The title says it all. Brownie goodness - yum, yum! These brownies are so good that while I won't share them with anyone, I'll share the recipe with you. And if you want to share your brownie goodness? Well, that's your business.
Moist, rich brownies. The best ever. So moist that you can pick up fallen crumbs with a bigger chunk of brownie. But not off the keyboard.
From The Hungry Hiker's Book of Good Cooking by Gretchen McHugh. She might not have done [written] anything else, but she did well with this one. My copy of this book is well-worn and stained (I'm a messy cook), but it opens automatically to the brownies recipe. I have made these that often.
Now send me a bit of your brownie goodness as an offering and thanks for the knowledge I share.
Overheard in la casa:
She: I wonder if she (a common friend) has hit menopause yet?
He: I wonder how old she is?
She: When does one get hit by menopause?
He: Menopause can strike at any time - it's like a ninja!
[insert fits of laughing]
Yes. Menopause is exactly like a ninja. A black-belt, karate-fighting, menstruation-stopping, hormone-messing ninja! Do you think Quentin Tarantino would make a movie about it?
Okay, so maybe I'm the last to jump on this here pony. Or maybe there will be a second wave of this meme thing for late blooming bloggers. (I will mention no names.) Anywho, it's the interview thing, and here's how it works:
I stepped up to bat with Miss La' of pr0n fame. With a little help from her friends, she asked a mishmash of questions ranging from general favs to... well, ones with answers that you may not want to know.
So read on IF. YOU. DARE. [insert maniacal laughter here]
Warning: Some of the answers provided by interviewee may be lame or trivial. Other answers may be shocking and appalling. Although not solely intended for mature audiences, you may want to shield your child's eyes any way.
What was your first favorite movie, book, and song?
Huh. Odd as it sounds, this was probably the hardest question for me to answer. Simply because I am an oddity of nature and I don't tend to pick favorites. Never have. No fav color. No fav music styling. No fav position, er... um in sports... to play!
And I'm not trying to cop out of this question. In fact, I almost called my Mom to ask her if she remembered... but with five kids (me being the youngest), she doesn't recall much of that time. So from racking my own, lowly powered brain I came up with the following:
We want to know one thing (special, shocking, strange, groovy, etc.) about you that you think none of us knows and none of us would ever guess.This question was shortened... because you see how long my answers are!
Personally, I'd love to hear what y'all wagered I'd answer for this one. There was a lot to choose from, as I'm a special, shocking, strange, and groovy gal. But I was able to select one item from my special, shocking,... (you get the idea) past:
Ah, the follies of youth! In my younger days before all these curves, I was sleek and trim and fit. No. Really. I was also silly and game for most anything. In the wooded quiet of rural PA, I flailed about with other women in a wresting ring filled with the desert choice of Bill Cosby (cherry flavor). I wrestled under the name "Snapper" (taken from a horrible musical "pron" movie). And I kicked ass!
What? You don't believe me? Ha! Lucky (?) for me, one of my roommates at the time was a newspaper photographer. And now I will share these photos with the world!
Even though you say you have only recently (well, relatively) begun collecting smurfs, what is the one item you equate to smurfly gold - the one item that you'd want if money, rarity, etc. weren't a factor.
Smurfs items are relatively inexpensive, and even the most rare Smurf collectible is still nothing compared to other collectibles. So my smurfly gold would have to be... a smurfized VW beetle or Mini Cooper totally smurfed up! I would be proud to drive such a smurfy ride.
On the subject of fiber, I want to know what would be your heaven and hell of knitting. If you could only knit one thing, what would be your nightmare and what would be your dream project?
Hmm... my knitting hell would be having to knit 1970's acrylic ponchos forever. Or if I had to crochet it! [shudder] My heaven would have to be socks. It's my new knitting skillz and I'm all gung-ho about socks. And not only is there some beautiful and funky soft yarns, but it's nearly the most useful knit item ever (the exception being dishcloths).
Your husband has a mighty PEZ collection. Since you're constantly seeing them, do you ever have dreams of PEZ? Are they interesting? Scary? Dirty? Wait, please don't answer that last one.
Ha! No, I've not dreamed of PEZ (although Matty has). I've been chased around the office with a frightening bobble-head PEZ girl. (Matty must hide her - she creeps me out!) In the old apartment, I could see all the glow-in-the-dark PEZ from my side of the bed. That was pretty disturbing. But no, I've never dreamed, good or bad, of PEZ.
Ah, it's like a great weight has been lifted. Now... who's turn is it?!
A quick word to the Moms out there regarding #2... you never really can tell. I was a good girl growing up. Not only was I a Girl Scout, but I was even on the calendar! Go figure.
For those of you waiting for the answers to La's interview of me, please be bit more patient. You're dealing with an accomplished procrastintor, ya' know.
Or you can pretend to be an idiot savant and amaze your friends. You could probably even use this at work to cheat money from your swarthy cube mate. I personally don't care what you do with this amazing piece of knowledge.
Before we start, you need to gather a few ingredients.
- A Windows PC (Sorry Chris and Brad).
Okay, now, when you are ready, click the link below. Using only a Windows PC running minesweeper, you can make all of your dreams come true.
Click the link, watch the flash, and then practice a couple of times before using this on your soon to be ex-friends.
Next Week: Bending spoons for fun and profit!
Do you think there are a limited number of puns and play on words that we knit-bloggers can use when discussing socks, the Clap(otis), or a variety of projects? And after the first few times they're read on the web, they just become old and pained. Like jokes your (or at least my) Dad tells?
Anywho... my first pair of knitted socks is DONE. Hallelujah! (And yes, there IS much rejoicing for this feat... Pun intended.)
Here's the 411:
Both socks (yup - two !) were knitted on four US#4 dpns with Regia 6 ply Crazy Color in the Passion colorway. I followed the Starter Stockinette pattern from Knit Socks!. Of course, I didn't swatch for gauge or follow the pattern exactly. I made a few mistakes along the way (yellow lines = gussets), but I feel that I've learned tons and I still love my socks.
While I was fixing the first sock, I realized that the colors reminded me of this previous project. Yep - the Red Hat Society Red Hat for my MIL. In fact, these colors would cover both groups of Red Hat women: the red & purple women and pink & lavender gals. Too bad they're mine, all MINE!
Next up: socks for Matty Bonez! In more subdued colors and with less "features."
Not quite, but possibly a Cupcake O' Gold.
I've been searching and testing and trying out cupcake recipes from scratch on my dear friends and hubby. Oh, sure; they acted like my past attempts were tasty and good as they gobbled them down and smiled their sugar-crazed grins. But they couldn't fool me, no siree-bob. But this time I might have struck gold. Budget Gold Cake, that is.
I found the recipe for Budget Gold Cake in the Good Housekeeping Complete Guide of Cake Decorations. This tome is filled with some crazy ideas and some of the ugliest cakes ever. I remember the 70's and I fondly remember attractive cakes from my Mom. Good thing she never picked up this book!
The recipe is for sheet cake, but I had no problem changing this up. It only makes 18 cupcakes, though. The cake really rises and puffs up while baking, so keep to filling the cupcake liners only 2/3s full. (They'll dome nicely over the top without spilling over the edges.) The cake is very light and airy, not dense at all. The flavor's not very strong, so I may continue to look for my perfect buttery, yellow cake.
I iced the cupcakes with a recipe for Chocolate Buttercream from the current issue of Cook's Illustrated. It came out really tasty and chocolatey, but not over-the-top sweet. I like it! It might be my new favorite chocolate frosting.
To jazz the cakes up, I sprinkled on some flower sprinkles to encourage Spring to come around and stay. (I also used flowered cupcake liners for that added bit of delirium.)
I guess I'll just wait and see what the grrls have to say about 'em. Alas and alac, because there was limited cake batter, I could not bake a mattycake for Bonez. He'll just have to do with a single cupcake (and even leftovers - ha!).
Budget Gold Cake
Good Housekeeping Complete Guide of Cake Decorating
What do you do when it's nearly Easter and it's chilly?
Okay, so it doesn't really get chilly here at least not in comparison to the greater portion of the states (and where we have family grumbling about real cold weather). But none-the-less, cocoa was required. The peep was just a bonus!
This isn't new or news. Simply a re-post of an old article. This was originally posted on 3 July 2003 on our old TAGF site. Our site moved; software changed; life goes on - you get the picture. But every month in our list of hits, this one page gets hundreds (okay, maybe tens) of hits. And sadly, it's not there anymore.
Instead of pointing and laughing at the sad, lost link, I'll do good by it and bring it back. And yes, we'll take care of the old link so it's like new!
There has recently been some garage sale madness, both sold and bought. And while the idea of making money in this manner is great, it seems that these earnings spend even quicker in the same venue. One law of Garage Sale Karma, perhaps.
One of the items that's recently come into our home is a sewing table. There was a bit of trouble getting it home (and then built again), but it's all ready for me now. (Update: It has since moved once more, this time whole and it is still in great shape.)
This is a well-made, sturdy wood table with a bunch of inner hinges and springs that magically store a sewing machine. What you're seeing here is amazing considering that less than 24 hours ago, it was all in flat pieces. It was unable to fit in our car, so Matty methodically (and sometimes aggressively) took it apart.
There are all kinds of nooks and crannies to store thread, notions and the like. The table top opens and the sewing machine can sit even with the surface. There are fasteners to attach my sewing machine. Then when company comes over or what have you, I can "fold" the sewing machine into the table. Viola! It's just a table. (I have yet to attach my sewing machine, especially now that there's a room dedicated to sewing, knitting, and crafts. I guess I'm just waiting for guests.)
I also received this sewing chair. And while it may look ordinary and uncomfortable, it's actually pretty comfy, the right height, and has a secret compartment under the cushion. I'm not quite certain what I'd want to store under my bottom, but now I have that option.
This past Sunday (13March2005) celebrated the one year birthday of our Dallas Stitch 'N Bitch group! Yay! Oh, sure - SnB is still a baby, but there are less of the sleepless nights and midnight feedings. Or not.
So a big ol' Happy Birthday to our group; and a cupcake for us all! (You KNOW that there had to be cupcakes.) The cupcakes were lovingly made by C (Devil's Food w/ white icing and sprinkles), me (yellow cake w/ chocolate icing and fresh strawberries), and someone at a bakery for La (not shown). La did bake some great cupcakes but disaster struck before they could be delivered, so she did the next best thing - bought them. Unfortunately, we didn't get a picture of them, but they looked good!
What has our Stitch 'N Bitch group meant to me? Although I haven't been with the group for the full year, it's been a great time still. In fact, I'm both amazed that it's only been a year AND that Wow - it's been a whole year.
So many friends have been made through this group. Encouragement, help, and fun are always prevalent at the meetings. I've ogled, salivated, petted, and admired many projects and fibers. I've been introduced to new techniques, super-soft yarns, and recommended patterns. I've both knit things and left some things unknit because of this group.
We have moved meeting location, and then moved back. A man has joined our ranks, and since promptly hid again. (Too much estrogen, perhaps. We're a rowdy bunch.) I have walked in the Race for the Cure with my knittin' sisters at my side.
Publicity in both the Stitch 'n Bitch Nation book and local newspaper have caused a boon in activity and members. Cooler weather tended to bring more knitters to the table (or tables, literally). And now that we're heading into summer (y'all know that there's no spring in TX, right?), projects as well as people may lighten up. But we know y'all are still knitting away and we'll welcome you back anytime.
I can't wait for the excitement of year two. Bring It On!
Here's the cupcake low-down (or down-low as it were):
I was rushed for time and inspiration, so my will crumbled and I used a box mix. (Betty Crocker SuperMoist Butter Recipe Yellow - I couldn't resist the "Wow! 1 cup of PUDDING" promise on the packaging.) I found that it tasted good and was a nice cake-like texture, being moist with a few crumbs. However, I didn't particularly like how this extremely thick batter baked up.
To make up for box mix, I quickly made my favorite and simple chocolate frosting recipe... from the back of the cocoa box. (Scroll down to bottom of the page for the frosting recipe.) This is one of those recipes that I come back to repeatedly. It's just that good.
In addition, and because they looked good at the market, I topped each cupcake off with a halved strawberry. (Three cupcakes, however, received a different topping of piped, purple flowers. Just in case someone doesn't want/like strawberries.) Mmmm - just look at this one photo. Even the strawberry is drooling, it looks so good!
Because I luv him, and there's no guarantee that any cupcakes will come back home with me, I made MattyBonez a special wee layer cake from extra batter and frosting. Ain't he 'pecial.
My interest (and the world's, it seems) in cupcakes has taken me down the road of trying to find the perfect cake and frosting recipe. And I mean from scratch, y'all. It's not that I'm against box cake mixes, but I would like to find a good, from-scratch recipe. You wouldn't think that would be so hard, would ya?
This is my quest
Update: photos added to article, thanks to Skittermagoo.
Sure, I could use the frosting recipe my mom has used for years. It was tasty and good and always got compliments. (She earned extra scratch decorating cakes - and she was good.) But for some oddball reason, I can never remember the recipe. And I hate calling her just for this ... again. Surely cake cookbooks should have something in the same realm of goodness, right?
Sadly, no. I turned again to the best of betterbaking.com book borrowed from the library. (It goes back tomorrow and I can't say that I'll miss it.) I tried the Moist and Mellow Yellow Birthday Cake or Cupcakes and Pastry Chef's Trade-Secret Buttercream recipes today for C's birthday.
I will admit that I made a small, but possible significant substitution with the cake recipe: I used 1 c. of Splenda for Baking, instead of the 2 c. of sugar. (That's the correct substitution amount, I didn't just make it up willy~nilly.) Oh, and it called to start the sugar and mix the ingredients in a food processor. Wha? Since when do you mix a cake (or bread, or desert) recipe in a food processor? Sorry - I don't got one.
Even so, I can't imagine that these cakes would've been that different. They were dense and dry; not moist at all. The flavor was not as "yellow cake" like as I think it should be. In fact, it was quite bland except for the excessive sweetness.
The frosting, a "Pastry Chef's Trade-Secret", didn't taste much more than the sugary spread at the old grocery store bakeries - all shortening slick and questionable. And how in the world am I supposed to use it to decorate with when it's so... lipid (for lack of a better word). The secret recipe uses white fondant instead of the traditional confectioner's sugar. Add a whole lot of butter AND shortening, and WHAM-O! you've got Trade-Secret primordial ooze! Oh, yeah. And don't forget way too much vanilla and almond, to make it over-the-top insulting.
Okay. Perhaps I'm a little harsh. But really, it's hard to find anything that compares to what my mom could whip up in a blink of an eye. Matty Bonez says that they taste fine. (In fact, he'd rather keep them all here for himself if he could. Well, tough. I got girls to feed sugar to, and feed them I will!) I hope the girls have no complaints about them, and if they do I'm sure we'll hear about it here.
Overall though, neither of these recipes did anything for me. Next!
Luckily I'll be getting a lot of practice this month; nearly half of my knitster gals have March birthdays. Hopefully, I'll have something better when LilyN's bday rolls around.
Here's pics of the cupcakes. First I tried the frosting trick of "painting" the food coloring on the insides of the decorating cone. When you pipe frosting through the colors stripe the sides. I didn't have any handy, food-safe paint brushes, so the color started out extreemly dark and opaque. I just didn't like how it was turning out.
The second technique was simply coloring the frosting (or not, for some) a nice light blue, and sprinkling sprinkles (non-pareils) on top. Basic, childish fun.
There has been much joshing and joking about how the Clap, er... Clapotis (pronounced Clap-pO-tEE) sounds like a venereal disease. Well, it may not be a virus, but I swear that it's contagious! Most knitters I know have either made it, are knitting it as we "speak", or have plans for making one in the future. We all seem to be looking at yarn in a different way - determining if it'll make a good Clap or not.
And I've caught the bug. I started the Clap the other week (at a SnB Sunday) and have been working it off and on for a while now. I'm not too far along; still on the increases, but nearly to the straight knitting part! The yarn I am using is an eBay purchase when I was just a knitting-infant, new to the craft. I'm not sure of it's fiber content, but it is a beautiful orange and copper treat. I'm not even sure of my yardage, or if I'll have enough to finish the Clap. If not? Well, I'll do what knitters have done for hundreds of years: (no, not hide it away at the bottom of the knitting bag. sheesh) I'll rip it and restart it in a smaller size.
In a related story, I have some new stitch markers. (Related because the Clap takes 18 stitch markers, and I was running out of small, light markers.) A month or so ago, the gals and I had a tasty dinner at Rafa's and we made a quick stop in at Beading Dreams, a great bead store in the same strip as Rafa's.
These are only a few of the beads that I picked up. There were great kitty-cat faces and floral beads, too. The purple one is from P-lala, and is a Goddess stitch marker from ZenKnit. Here's one on the Clap, even as we speak. Um, or you read, as it were.
Well I do! (Please note that 'sock' is singular, in contrast to the more popular 'socks'.)
A new and amazing thing happened over the weekend here: a sock was born! See. There to the left. That sock? Yeah, I made that. [said with chest puffed out and proud]
That is how I found myself with two skeins of Shepherd Sock in Flames. (Colorway, not literally on fire.) As soon as I got home, I wanted nothing more than to play, er... knit with this yarn. As I started looking through sock patterns to figure what would work best to show off the colors, I realized that, um... I've never made a sock. (Oh sure, I've have two socks on the needles now, but they don't count since I'm just a few rows into the ribbing.) And that, perhaps, it may not be in my best interest to have the first sock I make be out of the best yarn I have. [sigh]
So I picked up the thickest (read: quickest to knit up) sock yarn I had, which also happened to be a gifted sock yarn from the loverly P-lala, aka the Purling Pirate. (Argh!) One skein of Regia 6 ply Crazy Color in Passion (5402), size US #4 dpns, the first pattern from Knit Socks!, and a few hours (okay, a day and a half) later I have a sock. (Man, I knit on this like I was obsessed... crazy. And perhaps I was.) By Sunday late afternoon, I had a sock.
Oh, the joy as I slipped this warm and cozy hand-knitted (by me!) sock over my foot. Oh, the disappointment when I realized that it was a bit (read: much) too big. Even for Bonez's foot. (Which I think he was a little relieved, given the colors.) So although the sock is done, it is not finished.
Toe grafting? Yeah, that's gotta go. I will need to rip it back through the decreases and about 2" (yes, TWO INCHES!) of foot. And then work on those decreases again and that toe grafting. But then, man, I will have an awesome sock!
I guess they're really no good except in a pair, huh? Purlmeariver, do you think I learned a lesson about gauge swatching? I sure hope so.
Hey Skitter ... Happy Birthday, grrl!
Let me be the first (no matter what time you read this, it's early - don't ask) to wish you the best this year. May happiness find you this year.
I won't divulge the age of Mme. Skittermagoo, but I will tell you that she's full of childish vim and vigor. (What that means exactly, I don't know. But she's great fun to hang out with.) I will tell you that since meeting C., I believe that I have found my fraternal, non-familial twin. Or sister, none-the-least. We share v. similar tastes in music, movies, men. (Really, it's kind of weird how similar B. and Bonez are.)
So miss thang, have yourself a great, fun time today. If not for yourself, then for me.
I've done some more thrifting for reusable sweaters/yarn. During a day-trip out with the girls, I scored a mixed bag of winners: some sweaters to rip for the yarn and a felting project. Plus a bonus cardigan, originally bought to rip - I like it how it is and don't think that I could do the yarn any better justice.
First though, I must remark on the amount of fun we had that day. Oh, the tears of laughter that rolled. Over coffee, grand schemes were made involving a 'lifted' golf cart and crazy capers - hillarity insued. We dined at VietNam-the restaurant, outside of which is where I spied the pegasus, before heading out to the thrift. No knitting mice were found (which seems odd - did someone buy them all up? Is there someone else with a room full of skilled creatures knitting? Eep.), but good times were had by all. Or at least by me.
'Read More' for the rest of this article.
What wonders did I spy at the thrift store? Why this simple sweater. By looking at it, it doesn't look like much: plain, off-white, uninspired sweater, right? But taking a glance at the label after touching it confirmed that, yes - it is CASHMERE!
A quick glance at the sweater proved that it was in great condition (no stains, no rips, all good). Within a few minutes back at C's home, I had these loverly hanks of goodness. I couldn't have asked for a sweater to come apart so cleanly and nicely. There was barely any waste and the little there was was from me having zero patience. This was the Weezer sweater.
I still haven't washed it yet because I plan on dying it when I do. But what color should it be? All suggestions welcome.
I finally got around to ripping the second sweater from my first trip; the dark navy silk. Oh, how I was looking forward to this treat. It was a bit tricky because of how dark the fabric was and that there were sergered seams involved. But I worked through it like a trooper. Only to discover that as the yarn came away from the sweater it would separate.
Each strand of yarn exploded into 12 strings of thread as soon as it was released from its previous form! Oh, what a mess! I carried on; ripping, balling, and winding it into a hank as it came off the sleeves and back. But was this for naught? Tell me, my spinning friends, is there hope for this yarn or did I just learn an important lesson? (read: Did I just get served?)
Although there were a very limited number of 100% wool sweaters in the woman's section, the men's section abounded with wool sweaters. Tens of amazing fair isles direct from Ireland were tucked into a wee, cramped space in a corner of the store. (That and plenty of "Cosby-esque" sweaters, of which I politely left there.)
I don't know why I didn't grab any of those fair isle beauts, but I did pick up one wool sweater. I liked the lavender color and thought that the stripes would make a nice, easy affect. So a bit of felting in the washer later and I had some solid, wool fabric.
I played around a bit with my sewing machine (oh, how I miss thee) this past weekend and did some nip-and-tucking with this former sweater. First, I made a pillow from the middle section. It's not perfectly straight and I had some issues with the corners (sleeve seams), but it works perfectly as a lumbar support pillow for my work/computer chair. But I wasn't done yet.
I wondered what else could I make from this fabric? Well, instead of the pillow it almost became a purse. (Just an idea... for next time.) But the sleeves. What could I do with the sleeves? My first idea was to make iPod cozies, but both Bonez and I are happy with ours. So I nixed that idea. My next stop? Catnip toys for those creatures we have that wander the house needing. (Needing what, you may ask? Needing everything: food, petted, water, attention, petted, naps on your person, petted, food, attention, etc.)
So with a bit of the sleeves, some catnip, stuffing, and a few scraps of felt and yarn, I had this... um, thing. I'm not certain why I put ears on it, except that I'm inspired a bit by all the great soft monsters around lately. But no face. Go figure. And it's big, because my cats are big.
And although those three objects are all I planned to discuss, I will tell you that I picked up two other sweaters that day. A ginormous men's wool sweater in mint condition (waiting to be ripped) and the cardigan mentioned earlier. It's a black-and-white heathery cardigan in a simple design. If I ripped it, I would probably make another cardigan with it - it was that good. But by the tag's noted size, it was too small for me. Just before I took it to the table to start the rippage I tried it on. And it fit. Perfectly. Now it sits, clean, in my closet waiting for when a hoodie is too casual and a jacket/blazer is too much.