Tuesday, March 3, 2009

YARN - one pair of mittens - this time with fingers!

With a little persuading by Sarah - I finally made a pair of mittens with finger and thumb covers. On a rainy Sunday filled with Dim Sum and yarn shopping - Sarah picked out the yarn and I got to work. I love the coloring on these - they are made from just one skein of yarn but it was hand dyed - making for that great variation in color from mitten to mitten.

I used the same pattern from Martha Stewart that was noted in my original post for fingerless mittens http://housewifebyaccident.blogspot.com/2009/02/yarn-lots-o-mittens-none-with-fingers.html. Since this yarn was much thicker than the original pattern and Sarah has petite paws - I reduced the cast-on stitches from 39 to 30. With a stroke of luck I finished the mittens with just 6 inches of yarn to spare.

In our adventures Sarah and I stumbled upon the greatest little yarn shop called Urban Fauna Studio http://www.urbanfaunastudio.com/. The place is about the size of my bedroom but filled top to bottom with treasures - 2 inch tall knitted robots, felted centipede toys, ceramics that look knitted and the most beautiful yarns - most hand dyed, sustainable and/or organic.

There are no stuffy pretentious old ladies there - nobody to judge the quality of your cable knit. Instead it is owned and operated by a guy in (maybe) his early 30s who acts surprisingly like my brother who is a tattoo artist in Portland. Seriously - he was wearing a t-shirt with a hot dog dancing with a mustard bottle.

He was incredibly helpful and truly passionate about his store, art, yarn, knitting, spinning and the culture of just experimenting and playing with material. It was very refreshing - especially for me - I often just pick up yarn and let it tell me what I should make - I rarely go into a shop with some grand preconceived plan.

I have quite the stash of yarn now. Luckily it has been cold and rainy so I can justify sitting around happily knitting away.


FOOD - chicken caesar salad with homemade garlic croutons

Pop quiz - you have - 5 pounds of frozen chicken breasts, a loaf of stale sourdough bread and 6 heads of romaine lettuce (obviously I just cannot resist shopping at Costco)
- what do you make for dinner?? Chicken caesar salad with homemade garlic croutons - so easy - so delicious.

Since I used dressing from a bottle (cheating I know but it is good, really good - I promise) the only real prep was baking up some chicken and making croutons.

I looked up a bunch of crouton recipes and then sort of created a hybrid of my own using a little less butter, a lot more garlic and larger cuts of bread - no dainty uniformed-sized croutons in my salad.

Here is the general recipe I followed for the croutons -

1/2 loaf of french bread (I used a loaf - not a baguette - of sour batard), cut into 1-1.5" squares
5 tablespoons butter - either salted or unsalted
2-4 large cloves of garlic, minced

  1. preheat oven to 350 degrees (if you are me - remember to first remove all the baking pans you store in the oven, much easier to do before they get hot)
  2. in a large saute pan - brown butter, add minced garlic, cook for ~1 min until coated not yet browned.
  3. add bread to butter/garlic mix in pan, toss to coat.
  4. Spread coated bread onto baking sheet (on a silpat if you have it, otherwise use an uncoated baking sheet)
  5. bake for ~15 minutes until dry and crispy. Check them frequently after 5 mins of cooking to shake them around and prevent any burning.
  6. season with a little salt - less if you used salted butter.

A few notes -
Although the croutons look and smell amazing (seriously my apartment smelled like freshly baked garlic bread for hours) try to stop yourself from popping one in your mouth immediately after pulling them out of the oven. They made not feel super hot to the touch but I have the burn on my lip to prove that they are.

There will be a lot of loose garlic bits on the baking pan when you are done. I just tossed this into the salad with the croutons. It added a nice baked nutty garlic kick.

I did a simple baked chicken with lemon, pepper and a little salt since the dressing and the croutons are so flavorful there was no point in going all out with the chicken. I sliced it thin, restaurant style similar to what is shown in the photo above.

Many of the crouton recipes called for olive oil instead of butter. I had more butter on hand than olive oil and love the way that browned butter tastes. If you prefer olive oil - do a quick search on epicurious.com or marthastewart.com and you will find numerous recipes.

I made the croutons a day ahead - then my dear husband took the bag to the couch and proceeded to eat them like chips (crunchy butter soaked baked garlic chips). Luckily - I had no shortage of stale bread, butter or garlic around (thanks Costco!) so I made another - larger - batch the next day for dinner.

There is a Martha Stewart recipe that uses cookie cutters to shape all the croutons into hearts. How ummm sweet - I don't think I will be doing that anytime soon.