Archive for June, 2009

bread 1bread 2I mentioned to my mother-in-law recently that I have been making lots of bread these days.  Oh, you have a bread machine? she inquired.  No, you see, I am the bread machine...

And really I have been a kind of bread making machine.  Every week now, for the past month or two, I whip out a couple loaves of bread.  The first time it came more out of necessity.  I wanted some nice warm dinner rolls to go with the radish butter I’m so obsessed with making this season.  But then, I really came to love the whole experience of making bread.  I love kneading the dough into a soft, pliable mound.  I love nurturing the dough as it rises several times throughout the afternoon.  The aroma of the baking loaves is so delicious and well, obviously, there’s the eating it part.

Baking bread on rainy days feels especially right (and we’ve had our fair share of rainy days this month) and I learned that the low barometric pressure aids the bread in rising more quickly.  I guess the air is not as dense so there is less for the dough to push against.  Good to know.

The King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook is a bible in our kitchen and I love all the bread baking tips in it.  And, if you’re in the mood for some radish butter (I always am), here’s  roughly what I do:

  1. Finely chop up five or six radishes
  2. Finely chop up a few of the radish greens (if they are tender enough and not too big or prickly)
  3. Mix 1/2 stick of softened butter with some sea salt and a little lemon zest.  Maybe some chopped up chives too.
  4. Stir in the radishes and greens and spread on slices of bread.

The essence of this recipe (and lots of other wonderful ones) came from Deborah Madison’s Local Flavors.

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felt flowers 4felt flowers 3felt flowers 1I love working with felt.  It’s so warm and so easy.  None of those  fraying edges to worry about.  Usually I simply cut it into various shapes and sew them onto garments that I’ve knit. However, I just happened to glance at this book in the craft store and it inspired me to embroider the felt a bit for some added texture and interest.  For someone who’s not exceptionally brilliant with a sewing machine, I found this a remarkably lovely activity.  Although it should be said that the way to enjoy this activity is to sew your shapes before cutting them out.  It is considerably less fun to be worried about your fingers as you feed an itty bitty scrap of felt into the machine and try to actually see what you’re doing at the same time.

After  cutting out the petals, I layered them onto one another and sewed them together.  Then it was easy as pie to sew the whole thing right onto the sweater itself.  It came out pretty cute, I think.

baby sweater 4baby sweater 2baby sweater 3baby sweater 6baby sweater 7This ballerina-wrap sweater is a gift for a new little niece of mine.  The pattern is from Zoe Mellor’s Adorable Knits for Tots.  It was a fun little sweater to knit up, a nice deviation from the usual roll-neck crew sweaters that are  my old standby for the new little ones.  The amount of time I spent making this; however,  is completely disproportionate to the amount of time she will actually be able to wear this sweater.  But it’s always a bit more for the love of the project than it is for their practical purposes, isn’t it?

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chive vinegar 4chive vinegar 1chive vinegar 5chive vinegar 7chive vinegar 2Pungent, but so pretty, these vinegars were  a delight to make.  I gathered up chive blossoms in abundance along with bits of purple and varigated sage for the first batch.  I cooked up the vinegar to near boiling and then poured it into  jars stuffed with the beautiful blossoms and herbs.  The next batch became nasturtium-thyme.  My nasturtiums this year are the heirloom variety ‘Alaska’.  The plants bubble over their pretty varigated foliage with red, orange and yellow blooms.  I love how the different colors of the blossoms infuse the vinegar with varying levels of peach, orange and red.  Together the bottles all look like the most gorgeous sunset.

I made up some tags, tied them on with ribbon, and now these dashing vinegars are ready to give as hostess gifts at this party or that bbq throughout the summer.

Oh, and they taste really good.  As far as vinegars go, you know.  They’ll make  worthy and punchy contributions to plenty of marinades and dressings.

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