crochet.for.knitters

I have been knitting for over 10 years. Each time I finish a rather substantial piece (read: any of the 5 baby blankets I made last year. Dear friends of mine: please take a break…) I tell myself “This is the project where you are actually going to learn to crochet and add a border. Do it, Annie. Do it.” And of course I never do. Until yesterday. There was some sort of popping in my wee brain and I started YouTubing instructional videos on how to crochet.

Now, I must admit. There is a story behind my hesitation to become a crafty hooker. When I was in elementary school, the elderly woman down the street was hired to teach me to crochet. My mother made some sort of arrangement for me to have weekly lessons starting on a particular Tuesday. The Sunday before lessons were to begin, we came home to find our little street closed down and full of fire trucks. There had been a fire. Our neighbors house was a total loss – burned to the foundation. Tragically, Florence and her dog Cuddles, didn’t make it out….For some crazy reason over the years, my brain worked up a totally superstitious load of hooey suggesting that if I did crochet, my house would also burn down (Hey, I was a kid.) Well, 4 years ago my husband and I did have a house fire. So, I guess crocheting had nothing to do with the likelihood of that happening.

I’m not sure why I decided that this particular project was going to be the one, but I think the ease of this particular video is the culprit as to make me actually stick to it and do it. This ‘crochet for knitters’ video was great step by step instruction. I suggest you:

  • Pull up a chair and dive right in.
  • Make sure you have decided to do this while you are at work, and be sure lots of customers come in to shop.
  • Now, turn off the sound so as not to admit you are watching videos and being unprofessional.

That makes it a lot easier, right?

 

Now, I know it’s not perfect. And I’m pretty sure I bastardized the actual pattern a bit, but as I see it – it’s jacked up all the same around the piece, so it works.

 

I’m super proud. And very sore. This whole single needle witchcraft thing is a whole new set of muscles. And I felt like I couldn’t stop!! With knitting, you can cap your needles or leave your project to sit at the end. Crochet? Nope. Needle will fall out and your project will be ruined, ending in tears and frustration. And probably the prompt flamage of the entire project (there’s a fire theme with my work – you getting that?). I was a crazed, maniacal crocheter. Must. Finish. Border. Can’t. Sleep. Yarn. Nerd.

Now that the mystery and stigma has been removed, I’m stoked to start adding borders to anything that sits still long enough. Look out family dog. I’m coming for you.

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green.mint.suntea

I have a confession. I’ve never really liked ice tea. There. I said it. There’s just something about it that has put me off for most of my life. Maybe because the stuff you buy at the store is full of sugar and chemicals? Even hot tea tends to be off putting for me…probably because I willingly put sugar in that and then immediately get heartburn. (My guts are jerks and hate sugar). However, with that all said, I can get behind some peppermint tea when the burn gets good, because as we all know, mint is good for those kinds of things.

So, if I hate tea, how did I end up making suntea and loving it? I’m so glad you asked.

Last year we grew mint in the garden and it gave us a bumper crop. I dried what was left when winter was upon us and figured I would do something with it at some point. Fast forward about a year, add a cool refreshing looking photo on instagram, and a lofty plan to kick my coffee habit (yeah, we’re still working on that), and I was digging jars out of the cupboard. I tossed 3 bags of humble Costco brand green tea in the jar with a handful of dried mint leaves, and let mama nature do her thing for the day. The result? Delicious. I’m getting the caffeine my body insists it needs and the mint is refreshing and makes my guts happy. Add a lemon slice or two to your glass and now you’ve got a swanky, pinkies up kinda drink that I can get behind.

 

I have managed to replace my late morning/afternoon/anytime really coffee with the tea and it’s been great. Now we just need to get rid of that full pot of the brown stuff early in the morning….

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the.dinner.project

I have one of those friends. You know. The friend with whom you make the pact of ‘should we not be married by 30, we will move to Vermont together and make and sell applesauce at the end of the driveway and be awesome spinster aunties.’ Ok, so this may be a mix of too many viewings of Baby Boom and a mutual love/fascination/obsession with Practical Magic (btw I am totally Aunt Franny) but it actually happened. Sadly we lost touch for a few years after my 4000 mile move to Alaska, and we both did end up tying the knot (both just squeaking through that 30 year cut off), but we’re back together – in a totally platonic life partner bff kinda way – and the texts are flying fast and furious. With a 4 hour time difference, a shop busy with customers all day, and 2 kiddos under the age of 3 on our collective plates, texting is the easiest. (And no one can overhear you bitch and whine from the next room).

We often send each other photos of what we are canning, processing, cooking or eating as we fancy ourselves to be super cool urban homestead hipster chicks (without any of the negative connotations of course). And one night after a glass or two of my favorite red vintage from a box, I decided that we were going to photograph our dinners each night to send along to the other. It has been a lot of fun, and I think both of us are not only upping our game (I informed the husband last week that we needed all new dinnerware because what we have just isn’t going to cut it for my plating aspirations and photographing anymore. You know, those black square plates I insisted on getting when we moved in together.) but getting some great ideas. It can be really hard to break out of that same 10 dinner rotation – There is absolutely nothing to cook! No recipes in the world!! – much like looking at your literally bursting closet and screaming you have nothing to wear.

I’m having fun with this little project. Not just because it’s an excuse to send more texts to my comrade Auntie Jet…well, maybe that’s the biggest part of it.  And hey, if some publisher wants in on this, I bet we could get on board with that, too.


  
  

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now.on.bloglovin

I’m super excited to be a part of BlogLovin now! Woo hoo!

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russian.veggie.tart

This beautiful recipe, or rather photo of drool worthy food, has been floating around Pinterest for a bit. What’s the hold up? It’s in Russian. My pal Natasha over at Alaska Knit Nat had a friend translate some of the recipe with a translator and ended up with things like “butter sauce.” So, no one is much closer to making this beautiful thing…So I bribed kindly asked my friend Sergios to translate the ingredients for me as he is super cool and speaks both Russian and Greek (go team Cyprus!).

From there I approached this a bit like a British Bake Off technical challenge. Read: Imma make this up! Sort of.

  • Make your pie crust
    • Mix  2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, 2 tsp sugar, 3/4 tsp salt in a bowl
    • Cut in 2 full sticks of butter. (Yeah. 2 sticks. No one ever said vegetables were healthy.) until you have a nice mealy mix.
    • Add 9 – 12 TB of ice cold water and mix until the dough holds when pressed. Don’t over mix or your pastry will be tough. And ain’t nobody got time for that.
    • Wrap/cover in cling film and pop in the refrigerator
  • Run out of the house in your flour covered shirt to go to the expensive (but very cool) housewares store in rush hour traffic. Buy spring form pan because even after all these years, you still don’t have one. And believe me – this veggie tart won’t be nearly as cool if you can’t see the whole thing.
  • Dig out your butcher glove (the Michael Jackson thing you use when filleting allthefish so you won’t cut your hand off) and prep the mandolin. Slice 1 full green zucchini, 1 full yellow zucchini squash, 2 potatoes, half a beet and some carrots. Realize the carrots don’t cut as nicely as you would like, and feed some to the dog.
  • After your dough has chilled for at least an hour, remove from the fridge, roll, pack and blind bake for 15 minutes at 375*. I’m too cheap to own weights, so dried kidney beans and tin foil won the day. Why do we blind bake? No soggy bottoms!
  • Cool your pastry for 10 minutes, and begin layering your veggies in the mold.

After your veggies look super pretty, set aside and begin making your cheese sauce. I did not have Sergios translate the entire recipe (my bribe powers have limits) but from the photo, it looks like a modified cheese sauce.

  • Grate a lot of cheese – like 2 1/2 cups or so. I used 3/4 pepper jack and 1/4 cheddar. It was what we had – I don’t judge.
  • Begin your roux – 1 -2 TB of melted butter with 2 -3 TB of flour, yadda yadda. (If you don’t know how to make a roux – go forth to Google)
  • Slowly add 1 1/2 cups of milk, stir until thick, begin adding portions of cheese and stir until melted and all is incorporated.
  • Add a few TB of water because of course you made the cheese sauce too thick. Salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste.
  • Feel terrible you are about to pour this stuff all over your pretty vegetables.
  • Bake for 45 minutes – 1 hour at 375* – until the pie is set.

While you are waiting for the pie to cook, snack on some salmon spread leftover from last night’s onigiri. Have 3 or 4 slices, because it’s snacking.

Allow your pie to cool for about an hour – you want all that stuff to set and congeal before you hack into it and it all comes rushing out….Make sure someone in your house asks “Is it ready yet? Can we eat it?” every 15 minutes.

Cut, serve and send photos to your friends. This thing turned out amazingly well and it is definitely making it in to our meal rotation. Seriously. Super good.

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the.worst.zucchini.relish

This is a recipe for the worst zucchini relish ever. I entered it in the state fair last year, and of the 3 zucchini relish entries, I did not place. Not even 3rd. It was that bad. The only nice thing that could be said was “beautiful jar” – the thing I had no actual hand in making. I find this hilarious.

 

My husband on the other hand loves this stuff. He puts it on pizza, hot dogs, sandwiches, etc. We sent a jar to my father in law, and I believe it was gone within a week. So, who really cares what the fair folks say, eh? (Though I totally entered a jar this year…just to see.)

  • Grate 10 cups of zucchini into a bowl. Chop 3 -4 bell peppers (red makes for the nicest presentation later) finely, as well as 2 1/2 cups onion. Mix with 5 TB salt and allow to sit in the fridge overnight.
  • The next day, rinse and drain the goods that sat overnight. Add to a pot.
  • Add 3 cups sugar, 3 cups vinegar, 1 TB dried dill, 1 tsp coarse ground pepper, 1 tsp celery seed, and bring to a boil
  • Boil for 30 minutes – start the water in your canner.
  • Pack hot sterilized jars with relish, add sprigs of dill along the side to pretty it up.
  • Water bath for 10 minutes, and viola! The worst zucchini relish ever.

I don’t usually like relish myself (I’m a picky pickle or pickled eater) but think this is pretty good stuff. Give it a try. I bet you’ll agree. And if you want to come judge the category at the fair, let me know!

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sockeye.salmon.run

Every summer the salmon run and we do our best as good Alaskans to get our share of the fish. I have patience issues, so the whole ‘stand in the water with a line and a little hook for hours and legally take 1-2 fish a day’ thing doesn’t work for me. I instead love the resident only method of dipnetting. Take a giant 5 foot net and put it at the end of a super long pole with a handle, stand in the mouth of a river (sometimes up to your chest) and wait for the salmon to swim in. Some people don’t think it’s very sportsmanlike, but whatever. I won’t be having them over for dinner. And if I did, I wouldn’t be serving any of our amazing salmon.

The trip this year started with a bad omen…a fishing report suggesting that commercial boats would be cleaning the run out of the inlet…then a report coming in saying the fish were slammed. So, we put all of our gear into the VW and powered up and out. We got about 2 blocks from the house before there was a literal and actual fire in the van. No major damage (except for the bar bill afterward), but we were a bit mopey and unsure if we would get to fish this year….And then another report came in. So many fish, and no one is taking them. So we loaded our gear again and jumped in the pickup. A 3 hour drive and we had our nets in the water by 9pm. Fished until 11, and had 6 pretty sockeye to show for our efforts and a totally soaked me. A trip to the Wal Mart (I hate to admit that I went, but it was midnight…what can you do?) and I had dry duds, some snacks, and a blanket to sack out in the pickup.

Fast forward past a 3 hour nap, and we had our nets in the water at 6am again. After a full day of steady fishing we pulled 35 salmon.

 

We now begin the task of processing these tasty beasts. Almost all are filleted and the bellies are brining to faux dehydrate. But look at the teeth on this guy! As the salmon spawn out their jaws grow and teeth become all crazy and scary. I’m so glad they don’t bite as I had 2 nail me while in the water – full speed projectile salmon hurt!

The husband did an awesome job as well. Despite only having one boot. Somehow in the loading and unloading process one went missing. (People can be so rude, right?) But he padded around like a true Alaskan trooper and slayed the fish regardless. He also does all the gutting (I fillet) for which I am eternally grateful (I stand over his shoulder and announce loudly whether “It’s a boy!” as he zips each belly).

It’s a ton of work, and everything on my body hurts, but we did it. We kicked some fishy ass. And it’s going to be delicious all year. But first, I need a nap and a massage.

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