Pensive Frog

A melange of cooking, baking, knitting, craftyness, and TV-aholicism.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Baby, it's cold!

So wintertime has hit Seattle full throttle, and it's hard to stay warm. This little number helps. It's the Loopy Velez cowl from Stitch 'n Bitch, and it's a little hard to wear in public. I'm tempted to glue on googly eyes and run around the mall like a muppet on parole. I like wearing it when watching TV - I arrange it so only my wee eyes are exposed, and that's just about perfect.


Sunday, November 28, 2004

Holiday aftermath

Well, Thanksgiving was a success chez Pensive Frog! The guajillo-tamarind turkey turned out quite nice, though the sweet-n-tangy gravy was a bit of a surprise. A good surprise, but very different than your typical gravy. We made the leftovers into turkey colorado, which is currently chillin' in the fridge waiting for me to make a batch of flour tortillas. For now, I'll leave you with the formula for the evening's aperitif - the Ruby Cocktail (taken from the Dec 2004 issue of Sunset magazine). Place a sugar cube in the bottom of a champagne flute, add 2 T pomegranate juice, then fill the flute with champagne or some other sparkling wine. Stir, and voila!

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Silk Garden Question

Okay, now a brief hiatus from chopping and cooking and baking (oh my!). I'm trying to think of quick, nice knitted holiday gifts, and I was thinking that ribbed hats would be a cinch. I'm really pleased with how my Kureyon Kap turned out, but the wool is too itchy for most people, I think. So, Noro Silk Garden has the same cool color effects, and the same yardage/gauge as Kureyon. But I can't find any info about the softness of this yarn! Has anyone out there used Silk Garden? Is it soft enough to be used as a hat or scarf? Wool Needlework Discounters has a great price for Silk Garden, so I think this would be an inexpensive, hopefully appreciated, gift for lots of people on my list.

An eye for a pie

Since I can't find any of the snaps I've taken of my previous pies, here's a bit of calm before the storm. This photo was taken a few weeks ago on Rainier Vista Way on the University of Washington campus.

Anyway, today is the final chapter of my Thanksgiving treats trilogy. Last but not least, the pie. This year I'm making pumpkin and pecan pies. Pecan pies were never part of my family's traditional table, but my husband's family always had them (with bourbon whipped cream, no less), so I've adopted the sticky, tasty tradition. The recipe comes from Mark Bittman's tome How to Cook Everything, which is an excellent resource for basic and fancy recipes alike. It's custard-based rather than corn-syrup based, so it's decadently sweet rather than teeth charringly sucrose-y. The pumpkin pie will be a new recipe this year, from Maida Heatter's Pies and Tarts. The recipe calls for an interesting array of spices, including black pepper and mace but no cinnamon! In past years, I've made Martha Stewart's Maple Pumpkin Pie, which is also quite good. And to think, when I was growing up, we always just made the recipe from the back of the can of pumpkin - which was always verrrry tasty itself. I've come to the conclusion that it's nearly impossible to mess up pumpkin pie. Okay, time to start the preparations. I'm sorry that none of these recipes are available online - but I'm sure these books are available either at your library or local bookshop. Cold comfort, indeed! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Ah, the serenity of fall

Monday, November 22, 2004

I heart carbs!

First things first, here's the link to the caramelized onion roast turkey I mentioned yesterday.

Today's entry is a salute to the bottom of the food pyramid - carbohydrates! Here's a cavalade of my most beloved starchy side dishes, including sweet potatoes, stuffing, and rolls. My roasted sweet potato recipe comes from Bon Appetit, and if you look at this recipe on Epicurious, pay no attention to the reviewer who says to cut down on the butter. She be insane. The butter melts with honey and lemon juice to form a delectable, plate-lick-inducing glaze. All right, cut it down to 4T if you must.

I cook my stuffing outside the bird, using the bread chunks and recipe provided by the Grand Central Bakery. The recipe comes on the back of the bag, but is also available on their website, God bless 'em. A few more steps than your basic Stove Top, but infinitely better, especially with toasted pecans (and I do like Stove Top...). You could probably substitute any toasted bread chunks from crusty, artisan-type loaves.

My favorite roll recipe is actually a "Top Secret" recipe that duplicates the wheat bread served at Outback Steakhouse. (I leave out the food coloring called for in the recipe). This slightly-sweet bread can either be shaped into 8 oblong rolls or 32 round dinner rolls. The recipe calls for cocoa powder and instant coffee, which makes the finished product very complex and tasty. Caveat - there's something a little off with this recipe - I always end up adding lots more flour than called for, but it always turns out great!

I'm skipping the mashed potatoes this year because we only have four dinner attendees, and I can never get those taters to stay hot anyhow. If anyone has a killer mashed potato recipe or a foolproof method of keeping them hot, please share!

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Let the gluttony begin!

I'm taking a brief hiatus from knitting content this week, as I begin my preparations for our big Thanksgiving feast. I'll post information about my plans for a different dish each day - today, the turkey! I've put in my turkey order at Larry's Market - their birds have treated us well in the past. Since I first started cooking Thanksgiving dinner three years ago, I've brined the turkey overnight in a saline solution recommended by Alton Brown, who usually has his head on straight when it comes to cooking (except for his pizza dough recipe - utterly bonkers). Anyway, in previous years, I've roasted the turkey according to a great Bon Appetit recipe, in which you roast the turkey atop a bed of thinly sliced onions, yielding a wonderfully rich caramelized onion gravy. And I used to be very anti-gravy before I discovered this recipe. Always on the lookout for something new, I spotted a very interesting recipe in Sunset magazine - a guajillo chile and tamarind-glazed turkey. I usually turn turkey leftovers into spicy turkey colorado (turkey stewed in ground dried chiles, stock, spices, and garlic), so why not have a southwestern kick for the main event?

Setting the table

Friday, November 19, 2004

Get Lost!

Okay, let's put on our thinking caps, and see if we can figure out what's really going on with all those people on Lost. Lynette had the optimistic thought that everyone is already dead, and are just manifestations of one person's psyche, a la Identity. There also seems to be a little Life of Pi vibe going on. I have a theory about the previous history of the island: a long time ago, a French-Canadian circus ship was marooned on the island, and all the polar bears and elephants escaped and had a grand old time trampling the jungle and being non sequiturs. Sadly, all the humans affiliated with the circus died. But, this would explain the Frenchwoman's distress transmission, as well as all those leotards that keep washing up on shore. Well, that hasn't happened yet, but give it time. Does anyone else have any ideas?

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

I don't know about you...

But I just love spending hours and hours on 2x2 ribbing for a sweater before realizing that it is going to be too big and fugly. Why did I invest all that time? Oh well. The embryonic sweater you see here has since been transformed into several neat balls of unfurled acrylic yarn. I originally bought the yarn on sale, back in the days before I realized that a one or two balls of yarn are practically useless for anything other than a hat. And I have tons of hats already. Any ideas about what I should do with this stuff? At least it's a pretty color. (Did someone say poncho?)

Sweater begone!

Monday, November 15, 2004


One of the nice things about living in Seattle is that there is no shortage of tasty restaurants. Every so often, a gaggle of the best eateries offer a 25 for $25 promotion, which is a great deal for some great food. First course, entree, and dessert for $25. I just love that the question of dessert is resolved from the beginning. Last night we ventured to Ballard to try out the Market Street Grill, after a fun afternoon watching The Incredibles from our favorite seats at Cinerama. It was a very nice meal, the kind of food that makes you eat more than you should. Luckily, I only had one gooey lemon-filled Valley Girl donut at Zeitgeist before the movie. Today, I'm on an all carrot-stick diet.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

They say apples are a healthy snack...

I've drowned the healthy goodness in caramel! Caramel apples have become a fall staple in our household, but I only make a half-recipe to keep the decadence to modest levels. Plus, that leaves me with leftover sweetened condensed milk for cafe sua da. Yummmm...

Messy but good

Friday, November 12, 2004

Cotton Checks

So here's what I decided to do with that Cotton Fleece. I decided against the Irish Hiking Scarf for this yarn because the pattern is not reversible. Since the yarn is not fuzzy at all, the WS would look pretty horrid. Sometimes you can get away with an ugly WS if the yarn has enough of a halo. I made up this super-complex scarf pattern last night, and I think it works pretty well. I think it will need some blocking to drape correctly. The pattern is just 30 stitches of K5/P5 basketweave with a 6-row repeat, flanked by 2 garter selvage stitches on each side to help the scarf stay flat. I guess I'll just keep going until I reach the end of my yarn - but I think this pattern just screams for end tassels of some sort.

Check it

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Crisp days call for crisp snacks

I was watching Family Feud last night (oh Richard Karn, how the mighty have fallen) and one of the final showdown survey questions was "Name a crisp vegetable". I do believe that lettuce was the number one answer, but if the question was posed of the fruit kingdom, you can bet that apples would win. Fall is apple season in Washington (and probably everywhere else), and my crisper is full of Granny Smiths and Fujis. These beauties narrowly escaped transformation into apple crisp, and I bet they have no idea what fate is about to befall them...

An apple a day...

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Exhibit A

So my husband said I should really post a photo of the orphan Cotton Fleece yarn, so here it is. I've been getting lots of great feedback about what I should do with these skeins, and I think it would be great to turn them into a project where softness is key. Even though I said I didn't want to do cables with this yarn, maybe the Irish Hiking Scarf would be okay. The cables wouldn't be forced to stretch and retract as much in a scarf as in a hat, and the cables are pretty simple. The hat I was planning is the Fiber Trends Braids and Bobbles hat, which is kind of, ahem, hardcore. At least for me. Plus, there's a knitalong for the Hiking Scarf, and I've never joined one of those before! Intriguing. But I'm still open to better suggestions!

Alpine Lilac

Monday, November 08, 2004

Any ideas?

I have two skeins of Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece in 'alpine lilac', and nothing to do with it. I was originally going to make them into a nice cabled hat, but now I'm afraid that the non-stretchy cotton is poorly suited to cables. Sure, it's 20% merino wool, but it just doesn't seem that elastic. So two skeins is a terrible number - I guess I could make a cropped tank top, but ewww. Maybe another hot water bottle cozy? Someone help me! I have 430 yards total, and the suggested gauge is 5 stitches/inch on size 6 needles.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Last chance for spooky treats

Before I forget, let me share this great sweet - meringue harbor seals! I mean, meringue sea lions! Well, at Halloween time, they look like wee ghosties. I guess if you're having a marine life themed party, these would do the trick as well.

Meringue ghosts

Friday, November 05, 2004


Okay, so the Kureyon Kap is done - and yes, it is itchy. But I love the way it matches other articles of clothing so well! Solid colors can be hard to mix-and-match, but these heathered stripes coordinate with lots of solids. I've worn this hat with a dark turquoise scarf, and a medium purple scarf, and it worked with both. I wonder if some other Noro yarn wouldn't be as itchy. I haven't looked into the fiber content of Silk Garden, but something tells me there's silk in it. And it's twice as expensive as Kureyon, and $$ = soft, right? Eh, we'll see. Of course, the new yarn shop by my house doesn't carry Noro yarns, so I'll have to go farther afield to check it out.

Kureyon Komplete

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

I've gone completely hatty

The other night I met a friend for a knitting date at the Starbucks on 120th and Lake City Way. That Starbucks is always weird - but I found that if you complain about the weird things they do (like bring in a team of 12 cleaners to obsessively wipe down every surface in the store (shelves, floor, walls) while wearing motorcycle helmets (okay, that was only one of the cleaners)), you get free drink coupons in the mail! Now I visit that Starbucks almost hoping that they will do something weird. This time, a barista brought around a tray brimming with turkey sandwich samples. Come back with the cookie sample tray, cookie! I don't think that merits a complaint, though. Just a "huh?"
So anyway, I started this hat on my knitting date. Let me just say I heart making hats! They're so quick, even with 6 inches of 2x2 ribbing. I used to just make roll-brim hats, but they make my already sizeable head look ginormous. This hat is 80 stitches of Noro Kureyon, knitted in the round on my 16" 10.5 Inox needles. For some reason, 10.5 works perfectly for almost any yarn I want to turn into a hat. I'm a trifle worried that the Kureyon will itch my forehead. I may have to experiment with a fleece insert, like all the knit hats at Banana Republic.

Kureyon Kap

Monday, November 01, 2004


This Koigu glove is going sooo slowly. I have this one finished up to the index finger, and the matching glove has progressed almost to the thumb slit. I'm using size 3 5" Brittany birch needles. The short needles are tricky to use at first, but once you get used to them, they're much less awkward than longer needles, especially when working the fingers. You can almost see that the cuff is decorated with beads - I incorporated them in the cast-on row every 6th stitch.

Hey, over there!