Saturday, June 28, 2008

Chocolate Brownies, I Missed My Teflon

Chocolate Brownies

Well, I have a migraine today. I've gotten them since I was around 9, and they can be doozies. Took some Imitrex which, fortunately, works pretty well. Even though I am overwhelmingly nauseated when the migraines are at their worst, I always get a craving for chocolate. Unlike most Americans, I am not a huge chocolate lover (I prefer vanilla). My husband is a die hard chocoholic. I have gone on chocolate runs for him. He gets a little crazed around it. It actually can be a little frightening.


But I digress. Anyhow, when I get migraines, I crave chocolate intensely. So I invariably end up making a batch of homemade chocolate brownies. The original batch that I made many years ago came from my beloved Fannie Farmer Cookbook (aka The Best Cookbook Ever Written). You should have seen me when Collin borrowed it (he's a little fascinated with cookbooks, he even had a subscription to Cook's Illustrated magazine for a year but then decided that there was entirely too much cutting and chopping involved in cooking for it to EVER be safe) and lost it. I was a maniac searching for that book. But again, digression is occuring. I suppose that blogging while under the influence of Imitrex and Benedryl has it's consequences.

So, at this very moment, I have a batch of brownies going. I always make a double batch; these don't last long around my chocolate crazed man, not to mention my sugarholic son.

You'll need:

8 oz of semi-sweet chocolate
1 stick of butter
1 TBSP vanilla extract
1 cup of brown sugar *
2 cups of regular sugar
1-1/2 cups flour
5 eggs
pecans or walnuts if you like #

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1. Put the chocolate and butter into a bowl and microwave on high for 45 seconds. Stir the mixture to incorporate chocolate and butter. If the chocolate isn't completely melted, put it back into the microwave in 15 - 20 second intervals, stirring in between. ^

2. Add the vanilla and stir well.

3. Add sugar, mix, add flour, mix.

4. Add the eggs and spend a bit of time making sure that they are evenly incorporated into the mixture. %

5. Add nuts or other mix-ins if desired.

6. Pour all of this into a large baking dish that has been buttered within an inch of it's life and floured. You will never get them out of the pan if you skip this step.

7. Bake for approximately 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out with little crumbs stuck to it.

It's easier to cut these if you let them cool for half an hour, but I would recommend running a knife around the edges of the brownies to facilitate their removal from the pan. If course, if you must have hot brownies, cut at will, just expect them to fall apart.

* You can use 3 cups of granulated sugar, I just like the taste that the brown sugar gives to the brownies.

# Other things you can add include crushed Oreos, M&M's (the mini's are great) on the top, chocolate chips, peanut butter chips (quite rich), or whatever strikes your fancy. Oh, and I prefer pecans to walnuts, but this is a matter of personal preference.

^ You can always melt the chocolate in a double boiler, but this method is a lot quicker, and if you check your chocolate frequently it shouldn't burn.

% I don't add the eggs until now because after you have added the sugar and flour, the chocolate has cooled sufficiently so that the eggs will not cook when you add them. If you melt the chocolate in a double boiler, you can add the eggs to the sugar and flour, stir well, then add the chocolate, butter, vanilla mixture.

The edges got a little burnt, but don't you just dig the Lazy Daisy dishes? My mom was going to sell them in a yard sale and I snatched them up. I grew up eating on these dishes; you can't blame me for being a little sentimental.


I Missed My Teflon

I made Mongolian Beef last night for dinner in an effort to further my Americanized Chinese cooking skills. It came out really well, used the PF Chang's Mongolian Beef recipe that is widely published on the web. Anyhow, the combination of brown sugar, oil, corn starch, and more oil created a cement that took a huge amount of elbow grease and a slight amount of creativity to remove from the iron fryer. I scraped with a spatula to remove the lion's share of the stuck on yumminess, but there was still quite a bit of scrubbing that I had to do. I hated to do it, but I had a brillo pad from Lord knows when; it did nothing while at the same time creating the not so pleasant sensation of millions of steel shards lodging into my fingers. I would never have resorted to such measures for a lesser pan. In the end I had to fill up the pan about half-way with water, heat it to boiling, let it sit for a bit, and use a Dobie sponge and (gasp!) dishwashing detergent. I missed my carcinogenic Teflon. I'm just hoping that my husband never figures out that my old spaghetti pot/collander combo is made of aluminum! Our little secret, 'kay?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Weekend of the Cast Iron Frying Pan

This has been The Weekend of the Cast Iron Frying Pan. Why, you ask? Well, my dear husband took it upon himself to throw away my other frying pan because he "didn't like the looks of the Teflon." I am not a reactionist-newest-medical-theory nut and have no fear of Teflon in the least; he was raised in a house that takes each health news bite as Gospel. I was not happy. But the cooking has to go on, does it not? So I decided that my beloved cast iron pan, seasoned to perfection, previously reserved for use as a chicken fryer, must be put to the test.

Meal #1 was Fried Chicken Tenderloin with homefries and corn. Okay, so not so inventive - after all, this is what I'd used it for in the past. But the chicken sure was good. I used a cornflake crust (flour, cornflakes, garlic powder, salt, pepper, a little sugar, parsley), which I had never done, and they turned out yummy!

Next I made sauted onion and ham omelets with Monterey Jack cheese. The omelets cooked up well, not too thick, not too thin. With my previous pan, the omelets always were too thick - it just wasn't big enough. My husband was duly impressed.

Next came the hamburgers - Collin and Kendall had friends over all weekend which made for 8 people in the house. You can't lose with a hamburger, even when your son's buddy is picky. No big surprise here, the hamburgers were a success.

I should note that I was not missing the Teflon. I have had my iron pan for close to ten years and am a little obsessive about the care of it. No one cleans it but me. If it isn't too dirty, it just gets a good wiping out. Really dirty gets water and a sponge then straight to a 450 degree oven for drying. Nothing sticks to it even though it doesn't feel slick to the touch. Please, I beg you: never, ever, ever put your iron fryer into the dishwasher. You might as well just get it a coffin and bury it in the backyard. A dishwasher is tantamount to iron pan death.

Are those clams in Jamie Oliver's (Teflon coated) frying pan?

The last meal that I made was fried rice. I have never made fried rice that I was happy with. It either was too bland or too sticky or the flavors weren't distributed well. So I went online to read recipes and see if I could improve my fried rice technique. Success! One thing that I spent time on was frying the rice without all of the seasonings in it. I had already sauted an onion with some ham, garlic, and ginger. Then I added the rice and stirred it around over medium high heat for at least 10 minutes. When I was happy with the consistancy of the rice, I added garlic powder and A LOT of soy sauce. I lost count after 4 TBSP. It just wasn't enough. Oh, and I added more ginger, around 2 tsp in total of dried ginger (didn't have any fresh). I finally added some scrambled egg that I had made ahead of time and chopped up. It actually looked like something from a Chinese resteraunt, but tasted better.

So my husband is off eating left over fried rice. Before he disappeared, he made the comment that my frying pan was looking old and I needed a new one. It was, after all, black, and all the ones in the store are grey. I told him that if I even sensed that he was thinking about throwing away my pan, I would go get it and beat him to death with it. Then I told him to go eat the delicious fried rice and rejoice over the miracle of the iron frying pan. I think he got the message.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Mr Rogers Redux, Knitting Progress

Mr. Rogers Redux

Still watching Mr Rogers Neighborhood with William and I'm realizing that I was not all that observant when I was a child. He wore another cabled sweater today, this one in the aforementioned powder blue, cabling along the zipper, same collar, but this one has cables down the sleeves. I have to say that when I was a kid I was more interested in whether Lady Elaine would be on the show and if Picture Picture was going to show us anything and whether there was going to be a field trip. I have to reveal that part of the modern day interest stems from Mr McFeeley and the Purple Panda visiting my elementary school when I was in the second grade (my mom brought them to town for the Easter Seals telethon - I got to hold King Friday!!).

These are the sweaters I remember - nice and plain and red!

Anyhow, have been thinking about how I would construct a Mr Rogers inspired sweater. The yarn in his sweaters is just too bulky and makes the sweaters look dated; I'd probably go with a sport weight yarn (I have never been a fan of the bulky sweater). I would have to add the darts to shape the sweater as previously mentioned. And as for a color, so I remain true to the inspiration and use a red or blue, or do I make it in something more modern, like a sage? Am still puzzling over that one. Anyhow, I have the idea, just need the yarn and the time!

Knitting Progress

Have been searching for jobs, probably the most demoralizing experience in the world, next to blind dates. You may have guessed that I'm not having much luck. Anyhow, I've not had much time to knit. I occassionally visit Ravelry and daydream over yarn at knitting sites, but I'm mostly glued to job boards, classified ads, and keeping my ear to the ground for job leads. Kendall's leg warmers are coming along, although she may have to settle for one completed one and one IOU for a birthday present. I'd much rather be knitting, but haven't found a way to parlay that into a significant money maker, so what are you going to do?

Monday, June 16, 2008

New Knitting Websites

Planet Purl

Planet Purl is a new website by Beth Moriarty, a knitting fanatic and world traveler who realized after doing countless web searches that it was nearly impossible to find information regarding yarn stores, knitting events, etc around the world in an easily searchable form. She founded a website that not only solves these problems (with a worldwide knitting store feature, travel guides, and events listing) but also hosts knitting blogs and forums, reviews yarns and gadgets, and includes knit-alongs and patterns.

Sweaters on Mr. Rogers


I was watching Mr Rogers today with the rugrat. I am a huge fan, always have been. Anyhow, he was wearing the greatest sweater! A cardigan (of course) with cabling on each side of the zipper with a knit 1 purl 1 waist in a soft grey, collar like the sweater above. There was no cabling on the arms, though. Really cool! I never remember Fred Rogers wearing anything more than a stocking stitch cardigan in powder blue or red. I stand corrected! Am thinking of adapting the sweater and placing some darts to make it more fitted (lots of inspiration from Knitting Daily for that one). You never know where your inspiration will come from, so you?

Twist Collective

Every knitter that I know is excited about this one. Twist Collective is a webzine that launches August 1st (45 days and counting). It will feature how-to articles, reviews, and most importantly, patterns for download. No one knows if we will be charged for the downloads (I'm thinking we will), but from what I have seen, they will be worth it. If you go to the website now, you will see teaser photos of the upcoming patterns. I, for one, want to make them all!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Rain, Spaghetti Carbonara, Spaghetti Face!

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Haven't written in a few days, looking for a job - Uuggh. It has been raining cats and dogs in Ohio; yesterday, it rained so hard that a major freeway artery (315) flash flooded during rush hour. No one was hurt, but startling nonetheless.

All the rain has been good for the flowers, but they are all tamped down from the constant downpours. With the soggy conditions, I haven't been able to get to any of my endless list of gardening projects - the arch is leaning over further, the weeds are getting higher (they like the rain, too, darn it).

My mystery clematis that I planted a few years ago with my New Dawn rose has finally decided to flower - looks suspiciously like a Nelly Moser. Both clematis and rose are flowering now, which makes for a pretty display.


My remaining lavender row (the most stalwart bunch, apparently) is beginning to bloom. Lavender is my favorite flower, bar none. I am a bit obsessed with it, and at one time had around 70 plants in the garden. But time and Ohio blizzards have taken their toll, and now there are only 10 or so surviving plants. It has taken everything I have in me not to go out and buy up all of the lavender in Columbus this year.


Spaghetti Carbonara

It was just my daughter, the baby, and me for dinner. Kendall, the baby, and I went to the pool today (until the most recent torrential downpour started) and when I got home, I wasn't in the mood to cook a grand dinner. Thankfully, Kendall and Will love just about anything, so I decided to whip up a quick pot of Spaghetti Carbonara. This is one of the simplest, most satisfying pasta dishes (well, besides opening a can of spaghetti sauce - nothing wrong with that, as you will soon see), and cooks up lickity-split.

You'll need:
A 1 lb box of spaghetti (linguini works well, too)
3 eggs
1/2 cup grated parmesean cheese, or 1/4 cup parmesean and 1/4 cup romano
1 TBSP black pepper
1/2 TBSP dried basil (parsley is the traditional herb, but I love basil, so that's what I use)
1/2 - 1 lb of bacon, fried and crumbled**
minced garlic to taste (I usually use around 1 TBSP)
A big dallop of butter or margerine or olive oil

1. Cook the pasta until it's al dente. Drain.
2. While the pasta is cooking, combine the eggs, cheese, basil, and pepper in a bowl and mix together. Set aside.
3. Melt the butter in a pan. Add the bacon and garlic and saute for 30 sec to 1 minute.
4. Add the pasta to the garlic and bacon and toss.
5. Pour the egg and cheese mixture onto the pasta and toss over medium heat until the egg is cooked through, about 1 - 3 minutes.
6. Enjoy!

If you really want to be impressive, put the pasta in a large bowl and garnish with a few sprigs of fresh basil or parsley, sprinkle some freshly grated parmesean cheese on top, or some pepperoncini. Or just serve it out of the pan. It will taste just as good.

** Bacon is the traditional meat in this dish, but I actually prefer ham (around 2 cups diced, which is what I used tonight), or better yet, proscuitto (around 1 cup, it goes a long way). I guess the uniting factor here is that some sort of preserved pig should be used!

Spaghetti Face!

We've been on a pasta kick recently, which is just fine with Will; he is like me and would gladly eat pasta every day. He is especially fond of spaghetti marinara, and is quite skilled at covering himself in it!


Of course, there is no such thing as too many photos of your baby covered in spaghetti, so in that spirit, here's a picture of his first spaghetti dinner.


He just grew out of the sleeper, which is remarkably spaghetti sauce free!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Visit these Websites!

Noble Pig

I am now a Stumbler (check StumbleUpon for more info on how you too can become part of the mind suck that is Stumbling). Anyhow, I just came upon this sinfully decadant cooking site, Noble Pig with more waistband straining recipes than you can shake a stick at. Want Carmelized Chocolate, Banana, and Marshmallow Sandwiches? You can find the recipe and the mouthwatering recipes in an article aptly entitled "Get your fat pants out." Cathy describes herself by saying that gluttony is her sin of choice. You may have to join her after reading these recipes.

Knitting Cybrarian

This is a great blog by knitting librarian Laura Gayle. Insight on life, nature, and of course knitting and librarianship make this blog a joy to read. There's a lot to absorb here, with postings on books of all genres, music, pretty much everything you can think of. Check it out.

School Products

I was paging through an issue of Vogue Knitting from 2004 when I found the ad for School Products, the oldest yarn store in Manhatten. According to the website, "[for] almost 60 years School Products Company has been serving fiber artists with the best equipment, accessories and widest selection of yarns." You've got to see the selection and prices to believe it. They carry highest quality yarns (cashmere, kid alpaca, etc), mill ends, and stock a huge selection of European yarn. As of this posting, I found a cashmere/merino blend yarn for $8.50 a skein and baby camel at $4.50 and ounce. They also carry a huge selection of books and other tools and accessories.

DROPS Designs

Amazing database from GARNSTUDIO/DROPS Designs, the Norwegian yarn producer. Thousands (2769 in English) of free, downloadable patterns featuring every skill level. The patterns are written a bit differently than the American patterns that I am used to (amounts of yarn needed are in ounces, no yardage is given, and you will find instructions telling you to cast on a certain yardage of yarn with no number of stitches given). Nonetheless, you'll find many patterns incorporating Norwegian colorwork, an incredible amount of stylish sweaters, hats, sock, etc, etc. There is also a link to suppliers of the yarn, both on the web and local yarn stores.

Yarndex Knitting and Crochet Directory

Sister site to Yarn Market, this site is a reference site for all of us yarnies. Information has been catalogued on over 4,000 types of yarn to help the crafter pick out the perfect yarn for their chosen project. Each entry includes MSRP (with a link to Yarnmarket if that yarn is currently available), current available colors, and patterns using the yarn, if available. You'll also find all of the standard yarn specs (distributor, yardage, weight, needle sizes, etc).

Friday, June 6, 2008

Good Year for the Roses

At the risk of sounding like Elvis Costello, it's been a good year for the roses, at least so far. Most of the roses have started to bloom, and many of the ones that I though I had lost over the winter are actually thriving. I planted a teensy "volunteer" rose that I found in another part of my garden last year by an arbor, and this year it's a good 2-1/2 feet tall. I was hoping that it was the yellow wild rose that is growing in a neglected space in my neighbor's yard, but it turned out to be an 'Alba,' which is ok, because I love wild and old roses. It is a quick and short bloomer, but I suspect that it will be extremely showy in a few years. It joins an Apothecary Rose that I found in my backyard (another teensy slip that grew into a monster).

The first ever bloom if the Zephirine Drouhin slip that I planted three years ago

The Ferdinand Picard and Gertrude Jekyl, which were pruned to the ground last fall by some well meaning friends, are coming back and have lovely blooms.

This Ferdinand Picard used to go all the way up (and cover) my rusty iron work. It had been looking sickly over the last few years, so the good pruning should help it a great deal.

The Gertrude Jekyls with Salvia 'Midnight" and Johnson Blue Geraniums

My favorite, Mme Alfred Carriere, is blooming so profusely that it is falling over from the weight of its flowers. And because it has been so hot, the air is full of its wonderful, heady smell.

I planted the Mme Alfred Carriere to cover the front wall of my house. It's time to use some rope to train it to the wall and start training it up.

I still have a lot of pruning to do. And the aforementioned arbor has broken and is leaning over, so it has to be replaced. I have Gooseneck Loosestrife that is taking over in places that it shouldn't (I made the huge mistake of not planting it in a sunken pot), and, as ever, there is a huge amount of weeding to be done. But things are looking pretty good nonetheless.

Yikes! Always more work to be done!

Finally, my Tree Peony is looking great this year. It only flowers for about a week and a half, but this year it has grown much larger and the flowers are the size of coffee cups!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008



I haven't posted in a few days. I received my invitation to Ravelry and was sucked into its vortex for a few days. What a great site! Cool groups, places to organize your projects (who needs to buy a knitting journal now?), and thousands of patterns, a lot of them free! I am in love.

Have started two new projects. Began the aforementioned colorwork project, the Fair Isle Rapids scarf on Knitty. Am using Red Heart yarn as it is my first Fair Isle project; didn't want to use expensive yarn when I didn't know how it would turn out. But it's looking good so far, although I haven't gotten through one repeat of the pattern yet.


Also have started a pair of legwarmers for my daughter's birthday on July 10. She will be 15!!! She's a figure skater and has talked about how cool legwarmers are, so I came up with a pattern and am cranking a pair out. Am using Caron Simply Soft in Confetti - I was tempted by some self-striping yarn that I found on the internet by Yarntini, but times are tight, and I had the Caron yarn. The legwarmers remind me of Rainbow Brite or Punky Brewster as they are so colorful. Kendall will love them. Will post a pic when I have completed one.

Such a rainbowy girl!

Now I'm going back to Ravelry - I predict a Ravelry 12-step group in the future!
Related Posts with Thumbnails