Friday, May 23, 2014

7 Quick Takes (Vol 260)


Here we are again, Memorial Day on the horizon, the gateway to Summer! If you have a chance, saw thank you to a veteran this weekend!

You know your marching orders. When you are done fulfilling your blathery duties here you need to click on the picture above to be whisked, certainly at a faster pace than my blogging this past week, over to Conversion Diary.

Attention! Blather is now in the house.

Oh poor little blog. I must again apologize for my sad neglect of you. I did not mean to take an entire week off. I actually have several blog posts in various stages of writing.

And yet…..

None of them are here at the moment.

I hang my head in shame and apologize to all 7.5 of you who come to visit.

I don’t fear too many things, cooking wise. But my nemesis has always been…..

Cooking dry beans.

I know! I know! Other people accomplish this smallest of kitchen tasks without any issues at all. But cooking dry beans has always been a bugaboo for me. Really it is not that I am frightened of the process, it is more the fact that I always feel like I am teetering on the edge of bean cooking disaster, never knowing if they will turn out or not.

Last week was a good bean week. I made a small batch of kidney beans which I then marinated in a vinegar/sugar dressing along with celery, red pepper and green onions. Oh my stars and garters it was good. I actually had some of it for breakfast….and lunch…..and snack.

It was a windy few days.

I felt confident after that. I felt I had conquered beans. And then yesterday happened. I love baked beans. Warm or straight out of the fridge. For breakfast or dinner. I love them with a fiery, windy passion. But I don’t like all the salt and unpronounceable ingredients that come with a can of baked beans. I had found what looked to be an interesting recipe that you did in a skillet in the oven. It did involve the usual soaking of beans etc.

Let’s just say……it was not a success.

The beans, despite soaking for hours and the addition of a lake of water and homemade chicken stock, never would get anywhere NEAR soft. Crunchy baked beans are not where it’s at in my book.

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And there was bacon in them too, which makes their failure extra sad. Plus I sort of resent having used three cups of my homemade chicken stock in something that I ultimately pitched into the garbage.

But I will NOT be downtrodden and deterred. I WILL conquer baked beans. If the pioneers in the wilds of Maine can do it with only a bean pot, some salt pork and a wood burning oven then I can do it too.

When I have it perfected I will give you the details and photos to go with it.

Sunday was my 29th anniversary of being married to this guy…….


Life is a daily adventure with my HHBL.

We went out to breakfast at a place called The Blue Door. If you live anywhere in the Cuyahoga Falls or Akron or Cleveland or Frozen Northeast Ohio area you need to go and have breakfast at The Blue Door. I even gave you TWO links to it just in case.

Mother Mary and all the Saints in Heaven! I had the best bacon and eggs that I have ever had in my life…..and I eat a lot of eggs. The bacon was…..was…..was…..heavenly. Locally sourced, thick cut, smoky, crispy. The eggs were buttery and delicious. 

I am drooling.

And we haven’t even begun to talk about the freshly baked English Muffin that was approximately the size of a small Baltic country. It had the same texture as the muffins that I have been producing, more dense, less holes, more bread like. It renewed my desire to perfect (along with cooking beans) my English Muffin skills.

We had a lovely, leisurely breakfast.

A excellent way to celebrate the beginning of our 30th year as an old married couple.

The latest in my “Do It Without a Macro Lens” series. This is just so much fun that it should be outlawed. In fact, maybe I should just call this series “Macro Porn”……

Or not.

Impatiens 1

The Beauty of Impatiens

I could spend a lifetime just taking macro photos of the things that I find around my house!

So, I started knitting on a sweater this week.

Yup, the weather is finally heating up and I decide that I want to spend hours manipulating Aran weight wool. Call me crazy. You wouldn’t be the first.

This particular pile of yarn is something that I picked up last year at an Estate sale. I don’t think I ever told you about that sale. It was actually “found” on Craig’s List by one of my Knit Sibs. She went and was blown totally to pieces by the rooms full, you read that correctly, ROOMS full of yarn, and toys, and collectible dolls, and housewares and….stuff. Now most of the yarn was acrylic but there was some good stuff. We activated the knitting telephone tree and I managed to get up to Cleveland Heights within about 2 hours. For an obscenely small amount of money I bought a bunch of yarn (good stuff), some books (including one that I had been wanting FOREVER) AND a yarn swift in perfect condition.

As is my usual practice I put my yarn purchases in the freezer for a bit (to make sure it didn’t bring any critters into the stash) and then introduced it to the rest of the yarn family. It didn’t know what it wanted to be yet so I let it just sit.

Monday was the day. I had the pattern in mind that I wanted to do and so I rummaged around in the yarn cupboard and the cream colored Jaegar practically jumped me in it’s eagerness to be knit.

Well OK then!

The first ball got me most of the way through the raglan increases, the sweater is a top down Raglan cardigan….my favorite to knit. I add in the second ball and knit away for awhile. It was evening…..the light was a bit on the lower and softer side……and I didn’t really realize until Tuesday that the second ball of yarn wasn’t quite the same color.

Dang it!

Different dye lots? No, same dye lot. Believe me, I checked that right away. In fact I checked it before starting the sweater, but somehow missed the fact that the balls of yarn vary slightly. The balls were all in one bag and had come that way from the manufacturer, which also usually indicates that they are the same dye lot.

And then I took a REALLY close look at all of the balls of yarn……..and there are slight variations.

OK, I am just going to say it………Shit balls on toast!

I do not have enough of either hue of yarn to complete the sweater. Larissa, it wouldn’t even work if I swapped out the balls of Jaegar that you purchased from the same sale.

SO, I am going to continue with the sweater, alternating the offending skeins, and I may possibly just call the whole thing a design element.

Or I may over dye it in the end.

I will keep you posted.

Last year, after Shoe Queen’s wedding to Slim Jim, I swore that I would NEVER work with or sew or even BUY another yard of burlap.

Burlap is evil.

And yet, because I love LaurenLeap and because she asked me…..

Yesterday found me sewing potato growing bags out of burlap.

You know, the design I have come up with is rather clever.

But I still think that burlap is evil.

And as is my usual lazy way….here are some Instagram pictures from the past week.

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  1. I share your love of beans- and the cooking woes! I read somewhere that the problem can be hard water. Ours Iis certainly hard, but why does it work sometimes and not others?

  2. There may be some sort of bean conspiracy afoot as I also have the same problem with inconsistency. This guy says it's not salt or soaking but agrees with Joan about the hard water. I did try distilled water once, but had crunchy beans. I've accepted that I'm a bean failure. I would welcome an English Muffin perfection post or two. I made them years ago and still have the rings, but Thomas' are such a disappointment I think I need to try making them again.

    1. I love Michael Ruhlman. We have softened water so I am not so worried about that. I will continue on the dry bean path. I will conquer!

  3. Glad you found the Blue Door! I work close by and often that's our lunch date location. They have such yummy good food!


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