Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Homemade Hot Cocoa: For REAL!

Look at that face, I think he likes it!

my preferred ingredients

I give you two recipes. First a Hot Cocoa mix recipe. One that I made with friends a couple of winters ago and gave as gifts. Originally from Sunset magazine. Go here and you will find many versions; Mexican, peppermint, mocha. Just note, there is a typo. Use 1 teaspoon salt, NOT 1 tablespoon! The second is a stove top recipe, you can also make it by the cup in the microwave for an instant fix.

Classic Cocoa Mix
1 cup powdered milk
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mini chips

Mix together in a container. Pour 1 cup boiling water in a cup, stir in 1/3 cup of cocoa mix. Et voilà! I like to pour in a bit of half and half to cool it and for a smidgen of creaminess. This makes a deliciously rich hot cocoa.

Stove Top Hot Cocoa
4 cups milk, any kind
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt

Place all ingredients into a pot. Turn on to medium heat, start stirring when milk warms up. The cocoa powder will not mix in until milk is warm. Don't boil! Makes 4 cups of hot cocoa just like your grandma used to make.

For 1 cup serving:
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
dash of salt

Place in a ceramic mug, microwave for 2 minutes. Stir and enjoy!

*An interesting fact about cocoa powder, it doesn't actually dissolve, it just suspends in the warm liquid. That is why you always find cocoa at the bottom of your cup!

Monday, January 26, 2009

How To: Fairy Warm Cocoa

Fairy Warm Cocoa Tutorial from Denny McEntire on Vimeo.

This is what happens when I leave Denny alone with the kids!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Perfect Shade Of Blue

The yarn: Cash Iroha Sage Blue, a silk, wool, cashmere blend. I fell in love with the color, the sheen, its soft feel.

The pattern: Swirls Cap by Sophia Kessinger, a free crochet pattern on Ravelry. The pattern is written well with plenty of pictures and step by step instructions. I needed to do some adjusting to fit my gauge and didn't have any trouble making it work.

I love detail on the hat, the puckered swirls, the belt across the brim.

And I love yarn. It has such a nice feel to it, the blend is a perfect mix of luxury and practicality. It is fun to splurge sometimes!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Coughing and Sneezing and Aches, Oh My!

I've been hit with a nasty virus. One of those not quite the flu, but worse than a cold and it has lasted for days. Everyday I've thought, this is almost over and everyday I feel just a bit better. But really, I think it is almost over!

Just so you know, I've been thinking about you while I've been gone. Wanting to hop on to say hello and to show you my newest hat, that I totally LOVE. The sun is shining today, so I'm hoping to snap a nice picture. I really can't wait to show you!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Trouble With Bamboo Sock Needles...

Yup, totally snapped.

I'm attracted to the aesthetics of bamboo needles, that is what I usually buy. So that is what I went for when I started my sock class. I noticed how fragile they were as soon as I started knitting, I felt like I was going to break them while I was knitting! I've never felt that with the larger sized bamboo needles. Well, it happened. Not while I was knitting, but in my bag.

These are my new indestructible needles, the addi Turbo Lace. Not only are they strong, they claim I will knit faster! They are quite nice, the joins are smoother than the bamboo, which seems to be more of an issue when knitting with tiny sock yarn. Smooth needles also seem to be essential with smaller yarn. I've used size 17 metal needles and had horrible trouble with the yarn slipping off.

All this rambling on about knitting needles! I'm really just happy to be knitting socks, something I've been wanting to do for years.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Chupe de Quinoa

If you haven't tried quinoa, this is your chance! Quinoa is a quick cooking, extremely healthful grain. It contains a balanced set of essential amino acids which make it a complete protein source. What more could you ask for? Besides delicious. Which is where this soup comes into play.

Although this is a lengthy recipe, it is quite simple and comes together rather quickly.

Chupe de Quinoa, Quinoa Soup
(adapted from The Art of South American Cooking)

2 T oil
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, chopped
2 t cumin
1/8 t white pepper, or 1/2 t black pepper
1 T coarse sea salt, or 2 t regular table salt
1 lb potatoes cut into 1" cubes, peeled or unpeeled
1/2 lb fresh spinach, shredded
1 c raw quinoa
5 c stock or water
Juice of an orange
8 oz feta cheese
Hard boiled eggs, one per person

Heat your oil on medium heat, in a large pot. Add garlic and jalapeño. Be careful not to let the garlic brown. Add cumin, pepper and salt, cook until fragrant, 1-2 min. Pour in your 5 c water or stock and bring to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until soft. About 15 min. While potatoes are cooking, make your quinoa and eggs.

Quinoa: You should always thoroughly rinse your grains before cooking. (Bob's Red Mill sells pre-rinsed quinoa!) Place 1 c quinoa and 2 c water in a pot, bring to a boil. Place lid on, turn off heat. Leave the pan on the hot burner. It should be done in about 10 minutes.

Eggs: This method is from Martha, and produces the most perfectly cooked egg. You know when you have over cooked eggs when your yolk is green. That wont happen when following these directions. Place eggs in a pot, add cold water to cover by about 1 inch. Bring to a rolling boil, cover pan and remove from heat. Let stand for 12 minutes, then drain and run under cold water. I like to cook more than I need so that there are some left for a quick protein snack.

Back to the Soup!

Once your potatoes are soft, stir in the spinach and cooked quinoa. Pour in the orange juice and cook for 5 minutes more. Serve with feta and boiled egg on top. Bon Appétit!

A few additional notes:

*I don't always have jalapeño or oranges on hand and the soup still tastes delicious with out these ingredients.

*For less spice, remove the pith and seeds from the jalapeño before cutting. A spoon works great for this. Cut jalapeño in half and use a spoon to scrape out the insides.

*Choose feta made with goat or sheep's milk, it is much more flavorful. You will find that you use less, which counters the higher price.

*You can substitute any green leaf vegetable for the spinach.

*If you want to add meat, brown it in the pan before adding the garlic.

*If you want to add other vegetables, add them with the potatoes.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

A Frosty Walk

We received a book called WALK THERE! 50 treks in and around Portland and Vancouver and decided it was as good a day as any to go for a walk. The path we chose was along a creek with wildlife viewing areas and is a favorite of local bird watchers.

Brrrr! Look at all that frost!

We walked along a creek where attempts are being made to bring back salmon and steelhead.

Frost covered railing.

Frozen rose hips, so cold, but so beautiful.

We weren't really expecting to see any wildlife in the cold, so we were very excited to spot this great blue heron in a pond about 15 feet away from the path.

School is back in session tomorrow. I think we will all benefit from getting back into "the routine". It was a wonderful holiday break. I really enjoyed the pace of our Christmas, not so many presents, with an emphasis on handmade. I'm also ready to start on projects that got put on the back burner while I was in production mode. I've almost forgotten where that back burner is!