I haven’t been posting here as much, due to well-documented family issues, but I couldn’t let today pass without saying
Happy Yarniversary, This Is Knit!
About four and a half years ago, I noticed that my online friends (I had more online than offline friends at the time) were really mad into knitting. I had tried a few years earlier, when a friend’s daughter had brought home her knitting homework (knitting homework! This is not something that is done in the US, I can tell you..) and it caught my attention, but I never really did anything with it. I tried again when pregnant with Eoin, but, again, bad needles and yarn sure didn’t help things.
This time, tho, I mentioned it on my online community. The lovely Sonia piped up and said “Well, you know that This Is Knit is in Blackrock and they do beginner classes?” Oh. Oh really? Eoin was 6 weeks old at the time, and an afternoon with adults seemed like heaven. I rang up and booked a place…
When I showed up, it was a cold rainy day, but I remember the twinkle lights in the shed, everything laid out asking to be touched and I distinctly remember Jacqui’s lovely welcoming smile. I chose my yarn, as instructed, was given needles, and was led to a little room in the Blackrock Market with other 4 folk. Lisa stood up, and away we went. The thing I remember most? Aileen’s bus was late, but she came in knitting a SOCK. ON FOUR NEEDLES. TINY TINY NEEDLES.
I’ve barely put down the needles since then. Plus I hung around so much, they ended up giving me a job there! And then they sold the Dublin Dye Company to me and Yvonne! I’ve gone from the coldcoldcold building in Blackrock to the shops in Powerscourt. I cannot say how much I love my job, but more than that, I love the solid friendships I’ve built from the customers and the other staff there. You all have held up me and my family as we deal with the shite we’ve been dealt, more than you all will ever know. /sniffle
I wubs ya.
And to Lisa and Jacqui, the amazing dual dynamos, may your next 5 years be even better, with more laughs, events, people and FUN. So proud for and of you!!!
Those of you who know me on social networks or (gasp) in real life know that my lovely husband, B, was diagnosed almost 7 weeks ago with acute myeloid leukemia (yes, I spell it the American way. Deal.) It’s been long enough now that we are pretty relaxed about it, which sounds silly, but it’s part of our life, not the shock it once was. We’re hoping that now he’s completed the second round of chemo he can come home soonish, but we must be patient and wait for his numbers to come back up. You can read all about our journey at our other blog, zen.org.
That’s partly what I’m writing about here. A lot of you know that one of the hotspots of the Dublin knitting scene is This Is Knit, a lovely wool shop now in City Centre. When they were still in Blackrock, lo those many years ago, they taught me how to knit, and then I kept hanging around the shop til they finally hired me on a part time basis.
The friends that I’ve made in that shop are so dear to me. I don’t think I realized how important they are, or how determined they are, until B was diagnosed.
Feeling a bit helpless, one of them noticed, apparently, that real flowers aren’t allowed on the ward (due to the bugs/fungi that are in the soil/water/leaves/flowers, and the high risk of infection for people with compromised immune systems, like cancer patients). “What?” I’m guessing the conversation went. “No real flowers?! Well, fellow fibre folk, we must MAKE him some flowers!!” So they upped sticks and hooks (one apparently upped hook ONLY for this: “I CROCHETED for this. Do you hear me?!”), and made a gorgeous bouquet of flowers from all types of yarn. It was given to me at a knitting group (Fibre Fun Friday, Southside!), and I presented them to B the next day. He was stunned, and smiles at them still, 6 weeks or so later. Every nurse remarks on them, most of the doctors too. I think this is partly why B has started knitting, but don’t tell him that.
Every time I look at the bouquet, I smile and think of one of my amazing communities, that are helping us stay mentally afloat in this crazy storm. I <3 my fibery friends more than they know.
I’ve been doing more wasabi than knit, so I’ll let you know what I’ve been up to…
I’m partway through a chemo cap for a friend’s sister…I’ve finished the rib, am 2 rounds into the pattern…and have already screwed up the pattern! I need to focus on this in a quiet place just til I get the rhythm of it. I’ve put a scarf in the naughty corner, since the cables on it are messing with my head. And I found my half done clapotis! Tho the stitch count is off.
Apparently, my knitting is all off. But hey, I can fix it and go and fly with it, which is the best idea I think. Oh, I did update my stash on Rav, which is a HUGE thing. It’s all there now! I love that.
No, not wings. Have you ever tried to get chicken wings outside of summertime here? Insane! Okay, I’m sure Tesco have them, but I’m not going in there. Hate them.
So…found a bottle of Frank’s Hot Sauce (Buffalo) at the Eurospar a few weeks ago. Got it, cause hello, BUFFALO wing sauce? All MINE. Plus, normally when you make buffalo wings, you need butter. The bottle said no butter needed for the making, and there was no butter in the sauce itself. Win for this allergic house!
I was very uninspired for dinner tonight. I don’t think food bloggers say that enough. We all have crap nights where it’s chipper or an Indian. This was one of those, but we have lots of food still in the house so couldn’t justify a takeaway. Enter the buffalo wing sauce.
No wings. Huh. I got some thighs at Lidl tho. So I cooked ‘em all in the oven, nothing on them. After, put the boys chicken on their plates, served ‘em up, and then put our chicken and smothered it in the sauce. I had whipped up a pseudo ranch dressing sauce (none of that blue cheese malarkey here) for dipping, and there you go.
P, amazingly, loved dipping his chips in the ranch/buffalo on my plate. At one point he got a little more buffalo than ranch, but overall? Win.
This is a storecupboard dinner that works great in a pinch. Yay me!
Being (another) snow day here in Dublin–something I never really thought I’d say–the family needed something warming for lunch after the shovelling, snowman making, and snowball warring. I settled on pantry-store soup, which didn’t really need preparation or chopping. Love that. The chopped rosemary was from last night’s dinner, still in a bowl on the counter. Surprised I could chop it…thought it would be frozen solid.
You can sub canned tomatoes for the passata/sieved toms if you give ‘em a good whiz up with the immersion blender first. Probably 2 cans worth is needed.
Rosemary Tomato Soup
1 onion, chopped
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 Tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
1 carton passata/sieved tomatoes
500 ml vegetable or chicken broth
250 ml carton oat cream (soy or dairy cream can be used)
Warm the oil in a large saucepan over medium low heat. Add the onion and sweat til onions are translucent. Toss in the chopped garlic and the rosemary, and stir for one minute til the garlic is fragrant. Add the broth and tomatoes. Slowly add, stirring, the cream. Heat through to bubbling gently, stirring frequently.
Serve with either big crusty bread or some lovely brown bread.
Alt toppings: creme fraiche, basil oil, parmesan cheese, cheddar cheese. Let your whim take you!
Ever have one of those books that grows on you? At first, you think, Wow, this is all really simple, I don’t know what I’m going to get out of this. Then you look a little deeper, and you see the idea: laying the groundwork for people to love cooking. And the easiest way to do that is give them some simple recipes, without long ingredient lists or crazy manipulations, and then say “Play away”.
Bill Granger is going there with his latest book, Bill’s Basics. When I first opened it, I thought, well, fine, bran muffins. Steamed fish. Bit of chicken. But starting to cook from it, you see the simplicity that he intended. This isn’t Delia, darling, this is how to cook with no fuss and no muss. I use every implement in the kitchen when I cook, and with these recipes I only used 2 cooking spoons (that’s a record for me.)
Bill is known for his breakfasts; his scrambled eggs make people line up around the block in Sydney. The breakfast section, the first one in the book (makes sense, let’s start out right!), has your simple recipes: bran muffins, how to make coffee in a cafetiere. But on the same page as the coffee is a recipe for scrummy homemade chai tea, which has come closest to the style I’ve been searching for! White hot chocolate? Okay!
He’s a fan of No-Knead Bread, and pairs it with apricot jam…both recipes included. American hash browns are in there too, along with brown sugar bacon (really, try this. Sweet/salty heaven.)
In the baking section, there seems to be a recipe that everyone focuses on: the lemon drizzle loaf with blueberries and polenta. Maybe cause it’s delish? I think so.
Interestingly, his comfort food seems to be a lot of Asian cooking. I haven’t been to Oz yet, but knowing how Americans are about their Mexican food, the parallel is clear. And really, if you want to go basic, I think Asian is the way to go: stir fries, soups, they’re fast, easy, and very satisfying.
I made the spiced butternut squash soup for a friend who doesn’t like butternut squash (yes, I told her what it was before giving it to her, I’m not a monster.) This was the first squash soup she liked. So much that she had another bowl before going home. Baking the squash and tomatoes in the soup pot in the oven first, them mooshing them and adding the broth really made a huge difference. The kids ate it up.
Tonight’s meal is going to be the Coq au Vin, which uses white wine instead of red and pan-fries the mushrooms so you get “non-flabby mushrooms”. I like that.
There’s all types of food in here: fish, seafood, lamb and beef. I like in the vegetables section it’s not just sides: there’s some great veg*n recipes in there like chickpea burgers and butternut squash, lentil and spice pasties.
Did I mention the deconstructed banana split? No? In a dairy-free household, we adapt much. This one? The chocolate sauce is made with coconut milk. Why I didn’t think of that before I don’t know. I don’t care. The kids are eating it up with spoons straight from the pan. Must get some bananas so that there’s *some* nutrition going into them!
The book itself is laid out simply: great photos (more than most books, I think, seems to be a pic with every recipe, which is extraordinary in a good way), simple, clear directions and ingredients you really can find just at the supermarket up the road. I like Bill’s intros to the recipes as well…slightly chatty, but also giving a bit of direction.
If you’re looking for how to make fish roe foam, this isn’t the book for you. If you’re looking for some new tried-and-tested dishes? This is the way to go. I really feel that you can take this down off the shelf, cook straight out of it, and it will all go brilliantly the first time. This is high praise from me, since most cookbooks DON’T do that (I’m looking at you, Nigella).
With Christmas coming up, this is a great book to give to someone moving out on their own for the first time (or someone you want to move out on their own for the first time…) It’s clear, concise, and really, I don’t think you can go wrong with this book.
Book: Bill’s Basics by Bill Granger
Available from The Book Depository
Thanks to Quadrille Publishing for the review copy.
Really, is there a better place than this to be knitting? I don’t think so.
Big Tree Beach. We have been here most days of July and August. Water isn’t as cold as last year, and there are lots of crabs for catching!
That is the All Seasons Cardi (yes, I know I’m still working on it, thanks) in Hyacinth I mentioned. I tried it on a couple days ago because I got to the end of my ball of wool….on the cast-off row. SERIOUSLY?! So I’m adding two rows of garter stitch to it, then casting off. It fits great, won’t need too much blocking. SO excited…I wish I had it on Saturday when the weather was cold! I had to put on SOCKS. I haven’t worn socks in 5 weeks!! (See that there? That’s how I say the weather has been fab without actually saying the weather has been fab.)
Plans for today: cast off. Make shopping list (I’m going off-island tomorrow and will hit up the big grocery store and the cheapie tourist shop for trinkets!). Make list of recipes for the next two and a half weeks…cause then I’m coming back! w00t! Back to Dublin, getting the boys ready for school, trying to remember where things are and what we eat, lol. It’s always a little confusing the first week .
Oh, I got a Knit Picks order! I placed it with two other friends, and OMG, the WOOL. OMG. Did I say OMG yet? Wooly wooly LOVELY wooly! Can’t wait to do something with that too! I got this great red DK that is screaming Christmas gifts to me. Yes, I know I still need to do my Owls (hey, R, we need to Owl-a-long together!).
Right, back to doing all the stuff I can. I’m at the town library who has a big fat Internet pipe and I’m uploading and downloading like mad.
A twitter friend asked for my blog address….which reminded me that I *have* a blog. Duh.
Ironically, I’m making sushi rice today for dinner…and it’s raining….which means it’s a knitting and wasabi day /rimshot
On the needles is still my All Seasons Cardigan in Dublin Dye Company Merino Sock…colourway Hyacinth (no, it’s not available yet. I want to see how it looks knit up before I dye more and sell it. What do you all think?). I’m almost done with the body, sleeves are left. I’m supposed to have done it by now, and also almost be done with an Owls! HA!
I did get some nice Quince and Co Puffin yarn, so excited about that. I’ll be doing a nice cowl in it. And I just found an alpaca farm that spins and sells their wool…right near where we are now! Oh, going with camera in and and NO kids.
We head back in 3 weeks. I have so much to do before then! It’s been a fab summer tho…only a few rainy days, lots of heat and lots of friends!
We had a power outage last night (the whole neighbourhood), and then when we got power back, part of the house was still tripping the breaker. This morning we narrowed it down to the dishwasher. Now I’m waiting to hear from people who know these things what we can do to fix it.
Lol, my phone just rang, a good friend calling. I pick it up and say “Hey there!” and all I hear is snuffling sounds, and then “JANE! GIVE MOMMY THE PHONE!” /cracks up laughing. She gets on and says “Oh, who is this?” and I”m laughing almost too hard to say. We both crack up and chat for a mo and then hang up. Was quite nice, actually….
The best way to stay on top of things for kids to do while traveling is when you see something, get it. Actually, that works for birthdays and Christmas too. But for kids, we signed up for Dover’s Weekly Sampler, and we get 2 pages from a selection of books. I’ve found some great books in the past few months, and we’re able to print out the pages. So there’s enough to keep them occupied, but not all the same thing. I have a folder on the desktop that is where all this stuff goes, and it will all get printed out and put into an A5 binder a few days before travelling, with a box of pencils or crayons. Easy peasy.