Monthly Archives: November 2011

Breaking Dawn giftset

I have not yet watched or read the Twilight series, although this writeup on npr.org kinda made me want to: “Breaking Dawn is where the Twilight series goes straight-up cuckoopants.” Cuckoopants? What a great word. Sounds like the perfect choice for a heckler movie night with friends. And wine.

If you do have a Twilight fan on your gift list, or you just want a quick-knit present, I recommend a mitten/scarf set inspired by Bella’s movie wardrobe.

This set is first in a short list of commissioned Christmas projects. My friend in Ohio will give these to her mom. I don’t know that friend’s mom is a Twilight fan…we just picked these out because she liked the cables….but I do know her mom is not a foxflat subscriber, so I can safely post.

The yarn is malabrigo worsted, which I chose because ravelry users said it was soft and there weren’t many complaints about pilling. For the first time ever, I bought it directly from another ravelry knitter using the “stash” filter. Have you ever bought yarn this way? A few days after sending my paypal payment, the yarn was at my door. Best thing ever.

Project Details
Mittens: Bella’s Mittens by Subliminal Rabbit
Used: Size 8 dpns & <1 skein of Malabrigo worsted in red mohogany
Mods: started pattern at row 24 for a shorter cuff, added 5 stitches of width after cuff, and added length to both thumb and hand.

Scarf: Bella’s Cable Scarf by Georgina Carr
Used: Size 8 dpns & 2 skeins of Malabrigo worsted in red mohogany
Mods: None.

Ravelry Project Pages: Mittens and Scarf

Deep Dish Pumpkin Pecan Pie

I don’t like pumpkin pie for the same reason I don’t especially like yogurt, mashed potatoes, pudding, or creamed soups. No textural interest. I don’t think I was ever that keen on smooshy food, but my freshman year of college my jaw was surgically broken and then banded shut for 8 weeks. I got sick of foods that didn’t require chewing. If you served me one of these mushy things at your dinner table, I would eat it. No problem. But I wouldn’t choose it from a buffet line.

Searching recipes for Thanksgiving a couple years ago, I stumbled upon the remedy for pumpkin pie: covering it in a layer of pecan pie. The pecans add punch – sweetness, saltiness, crunch. The pumpkin, which always had a lovely flavor, lends a smooth heartiness.

I concocted a deep dish version of this pie for Thanksgiving this year. It took a loooong time to bake, but was worth the wait.

Friendsgiving 2011
This was our second Thanksgiving in Boston. Last year our friends from Oregon came to visit, and this year we walked down the street to a classmate’s house. They put together a great “Friendsgiving,” with ham, turkey, all the trimmings, and approximately one pie per person.

I love Friendsgiving.

We finished up our leftover pie for lunch today. You’re probably all pied out after your own Thanksgiving, but bookmark this one for next year….

DEEP DISH PUMPKIN PECAN PIE

  • 4 eggs, divided
  • 2 cups canned solid pack pumpkin
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • pinch nutmeg and ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup light or dark corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • (optional) whole pecans for decorating
  • 1 prepared deep dish pie crust

Preheat oven to 350°

In a medium bowl, combine: 2  of the eggs, pumpkin, 1/2 cup of the sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Spread in prepared pie crust.

In  a medium bowl, beat remaining 2 eggs slightly. Stir in corn syrup and remaining 1/2 cup sugar, then butter and vanilla. Stir in chopped pecans. Carefully spoon over pumpkin mixture and use spatula to spread evenly.

Place 5 whole pecans on top of the pecan mixture, evenly spaced in a circle at the pie’s center. Continue placing whole pecans in a radial pattern all the way to the edge of the pie.

Bake 70 to 90 minutes or until filling is set around edge. Cool pie completely on wire rack.

Deep Dish Pumpkin Pecan Pie

Mt. Auburn Cemetery

My coworker and I were sharing Boston outdoor spots for enjoying fall color….Middlesex Fells, Arnold Arboretum, Blue Hills.  I asked if he’d been to the Mt. Auburn Cemetery.

Confused look. Awkward pause. “Uhh…”

I get it. A cemetery wasn’t our first choice for a weekend walk either, which is what kept us from exploring this one for nearly a year, even though it’s just a five minute walk from our house. But a neighbor  gave it a rave review, especially the view from the tower at the center of the cemetery. We checked it out earlier this month, and I think it’s my new favorite outdoor spot.

Mt Auburn cemetery is 175 acres of beautifully landscaped rolling hills, and is credited with being America’s first rural cemetery. It feels more like a forest park…with interesting reading material.

My friend drove up from Atlantic City this week and I took a day off work. Armed with flatbreads from Sofra, we spent a few hours walking the little paths covered in fallen leaves and reading epitaphs.

We also tried to capture the last of the fall color.

In the first photo below, I lowered the saturation and significantly raised the contrast, which helped create visual separation between the different elements (trunks, leaves, building).  I also liked some of the macro close-ups of trees or headstone texture.

Do you have any tips for photographing cemeteries or forested landscapes? Or for altering the photos in post-production?

Autumnal Sunshine

I purchased my first pattern in a long time: Autumnal by Hannah Fettig (of Featherweight fame). That collar! Mmmmm so pretty. Mom is going to want one, probably in this color, but first I will make myself one in gray.

I’ve started on Christmas projects, which requires a certain level of blog secrecy since some of the recipients visit here. But close-up shots are okay.

By 3:30 yesterday the sun was already starting to dip low and shine through the bedroom windows.

Can you re-use container garden soil?

Yesterday we winterized the balcony garden. Here it was in its prime:
Tomato Cages

Here it is now:

There was a lot of soil to deal with. Can you re-use container garden soil? Most of what I’ve read online advocates for starting fresh each year, but that’s expensive. And I don’t know how we would dispose of this year’s piles (I’m imagining some kind of illegal midnight dirt-dump at the edge of Fresh Pond).

I was encouraged by this chat thread and this website to try recycling our soil. Mixing in new organic matter (manure, compost, etc.) replenishes the minerals and improves the drainage, so I emptied our backyard composter and refilled it with alternating layers of maple leaves and container soil.

The (mostly) composted kitchen scraps from last year got added to the potato box. I sandwiched them between layers of soil and then threw all of the pulled garden plants on top with another layer of maple leaves. We’re going to buy soil amendments next year, but that’s still cheaper than starting from scratch.

The winterizing project left us with a clean porch, dirty hands, and a little container of tiny green tomatoes.

I’ve always wanted to make fried green tomatoes. The film of the same name is one of the first PG13 movies my mom let me watch. Some of the plot points escaped me then…like the fact that Frank was actually turned into BBQ for the whistlestop patrons, or that Ruth and Idgie were in a loving lesbian relationship…but I came away from it loving Jessica Tandy. And wondering what fried green tomatoes tasted like.

Turns out they don’t taste like a heck of a lot. That was our initial impression anyway.

I salted the slices, waited 15 min, then blotted off the extra moisture with a towel. They got a dip in beaten egg, then dry Jiffy cornbread mix (cheap, tasty, and self-rising). I fried them in the iron skillet and laid them out on paper towels to drain.

The cornbread mix gave them a great crunchy texture, it’s just the taste that was under-whelming. They need something to help draw out the tang of the tomatoes. I mixed up a little dip for them that was 1 part plain yogurt and 1 part Tapatio hot sauce. WHA-BAM they came alive! Much, much better.