one food item i’ve longed to make at home is fresh pasta. two ingredients – flour and eggs. so basic. how hard could it be?

many years ago, mike received a pasta maker for christmas with the hopes of making fresh pasta, particularly ravioli. it is a beautiful machine. trouble is, you need a particularly solid surface or counter top with just the right “lip” for the clamp to grab onto. if you don’t get it really solidly tied down, it is a real pain in the ass. our previous two homes haven’t had the right space to set up the machine.  because it wasn’t really working for us, the machine went into the basement and we went back to buying dried pasta from a box.

when we started trying to eat less preserved/boxed food, i started buying pasta from a seller at west seattle farmer’s market.  it is yummy, but the price adds up.  i couldn’t help but feel like i should at least try to find a way to make it work at home.

and…well…perhaps i should have called this post failure #1.

i followed the instructions as described in this video on the williams sonoma site.  it seemed easy enough. the pasta maker was easy to set up and i managed to get it pretty well secured to the counter.  but, i’d forgotten about the other difficulties.  like needing four arms to deal with the dough and the way the dough will stick itself really easily if the sheets are allowed to touch. the demonstrator really breezes through that part in the video.

helper pit

i wasted at least 1/2 the dough because of my own screw ups. my most common error was not having enough flour on my work surface and/or the pasta maker and not noticing when the pasta was folding on itself and creating a big sticky lump of dough.

nonetheless, i started to get the hang of it eventually. i even managed to get enough fettucine for a meal for mike and i, with enough left over for a meal for one of us later in the week.

fresh pasta for eatin'!

it tasted pretty delish.  and, i’m stubborn enough that i want to figure this out, so i’m going to try again soon.  maybe even next weekend.

things i learned:

1) you really can’t have too much flour on the work surface and pasta maker.

2) it is much easier to work with smaller pieces of dough. i have my greatest successes when i worked with 1/8 of the dough rather than 1/4 as shown on the williams sonoma video.

ultimately, this photo describes how i dealt with the whole debacle.

cocktail to go with your pasta failure? yes, please

cocktail to accompany your pasta failure
ice
1 part stoli vanilla vodka
2 parts pomegranate juice
drink

any homemade pasta makers out there have any tips?

i believe that jess has finally convinced me to resurrect the blog.

in the last year or so, i’ve gotten really into food preservation, particularly freezing and canning.  it is a great way to extend the summer growing season and have fresh and yummy food available all year long. ideally, i would be preserving local food.  however, it is impossible for me to resist the call of all the delicious citrus fruits now in season to the south of us. i recently purchased a metric ton of blood oranges through my csa.  it ended up in a bunch of edible forms.  in addition to eating them fresh for the last couple of weeks, i’ve made blood orange olive oil cake (yummy!), blood orange vinaigrette for salads, and blood orange vanilla marmalade.

yummy blood orange vanilla marmalade

look at those gorgeous jars of pretty, pretty jewel red marmalade.  i cracked open a jar this morning and we enjoyed a breakfast of fresh biscuits with blood orange vanilla marmalade and peach lemon jam, which i made last summer. i’m really happy with the flavor.  just enough bitterness to balance out the super sweetness. i slightly modified this blood orange marmalade recipe from food in jars.

sunday breakfast nom nom nom

blood orange vanilla marmalade

10 – 12 blood oranges – enough for about 10 cups, give or take
4 cups sugar
1 cup blood orange juice – any juice will do really
juice of 1 lemon
1 or 2 vanilla beans
2 packets liquid pectin

sterilize your jars and lids as needed, get your water bath going.

place fruit, sugar, orange juice, and lemon juice in a non-reactive pot and get it boiling.   some marmalade instructions have you remove the fruit flesh from the pith, but i just toss it all in.  it ends up separating quite a bit as it heats up. scrape the seeds from the two vanilla beans into the pot and drop the beans in there too. reduce the temperature and simmer until it is shiny and starting to thicken.  most recipes say about 10 – 15 minutes.  i cooked this one down for almost 30 minutes as i wanted the peels to get nice and soft.  squirt in your pectin and bring to a boil for another couple of minutes. remove the dead vanilla bean bodies at this time.  ladle into your sterilized jars with about 1/2 inch headspace.  process for 10 minutes. this recipe got me 7 half pint jars and the cute, little quarter pint you see in the photo above.

i was so pleased to wake up on december 22, the day after the shortest, darkest day of the year, and find signs of life in the flowerbed in front of the house.

christmas is good, but i love summer.  all winter i look forward to the long, warm days, when it the sunlight extends long into the evening.  i feel at my best when i’m on our deck with a group of good friends.  barbecue smoking, dogs running around the lawn, and a delicious pitcher of sangria in front of us.  the funnest fun, the best times, to me, happen in the summer.  always have.  from running through the sprinkler on a hot day as a kid, to our more adult (read booze!) way of celebrating today.  it’s the best time of year.

this summer will be our first full summer in our very own house.  i’m really excited about it.  spending spring time in the back getting the patio and everything ready for many of those fun days.  for this reason, i squealed in complete delight when i saw the tulips making their way out of the dirt.   i’m looking forward to seeing what pops up.

so, here’s to the slow crawl toward summer.  i plan to enjoy every minute of it.  and, happy new year to you all!

Delicious Dish Schweddy Balls::my favorite snl skit ever.

i’m still not getting much knitting in with the crazy puppy.  but, i continue to fit in baking here and there.

inspired by my favorite saturday night live skit, i tried bakerella‘s cake balls recipe this weekend.  i really, really wanted to make them with red velvet cake mix, but couldn’t find any.  mike and i went on a hunt and hit six different grocery stores in west seattle.  no sign of the red velvet cake mix.  i finally gave up and settle on lemon, which is actually my favorite desert flavor.

i made the lemon cake balls on saturday night and dipped them in white chocolate on saturday morning.  my chocolate dipping technique could use some work.  but overall….L.O.V.E them.  they are delicious and it is something a little out of the ordinary to bring to a party.  i made a tray of the lemon cake balls and pistachio bark for our family holiday celebration.  yum!

last weekend, when i couldn’t decide what kind of cookies to make,  i made holiday candy bar instead!  it turned out really, really good and i’m looking forward to making more this weekend.

i won’t go into the details as the instructions i followed are located at elle’s studio.

i made both the peppermint and the pistachio.  mike and i are more of a pistachio family, but people seem to like the peppermint too.  i was in williams sonoma this morning and bunches of shoppers where going ape shit over their peppermint bark, which costs $26 for a rather meager tin.

okay, so this is only one thing to do with sweet potatoes.  but, they are probably my favorite food item and i would love, love, love to have 100 good ideas for sweet potatoes.

this week, i finally used the sweet potatoes i picked up at the west seattle farmer’s market several weeks ago.  i made one of my very favorite recipes.  i can’t recall where i located the recipe.  it lives in my head now and i just kind of toss it together whenever i have sweet potatoes or yams to use.

i usually use yams, which have a more orange-y color and slightly stronger flavor that sweet potatoes, but the recipe worked fine w/ the sweet potatoes too.

it goes like this…

peel the sweet potatoes or yams and cut them into rounds about 1/2 inch thick.

put ‘em in a bowl and add olive oil (enough to give them a light coating), plenty of crushed garlic, a little salt, dried thyme, and crushed red pepper flakes.

toss ‘em about, so that the seasoning is well mixed and spread throughout.

place them one layer thick on a foil lined cookie sheet.

bake them at 350 for about an hour.  i like to flip them over half way.

so, so yummy.  i can eat them by themselves easily, but i really like them as a side for meatloaf.  i always make extra as they reheat wonderfully and are great for lunch the next day.  they even taste good cold.

that’s one thing to do with sweet potatoes.  what’s your favorite?

p.s. damn our dark, short seattle days.  i do most of my cooking in the evening and it is really hard to take good photos with my lighting.  sorry!

last saturday was one of my very favorite seattle events of the year, urban craft uprising!  the days before urban craft are as exciting to me as christmas morning (2 more sleeps until urban craft) and almost as excruciating as a half marathon (need to carb load and hydrate days beforehand).

jess and kim have been my urban craft partners-in-crime the past couple of years.  this year we decided to be early birds and get there just as the doors open at 11am.  it was insanely crowded this year.  i cannot remember it being nearly this packed last year.  we waited in a line a couple blocks long to get in and then the aisles were jammed.  i’m so happy for the crafters that the event is getting so much attention and so many people are interested in the event, but it kinda made for a challenging shopping experience.  it was really hard to move around and hard to see things.  i’m sure there were a couple of booths i missed just because i couldn’t see them or get to them.

trend wise, there were TONS of plush toys and felt project booths this year.  i fell in love with the plush candy corns from scrumptious delight.  there seemed to be a lot less jewelry booths this year.  i kinda missed that since i’m such a craft jewelry junkie.

i can’t go into too much detail about what i bought since i mostly bought christmas gifts, but here are some of my favorites:

figs & ginger – adorable, delicate nature themed jewelry

go robot – interesting, kinda industrial looking jewelry

laughing raven design – more handmade jewelry.  i said i liked the jewelry!

markhed – jewelry from montreal.  pretty pendants, some with cool city scape themes

paula deer – fun and funny felt hats.  with earflaps!

rachel austin – painting on maps.  i can’t afford one of her paintings, so i’d take one of the pendants

tako fibers – felt projects.  i bought a little kit from them that i’ll share once i do the project

i haven’t had much time for knitting or cooking or general holiday crafting lately.  those of you who are my buddies on ravelry or facebook already know why.  but, here it is:

lola puppy!  our now 14 week old pit bull puppy.  not only is she cute, but she is an awesome dog.  i feel like we really hit the jackpot when we found her at the seattle animal shelter.  she is sweet and snuggly and smart.  she’s full of beans and plays like crazy with her big brother dog mitch.  she’s completely attention defecit  and will only play with one toy for about 10 seconds before dropping it and grabbing another to race around the house shaking and squeeking.

she equally loves cuddling and wiggling her way as close as possible into any human (especially me!) that is willing to snuggle.  she quickly falls asleep and snores like an old drunk, which gives me the giggles every time.

she’s so little and cute that when she curls up on my lap for a nap, i don’t want to get up and get my knitting or any other project.  it’s been pretty quiet here on the blog because i haven’t been doing much other than snuggling with my girl or making sure she isn’t getting into things.

oh, she is totally getting snobby yarn knitted sweaters when she’s full sized!

i’ve been known to be a picky eater.  my relationship with vegetables is tenuous at best.  i used to hate them all, but i’m slowly learning to enjoy some of them.

last fall, one of my coworkers had me over for dinner and made a really delicious and simple squash.  i loved it at the time, then promptly forgot about it.  when i saw all the lovely acorn squash at the farmer’s market last sunday, i thought i may as well give it a go.

the results, delicious.

and easy.  i cut the squash in half and scooped out the pulp.  then place a pat of butter and a teaspoon of yummy wild berry honey (from sweet as can bee honey farm) in the center.  baked at 400 degrees for an hour.  i probably could have cooked it a tiny bit less as the edges charred a bit.

one super helpful tip i found online was to give the squash a couple pokes with a fork and nuke it for two minutes.  this made it much easier to cut the squash in half.

i also saved the seeds and toasted them w/ a little olive oil, salt, and ground cumin.  17 minutes at 275 degrees and they are just right.

i’ll definitely be exploring squash a bit more.  any ideas or recipes?

rosamund’s cardigan from interweave knits, fall 2009.  details here on ravelry.

Hello!

i'm chris. i knit and spin a lot. i cook and eat food grown and made locally. i fail at the "local" part more than i'd like. i am learning to be a gardener. i'm in love with two pitbulls and an advocate for the breed.

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