Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Wind Dried Puffin

Peat brought this commercial to my attention and my inner cultural historian was struck by the wind dried puffin. Peat assured me it was an actual phenomenon in the Faroes and Iceland.

Apparently there is so much salt in the air in these places that you can hang things up outside and they don't rot they just dry. Common things like fish or puffin were just put out on the line but for hard to come by beef and mutton a outhouse was built with holes large enough to let the wind in but keep out pilfering sea birds.
It seems the Chinese are also fond of this technique.
Now if only I had an ocean and some puffins .....


Dead Pheasant

The upstairs neighbor had his tail gate open so when we came back from All Saints I had to walk around and then noticed why the gate was open.
Somehow you'd think leaving a pheasant out in the open would be a bad thing.
Eli was happy for the excuse to chase his glow ball.

I'm going to Fargo on Saturday it should be a good time. Fargo's excitin dontchya kno.


Sunday, October 28, 2007


My usual method of learning a recipe is by teaching it to myself by trial and error. If I had someone to show me this would be a lot easier. I'm looking forward to cooking with Peat and picking up a few recipes.

Today I tried meatballs for a second time and I think it was an improvement on the last time.
They still cooked for longer than they should and I think I'll try 50 minutes instead of an hour next time. I made a nice puttanesca for dinner and the rest are freezing for future use. I like to toss one or two in my miso soup.
Here's a random photo of Eli sprawled out on the floor. Wednesday I start one of my student teaching experiences and am looking forward to it.


Saturday, October 27, 2007

Something Positive

I Love the reference to a metric ton of fan fiction and Choo Choo Bear's ( the cat) frantic note.


Friday, October 26, 2007

Chicken Pot Pie

I tried to make squished chicken today but accidentally put the chicken skin down first instead of skin with the result that some of the breast meat didn't cook. Quickly averting culinary calamity I cut up the chicken and began making pot pie using the pan juices and a highly suspicious bottle of cheap wine that appeared in my kitchen a few weeks ago for the gravy. Add some onions and carrots and the meal is saved.
I've become convinced that the secret to a good pie crust is to touch it as little as humanely possible when mixing in the water. I use a fork and add water a palm full at a time and then toss it in the freezer in a ball for half an hour.
I doused this pie in a liberal amount of sumac; one of my favorite spices. Sumac turns everything purple but that doesn't matter in a pie.
Just seal it up and toss it in the oven for an hour on 330.
I'm going to eat some and take a shower and nap before work at midnight tonight. Tommorrow it's off to Minneapolis again for the day. I'll take pictures of something interesting.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

New Bike Lock

My bike is easily most prized possession. If I could lump my "kitchen" or my "library" as a single items they would rank higher but as far as a single thing is concerned my bike is it. It's also the most expensive thing I own. Needless to say I'm a bit protective of it and so when I bought my bike 3 years ago I bought the most expensive lock I could.

The Kryptonite New York Lock ( I love when people market with New York; it's such a scary place ) complete with a 3000 dollar warranty which I never bothered to fill out. They now have an even thicker lock but I can't help but feel this one is sufficient.

After three years the lock cylinder dissappeared. I have no idea where it went. So I went out and bought a cheaper lock as I am not in the position to drop 90 dollars at the moment on anything but clothes. Flopper told me I should send it so on a whim I e-mailed customer service and they confirmed that they would replace the lock. So I crammed it into a flat rate priority mail envelope a few weeks ago and was met with a new bike lock when I got home.

Complete with overly complex mounting apparatus. I just toss the lock in my basket.

My favorite feature is the LED equipped key. The last key with a light in it was absolutely pointless for the most part but still fun. This one in kind of clunky but could double as a small flashlight it is so bright.

So my bike is well protected from ravaging thieves once more which isn't a problem in Saint Cloud (not nearly as much as DC) but it will make me less aprehensive when I lock it up in Minneapolis.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The long lost first fantasy book

When I was in third grade a relative (I think my Aunt Linda) gave me a gift certificate to Waldenbooks for ten dollars for my birthday. I remember being thrilled about this and wandering into the bookstore with my mother. My eyes were caught by the fantasy section and despite Mom's attempts to guide me back into the children's section I bought two books completely at random that were grossly above my reading level.

The first book was the Guns of Avalon the second book of Roger Zelaznys The Blood of Amber
series. It was an amazing book and I have subsequently bought it numerous times and read the whole series five or six time. Fantasy at its finest.

The second book I totally forgot about. It vaguely involved a magic cloak and space ships and there was a hunted hero forced from his homeworld. Specifically I remembered a passage about the cloak having an invisible pattern of flowers woven into it. The book was not very good and until Saturday the title completely escaped me.

Then as I was reading Into the Void, part of the Spelljammer series (which I had purchased on Friday at DreamHaven in Minneapolis), I came across the passage describing the pattern in the cloak and I found my lost book. It is as bad as I remember but I am happy to have in my library as a memory.


Danica in daylight and Eli in the wind.

It a brisk blustery day outside so I thought I'd take Eli to play in the park across the street and maybe Knit some of my Danica scarf while sitting under a tree.
I don't let Eli off leash unless I'm paying attention to him and since I was busy picking up stitches I had him tied to my foot.
I looked up and was getting the "If you loved me you'd let me run around" look.
I persevered in my knitting and then he started tugging to get the point across.
He then decided to take out the source of my preoccupation and flopped on top of my balls of yarn.
I admitted defeat and left him to run around the field with his favorite glow ball. Doesn't he just look much happier?


Monday, October 22, 2007

October Knitting

I have been knitting this month. I finished two hats last week and am making good progress on the inordinately long Gentleman's Half Hose for Dan.

Today when I looked at my google reader I saw the Danica Scarf that fine gentleman over at cashmere blend is making. The I found out it was designed by Yarn Boy and promptly rooted through my stash and cast on . This is the progress I made tonight at knitting circle and I am amazed at how fast it's coming together. Rowan Aran on #9 needles ; I love my Lantern Moons.
It's sloppy but I'm sure that will improve with time and blocking covers a multitude of sins.


The Minneapolis Greenway and Nicolet Island

This weekend I biked around Minneapolis in preparation for my eventual move to the Twin Cities and to escape Saint Closet for a bit. Thursday and Friday I stayed at Redwing's and rode up and down the Greenway.
The Greenway is possibly the most useful bike trail I have ever used. It runs E/W from Uptown to Seward across Minneapolis on an old railway line that has dozens of bridges going across it. You access the path by ramps.
Along the 3 or 4 mile stretch are numerous little parks and gardens.
On Saturday I wandered of to Ben and Peat's house and ended up going out with them for a friends birthday to a goth club. Goth people make me smile. During the day Saturday I took a few pictures of Nicolet Island, the magical little neighborhood that is in the middle of the Mississippi. There are a few bridges that connect the island to either side of the river.
I would love to live there while I'm student teaching (found out I'll be doing it in Saint Paul) but there are seriously maybe 20 houses on the entire island so I don't see that happening. I'm goign to try for NE because the bus line down university will deposit me in St. Paul with relative speed. Here are some of the houses on the island.
Every house has an adorable garden in a haphazard Victorian style.
It's a magical place and I love spending time there with the cats, chickens, bridges, and adorable men.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

An Escape From St. Closet

Albeit a brief escape. I'll be going to Minneapolis Thursday evening to Sunday afternoon. Flopper has decided to make his own escape to Iowa and I was going to hang around for a weekend alone.
So my bike and I are going to be wandering about the cities. I'm even thinking about taking a bus over to St Paul as I've never been there before and love exploring new places on my bike. Plus there is a men's knitting group that meets at the Yarnery in St. Paul. I'm going to get hold of
WoolGatherer and see if he's going. I'll take the camera and be sure to post many pictures.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Squished Chicken

I did the 12 to 6am shift on Friday and Saturday so needless to say I was asleep until noon today. This afternoon I decided it was time to try some culinary experimentation I've been roasting a chicken every Sunday or so for the last month and vaguely remembered a segment of the Splendid Table about cooking a chicken on the range with a weight. Fortunately the website is amazingly well designed and I found the recipe with relative ease.

Crisp, Brick-Fried Chicken with Rosemary and Whole Garlic Cloves

From The Improvisational Cook by Sally Schneider. To be published October 2006 by HarperCollins Publishers.

Serves 3 or 4

My favorite easy chicken dish is a whole bird, butterflied and fried in a skillet with a weight on top, Italian style. The result is succulent chicken—both white meat and dark—with a delectable crisp skin, and with much more flavor than the ubiquitous boneless breast; loss of bones always means loss of flavor. The dish takes about 5 minutes of actual work, and about 25 minutes unattended cooking time, during which you can have a cocktail and put the rest of your simple meal together, as your home fills with a lovely fragrance.

  • One 3-pound chicken, preferably organic
  • 1 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 4 large sprigs fresh rosemary or thyme
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 unpeeled garlic cloves, lightly smashed
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine or balsamic vinegar (optional)
  • Pinch sugar (optional)/li>
  • Freshly ground black pepper

1. Rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper toweling. Place the chicken breast-side-down on a work surface. With kitchen shears, cut through the bones along both sides of the backbone and remove it. Trim off any excess neck skin. Spread the bird open, skin-side-up, on the counter and press down firmly against the breastbone with the palms of your hands to break and flatten it. Tuck the wings back and under themselves so they lie flat against the breast. Or, cut off the wing tips and discard.

2. If possible, season the bird at least an hour (unrefrigerated) or up to 24 hours (refrigerated) before cooking. Sprinkle the bird on both sides with kosher salt and pepper. Press herbs against both sides. Bring the bird to room temperature one hour before cooking.

3. Heat a large nonstick skillet, over medium heat: add the oil and swirl to coat. Blot the bird dry with paper towels and place skin-side-up in the pan. Place a heavy skillet, about 2 inches smaller in diameter, directly on top of the chicken. If you don't have a heavy enough pan - 4 to 5 pounds - use another smooth-bottomed item, such as saucepan. Balance it on the bird and add heavy objects to weight the pan down such as a can or two or a meat pounder (I've even used a rock). Cook the chicken until the underside is brown, about 10 minutes. Remove the weight and turn the chicken over with a pair of tongs. Replace the weight. Nestle the garlic cloves around the chicken and continue cooking until the skin is crisp and brown, 12 minutes longer.

4. To test for doneness, insert an instant read thermometer into the inside of the thigh; it should read 170°. Alternatively, poke the thigh with a paring knife; if the juices are clear, not pink, it is done. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes.


I scrapped the seasoning and used sumac, white pepper, and oregano When it was done I made this lovely chicken salad after offering the obligatory tithe to Eli.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Radishes are an often overlooked vegetable. Except by the French. It seems that if it is edible the French will not overlook. In fact even if there is the possiblity of the food being edible the French have not overlooked it.

One of my Favourite books is my "Preserving Food w/o Freezing or Canning" by the kind people of Centre Terre Vivante. Lurking in the pages of this wonderful volume is the following recipe.

I'm not really certain how many pounds of radish I used and was certainly more liberal with the salt than the recipe called for In any Case here is my mound of radishes cleaned up.
Chopped. I seem to do a lot of choppin vegetables maybe I should get a cleaver?
Then finally squished into jars; I like to use my pestle for this though in a crock a wine bottle does the job quite admirably.

Many of the recipes in this book call for fermenting inside jars. This one is interesting in that the brine is added hot after a few days rather than immediatly. I suspect it has to do with the toughnesss of the Radishes. they need to soften. I added some local jalapeno peppers for heat. the recipe claims the brine can be used in lieu of vinegar and drunk watered down. it takes a very special person to enjoy drinking radish brine but fortunately I know a number of very special people.


Denim Tire Messenger Bag

I finally finished my tire messenger bag after a few false starts over the last year. I borrowed this idea from the inestimable Stephen over at Hizknits and made a few alterations. The biggest being my bag is half the side of his I wanted a new man purse but really enjoyed the overall design and so made it more loose and hippy oriented. Second I didn't want to foray into felting and so played around with other fibers and as a result had to stitch the tube to the bag (I hid the stitching under the tire straps.

As far as fiber goes the Body is made of Rowan Tweed .The rim of the bag flush with the tire and the straps of the bag are Rowan Denim in the Nashville shade. Finally the flap is the Rowan denim double stranded with a black Louisa Harding Yarn called Kashmere Aran.

The Rim came first with me slipping a stitch (like a sock heel) at every turn. I picked up a third of the stitches and knit up consuming a stitch by p2tog or K2 tog at the end of each row. Basically a U made up by the rim and consumed one stitch at a time working from the bottom of the bag to the top. I did the front first finishing off with a few rows of Denim in seed stitch to make the the curling a bit less prominent. Same process up the back except I left the stitches live to make the flap later

There are five straps coming off the rim that are single stranded ( the rim is double stranded) that I made by picking up stitches length wise and then kitchener stitching into the opposite side of the rim. I Started with the centered strap in the bottom to try to maintain a bit of equilibrium
and then moved up either side.
The flap was a bit of whimsy on my part because it has a stripe of fair isle patterning near the top. Apparently the Rowan Denim fades like jeans and so the denim parts of the bag will become more contrasted.

Elias was very interested in Flopper modeling my the new messenger bag before they headed out on their daily run.

Now I'm going to take a nap before I make my feremented radishes.