I had a few odd moments to stitch up this sweet little pear.
The pattern is from the book Sublime Stitching. This pear joined two other fruits--cherry and lemon--and hopefully a bunch of grapes will join them soon. I sewed a set of a dozen linen everyday napkins some time ago and slowly I've been giving them each a bit of adornment. Tristyn and Maia love
fighting choosing a napkin based on what's embroidered on it. So far the one they like the most is the wee little alien in his spaceship also from Sublime Stitching.
Adults sometimes are exasperated when children want a special napkin, a certain bowl or some other very particular item. Adults will moan 'Just pick one...they are all practically the same.' What difference does it make?' But it does make a difference. It's the small things like this that I think we remember the most from childhood. Who doesn't remember things like these? I remember my grandmother having a set of small plastic cups for her grandchildren to use. I always used the pink one. My grandmother always set out the pink one for me and never needed to be reminded that I liked the pink one. She just knew. When I was older and given a real glass but my little brothers were using the plastic cups I remember feeling a sense of relief (even at 13!) that neither of them liked pink and wouldn't be using my cup. In fact, the last time I visited my grandmother we were talking about my cup and I checked on it to make sure it was in its place.
I love my neighbors. I really do. They give me a convenient way to share the things I bake and cook. And that helps me get feedback AND also lets me bake or cook something new sooner because I don't have an overabundance of anything in my kitchen for too long. They might enjoy receiving what I send over (or secretly hate it as they smile as I hand it to them and immediately begin to plot if they will feed it to the dog or cut it up in tiny pieces and dispose of them one at a time in the trash) but I benefit the most.
This week, I've shared fresh Butternut Squash Lune, sourdough bread and Italian Wedding Soup with a few of my neighbors. And I've gotten so much in return! Good neighbors and friends, good company and I must have sent out some good karma because my left hand neighbor took it upon himself to leaf blow all of the leaves out of my front yard. I glanced out of the window and there he was industriously removing leaves unasked. This particular neighbor I have only sent over cookies at Christmas time so I decided by way of thanking him that I would send over some of the Wedding Soup I had simmering on the stove. Perhaps it isn't as 'traditional' as cookies but on a cold drizzly night I thought it might be just perfect.
I brought over a large container of soup and thanked him. Turns out, his wife is out of town for the week and he had nothing to eat! Funny how karma can work, huh?
Crisp on the outside, delightfully chewy on the inside, these Chocolate Crinkle Cookies are just perfect for an after school (or work!) snack with a cold glass of milk. I definitely suggest dunking!
I cannot take credit for this recipe; I do not know where it came from. I was going through my recipe box the other day--the one where I toss scraps of paper that I jotted down the recipe on into--and found it half way through the pile.
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
from the depths of Michelle's box of accumulated recipes
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup cocoa
Additional sugar for rolling
1. Combine flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa and set aside. Mix butter and sugar together until well combined. Beat in eggs one at a time and stir in vanilla. Mix in dry ingredients. Cover bowl and refrigerate dough for two hours (I refrigerated it overnight.)
2. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350. Shape dough into smooth, 1 inch balls and roll in sugar. Place on a greased (or parchment covered) baking sheet and flatten slightly. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
3. Cool on pan for 1 minute and then remove to wire rack to cool completely.
When I was nine, I used to spend Fridays after school at my cousin Dylan's house while my parents worked late. It was the best arrangement in the world as my cousin and I were very close. We would ride the bus to his home together and as I was not a regular bus rider even this was a treat. I somehow managed to change out of a Catholic school girl's uniform without revealing anything--okay, much!--so that we could get to playing sooner. At his house, we would dash inside; Dylan to his room to change and me to the bathroom to --well you know why! Bus rides are bumpy!
My cousin's house adjoined a large parking lot with a giant-larger-than-a-nine-year-old double rock pile at one end of it. But, we'd steer past this treat in search of another one. Just across the parking lot and across one street was another Catholic church (the very small town I used to live in a long time ago had three at one time, can you believe it? Now they are consolidated into one) and on Fridays the church ladies made and sold Fried Dough. Dylan and I would each get a waxed paper-ful of this delicious stuff and then, we'd retreat to the double rock pile and tuck in the back of it for it became a fort, you see, just right for protecting us while we were vulnerable to the Bad-Guy-of-the-Week because we were eating our after school snack. It seemed whoever finished their Fried Dough first was the one whose imagination gave rise to nemesis. With only a cursory swipe of sugared hands on clothes Dylan and I launched ourselves into our game.....until it was time to come inside and build amusement parks out of clay.
I miss my cousin Dylan. He died a couple years ago and the oddest little things will bring back memories I have of him. When I woke up yesterday and decided to make zeppoli it was only so that my children would have a treat to start the school week off with. But as the zeppoli fried, the smell tickled my memory. When I finally bit into one, they were exactly the Fried Dough of my childhood. My memory of running across the parking lot with Dylan to fetch some came flying back and I was glad to greet it.
Normally, I'd eat some terrible Fiber One Original for breakfast but not that morning. That morning I ate two pieces of Fried Dough. One for me......and one for Dylan.
I've been promising a return to baking around here and I'm ready to make good on it! Let's start this week off with:
Vanilla Bean Biscotti
Biscotti intensely flavored by vanilla bean baked twice as is proper. The biscotti are then dipped in a melted white chocolate spiked with Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur and drizzled with Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate.
Look closely and you'll see the black specks of the vanilla bean. Tristyn and Maia couldn't quite wrap their mind around vanilla bean being black and vanilla ice cream being just plain old white. I brought a plate of these to a family gathering on Saturday. I'm very happy to say that they were very well received! I love baking for family and friends. =)
This is the Odessa Hat by Grumperina. Maia saw one knitted as a sample in one of our local yarn shops--Natural Stitches--and wanted it. Badly. There wasn't a pattern available nor the name of the pattern so I told her I'd look on Ravelry for the pattern.
It didn't take long to find it on Ravelry. The proper combination of hat + beads + knitting brings it up pretty quickly. Or maybe it was beads + hat + knitting. I don't know. You get the idea.
I went back to Natural Stitches and got a yarn in a similar color but a different, less expensive fiber. This hat is made for 100% baby alpaca by Blue Sky Alpacas. The color is Petal Pink and it is incredibly soft. It was a pure joy to work with and my hands were sorry at the lack of sensory delight they lost when I finished the hat.
It's a quick knit. Even with making a grievous error about four inches into it and having to frog two inches and re-knit it only took two days to knit the hat. It's a fun pattern and don't be intimidated by the beads if you give it a try.P.S. The next thing on the needles I'm still days away from completion. Don't worry, there won't be any knitting on the blog for a few days.
It seems when it comes to knitting, I've no problems taking a picture of the finished product, but lately when it comes to cooking and baking it's the opposite. I've plenty of pictures of the process of cooking and baking but finished food never gets a picture taken because we are too busy with the busy of consuming it.
In this case, I think I like the process pictures better than a finished picture would have come out. Why? Because Maia is cooking and if there's one thing I love it's to see children engaged in the kitchen happily contributing their much appreciated labor to the task. And of course they learn so much and gain confidence by being allowed and encouraged to bake and cook!
Our humble attempt at quesadillas turned out so much better because of Maia's efforts. =)