Monday, December 29, 2008

NY's baby blanket

Just finished and sent off to the States to be mailed: a baby blanket for our soon-coming new nephew, ML's youngest sister's third child.

What you can't see in this picture...(sorry, old family joke) is that there is a star in the middle of each square. It's much more obvious in real life.

It is based on the same pattern that I knit from for ML's middle sister's youngest daughter's blanket. I "just" worked out the star pattern to replace the heart one ([u]not[/u] an easy feat, although it sounded simple enough to begin with).

Again, I used Caron Simply Soft yarn. This time, though, I chose 1) Light Country Blue, 2) Country Blue, and 3) Dark Country Blue with the first section being knit with 1 & 2 together, the second 1 & 3, and the third 2 & 3. I was worried that this was going to make the blanket too dark (there was a Soft Blue I could have made the lightest color and dropped the Dark Country Blue), but ML's sister was able to look at the yarns before they were brought to me (when ML's parents visited), and she loved them (I also knew that a darker blanket would look dirty less easily). She even used those colors as a basis for the quilt ML's mom will make, as she does for each grandchild.

The other main difference is that I alternated the knit and the purl each time the pattern repeated across, thus making it squares, not just strips. I wanted it to have a bit of a quilt-block look, and I really like the way it turned out. I will definitely keep this as part of the pattern for future renditions.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

His Cunning Hat

Okay, so only fans of the entirely too short-lived TV series Firefly (which I can recommend to Sci Fi fans, minus a few certain scenes) and, specifically, the wrap-up movie Serenity, will appreciate this, but I made a special hat to put in ML's stocking this year: a Jayne Cobb Cunning Hat.

I was blessed to find a crochet pattern, since I don't have circular knitting needles, and it actually went together quite smoothly. I only had to take out the first inch or two of the body of the hat once when I determined that it was going to be too small, and I had to re-do the earflaps after he tried it on and we discovered that they were too large and actually came over the very edges of his eyes (oops; the perils of making a piece of clothing for someone without the benefit of them being able to try it on).

So, without further ado, ML in his new hat (with added background by the man himself :-):

Oh, and I had to use muted colors, because the yellows available here were too pale and the orange was too pink, but I like the way it turned out.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Washington Cheesecake

When we got married, ML's mother photocopied most of their family recipes and his sister cut them apart and glued them to recipe cards for me (and made a set for herself and their other sister at the same time). The notation on the card for this recipe said, "ML's favorite." I took the hint and learned how to make the cheesecake before we even left the States.

To me, it is simple. Plus, it's saved me from ever having to bake pies. My ex-pat friend, whom we've been with all our years overseas, and I decided there was no reason for me to learn to make pies, if I would just make cheesecake, and no reason for her to learn to make cheesecake, if she would just make pies. We specialized.

makes about 12 servings
from a seminary friend of ML’s mother

• 1 C graham cracker (or petit beur) crumbs
• 3 T sugar
• 3 T butter, melted
• 1/2 t cinnamon
• 1/3 C finely chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

• 3 8oz. packages cream cheese
o or 41 “Laughing Cow” cheese triangles
o or 33 “Kiri” cream cheese squares
• 3/4 C sugar
• 2 T flour

• 3 eggs

• 2 T milk
• 1 t vanilla

• 1 C mini chocolate chips or chopped baking chocolate (optional)

• 1 can pie filling (optional)

1. Combine crumbs, sugar, butter, cinnamon and nuts and press into bottom of spring-form pan. Bake at 325* 10 mins.
2. Increase oven temp to 350*
3. Combine softened cream cheese, sugar and flour, mixing at medium speed until well blended.
4. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
5. Blend in milk and vanilla.
6. Stir in chocolate chips/chunks.
7. Pour mixture over crust. Bake at 350* 30-40 minutes or until cake is set except for a 1-2 inch circle in the center.
8. Loosen cake from rim of pan (with table knife). Cool before removing rim completely.
9. Serve topped with pie filling, if desired.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake

Several people mentioned this cake on SL a while back as an option to use canned pumpkin. Since I discovered how easy it is to make my own pumpkin puree', I tucked it away as a good option. It sounded kind of like dump cake, only with pumpkin, instead of pie filling.

Wouldn't you know, though, there were no yellow cake mixes to be found in-country. Cake mixes are available at every little corner grocery here (and every corner has at least one grocery), but all of the sudden, none of them had yellow cake mix. Every other flavor under the sun. But no yellow.

I'd looked at all of the big grocery stores in the capital, even, as I happened to be in them over the course of a couple of months. About a week ago, I stopped at a slightly-larger-than-small grocery store to pick up a lunch option for the kids on my way home from a friends' house. Guess what they had? Yellow cake mix, of course. In our city. In a little grocery store.

And I happened to have a pumpkin that needed baking and pureeing. And friends coming over for a Numb3rs-watching evening. What a perfect combination of circumstances!

The cake was a hit, to understate the reaction. It is delicious, and I will definitely be making it again.

(And don't anyone dare plug this into any kind of nutritional calculator. Or, if you do, I do not want to know. I'll stick my fingers in my ears. I will. It's a dessert. It's a treat. I don't want to know.)

• 1 (18 1/4-ounce) package yellow cake mix
• 1 egg
• 8 tablespoons butter (2 sticks), melted

• 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
• 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin (1 3/4 C)
• 3 eggs
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 8 tablespoons butter (2 sticks), melted
• 1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar (2 C)
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Combine the cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well with an electric mixer.
3. Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan.
4. To make the filling: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth.
5. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter, and beat together.
6. Add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mix well.
7. Spread pumpkin mixture over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. (Make sure not to overbake as the center should be a little gooey.)
8. Serve with fresh whipped cream.

• For a Pineapple Gooey Cake: Instead of the pumpkin, add a drained 20-ounce can of crushed pineapple to the cream cheese filling. Proceed as directed above.
• For a Banana Gooey Cake: Prepare cream cheese filling as directed, beating in 2 ripe bananas instead of the pumpkin. Proceed as directed above.
• For a Peanut Butter Gooey Cake: Use a chocolate cake mix. Add 1 cup creamy peanut butter to the cream cheese filling instead of the pumpkin. Proceed as directed above.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

About those crafts...

In case anyone's wondering, yes, I remember that this is supposed to be a craft and recipe blog. It's just that all three crafts that I've been working on recently have an element of surprise (or are completely a surprise) for the end user, so I'm waiting until they're given to post pictures.

I'm planning to start a pair of wool soakers for ZL within the next day or two, though (with the hopes of venturing back into the realm of nighttime cloth), so there should be something new to oooh and aaah over soon.