I had to do a double-take when I logged in and saw that my last post to this blog was in January 2014. That’s just…sad. In November 2013, I started a knitting podcast (Kitchen Stitches) which became my primary outlet for all things Somer. Earlier this year, I added two cohosts, so the podcast is no longer “mine,” per se. I also switched positions at work and am no longer responsible for web content. The result of both of these changes is a renewed need for a place to share the things going on in my life – in the kitchen, out and about, travel, photography…maybe not as much knitting, since I do still have the podcast for that. So here we are, two and a half years later. Let’s see what becomes of this thing.
I wrote this a little over a week ago, but didn’t have a connection and couldn’t post it. So I’m posting it now.
I’m sitting here on the porch of our cottage at Chisos Mountain Lodge in Big Bend National Park. I just watched a spectacular sunset through The Window, which we caught from the trailhead feet away from the cottage. Now I’m enjoying the gloaming, Venus has just made her appearance, & the wind is singing our lullaby. This is totally the life.
Since Houston is way too hot to do much baking in the summer, I hereby declare this the summer of ice cream.
I kicked off the summer Memorial Day weekend – yeah, I know it’s not officially summer, but in Houston it may as well be – by making Oreo ice cream. It was creamy and delicious and frozen to perfection. Easily the best ice cream I’ve ever made. Since we only got the ice cream maker last summer, this isn’t saying a whole lot. But trust me, it was good!
Yesterday I searched my Pinterest boards for ice cream and found this recipe for Peanut Butter Nutter Bar ice cream. I only modified the recipe slightly; instead of 2 cups of heavy cream and 1 cup of milk, I used 1 cup of heavy cream, 1 cup of half and half, and 1 cup of 2% milk. Still wouldn’t call it healthy, but it’s not *quite* as fatty. This was another winner! I keep accidentally saying Peanut Butter *Nutter Butter* ice cream, and I see a variation using Nutter Butter cookies instead of Nutty Bars in my near future.
Here’s a cool video my husband took of the ice cream in the making:
I haven’t posted in 4 months, and I truly have missed it. I’ve been fairly prolific on Instagram lately, which works for me, but I miss the words. I’ll try to be better.
As usual after a blogging hiatus, I’ll start off with some baking, knitting, and books talk.
I actually haven’t been baking as much as I was. I’ve been counting calories and using my Fitbit (which I love) and, believe it or not, I haven’t really *wanted* the baked goods as much. Last night, though, I did do a little baking. I made a lemon gooey butter cake, modifying Paula Deen’s recipe by adding some lemon zest and about 1/4 cup lemon juice. It turned out very good!
The last post I made was about my Vintage Cakes project. I’ve actually done several recipes now, but have only posted pictures on Facebook or possibly Instagram. Looking at the table of contents, I’ve made (in addition to the ones in the previous post): Texas Sheet Cake (which was a fail as far as the actual recipe went (baker error), but still tasted delicious), Lemon and Almond Streamliner Cake (this was amazing!), Malted Milk Chocolate Cupcakes (pretty good), and The Pink Cake (which was a chocolate cake with raspberry buttercream – oh.my.god). These cakes tend to be a little time intensive, which is part of the reason I haven’t been baking them regularly. I tend to wait for an occasion, of which there haven’t been many lately. I can’t remember which cake I was planning to make next just by looking at the table of contents, but it involves strawberries and ricotta cheese. Maybe that will be a “yay for the end of school cake” in a couple of weeks!
On to knitting. I’ve been knitting a ton lately, but finishing little. Wow, I just looked at my projects page on Ravelry and got a little persective. I’ve actually finished 10 projects in 2013 so far. I have several things on the needles but am actively working on 3 right now:
And reading. I’ve only finished a handful of books this year – well, according to Goodreads I’ve read 12, which isn’t too shabby, but it feels like I haven’t read much. The only “wow” book I’ve read this year has been The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker, which was *this* close to getting 5 stars. It lacked some little spark that would have put it over the 4-star edge, but it was a damn good book. I highly recommend this one, especially if you are a fan of A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.
In other news , or just rambling-ness, life is crazy. Work is crazy, and I will be very glad when July 1 has come and gone. My daughter was going and is now not going to Japan, all in the course of less than a week. Disappointing (and expensive, since we had to get an expedited passport) to say the least. We’re planning a trip to Big Bend in early July, and I absolutely can’t wait. I just wish we could stay longer. My husband is in Atlanta for the weekend with his school’s Academic Challenge (aka Quiz Bowl) team for Nationals, and we’re planning to go to the Mississippi coast in a couple of weekends. And that’s about it. I miss writing and hope to be back soon.
For Christmas, my good friends Cathy & David gave me a copy of Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson. I immediately thought, “New project!” After listing all the recipes in the book, I noticed that, serendipitously, there are 52 cakes in the book, which reinforced my plan. I have made a cake a week since (albeit only 3 weeks), but haven’t gotten around to blogging about it, which was the original plan. So I will kick off the project with a 3-in-1 post. Unfortunately, my thoughts are not fresh on the first two cakes, but I’ll do the best I can.
Cake #1: Angel Cake with Orange and Chocolate Freckles
This was my first angel food cake, and I was a little wary, because I don’t have a great history with meringue. I have historically had a hard time telling when my peaks were stiff enough (or whipping just a little too much so they fall). Not so with this cake. This recipe called for 12 egg whites, and they whipped up to meringue perfection. Such a beautiful tower of fluffy meringue. I wish I had taken a picture, but, alas, I didn’t. Angel food cake’s not my most favorite of cakes, but this was pretty good. What I learned from this recipe: grating chocolate by hand is a pain – next time I’ll use the food processor.
Cake #2: Italian Cream Cake
The cake itself may have been traditional Italian cream cake (I’d never made one before this, so I wouldn’t know), but instead of the traditional cream cheese frosting, this had a chocolate ganache. Also, instead of frosting the whole cake, you only frost between layers and on top. This was a pretty darn good cake. It would have been even better had I not tried to cook all 3 layers in the same oven at the same time. I knew better and next time this comes up, I’ll use both ovens. The ganache was amazing and did a good job of masking the crunchy edges.
Cake #3: Berry Long Cake with Ginger Crust
This cake was delicious. The cake itself is not too sweet. It only uses 1/2 cup sugar. It’s also a mix of flour and corn meal, so it has an interesting texture. My discerning daughter said, before knowing it had corn meal, that it tasted sort of like corn bread. I couldn’t really tell, other than that it had a toothier texture. I used about 6 ounces of blackberries and 8 ounces strawberries, and that was a nice combination. You could really use any berry, I think. The only difficulty I ran into was with the topping (a streusel with brown sugar, flour, diced crytallized ginger, and butter): like a streusel, it is supposed to form a crumb-like consistency, but either the butter or the flour measurement was off, and it formed more of a dough. The end result was fine, though. The little bits of crystallized ginger were really a nice touch and not too overpowering. I will most definitely make this cake again.
- Pretty Petals afghan squared for my quickly-abandoned square-a-month project
- Wishing for Winter hat
- Tamarind Cowl
- The Age of Brass and Steam Kerchief
- Nathair Mitts
- Dr. Who socks for Jimmy
- Stacked Eyelet Cowl
- Harvest Dew socks
- Leaf Blanket
- Windschief hat
- Simplicty socks
- Belle Epoque socks
- Sockhead hat for Laura
- Maurandya socks
- My Knitted Heart Vanilla Socks #1 (with “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” yarn)
- Santa ornament
- My Knitted Heart Vanilla Socks #2 (with “The Grinch” yarn)
- Facets hat
- Vanilla socks #2 (with “The Santa Clause” yarn)
- Dustland hat
- A Very Braidy Cowl
- Library of Congress hat
- Vanilla socks #1 (with Knit Picks Felici in “Aquarium”)
- Drawstring bag
- Crocheted sun dress (mostly crocheted in 2011; finished in 2012)
- La-La-Love-You Cowl
Afghan blocks: 1
Socks: 9 pairs
Baby blankets: 1
Look at that. Almost an equal number of projects as books read. Coincidence? I think not.
In addition, I have 7 projects I worked on quite a bit this year. Four of them are in “hibernation,” but 3 of them are still active projects that I will finish in the nearish future.