Category Archives: Travels

Goodies and Parisian Rambles

I have been a neglectful blogess of late, and I feel quite badly about it. I’ve been a busy girl recently– holding down the fort at my boutique and trying to get my sea legs at my shiny new internship. Have I mentioned I’m the Yarn Intern for a group of magazines called Interweave Press? Yes, yarn is in fact part of my official title. Swoony swoon. I now spend my days immersed in fiber crafts, and have decided to get a little more indulgent with my supplies.

Without any more hooplah, I’d like to share the two things that I’m most excited about adding to my craft stash.

Preface: I have not yet fully explored the world of sock yarn, and there are oodles of tasty merino/nylon blends. But I REALLY like the colorways available from Lorna’s Laces. I couldn’t resist picking up a skein of the classic Shepherd Sock in Unicorn Parade. I mean, duh. The color is called Unicorn Parade. I’m a total sucker for names.

Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock Unicorn Parade

Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Unicorn Parade, courtesy of EatSleepKnit.com

Turns out, the color is quite a bit more flamboyant than I imagined. I’m thinking it may be better suited to a baby garment than the cabled socks I originally planned. This yarn is handpainted, so I’m not sure if my personal skein is the norm. I purchased online (EatSleepKnit.com has a nice selection) and only have a tiny sample. If I remember, I’ll try to get a good shot of my swatch to show the color.

Secondly, these macaroon stitch markers. On my last, and very brief, trip to Paris, I went on a Special Expedition to track down the best macaroons in Paris. I went several Metro stops out of my way, got lost in a very posh neighborhood, asked several people (some surprisingly helpful, some confused by my Okie-twangin’ français) for directions, and elbowed my way through an out-the-door line, all to order half a dozen of these babies.

I really like macaroons. And now I can ponder their tastiness while I knit.

Macaroon Stitch Markers from Beadpassion

Macaroon Stitch Markers from Etsy seller Bead Passion

Unfortunately, these ship from the Philippines, so I don’t yet have them in my hot little hands. They are 1.3 cm wide, and profess to fit up to size U.S. 10/6 mm needles. This seller also has stitch markers and jewelry shaped like sushi, cupcakes, donuts, mushrooms, etc. Yum.

Macaroon Stitch Markers from Beadpassion

Kawaii!

Until next time,

Love!

Onion Love

I miss many things from Scotland. My craving for Ploughman’s and Cheese and Onion sandwiches just will not go away! A Ploughman’s sandwich is usually a thick slice of cheddar or cold cut with lettuce, tomato, and “pickle,” which is a sweet, oniony relish. I’ve been meaning to get off my butt and make some Scotch-style pickle, but I am still hunting for the perfect recipe. I think what I’m craving is a Branston pickle, which is apparently some complicated relish that involves rutabagas, allspice, and lots of stewing. Highly inappropriate for the collegiate kitchen.

If I manage to hammer out a simple version of the real thing, you can be sure I’ll post it here! In the meantime, I think I’ll give this Onion Jam a go.

Next on the list: cheese and onion filling.

Love!

An American in the U.K.

As an American traveler, you often take a beating. We are one of those countries that lotsa people love to hate. To an extent, I get it. We are loud, spoiled, and often have a weaker grasp on geography and foreign language than many Europeans. BUT we are also generous, optimistic, and overtly (obnoxiously) friendly. And let’s not forget that “making the world safe for democracy” was not always a laughable political slogan. The Leader of the Free World can’t always be right, but despite our glaring imperfections, the good ol’ U.S. of A. has her moments of glory.

Today’s case in point: the teabag. Tea, the pride and joy of the U.K., was first bagged up across the pond.

from the right proper website of Edinburgh’s Eteaket Tea Room:

“Unsurprisingly, it is the Americans we have to thank for inventing the tea bag – they do love labour saving devices. This invention actually came about by mistake in 1908 when a tea merchant called Thomas Sullivan started sending tea samples to customers in small silken bags. Some customers put the entire bag into the pot, rather than emptying the contents as Mr Sullivan had intended. The tea bag was born.”

American ingenuity meets British sophistication and we all get a nice cuppa Chinese Oolong. Hooray for international cooperation.

Love!


Scottish Bellywarmer

I have never been a great fan of the baked potato. I always found them heavy and uninspired.

Enter Great Britain, where baked potatoes are as ubiquitous as sandwiches and have the same wild variety of fillings. Salmon salad? Sure. Vegan chili or curry chicken? Whatever.

Still, my favorite remains the staunchly British classic of baked beans and cheese.

Take-Away from the simply named vegetarian Baked Potato Shop

These are really too easy to warrant a recipe, but I’m giving mine anyway. Try one when you are feeling cold, sick, or generally down in the dumps.

1 potato, large or small according to your hunger

1 small (220 g) tin baked beans

handful of grated cheese, preferably some kind of cheddar

salt, pepper, and butter, to taste

Preheat oven to approximately 400 F or 200 C. Wrap your potato in tin foil, then stab it multiple times with a fork or knife to let steam escape. Place wrapped potato on middle rack of oven. Bake for about 1 hour.

After an hour, head to kitchen. Test potato for done-ness by stabbing with a fork. If fork goes in easily, potato is cooked. If not, return to oven for another 20 minutes. When cooked, unwrap potato and return to oven (to keep warm and get a little crispy) while you prepare filling.

Put beans in a microwave safe dish. Add dash of onion powder. Nuke for 1-2 minutes, stir, nuke another minute or until hot.

Remove potato from oven and place in a small bowl. Cut an X in your potato and split it open. Add butter, salt, and pepper and smash lightly. Sprinkle on half of the cheese, pour on the beans, top with remaining cheese.

Devour.

Curry for Dummies

I love curry. When I was told this country didn’t have much in the way of tasty vegetarian food (which is, by the way, a lie), I reminded myself that in the U.K. there will always be curry. Whether you’re into spicy or mild, veggie or lamb, take-away or sit down dining, curry is EVERYWHERE!

So I was inspired. Here is my easy peasy recipe.

You Need:

1 cup uncooked basmati rice

roughly 3 cups of mixed vegetables – I used a store bought mix of broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower, plus 1 potato and 2 giant button mushrooms

1 onion

1 clove garlic, minced

2-3 generous teaspoons curry powder or bottled curry seasoning in oil

1 sachet creamed coconut (this stuff is fantastic. I’d assume you can get it in the States at any health foodie store.)

Optional: milk or light cream or chicken/vegetable broth

a handful of fresh mint, chopped or torn

oil or butter for sautéing

Begin by cooking rice according to package directions. When rice is finished cooking, add the mint and toss lightly.

While rice is cooking, chop the vegetables into bite sized pieces. You want uniform size for uniform cooking. Don’t worry about having big chunks of onion, sautéing will mellow out the flavor. Set the onions and mushrooms aside.

This next step sounds like a pain but will help you immensely. Bring a small pot of water to a boil and blanch all veggies except for the onion and mushrooms. To blanch, simply boil the vegetables for 2 or 3 minutes then rinse in cool water. If you like soft potatoes and crisper broccoli, do this in batches. Pre-cooking the potatoes will cut down on stir-frying time.

Next, melt 1 tablespoon of butter with 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook  until it begins to turn translucent. Add in the garlic and the drained, blanched vegetables and stir. After a minute, add the mushrooms. You may need to add a quarter cup or so of water or stock to keep things from sticking. Add the creamed coconut and curry powder. Stir well, adding a bit more water, milk, cream, or chicken broth. Lower heat, and check for seasoning.

When vegetables are uniformly cooked and sauce is creamy, remove from heat. Spoon curry over the mint rice and enjoy.

If you’d like a meaty curry, simply add some diced chicken/lamb/flank steak/whatever when you begin cooking the onions. Omit the butter, and use olive oil only.