Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I Cannot Seem To Stop

I am beat.



Done in.

I have been at the canning jars again. I cannot seem to stop myself now that I have gotten on the canning jar express. Next stop Cantown.

I have been putting things like these…


And some of this


And a smidgeon of this…..


And more than my fair share of this…..


Along with a smattering of dill, some garlic, perhaps a hot pepper, some corn that was picked yesterday, red peppers from the garden and these…….
IMG_8596A The cucumbers from the farmers market

To produce………

IMG_8672A IMG_8684A  Oh I don’t want to wait the three weeks before I can open up the pickles. I want them NOW. And the corn relish…..


But the mess that is in the kitchen…….

IMG_8678A Well that is another matter entirely. Where are my minions when I need them.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Friendship and Knitting Just Go Together

Friendship. I am always so thankful for friendship. It comes in many forms and from many places and you just never know what you are going to get, to quote the great philosopher Forrest Gump.

And we all know that I am all about the knitting although I don’t grind you down under the weight of all my cast on projects….and there are a bunch of them I am sorry to say. With more to come, like the hat that I am casting on today for a knit along. Like I don’t have anything else to do. Be warned that there may be knitting project posts ahead.

And when you combine knitting with friendship well then you get something that is just wonderful. And that is what I have with Tri-County Knit-A-Holics. Catchy name isn’t it.

A bit of background. A while back I was in another knitting group. They met once a month and I will be honest in saying that from month to month many of the ladies didn’t pick up their knitting except for that one night when we were together. That isn’t the way to make progress on your knitting. It isn’t the way to grow your skills. You can’t remember what you did a month ago and your knitting mojo not only got up and went it might never have been there in the first place. And other than the one night a month that we were together there was little if any interaction between the knitting participants. But it was the only group that I knew of and I soldiered on.

And then I joined Ravelry. (cue the trumpets and the harps)

And I sort of did some things on Ravelry, hung around on some of the different forums, slung political trash talk around. You laugh but let me tell you, knitters take their politics VERY. SERIOUSLY. And we play with pointy sticks so sometimes we can be sharp in our jabs. But I digress.

Through Ravelry I met Jess. I invited Jess to my knitting group. She came. Then the knitting group stopped meeting. I was set adrift in a sea of knitting aloneness.

It was lonely.

Allllllll by myself. Don’t want to be allllllll by myself anymore……

Ummmm, sorry about that.

The funny thing about knitting is even though we knit alone at times the best thing about knitting is the ability to interact with and learn from other knitters. You see the work that they are doing, you are inspired to try something new, you get to brag (just a little) about what you have accomplished. But you can’t do that if you don’t have anyone to knit with or if the group that you do have don’t really take their knitting seriously.

And then, about a year ago, I got RavMail (you know, email only on Ravelry) from Jess. She had formed a knitting group, Tri- County Knit-A-Holics, or TCK for short, and did I want to come and knit?

Did I ever!!! And so began my assimilation into the collective knitting with the ladies of TCK. We meet every other Monday at the Panera in one of our towns. They know us as “the Monday Knitting Group” and have now allowed us to invade the VIP room. That way we can spread out and make all the noise that we want.

And we might sometimes be noisy. We laugh alot.

And sometimes we have “supplemental” or “emergency” meetings on the off Mondays. Knitting emergencies are very…….urgent. And require a meeting.

And last night was the TCK 1st annual cookout which was held at Chez Knit.

There was food…..

IMG_8632AIMG_8638AIMG_8639ALots of food. HHBL grilled 40 hamburgers and I don’t know how many hotdogs.

There were family and friends all getting together. All the member of TCK know each other, obviously, but most of our families have never met so it was great to get everyone, 35 people I think in all, together to get to know each other.
IMG_8628A  My friend, Miss Miriam, she of the blueberry picking fame. Hi Miriam!

IMG_8635A Tara, our “novice knitter” who has already designed her first scarf pattern. She will soon leave us all in the dust. And Jen our resident crocheter who makes the most amazing things. And is my Girl Scout Cookie dealer.

IMG_8637A Oh yes, there was laughing going on. That is not uncommon when we get together.

And after we had eaten our fill then Jess had a little surprise for us to commemorate our first year together. A year that has seen us walk through all sorts of things together, our pointy sticks in our hands…..well, all except for Barb (yellow shirt above) who had her needles confiscated at the Barcelona airport before a flight home. Which meant that she couldn’t knit for the ENTIRE FLIGHT. Oh the tragedy of it all.

This is what Jess made for each of us, in our favorite color…….
IMG_8665 It holds a notebook. It is gorgeous. I am in love. I want to take it with me wherever I go.

By the way, if you are on Ravelry come and find me. Obviously my name over there is 4bookworm.

So, after this disjointed and rambling post (did you expect anything else from me?) all I really want to say is that I love my Knit Sibs almost more than I love my Knit Picks Options needles.

Ok, I guess I love them more than my Options Neeldes….and MAYBE even more than my stash of sock yarn. Which, the ladies of TCK will tell you, is sacred.

And large.

And growing despite my best efforts to keep it contained and managable. But that is a post for another time.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Cucumbers Was All I Really Needed.

I just needed some cucumbers. That is all. Remember that I had an epic cucumber failure this year in the garden.




And I like pickles and wanted to make some. And for pickles you often, although not always, need cucumbers. So, I figured I would get them at one of our local farmers markets of which we have many.

IMG_8596A Lovely pickling cucumbers just waiting to be put into a brine and then canned, although not today.

Cucumbers were all I needed…….

IMG_8612AAnd then I saw these lovely little fingerling potatoes, organic thankyouverymuch, and knew that they needed to come home with me and be made into something. They called out to my with their potato siren song and I couldn’t resist.

IMG_8606A  And then there was the Edamame which I have only had once. But I was intrigued as we gazed at each other across the produce table. And so they came home with me too.

IMG_8608A Aren’t these the most outrageous looking things. It almost seems a shame to cook them and then only eat the beans inside, which is what you do. But if you have ever tried to eat the pod of the edamame then you will understand. The first time I had edamame it was not a success because I didn’t know that you only eat the beans and not the pods. I couldn’t figure out what anyone would want to ingest something that had the consistency of old hay.

I am slow sometimes.

IMG_8602A And then I was enticed by the local artisan goat cheese. I have had this stuff before and it is…….

it is……..

addicitive. So totally addictive. And because I bought it now I have to make some crispy cracker bread to go with it. Because, it just screams out for crispy cracker bread.

Can you hear it?

And then I ran back to my car before I bought anymore of the things that were at the market that were calling me. The tomatoes, the green beans. Heck even the eggplant (which I don’t like) were looking good to me.

But all I really needed were the cucumbers.

You just can’t take me anywhere.

Friday, August 27, 2010

7 Quick Takes (Vol 83)


I am trying to clean some things out from my pantry. I love my pantry with a deep and abiding love. It is big and roomy, just like a pair of my old sweat pants. But the problem is things sometimes get “lost” in there. I will put something on the shelves, thinking I will use it. And then as time goes by it migrates to the back of the shelves and then it sits there, for years in certain cases.

Case in point, I found a package of “Herbed Focaccia Bread that I think came in some gift basket that was given to us years ago. So long ago that I can’t really remember when. That is not good if you are dealing with a bread that has a yeast packet in it. So, I will use it up today only I will get rid of the yeast packet with it’s ancient yeast and sub some fresh. And we will see.

Of course, in cleaning out a drawer in the pantry yesterday I also found a plastic bag with four FULL SIZE Hershey bars.


Just to let you know, even with the addition of fresh yeast the boxed mix was…..not so good. A disappointment but it was OK when dipped in olive oil. But then isn’t anything made better with the addition of olive oil.

Can I say that it is really quiet around here during the day. It always takes a few weeks to get back into the “empty nester” routine after having a progeny home for the summer. It wasn’t like Shoe Queen was hanging around Chez Knit for three straight months, she did take a couple of trips (more than me!) and she was gone here and there.

No, it is just the fact that there is another person inhabiting the house besides just HHBL and I…and of course Max the Wonder Dog.

But I am not complaining. Just adjusting.

Well, the garden is winding down. We are harvesting a lot of tomatoes. Our green beans are done, prematurely both LookLeap and I feel. Another flood in the garden didn’t help and then something, a bunny or ground hog perhaps, ate the tops off the very healthy plants and then it was all down hill from there. But we are already thinking about next year and what we want to plant.

The broccoli goes in earlier as do the beans and zucchini. I would like a row or two of beets. I think LookLeap needs to try cantelope again. And I would like more Roma Tomato plants.

What we REALLY need is another plot. She is working on that.

Here it is, Friday morning at 5:45a and I am still writing Quick Takes. But then, that is sort of how my blogging has been lately. There are days when I am not sure what my blog post will be when I wake up in the morning. I used to plan them out for the whole week very meticulously. But now, nope. Oh sure, there are some that are planned. But it seems more recently that I am flying by the seat of my rather large capris most days.

I will try to do better because I hate having to do Quick Takes on Friday mornings. I don’t rushing for anything. For me rushing = mistakes.

And I hate to make mistakes…..because then you all won’t think that I am perfect.

Cough, cough.

I might have mentioned I used to be a Creative Memories consultant. I was not meant to be a consultant. I am not cut out for that but it took me 4 years to realize it and it another story for another time. But it did show me that I love scrapbooking. I have A LOT of scrapbooking materials.

But then we decided to sell our house, or try to sell our house. That hasn’t happened yet and I am tired of not being able to scrapbook because heaven forbid you would have scrapbooking stuff set up in your basement when people come to look at the house.

So I have decided to raise my hands in defiance of Joyce the House Stager and put up a small table in the basement so that I can work.

Take that Joyce! You aren’t the boss of me! I will scrapbook.

Just don’t tell Joyce that I said that. She is small but mighty.

I continue to be controlled by my desire to buy school supplies. Post Its rule my life. I had coupons, Wally Mart had the super sticky post its for $1 a piece, it was like getting them for free. I just couldn’t resist. I continue to tell myself that I need no more packs of post its. And yet they call to me with their siren song of sticky noteness. I struggle not to heed the call.

I have, however, resisted buying any packs of paper. That is definitely something that I don’t need. But I did linger longer than I should over pens and pencils (mechanical only and .05 lead). And I did have to talk myself out of crayons.

Oh how I loved to color. I would carefully plan what color each section would be. I would carefully out line the section with the color and then shade in just up to the line. Coloring outside the lines was unacceptable to me when I was growing up. Lines were there for a reason and should not be violated.

Hmmmm, rabbit trail there. And now I really want some crayons.

You would be very proud of me. I have managed to clean out two boxes of books from the pile in the basement. I put some up on Paperback Book Swap. I listed some for sale on Amazon (and sold 3 so far). There are some very old books that need to be assessed and then put up for sale on Ebay. But I am making progress. Some of the books were ones that I had not even read. They looked interesting. They still look interesting. But I tried to think of it this way. I would make a list of the books and get them at the library. The enjoyment of them comes from the reading itself and not the actual owning of the book.

Believe me, there are plenty of books that I am still keeping for the moment. This is a slow process for me, like loosing weight actually.

To quote Bob from What About Bob, “I’m babystepping! I’m doing the work!”

Just as an aside, What About Bob has to be one of the funniest movies that I have ever seen. It makes me belly laugh every time I watch it and we quote lines from it all the time. But then we are a family that lives by our movie line quotes.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tomato Sauce. A Cautionary Tale.

I am beat.


Needing a nap or vacation or some Elixir of Life.

Why you ask am I so tired when it is an absolutely gorgeous day here in the Frozen Northeast Ohio?

It is because yesterday I made Tomato sauce. And those tomatoes just took it out on me let me tell you. Those little, or large, round red morsels of goodness put up a good fight. But I was, in the end, the victor.

Did you have any doubt on that?

Now, I am going to tell you what I did. And at the end of this post, which is shaping up to be reeeeeeeeally long (sorry) I will give you the usual link for a recipe. But the recipe will be a more general one with a basic list of ingredients and some measurements. But really, tomato sauce is in the end a matter of taste. Some may like more basil. Some may like it saltier or more garlicky. You just have to make it how you like it. Taste is your friend in this instance. And there may be more steps in the process than you think is necessary….just remember I sometimes have to take all 4 sides of the square to go from point A to point B.

And put on an apron before you start all of this hullabaloo. You will be glad you did.

IMG_8542A Oh look at all these lovely ingredients just laying on my counter in all their natural innocence. Just hanging around with each other with no realization of the things to come. Gaze at the ingredients because they will make magic.

Well all except for the celery which I forgot to add. I think I had just chopped so many things that my subconscious rebelled and didn’t allow it. That’s my story and I am sticking to it.

I have to own up to the fact that not all of the tomatoes came from the garden that LookLeap and I are maintaining. I wish. But I had to supplement because I just didn’t have 25 pounds of tomatoes hanging around Chez Knit. Disappointing I know but there it is.

The first thing that you have to do is get the skins off the tomatoes. This is just about my favorite part of the entire process actually. It is so satisfying. You just get a big pot of water boiling and then you….

IMG_8544A plunk the tomatoes right in the water for about 30 seconds. Don’t forget them in there because then you are going to have cooked tomatoes sooner than you had intended.

Not that I would know or anything…..

IMG_8543A After 30-45 seconds scoop the tomatoes out and put them into a sink filled with cold water. I know many would say it needs to be ice water but I have always found that just really cold water straight from the tap works just fine.

IMG_8545A You will find that the tomato skins may already have started splitting. This is good. I would also suggest that you do all the tomatoes before start skinning them. I am good at multi-tasking but even I can, perhaps, forget some tomatoes in the water for too long…..maybe.

IMG_8548A Then it is time for the fun part, the peeling the skin off. If you have done this correctly, and it is hard to get it wrong, the skins will just peel right off. I don’t even use a knife, I just peel them. It does help to cut the stem end off to get yourself started. Just peel and peel and peel until they are all peeled.

IMG_8552A And part of your counter looks like this. It isn’t pretty let me tell you but sometimes you just have to take one for the team.

IMG_8553A I saved one back because I want to have another BLT this week. I am a BLT snob and the only time that I eat them is summer when I can vouch for the freshness of the tomato.

Please ignore the fact that my window sills are dirty. Martha Stewart I am not. But then she has minions and I do not.

IMG_8554A Once all the tomatoes are peeled then you need to cut them up. I started out cutting them up very neatly. Cut tomato in half-cut each half in 6 pieces-put in pot.

That lasted for about 8 tomatoes and then I came to my senses and just started to break them up with my fingers. It was much quicker and for some reason the ripping of tomato flesh with my fingers was scarily satisfying.

What does that say about me?

Don’t answer that.

Then it is time to cook the tomatoes for a bit. Bring them up to a boil and let them cook, on medium, for about 30 minutes or so. You are not cooking them all the way through but you want them partially cooked.
While the tomatoes are cooking you will want to chop up a bunch of things.

IMG_8560A                                            Onions. Lots of Onions
IMG_8562A        Peppers. Lots of Peppers. Aren’t these beautiful! These did come out of the garden
IMG_8563A       Lots and lots of garlic. My hands smelled like garlic for the rest of the day. Delightful.
While the tomatoes are cooking you need to cook all these ingredients in a pan with perhaps 3 tablespoons (or more) or olive oil.

IMG_8558A My frying pans are a disgrace! I apologize for the pain that you must be experiencing. Someday I will be able to have good pans……someday.

Why do I cook the peppers et al separately from the tomatoes? I know you want to know. Well it is because once you introduce the peppers into the tomatoes the tomatoes will stop the peppers from cooking. Peppers and tomatoes really don’t like each other. You shouldn’t grow pepper plants next to tomato plants because the peppers don’t grow well. So funny because they marry so well.

And now we come to the part of the post where there are no pictures. When the tomatoes have cooked about 30 minutes I then like to process them a bit more. I started out by sieving them so that I could get the seeds out…..that didn’t last long because it was a royal pain in the patookis. Tomato seeds are good for you. I read that somewhere.

So I went on to plan B which was to run 3/4 of the tomatoes through the blender. This works well.

One word of caution…..

IMG_8551AMake sure that you have a towel AND your hand on top of the blender lid……………..

When you have processed most of the tomatoes add them back to your big pot and add in the pepper/onion/garlic melange and give everything a big stir.

At this point you will also add….

IMG_8570A                                                      Tomato paste
IMG_8571          Red wine. Make sure you taste this first. You wouldn’t want it to be bad wine.
IMG_8572                                                            Salt
IMG_8573                                                       Brown sugar
IMG_7370Dried Basil. You could use fresh but I wouldn’t advise it only because the fresh basil’s taste doesn’t seem to hold up as well.

Then you just let the magic begin. You want to bring the nascent tomato sauce to a boil and then turn it down to medium or so and let it simmer away, concentrating in flavor and getting thicker. I usually let it simmer for at least 2 hours and sometimes longer.

IMG_8566 Look at how hard it is concentrating. You will want to stir it occasionally and you will definitely want to do this in a heavy bottomed pan.

When the sauce is to your liking taste wise and thickness wise you can either can it or put it in containers and freeze it. I have done both. Your choice.

IMG_8578A Oh aren’t they beautiful! I can hardly wait for a cold winter evening to have some spaghetti or lasagna and remember summer.

IMG_8565A This however is not beautiful. I barely managed to make it through.

And yet for some reason I am looking for something else to can. Maybe pickles?

LINK -> Deb’s Tomato Sauce <- LINK

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Little Nuggets of Goodness

MMMMMMMMMMMM, good. Doesn’t that morsel of yumminess, accompanied by Elixir in the Tumbling Bears mug, look yummy.

Yes, there is a recipe……..

But today you have to work for it.

In order to know about these little nuggets of goodness called Cinnamon Butter Puffs, you have to go over to ……

Taking On Magazines One Recipe at a Time because that is where you will find me today, guest blogging for my friend The Mom Chef. The Mom Chef and I have known each other a long time. I am not telling you how long but I will tell you that her parents and my parents have been friends for just about as long as I have been alive. And we know how old I am.

So zip on over there and take a look at the recipe and the blog. I love her blog by the way. I drool every day over the recipes.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

And It Is Back To Empty Nesting

Well, my baby is back in the halls of higher learning.


We got used to having her at home and now she is gone. I sound like the dad in My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

You vant to leef me!!!!

Fine, fine. I enjoy having an empty nest, I will admit it. Things stay picked up. We don’t have to buy snacks that aren’t good for us and that we consume despite our thoughts to the contrary. I don’t have to worry that Shoe Queen made it back by her 1a curfew. And I don’t have to deal with her rolling her eyes at the fact that we actually had the audacity to tell her that she had to be home by 1a. Oh the indignity of it all. Oh the cruelty.

Oh brother.

And so on Sunday afternoon we hauled the mountain of stuff over to the dorm and moved her back in.

IMG_8492A I have to admit that she really didn’t have THAT much stuff to move in. That is the beauty of Sophomore year and above. You actually move into dorm or apartment the things that you know they need. The amount of stuff that you tote to Freshmen dorms is just crazy. And I should know because we have succumbed to the Freshman “must have” list three times. You would have thought after Cartoon Girl that we would get it right.


IMG_8497AA blank canvass on which they will write their Sophomore year. Shoe Queen is in a triple this year with her friends Katie and Alexa. This is a big room let me tell you. They will have a chair and a small sofa they tell me. Just so long as we didn’t have to move the sofa I am good with that.

IMG_8494AHHBL is happy that he doesn’t have to move any furniture this time. There have been years when dad’s have been recruited to move furniture all around and lift that barge and tote that bale and…..

Sorry, I was watching Show Boat the other day and I got carried away.

This is what men look like after they spend time moving the modular furniture in the dorms.

IMG_6391There is much sweat involved. And perhaps some blood and tears too but I don’t have a picture of that thank goodness.

IMG_8495AAren’t they the cutest thing!! I have to say that their greeting to each other was something that was so….so……so college girl. I didn’t even have time to swing the old camera up to get a picture of Katie hurtling down the hall from one direction and Shoe Queen hurtling down the hall from the other with a crashing meeting in the middle.

I felt the building sway slightly and the windows rattled with the force of the greeting.

And then it was on to do some unpacking. I felt a great deal of guilt and wanted to help with Shoe Queen’s unpacking because last year, her freshman year, I had to sort of move her into the dorm, make sure that she was fed and had everything that she needed and then leave. TMO was leaving for Uganda two days later and we needed to get her ready to get on the plane. I couldn’t split myself in two, although there is plenty of me to go around, so we had to leave Shoe Queen to soldier on without us.

I felt a lot of guilt.

So I helped her unpack this time around because I am a good momma.

IMG_8502AHow many shoes do I have to unpack?

And now we are home and adjusting to the quiet. Max has been unsettled all day, off his feed and waiting for Shoe Queen to come home.

It is definitely quieter.

But the coffee will last a lot longer