Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

To wrap up 2008,here are a few random statistics from this year:

I uploaded 658 photos into Flickr.

I used more than 4 pounds of butter in my holiday baking.

I completed 51 knit and crochet projects. This does not include completed afghan squares that are not yet an afghan but it does include:

10 washcloths/dishcloths.
6 pair of felted slippers.
5 bracelets.
4 bunny rabbits.
4 scarves.
3 pair of socks.
2 pair of baby socks.

Do you make New Year's Resolutions? My goal for 2008 was to learn to knit and it was the first time I've ever made good on my resolutions. My resolutions for 2009 include getting back into the habit of exercising regularly, knitting my first adult-sized sweater, and knitting lace.

Here's wishing you all the best in the coming year. Have an enjoyable but safe night. I'll be at home knitting and watching movies, cuz that is what you do when you have a 4 year old, New Year's Eve falls on a weeknight, and grandma is out of town.

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Plague Upon Our House

My baking, and therefore blogging about it, came to an abrupt end early this week when Ethan came down with a nasty stomach bug. Naturally, as a thank you for cuddling him, babying him, and washing his sheets at midnight... he passed the bug on to me. He recovered for a day and then relapsed so we were miserable together, right up to Christmas Day. We were able to spend the day with family, assuming we'd been sick so long, we couldn't possibly be contagious anymore. Though, I suppose I should look at it from the positive side... I didn't gain any extra weight from stuffing myself on Christmas dinner and sweets or over indulging on wine, because I just couldn't stomach it. I was hoping to share a couple more cookie recipes, but I guess this means I can save them for next year.

On the knitting/crocheting front, I did manage to finish all but one of my gifts. On top of the things I blogged about previously, I managed to finish one more pair of slippers, a wrap, a washcloth, bath mitt, afghan, and a headband. The one thing I didn't finish was a scarf for my sister. For some reason, now I'm having trouble getting back to it. It is the day after Christmas and I don't want to knit! My mom ordered a volume of the Barbara Walker Treasury for me as a Christmas gift and Cliff gave me a gift certificate to the yarn shop, so I'm definitely well armed.

The snow is finally melting but the wind is picking up. The snow level is supposed jump up and we're supposed to have flooding by next week. We just can't win when it comes to weather this month.

So, I'm off to force myself to work on the scarf. If I manage to avoid it, I'll be uploading photos from Christmas...

Saturday, December 20, 2008


Blondies, adapted from Great American Home Baking

These are a dense and chewy cookie, technically a blonde-colored brownie. As far as I can tell, GAHB is out of print and I’ve been using this recipe for about 10 years now.

9 x 13 baking pan
Electric mixer
Spoon/rubber spatula
Toothpick/cake tester
Wire rack

2-1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour (yes, when it says sifted, I sift. Not doing so can affect the texture of your cookie.)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
2/3 cup packed brown sugar.
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2/3 cup light cream
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 375 and grease a 9 x 13 baking pan.

Mix together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.

Cream butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until light and fluffy.

Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in cream and vanilla.

At low speed, beat in dry ingredients, 1/2 cup at a time, until smooth.

Fold in chocolate and butterscotch chips. Spread in prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes. The top should be golden brown and a toothpick should come out almost clean. (If you are using a dark pan like me, watch it carefully because it goes from done to overdone quickly.)

Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Cut blondies into bars when cooled.

Variations: You can substitute peanut butter or another favorite chip for the butterscotch. Add 3/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts with the chips if you like nuts.

Mint Frangos

Mint Frangos are a yummy, creamy chocolate candy that has its roots in a Frederick & Nelson's department store in downtown Seattle in 1927. The current incarnation of the original Frango is sold at Macy's Department Stores in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. Macy's across the rest of the country sell a Frango made from a different recipe. This recipe is a good imitation, though not an exact duplicate, of the original Northwest Frango.

Unfortunately, I made a batch of these before I decided to blog about it, so the photos are limited. As much I would love to make another batch for the sake of properly documenting the process with photos, Frangos are very rich and creamy, and hard to resist... and if I had more of them in my refrigerator, I wouldn't have a reason to resist them.

I honestly have no idea where this recipe came from. My mom has been making it for at least 30 years and for all I know, it could be a family secret... and I'm sharing it with the 6 people who read my blog.


2 qt saucepan (It is best to use a pan that does not have Teflon or any special coatings, because you will be using a hand mixer in the pan and you wouldn't want to ruin that pretty coating.)
spoon/rubber spatula
electric hand mixer
8x8 or 9x11 pan, greased and lined with waxed paper (size depends on how thick you like them... I actually don't have either size on hand, so I use 9x9 and I like 'em thick)


1 cup butter
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1-1/4 pound powdered sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons peppermint extract

As you can see in the photo, my dry ingredients are in rectangular containers. I put most of my staples in containers like this for two reasons... 1) it makes organizing my pantry MUCH easier (yes I'm just that organized) and 2) it keeps out bugs. With that, I'm hoping you can read the labels on the containers and trust me that they contain what I say they do.

Melt the butter in a 2 qt saucepan over medium heat.

Add 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate and 1 cup milk chocolate and stir until chocolate is melted.

Once chocolate is melted, add powdered sugar and combine. You can begin stirring by hand, but it will become very stiff and require a hand mixer to get mixed completely.

Beat in 2 eggs and 2 teaspoons peppermint until creamy. Pour into prepared pan and refrigerate. Be sure to lick the spoon/spatula.

Once set, you should be able to slip them right out of the pan with the waxed paper and cut them up. Store in an airtight container, in the refrigerator, for up to one week. They do require refrigeration because of the eggs.

If you're the adventurous type and have a favorite flavor other than peppermint, try replacing it. Peppermint tends to be a strong flavor so you may need more of your chosen flavor.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Designated Baker

Aside from a pile of holiday knitting, (which is nearly done!) holiday baking is underway at our house. I am the family designated baker... a position I inherited from my mom a few years ago. Basically, this means just about everyone I know wants (and sometimes expects) me to bring an assortment of holiday favorites to just about every social occasion during the holidays. It is a good thing I love baking! I try to do less of it because honestly, who needs the calories? but during the holidays, it just wouldn't be Christmas without tons of homemade goodies to stuff ourselves with.

There are a few staples that are "required" such as fudge and mint frangos, and then there are my personal favorites, which aren't necessarily seasonal but seriously yummy like orange bars, blondies, and mud bars. Ethan's current favorite is chocolate chocolate chip cookies. In past years I've made these with butterscotch chips but he insisted on chocolate. I think the kid is definitely like his momma and grandma when it comes to sweets... can't resist them.

Many of the recipes are not my own, so I'll share links to a couple of my favorites: Alton Brown's Peanut Butter Fudge recipe is a big hit. They are wonderfully creamy and very easy to make. One of my all-time favorites is Paula Deen's Orange "Brownies", which don't have any chocolate in them at all so I don't know why they're called brownies. I usually call them orange bars, because calling them a brownie confuses people. They are rich and sweet, and use real orange in the bar with an orange icing glaze.

Over the next few days, I hope to share some of my favorite recipes and the final results of my Christmas knitting. Stay tuned!

Sunday, December 14, 2008


We have snow! Typically, we get one brief stint of snow in December, and it has arrived. Overnight we received about 4 inches of snow. Ethan woke up about 7:00 a.m. and immediately started bugging me to go outside and play. I managed to fend him off until about 10:00 and he lasted about 30 minutes before getting too cold. (I lasted about 5 minutes.) The snow is actually quite dry, which is unusual for us. Ethan was bummed he couldn't make good snowballs, so he made snow angels.

The sun is coming out now and I just LOVE sunshine when there is snow on the ground. It is still pretty danged cold, but a little sunshine to warm your face somehow makes the cold bearable. (Keep in mind that "cold" here is 25-30 degrees, it doesn't usually get much colder than that.)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas Knitting

I may have gotten a handle on this Christmas knitting thing. This is my first Christmas as a knitter and naturally, I wanted to knit gifts for anyone and everyone (yeah, right!) I did manage to come up with a mostly realistic and achievable list of knitted gifts and I think I'm on track to finish in a timely manner. (I know, I'm tempting fate with that last statement.)

On my list are 5 pair of felted clogs (4 kids, 1 adult), a scarf/stole, a headband, a bath set, and a pair of cabled mittens. I may have gotten in over my head with the cabled mittens, but I have a backup stole that's about 75% done already, just in case. I've finished 4.5 pair of clogs and the bath set. I've designed the headband and will cast on for that today... hoping it'll only take a day or so to do.

I also have delusions of sewing a bib for my new nephew and making beer sweaters and other silly gifts if time permits.

Here are pics of some of the slippers: