I am the founding member of the Anchorage Stitch N Bitch – The Late Bloomer’s Society, and it’s pretty awesome. We get together at various locations around town (though usually my own storefront, because then I will surely make the gathering), and work on current projects, sip vino, eat snacks, and usually talk a little smack. It’s pretty therapeutic and awesome to hang around such crafty, sassy company. I seem to be production knitting these days (but awaiting my chance to make another baby blanket for someone special), and I’ve been cranking out striped scarves. It started with Harry Potter and went from there.
I do sell the Gryffindor scarves online, (and other houses here) and you can find some of my other color combinations around, but should you be so inclined, they are super easy to make too.
- Cast 40 stitches onto a round 6 mm needle
- Purl in the round until you reach desired stripe width and switch colors
- To avoid that color ‘hop’ when switching colors, slip the first previous color stitch over the next needle without purling after you have stitched the first round
- Continue until desired length, turn inside out, finish with tassels
And of course, if you can have a cocktail while you’re knitting, it makes things even better….!
Friends of ours introduced us to their homemade hard apple cider last year and we thought it was one of the greatest things ever and just had to give it a try. This coincided perfectly with a use for the home brew equipment I had gotten my husband for his birthday 2 years ago that was patiently waiting for use in the closet. It is such an easy (and cheap!) process that we’re kicking ourselves for not doing it sooner.
- Make sure your carboy is totally sanitized, as well as any equipment that comes in contact with your product or process.
- Add 5 gallons of apple juice. Just juice. No preservatives or additions. If the ingredients say anything other than ‘apple’ pass it by. ($16-$18 for all 5 gallons at Costco)
- We add 4 1/2 pounds of sugar to our brew (the more sugar, the dryer it will be, but also a higher alcohol content) in the carboy ($11 for a bag or organic cane sugar – at Costco)
- Add your yeast (ask your local brew person what they suggest and experiment. Avoid champagne yeast unless you like cider so dry your mouth implodes) ($8)
- Cap your carboy with your air-lock and set aside in closet, or space away from sunlight
The second or third day of the brew are lovingly referred to as “Egg Fart Days” in our house as the brew will give off a very strong sulfur odor. You aren’t doing anything wrong – it’s just the yeast having a pep rally and getting ready to feast on some sugar. You will notice that your air lock will also be bubbling like crazy during this time – feel free to cheer it on! I find it makes for better brew.
Your cider is done brewing when the time between bubbles in your air lock is at least a full minute. If you pull it too early your brew will be “green” and not good. Read: you might as well drink it on the toilet and cancel your plans to leave the house for the next few days. This first stage can take over a month for your first brew on a new batch of yeast, but will speed up as you reuse the yeast cake (up to 7 times) to 2 weeks or so.
At this stage siphon your brew to another sterilized container where you can choose to recap with another air lock, or bottle. We are more than happy to drink ‘flat’ cider so we skip the bottling process and keep it in a different carboy, pouring into a pitcher to refrigerate before consuming. So with a brand new brew in hand, we start the process all over again (minus the yeast because the cake is still in your equipment) by adding juice and sugar. Cap, replace in the closet and wait for the Egg Fart Days to be over. Feel free to discuss how you are about to get approximately 5 gallons of high octane cider for a less than $30 investment – that’s always pretty cool.
(porter on the left, cider on the right)
I am a perfectionist. I like to be good at everything I do, and if I’m not immediately great at [insert whatever here] I automatically find the venture dumb, and not worth my time anyway (it’s a really mature way of thinking and I do the same thing with Jeopardy answers I don’t know). But I’m getting better. Slowly.
I stuck with pool long enough to get good and justify buying my own cue (her name is Blanche and she’s pretty cool for a stick), and despite getting all Hulk-smash-mad every time I have cooked a whole chicken that took longer than it should and was burnt on the top and raw on the bottom, I have stuck with that as well. All the pain, suffering, and kitchen whining were worth it. Last night I triumphed in the kitchen by not only successfully cooking the thing, but making it taste pretty darn good as well.
First, open a can of beer and drink half of it (this is essential). Then pick all the gizzards out of the cavity and throw in a big soup pot (to simmer down with the rest of the carcass for soup). Rinse the bird in the last little bath it will have on this sphere, and gently pull the skin from the meat so you can cram a ‘healthy’ mixture of butter, garlic and some choice seasonings in there. Now take your half consumed can of beer, and wedge it up the chickens south end so it sits like a prince(ss) on it’s new beer throne. Slather with some souped up olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and a little cayenne, cover and stick in the oven for an hour and a half @ 450*. After a few more cocktails, the timer should be letting you know it’s time to remove the foil – allow the bird to brown and crisp for another 25-30 minutes. Rest your nicely cooked bird for 5-10 minutes, carve, and devour.
After you’re done picking at the carcass, throw it in the stock pot with the bones and gizzards for chicken noodle soup. This morning I simmered the chicken bits with a whole onion, a few cloves of garlic, 2 carrots and some celery. Tonight I’ll skim the fat from the top, strain the bones and mushed veggies out, and start working new veggies into my ‘from scratch stock.’ We like a few potatoes, some wild rice, and egg noodles thrown in as well. I can’t wait. It’s so good.