Thursday, August 30, 2007

I like hats!

I like hats. I think they are highly under rated these days. It used to be that hats were a necessary fashion accessory. Now, with the exception of the plethora of baseball caps out there, no one ever wears hats. I have my own nice collection of hats. Some are silly, some are fun, some are functional, and I wear them all!

(Note: closet shelf not usually this neat)

I wore the black bowler hat (which has a little shamrock pin on the side) through out college. It kind of became my trademark. When I'm feeling a little spunky, I wear it to work :-) I got the cowboy hat in Albuqurque, NM when I was going for a horseback ride along the Rio Grande and decided I needed something to really look the part. And with my love of Disney, I guess it's no surprise that I have several hats from Disney World. The Cheshire Cat hat brought lots of smiles when I wore it to work on Halloween. And of course, when you have the kind of blond, fair, freckled complexion that I do, it's necessary to have hats to keep the sun off my least, that's how I justify it to Psycling when I go buy yet another hat.

So, with my love of hats, it is probably not surprising that I quickly learned to knit in the round so I could knit my own. I learned how to make hats by knitting with a group of women from church, as we knit hats for the homeless men that stay at the church night shelter. I knit and donated several hats to that program last year. Of course, this was before I started blogging and phtographing my FOs.

These are some of the hats that didn't quite get turned in on time for last years hat drive. They will still be donated to chartiy. I'll probably take them to be collected when I go see the Yarn Harlot in mid-September.

Of course, I had to knit a few hats for my own collection as well. I decided a while back that I needed to use up some of the yarn in my stash, and didn't buy any new yarn for a while. I had some great warm, soft, fuzzy black yarn just calling to be made into a hat. Well, turned out I had enough for two hats!

First, I introduce le Beret!

I'd give you the specs, but I'm afraid I don't remember what the yarn was, and the pattern was something I found online somewhere...but I really like it. It's warm, and I think it has some great personality to it. I'm looking forward to the couple of days we have down here in Hotlanta when it might actually be cool enough to wear it.

When I finished the Beret, and realized I still had quite a bit of yarn left, I cast on for my Wylie Hat.

I call it my Wylie cat because Wylie is the name of my black kitty, pictured here. Can't you tell how happy he was to be part of this photo shoot? Anyway, again, I don't remember the yarn, but the pattern is the Kittyville Hat from Stitch 'n Bitch by Debbie Stoller.

I already have a few new hat ideas rolling around in my head, but I might not be able to share them til after Christmas...I don't want to ruin anyone's surprise.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Chocoholic's Paradise

I recently discovered a wonderful recipe for Chocoholics everywhere. I decided to make it for a picnic, and I was not disappointed!

While getting the chocolate ready for the frosting on the chocolate malt cake, I noticed that there were recipes inside the Ghirardelli chocolate wrappers. I would highly encourage you to go out and buy 2 bars of semi-sweet Ghirardelli chocolate and a bag of bittersweet chocolate chips and try the recipe on the inside of the wrapper.

Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Cookies
2 4-oz bars Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate baking bars, broken into 1" pieces
3/4 c. brown sugar, packed
1/4 c. butter, softened
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 c. flour
1 c. Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
2 c. walnuts, chopped (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Melt Semi-sweet chocolate according to melting instructions. Stir in sugar, butter, eggs, and vanilla.
3. In a separate bowl, stir flour with baking powder. Add flour mixture to chocolate mixture, mixing well. Fold in chocoalte chips and nuts.
4. Drop by 1/4 c. onto ingreased baking sheet. Bake for 12-14 minutes. Cool 1 minute on baking sheet; remove to wire cooling rack.

This recipe makes a rich, dense, chewy, fudgy cookie. Almost brownie-like. Definitely great for chocoholics like Psycling and me.

Cooks Notes: I made these smaller than the 1/4 c. drops than suggested. I also made a double with nuts, one without. They were both good! We also discovered that these cookies are even better the second day! And I recommend enjoying them with a tall glass of milk!

Some Cooking FAQs

Question: Have you always liked to cook?
Answer: No. When I was going through adolescence, I shunned anything that was stereotypically a "woman's job." Cooking, sewing, cleaning, mending...I had a very limited and mistaken notion that feminism meant shunning the "woman's world" to live in the "man's world." As you can probably see by this blog, I have grown out of that phase and come to realize that true feminism is about making choices. It's about doing what I choose to do, and not what I have to do or am expected to do. This realization coincided with my discovery that I enjoy cooking, playing around in the kitchen, and sharing my creations with others.

Question: I've noticed most of your recipes are vegetarian. Do you eat meat?
Answer: I'm not a vegetarian, but I don't eat a lot of meat. I've never liked read meat (which includes pork), and so I stopped eating it about 15 years ago. Though I'm not strict about it...if there's some sausage here or bacon there, it usually doesn't bother me. Beef is the one exception...I really don't like it. But because my reason for not eating red meat is a taste preference, I don't cook with it. While I do cook with poultry and seafood, I find that the world of vegetables seems to offer much more variety, and for that reason, most of my creations tend to be vegetarian.

Question: So where do you get your ideas?
Answer: I just cook a lot. I've found that the more I cook and try new recipes, I begin to understand what flavors and textures work together. I become more bold in putting things together myself. However, there are several places that I tend to draw my inspiration:

I have been getting Cooking Light for over 5 years now, and I love it. It's where I get most of my "every day" cooking recipes. What I love about this magazine is that rather than lots of "low fat" s, the recipes focus on healthy ingredients and variety. I look forward to getting my new issue every month, and Psycling will attest to the fact that (other than a few staples) I rarely cook anything more than once. We've hardly repeated a recipe since we've been together (and we're going on five years this fall). But why repeat things when I get a new magazine filled with great ideas every month? I also love the Gourmet and Food and Wine magazines.

There are also certain cookbooks that I could not do without:

Back Left is The Professional Pastry Chef
by Bo Friberg. It's really more of a text book and a cook book and really lays out the fundamentals of the techniques and theory of baking and pastry arts. I've learned so much from it. Back center is The Professional Chef from the Culinary Institute of America. Another text book, it is a great resource for good, solid, basic recipes, and a wealth of knowledge about preparation of different foods, and many different cooking techniques. Back right has the Complete Seasonal Cookbook representing my Williams-Sonoma cookbooks. I have never been disappointed by a Williams-Sonoma recipe. In the front we have more general cookbooks. I think How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman is a must have for every home chef. Bittman covers many different cooking techniques and understanding of different foods, and demonstrates how a few different changes to a single "recipe" can lead to vastly different, but still yummy dishes. It makes variety in home cooking easy and approachable. And finally, we have Pie by Ken Haedrich. If a recipe for a pie exists, you will find it here. And Ken Haedrich breaks down the fundamentals of what makes a good pie, namely the crust. There are lots of tips, and I have learned almost everything I know about pie baking form this book...quite a feat since I grew up under the influence of lots of Mennonite and Pennsylvania Dutch cooking (where pie is a staple of the diet).

So there you have it. How I came to discover my love of cooking, and the influences that have shaped it along the way.

Good Night :-)

Made a difference for that one

A fraternity brother of mine (yes, I said's a co-ed fraternity) is a pediatric surgeon with the United States Air Force. After his first deployment as a medic in Iraq, his wife (also a fraternity brother) compiled his letters and emails home and published them in a book, chronicling his experience and those of his fellow soldiers and patients. It is a moving account of the honor, professionalism, and compassion of our soldiers and medics, doing their best to make a positive difference. Further more, procedes from sales of the book are donated to Fisher House, a non-profit that provides the means for military families to be together while a soldier is undergoing medical treatment. To read more about Chris and his experience as a medic in Iraq, check out this article from a recent addition to the Brown Alumni Magazine.

Chris is now preparing for his second deployment to Iraq. He will be posting his letters home on his blog. I encourage you to check it out. And send prayers, good thoughts, comforting vibes or whatever it is you believe in to Chris, and his family.

Chris, be safe!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Oricchetti with Spinach and Roasted Red Peppers

The idea for this recipe came to me as I was drifting off to sleep one night. The first time I made it, there wasn't quite enough spinach. So I tweaked it a bit, and this iteration is better. It's still a rough draft, though, so if you try it out, definitely let me know how it goes.

Oricchetti with Spinach and Roasted Red Peppers
1/2 lb. uncooked Oricchetti Pasta
1 large bunch spinach, roughly chopped
1 1/2 c. onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced (I use one of my favorite kitchen gadgets)
1/3 c. roasted red peppers, chopped (about one large)
2 tsp. Italian Seasoning
3 Tbs. white wine
1 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 Tbs. Olive oil
2 tsp. white balsamic vinegar
Salt & Pepper to taste
3 Tbs. pine nuts, toasted
1 1/2 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, set aside, and keep warm.
2. In a large skillet over medium heat, saute onions in 1-2 tsp. olive oil until translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and saute another 30 seconds. Add spinach, and saute until wilted. Add roasted red peppers, Italian seasoning, and wine. Cook until liquid is mostly gone. Toss in lemon juice and cook another minute.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper. In a large bowl, toss together pasta, spinach mixture, olive oil mixture, and pine nuts. Stir in 1 oz of grated Parmesan cheese. Serve sprinkled with remaining Parmesan cheese.

Serves 4-6 as a main course, 6-8 as a side dish.

Cooks Notes: White balsamic vinegar is slightly less pungent than regular. However, it can also be harder to find. I use it in the recipe partly for the slightly more subtle flavor, but mostly for the visual aesthetic. It doesn't discolor the pasta like regular balsamic would. However, if you don't want to buy white balsamic just for one recipe, regular balsamic would work just as well, though I would use maybe 1-1/2 tsp. instead of the full 2 tsp.

Psycling and I both really enjoyed this dinner, and it will definitely become a regular in my dinner repertoire.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

I have to say, it's a good thing I'm loving knitting this Seraphim shawl, because with all the ripping back and re-knitting I'm doing, if I didn't love this project, I'd probably go nuts. I was just starting chart 3 (the LAST one before the edge chart) when I noticed that somewhere along the way, my lace pattern got off. Irreparably off. Several rows back. So I had to rip back. And rip back some more. It was rather dejecting, knowing that Friday night, I was knitting up row one of Chart 3, and by Sunday night, I was still moving backwards on chart 2. By Monday night, I was finally able to start moving forward again...but I still have another 4-5 rows to go before I'm back where I was on Friday. I've been set back almost a week. And for something that I should have been able to catch. I'm at a point in the pattern where you can very easily see what it's supposed to be doing. If I had been paying attention to what I was doing, I would have seen this mistake when it happened, taken a few minutes to fix it, and been on my way. But, since I wasn't watching and thinking as I was knitting, I'm set back a week.

Of course, I say I had to rip back. "Had to" is a very interesting phrase. This mistake was very subtle, one that I had to search for to find the cause of so I'd know how far back to rip. One that probably no one else would notice, and certainly not the recipient of the shawl. But, therein lies the Perfectionist's Curse. I would know. And because of that, I couldn't, in good conscience, let it go. I HAD...TO...FIX...IT. In my eyes, it was horrendous, disfigured in a phantom-of-the-opera kind of way. I tried to let it go...I really did. But that Type A that I try to keep lying dormant reared it's ugly head. So I had to rip.

I may be a Type-A perfectionist, but I'm also an optimist. And there are a few silver linings here. One, I was already starting to mourn for the finishing of the shawl. I'm having such a great time knitting it, that I was already starting to realize that I would feel a loss when I finished. Guess I just pushed that day back by a week. Two, I'm learning. My technique is getting much better. I'm much more comfortable with the pattern and with lace knitting in general. I'm learning what to look for, and how to catch mistakes before they happen...something that could play an important role in not losing another week to unknitting. Three, two steps forward and one step back is still a net gain, right? I am making progress, it's just slower than I thought. It gives me more time to appreciate my malabrigo and addis and gorgeous colorway, and the challenge that is this shawl. I'm happiest when my brain is engaged, and she's definitely keeping it working. And finally, I've gotten a much needed knitting attitude adjustment. I got cocky and over confident and complacent in my Seraphim knitting. And that's what led to the mistake in the first place. The Seraphim has put me back in my place...and I think we will both be better off because of it.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Pure Indulgence

I've been wanting to make a cake for a while...I've been itching to pull out my tool box and play. I've also been quite intrigued by a recipe I saw in the March 2007 issue of Food and Wine magazine for a Malt Ball cake. Well, it took almost six months, but I finally made the cake that I've been thinking about. Well, it was worth the wait!! A dense rich malt cake wrapped in a whipped ganache icing that can be described as nothing short of heavenly decadence.

The cake uses three 8" cake pans, which means that when all is said and done, this makes for one tall cake! And the ganache frosting is rich enough that even this hardcore chocoholic had a hard time finishing it. My parents joined us for dinner, and my dad claimed it was one of the best pieces of cake he's had in a long time...worth of the top shelf at Cafe Intermezzo.

If you're looking for a cake to impress, this is it.

2 1/4 cups cake flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup instant malted milk powder
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, room temperature
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups ice cold water
4 large egg whites, room temperature
Frosting and Garnish
10 ounces quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
10 ounces quality milk chocolate, finely chopped
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 cups unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch chunks, softened
malted milk balls, for garnish

1. CAKE: Preheat the oven to 325. Butter and flour three 8 inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk the flours with the malt powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg.
2. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter with the shortening until creamy. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat at medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the dry ingredients in 3 batches at low speed, alternating with the ice water, occasionally scraping down the side of the bowl.
3. In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites at medium high speed until soft peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the batter. Divide the batter between the pans, spreading it evenly and bake the cakes for 40-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 20 minutes, then invert them onto a rack and let cool completely. Peel off the parchment.
4. FROSTING: Place the chocolate in a large bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil, then remove from the heat. Add the corn syrup; immediately pour the mixture over the chocolate. Let stand for 2-3 minutes until the chocolate has melted, then whisk until smooth. Let cool to room temperature.
5. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with a wire whisk. Gradually beat in the butter at medium speed, a few chunks at a time and beat until thoroughly incorporated between additions. The frosting should be smooth and silky. Refrigerate the frosting just until it is thick enough to hold its shape, 10-15 minutes.
6. Place one cake layer on a serving platter and spread 1 1/4 cups of the frosting over the top in an even layer. Repeat to form 2 more layers. Spread a thin layer of frosting over the side of the cake and refrigerate briefly until firm. Frost the side with the remaining frosting. Garnish the cake with malted milk balls and refrigerate briefly to firm up the frosting before serving.
7. The cake and be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Bring to room temperature to serve

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Pulling the Plug

We did it. We bit the bullet and canceled our satellite TV service. We've had DirecTV with Tivo for the past several years...and we realized recently that we've become complacent in our routine. We come home, walk the dog, eat dinner, then settle in front of the boob tube for the rest of the evening. We'd gotten into a rut. And we decided that it was time to stop enabling this rut. We want to do more stuff together. We want to do more stuff with the dog. We want to spend less time sitting on our butts on the sofa, and more time actually interacting and doing stuff. So that was the main reason we did it. But we also realized that 90% of the stuff we tivo and watch regularly is on network tv. We live in a city, and can receive almost all the major networks with a good antenna. So why were we paying $60 a month for channels we never watched? Ok...let me rephrase that...why were we paying $60 a month for the food network? That's really the only non-network channel either of us (ok I) watched at all. Though I must admit...I'm really going to miss my regular helping of food pr0n. But I must be strong...I can live with out the food network...can't I? So we'll see how this little experiment will take a while to realize the full effect...we still have all the stuff on the tivo that we recorded before the satellite shut off. That will cushion the blow. But, we haven't gone completely cold turkey...we have since learned the wonders of...Netflix. (And for those of you who have Netflix, and like good spy shows, you absolutely MUST put the Showtime mini-series called "Sleeper Cell" in your queue. You'll be addicted in no time!).

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Fresh Herb Fritatta with Grape Tomato Salsa

Psycling and I are both big fans of breakfast, but not necessarily mornings. So we sometimes have breakfast for dinner. I came up with this recipe after a co-worker brought in a bounty of grape tomatoes fresh from her garden for the office. I needed to come up with something to showcase the sweet freshness of the tomatoes, and what better with fresh tomatoes than fresh herbs (which I just happened to have in the fridge).

Fresh Herb Fritatta with Grape Tomato Salsa

For Salsa:
1/2 c. quartered fresh grape tomatoes
1/3 c. loosely packed fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. balsamic vinegarf
Salt & Pepper to taste

Mix together all ingredients, and chill while you make fritatta.

For Fritatta:
6 eggs
1/3 c. milk
3 Tbs. finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes
2 Tbs. finely chopped mixed fresh herbs (oregano, marjoram, and thyme)
6 Tbs. grated Parmesan cheese (divided)
Salt & Pepper to taste
1-2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 c. coarsely chopped fresh spinach

1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
2. Beat together eggs and milk in mixing bowl. Stir in chopped sun-dried tomatoes, herbs, and 1/4 c. cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
3. In 10" oven-safe skillet, saute onions over medium heat in olive oil for about 2-3 minutes until they start to soften and become fragrant. Add spinach and saute until wilted. Reduce heat to medium-low, and pour egg mixture into skillet and cook until set on bottom and sides, about 4 minutes.
4. Remove from range, and place in oven. Bake at 425 F until mostly set, about 8 minutes. Remove, sprinkle with remaining 2 Tbs. of cheese and return to oven until cheese is melted, about 2 minutes. Remove from oven and cut into 8 wedges. Top each wedge with about 1 Tbs. salsa mixture.

This recipe serves 4 (two wedges each) as a main meal. It would also work well, though, as part of a brunch buffet, in which case it would serve 8. I served this for dinner with a nice fresh fruit salad.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Savoring a Finale

So, many people look at me funny when they find out that I've had Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows for a week and I'm not done yet. I've actually kind of surprised myself by not zipping through it the way I did the first six books. But when pondering this, I've come to the conclusion that I'm not ready to let go. I started reading Harry Potter, convinced that I wouldn't like it, but wanting to know what all the fuss was about...J.K. Rowling had me hooked from just a few pages into book one. Since then, I've zipped through the books. They're easy reads, but tremendously entertaining and wonderfully fulfilling. I've always eagerly anticipated each book launch, even spending some evenings at book store release parties and waiting in line til after 1 am to get it as soon as I could. But for the first time, I'm realizing that when I'm done, it's really over. There are no more books; nothing to look forward to. I realize how much I've made literary friends with Harry, Ron, Hermione, the Weasly family, and all the wonderful eccentric characters that enliven my imagination. I've enjoyed reading as they've grown up, from the 11 year-old boy who started the series, to the 17 year-old young man that is concluding it. And I don't want to say good-bye yet. So I'm savoring this last book...really taking in each and every word, paragraph, plot-twist, and all. And I'm reading it in my own time. So that by the time I finally turn the last page, I'll be ready to say good-bye to Harry and the gang. But until then, this muggle is enjoying her imaginary wizard life :-)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Perfect Weekend

This weekend was a perfect weekend, for so many reasons. The first and biggest reason my weekend was so perfect?

Psycling is home! It's great to have him home again, cuddling, hugging, and enjoying my cooking :-)

So what else makes for a perfect weekend?

Some time with this:

And lots of time curled up with this:

I hope everyone else out there in blogland had a good weekend too :-)

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Pita Pizzas

Psycling is out of town for a conference, so I decided to take advantage of this to cook with things he normally doesn't like. A few days ago, I made the African Ground Nut Stew with Chive Sour Cream from the May 2007 Issue of Cooking Light. It was full of yummy sweet potatoes. Tonight, I invited some friends over, and made some Pita Pizzas. They came out really well!

There are two kinds of pizzas. The two in back have roasted eggplant and garlic with fresh mozzarella and basil. The one in front has braised fennel with oranges and goat cheese. They both came out wonderful! These recipes are both going to be first drafts, as I try to remember what I did, so I don't have exact serving sizes. But I'll give it my best shot. If you try these, please let me know how they turn out. I'm always looking for feedback on how to improve my recipe writing.

Pita Pizza with Roasted Eggplant and Garlic

2 Large pocketless Pita
1/2 Head of garlic
Lots of olive oil
1 Japanese Eggplant, thinly sliced
2 tsp. salt
1-2 tsp. dried oregano2 Tbs. Butter
1 onion, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp. red wine vinegar
6-7 ~1" balls fresh mozzarella, sliced
6-8 large basil leaves, thinly sliced

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Place garlic on a piece of aluminum foil and drizzle with about 1 tsp. of Olive oil. Roast in oven for about 25 minutes, or until soft.
3. While garlic is roasting, slice eggplant and arrange on a tray or plate in a single layer and sprinkle with salt. Allow to sit about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, rinse eggplant and pat dry. Place in a large jelly roll pan sprayed with cooking spray, drizzle with oil, and sprinkle with oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Roast at 425 F about 12 minutes, until soft and browning. Remove and set aside.
4. Heat butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add onions, and sautee until soft and fragrant, 8-10 minutes. Add vinegar, and reduce heat to low, stirring occasionally. Cook another 10 minutes or until onions are nice and caramelized. Set aside.
5. To assemble pizzas, brush pitas with olive oil. Squeeze the pulp of 4-5 cloves of roasted garlic on each pita, and then top each one with half of caramelized onion mixture. Arrange eggplant over onions, top with mozzarella slices, and sprinkle basil. Bake on a warmed pizza stone at 425 F for about 7 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Cooks Notes: I had a little bit of eggplant left over, so if you're an eggplant fan, feel free to load it on. I also sprinkled a little bit of salt and pepper over the top of the pizza before baking. This makes two pizzas, which would be a nice meal for 2 if accompanied by a green salad.

Another of my favorite ingredients that Psycling is not a big fan of is Fennel. I decided I wanted to make something with fennel while he was out of town, but I wasn't sure what. So, I looked up fennel in one of my favorite kitchen references, and saw that fennel pairs well with oranges. That's when it came to me...I would do a fennel and orange pizza with goat cheese. This was an experiment, and now, I think it has become one of my favorite recipes.

Pita Pizza with Braised Fennel, Oranges, and Goat Cheese

3 large pocketless pitas
6 Tbs. Olive oil (divided), plus extra for brushing
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 large cloves garlic, sliced
1 fennel bulb, with fronds removed, halved vertically, then sliced
1 Tbs. fresh grated orange zest
1 1/2 c. vegetable broth
1 tsp. sugar
1 1/2 oranges, peeled and sectioned
2 oz. crumbled goat cheese
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 425F degrees.
2. Heat 2 Tbs. olive oil over medium heat in large non-stick sautee pan. Add onion, and sautee 4-5 minutes until soft and fragrant. Add garlic and sautee another 30 seconds. Remove from pan and set aside.
3. In same pan, add rest of olive oil, fennel, and orange zest, and sautee for 2-3 minutes. Add broth and sugar, and stir. Then cover and cook over low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and set asside.
4. To assemble pizzas, brush pitas with olive oil, and top each with 1/3 of onion mixture. Add 1/3 of fennel mixture, then sprinkle each with 1/3 of goat cheese crumbles. Top with orange slized. Bake at 425F until cheese is soft and beginning to brown.

Cook's notes: I can't say enough how much I loved this pizza. The orange, fennel, and goat cheese worked so well together, and the garlic was strong, but not over-powering. This serves 3, and would make a good meal paired with a fruit salad.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Knitting Riddle #1

Question: What happens when you are knitting at work over lunch and you realize you forgot your stitch markers?

Answer: Paper Clips!

I've also found paper clips to serve other knitting purposes as well...they can help pick up dropped stitches if you don't have a crochet hook small enough. Or, if (hypothtically of course...this would never actually happen) you discover that you some how picked up an extra stitch, but you're not sure where, and you want to k2tog to fix it, you can use the paper clip to mark where you should do that so you remember next time around...

On another note, I aplogize for my lack of's amazing how life can just take off on you. I'll try to be better, but no promises, since my Harry Potter 7 came yesterday!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Peach Cobbler With a Twist

Last summer, I was going to a pot-luck and needed to bring a dessert. Being a southerner (and from Georgia to boot), how could I bring anything but a peach cobbler for a summer pot-luck? But, also being me, I couldn't just bring a regular ol' peach cobbler. So played around in the kitchen, and came up with this:

It's my Ginger Peach Cobbler with Blueberries. It's become a staple for my summer dessert repertoire. Look at that nice browned pastry top! And the wonderful bubbly blueberry-stained peach filling!

I made two cobblers tonight for my dad. He's going to a dinner party tomorrow and needed dessert for about 20 people. This was his request. So, all this baking and smelling the amazing aromas, and I don't get to taste even one bite!

If you're interested in trying it out, here's the recipe:

Ginger Peach Cobbler with Blueberries

6 large peaches, thinly sliced
1 c. fresh blueberries
3 Tbs. sugar
6 Tbs. brown sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp. cornstarch
1/4. cup minced crystallized ginger
1 Tbs. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

2 c. flour
1 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1 1/2 sticks chilled butter, cut into small pieces
2 Tbs. minced crystallized ginger
1/2 c. boiling water
1 Tbs. sugar for sprinkling

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Toss together peaches, berries, sugars, lemon juice, and cornstarch in 9x13 pyrex baking dish. Bake for about 10 minutes.
3. While fruit bakes make topping. Stir together four, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and ground ginger. Cut in butter with pastry cutter or blend with your finger tips until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Mix in crystallized ginger. Stir in boiling water until just combined.
4. Remove fruit from oven and drop spoonfuls of topping over it, spreading out a little (Topping will spread out as it bakes). Sprinkle topping with sugar, and bake until golden and bubbly, about 25 minutes.

A few notes: Frozen berries will work just as well as fresh, so those are a good alternative if blueberries aren't in season. Also, I imagine raspberries would also go really well in this recipe. Also, I used turbinado sugar to sprinkle on the makes it a little more golden color, and gives a little extra crunch to the topping. As for serving, this cobbler is perfect with a good vanilla ice cream!