friday, December 23, 2011

eight days of FRIED - day four: Thai green curry

Three days of really greasy deep fried and sugary food is not very nutritious. Tonight, I wanted to make something that was not as unhealthy. Last month, while visiting a friend, I had a chance to talk to some Thai ladies about the proper method for cooking curry. My friend's mother was kind enough to send me home with some fresh keffir lime leaves and her favorite brand of curry paste. She also told me about the important first step of separating the coconut milk and frying the paste in the rendered oil.
You can see in this picture the main ingredients of the curry. The brand of canned paste is Maesri. It was recommended that I not follow the directions on the can and to use double the coconut milk than used in the instructions. I used one can of paste and two cans of coconut milk. 

I always use coconut milk with no stabilizers. when you open the can, there will be thick white cream on top. before you start cooking, spoon out the cream. This is the first thing to go into the pan.
This is the uncooked cream. You need to heat it until the water evaporates and the solids and oil begin to separate.
You can see the difference in this picture. After the coconut oil is visibly rendered, you can fry the paste. The frying is very important for the flavors of the curry.
When the paste is fully cooked, add the rest of the coconut milk.

The curry will be liquid, it needs to boil before you can add meat and vegetables.
The curry can recommended using eggplant, which turned out to be a very nice color combination. I also added chicken, bamboo shoots, and baby corn.
Anyone who is experienced with Thai cooking can probably find a few mistakes in my process, but the end result is still delicious over jasmine rice. Cooking the curry myself will never be as good as my friend's mom, but it is better than a lot of restaurants.

Definitely worth trying, and frying, some time.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

eight days of FRIED - day three: caramel bananas

I personally do not like bananas, but anything fried in butter and sugar is probably good. I saw this recipe a long time ago on some food show and wrote it down without noting the original source.

1 tbs of butter
2 tbs of brown sugar
2 tbs of shredded coconut
2 bananas

Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. When it is fully melted, add the banana, coconut, and sugar. Fry everything until the bananas become darker and the sugar and butter blend fully.

I still do not like bananas, but might try frying some apples next time.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

eight days of FRIED - day two: sufganiyot

It is traditional to eat doughnuts for chanukah, and because I have never made them before, I wanted to try it out. When I look for recipes, I really only trust Alton Brown, and he had what looked like a good one for yeast doughnuts.

If you make some, you'll want to use his recipe.

As always we took a bunch of pictures of the process.

We then filled the doughnuts with either jelly or whipped cream using a pastry bag. For a bit of flavor, we put nutella or caramel sauce.

Salted Caramel Sauce
1 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of water
1 cup of heavy cream
2 tsp of salt

Heat the sugar and water in a saucepan on high heat, switching to medium when the mixture starts to boil. The water will evaporate, and the sugar will become darker (caramel in color). Remove from the heat and add the salt and cream. The cream will bubble a lot, be careful.

At some point, I realized that we had hotdogs in the freezer. I took two, cooked them in the microwave, and invented something delicious: the hotdognut. Basically, roll a hotdog in doughnut dough, add condiments, and fry.
 This one has sauerkraut and mustard.

This one has cheese.

You can see that they cooked nicely, similar to a corn dog.

Tomorrow, we are going to try to batter and fry marshmallows.

Have a good second night

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

eight days of FRIED - day one: traditional latkes

Tonight is the first night of chanukah. Many of you know the story of the evil king, the destruction of the temple, the hammers, and the miracle of the 8 days of light. I don't really feel like writing that much, so you can get the holiday info here.

Most american Jews celebrate with the lighting of the chanukiah, the 9 candle menorah, and a few special meals of latkes and maybe a brisket. We eat latkes because the miracle of the oil in the story. Frying things in oil is a really important element of the holiday. Last year, after a meal of latkes and donuts, I decided that the best way to celebrate would be to do the eight days of FRIED.

For each night, I will be making, eating, and sharing a different fried food with you all. Tonight being the first night, I will be sharing my special recipe for the crispiest, most delicious, simple latkes.

You will need:
2 lbs of potatoes
1 onion
1 egg
salt to taste
lemon juice
cooking oil

Peel your potatoes and the onion
Grate the potatoes and the onion
Put an old dishcloth into a bowl and put the grated potatoes and onion on top. Add a few teaspoons of salt and a bit of lemon juice. Mix everything together. The salt will start to pull the moisture out of the potatoes and the lemon juice will keep them from turning brown.

Pour some oil into a pan and turn on the heat, It will take a while for everything to get hot enough for frying.
Roll up the dishcloth and squeeze as much liquid out as you can. When you are done squeezing, transfer the liquid to a small bowl and dump the dry potatoes out of the dishcloth. Add one egg.

The potato liquid should settle quickly, and there will be a sediment of starch. Discard the liquid and add the tablespoon or so of starch to the potato mixture. Stir everything together.

You are now ready to fry. 

Test the oil by putting a small shaving of potato in. If it starts to bubble and turn brown, your oil is hot enough. Form your potato into patties, squeezing out extra liquid.
Put them in the oil.
When they become golden brown, take the latkes out of the oil and put them on a paper (it absorbs some of the oil).

I served mine with sour cream and brisket gravy. My mom had hers with applesauce like most people do. It is not too late to have these for a midnight snack. There are also seven more nights to try these. I promise that after eating these latkes, made with drained potatoes, you will find all others soggy and mushy in comparison.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Another knitting pattern (can you guess what I do all day?) is finished and ready for the masses.

It started at the local yarn store, where I fell in love with a Berrocco baby alpaca blend called Flicker. It's first impression is as a luxury yarn. Camel/Caramel colored and incredibly soft, it has just the right amount of gold sparkle. I had to get it, even though I'm not a gold and tan person. It looked like the type of thing a fashionable lady of the past would have loved and was therefore irresistible.

I went home and took a look through the family photos. My great aunt was a very fashionable woman, she was a buyer for Saks, and always wore great clothes. There was a picture of my great aunts and my great-great grandmother walking on the boardwalk. It would be a much more interesting world if people still wore hats every day.

So I took the yarn and made a hybrid of two vintage styles: the cloche and the turban. They're not in the picture, but they were popular in the first half of the 20th century and would have looked fitting with these coats and furs.
This is Nouvelle with the gathering on the sides. Unfortunately in these pictures it is hard to see the gold filament shining, but the yarn looks great knit up. I made versatile sizing a priority, the pattern covers a range from 14" - 22" head measurements. The smallest size is really cute, and knit in two tones of pink, the style can be really cute and playful for a little girl.
Specifications for proper color division are in the pattern. The yarn used for this 14" baby hat is cascade 220 on a size 8 needle.
And this is the hat turned 90 degrees so that the gathering is in the front and back. Someday I will have friends and will thus get someone else to model for me. You can see how this is halfway between the categories of turban and cloche when the gathering is in the front. It pleases me that you can get two different looks out of this hat if you want.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Silly Earhat Family

The holidays are coming and it is gift/winter hat season. The best thing to do is (obviously) to knit somewhat embarrassing to wear, brightly colored hats for everyone. But not just any silly hat is good enough. If you want people to wear your silly hat it has to have a certain level of cuteness, which means it should probably look like an animal.

Three years ago when I began to contemplate the balance between animal cuteness and abstraction, I came up with this hat. It shows no species bias in its representation of animal characteristics, and it still has cute fluffy ears.

The pattern has taken a while for me to remember, write down, and size. But finally it is all here.

Silly Earhat Family

You will need:
Size 8 double pointed needles, and optionally a pair or circular 16" #8s
100-200 yards of Patons Classic Wool, Cascade 220 wool, or another worsted weight yarn.
A hand full of poly-fill

Gauge is 20 stitches and 26 rows for a 4" square

Stripes shown in the picture are improvised and varied, but can be added to the pattern. It is a great way to use up some scraps of yarn.

Instructions will make a hat to fit a 21-23" adult L, 19-21" adult S/M, 17-19" kids or adult XS, 15-17" toddler.  

Hat Body:
cast on 90 (80, 70, 60)stitches
Knit 7 (6, 5, 4)  rounds
Purl 1 round
Knit 7 (6, 5, 4) rounds
Knit 1 round picking up cast on edge to form the hem. If you have trouble with hems, this article will help.
K9 (8, 7, 6), M1 x 10, you will have 100 (90, 80, 70)
Knit 22 (20, 18, 15) rounds
K18 (16, 14, 12),  k2tog x 5
Knit 1  round
K28 (25, 22, 19) K9 (8,7,6) with waste yarn, then slip the provisional stitches back to the first needle,  K30 (27, 24, 21)  K9 (8,7,6) with waste yarn, slip the provisional stitches back to the first needle, K37 (33, 29, 25)
K17 (15,13,11) k2tog x 5
Knit 1 round
K16 (14, 12, 10) k2tog x 5
Knit 1 round
K15 (13, 11, 9) k2tog x 5
Knit 1 round
K14 (12, 10, 8)  k2tog
Knit 1 round
K13 (11, 9, 7)  k2tog
K12 (10, 8, 6)  k2tog
Continue to decrease 5 per row every row in the established pattern until 10 stitches remain. Break yarn and pull through.

Ears - there are two of them:
Remove waste yarn, picking up 18, 16, 14, 12 stitches plus an extra 2 in each corner distributing the stitches equally between 3 needles
knit 14, 12, 11, 9 rounds
K4, 3, 3, 2 k2tog, K3, 3, 2, 2, k2tog, K4, 3, 3, 2, K2tog, K3, 3, 2, 2, k2tog
Knit 1 round
K3, 2, 2, 1, k2tog, K2, 2, 1, 1, k2tog, K3, 2, 2, 1,  k2tog, K2, 2, 1, 1 k2tog
break yarn and pull through for smallest 2 sizes.
K2,1,  k2tog  K 1,1 k2tog, k 2, 1, k2tog, k1,1, k2tog
break yarn and pull through.

Put some poly-fill in the ears so that they are round and squishy. It will stay in on its own, you do not need to sew or line anything.

Good luck with your new hats. If you like this pattern, visit me on ravelry to post your finished object or to look at my other patterns.

Saturday, December 3, 2011


The idea of an asymmetrical pattern with shirring seemed kind of interesting, so I came up with this. When its on, one side looks smoother than the other, but they are the same height. it makes more sense in the picture.
See the smooth side and the gathered side? You may have also noticed that the pink and gray versions were knit in different wights. The pattern includes instructions for fingering and worsted weight yarn. Calculating the gauge differences was good practice for future, more complex projects, but also really changed the intended season and warmth of the finished cowl.

I'm excited to see this work, and would really like to apply some of the elements of gathering and multiple gauge options into future patterns.

For now, you can order the pattern through ravelry.

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