Thursday, April 29, 2010

Loving My Book Club

I finished my purple socks and now seem to be in a bit of the knitting doldrums. Our weather has still been a little chilly, at least in the  morning and evening, so I'm not adverse  to using wool as I sometimes am by now. I just need a little break I guess.

So, I've mostly been focusing on two of my other hobbies: reading and eating. Some friends from work and I formed a book club last year, and although we don't meet really regularly, we have thoroughly enjoyed every meeting we've had. I suggested our last book, which was Crescent by Diana Abu Jabar. I've read it several times and although I like the story itself, it's the food imagery that make me love it...and yes, I was drawn to it because of the knitted blue sweater  sleeve on the cover.
Crescent by Diana Abu-Jaber

The protagonist's is of Iraqi descent and is a cook in a Lebanese restaurant, so Crescent is full of references to humus, tabuleah, dolmas (stuffed grape leaves), and baklava. So, that is what the table in my dining room was full of this afternoon. I wish that I'd taken a picture of it because it was really a wonderful sight, but I do at least have a picture of the baklava that my friend, Janet, and I made yesterday.

Russ paid our baklava a very high compliment after tasting it today. Last summer we bought some baklava from an Iranian woman at a farmer's market in Nebraska. It was wonderful, just about melted in your mouth. I loved it so much that when we saw her at another farmer's market later that week, I had to go tell her how much we enjoyed her baklava even though we weren't buying any that day. When I told her that I had tried baklava numerous times and hers was by far the best that we'd ever tasted, she practically teared up and insisted that I take a free box of it. I tried to refuse, telling her that that wasn't why I'd told her that. She insisted though, and we eventually happily gave in. Writing this just now, made me wonder if she had a website, but all I could find was this blog post from a guy who obviously agrees with our assessment of her skills....back to Russ's comment. He said our baklava was about as good as that nice Iranian woman's!

Lucky for me, there were quite a few leftovers, and I was the recipient of most of them. I also helped make dolmades (pictured on the left side of my pic.) last week with my friend Nancy whose partner is of Greek heritage. If this recipe was any indication, he's an incredible cook. I've have dolmas out of jars from Trader Joe's, but eating freshly prepared dolmades can't even be compared to the cold, briney, slimey grape leaves out of a jar.
Sirine, the chef in Crescent makes the most delicious-sounding dolmas. I think she'd approve of these. This isn't exactly the recipe we used since the recipes we used is top secret, but Nancy assures me that this is very close to what we prepared.


1 lb. ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup white rice
1 egg
1 tbsp. butter, softened
1 tbsp. dried mint (we used fresh)
1/2 bunch parsley
3-4 tbsp. lemon juice

20 - 30 grape leaves (We're lucky enough to have a Middle Eastern market nearby where we can buy fresh ones, but we used some leaves from Nancy's concord grapes vines.

Knead all ingredient in a bowl. If the consistency is too hard, add a little water.

Boil grapes leaves until they are soft but not tender. Fresh leaves will only take a minute. Cool leaves. Fill leaves with rice mixture and roll "burrito-style."

In a large pot, melt 1/2 stick butter. Arrange rolled dolmades in pot and pour 3-4 cups of chicken or beef broth over dolmades, cover, and simmer for 2 hours.

Serve domades with avgolemono sauce:

Avgolemono Sauce


  • 2-3 eggs, separated
  • 1 tablespoon of water
  • juice of 2-3 lemons
  • broth from the dish being cooked (or hot beef or chicken broth or stock)


Beat the egg whites until foamy. Beat in egg yolks, water, lemon juice, and 2-3 spoonfuls of broth, beating (or whisking) continuously. Add the avgolemono sauce to the dish being cooked, stir, cover with a towel for 10 minutes, and serve.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

And the Winner is...

I didn't forget about my giveaway, and I've had so much fun reading everyone's comments, but somehow it' been over  a week from the time  I said I was going to pick a winner! I used a very scientific method...I asked my son to pick a number between one and twenty-three, and he chose eleven, which means that you're the winner, Rani! I know that whatever you knit with it will get good use, considering how long your winters are! Thanks to everyone for "playing." I wish I had enough yarn for everyone....well, actually, I probably do....I just don't want to part with it, ha, ha.

I don't have much to show for my week and a half away from my blog. My daughter has long made fun of me for being boring with my wardrobe. If I like a shirt, I'll buy it in three or four different colors. If I like something, I like it, what can I say.  So in that tradition, I decided to knit another pair of L'amour socks. Coincidentally, I knit it using one of the three different sets of Lorna's Laces sock yarn that I own which are slightly different shades of purple. At least I'm consistent.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Free Yarn

Before I offer up this yarn to someone who can give it a good home and love it as it deserves, I have to admit that I have no idea why I bought it. It's hand-dyed, worsted weight and did look  pretty with its green, pink and orange tones sitting in a basket with more muted-toned yarns. It was $25, so it wasn't terribly expensive...or cheap either.  I just kind of think its color combination is over the top.  I always feel guilty whenever I see it lying in my stash box. I think it was peer pressure that made me buy it; I was with my X-knit (Extreme knitters) buddies, and they oohed and awwed a couple of times over it, and somehow it ended up in my basket.

You may have it by just leaving a comment saying that you want it. You don't even have to say anything other than, "count me in," although it would be fun to hear about your most impulsive yarn purchase. I think I got off pretty cheap with this one.  I'll randomly choose a winner some time next week.

Blogging friends, please at least pretend to be interested. I'll feel like such a loser if no one responds. "Wow! that girl really has strange taste in yarn. Maybe she should just stick with pink!"

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Happy Easter

This was about the extent of my Easter decorating this year, not that I usually do that much anyway. My mom always had us paint eggs and make an Easter egg tree when I was little, but I never really started that tradition with my own kids even though I loved the Easter egg trees we used to make.  We did spend a great evening decorating egg with my SIL and nephew before they left, and I've had them on display.

I am really proud of my little Easter mat I finish this week. I ordered the kit from Prairie Point Junction last month but didn't start it until a couple of days ago. It was fun although our living room was a little cluttered with all of the pieces of felt I was cutting out. The pattern suggests using freezer paper to cut out the pattern pieces and then iron the templates onto the felt, and it will stick. How cool. Why can't regular sewing patterns do that? I've always hated pinning the pattern to the fabric to cut it out.
I also finished my L'Amour socks. I had Kai be my model before I ship the away to my SIL. I really loved this pattern. It's labor-intensive, but not difficult really, and the socks fit great. Ho hum, now what to do. I've had this nagging guilt all week about not doing any grading. I hate to ruin a perfectly good Easter Sunday by grading papers. I think I'll start another sock instead.