Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Another Good Recipe

Dear Mom,
One afternoon back in the late 70's, in the distance of about 2 blocks- between the grocery store and guitar lessons, I think- you and I devoured most of a package of Archway Homestyle Apricot Filled Oatmeal cookies.

An indelibly sweet memory.

I haven't been able to find those cookies in the grocery stores for a long time. I don't think they make them anymore. I even did a google search.

Over the years I've been passively searching for a recipe that would come close to those soft, chewy flavorful cookies. I'll keep looking, but I've found something very close and very delicious. And the bonus is that the recipe came from my American Heart Association cookbook!

Apricot Raisin Bars

6 oz. dried apricots, chopped
1 c golden or dark raisins
1 3/4 c unsweetened apple juice, divided
3 T cornstarch
1 1/2 t grated lemon zest
vegetable oil spray
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 t baking powder
1 1/4 c uncooked quick-cooking oatmeal
3/4 c firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 c sugar
2/3 c light margarine

In a medium saucepan, combine apricots, raisins and 1 1/2 c apple juice. Cook over medium-low heat for 20 minutes, or until fruit is tender.

In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 c apple juice, cornstarch, and lemon zest. Whisk into apricot mixture. Cook over med-high heat until mixture thickens, 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and let cool.

Preheat oven to 375. Spray a 13x9x2-inch pan with vegetable oil spray.

Sift flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Stir in oatmeal and sugars. Blend in margarine until mixture is crumbly. Press about 2/3 mixture into pan.

spread fruit mixture over crust, then top with remaining oatmeal mixture. Gently pat top crust into fruit.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until crust is lightly golden. Cut into 48 squares.

Calories:76 Protein: 1g Carbohydrates: 16g Cholesterol:0 mg Total Fat: 1g (sat fat:0g, polyunsaturated fat 1g, monounsaturated fat 0g) Fiber: 1g Sodium 28mg

Okay. I haven't been able to cut mine into 48 squares. But still. A cookie healthy enough to eat guilt-free, for breakfast if you want to!


Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Knitter's Christmas

Dear Mom,
Being sympathetic compatriots in the holiday pressure to Get Things Finished, my fellow knitting friends and I decided to postpone our Christmas gift exchange. So instead of December 25th, we had our "Christmas" on January 25th.
The variety of gifts selected and hand crafted is testament to the kindred spirits I am blessed to call friends.

Hand made ornaments that look like stained glass.  Embroidered linens. A scrap book of memories and recipes. Padded hangers with knitted covers.

Hand woven dish towels and hand made soaps, lotions and bath salts.

Bonnie's honey and a set of adorable sheep that we've divided to share. That is Aiden, Finn, Bartley and Liam.
And hand felted chickadees. Mine is perched in the bathroom in front of the mirror where we can appreciate a full view.
Along with our friendship and fiber, food is an important ingredient. I served Roasted Tomato soup and grilled cheeses sandwiches for our "Christmas" lunch. I won't claim to be a good cook, but rather a person who cooks with good recipes. And this soup is the best tomato soup I've ever tasted, has never failed to impress those I make it for, and is worth every bit of effort to make. I've even had friends in need of comfort ask me to make them some of this soup. I found the recipe on foodnetwork.com/Barefoot Contessa.
As a Knitter's Christmas gift, here it is....

Roasted Tomato Soup 
6-8 servings

3lbs. plum tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
1/4 c + 2 T olive oil
1 T kosher salt
1 1/2 t black pepper
2 c chopped yellow onions
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 T unsalted butter
1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes
1 (28 oz) can canned tomatoes with juice
4 c fresh basil leaves
1 t fresh thyme leaves
1 qt chicken stock

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Toss the tomatoes together with 1/4 c olive oil, salt and pepper.
Spread the tomatoes in 1 layer on baking sheet ( I used my broiler pan) and roast for 45 minutes.

In an 8 qt stockpot over medium heat, sauté the onions and garlic with 2 T olive oil, butter, and red pepper flakes for 10 minutes, until the onions start to brown.
Add the canned tomatoes, basil, thyme and chicken stock. 
Add the oven roasted tomatoes, including the liquid on the baking sheet.
Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 40 minutes.
Pass through a food mill fitted with  the coarsest blade.
Taste for seasonings. 
Serve hot or cold.

As with most soups, this soup tastes even better the next day. It freezes well and I've made a note on my calendar to make and freeze this soup with the abundance of garden tomatoes and fresh herbs I'll have at the end of the summer. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Before we were interrupted....

Dear Mom,
Now that Bumper is cleaned out, my house is cleaned up, and things are back to what passes for Normal around here, we can catch up on the nice things that have happened! There may be too much for one blog post. THAT's how much stuff I have.
Two weekends ago, MelissaWhoSpinsbutDoesNotKnit and I took a road trip to Asheville, NC. We left some winter weather, which stayed with us well past Lexington, but the traveling was safe and with both of us in good company, the time passed quickly. Downtown Asheville was loaded with the expected inspiration and we soaked it in. I was so busy soaking it in that I neglected to take many photos.
My head wrap did some sight seeing too. At one point, while trying on some clothes - and let me pause here to ask why is it that I thought driving 8 hours and crossing several state lines would mean that I could wear and look good in something that was little more than a tailored feed sack? cute feed sack, but not on me, darn it!  - anyway, while juggling my coat, purse, feedsack and out-of-shape figure in the dressing room I noticed my head wrap had misplaced itself. Did I drop it somewhere or leave it in the truck? I wasn't terribly concerned about it, but did mention to Melissa that we might want to keep an eye out just in case. Melissa was pretty sure she saw it in the back seat, so we didn't think anymore about it and kept moving forward. More than 4 hours later, as we headed back to the truck ( only to move to another parking spot) Melissa Shouted "Kim!" and pointed to the sky.  ???

Good thing she was looking up, because I was looking down and would have missed it.
My head wrap in a tree

Thankfully the branch hung over a parking lot AND the parking space underneath was empty, so we  Melissa backed into the space, climbed into the back of her truck and rescued my head wrap.
I left it in the back seat for the remainder of the trip.
We did come home inspired by the things we saw in the many galleries and shops, at the Southern Highlands Craft Guild, and at the Winter Retreat held in a nearby mall and hosted by Friends and Fiberworks, a local yarn shop.

On the trip, my car knitting project was a gift for a soon-to-arrive nephew.
Yarn-100% cotton from Universal yarns- Cotton Supreme, if I remember correctly. The pattern, Sweet Pea,   is one I've made before and I like that the opening for the head is like a "onesie" and easily accommodates those big baby noggins. Quick knit, wrapped up and in the mail. There before the baby is, I hope!

Now, onto More Good Stuff.


My best effort yet. I am Very proud of my selvage edges on these. There are still mistakes, but less.  These have been gifted and well received!

On the heels of these pretty things came this:

Yes, that is Patsy's leg in the photo.  She Who Must Know and Approve of ALL that happens here.
"What. Is. That?", you ask.
Well. It is exactly what I wanted it to be, which is good. I just didn't mean for it to look like a Walmart Special. Which it does. I cut old t-shirts into 1-inch strips and wove them into a mini (11X28") rug for the dog dishes. I learned I won't be using t-shirts for weaving. Not that they were difficult- they weren't- and it certainly was a fast project- I just don't like the look. But, as I said, the rug fulfills its intended purpose and thankfully the dog dishes cover up most of it! I also got to try out the fringe twister toy I purchased in Asheville. More learning.

More Good Stuff? Why yes! But I think I'll save the rest for another post.....


Friday, January 20, 2012

A little humor

Dear Mom,

I came home Monday from an adventure in Asheville (more on that in another post) to a very sick dog. Bumper's gastronomic adventures got the best of him and this time it took 4 enemas and lots of money to put him on the mend. He isn't 100% yet, but we are getting there. Needless to say, all the trash cans are on lock down.

Following a dog around the back yard with a plastic bag and a flashlight does not make good blog photo ops. Nor does mopping and cleaning carpets. So, I'll share this little gem I found on Pinterest this morning:

That's where things stand right now.
More later.


Thursday, January 12, 2012


Dear Mom,
I have a new favorite finished object.

Pardon the following picture overload.

Willoughby by Jared Flood.
Yarn from that first bag of wool, handspun by me, walnut dyed with friends.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Hello Sunshine!

Dear Mom,
It is so nice and warm out there that I've set Mrs. Yoder out on the back porch and hung the jeans out there to dry. Rugs are in the wash and they'll be on the clothesline as soon as the spin cycle is finished. After that I'll do a big batch of wool socks and let them soak up some sun too.
I even cracked open some windows to let in the fresh air.

The down side to all this is MUD and huge muddy dog prints coming in from the back door, but I'd rather have mud than snow.

I made time yesterday to get into the stash and organize a few projects that I would like to finish this year. Almost a year ago,  I lost my head over Spillyjane and ordered 5 of her mitten patterns and the yarn to make them. I've made one mitten. Not one pair.  One mitten.

I matched up the yarn to the patterns, put them in bags and intend to finish all the mittens this year. It may be that I can only manage one mitten each month because while they are adorable, inspired mitten designs, the knitting of them is  a bit fiddly and requires full attention. These are not a mindless pair of socks.  And one mitten a month will pretty much get me through 2012 with a little breathing room.

I also reacquainted myself with some treasures in my knitting stash and feel reeeeeaaaaalllly motivated to see the promise of those yarns and patterns realized. We'll see how long that focus lasts before I distract myself with something new.

Easy to feel hopeful on a bright sunny day.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Where things were and where they are...

Dear Mom,
I am happy to report that December's socks, the last pair of my Pair-a-month goal for 2011 was finished before we toasted the New Year. Unfortunately, I have no picture of them. Almost as soon as the last loose end was woven in, the socks were impulsively gifted to an admirer who witnessed those last stitches. It didn't seem right to snatch them out from beneath her loving caresses. And they fit. 

It didn't even occur to me, until too late, that I didn't snap a photo for the blog. 

I am still considering a knitting goal for 2012, but haven't jumped into the stash to organize my thoughts and projects. 

I did wade into the stash to pull out yarn for an easy pullover for ME, something I can pretty much knit mindlessly, and once there is something worth showing, I'll share. 

I've started knitting Willoughby, using some handspun, walnut-dyed yarn.  The lace pattern is not difficult, but does require my attention. It is coming along quickly, partly because I am excited to have it done, and partly because I am a tiny bit worried that I won't have enough yarn. And somehow I think if I knit fast enough I will finish the knitting before the yarn runs out. As if I can race against the end of the last skein and finish before the yarn does! 

The long awaited (at least for the Young Lady and I) Project Runway: All Stars begins tonight. No doubt about it, our favorite is Mondo!

Enjoy the sun today- "they" say it will be 50 tomorrow!!