Monday, December 24, 2007

Crab Risotto

I wanted to make something special and comforting, but also something that would be light-tasting, since we've been eating so much heavy, fattening food (you know how it is around the holidays). I came up with this crab risotto, and it was the perfect thing for Mr Wonderful and I.

Crab Risotto
2 Tbsp EVOO
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 c diced onion
1 c arborio rice
1 c dry white wine
4 c simmering chicken stock
10 oz fresh crab meat (Dungeness is in season here in the bay area)
Zest of one lemon
2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
salt & pepper

Melt the butter with the EVOO in a heavy skillet over medium heat. When the butter is melted, add the onions and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Seasoning with salt & pepper is a good idea at this point. Add the rice and stir to coat all the grains, and let them toast for a minute or two while you open the wine. Add the wine and let it bubble until the alcohol is all cooked out. and the rice has absorbed some of the liquid. Add 1/2-3/4 c of hot chicken stock. Stir frequently, letting the rice absorb the stock until it's almost gone. The rice should not get dry on top, but when you drag a wooden spoon across the bottom of the pan, it should leave a track for a moment or two. That's when you know it's time to add more stock. Keep adding stock and letting the rice absorb it, stirring very frequently, until the stock is all gone and the rice is al dente. Be patient, it takes about half an hour to do this right!

At this point you can add just about anything you want to the risotto. For this meal, I used crab, lemon zest, and parsley. As soon as the crab is heated through, check the seasonings and add more salt or pepper, if necessary. Makes 3-4 servings.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken Noodle Soup
Originally uploaded by snarkmeister
Good lord, it's been forever since I updated. I've been cooking, but it's mostly been stuff like chicken nuggets for the kids and re-runs of things I've already blogged about. I mean, who wants to see another blog about roast chicken? I did make a Beef Barley Soup the other day, but my camera batteries had died and I didn't have anymore AA's, so there wasn't a picture for the post. It was pretty simple anyway - just the usual soup starter veggies (onion, celery, carrot), 2 boxes of beef broth, some barley grains, salt & pepper and a bay leaf.

This soup recipe is pretty much the same, with a little variation. I love basic soups - you can pull them together in half an hour and you've got a comforting meal for 4-6 people that's perfect for wintertime.

Chicken Noodle Soup
2 Tbsp EVOO
1/2 yellow onion, diced small
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 large chicken breast, diced
8 cups (2 boxes) chicken stock
2 tsp poultry seasoning
salt & pepper to taste

Heat up the EVOO over medium heat in your big, heavy soup pot. Throw in the veggies, season with salt & pepper, and saute for a few minutes, until the onion is translucent (about 5 min). Throw in the diced chicken, season with salt & pepper and poultry seasoning. Cook for a couple of minutes, until there's not much pink showing anymore. Add all the chicken stock, and raise the heat to high until it comes to a boil. Throw in the dried pasta of your choice (Rugrat's favorite is the "honeycombs" - AKA fiori, or "flower" shaped pasta), reduce heat to medium, cover and cook until the pasta is al dente (stirring occasionally so the pasta doesn't stick). That's it! The chicken will be cooked through by the time the pasta is done.

A sleeve is done!

Finally! I finally finished one sleeve. Rugrat saw a kid wearing a sweater that had little holes for the kid's thumbs to poke through, and of course he had to have that for HIS sweater, so I made a buttonhole after carefully marking where his thumb would be.

So now all I have to do is one more sleeve, the collar, and weave in all those pesky yarn ends...and we'll have a sweater!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Dyeing wool yarn

Last weekend we made a trip to Michael's, to get some glitter and food coloring for the kids (they were making snow globes). I figured since I was there I'd pick up a skein of cheap white wool yarn and try dyeing some myself, since I'd read up on it earlier in the week and it seemed pretty simple. I grabbed some Wilton's paste food coloring in forest green, brown, burgundy and teal, and a skein of Patons Classic Wool Merino in winter white.

When we got home, I pulled out some Pyrex dishes - casserole-type things - and preheated the oven to about 225. All my regular pots & pans are hard-anodized aluminum, and I wasn't willing to possibly ruin my expensive cookware on a test ball of yarn (you can't use aluminum because it is "reactive" - and I'm not sure what exactly happens, but I wasn't about to find out). I don't have any stainless still pots, so I figured I'd do it in the glass dishes in the oven instead of on the stove. I transferred the ball of yarn into a hank by wrapping it around the back of two dining room chairs (back to back) and then tied it in four places with some acrylic crap yarn to keep it in one big hank. I soaked the hank in plain hot water for about half an hour, until the yarn was fully soaked, then I drained the water from the sink and kind of pushed/squeezed the excess water out. I put 1/4 cup of white vinegar in each of the three casserole dishes, then filled each one with 4 cups (1 quart) of hot water. Then came the fun part - adding the dye. It's kind of a trial-and-error sort of thing; the more dye you add, the more saturated the color will be. I just scooped some out of the little jar with a wooden chopstick and swirled it around in the water/vinegar until it dissolved completely. I used the green, brown and burgundy for this trial (Rugrat wanted me to use the teal but I figured three colors was PLENTY to start out with). I carefully put the dishes in the oven (not real easy to make all three fit on one shelf, let me tell you!) and draped the damp skein of white yarn in the dishes, with brown on one end, burgundy on the other, and the green in the middle. I checked it often, poking it with chopsticks to make sure it was submerged all the way, and turned it over once to make sure the color saturated the top as well as the bottom of the yarn.

Finally I removed the yarn and let it cool in the sink, dumped out the remaining dye water, and rinsed the yarn. And rinsed, and rinsed, and rinsed. The burgundy bled like crazy. When it finally let up some, I took a long, critical look at the skein and decided the colors were too bright and unharmonious, so I ended up re-dyeing the entire skein in brown dye. When I rinsed it out after overdyeing with brown, there was no bleeding, and the colors were much more muted - as I had originally intended. I ended up with a lovely autumn-y variegated skein, with coppery brown, camel, olive green, and cranberry colors. As you can see from the picture above, I'm turning it into My So Called Scarf, and the pattern shows off the color gradations beautifully.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Holiday meme

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Mostly paper, but gift bags if they're a funky shape

2. Tree--Real or Artificial? Artificial, but only because real trees are so darned expensive now. You can get a nice fake tree for about the same price as a nice REAL tree, but the fake tree lasts forever.

3. When do you put the Christmas tree up? The day after Thanksgiving

4. When do you take the tree down? Shortly after New Year's

5. Like eggnog? I've got to have it at least once during the season

6. Do you have a nativity scene? No

7. Favorite gift received as a child? Cabbage Patch Kid

8. Hardest person to buy for? Step-dad

9. Worst Christmas gift received? I can't think of anything particularly heinous, although I was sorely disappointed the year that I got a FAKE Cabbage Patch Kid.

10. Mail or email a Christmas card? Mail ...and I am horrendously late this year, I know...

12. Favorite Christmas movie? So hard to choose! Love Actually (not really a Christmas movie, but it's set in London at Christmastime), A Christmas Story ("You'll put your eye out, kid!"), It's a Wonderful Life (of course), and most of the old-skool kids' Christmas specials, like Year Without a Santa Claus (Heat Miser!!) and Rudolph and Charlie Brown Christmas. I really love Christmas shows.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Usually just before Thanksgiving, but this year I didn't start until last Friday. But I got it almost all done that day, so I'm doing pretty good. ;-)

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Yes, bath stuff and bottles of wine

15. Favorite food to eat on Christmas? Oh boy. Slow-roasted prime rib with gravy and mashed potatoes - I think that's what we'll be having for Christmas dinner this year. Homemade fudge. Hot chocolate with whipped cream. Maple sugar candy (in my stocking every year!). Almond Roca. Tangerines. A big brunch, like pancakes or scrambled eggs and bacon. Coffee (but that's nothing new, I have that every morning).

16. Colored or clear lights? Colored, definitely. The tackier, the better, when it comes to my Christmas tree.

17. Favorite Christmas song? The Charlie Brown Christmas album (Vince Guaraldi). Brian Setzer Orchestra's version of The Nutcracker Suite. God Bless Ye Merry Gentlemen, by Barenaked Ladies with Sarah McLachlan. All I Want for Christmas, by Olivia Olson. It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, by Andy Williams. Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow, by Frank Sinatra. The Christmas Song, by Nat King Cole. What? I LIKE Christmas music!

18. Travel during Christmas or stay home? Stay home!!

19. Can you name Santa's reindeer? Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, and Rudolph

20. Star or angel on tree top? Angel, but only because I've never found a star I like as much as the one we had on the tree when I was growing up. (*sob!*)

21. Open presents on Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas morning. Usually Babydaddy comes over on Christmas Eve and spends the night so we can all open presents together Christmas morning, but I guess that won't be happening this year! LOL

22. The most annoying thing about this time of year? All the noise, noise, noise, noise! Just kidding. Actually, it's the shopping I hate most. And the traffic. And the people, but I generally hate people so that's nothing new. ;-)

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


Note to self: stop knitting while drinking.

I keep dropping stitches and fucking things up and having to rip back the poor sleeve I finally started on a few days ago. Every time I sit down with a beer and my knitting needles I screw the damn thing up. Like, when I decided to give the sleeve a little shaping, and so I (in my ultimate wisdom) decreased one stitch every other row, but only in one direction. So the sleeve decrease started to spiral.

Ah well, I guess this is just what happens when you knit your first sweater and decide to do modifications to the pattern. Before this, the most difficult thing I'd attempted was a scarf. A really easy garter-stitch scarf. Oh, and I did do that one two-color hat in the EZ book. But this is really my first big project, and quite frankly I'm so frustrated with it right now that I dream about frogging the whole damn thing. Literally. I had a dream I did that. It was kind of liberating but ultimately a depressing dream, so when I woke up I was glad I hadn't done it.

Anyhoo, I am plugging along. I found a local knitting group and finally made it to my first meeting last night. I'm hoping to make it on a regular basis, because I think it will help a lot to have experienced knitters that I can get help from, in person, when I screw up.