Monday, November 18, 2013

Killer Egg Nog

While digging through my old recipe files searching for a potato/turnip casserole recipe, I unearthed an ancient recipe for eggnog.  Back in the 1970's I made this concoction every Christmas. It was both potent and delicious.

It would be a shame for the recipe to be lost forever, so I am putting it out here to share and preserve it. If you try it, let me know what you think. Oh, and yes, you do have to eat it with a spoon the first day, but then it gets more liquid.


1 dozen egg yolks
1 pound sugar
1 quart bourbon
2 quarts heavy cream

  • Blend bourbon and sugar and allow to stand for 3 hours or more (overnight is fine).
  • Beat yolks to a froth and combine gradually with the sweetened bourbon, stirring constantly.  Allow egg-and-whiskey mixture to stand for 2 ½ to 3 hours to cook the yolks.
  • Whip cream stiff and fold into mixture. Chill in refrigerator.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Actual Knitting Content

I have finished an actual knitting project, an event that has not occurred for quite some time. Nothing terribly impressive -- just a pair of socks -- but I'm counting it.

The pattern is called "Cable Twist," and I've knit it in various yarns several times before. Definitely one of my faves -- simple but has a nice look. I needed simple. Here's the short version of why.

Having spent a lot of time seeking a new residence (hence no knitting), I found a nice house and moved into it about two months ago. A few weeks later my daughter was diagnosed with a brain tumor (benign, but large) and required immediate and extensive brain surgery. She is home now and on the road to recovery, but there have been some hard times. Knitting got me through it. I actually knit most of the first sock while enduring a 10-12 hour stint in the hospital waiting room while the surgery was done. Not a fun day.

It turns out that knitting is also good for the waiting required during the many followup visits, therapy sessions, etc. So I have started yet another pair of socks. This is the "Arrow" pattern from "Sensational Knitted Socks."

I'm enjoying the laciness of this pattern and feeling drawn back toward lace shawls. Fickle Knitter has a book coming out on June 19 with some gorgeous shawls -- "Ballerinas in Pink." I might just buy the book and work my way through it.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Salman Rushdie's JOSEPH ANTON

This memoir, which covers essentially the 10 or so years that Rushdie was under threat of death from a Muslim fatwa, is almost painfully honest.  I'm not sure Rushdie is someone I would want to know, but I loved his memoir.  The everyday details of how he had to live, the emotions he felt (even the petty stuff), his personal & professional relationships, struggles to continue writing good fiction -- it's all there. 

The book IS written in the third person which causes some minor hiccups.  When Rushdie switches from "he" meaning some other person to "he" meaning himself, it is not always clear.  Towards the end of the book he begins to refer to himself as "Mr. Anton," and this helps a lot.

The four wives (yes, FOUR!) are offputting, no question.  But how that all transpired is just part of who Rushdie is as a person.  Great writers are not necessarily great people. 

Although 600+ pages long, the book was an easy and quick read.

There is a far more detailed (and far better) review by Zoe Heller at the New York Review of Books website

EDITED 2/19/13 TO ADD: I have since read Rushdie's "The Enchantress of Florence and absolutely hated it. Gave it a mere one star on Goodreads (I am ritamarie949 on Goodreads, just as on Twitter)and attempted in the review to figure out what exactly about it didn't work for me. Perhaps it was simply too macho for this extremely devout feminist.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Learning to Crochet

In the few intervals between heat waves this summer, I've been teaching myself to crochet. I've long known how to do single and double crochet as an edge on knitting, but all else was a mystery. So I pulled out my handy needlecraft book and got at it. Below is my best effort.

It took four tries to get this right. The actual motions of creating a stitch are easy. The difficulty is in counting and keeping track of stitches (heh, just like knitting). Apparently a "chain" is not the same as a "stitch." Except, of course, when you chain two or three at the end of a row; then all those chains together make one stitch. Yikes!

Anyway, it's being fun. I hope to crochet an actual something in the fairly near future.

What's been taking up my time and keeping me away from fiber is pictured below.

Yep. A DVD from The Teaching Company with 36 lectures on Cosmology. Fascinating.  Terrific professor too.  And then, of course, I had to go read a few books about particle physics. It's taken a few months, but soooo worth the time. And now on Twitter I follow a few telescopes and satellites and "hadron colliders" (CERN). It's wonderful to be able to understand their activities and discoveries.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

In Which I Discover Oshibana

No, Oshibana is not an obscure fiber technique. Nothing to do with knitting, spinning, or any other fibery fun. Actually it's an art form that uses flowers and leaves, rather than wool -- defined in the dictionary as "the ancient Japanese art of making pictures with pressed plants." Sometimes it looks like this –

I picked the above example, because the shapes are so very obvious. Many Oshibana pictures are indeed that simple. Others, like the one below, are far more complex, and it's quite difficult to see enough detail to figure out where and how the various bits and pieces are used.

I stumbled upon this delightful art at one of our local arts and crafts fairs, tried desperately to resist, but could not. I bought this picture –

I was charmed by the almost Victorian look of the picture. And the lady waving at a ship reminded me of the years I lived on Catalina Island, where life is all about making it to the boat on time or picking someone up at the boat. The artist is Larissa Thaney of San Diego. She doesn't have much available right now, having sold so much at two different shows, but there will probably be more soon.

Of course this leads me to wonder if anyone has ever used yarn or fiber to make pictures. I know we incorporate pictorial motifs into knitting, crocheting, weaving, etc. But could one use actual fiber, arranged and glued down in some fashion, to create a picture? Could it be done? Or is this one of those things that should not be attempted?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

And So It Begins

For the third time in the past year I have been granted the opportunity to play host to a dove family. Apparently they really like the flower boxes on my second-floor balcony – private, secluded, and safe, with lots of soft greenery.

It really starts with the "house hunting." Cooing activity in the trees outside is followed by flying visits to the three different boxes, a considerable amount of tromping about and pecking, and then the final selection of the perfect box and construction of the nest. This process takes three to five days, during which both doves come and go. I usually know that the eggs have been laid when I see a dove sitting in the box every single day. The parents take turns, generally doing "shift change" in mid-morning and early evening.

And then two weeks later–

I took the above picture right after the first chick had hatched, while the parent was off disposing of the shell. S/he flies off some distance to get rid of the shell, so as not to reveal anything to potential predators, I suppose.

It's fun to watch the feeding process – very efficient. Each chick pokes its tiny beak into the side of the larger parental beak, and the parent urps up the, uh, food. So, both kids are fed at the same time. The first week is the same as for any baby: eat, sleep, eat, sleep, eat, sleep, with a whole lot of growing going on. They're four days old in this picture.

Here they are at seven days old. Feathers are coming in; they're tons bigger and look like real birds.

Here's Mom (or Dad, can't tell which) with the kids at the two-week point. They left the nest the following day.

They got out of the nest, flapped around a bit, and then settled into this saucer to recuperate.

And here's one of the very-grown-up-looking chicks, who flew all the way over to the steps. Lookin' good! Notice how well s/he blends into the background?

Although I hate to see all the plants withered and trampled at the end of the four weeks, it's fun to watch the kids grow up. And as an extra bonus the chosen flower box is extremely well fertilized; the replacement plants grow lush and tall.

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Felting Virgin No Longer

Having finished my Adult Surprise Jacket -- which turned out amazingly well, and I'm delighted with it – and having decided while knitting it that I would NOT lengthen the sleeves, but simply leave them at the elbow, I found myself with one skein of each color left over. Oh, what to do?

Well, I'd had a very interesting pattern for some felted slippers in my Ravelry queue for a while, and I have never felted anything. Not ever. The pattern is called "Easy House Slippers" and it is available HERE.

The knitting is not hard, just eight garter squares in an L-shape. Then you fold the shape in a way that is poorly explained but possible to deal with and sew it together at various points.

I wound up with this massive boot. Would it really felt down into something that would fit my foot? Hard to believe.
The colors worked out well. Not having enough of any one color to make the two slippers match, I settled for a "coordinated" look. (The pattern calls for four squares of the main color and two squares each of the other two colors. )

The felting was not too bad. I had envisioned hours of splooshing in the kitchen sink, but the whole process took a mere 45 minutes. Post-felting, the slipper fabric was so thick that they needed three days to dry, but definitely worth the wait.

The slippers fit perfectly. And the color coordination is so cool that I think I would make any subsequent pairs the same way.
So, no longer a felting virgin, I have felted – successfully – and I'm highly motivated to do it again.