Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cookie Recipes too good not to share!

I thought I had blogged these recipes before, but can't seem to find an entry with them, nor can I find the one exact recipe online so I thought I'd write it up here!

Mint Chocolate Crackles
They melt in your mouth! You can also make these without the mint for a plain chocolate crackle cookie.
Chocolate Mint Crackle cookies


2c flour
1c unsweetened cocoa powder
2c white sugar
2tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2c vegetable oil
4 eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
1tsp peppermint extract
1/2c confectioners sugar for rolling cookies in

In a medium bowl, mix together the cocoa, sugar, and oil. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla and mint. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt, then stir into the cocoa mixture in batches. Cover the dough and chill for at least 2 hours.

Preheat the oven for 350F degrees. Line cookies sheets with parchment paper. Roll dough into one inch balls, then coat with confectioners sugar before placing on the prepared cookies sheets.

Bake 10-12 minutes. Remove from the sheet immediately and cool on a wire rack (If they sit too long on the sheet they will spread).

Another favorite of mine that are good year-round are Earl Grey Tea Cookies! These little shortbread cookies have real tea leaves in them and have a very unique flavor. You could try a differently perfumed black tea such as peach or vanilla for a different effect. (Not my picture) Recipe from Real Simple Magazine, as I'm too lazy to re-type mine (it's the same).

* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1/2 cup granulated sugar
* 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
* 2 tablespoons Earl Grey tea leaves, from approximately 6 tea bags
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 1 tablespoon orange zest (optional)
* 1 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1. Heat oven to 375°F. Pulse together all the dry ingredients in a food processor until the tea leaves are pulverized. Add the vanilla, 1 teaspoon water, and the butter. Pulse together until a dough is formed.

2. Divide the dough in half. Place each half on a sheet of plastic wrap and roll into a 12-inch log, about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

3. Slice each log into disks, 1/3 inch thick. Place on parchment- or foil-lined baking sheets, 2 inches apart.

4. Bake until the edges are JUST brown, about 12 minutes. Let cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks.

For a change, I'm going to try rolling the dough out in sheets before chilling and using my new teapot cookie cutter on them!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

October, Munich and Hallstadt!

October was generally pretty awesome!

The first weekend in the month I took the train down to Munich to visit my old college roommate Meghan, and her boyfriend Stefan, and to attend the last weekend of Oktoberfest. We went to Oktoberfest last year and had a great time, but not being able to drink makes it not quite as enjoyable. I was looking forward to the food though, and hoped to go on a ride or two.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Lonely September, Lovely Food


I really can't complain too much about J's trips for work, considering he usually is only gone for 6 weeks at the max, and everyone else's husbands are deployed for a year at a time, but it still sucks. Especially when I know he could be in danger :( Such is Military Life.

Since it was the first few weeks of the pregnancy I slept A LOT. I pretty much slept, read, went to yoga, and hung out on the internet for September.

Luckily, my awesome upstairs neighbor is here to keep me company and we've both been eating better because of it. Cooking for yourself sucks, so if I'm cooking for both of us I'll make real food instead of subsisting on canned baked beans and cottage cheese.

Growing up my best friend was Ukrainian, and her mom made awesome Borscht. I'd been craving beets, which were oddly hard to find here, but I did get some at the farmer's market. I was trying to find one online that matched my memory, but there are as many kinds of borscht as there are kinds of chili, so I thought I'd just go straight to the source and I emailed her mom and got the recipe, which I will now share with you!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

September, Labor Day Weekend

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For Labor Day Weekend we were supposed to go to Austria, but our cat got a bad bladder infection and we had to stay home :( So to make it feel more like a holiday weekend we made sure to get out of the house both Saturday and Sunday, especially since J was leaving for a month in Afghanistan a few days later.

Big News! Also the Germania Monument, August catch-up


Sorry I've been off the radar for so long! Sooo much has been going on, but I really have no excuse for not blogging.

The biggest big news is I'M PREGNANT! I found out in September, and am due in May! We're very excited :) My baby blanket yarn came in the other day and I started a Tamarix Quilt (ravelry link) I'm using KnitPicks Comfy Worsted in blues and purples. Purple is unisex, right? :P I was going to do neutrals but didn't like the neutral color selection for the yarn I wanted to use. I'm loving the Comfy, and I hear it wears really well.

So for updates I'm going to do a few posts so that the newest stuff will show up at the top.

My last post was at the end of August, and there was one mini-trip that I didn't post about that month.

We had not yet done the Germania monument in Rudesheim, which is a huge statue at the top of a hill overlooking the Rhine river, a castle, vineyards, and 3 lovely little towns. The monument is accessible by gondola or chairlift, and since it was such a lovely day we took the chairlift. Click here to see the whole set.



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That's all for August, so I'm going to make a new post for September.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Finished Summit!

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This was one of the quickest, most fun projects I've done in a while. Spun to finished it was less than two weeks!

The Summit pattern is a lot of fun. Like entrelac it involves knitting back and forth over small sections of the piece at a time, so you feel like you've accomplished something every step of the way. I loved watching the color progressions in the yarn!

Here's the Ravelry link, if you want to favorite it or something. RedThread's Handspun Summit

I changed the pattern to a larger gauge to accommodate both my thicker yarn and having not much of it. Not sure of the yardage, I was too excited to count, but it was about 100 grams, light worsted weight. I used size 7 (4.5 mm) needles, and did 6 vertical columns of the pattern.

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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Spinning and Summit

Beginning Summit, from Knitty

I finished spinning up that Romney lamb, and I looove how it came out! I split the roving lengthwise, spun both plies from the same end and plied together in the same order. The colors didn't completely line up, but enough to get lovely gradations of color. This fiber is interesting because it feels as soft as merino, but has the shine of Romney! I'll have to try to get my hands on some more lamb fiber! It also took the dye differently from anything I've worked with before. Just sucked the color right out of the solution without even giving it time to soak to the middle of the roving! So there was a good amount of white, but in spinning it just created more shades of color. It's hard to see the striping in a hank, so I wound it into a ball and cast on the beginnings of a Summit scarf.

This is such an interesting pattern! It's like entrelac-meets-clapotis-meets-swiss-cheese! I didn't see any handspun versions on Ravelry yet, so mine will be special :)


Going to the Wiesbaden Wine Festival today! Should be fun :)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

On the Needles :

*First, sorry to anyone trying to access the Double Knitting or Entrelac tutorials! The pictures are temporarily down, as a very old web service I used to use was canceled and they were lost. I may have to re-take them if I can't find the original images, so it could be a little while.*

And on the wheel! Hand-dyed by me, Romney lamb

From this

New yarn! And magazine!

I have start-itis. It's rare for me, but it has persisted through the summer and I'm quite enjoying it, since I've managed to finish things too!
I just got the new Interweave Knits, and am in love with a few sweaters, but especially the Elementary Vest (rav link). I love nearly everything Melissa Wehrle designs! And I just so happened to have yarn for this, since I had planned on doing some kind of argyle vest with it, but didn't have the right pattern and was too lazy at the time to design my own.

The yarn is Catalina Baby Silk, a silk and Alpaca blend. Lovely stuff! I have some gray Ultra Alpaca for the third embroidered color as well. It will be my Ravenclaw Vest hehe

My big Malabrigo order from the Robin's Nest LYS "Malabrigo Madness" Sale came in! Got a fantastic deal on a whole bag of the Frost Gray worsted and a bag of the Tortuga lace weight. I plan on using the lace for a Geodesic Cardigan and the worsted for a stripey cardigan with the handspun falkland orangey blue stuff.

I also received this lovely cake of merino laceweight from my friend Andrea for my birthday. Not sure of the brand, but it feels like the Malabrigo. I think I'll make a Lacey Baktus out of that, although it looks pretty nice just sitting on my futon!

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Sweaters, Peach Salsa, and Pie

Blackberry-Peach Pie

August is here, and it seems that summers in Germany are a lot like Fall in Maryland, except not as warm. It's not really COLD per se, just not summer. We did get a nice day in the 70's yesterday though and J and I went out and played some tennis, which was pretty embarrassing as I haven't played in like 13 years and wasn't very good then either!

I looove to host dinner parties, so I was very excited about having company on Thursday! Company is a great excuse to clean the house and make fantastic food we might not otherwise make. Here's the menu:

Homemade Guacamole with chips as an appetizer (I stood in the grocery store for like 10 minutes finding the perfect avocados! It paid off!)

Cuban grilled pork chops with Sofrito mashed potatoes, recipe courtesy of Guy Fieri; (He does the chops in a pan, but we like 'em on the grill). You MUST try the potatoes! They are one of my favorite side dishes of all time.
With Peach Salsa (recipe to follow)

Garlic-mint green bean salad

And Handpicked Blackberry and peach pie for dessert, with vanilla ice cream! YUM.
Throughout the route I take to go running are fields lined with blackberry bushes. I'd had my eye on them for days, and went out to pick them when they looked ready, but someone had beat me to most of the easy ones! I battled the thorns and stinging nettles though to get my 4 cups of berries! Unfortunately they were a little sour, but the ice cream helps ;)

Peach Salsa Recipe

I serve this over the pork chops instead of the garnish he recommends.

1/2 lb multicolor cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 large gold peaches, peeled, pitted and diced
1 jalapeno pepper (seeded)
2 cloves garlic
1/4 small red onion
Small handful of Cilantro leaves

Juice of one lime
A generous 2 pinches of kosher salt

Place the quartered tomatoes and diced peaches in a bowl. Finely chop all remaining ingredients and mix together. Add the lime juice and salt to taste. Allow to chill in the fridge for AT LEAST one hour before serving.

I was so proud of my nice tidy dining room I had to take a picture :)
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I also JUST finished my Heather Hoodie Vest from KnitScene Fall 2009. (Click the link to visit Ravelry for more details) There are a number of sweaters I plan to make from this issue, but since this has short sleeves and I had the yarn for it I cast on in June to be ready for September/October. I reached my goal early! This was a pretty quick knit on size 10 1/2 needles.

heather hoodie vest
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My only issues with the pattern was the hood is way too deep, and a little short in the front. To remedy this I should have picked up fewer stitches for the hood, and done some short rows at the neck to keep it from pulling when up. It would be way too much work to rip out all the edging and the hood to redo it though so I'll just deal.
I do like the buttons I found, even if I had originally wanted green toggles:
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Currently on the needles are some Wollmeise Hedera socks in Sonne, and I think I'll start another sweater!

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Back from Vacation! And Cherry Muffins!


We're back from our trip to the US (MD, PA, NY), and it is cold and rainy here in Germany :( Where did summer go? It's only August 1st! I hope we'll get some more hot weather before fall. I'd hoped we could afford (time and money) to do another trip to France this month, but I think the best we can hope for is camping in the Alps or the Black Forest.

Before I forget, I want to share the recipe for these fantastic Cherry Almond Muffins! My neighbor's friend has been bringing her bags and bags of dark sweet cherries from his garden, and she's been giving most of them to me. I've frozen most for use during the winter, but I wanted to make something special with the fresh ones to eat now!

Cherry-Almond Muffins

1 stick (1/2c) butter
3/4c sugar
2 eggs
2c flour
1/2c milk
2tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups chopped fresh cherries
1c sliced almonds, divided
1tsp almond extract
1/2c powdered sugar (for topping)
1-2TBSP milk (for topping)

In a saucepan or frying pan, cook the cherries over low heat for 30-40 minutes to remove some of the water. Cherries should be dark red and much softer.

Preheat the oven for 375F and line a 12-muffin tin with muffin cups.
Cream the butter and the sugar until fluffy, then add the eggs one at a time. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt, then add to the batter, alternating with the 1/2c milk until smooth. Add the almond extract, then fold in the cherries and half the almonds.

Spoon the mixture into the muffin cups and top with the remaining almonds. Bake for 30 minutes. When the muffins are done, mix the powdered sugar and 1T or milk to make a glaze. Brush it over the still-hot muffins and allow muffins to cool on a wire rack. Enjoy!

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Anyway, back to our trip :) We went back to Baltimore for a few days to catch up with friends and do some shopping before attending our friends' wedding in Philadelphia. It was quite the whirlwind tour! Our plane out of Frankfurt was 2 hours late, which made us miss our connection in NY. "Don't worry!" they said, "There's another flight two hours later that you can catch!"
Unfortunately the next flight was NOT to BWI, but to DC! So we arrived in DC around 8pm (as opposed to the 5:30pm we should have been in Baltimore), then had to take the subway and a commuter train to BWI to rent our car, then drive to north Baltimore to our friend's house. We didn't get in until 1am, and missed having dinner with other friends. Fortunately, the rest of the trip went smoothly.

Thursday we spent shopping for clothes and boating shoes, then met up with a bunch of friends in Fell's Point for dinner and drinks at our favorite roof-top rum bar. Unfortunately, the quality of the food has gone downhill since I was there last, and not everyone enjoyed their meal (myself included), but the view and the company was still nice :)
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Baltimore was in the midst of a heat wave, per usual, so Friday we decided to take advantage of the heat and went river tubing in Gunpowder Falls state park, followed by a relaxed BBQ and some amazing Watermelon and goat cheese salad.

Saturday was the wedding, so we drove up to Philadelphia very early in the morning. It had decided to thunderstorm, and I was very worried about being late, but we arrived 1/2 hour before the wedding and were some of the first people there! I think the weather made all the locals late. It's unfortunate that it had to be inside, but they needed the rain, and the church is gorgeous anyway. It's an old Unitarian church with all the original wood and stone and lovely stained glass windows. The couple had met there when they attended a UU youth conference in high school. It was a lovely wedding, and it was great to celebrate with so many of our close friends :)

The two lovely brides!
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The lovely ceremony was followed by a reception with some unique and varied entertainment, provided by many of our talented friends!
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The rest of the evening was spent at one of the Brides parents' house for a BBQ, and it was great to have some down time to catch up with everyone.
See the rest of this set here.

The following morning we drove over to NJ to visit our friend Luke who is keeping all our snakes for us while we're in Germany. I had never seen his place, so it was cool to visit our snakes, meet his, and have some lunch before driving back to Baltimore.

Monday morning we left very early to catch a train up to Albany NY, where we rented another car to drive to Elizabethtown, in the Adirondack Mountains, to spend 10 days with my Dad. The train ride north was surprisingly beautiful, as it follows the Hudson river the whole way!

Joe spent every possible moment fishing, and caught a lot of fish (mostly Bass, Pike, and Perch), but most were too small to eat, with the exception of one delicious Walleye.
Here's Joe with his first big Bass of the trip:

That weekend our friend Luke from NJ, and my friend Laura from Toronto came to visit, and we rented a pontoon boat to spend the day on the Lower Saranac lake. We had a great time swimming, fishing, eating yummy picnic food and relaxing in the gorgeous setting.

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See the full set here

Sunday Laura and I took a horseback trail ride and I got to show her my hometown of Lake Placid. I can't believe we've been friends 13 years and she's never been there before! We had a great girls' day while the boys were out fishing in the rain :P

Wednesday, after our friends left Joe and I accompanied our friend Dave to his camp on Union Falls Pond. The weather was a bit stormy, but we still managed to get some swimming and fishing in, along with a campfire, fresh cooked fish, and a gorgeous starlit boat ride on the lake.

Waiting for the rain to clear



Overall we had a fabulous trip and did not want to leave! Joe says Germany is very boring by comparison, but I think we just need to look harder for places to do fun stuff.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Stitch Markers in the Shop!

New stitch markers in my Etsy shop! Come visit!

Swarovski crystals, Czech glass, mother of pearl, semi-precious stones and more!

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Alsace! And more room for pictures!

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J was out of town for a few weeks, and I decided that we needed to go on a mini vacation when he came back! Originally the plan was to go to the south of France, but we didn't have time, so we went to Alsace. Alsace is about 3 hours away, and looks a lot like the Rhine region, but with mountains. I was particularly interested in finding some good Gewurztraminer, as they do not make it here and it's my favorite wine.

We stayed in a cute little hotel in Orbey(Le Domaine de Pairis), which is out in the countryside and not walking distance to anything, but it was reasonably priced, had good food, and the owner speaks English. I speak a bit of French, but it's very rusty. We also had a rushing brook outside our window that was very pleasant to go to sleep listening to.

On our way out on Friday we stopped in the tiny, touristy but lovely town of Ribeauville. J had never eaten Escargot, so of course we had some of that along with the local specialty Tarte Flambee, aka Flammkuchen, aka pizza with cream sauce.
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They are very fond of their local Storks in Alsace, and all the souvenir shops had all kinds of things with storks on them. I bought a shot glass. There was even a storks' nest on top of one of the buildings!
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After lunch we visited a butterfly garden, which was small and could have used a good primping, but nevertheless had plenty of beautiful butterflies.
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On our way out we got up close and personal with a stork!
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The next day we visited Haut Koenigsburg Castle, which is a fully restored castle 800 meters up a mountain. It was by far the biggest and most impressive castle we have visited so far, and we've been to quite a few in Germany!
Click the picture to see more castle pictures!
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After the castle, we went to Colmar and visited the Unterlinden Museum, which has a really beautiful and interested collection of 15th century devotional art, along with an incredible weapons collection and some ancient and modern collections as well. Colmar also has nice restaurants and great shopping. I think if we go back we might stay right in Colmar, but for this trip we did enjoy the peace and quiet out in the country.
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I also definitely recommend a drive through the mountains west of Munster. So picturesque it doesn't even look real!
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All in all a lovely little getaway! Click any picture to see the rest of the set.