Spring

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Little Cotton Rabbits Boy Elephant

If you are a frequent visitor here, you'll absolutely know how much I love Julie Williams' Little Cotton Rabbits knitting patterns.  I've knitted a few OK...a lot of them before.  This may or may not be the 22nd animal I've knitted.  But who's counting...don't judge me.  As cute as these are, there must be others who have the same obsession.

Here he is in his "birthday suit".

 I love the little tail; and the sweater; and his little short trousers; oh, and did I mention how much I love his curly little trunk.  Yes, I love everything about him!

I immediately bought her newest patterns and made up the boy.  He's so darn cute!!!  I'm working on the girl elephant too.  Check out Julie's patterns.  They are intensive, easy to follow, and well written.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Panera Copycat Soup (Kale Cheddar)

I like Panera Bread, the chain restaurant, but there isn't one where I live so I've only eaten there while on vacation.  I do love their bread.  And while I've never tasted their Broccoli Cheddar Soup, Si of A Bountiful Kitchen, posted a copycat recipe on her blog and I was intrigued.  Si is a wonderful cook and everything I've ever made from her blog posts is delicious. You should go over and check out her site.

I can't eat broccoli, but I do eat kale and I had some in my refrigerator, along with most all of the other ingredients that I needed to make Si's copycat broccoli soup.  I wanted to use up my kale so I substituted it for the broccoli.  Have you ever cooked kale?  
Kale is a powerhouse of nutrients, a bit bitter, and it is a tough green so it takes a long cooking time to become tender. Thus, I changed the order in which the ingredients are added into the soup pot, and my soup also took a bit longer to cook. Kale stalks are so tough; I cut them out and I compost them for the garden.
 Have all of the ingredients chopped and ready to go.  The French call this mise en place.
Si suggested adding meat as an option and I just happened to have some leftover grilled chicken breasts with a mustard glaze in the fridge (this recipe was posted at the perfect time). As mustard was one of the ingredients called for, I halved Si's original amount of 1 teaspoon because of my mustard chicken.  There is such a thing as too much mustard in a recipe.  I also substituted Dijon mustard for plain yellow mustard as that's what I had on hand, and the Dijon was great in the soup.  In fact, everything about this soup was great! This recipes a keeper.  

Kale Cheddar Soup
1/2 cup of unsalted butter
1 cup of chopped yellow onion
1 cup of chopped carrots
4 cups of chopped kale
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon of paprika
2 drops of hot pepper sauce
4 cups of chicken stock
1 1/2 cups of half and half
1 teaspoon of prepared Dijon mustard
1/4 cup of cornstarch, whisked into 1/2 cup of cold water
2 cups of grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 cooked chicken breasts, chopped largely (optional)

Melt the butter in a pot.  Add the onions and cook until translucent.  Add the kale and cook until the kale is tender.  This took about 15 minutes and I added 1/2 cup of water and a lid to the pot to let it steam.  

Remove the lid and cook until there is just a bit of liquid in the pot.  Add the carrots and cook for about 5 minutes or until they are soft.  Season the pot with salt, pepper, paprika, and the hot pepper sauce.  Pour the broth and 1/2 and 1/2 into the pot. Bring to a simmer over low heat.

Meanwhile, mix the cornstarch and the 1/2 cup of cold water together and stir until the cornstarch is dissolved.  Add it to the pot with the other ingredients and stir.  Add the cheese and meat (if desired) and stir until the cheese is melted.  

Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed.  (Sharp Cheddar is salty so be careful and judicious with your salt).

Serves 6 as a main course, 4 if you omit the meat.

Si's original recipe is over on her blog.  

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Hash Brown Potatoes With Fresh Farm Eggs

If you follow along here, you may remember that I do lunch for a group of Young Single Adults from our church every month.  Last Sunday we had a baked potato bar and there were leftover baked potatoes. They had been scrubbed, rubbed in oil and salted before baking them in aluminum foil. They were begging to made into has browns.

So made them and they were delicious.  DELICIOUS I tell you!
 I also bought some Farm Fresh Eggs from Pat this week and they were in my fridge. 
So after eating these potatoes for dinner with a piece of grilled chicken, we made some for breakfast too.
They were THAT GOOD.
Can you believe that beautiful orange yolk?  You only get that color from free-range chickens.

The recipe for the hash browns is below.  Add or subtract ingredients depending on what you have in your fridge. I happened to have a teeny tiny patch of parsley growing in the herb garden so I used that in the hash browns but chives would be excellent as would any fresh herb you have on hand.

Hash Browns with a Farm Fresh Egg

4 or 5 leftover baked russet (Idaho) potatoes, cut into cubes
1/2 of one yellow onion, chopped
1/2 of a bell pepper, any color (I used red bell)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons of butter/olive oil combination
Handful of chopped flat leaf Italian Parsley (chives would be good too)
Salt and Pepper to taste

6 eggs

Melt the butter and oil in a skillet.  I use a combination because butter tends to burn on its own.

Add the chopped onions and peppers and sprinkle with some salt.  Let cook until the vegetables become translucent.
Add the garlic and let cook for 30 seconds or so to coat in the oil.

Put the potatoes in and stir into the vegetables.  Add a little sprinkle of salt to the potatoes. Let them cook until they are heated through and they get a bit golden brown on the edges.  Stir frequently and gently so as not to break up the potatoes.

After the potatoes have warmed through, sprinkle with the parsley.  Taste and add more salt and some pepper as needed.

Pile on a plate and top with a fried egg.

You can also add any kind of pre-cooked meat to the potatoes.  Bacon, ham, or even corned beef would be excellent.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Eggs.....

My friend Pat keeps chickens and she kindly sold me some eggs this week.  Isn't the hot pink egg carton pretty?  Pat has a condo in Mexico and seems she brought the carton back from there.  I've never seen a colored egg carton in the US.  I'm going to have to give it back to her as I can't bear to put it in the recycle bin.  It deserves to be used again... for eggs.
 Last weekend was spent cleaning up a garden bed that I didn't get to before the snow fell at the Homestead.
It will sure be nice when the iris and other things in the bed flower.  It looks pretty bleak right now but the snow is gone and the sky is blue (the photo's not ehanced in any way) and I think it's beautiful outside even though the temperature is still COLD.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Moths or dye problems,,,,

I cast on to make another lovely little children's swing sweater today.  The variegated yarn is Koigu sock and the solids are Spud and Cloe sock.  I knit this pattern before and put the sweater away for future use.
It's Lene Alve's Lilliput pattern.
Here's the sweater as it came out of its bag; way too wrinkled.  Clearly it was wadded up and not folded nicely.
But that's not the problem. It could be fixed with a little steam.
This is the problem.  
See the holes in the blue stripey yarn?  

My first thought was MOTHS!!!!  However, on further inspection of the sweater and the rest of the woolens in the storage bag, I've come to the conclusion that it is the yarn.  You see, only the blue striped yarn is damaged, not the other yarns in the sweater.  I found the stashed remainder of the ball and it has breaks in the wound strands as well.  And (thank goodness) there doesn't appear to be any other sign of moth damage in any of the other woolen items at all.  I've concluded it was the dye process in the yarn.  

  Farewell sweet little baby sweater.  Your time came and went without ever being worn.  There's no saving you;  too many holes

So I've cast on for another.  We'll see how long it takes.
I love this little sweater pattern.