Saturday, June 28, 2014

Adventures in Baking

I've had a hankering for clafoutis (a yummy, custardy fruit tart) lately -- a very strong hankering, made worse by the fact that the only place I've ever gotten pre-fabricated clafoutis (Trader Joe's) is not only a good half hour drive away by highway, but also doesn't carry the same products all the time. So getting clafoutis up there is a crap shoot -- with no guarantee of a sweet, pastry and fruit payoff at the end.

Too many times of rolling snake-eyes on the clafoutis table inspired me to find a decent recipe for it so I could take control over my own cravings.

I found this recipe over at Orangette: Clafoutis. It's an adaptation of a New York Daily News version of the recipe which I further adapted by adding a pinch of dried, powdered ginger and two hefty shakes of cinnamon to the batter and a light dusting of sugar on top of the plums as they lay in the dish, waiting for assault with spicy batter. My plums were slightly under-ripe (two of the three, anyway), and I intended the sugar dusting to help mitigate the sour bite of the fruit -- which may or may not have worked as intended. I'll not admit either way. The ginger gives the plums an additional bite, the cinnamon a hint of burning sweet, and the custard turned out creamy, sweet and luscious.

It's easily the simplest version I've found in my extensive searches, and as far as I'm concerned, it's the only version I need. Typically, the first time I make a recipe, it takes me slightly longer to put it together (because I'm getting used to the process). If that holds true for this one, I will bend space-time the next time I make this clafoutis, because it only took five minutes to put the batter together. Any shorter prep time, and it will be baking in the oven before I finish whipping the eggs. The plums took a good five minutes to chop, and I imagine that process will continue to be time consuming. Although if I get riper plums, it might get shorter -- the less ripe plums let go of their pits very unwilling, bless.

Soo....ten minutes? Maybe? from dry ingredients to sitting on my ass, waiting for it to come out of the oven. In my oven, it took slightly longer than the 50 minute baking time (I gave it 51), and waiting half an hour to eat it was painful.

I can't argue the product, though:

I ate nearly half of it. And that's after my dinner. Blob, but it's awesome. I may have to make it with cherries next time, as is traditional.

Full stomach aside, there is knitting news.

I'm making a toy for a friend's new baby. It's going to be a jellyfish-inspired stuffed toy with jingles inside.

It's knit from in a flat piece that gets folded over and sewn up and stuffed. I got lucky when my yarn striped in such a way that the colors on each side of the body match (mostly -- the front and back ruffles are two different colors). I've been doing the tentacles in a mix-and-match stitch patterns. There's a seed stitch, a garter and a stockinette so far. I may try a slip stitch or a simple check for the remaining two. Or I may just do another garter and another seed.

The intended recipient is new here, he won't know about the wide variety of stitch patterns available to the average knitter until well after he's chewed holes in his jellyfish.

And to close, a cute picture of Rex:

who is currently acting like a wild animal in an attempt to get sent back to the orphanage.

He's lucky he's cute.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Celebrate with me!

I apologize for that truly awful picture, but hey! That glass you can barely see behind the cupcake (which is the pertinent item in this photo) has some lovely, lovely blackberry wine in it. A little less now than was there ten minutes ago, but still. It's going to affect a body's ability to work a camera, you know?

I got promoted! With all attendant banners and extra money and stuff. I'll get more deets later, but the gist of the whole thing is this: They created a new position at my current workplace that actually relates to one of my degrees, sounds like a blast and is (and this is important) still at the same place where I work now and love.

I applied, interviewed that afternoon and got hired same afternoon. Then I had to wait until this morning to fill out the papers, but still. That's the fastest I've gotten anywhere ever.

This morning I did have a brief moment of Oh, my Dog, what did I just do?!?!? It took me a while to come to the realization that, like the guy in Ikea, I got this. I'm terrified and it will take a long time to get accustomed to the new shape of my life, but...I got this.

Now, if you'll pardon me, there is a cupcake on my desk, and I most desperately want to get that.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Dear Blog, I love you.

Truly, madly, deeply.

I was updating my resume tonight, and I needed the dates of when I got which jobs. I would be totally hosed trying to remember that on my own.But Bloggie was there for me! Bloggie had the information!

I love you Bloggie. I will try to visit more often.

But now -- after the taxing effort of updating my resume and emailing it to myself at work -- my mortal form has grown weak. I need sustenance.

I'm thinkin'....sunflower seed butter and jelly sandwich, chips and then a slice of apple pie to finish?

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Did I just do that?

Yes, yes I did just do that!

What did I do, dear readers? I finished the first part of a writing project that I started three years ago!

Honestly, it's an accomplishment. Since I started that piece way back in the way back days, I haven't done bupkiss in the writing department. Oh, I started a short story that sucks like a Dyson (or a Shark, if the commercials are to be believed), but that hardly counts. This is the first bit of real writing I've engaged in in forever. It feels good, really.

And they just built a new grocery store near my home that is dedicated to organic foods, so I don't have to travel so far just for a can of frickin' soup anymore. And I went to the movies last night with my friends and we decided to have a regular Girl's Night Out once a month, and use it as a sort of writer's group, too.

Things are looking up, y'all.

In knitting news, I am less than two full skeins away from completion of Nemesis. You remember my Nemmie, don't you?

Nemmie is much, much longer now. Why, almost a full six feet, unblocked! And with her fringe on, she'll be magnificent. Magnificent, I say!

I have also agreed to make a toy for a friend who is currently gestating. She deserves it, and I got to buy some interesting baby yarn, and all that. I will post a picture after it's been sent (if I remember to take on in process.)

And then I have to get back to my Feeding the Fish. It's been sitting in its baggie for weeks now -- I didn't pull it out once on my vacation. I've promised myself I will pull it out tonight at bedtime, so after I get my tasks for the day completed, I will work on the baby toy, then go to bed and work on FtF.

Ahhh. A Sunday full of writing and knitting and nothing much else of import! What else can a girl ask for?

Saturday, June 7, 2014

That was...uh...yeah.

I went on vacation. Two weeks in the Las Vegas area -- mostly spent outside Vegas, in the national parks and museums in the region. Two days I visited the Strip.

That was more than enough.

I am not a Strip sort of girl, you know? I mean, I had fun at the MGM Grand -- I did the CSI: The Experience and then we test watched a new show (you all should really, really, really clear your Wednesday nights in the traditional CSI: Original Crispy time slot of 10 pm Eastern to watch Stalker. Just sayin'.) Those bits were fun. But the rest of it? It's all too much, you know? Too much noise, smell, neon, flashing lights, all of it. It's like drowning in external stimulation.

And vaguely depressing. I'm not sure why, but both my friend and I were actually, measurably depressed after we got back from the Strip, both times. I'm not sure if it was because I had a different expectation of what the experience was, or if it was the people around me....I dunno. I just know that after we went the Thursday before we left for home, I started getting homesick and wanted just to leave. Not even the Grand Canyon (aka, the world's largest drainage ditch) could cheer me. I was wound up until yesterday, too, and I got home Wednesday last.

I did, however, find the time to visit a yarn shop in Vegas. I think it was something I should have done again after visiting the Strip -- all that yarn, acting like psychic insulation against the bright lights and floral stench of the gaming floors (if you visit Vegas and have scent sensitivities, be warned: the big resort/casinos put a fragrance into the air in their facilities. Most of them are floral in tone -- sort of like a giant, over-done Plug-In is somewhere in the lobby -- but the MGM is a gentler, musky scent, like men's cologne. It's easier on the sinuses.)

Of course I enhanced my stash.

And the crowning jewel:

None of them are locally made yarns, but they are all yarns I cannot find here. Well, aside from maybe the Sunseeker, but the sparkles made me happy.

That's my primary decision making heuristic -- does it make me happy? If yes, put it in my cart. There are worse ways to make choices, you know. Particularly when it comes to yarn.

Now I have to plan out the projects I want to make with all of these pretty, pretty yarns. Ah, the real joy of vacation!