Wednesday, December 7, 2016

A piece of cake ...

Hello. My name is Ellen if you follow me on Instagram you'll probably notice I have been baking ... a lot. I baked 3 cakes in 2 days along with 2 dozen cookies for The Kid's guitar recital this weekend.

The past few months I have taken to late night baking. I think at some point I realized my sleep patterns were not ... improving and that I wasn't going to make them worse, but I was going to roll with it.

There are simply not enough hours in the day to do all my baking in the day time or day of. I often don't get to reclaim the kitchen until 8:30ish anyways -- and that is when the insanity magic happens.

First up The Almond Sheet cake from Food52 with it's lovely frosting. This frosting is for those that want all the fluffiness of a cream cheese frosting, but have a child that has great disdain for all things cream cheese.

It's not a fancy cake. Almond Sheet Cake with Ermine Frosting. But it's simplicity brings the joy. It's more of a vanilla with a hint of almond - cake when I make it, since I don't have almond extract at home, but a small vanilla extract making factory. (Have I ever shown you my jars? It's shelf real estate of vanilla beans and booze and masking tape. ha!)

Anyways check it out, I've had a lot of good feedback so far.

My other 2 cakes were The Clementine Cake as done by Smitten Kitchen derived from Nigella Lawson and then A Southern Style, Raspberry, Cinnamon Pecan buttermilk coffee cake.

'Tis the Clementine season. Dive in. My friend, HM said that Smitten Kitchen's post wasn't a ringing endorsement, but I HAD to try, simply because it's such a unique concept. And guess what? It's Gluten-Free. I don't have the prettiest picture of the insides because I inverted it on a beveled plate, and it sunk in the center a bit. But here's a close up of the crumb.

The coffee cake was good too. Not moon and stars good, but a solid cake. I think I'd put some chocolate chips or something too next time? But my husband thinks the Blueberry Crumb Cake is still the winner.

Whats your favorite cake to eat or make?

Monday, December 5, 2016

Kathy's Q&A

Kathy wants to have some fun and who are we to say no to Kathy?

*Can you knit something by *heart*I can memorize a pattern while I'm in it. I can kind of knit socks by heart, but I generally do a quick look up for turning a heel. I finally memorized how to kitchener stitch.
*Would you like some yarn for Chirstmas? A good girl would say no, I have plenty of yarn. but in my heart of secret hearts I always want sock yarn.
*Did you shovel any snow this December? HAHAHAHAHAHA! Kathy, I wore sandals in public on Saturday.
*Can you make a bow for a package or gift? I can make an ugly one. But a basic bow, not one of those 40 point star things. I struggle to get the ribbon to divide the package in quarters. I'm not sure how to describe that, traditional intersecting ribbon style. You know who is the BEST gift wrapper? My husband. Yeah. go figure. I shop so it's good this is his secret talent. I like a contributer.
*Do you buy used books or new? I like both. I was just in a used book store today at lunch. I can get lost in there.
*Have you seen a living Nativity? No I haven't. Maybe with the kids at midnight mass when I was a little kid. Which wasn't really at midnight by the way. But I remember I couldn't wait to eat tamales when we got back to my Great Aunt's. I remember telling her I preferred Christmas masses over Easter because the decorations and stories were better. I had issues with Easter. What? I was a precocious child! Wow way to take me down memory lane!
*Have you ever received home baked cookies in the mail? No. Always in person.
*When was the last time your toes froze and your nose was red? Every night when I climb into bed for the toes. My nose? Last soccer match of the season November 12th, big rain storm.
*Did you know that Christmas and Hanukkah are intertwined this year? I did. Only because my friends told me. 
*Do you love to get a Christmas card? Yes. I do. I'm horrible about sending them.
BONUS FUN FACT: I bought a wreath on Friday to hang on the front door before our family came by. The existing nail on our front door is too high and doesn't align. Then I was out of nails. Then the wreath was just hanging out on a kitchen chair, so I had to put it on the back staircase. So guess what? It's still there hanging out ...

Friday, December 2, 2016

A Tale of Red and Green

I promised that I would have some knitting photos and I do!

I really did finish those Summer Socks. (in November, ha!) for my friend's daughter. Such fun and happy colors. They reminded us of watermelon cocktails back then -- though this sweet young lady it probably too smart for underage cocktails. Her personality is something that would make you all grateful. Someone so kind and considerate, so polite and surprisingly, refreshingly socially and politically aware at the young age of 15. 

I don't expect all youth to be such go-getters (I had to tell her Mom and Dad, that this is not what they should expect of all children, lest they hold the rest of society to such standards). But it is pretty awesome knowing that our society will be comprised of people like Ms. J.

Hope people. Hope.

Here's the thing. I'm not sure if I'm giving her the socks. She has big feet. It's a bit of a tease her friends and family have for her, which is why I thought it would be fun to knit her socks. (Also I knit some for her Mom -- though I need to repair them, finally found the scrap yarn to do so!) But Ms. J's socks are ... uneven. 

For some reason, I was thinking I'd try a short cuff and got with 6? rows of ribbing on the first sock. By the time (it was a very long time) I got to Sock #2 I was back in vanilla sock auto-pilot mode and I went back to my usual *10 row cuff. I didn't notice this discrepancy until ... yep you guessed it. I had completed sock #2. sigh.

Attention to detail, perhaps not. I do like them. I didn't make the stripes match on both socks on purpose. I am not sure which sock knitter was doing this mismatch on purpose in the spring, but I loved the unique funky feel the patterned sock yarn was giving when you just ... knit and didn't try for the matchy match.

Anyhow, do you think she'll be offended? I hate wasting a pair of handknit socks. She could at least fart around them at home. The Kid and I thought it would be nice to maybe knit her a follow-up pair with one of her signature colors bright electric blue.

What do you think?

Meanwhile back in nervous-hands land I started my annual pair of Christmas socks. Another thing I picked up from the Knitters Blogosphere. I love it. It's yarn from The Cozy Knitter on Etsy. Happy stuff -- I'm buying Christmas yarn a year in advance, it's sad I know. There's other knitting stuff too, when time permits. But this at least is portable.

I just want to thank everyone for such kind words last post. I hope I support your spirits half as much as you support mine. I agree with you all. We move forward without our heads stuck in the sand. We do the work, and we appreciate the great and good that we have. And we yell at our kids to finish and take care of their school work. (wait, what? that wasn't in your comments? are you sure? shouldn't it be?)

*I think of the 10 row 1x1 rib cuff as the "Dear Sock Gods, please keep these socks up" cuff. LOL

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Wading and Waiting

I'm wading in the holiday season. I'm trying to lose myself a bit in the bright lights and sparkle that are beginning to be thrown up around the city. I cling to the shiny visuals like tangible hope.

I eat another cookie. I find comfort in my stomach and in my hands.

I'm waiting for this year to end.

It's a time of transition. It's a busy time at work. There have been a lot of germs in my household. There have been a lot of headaches. But really it's really not too much to whine about. It's the grind.

I sleep either awkwardly or out of sheer exhaustion.

I think my mood is something that of an angst filled teen, impatient but overwhelmed with a case of the feels. If anything, this has allowed me to at least relate to The Kid a little easier as he goes through his own set of "things in this life."

That tiny person taking photos at the intersection is my angst filled teen. I saw him while I was eating lunch across the way.
There is a lot to sift through at the moment. What makes sense? At what point to do you move on and say, I am beginning to waste too much energy on trying to figure out something that I can't really control. I guess that sifting is figuring out what you can control.

I feel like there is some kind of knitting analogy buried in there, but I haven't got it.

And so my friends, we trod on. Wish good wishes for all in our hearts.

Knitting pics soon. :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

This and that

I had to play yarn chicken to finish up my Banana Leaf. It's blocking ladies and gentlemen but it's done and it feels good, no matter what it ends up looking like ...

We are prepping for High School enrollment for my son. The process here in SFUSD is "fair" and tedious. It's like a part time job. I've been to a private school enrollment fair, a Parents for Public School (great organization) enrollment workshop for the district and various school tours. This is just getting started. He's interested in a selection school which means he'll also have to prepare a portfolio, which means my "nag-ometer" is going full throttle. However we are checking in to make sure we understand his perspective. I think once he realized his opinion matters in this decision he got more on board and a little less grumpy.

The Kid has also been working 2 soccer teams, school and club so that's basically 6 days a week of soccer. The school team made the playoffs and so I think this is our last week of that. Then we are back to one team until track starts up in the Spring. I'm really happy for him that he made the school team this year. He was too timid to try out in 6th and then didn't make it in 7th. I can tell that just making the team has made him feel really good.

I still haven't finished my summer socks or fixed my friend's sock, but I have been baking. I try to have a baked good for the team and their families every club match. (I just don't have the bandwidth to support the school team in the middle of the week.)

These are my son's new favorites, pinwheels. They taste pretty too :)

Then there is the labor of love that is English Muffins. I did a "formal" bake for my first go (Though I admit to using 2 parts All Purpose flour to 1 part Bread flour to manipulate the crumb/texture a bit.

3 days of labor? What does this mean?This means I did the starter one night, then let the dough rise another day in the fridge and then shaped and did a final 1.5 hour rise on the 3rd day. I tried to griddle them and then finish them in the oven.

It was some work, but I think I'll try it again to make a prettier version, but I also want to try one of the short cut recipes. Because, well, I want to know what the difference is.

What is keeping you busy? What is keeping you happy?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A Sweet Surprise

Sometimes the insanity just hits me. I knew my husband was having some friends over for dinner and I was going to miss most of it. So I decided I should bake cookies Tuesday morning before work.

The boys didn't flinch and proceeded to get ready for school and work, while I set about something sweet. 

It begins with a sweet idea.

After baking these chocolate cake cookies for about 10 minutes you slap half a big marshmallow on them. And bake for a few more.

When they've finished cooking you're supposed to cover the marshmallow with Martha's frosting, thus creating a surprise. I had to go to work though and thought they'd be fine in a semi-surprised state.

My husband though reminded me of his food professional status and took over, opting for a glaze instead of frosting. (Left alone with any of my cooking or baking projects he WILL tinker and/or modify)

They are a very fun cookie.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Kathy B.'s Monday Q&A

I've been struggling to get a post up and out because I have been way too up my own butt with work and personal. I'm okay everyone's okay I'm just trying not to keep writing I'm busy. I have a million things to say, but I feel self conscious. I've been struggling to find my voice for a post, so why not just borrow someone else's? ;)

Kathy B's Q&A is such a great way to get me back posting and feel reconnected. Here we go! (and thanks Kathy B. for being you and keeping a positive vibe out there going...)

Would you rather have someone sit by you and teach you a knit skill, or watch something on you tube and learn?
I'd rather have someone show me. I'll settle for the Youtubes, but I'm old school, as long as it's someone I like.

What is the largest number of stitches you have ever had on a circular needle at one time?
I want to say something like 360? That twin leaf shawl thing was really really long...

Would you rather learn falconry or swim with a dolphin?
I'd rather swim with a dolphin, but no touching.

Coffeecake or cheesecake?
Oh coffee cake! I love to make them and eat them. My love of cheesecake sort of dissolved when I started making them. Though I am due to make one soon. (I try for once or twice a year, since it's such a crowd pleaser.)

Bacon or sausage?
What kind of torture question is this? I'm a meat eater. I believe in the business of bacon, we sometimes cut once slice to jazz up some braised greens or veggies. But sausage is so versatile as well. I can't decide. BOTH.

Do you use any solar energy? 
No, we don't own our apartment and we don't have any gear that's solar either.

Witchypoorides again or Henpecked.? (Blue Moon Sock Yarns)
I'm going with Witchy poo rides! Such fun colors and I am all for fun socks :) Oh heck who are we fooling, I'm for all kinds of socks.

How much does a wool cycling jersey cost today?
Dunno, but I had to look ... cheaper than making one!

What handknit gifts get the most usage per year, in your family?
Hats and handwarmers. My sister still wears a scarf or 2 I knit for her.

Apple butter or applesauce?
Pork chops and apple sauce. Hmm. I haven't had apple butter in a really really long time.