Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Happy Spinning Group

Today was the day for my spinning group's Christmas Potluck lunch. We had a full house, with three first time visitors, Anita, her daughter Anna-home from school in Montreal, and her granddaughter Amber. Anna bought a drop spindle at the Finger Lakes Fiber Festival this fall and is doing a beautiful job spinning. Anita is also interested in learning to spin and they plan to get wheels in the coming year. It was good for them to get a chance to see a variety of wheels at the group. There was lots of delicious food, great conversation, and fellowship with fellow fiber fanatics.

Anna, Suzanne and Trina

Suzanne and me.
Barb, Barbara, Anita and Carol. Barbara was showing us the weaving sample she made at a beginner's weaving class at Harrisville Designs this fall. She learned a lot in the 5 day class! Anita's sweater was amazing-it was a map of the world.

Kathy, Amber, Vernice and Phyllis. Phyllis is spinning on a Hitchhiker that used to be our hostess Barb's. Barb named the wheel Miss Piggy and painted her pink-she's decorated with rhinestones, flowers, and has red toenails and a toe ring.

Anita, Carol, Andrea and Carolyn.

The dish I brought is an old family favorite called Hash Browns Deluxe. I'm going to be like Cooking Light magazine and show you the original recipe and then tell you what I have done to cut a lot of fat and calories out and still end up with a delicious dish.

Hash Browns Deluxe

2 pounds frozen hash browns
1 cup diced onions, sauteed
1 cup cream of chicken soup
1 pint sour cream
1/2 cup melted butter
8 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Thaw potatoes for 30 minutes. Mix everything together except for the potatoes. After the other ingredients are combined, add the potatoes and stir until they are throughly mixed with the liquid ingredients. Bake at 375 degrees for 1-1 1/2 hours until brown.

Now the lower fat recipe-just as delicious, I promise.

2 pounds frozen hash browns
1 cup diced onions, sauteed (You can use 1 1/2 teaspoons of onion flakes instead)
1 cup cream of chicken soup (Any cream of soup works well. I often use cream of broccoli soup and add lightly steamed broccoli)
3/4 cup of low fat sour cream
2 cups grated cheddar cheese.
Salt and pepper to taste

Thaw potatoes for 30 minutes. Mix everything together except for the potatoes. After the other ingredients are combined, add the potatoes and stir until they are throughly mixed with the liquid ingredients. Bake at 375 degrees for 1-1 1/2 hours until brown. If you want to make a one dish dinner, you can also add diced ham or chicken. The possibilities are endless!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Walnut Scones, Yummmy!

I spent part of today listing the rest of my thrum mitten kits in my Etsy shop. I am feeling the need to knit a pair of thrum mittens-I'm sure someone could use a pair for Christmas-perhaps my Adirondack dwelling, cross country skiing daughter. Thrum mittens are fun to knit and the knitting goes quickly because they are made with worsted weight yarn. They originated in Eastern Canada-made for the fishermen who found the mittens perfect because as the mittens were worn and became wet they became felted which made the mittens waterproof. Both the fiber and yarn felted so the mittens were super waterproof and warm. I think they used more utilitarian colors than are found in my kits.

Here is a photo of the mittens I knit as a sample. They have had a lot of hands inside them, feeling the soft warmth. It's fun to listen to people trying to figure out what they are and which is the inside and which the outside. My favorite idea was the person who decided they must be for dusting.

When I finished listing the kits I decided this cold, blustery day was a perfect baking day. I chose to make scones, which are one of my favorite things to bake, and I haven't made them in a long time. They are a quick treat-it probably took me 10 minutes to put them together once I got out all the ingredients. This is a recipe I've made many times over the years. I don't remember where the recipe came from, but they are nice and moist-a problem I sometimes find with scones is they can tend to be dry. I think this comes from too much flour and not enough liquid.

Walnut Scones

2 Cups unbleached flour
1 Tablespoons baking powder
4 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 Teaspoon salt
1/3 Cup butter or margarine
1/2-3/4 Cup walnuts
3/4 Cup milk
Milk and granulated sugar (optional)

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, 4 Tablespoons sugar and salt. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Stir in walnuts. Add 3/4 cup milk and stir until dough clings together. Do not over stir or the scones will be tough.

On a lightly floured surface, roll or pat into a 7 inch circle that is 3/4 inch thick. Cut into 6 or 8 wedges. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. If desired, brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar (I used turbinado sugar).

Bake in a 425 degree oven 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

In place of walnuts, or in combination with the walnuts you can use other add ins such as chocolate chips, cranberries, candied ginger or anything else you think would be tasty in a scone.

In knitting news I have been working on a scarf for Caitlin. When she was helping me at the Craft, Food and Wine Show we enjoyed checking out knits the attendees were wearing. A girl had a scarf with pockets on the end. I complimented her on the scarf and she said the pockets really come in handy. Caitlin liked the idea, so I am making her one using a skein of my Aran weight yarn. I designed the pattern myself-I will be writing the pattern up and sharing it on the blog once Christmas is over. It has cables, something I think I don't like to knit, but once I do them I remember how much fun they are. They are the kind of thing that entertain me as I am knitting and that makes knitting a scarf speed along.

Time for a cup of tea and scone and then bed. I'll leave you with a photo of Seamus modeling one of the hand dyed silk scarves I recently made.

Gerard wasn't quite as cooperative. He walked right out of his scarf. (Don't worry-the scarves were washed before they were sold.)

Can you see why I needed to spend a morning cleaning off my kitchen table?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Winter has Arrived!

I find it hard to believe how quickly December is speeding by. It's looking like we will have a very White Christmas. I have spent a lot of time in the last few days shoveling. Today it took me almost 2 hours to shovel the driveway and front walkway. I was so proud of me-I even managed to shovel the end of the driveway after the snowplows passed by several times. It helped that it was relatively light snow. I'm looking forward to a nice soak in the clawfoot tub later.

By the end of the winter this pile of snow will be my nemesis (a formidable and usually victorious rival or opponent). The end of the driveway becomes narrower and narrower as the winter progresses and this pile gets higher and higher and it is harder and harder to throw the snow on top of the ever growing pile.

Here's a view of my winter garden. This is a chair that was not put away when all the other outdoor furniture was put away (why would that be Tim, Travis and Caitlin?) and it was lying down under the snow. I was able to extricate it and it has been safely stored, so it will see another summer. I don't think it could have survived a winter outside.

I had to shovel so I could get to the post office to mail my very late samples for Phat Fiber. This month the theme is "The Music Box" and I chose one of my favorite songs by Gordon Lightfoot to interpret called "Song for a Winter's Night". I dyed merino/nylon superwash sock yarn and created a batt from alpaca, merino, wensleydale, romney, tencel, superwash merino and angelina. I am loving the batts and think I may have to spin one myself.

The batt is black with some midnight blue and gold with dark blue angelina. The yarn is dyed in shades of midnight blue, sapphire, denim blue and gold. They will be available in my Etsy shopthis weekend following the box drop.

I had so many people at the Craft, Food and Wine show ask me where they could get my yarn and fiber locally that I have decided to set up a little shop in my front living room. (It's convenient to have three living rooms.) This is how it looked in the beginning.

As usual, I had a cat helper, which made it so much easier to accomplish my task and get the living room looking like this.

A visit to the shop will be by appointment-just send an email and a time will be arranged. This will also make filling Etsy orders easier-to have everything out and easily accessible. I filled an order this afternoon and it was lovely to just go the basket and pull the yarn. The yarn is already on it's way to California.

I'd better go and check to make sure the dastardly snow plows have not blocked me in . Stay warm!