Friday, October 21, 2011

Hiya, Jack

Sorry I have no process photos; it's very difficult to take pictures while your hands are covered in pumpkin goo.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sock yarn!

More fun at Northfield Yarn.

A lovely kelly green alpaca yarn.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Knitting Update: SOCK!

I have knit a sock.

Granted, it is only about three inches long.

But I am still calling it a success.  I think it will actually be easier when I make it full size and using fo' real sock yarn.  Thanks to the folks at Northfield Yarn for their advice on buying double-pointed needles.  I'll probably be in again soon to buy yarn.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Too Many Apples

Maybe someday I will write a children's book with that title.  I could see that happening.

I already have 10 jars of applesauce, four jars of apple butter, and three pies worth of pie-filling in the freezer.  Yet I still have what I think is a quarter-bushel of apples to use in some way.  So I bought a food dehydrator.  Yes, I know you can make one fairly easily and cheaply, even one that uses solar energy.  I did not do this.  Instead, I spent $35 at FleetFarm for a very basic model.

Then I borrowed sab023's hand crank apple corer/slicer to make nice uniform slices.

Then I layered the slices into the dehydrator.  This is only the bottom of five layers:

After filling the entire dehydrator, I still had about three-quarters of the original quarter-bushel left.  Guess I'll be running the dehydrator again tomorrow.  For now, I'm letting it go overnight.  I'll post again in the morning, and let you know how it worked out.

EDIT (10/11/11): Here's how they look this morning:

That's after about 10.5 hours in the dehydrator.  Next time, I'll probably try for more like 8 hours; these came out more like apple chips.  While they are delicious, I'd like to have the more leathery dried apples as well.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Knitting Update

I have finished my practice swatch, in which I remembered how to
1. Cast on,
2. Knit, and
3. Purl,

and in which I discovered how to
4. Rib,
5. Use two colors of yarn to make a pattern, and
6. Decrease in a somewhat orderly fashion.

Next step: buy some double-pointed needles, and attempt a miniature sock.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Craft Project #1: Knitting

I have learned to knit at least 4 times.  I seem to have trouble retaining the knowledge.  However, I've been inspired by Catherine Friend's book Sheepish, as well as her recent visit to the Northfield Public Library, to knit a sock.  Perhaps eventually I'll even knit two socks that match.  But for now, my goal for this project is:

Knit one adult full-size sock.

To that end, I have pulled out my knitting supplies, and started a little swatch to remind me how to do these things.  It took me awhile (and an online video) to remember how to cast-on, but once I got that part it all sort of came back.  You might be able to see, in the photo below, how I'm even starting to get "fancy" by trying some ribbing.  Now that I understand the concept of knit vs. purl, a simple rib is not that difficult.

See the ribs?
There's also a new yarn store in Northfield, so once I feel confident that I remember the basics, I might head in there to pick up another set of circular needles (apparently you need two pairs to knit a sock?) and chat with the experts there.  I'd also like to pick up some real wool yarn-- I checked last night, and apparently all the yarn I have is synthetic.  Sheepish claims that wool socks don't absorb odor like other fibers, a claim I'd like to test.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Book review: The Compassionate Carnivore

The Compassionate Carnivore: Or, how to keep animals happy, save old Macdonald's farm, reduce your hoofprint, and still eat meat
by Catherine Friend

This book is an excellent mix of factual information, amusing anecdotes about the author's experience farming sheep and steers, and consumer recommendations or suggestions on how to find the meat products we want.

Friend makes the case first for why we should care about how the animals that become our meat are treated, killed, and processed; then guides readers through four basic steps to being more compassionate carnivores:

1. Pay attention.  Know where and how your meat is produced; don't allow yourself to be fed, like a baby bird.
2. Waste less meat.  Really scary statistics on how much meat Americans eat, and how much we throw away.
3. Replace factory meat with "happy meat".  How to find sources for happy meat, what makes a livestock operation "humane," why we should care.
4. Choose meatless meals over factory meat.  Mostly for use at restaurants: if you can't be sure it's happy meat (and most isn't), go veggie.

I also appreciate what she says about the most effective way to create change, both in our individual lives and in the larger national food system.  "Change that doesn't last isn't change; it's a fad." (pg. 256)  Friend advocates for small, sustainable changes in the way we approach meat consumption.  She also points out that in order to change the way the system works, we must stay at the table; vegetarians, while they may vocally advocate for humane treatment of animals, have no skin in the game.  They don't spend their capital on any kind of meat.  If everyone who opposed inhumane treatment of animals did that, then farmers who treat their animals humanely would have no market, and would go out of business, leaving only the inhumane operations.

I have now read two of Friend's books (this one and Hit by a Farm); I look forward to reading her most recent publication, Sheepish.  Her style is conversational, at times raucously funny or dryly witty, yet always manages to treat her subject with compassion.

Grade: A+.  Recommended to anyone who tried to read Michael Pollan but got too bogged down in all the facts and figures and seriousness.

Green Tomato Pie

There were green tomatoes and tomatillos in my CSA box this week, and there are green tomatoes on the plants outside.  I decided to try and use some of them in green tomato pie.  Just to clarify: this is a sweet, not savory, pie.  It's basically apple pie, with green tomatoes instead of apples.  All the spices are the same.

I started by slicing the tomatoes and tomatillos, then cooking them a bit in water.  Lots of recipes for GTP online note that the filling is often very loose and wet-- not ideal for pie.  If I'd had some tapioca pearls, I would've use that, but since I didn't, I decided to try cooking the tomatoes first, then draining them before mixing with spices etc.
Then I mixed in cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, ginger, allspice, and a little vanilla extract.  You know me, I don't measure stuff; I just added enough until it tasted and smelled right.  The filling was still kinda watery, so instead of dumping the whole pot into the crust, I used a slotted spoon to remove the tomatoes, then poured just a little of the spiced juice in with them.

(Note: I also made my own pie crust, which if you recall I'm not that good at.  Let's not go into that.)

Then you put the top crust on, and put it in the oven at 350 for 45 minutes or so.  It might take longer than that, I dunno.  Leave it in until it's done.

Let it cool a bit, then cut a slice for yourself.  Okay, okay, you guys can have some too.

Kind of ugly, isn't it?
It's not the most attractive pie in the world, but it's pretty tasty.  I will say that the seeds and skins from the tomatoes are a little weird in pie.  It might be better (albeit more work) to remove the skins at least before putting it in the pie.

Verdict: not bad, but probably won't make it again.