Friday, April 17, 2015

Cooking with Gas

I know I barely post these days, but this time I have a pretty decent excuse; I am finally back to work on my cookbook, and the first rough draft is shaping up.

It would be terrific to get it published properly, by a brick-and-mortar house, but if not I will still have a vanity press edition made up.

I expect the testing phase will take a long time, especially as friends and acquaintances in the UK and Europe have requested that I include weight and metric measurements. Luckily, a few people have volunteered to help with the testing; I won't have to do all of it.

Knitting is still happening--here's some proof:

I'm working on an Acadian Shawl (sideways knit, with a simple diamond lace border), and have plans for a late 30s cardigan with simple Fair Isle, and even have my eye on a lace cardi in the most recent edition of Vogue Knitting.

In other news, spring is finally here, and the snow is GONE. The garden is rather confused, but it's game. We'll see what happens. My husband and I had also wanted to have a straw bale garden this year, but the winter was so bad that there are no straw bales to be had anywhere. We do have a galvanized trough to use for some container gardening, but it will only fit two small crops. Tomatoes and zucchini, I expect--we know we'll use those (in this house there's no such thing as too much zucchini, as I use it for our favorite pickles).

Happy spring to you, too (or fall, if you're on the other side of the world).

Saturday, September 27, 2014

A Productive Summer

It's been a busy summer. I didn't do a lot of canning last year, and this year I suspect I've made up for that, even though I'm not finished yet.

So far this year: sweet pickled cherries, sour pickled cauliflower, sour cherry-peach marmalade, black cherry-whiskey jam, sweet cherry-jalapeno chutney, peach salsa, pumpkin pickles, plum jam, white currant jam, dilly wax beans, crabapple jelly.

On the way: beach plum gin, cherry bounce, juniper berry sauerkraut.

Lots of knitting, too. I've made simple shawls for DH's aunts, am finished a February Lady Sweater for my MiL, a cotton scarf for my sister, hats for one of my MI nephews and for a local friend. Still need to make a hat for a new BiL, and maybe a couple of small things for other people.

Here's some good news: if your batch of jam or jelly doesn't set, don't re-make it with commercial pectin (that involves quite a lot of extra sugar). I made my sour cherry-peach jam into marmalade with the addition of lots of lemons, and my black cherry-whiskey jam set beautifully when I added the pulp left over from making crabapple jelly. No extra sugar or off texture.

We haven't gone apple picking yet, though I found some lovely Macoun and RI Greening apples at the farmers market today, as well as some zucchini, so that I can make spicy zucchini pickles.

When we do go apple picking I'll make applesauce and apple marmalade. I also want to make cranberry catsup again--we went through that fast last year.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Yes, it's been a VERY long time. Sorry.

Life happened. As it does. One lovely thing--we went to London again. I went everywhere via the Tube, did some antiquing, and we even dined at Simpsons-in-the-Strand, which, whatever you've heard, isn't on the outs just yet. Try the breast of wood pigeon, if you don't believe me.

On the other hand, my mother died in April. My mother was wonderful. Gracious, kind, intelligent, decent, funny...and my mother. Both of my parents in one; my father died when I was a toddler and my sister was an infant.

I'm no toddler now, and neither is my sister. Mom was 74 when she died. But nothing--even longterm illness--really prepares you for losing your only living parent. My sister and I were there when she died. I was holding her hand. But at the moment, it feels like it will hurt forever. So far not a day has gone by without me thinking, "I need to tell Mom...."

We were lucky. Very, very lucky to have such a parent, and very lucky to have had her not only through childhood, but into middle age.

My sister and I sorted through the things she left. It wasn't a terribly long task; Mom sold her house 10 years ago and went to live with my sister, so we sorted through a few things left in a room. But I took the bulk of the photos, including some that had belonged to my father.

Here are a few of the pictures I brought home.

Joan Minckler, 1956

The Minckler Family, ca. 1944

John (Johnny) and Joan Minckler, ca. 1940

Tech Sgt. Richard (Rick) F. Forster, ca. 1942?

Margaret (Meg) and Eileen Forster, ca. 1969


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Getting Ready

Oops. Haven't posted for quite a long time--but this time it's good.

With one week less for holiday prep (Thanksgiving being so late this year), I'm sprinting. I have been busy. In addition to the cleaning and planning I have been baking and knitting.

The knits are still on the simple side. I just can't get the hang of the lovely "Thorin's Armour Socks"; one day, maybe.

But I did finish the shawl for my MiL. And I made a few other gift knits. I still have to block one, and I've made simple socks with really simple crochet trim and there are a few other things in the works.

This cloche is from Boutique Knits. It was made for a friend's birthday present.

This is the shawl I made for my MiL.

 Simple, heavy socks for me

Just for fun, in honor of the US opening of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug...
I made him for a swap. He now lives in England. (I think he's been posted on this blog previously.)

As for baking: gingerbread reindeer, orange snowballs, noels, cranberry orange brownies, whiskey thumbprints, peanut butter kiss cookies. So far. And two kinds of fruitcake--my basic light fruitcake, and an experiment, a tropical fruitcake (papaya, mango, kiwi, macadamia nuts, pineapple, rum). The light fruitcake will be the base for this year's Christmas Cake.

I also managed to pack up the first Christmas box today; it's got to go out soon.

But today--tonight, really, I'll be at the cinema! There be dragons. One, anyway. Speaking with the voice of Mr. Cumberbatch. Which is no bad thing.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Colds and Knitting

You'd think the two would play nicely. But with my sinuses all mucked up my brain seems fuzzy. The pumpkin hat was simple enough. But I don't even want to work on the easy lace socks I'm making. And the 30s dress is out, thinking is necessary for that one.

Here's the pumpkin hat before it got to its real owner. Tommy agreed to model, but he looks a little confused. I'm not sure what he thought he was agreeing to wear.

I made a simple garter stitch shawlette for my MiL and am working up an easy ruffle for edging. I managed to make four dishcloths for my SiL's Christmas gift. That seems to be the extent of my knitting ability presently.

Here's hoping this rotten cold will vacate the premises, and soon.

Still. It did provide us all with at least one photo of the Prince of the Harvest. Maybe it's not all that bad.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013


Summer got away from me. But in a nice way.

My sister and I finally got away for a long weekend. (A minor miracle, as we've been trying to do this for about 17 years.) We went to Austin, TX, and had a good time. Lots of walking around, good food, shopping--vintage and for presents for those left at home.

Then I went to the first rockabilly weekender I've been to in years. Ten, maybe? It's been a looong time. My husband and I went--and Nora (the car). She didn't start for the return trip, so he had her flatbedded back. And of course she started later, after coming home. Maybe she thinks a grande dame shouldn't have to do so much work without a rest.

But here's some genuine knitting content:

This is the Perfect Pumpkin Hat for All (sportweight version) from Ravelry. It's designed by Janet Jameson.

I made this for the baby of friends whom I know from MI; other dancers. It still needs to be blocked and sewn together, but it was a very fast and amusing knit. Who knows, maybe I'll use it to make a pumpkin tea cozy for this fall!