Monday, February 25, 2008

Creeping Back into the Kitchen

Have you had time away from cooking and then found yourself out of practice upon returning? It sure happens to me! Same with my needlepoint...and miniature making...and even diapering a newborn.... Well, you get the idea. Not exactly like riding a bicycle; what do they say? You never forget how? Well, I have made some really dumb mistakes on returning to the kitchen. Here's just one.

I was to bring a dessert to our little knitting group's first lunch meeting, a couple of weeks ago. So that morning I selected this little Banbury Tart from a Williams Sonoma cookbook, Pies and Tarts; the filling tastes like mincemeat. I made the buttery dough and placed the patty in the frig to chill. The filling was an easy stove-top task, made with raisins, lemon juice and zest, sugar, and so forth, and was now cooling. I rolled out the tart dough successfully (OK - it stuck a little, but not too badly) and patted it gently into place.

The directions say to prick the bottom and sides and line with a double-thick piece of aluminum foil. Well, I thought, I have my little ceramic balls that I use for pie crusts. I'll just use those. Big mistake. The dough rose softly around those little pea-sized balls, quietly enveloping them in the most tender, buttery pastry imaginable. So when it came time to remove them (the foil!), I tipped the pan (they always rolled out of my pie crusts, didn't they?) and the first two inches of the crust separated from the whole, slid right over the edge of the pan and onto the granite. The rest of the little balls stayed firmly in place, nestled in my partially-baked crust.

For just a moment I thought all was lost. Then I remembered I had absolutely no time for a do-over, had just over an hour before I was to show up with dessert in hand. Using a fork, I teased out most of the ceramic balls; remember, they are still around 400 degrees. For the tough ones, I brought tweezers from a drawer and removed them individually. Thank goodness a bit of dough remained in the frig; although it was not quite enough, I patted it into place and returned the pan to the oven for 4 or 5 minutes.

I poured in the filling and sprinkled on the topping; into the oven for thirty-five minutes more. I raced upstairs for my shower, dressed and flew back down just in time to take it out.

It was done, and pretty enough for our little group. (Huge sigh of relief.)Below, it is the far right end that was redone. Some of the mistake is covered with filling and topping and was not readily noticable.

Especially since it was simply delicious! I served it on pretty plates with silver forks. I think I could have eaten the whole thing! Yum!

That was one of those by the skin of my teeth things that I hope never to repeat. I was just a little tart. But I wanted it to be wonderful and it took a lot more concentration and time than I had planned on. I am glad I persevered, instead of tossing it out and heading for the bakery. Whew!

By the way, the ceramic balls were to go into the pans on top of the foil or parchment paper. Not on top of the dough! Now I remember!


Sunday, February 24, 2008

I've Been Busy Doing What???

I've been busy becoming a grammy! My first grandbaby, Ryan James, was born on February 5. What a cutie! Of course, I just can't seem to get enough! Above, he's four hours old.
On occasion, he has eyes open and is not fussing. Here he is dressed in a blue hoodie at two weeks, with Grammy adoring him.

I figured now was the time to resurrect the long-ago put away needlepoint. It is a sampler worked in silks and metallic gold, with a wool background. All it required this week was to have a few missed stitches placed; then I took it downtown to Julie-Mar. She will send it off to become a pillow for the sofa in the living room. I have long thought that my grandchildren would enjoy looking at this, and will remember it. What do you think?

Below, you can see the subtle color changes in the hand-dyed silks.
This is about 18 inches wide and maybe a foot tall. Over 100,000 stitches. I really enjoyed this project because of the enormous variety. I made a few changes (for example, the sharp scales on his back were intended for metallic thread; I have difficulty with that, so just did a metallic border, and filled in with ivory.) and that put my own twist on the project.

I have begun a red, white and blue log cabin for RJ; we didn't know whether he was a girl or a boy before his birth, so all my knitting for "the baby" was yellow, beige, mint, aqua. I am so pleased to be able to knit for a boy, and to use bold blues.

I think I am back, having been away from Ravelry, knitting and blogging for nearly two months. Spring is just around the corner, bees are buzzing the sweet mahonia blossoms, and renewal is in the air! It is time for me to take a deep breath and smile at the winter's accomplishments, and get ready for the delicious anticipation that comes with every fresh start! The exhilaration is intoxicating!