Tuesday, December 25, 2007

tidings of comfort and joy

best wishes to you all. may you have a happy and peaceful holiday season.

Monday, December 24, 2007

just a little steam

when i was pregnant with my sweet friend, my cute husband invited some brits over for christmas supper. they were working on a special project at his company and staying in a hotel with no where special to go on christmas day. to make them feel even more at home, the ch decided to get a traditional "pudding" recipe for christmas desert. so he contacted a friend in australia who faxed over a copy of a steamed pudding recipe she used. having never made a steamed pudding, i was a bit anxious. this first one was steamed in a bundt pan with a tin foil cover. but everyone loved and raved about it and i have been making christmas pudding every year since. so when zorra sent out an invite for sugar high friday to post about pudding, i was in!

since the posting deadline was christmas eve i needed to find an occasion to make one before christmas. i took a chance on the staff holiday potluck. which turned out to be the perfect occasion. i knew the pudding was a success when folks took slices home with them.

this is a dried fruit pudding. the recipe calls for 1 cup of dates; 1 cup of raisins and 4 cups of mixed dried fruit. for the first few years i experimented with various dried fruits but have settled on a cup each of golden raisins, dried cranberries, dried apricots and dried pineapple. mixed with butter, sugar, eggs, and self rising and regular flour. steam for about 4-4.5 hours. because of time, for the potluck i steamed the pudding for about 3 hours the night before, then steamed it for another 1-1.5 hours the day of the potluck. it turned out so well, i thought i would do it for our christmas day pudding. hopefully it will turn out just as nice.

so here is my pudding. the first picture is fresh out of the pudding mold before the staff potluck; the second is after the staff potluck. it is always fun to make pudding and i welcomed the chance. thanks, zorra. once again, this was real fun.

Monday, December 10, 2007

monday randomness

first off, a picture of a package i received from purl(dot)com. i don't know why this wrapping tickled me so, but i thought it the sweetest way to send a package of yarn. and why buy yarn from across country you may wonder. the yarn was for my sweet friend's ruffled scarf and cute husband's socks. i had purchased yarn for these projects at purl soho during the nyc spring excursion trip. but i had a brain burp when buying the pink yarn so was short a hank, and felt i needed one more hank of sock yarn for my cute husband's socks. so i decided to continue the theme of the yarn coming from purl soho. plus i could shop online at midnight. what more could you ask?

the second is the challah i made for hanukkah presents for some work mates. i was thumbing through baking with julia for bread baking day #4 recipes and came across the challah recipe. since braided breads are a favorite of mine, i couldn't pass up the opportunity to bake braided bread and give gifts at the same time. so here they are, fresh out of the oven. the egg glaze baked brown right away so i had to cover the loaves with tinfoil for the last half of baking time. i also used black sesame seeds since i could not find where the regular golden ones had been creatively stored by the kitchen helpers. so though the sesame seeds may look like they were burnt, they weren't. and regardless of any of the above, the breads were much liked and enjoyed. my office mate served hers the next night at hanukkah supper when her grown daughters and their significant others flew into town for hanukkah. she was barely able to save me a slice so i could taste it because it was eaten all up. and that is what gift baking is all about!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

all the time

though my latest blogs have been filled with baking, i am knitting. i mean, christmas is coming up, of course i am knitting! though i tried to start early on all projects, and i have even completed some of i still feel waaaaay behind the eight ball.

with that being said, here is what i am working on...

two ruffled scarves out of ry cashsoft in the donkey and foxglove colorway. it is a pattern that i am sort of adapting to what i would like it to be, long with ruffles. i also chose to just knit simple garter stitch for the scarf, but with a much larger needle than called for. which makes the ruffle and scarf drape well. so far so good. having it be simple garter stitch makes it very simple, quick and mindless for me.

misti alpaca ruffle scarf in the ember melange colorway. technically i have not started on this yet but it is such a simple scarf if i just devote a couple of days to it, it will be done.

non-stop knitting of nubbins for ta-ta's dishcloths by vyvan neel at knitting in a happy camper. i am making these out of every sugar 'n cream colorway i have. they are quick, cute, quirky and fun.

mac and me's shorty ruffle scarf. i got the pattern and yarn for both my sweet friend and myself from purl soho in nyc last spring. another garter stitch quick knit with picked up stitches to knit a lacy ruffle along the four edges with a different colorway. i am trying to finish my sweet friends for christmas. mine i will do after the holiday knitting.

blossom shawl from mag knits for mom out of elsebeth lavolds silky wool in claret. can't wait to start this, the yarn is really yummy!

and as soon as i can get WIP's and camera in one place at the same time, there will be pictures! until then, take a look at tudora on knitty.com designed by fellow blogger cheryl. it is really quite beautiful. congrats cheryl.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

it's to cold to rise

in honor of bread baking day #4, i offer this post.

bread baking day #4 was hosted by baking history. many thanks, this was real fun. the assignment was to bake a bread with spice and post about it by 1 dec.

since it is baking in december and the beginning of various holiday celebrations, my first thought was to bake gingerbread. the silver palate cookbook has my favorite gingerbread recipe. very quick, simple and wonderfully good. i bake this for my sweet friend and i quite a bit during the holidays. since i am always striving to trim the fat, i used cholesterol free liquid eggs and substituted half of the oil with applesauce. and since i do have an incurable sweet tooth, i used all of the lemon glaze recipe for pouring over the hot gingerbread! i am not sure if it was the lack of fat or that it was freezing cold in our house or that i poured the complete amount of glaze that made it harden instead of soaking into the bread. it is probably a mixture of all of those things, though it did not affect our enjoyment of it. there is barely enough of the loaf left for tomorrows breakfast tea!

and since gingerbread is a quick bread instead of a yeast bread, i also chose to bake swedish cardamom braid from bernard clayton's new complete book of breads, the revised and expanded version. this is a very rich bread with both butter and eggs. again, i used the liquid eggs and put in 1/2 cup of flax seed meal for a bit of the butter. i also substituted currents for raisins. and since our house is drafty and cold, this dough had a bit of uneven rising. once i turned on the oven and let it rise on the open oven door, it did much better. i brushed the braid with an egg white glaze before baking and baked it on a stoneware cookie sheet which browned the outside of it nicely. while slicing i was a bit worried when the crust seemed a bit hard. once past the crust, the bread inside is so crumbly the browned crust kept the bread from falling apart. the bread is a little rich for me, though the cardamom offsets the butter well. but i love braiding bread and the look of braided loaves, so it was nice to do that again.

but i love baking bread and it is always great to see what others bake, so thanks for hosting bread baking day #4, baking history. it was great to be a part of it.