Monday, December 29, 2008

5th Day of Christmas AND my 24th Wedding Anniversary

I'm officially ready to start doing something besides relaxing for the rest of my vacation, but I've sure had fun in the mean time. I've wasted hours and hours browsing through other people's blogs, admiring their accomplishemnts. Bear Toes knit Alan Dart's entire Advent calendar from an insert in the October issue of Knit Simply magazine. I, on the other hand, managed to knit one of the ornaments, the hat, which took about twenty minutes. I'm into instant gratifications, I guess.
I did manage to do one thing that took a little effort though. I cast on a sweater for Paige. I bought 10 skeins of purple Aurora 8 yarn on sale back in October, and I've been looking for a pattern that Paige would like ever since, a very difficult prospect. I've finally settled on The Perfect Sweater from Maon Dixon Knitting. I'm going to knit the V-neck version.

I cast on a picot edging with a contrasting color for the back. This sounds like I actually knew what I was doing, which I did not. I had to do a crochet cast-on. I've only crocheted with my fingers making a chain when I was a kid. This was my first time using a crochet hook, and it took a while to get the hang of it. It was kind of cool to use my crochet hook for the first time though. I inherited it from my aunt who died about twenty-four year ago. I know it was twenty-four years ago because even though she was very ill, she flew out for my husband and my wedding, which was... twenty-four years ago today. (As I told Russ, I do think that our anniversary is worthy of celebration; I'm just sick of eating right now, so we've just congratulated each other for making such good choices in our impetuous youth.) My aunt died several weeks after our wedding, which is very sad, but instead of feeling like it was our wedding that did her in, I like to think that she might have died alone had she not come to California.) I've mentioned before that I don't have much of a "knitting history," except for memories of this special aunt. She had severe scoliosis and never married, so we kids were pretty special to her, I thnk. She'd come to stay for a month each summer, which we kids thought was great. (As an adult, I now have to wonder if that didnt' bug my mom a bit since it was my dad's sisiter. I definitely wouldn't appreciate any in-law, even my two favorite "Ann" with and without an "e" sister-in-laws coming for an entire month.) My aunt wasn't a big time knitter really. She was an artist, so I more remember her sketching things rather than knitting. She did, however, get me started knititing. When I was in college, she took me to my first real yarn store. I still remember buying some mauve Brown Sheep wool there for a sweater from McCall's magazine. That was a huge tangent, just to make the point that I know that this crochet hook probably belonged to her mom, my grandmother who died before my parents even met. I like that I'm using it...even though it's probably made out of ivory from some poor elephant.
I'm rambling tonight, so I'll just continue. I crocheted my cast-on and when I was ready to pick up the stitches, I tried to unravel them, but they wouldn't unravel. I had to pick apart all of the old stitches to make the hem. I don't know if that makes sense. I guess I picked up the wrong part of the crochet stitch after the cast-on. It's all good now..until I have to cast on for the front.

I'm going for my record blog lengthwise tonight I guess, Barbara asked if I'd share some of my Danish recipes, which I'm, of course, happy to do. Here's another Christmas favorite. When I was a kid, anytime we had meatballs, unless they were in spaghetti, we called them frikkadeller. I doubt that they were authentically Danish. It was just what my mom and grandma called them. I use a Danish recipe when I make my own now, which isn't very often. This is a recipe from an old cookbook that I also probably inherited from my aunt...or stole from my mom:


1 1/2 lb. ground round
1/2 lb. ground pork
1 grated onion
3-4 slices bread
1/8 tsp. pepper
4 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. cloves
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk

Blend meats together. Add grated onion and bread, which has been softened in the milk. Mix well. Add the remainder of the ingredients, stirring well after each addition. Shape the meatball into ovals and in a hot pan with shortening or canola oil. Fry them until they are light brown.

I sometimes made Kronisburg Frikkadeller, which just means they have gravy on them with a few capers in it. Mmmm, you might as well add a little more fat to such a fattening dish. If I'm feeling really authentice, I also prepare rødkaal, which is red cabbage. Kai thinks it's gross, but Russ, Paige, and I love it. Here's a recipe for it.


1 medium head red cabbage
1 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup vinegar (I usually use white, but it doesn't matter)
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup sugar (sometimes more)

Shred cabbage very fine. (I use the food processor.) Melt butter in a large kettle, add cabbage and vinegar, salt, and sugar. Cookly gently until tender, then season to taste with salt, and more sugar or vinegar, if necessary.

OK, I believe my work here is done:)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Danish Puff on the 3rd Day of Christmas

Willow noticed that our Christmas celebration had a decidedly Danish theme to it, at least food-wise. It's one of those traditions that my immediate and extended family enjoy a lot. Since all of my ancestry is Danish, my family would often prepare Danish food for celebratory meals when I was growing up; however,
I've been more conscious of preparing Danish food at Christmas time since writing my master's thesis on food in ethnic literature. Immigrants would have to give up so much culture-wise when they came to the U.S. Often it would only take a generation for kids to lose their parents' native language and knowledge of the old country traditions, except for the food traditions. I'm a second generation Californian and a fourth generation American, and I still eat herring for Christmas Eve. (Although I have to admit that it tasted pretty gross this year) Anyway, my point is that food traditions help define us and keep us in contact with our origins. Fortunately, most Danish food is really good, so my kids have something to enjoy handing down to their kids too, something to help them create a "hyggellig" (Danish for cozy..kind of) environment for their own kids.

One of my favorite decadent Danish treats is kringle. It's basically layers of butter and pastry and sugar..layers and layers. One Christmas when my sister and her family lived in California she and her husband brought some from a Danish bakery in Los Angeles, but usually I've either made it myself, which takes forever; or we've bought it in Solvang, which is less than two hours from us, or we've ordered it from O &H Bakery in Racine, Wisconsin. I didn't think to order any in time this year and didn't feel like baking it either, so I kind of cheated and baked "Danish puff." I don't know why I say it's cheating exactly. I have just always thought that it was something that Danish descendants made up to seem like kringle without all of the work. I've had a recipe from my great aunt for years, but I've never used it, even though I have tasty memories of her fixing it for me and my friends when I was in college far from home and would walk down the hill to her house on Saturday afternoons.

I've seen the error of my ways now though. I made Danish puff this week, and it is wonderful. I even found it in a Danish cookbook I have, and they called it "vandbakkelse," which roughly translates as water pastry. Here's the recipe.

Danish Puff

1 cup butter, divided
2 cups flour, divided
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. cold water

1 cup boiling water
1 tsp. almond flavoring
3 eggs

1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. cream
1 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt

Cut 1/2 cup of the butter int 1 cup flour mixed with the salt to a consistency of course meal. Add cold water and blend well. Divide dough in half and press each half onto an ungreased cookie sheet.

Four boiling water into saucepan and add remaining half cup of butter. When butter melts, remove from heat and add flavoring. Stir in 1 cup flour all at once. Beat until smooth and let cool. Add 1 egg at a time, beating well after each. Divide in half and spread this mixture over the pastry crusts on the cookie sheets. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then at 400 degrees for 30 to 35 mines longer. Watch carefully.

Mix frosting ingredients until smooth and spreadable. Frost while hot and add some sliced almonds. Slice and serve warm.

Friday, December 26, 2008

2nd Day of Christmas

What have I done for the last couple of days besides eat and eat and eat? I've knit a cute little snowman. My friend who dog sits for us has a snowman collection. I've seen several cute patterns for snowmen lately, so I thought I'd try to knit one and give it to her. He's not perfect, but I think she'll appreciate him. I used the felted snowman pattern from mummble-jummble.I have a front-loading washer, so it's a little difficult to felt stuff, but I'm pretty satisfied with the result.

I also finished a couple of felted Christmas presents for my mom. I knit a flower hotpad and a knitted bowl. I followed the pattern from Knit Noel for the felted bowl, I had a little yarn left, so I thought I'd knit a hot pad. I found one on Ravelry. It was a pattern from Whimsical Knitting Designs. She didn't felt hers, but I thought it would work out well with my yarn, and I was right.
It kind of looks like I've been productive this week, but mostly I've been lazy but so have a few other people around here. Russ has probably read three books since vacation began, and the beagles always accommodate him by curling up to take naps with him as he reads. I'm ready to get back to running and eating a little less now, but it's sure been fun while it lasted. Her's a small list of our family intake: medisterpolse (Danish sausage), frikkideller (Danish meatballs), krinkle (Danish pastry), Danish puff pastry, rødgrød (Danish fruit pudding), and numerous cookies. Wow, I'm thinking that a little salad would be good for the next couple of days...or weeks.

Monday, December 22, 2008

In The Bleak Midwinter

I have been knitting but nothing much to show off, so I thought I'd share one of my favorite hymns. I seem to remember that it was also one of my grandma's favorites too, and that's another reason it's special to me. I don't think I've ever been able to hear it without getting a little teary, but the Corrine May version is particularly a good way.

Sunday, December 07, 2008


I'm pretty sure that I haven't blogged for two consecutive days all year but I had to post my sheep pictures. When we took Kai to the orthodontist on Friday, we saw that there were a tons of sheep along the way to Bakersfield. Today when we drove over, I brought along a camera. The lambs are so fun to watch. They were running along in little "lamb gangs," I now totally understand why the words "frolic" and "prance" needed to be invented. Some of them were jumping up completely vertically and seemingly were enjoying being with each other. I've always loved sheep. When I was a kid, I remember that the shepherds would come so near our house on the edge of town that I could hear the bells on some of the sheep, and I'd run out to see them. Now, the sheep don't seem to be herded in the open much and are kept behind fences, but we do usually see sheep dogs out watching them. I could have stayd for hours watching them even though it was raining a little, but Paige and her friend had been promised a trip to Sephora, so they were a little anxious to get moving.

I knit a doughnut today.I've seen several patterns for doughnuts, but the pattern on Doortje's webpage seems the easiest. I suddenly remembered that I'd been planning to knit a "bakery" for my nieces. So far, I've knit four cupcakes and a piece of carrot cake. That's not much of a bakery. I'm going to try to really work on it this week.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

A Little Christmas Knitting

Today was St. Nicholas Day. When the kids were little, they would open one present on St. Nicholas Day, and I'd give the kids their Christmas ornament too. It was a fun tradition, but I've kind of let it go. I haven't even bought their ornaments yet, so I didn't mention what day it was, and they didn't even notice. I am starting to get in the Christmas spirit though. I finished little Christmas Bunny's dress. I knit her dress in the round up to the arm holes. That worked nicely. I don't hate seaming, but I don't really like it either. I haven't done much other Christmas kntting yet, but I am planning to do some, mostly Chirstmas ornaments. Garnstudo has their Advent Calendar up again, and I always get inspired to knit a few of their projects.

When we were up in Fortuna during Thanksgiving break, I didn't do much yarn shopping, but I did have to make one stop at Generations, a local Yarn Shop/Beauty Salon--not a combo I would have thought of, but... Whe you first walk in, you're assailed with all of this kind of scary Red Heart yarn. (Yes, I'm a yarn snob) On the other hand, I'm sure that there are plenty of people who are overjoyed to find "good" acrylic yarn at a shop instead of all of this annoying natural fiber stuff that's become so popular. (LOL) Anyway, they have a surpirse for you if you just wander in a little further, lots of nice wool and cotton yarn, nothing fancy but a really nice selection of Brown Sheep and Cascade. I bought some "Sockotta" yarn, which is a combination of cotton and wool. II can't say that I'm overly excited about the socks I'm knitting with it, but the yarn does feel nice, and it makes more sense for me to knit with yarn that has some cotton content since wool socks are only bearable for a few months a year here.