Tuesday, July 31, 2007


It is quite apropos that my first knitting post would be on the same day that I finally got my Ravelry invite! My current favorite project is the Seraphim shawl.

I'm using a lace weight malabrigo in sealing wax colorway. I'm LOVING it! I'm so addicted to it that I've virtually forgotten all of my other projects. I love the needles I'm using (my first pair of addis), and the yarn feels so good in my hands.

I've decided to call it "Canyon Angel." See...you can tell how much I love it because it's the first knitted object I've named. But you can sort of see the variation in color that remind me of the different colored layers and striations of the Grand Canyon. It's because I'm knitting with two strands of the yarn from different dye lots. It's giving it that great subtle depth of color and texture.

It hasn't been a perfect knit, though. I was almost done with chart one (of four) and I discovered that somehow, I'm not sure where, my stitch count got off. And it was WAAAYYY off...not easily fixable. So, I managed to insert a lifeline and ripped back several rows, and now, after two nights of going backwards, I've gotten back on track and I'm ready to move forward again. Hopefully I won't have to do that again, but I have definitely learned that lifelines are worth it!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Sugar High Friday -- Tropical Paradise

I entered my first blog contest! Alpineberry is doing a Sugar High Friday contest and the theme is "Tropical Paradise." I decided to enter my Mango-Ginger pound cake.

It's my first "original" recipe, and it's one I'm quite proud of. I've made it several times, and it always gets RAVE reviews. It's become my signature recipe, and it is often requested by friends and family for special occasions.

I originally got the idea for this pound cake when I made a Mango Ginger Syrup for a fruit salad. I had some left over, and thought I would see what happened when I added it to a pound cake batter. I've been tweaking it since then. So, for the first time, here's my signature recipe:

Mango Ginger Pound Cake:

3 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 c. sugar
1 lb. (4 sticks) butter
8 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 mangoes
1 1/2" fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1/2 c. crystalized ginger, finely chopped.

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.
3. Cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping sides of bowl after each egg. Mix in the vanilla extract.
4. Add in sifted dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated.
5. Slice and peel mango, and puree mango and fresh ginger. Mix in pureed mango mixture. Fold in chopped crystalized ginger.
6. Pour batter into greased pan and bake at 375 until toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 35-45 minutes.

A few notes: The quantities of both fresh ginger and crystalized ginger can be increased or decreased to suit your tastes. As written, you can taste the ginger, but it is not overwhelming. If you like more ginger bite, bump it up a bit...if you want it to be more subtle, decrease it a bit. Also, the cake pictured was obviously baked in a bundt pan. However, I've found I have a harder time getting the cake to bake evenly in a bundt pan. I've had much better luck using loaf pans. As written, the recipe will make two loaves. If you do use a bundt pan, wait until the cake is cooked most of the way through, then invert it over an aluminum foil lined baking sheet, and finish the baking upside down.

Bon Appetit!

P.s. Knitting content tomorrow, I promise!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Introducing Thea

I figure it's time to introduce you to Thea, because you will likely hear much about her in this blog. Thea is our Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, and she is just over a year old...which means she is about 90 lbs. of stubborn puppy energy. But as challenging as she can be (yesterday she managed to drag the bottom tray of the dishwasher halfway across the kitchen spilling all the dirty dishes everywhere) we can't imagine our lives without her. She is also a connoisseur of my cooking. Ok...so, maybe connoisseur isn't the right word since it implies a level of discrimination. This dog will eat anything, from lettuce to wasabi peas. When it comes to food, she has no concept of discrimination. But she likes my cooking :-). So, a few quick notes about Thea:

Name: Thea Payne (Jotunheim Dorthea is her full AKC registered name)
Birthday: July 16, 2006
Weight: 91 lbs. (and still growing)
Favorite Food: Anything she can get her mouth on
Favorite Game: Chase the kitties (I don't think I need to mention that this is the cats' least favorite game)
Favorite Pastime: Playing with the other dogs in the park; and barking out the window at anyone who walks by
Quirks: Runs to the front door whenever the phone rings

So, to keep this from being a completely gratuitous post about the cutest dog in the world, I'll add a little cooking content as well. In addition to people food, I also make dog treats. Thea's favorite summertime treat is Doggy Fro-Yo. Here's the Recipe:
3/4 c. Plain Yogurt
1/4 c. Peanut Butter (I use the no sugar added kind)
1 Banana, mashed.

Mix the above ingredients together, and portion out into ~1/3 c. portions. As you can see, I use the little Glad plastic containers you can get at the grocery store. Place in the freezer for several hours (until hard).

Thea Loves them. The picture on the left is the look I get when I go to the freezer to get one out. As you can see from the picture on the right, she dives right in. And because they are frozen hard, it takes her 8-10 minutes to finish one. So it keeps her occupied for a while as well. Good for puppy and mommy!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Who Needs Hoisin?

A few days ago, I was trying to come up with something for dinner that wouldn't require a trip to the grocery store. I found Chicken and Noodles with Peanut Sauce on the Cooking Light website. Knowing that pretty much all the ingredients are staples I tend to always have around the house, I figured I was safe. So I start doing the dinner thing, and in the midst of it, I discover that we don't have any Hoisin sauce. How can we not have Hoisin Sauce? We ALWAYS have Hoisin sauce! After frantically searching the kitchen for about 15 minutes, I'm finally able to convince myself that we are indeed out of Hoisin, and it's not just hiding in the pantry, or in the veggie drawer, or the door of the fridge (where I did find my sunglasses, but I guess that's a story for anoter day), and being past the point of no return on this dinner, I had to soldier on, sans Hoisin.

But really, who needs Hoisin when you have these ingredients?

I tried to think about the flavors that generally make up Hoisin sauce...it's definitely a sweet flavor, but has some salty tanginess to it as well. So, I decided to throw in some teriyaki sauce and some soy sauce...true, it wouldn't be as thick, so texture wouldn't be the same, I was hoping it would still at least taste ok. And since I wanted to go for a somewhat Thai-like taste in the sauce (and because Psycling and I both like a little heat in our food) I added some red curry paste to kick it up a notch. I was actually pleasantly surprised! The dish came out really well! Texture left a bit to be desired, both because of the thinner sauce, and because in my frantic search of the kitchen for the missing Hoisin I managed to overcook our udon noodles, so it was a littl mushy. But it tasted good, so that's all that really matters right?

So really, who needs Hoisin?

P.S. While eating left overs of this meal for dinner toinght, it occurred to me that some coconut milk would have provided some of that extra flavor that I was looking for in the sauce...maybe we'll try that next time...

Sleepless Nights

So, is this what life in blogland is like? Awake half the night as ideas come to you that you just feel you have to blog about? Anyway...more to come this evening (even with pictures!). But notice some of the new features on the right. "Last Night's Dinner" is a place for me to catalog how we eat at home in general. I often get questions from people after cooking a big gourmet meal that are along the lines of "Is this how you eat every night?" Well, the answer is a resounding "NO" and this little column should but some of those notions to rest. The "To Be Whisked Up" list is food ideas that come to me that I will make sometime...hopefully sometime soon. The "On the Needles" is my current knitting projects. I think you'll come to realize that my WIP:FO ratio is pretty high...oh well...as long as I'm having fun, right?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Getting Started

So here it is...my blog. Over the past few years, I have come to discover that cooking is my passion, what I was meant to do in life. I have come up with countless original recipes, started my own catering business, made an *actual* wedding cake (I'm still in awe of myself over that one), and started down the road of becoming a chef, of making my passion my vocation. Right now, I work full time in support of major gift fundraising at a local university, and my business, Sara's Kitchen, is what I do in my "spare time." But hopefully, when the hubby (from here on known as Psycling) is done with grad school and we go where ever we go next, I will be able to make Sara's Kitchen my full time job, and have more time for my hobbies...that's where the knitting comes in. I love to knit, quilt, scrapbook, and do other craftsy sort of things...though those have had to take a backseat recently to the business. But I still manage to get some projects going...So I hope you'll enjoy this little peek into my life. Try my recipes and let me know what you think...perhaps you'll see your name in print sometime in the acknowledgements section of my future cookbooks :-) And I'll try to make sure there's enough knitting content as well so you knitaphiles will keep coming back. So with that, welcome to Whisks and Needles.