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And the Secret Ingredient Tuesday January 19, 2010

And the Secret Ingredient of the chili?


Thanks happyBEAN (queen connoisseur of all things java) for the recipe — it is packed in my lunchbox and will be going out to work with me today. I threw in a little bag of kitchen Tortilla Chips, made locally here by El Milagro, which are my current fave.

Yeah, coffee. And beer! And cocoa, which I cheated by using something in the Gourmet Collection by McCormick called “Cocoa Chili” blend. It has chipotle & paprika in there with cocoa (and sugar). So I left out some of what the recipe called for (less sugar for sure) to compensate.. I also used one can of pinto beans and one can of red beans because I loathe kidney beans. In the meat department: one lb. ground beef and one lb. round steak, cubed.

About the Beans: when I was a wee child, my mom went through a fanciful transformation. During the first 5 years of my life, we only ate fresh or canned vegetables, many which came from relatives farms in the “country”. We lived kitty-corner to my Mom’s Mom (Busia, my Polish grandmother); our backyards connected while the houses themselves faced perpendicular streets. During certain times of year, there was a lot of canning going on. Even though it was discouraged, I was always underfoot because I loved every part of it.
Extra special was going out to Hilliards to fetch the food, but even if I only saw the baskets and sacks come out of a car it was exciting. The adults were always so focused and organized. The food had to be used or canned right away and the delivery joined a process that was already sometimes underway in Busia’s kitchen.
She boiled the jars, blanched the food, sealed and labeled and VOILA! Both our families had vegetables for most of the rest of the year (yes, they were not fooling around, they made tons).
Then my parents bought a freezer.
They bought a side of beef to put in the freezer. And started freezing vegetables instead of canning, although Busia still held down the fort with that for quite awhile, insisting it was much better.
My Mom totally loved buying frozen vegetables when they became available. It was a food revolution!
And I have to admit, most of the time, the food tasted fresher (although I will always, always love canned peas). My little girl self, though, could not abide the days we were served Mixed Vegetables. The taste and feel of the occasional Lima Bean put me over the edge. Luckily, the dog was not so fussy.

To this day, kidney beans, in my mind are the not-so-distant cousin of the Lima. Eewww. (But to every rule there is an exception and my sister makes some sort of bean mix in a crock pot that rocks! But that may be a recipe for another day.)

Also new, to me: all of the onion, garlic and meats, were browned together before putting into the crock pot!

So far, this taking the Lunch to Work has been pretty darn easy – and I’ve lost two pounds not eating *road food* all over the place.

Packing is a challenge though — still working on the system —

But it’s trickling over to other parts of my life. Recently started? A stealth spring offering that somehow ended up packed and ready to roll with all ingredients connected.

Chic Knits Knitting Patterns

Do you ever do this? Thread the knitting needle through the yarn and make a little package? I had to throw in a little scrap yarn in there too because a provisional cast on is in the List of Things to Do ;p

Which Provisional Cast On do I love? It’s one that my friend GirlReaction showed me a long time ago at a KIP. You crochet a chain, then pick up your stitches through the little bumps behind the v’s of the chain. You can see it here really well. The very coolest part about this is that when you’re ready to pick up sts on the flip-side, you tug one end of your chain and it unravels and reveals the “new” sts. (Just like opening a stitched bag of dog food!) And, I still love published tutorials! Watching a video is great for some things but I find myself having to play them over and over. This one, by the lovely Sarah, has great instructions and pictures.

Monday Morning Mirth January 18, 2010

  Monday Morning Mirth  


I’ve been a very busy B this winter so far – one of the best presents from the holidays was a Crock Pot!
On any given Sunday, you’ll find my house filled with fine aromas and my tums with delectable delights.
My good friend happybean recently sent me a recipe for chili. It had an ingredient that was surprising until I remembered what the lovely Ms. Bean was known for.
Can you guess the Secret Ingredient? (Hint: it’s not the beer…)

Jedi Needles January 14, 2009


shorts2010Lots of incredible shorts on the runways (these leather numbers are by Chloe) this season for spring, etc. but here in my picture, it’s just a cowl masquerading as a skirt to protect your sensibilities from a naked mannie…

Here, it’s paired with a half-finished cardi from long ago fished out of my Marination Chamber, where all my WIPs forlorn linger until further cookin’ takes place.

This cardi was started (long ago) for my personal wardrobe, hence the chartruese color supreme — has been resuscitated and is now well on its way to being finished.

BUT. What to do with the neck finish?

To totally go around the edge, I had to use a 47″ – #3 Addi Turbo! (It was very exciting – just looking at a needle that long is quite exhilarating and I am actually lucky enough to own one.)

I just kept picking up and picking up and now that all those stitches are in one place, I stepped back and decided to think a little about just how I was going to proceed.

The original plan for this was lace trim all around the neckline, body hem and sleeve edges. I still might make that sweater but not on this outing — I’ve fallen “out of love” with the idea — not an uncommon thing in the design process. I’m pretty sure that’s why I stalled and marinated it to begin with. The vision of that edging was just not clear enough going in and by the time it was ready to go on the piece, I started going round and round. The initial edging didn’t look right proportionately; then I started trying other lace patterns but none had the body required for an edge of that width.

Flopzeeze not allowed on a cardi edge — and nobody likes to sew a millimeter extra later (even though I adore adding grosgrain ribbon as a facing to edges).

Anybody keep up with the Sewing vs. No-Sew Debates in the knitting community? I’ve been constantly enlightened and entertained by the volatility of some of the discussions. Being fluent in both and enjoying each for their merits, leaves me room to sometimes just shake my head! And I routinely get emails chastising me for not writing my patterns a certain way. We’re talking severe poking; not just suggestions. I am amazed and amused by the drama this inspires… :)
For my personal wardrobe, I prefer sewn sweaters with set-in sleeves because I think they wear and fit better. They’re also easier to “imprint” with texture and cables and other designs. But you wouldn’t catch me trying fair isle NOT in the round. Recently, I found a swatch I made YEARS ago with expensive yarns that passed quickly into oblivion because of the tedium of row knitting in this style.
Luckily, that leaves me out of the brouha, because IMHO, it All Depends on What You are Going For.

And this sweater? I really don’t know, but I just went into the Studio and dug up a shorter #3 needle to try something new and unusual…

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