Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Good Side

I was going to see a movie on Saturday night, but stayed home and tried a cake recipe out instead. Such are my priorities, make of it what you will. This is Kraft's "Gram's Best Brown Sugar Cake:"
This recipe is basically a yellow cake mix dolled up with pudding mix, sour cream, brown sugar and pecans. It really is a snap to mix up. I used a large 12x3 round because all my bundt-like pans disappeared on me. Considering the size of the pan, I really should have taken the time to line the bottom with parchment paper. But of course I skipped that step, so getting the cake out of the pan was an unnecessarily painful affair. The result:
Not so pretty. But hey that's the underside anyway :P It's still got a good side on top, right? The cream cheese frosting came from this recipe, with the modifications from Paddybog's comment. I forgot I was out of powdered sugar, so I had to make some in the blender. Yes, it can be done! I don't think I processed it quite enough, so it wasn't as fine as commercial powdered sugar. The icing came out pretty well though, if a bit sweet.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Cashew Crumbles

I tried a new recipe on Saturday. I took this recipe and swapped out cashews and cashew butter for the called-for peanuts and peanut butter. This makes for a big batch, baked in a 15x10 jelly roll pan. Splotchy appearance aside, it's really just a two layer bar.
The bottom later is a cocoa brownie with a bit of oats (I used old fashioned instead of quick cooking because that's what I had) and chopped cashews. The top layer is a cream cheese layer with cashew butter. Cashews have a pretty mild flavor compared to peanuts, so this layer has a mysterious rich texture with a vaguely nutty flavor. Some of the bottom layer mix is sprinkled on the top layer, but I'm sure you could skip that step and just have a thicker bottom layer instead.

I finished a sock.
It took forever because I was distracted by wee little baby hats. This is Miss Babs Windsor sock yarn in the colorway "A Day at Silent Cove." It sounds like a Nancy Drew mystery to me.

Friday, January 20, 2012

From Past to Present

I've been trying to organize a bit This has involved some book moving, paperwork scanning and yarn sorting. I also found a bunch of cassette tapes and I thought maybe I could do some kind of digital transfer, so I could keep the music I wanted but also free up some space. I found this on sale:
Behold auto-reverse! Now that's some late 1980s state of the art technology for you! But it does have a newer feature for digitizing too:
Here's the USB port.
The build isn't very sturdy, the door is flimsy and the latch that secures it isn't actually very secure, so the door doesn't always stay closed. It's also weird how the battery compartment is accessed from the inside.
I shouldn't even call it a battery compartment really, since it's not actually separated from the main circuit board and other internal components. It's more of a hole to provide access to the part of the box where the battery contacts are. Kinda sketchy, if you ask me! I think I'll stick to powering this device via USB. Craftsmanship issues aside though, I've tested it and managed to transfer a few minutes of audio from an old cassette to my computer. The resulting file sounds fine, so I guess, for all it's quirks, this will do for my purposes. The transfer process is pretty simple, if a bit time consuming (I miss you, hi-speed dubbing!), and is done using the Audacity, included on the CD but also available as freeware online.

In knitting news, well, there isn't much. Just another little hat:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Mediocre Mistake Muffins

My brother and sister in law gave me a cupcake calendar and Tuesday's recipe was for strawberry muffins. I misread the recipe and added too little flour. The result was denser and eggier than it ought to have been. They smelled nice but flavor and texture wise they were only ok. Maybe it would help to swirl in some strawberry jam or a cream cheese mix. That could make them more interesting.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Ugly but Good

I tried my hand at a chocolate flan. I tried this but it came out rather pale and tasted only mildly of chocolate. So mom and I tinkered with it to make it a little richer and chocolaty-er. The result certainly wasn't pretty (I omitted the caramel, so it unmolded in two pieces), but it was unmistakably chocolate.
Maybe a bit more tinkering will yield a smoother, creamier texture, but this modified recipe's not too shabby so far:

Chocolate Flan
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1/4 c. semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c. whole milk
  • 1/2 c. sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 c. evaporated milk
  • 2 Tbsp. strong coffee
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
Whisk eggs and yolk together to combine. Add enough liquid (water, milk, coffee, whatever) to the cocoa so that it forms a paste. In a saucepan, heat 3 kinds of milk together until almost simmering. Add cocoa paste and chocolate chips and stir until chocolates are thoroughly dissolved. Temper egg mixture with a bit of hot milk mixture. Pour remainder of milk mixture into egg mixture, whisking constantly. Strain mixture into baking dish. Bake in water bath or cook in steamer for 55 min.

I've been quite unproductive on the knitting front, for no particular reason. I did manage another little hat:

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Another Wee Hat

I made a second umbilical hat. This one came out a little bigger than the first, more newborn than preemie.

Monday, January 09, 2012


As I was working down the leg of the formerly unphotographable sock, I got to thinking about the little gap problem I have on my handknit socks. I can never seem to neatly closed the gap between the stitches on the top of the foot and the stitches picked up along the left side of the heel flap. Basically, there's usually a little hole where the left gusset decreases start. This problem never happens to me on the right side, just the left.

I suspected the eye of partridge heel I use all the time. I start my heel flap with a slipped stitch on what eventually becomes the left side of the sock, which is where that darn little hole always forms. In the past, I would try to pick up a couple of extra stitches in the trouble spot and also making a stitch out of the float that resulted from that first slipped stitch. This time, I took a different, more proactive approach: remembering how the wrapped stitches eliminate holes in short rows, I decided to try wrapping and slipping the stitch before the first stitch of the heel flap. You can sort of see the white wrap around the leftmost stitch on the needle here, just before the dreaded gap.
I then knit the flap, turned the heel and picked up along the right side of the flap, the same as always. After knitting across the top of the foot and arriving at the wrapped stitch, I knit both the wrap and the slipped stitch it was wrapped around together. The hope was the wrap would tighten and close that pesky gap. I think it was pretty effective:
I did pick up one extra stitch after knitting the wrap and wrapped stitch, just for good measure. But there was no long floating strand to have to deal with. Nice! Apparently, the trick was to anticipate the hole, and make it close itself. Now let's see if I can pull off the same trick for the next sock!

While I'm praising preparedness, let me post yet another badly lit photo:
It's a wee umbilical hat for an expectant mom in the family. It's a perfect use for leftover sock yarn.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Oooey Gooey

I tried out a new recipe for s'more bars. I first saw this last month on the Betty Crocker website. As much as I love s'mores (and I do!), I didn't try them right away because I didn't want to use a sugar cookie mix. I'm not against mixes. I am however very cheap and I'm not going to spend money on a mix when I already have the ingredients contained in the mix at home, bought for much less (per unit, at least).

So today I got around to merging the s'more bar recipe with a sugar cookie recipe. Appropriately enough, I used the cookie recipe from the Betty Crocker Cookbook (mine's from the mid 1980's), so it's pretty much still an all-Betty recipe. I think they came out nicely:

Here's the modified crust recipe I used:
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup butter, melted
Combine dry ingredients. Add melted butter. Press into pan and dock (this may not be necessary, but I didn't want it too puffy). The rest of the recipe's the same. I guess you could substitute 2 teaspoons of baking powder for the cream of tartar, or perhaps just one teaspoon would yield an unpuffy crust without docking.

And finally, a semi decent photo of the formerly unphotographable sock.

Thursday, January 05, 2012


I started a sock a few days ago but I've had trouble getting a good picture.

Too far?

Too close?

Bad light!
Good thing I've got a lot more sock to knit. That'll give me more chances to get a good shot.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Green Things

I got a gift from my friend Nancy, who went on a trip to Mexico. She gave me this really cool bag:
Pretty neat, huh? It'll be perfect for revolutionary trips to El Safeway for tostitos. Viva la reusable shopping bag! I wonder if there are Mexicans getting good use out of Washington Crossing the Delaware tote bags? The bag also came with some mystery yarn:
There were no labels so I don't know much about it. It's a very fine 2-ply of what I think is acrylic. This may take some investigating.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Knitting Recap

Here's a quick summary of the stuff I've knit recently. There were a bunch of sorta slouchy brioche stitch hats:I also got sucked into the ruffly scarf trend.
They are quick and so deceptively easy. Also, here's my first finished object of the year:
It's my standard stocking stitch scarf in self-patterning Kroy sock yarn. Now if only the weather would cooperate and turn sufficiently wintry to warrant socks. I'm always disappointed by 50 degree temps in January!

Sunday, January 01, 2012


That was a very long blog hiatus indeed. I certainly didn't intend to be off the air for quite so long, but life events, anticipated and otherwise, got the better of me. I'm not in the habit of making New Year's resolutions, so instead I'll just call this is regular old resolution to try to blog a bit more regularly.

There was a wee bit of crazy baking over the holidays. Not as insane as at the height of my crazy baking glory, but still pretty respectable I think:
7 types of cookies spread over 9 sugary tiers of dessert goodness. From the top left:
  1. pecan bars
  2. Nanaimo bars
  3. caramel heavenlies
  4. more pecan bars
  5. lemon bars
  6. marble brownies
  7. dulce de leche bars
  8. more dulce
  9. oatmeal caramelitas
The caramelitas didn't come out as intended. I tried making my own caramel sauce instead of using bottled topping. I substituted whole milk for cream, and, well, I got a reminder of why sometimes there is not substituting for the real thing. Ah well, still came out sort of caramelly, just not as creamy.