Friday, October 31, 2008


Ghost pumpkin says, "Grrrrrr!"

I managed a slight variation on my normal pumpkin face. This is harder for me than you think - usually I expect it's going to look different, but they all end up looking like this. Mostly he's just less happy than the usual pumpkin. But it's a white one, and ghosts aren't exactly known for being happy.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Pumpkin Soup Experiment

I am conducting a rash culinary experiment. Partly because I am lazy, partly because I love my crock pot, and partly because I found no recipes that appealed to me or reflected the contents of my cupboard. I wanted a non-dairy soup that could be made in the aforementioned crock pot and would give me an opportunity to exercise my stick blender. (Note to self: perhaps checking to make sure the stick blender isn't in storage is something I should have done before starting this process.)

I should first mention that I am living in a cottage with no real kitchen. I have an electric skillet, an electric teakettle, a microwave, and a crock pot, and with these I make do. I will save my raptures about the teakettle for another time, as it will not be used for this project. Neither will the microwave.

I roasted the pumpkin the other night and failed to eat it, partly because I didn't start the process until I was very hungry and therefore ended up eating dinner before the squash was finished. Also a factor was the sad reality that the edges were close to burning before the lower sides felt quite as done as I wanted them. If I get to roasting the other half, I shall cut it into quarters and try that.

1/2 pumpkin, roasted
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 carrots, cut into large chunks
half a box of organic chicken broth
some amount of ground ginger, yet to be determined*
pepper & salt if needed, but I suspect the broth will cover my salting needs

Scoop out pumpkin flesh, or peel off skin, getting hands kind of squishy in the process, and put flesh into the crock pot. Sauté onion and carrots in olive oil until slightly brown around the edges. Dump into crock pot. Deglaze the skillet with the chicken stock (never let it be said I have learned nothing from dating E) and dump into crock pot. Put on the lid, and turn on high.

That's as far as I am for the moment - I suspect 4 hours will be about the right amount of time for the veggies to become blendable and the flavors to meld.


I ended up turning the heat down to low after about 3 hours, since I had stuff to do this afternoon which I'd forgotten about. Three hours after that, and I checked to find things well and truly ready to blend. Since the stick blender appears to be in storage, I used a regular blender. (Why the stickblender that I use is in storage while the crappy standard blender isn't, I can't really explain.) The good news is, this was a very small quantity of soup and fit in all at one go, and it was quick to blend up.

Then I added ginger and pepper - how much I can't say, as I seem to have misplaced my measuring spoons. And it turned out great! It was a bit bland before seasoning, so I overdid the pepper a bit. The ginger added a lot to the party and kicked bland to the curb.

Now, I am eating a tasty, seasonal, and pretty darn healthy dinner!

* I like the flavor of ginger and therefore people tend to give me ginger things as presents. I currently posses more powdered ginger than I am likely to use in the rest of my natural life.

Love More

Kevin made a lovely post last night about his heroes, starting off the Jim Henson, and the song "It's in Every One of Us".

There's a recording of that song on the Muppet Christmas Album, from one of the Muppet/John Denver Christmas specials. We have the record, which we bootlegged into a tape before letting go of the record player. I tear up Every Single Time I hear it. But it's a good thing.

I only see Kevin a couple times a year, less now that he's not working at AOL anymore, but I honestly think he isn't as far from honoring the ideals of his heroes as he thinks. Which is not to say he should stop striving to be better - we all should. That's how the world becomes a better place. It was a good reminder.

Also, if I had any stamps in the house, I'd be mailing off for a "Love More. Fear Less." bumper sticker RIGHT NOW. Must remedy that.

(This blog post blatantly ripped from the comment I left on Kevin's site.)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Ressurection of a UFO

October seems like a good time for the resurrection of the dead, that is to say, a UFO (UnFinished Object), right? I was packing up to head to San Francisco, thinking about how the weather has turned all autumnal in the last few days, and wondering what I should take to wear that was dressy but still warm. While hunting for my belt, I came across this unfinished scarf hanging in my closet.

I started this waaaaay back when I learned to knit (the second time, 5 years or so ago). I went to a fancy yarn store for the first time and was overwhelmed by the variety of yarns that were available... having only been to craft stores with Red Heart and Lion Brand, the variety and luxuriousness of the fibers overwhelmed me. I immediately conceived of a scarf made of a variety of different textures, all in the same color, and bought a handful of different yarns. I set to work, and created what you see there. The variety of textures are indeed striking - it manages to be soft and flashy at the same time. However. I had not yet learned the glory of swatching, and in my haste to get started, I simply threw some stiches on and went at it. It ended up a tiny thing, both skinny (the chenille had way less yardage than anything else) and short.

I've been unable to bring myself to do anything with this - the yarns are all cut, so pulling it out to start over wouldn't put me much ahead (though admittedly, my technique has improved quite a bit). Weaving in the ends - many, many ends - seemed to be admitting that it was finished, and unable to be improved.

Today, as I was looking at it, I realized what it really needed was tassels. I have long been anti-tassel, some think strangely so. But. In this case, it would flesh out the length of the scarf and make it wearable, at least for a short person like me. Digging through my stash, I found that most of the yarn that went into making this scarf was used up (in the case of the chenille) or had long since been appropriated to other projects. But I have a secret stash of spare ends, where I keep the leftover balls that are too small to make even wristwarmers with, but large enough to maybe be incorporated into some sort of stash busting project some day. Or... for an occasion like this. I dug through it looking for red.

Ah ha! I found one yarn from the original project (the burgundy ball pictured above) and two others that had different textures, which would blend in with the yarns from the original project. I would make tassels out of these yarns, and as I knotted them on, incorporate the dangling ends from the original project, thus not only saving myself the trouble of weaving them in, but blending the tassel yarn with the yarn from the original project. I apologize for the bad photo quality (laziness dictated the use of my webcam instead of a real camera), but you can somewhat see that the density of fiber hanging from the end makes the difference between "unfinished" and "I did this on purpose."

And here is the finished project. Now you can see both how short it was, and that the tassel solves that problem and makes it look more finished. If you saw it in person, you'd see how the varied texture of the original scarf made subbing in new yarns an acceptable solution, and that the dangling ends help bridge everything together.

I'm quite happy with the way this turned out. It didn't even cost me anything, other than the original sunk cost of the yarn, from 5 years ago. The other yarn I used was waste yarn from other projects. And now, I have a dressy yet warm scarf to wear this winter. I think it will be perfect for the holiday season.