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Keeping busy.

March 7, 2010

I haven’t been baking much this week.  I haven’t been sewing.  Or knitting.  But somehow I’ve been keeping busy.  Thought I’d share a couple things that have been occupying my time in the last week or so (with totally unrelated pictures).

(Finally) Picked up a copy of The San Francisco Panorama.  I heard about this the day it was released, but was never in the right place at the right time to grab a copy.  We were killing some time between basketball games (my 9 year old’s first tournament) in the oh-so-picturesque town of Pt. Reyes Station and wandered into the local bookstore.  A small stack of them by the cash register beckoned me closer and I decided this publication demanded a splurge from me.  I’m glad I did.  I can’t stop reading it!

Well…not entirely true (I mean I am typing this up instead of reading it), but almost.   I was able to hold off beginning to read it until I finished some gardening today, best of which was getting some new seeds in the ground I picked up a couple weeks ago in Petaluma at  Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  We just had time for a quick stop at their fairly new location after a lunch visit with my mom and step-dad, but long enough to choose a few things for the veggie garden.  Truth be told, I could have spend hours in there, reading about all the seeds, dreaming up a massive garden.  But I only have a couple small boxes to plant, so its probably a good thing I only had a few moments.

We grabbed some snap peas, lettuce, peas, and Italian radiccio for planting next fall.  I’ve been meaning to get some seeds as my husband’s noni alway’s grew her own and it’s been a few years since we’ve had her traditional salad at our family gatherings (she moved into assisted living a few years ago).  I’ll need to put a note on my calendar to remind myself I bought these, as I’m sure to forget once its actually time to plant them.

I also watched an interesting documentary the other night, 49 up.  I’d never heard of these before, but it is the latest installment in a series of documentaries on the same group of people since they were 7 (original was titled 7up).  The filmmakers chose a cross-section of English society and revisit them every 7 years.  My husband thought it would be “prosaic,” and seemed uninterested, but in the end, he was just as glued to the screen as I was and we kept delaying turning it off to go to bed.  I guess “prosaic” can be a good thing.


Biscotti di Regina

March 3, 2010

*Regina really means queen in Italian, so sometimes these are also called Queen’s Biscuits

My husband’s mother (my kids’ Noni) ate these as a child.  Her first generation Sicilian mother used to make them, but a few years ago when I was putting together a family cookbook, she could only find a partial recipe.  We searched around and found another recipe (in the Soprano’s Cookbook), which we think is pretty close to the original.  These cookies are a traditional Sicilian treat, often eaten with coffee.

My daughter recently had a chance to share a little bit about her heritage at school (as part of the penpal project) and we decided to make these.  I was a little surprised, but all the kids seemed to  like them–even covered in sesame seeds.  Maybe I think kids are pickier then they are!  Just in case you’d like to try them, I’ve included a recipe below.  I made them in more of a crescent shape, but I guess long finger looking ones are more traditional.

Biscotti di Regina

½ cup milk

2 cups unhulled sesame seeds

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

3 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature.

3 large eggs,  room temperature

1 tsp. vanilla extract (or vanilla or orange extract)

Preheat oven to 375◦ F. Butter and flour 2 large baking sheets or use parchment paper.

Pour the milk into a shallow bowl. Spread the sesame seeds on a piece of wax paper or in another shallow bowl. Set both bowls aside.

In a large bowl of an electric mixer on low speed, beat the butter and sugar together.  Add each egg, 1 at a time, and mix in between briefly.  Add vanilla and mix.  Add dry ingredients (you may sift together before adding, if desired).  Stir until well blended.

Pinch off a piece of dough the size of a golf ball and shape into a log 2 ½ inches long and ¾ inch thick.  Dip the log in the milk, then roll it in the sesame seeds. Place on a prepared baking sheet. Continue with the remaining dough, placing the cookies 1 inch apart.

Bake 15-25 minutes, or until well browned. Let cool on the baking sheets for ten minutes, and then transfer the cookies to a rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

In the mail.

February 17, 2010

We finished the scarves for CraftHope!  It feels so good to complete a project so quickly and with such purpose.  The last 24 hours before shipping them off found me with a third still to go, but I worked dilligently at it and finished it off with no issues.  I loved the pattern I knit, although I realized after I was half way done that they really wanted unisex scarves and mine was really more feminine.  But it was too late by then, so I just kept at it.

I did have to pull out a few rows when I would lose my place during the smock pattern area, but this also usually happened when I was chatting away.  Therefore, I am blaming my knitting skills rather than the difficulty of the pattern–it really was not as hard as I thought it would once I worked through it a couple times.

What I did realize is that for social knitting I need to work on easy projects–nothing that requires counting stitches (impossible to carry on a conversation as you are trying to whisper to yourself, “39, 40, 41”), and probably not patterns that vary too much row to row.  So basically, that leaves the stockinette stitch.  Either that or we institute our plan B.  Silent knitting hours, and then separate Chatting hours.  But then, that would never really work out–we just can’t help ourselves from chatting away.

The mustard is in

February 12, 2010

Spring is just around the corner. Time to start planning my garden and get my seedlings going. We even saw a little sunshine the past few days!

everyday, every day.

February 9, 2010

Sometime in early January I read about Project 365 on a couple different blogs (sweet sassafrass for sure, and else where as well).  I think it is a fascinating idea as an artistic challenge (how to you find the artful or beautiful every day in you life?), but there is just no way that I could be that consistent.  I’m still working on flossing daily–as my denstist will tell you.  Last visit she said, “Please, just floss at least once in the next few days.  Please.”  I’m glad to report, I did.  But remembering to take a photo EVERY SINGLE DAY FOR A YEAR?  I seriously doubt I would succeed.

What I did decide I could do (and probably a lot more consistently than I floss) is remind myself to take a photo every so often of my everyday life.  Not when we go somewhere special, or it is someone’s birthday (and believe me, I am really done with birthdays for awhile and happy to report the second party was completed last weekend), but just the normal things, the things that don’t get photos taken of them all the time.  Like the ironing pile that lived in my mom’s kitchen her entire childhood that you can see sneaking into a few candid shots, but never starred in its own photo shoot even though it comes up in conversation more often than you would imagine.

So that is my little challenge for the year.  Photos of the “real.”  Of the laundry.  The homework.  The messy dinner dishes still in the sink in the morning.

And if I remember to squeeze in a little flossing this year too, then I’ll really consider myself accomplished.

Red, red scarf.

February 6, 2010

I’m knit, knit, knitting away.  But this time for a good cause–that makes it easier to keep on knitting, even when my kids are buzzing around me, and people are hungry, need help, and, in the case of my son,…hungry again.  I’ve cast on to finish a red scarf in record time (personal record only) for project 6 at craft hope.

I remember checking out craft hope months ago, but it had been completely forgotten until I saw it mentioned somewhere recently .  (Where, oh where was that?  No idea at the moment.)  Looking at their current projects I noted their red scarf project and thought it might be a challenege for my friend Lara and I, who have been meeting for weekly knitting/what-have-you time.  I forwarded her the post and she agreed.  So we cast on and are in a knitting fury to finish in time.

I picked a pattern with a wee bit of a challenge for me (but not too much, I do want to finish this one)–Smock-a-Ruche Scarf from 101 Designer One-skein Wonders.  You might remember that one of my first knit projects in the re-emergence of my knitting bug was from the other One-skein Wonders book.  I had great success with the baby gnome hat, and this one is knitting up nicely as well.  The instructions are clear, and the finished piece looks like it will be lovely.

As of this evening, I’m nearly half way done.  Which is more than I can say about that feathered cowl I have in the works.  The less said on the cowl right now, the better.

cabbage salad *I* liked

February 4, 2010

We are BIG salad eaters.  BIG, BIG.  Last summer, while we were on a road trip, we had gone the route of fast food stops for a whole day and contemplating another meal of grease and more grease, we heard a high pitched plea  from the back seat, “Please, PLEASE, can I have salad?”

But, that is not always true if I mess with the basic salad at home, as I did the other night.  In December I had ripped out a cabbage salad recipe I was thinking of making for Xmas, but it never happened.  I tucked it away, and then staring into the fridge at a very large purple cabbage that was part of our CSA share last week, I thought it might round out our dinner of lentil soup and bread.

I was pretty sure the kids wouldn’t go for a straight cabbage, so I added in some salad mix, as well as some raisins for a little more sweetness.  I wouldn’t say it was a hit with them, but sometimes I get a little selfish and make a recipe that I want to try (as I had to explain to them as they pushed the nuts to the side).  I enjoyed it very much, and thought it was a nice mix of winter flavors.  And easy to make to boot.

Winter Salad

I found the original recipe reprinted in our local paper in Dec., but it was originally from The Washington Post.  Here is the link to the original version, and my version below.

Large handful of walnut halves or pieces

2-3 large handfuls of salad mix

1/4-1/2 head of medium purple cabbage (original recipe calls for savoy cabbage, but I used what I had on hand)

2 TBSP cider vinegar

Juice of 1 lemon

sprinkle of salt

Large grind of fresh pepper

1/2 cup olive oil

2 Tbsp creme fraiche, or heavy cream (I had 1/2 & 1/2)

1/2-1 crisp, slightly tart apple, like Granny Smith– Thinly sliced

Handful of raisins

Place nuts on cookie sheet and place under the broiler.  After a couple minutes shake/stir them.  Toast a few moments more until you can smell them.  Let them cool while you prepare the other parts.

Remove tough leaves of cabbage and then slice thinly desired amount.

In a jar with a lit, combine vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Add oil, put on lid, and shake until emulsified.  Before using, add cream and shake again.

Combine cabbage, nuts, apple, raisins and salad mix.  Lightly dress and combine.

Enjoy with hot soup or hot sandwich in the depths of winter.