Saturday, December 31, 2011

Look what I made, 2011 edition

Various crafty peeps have been adding "what I made" roundups to their blogs. 

[Jumps onto bandwagon]

Ta da! Look what I made in 2011! In retrospect, Gabi was the recipient of the majority of my crafty efforts. Two and a half dresses, two sweaters, and a tote bag. I guess everyone needs a toddler to make things for! The only crafted items still in our house are the two cowls (a third, same as the one in the 2nd row on the right) has been gifted to a choir friend whose daughter has appropriated it as a baby-sling just like mommy's for her doll. Might give her the other one, two, so mommy can actually wear it as a cowl!

Any suggestions for a mosaic-creator would be appreciated - this was bodged into Pages, then exported as pdf, then screen-shot so I could upload the jpg to blogger. Workaround, much? Or, HEY blogger! Can we please upload pdfs to our blogs? Thanks!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Under the influence of Julia

Ahem. Pardon the epic rant in the last post. I was, apparently, feeling more homesick than I thought. And it came out as anger towards People Who Mean Well And Are Trying To Be Nice. Sorry, People.

"You are SO not under the influence of Julia right now." - Julie & Julia

I've made no secret. I LOVE that movie. And then Vivren made the famous Boeuf Bourguignon, and blogged about it. Which made me hungry.

I decided after reading Viv's post that I had to make my own B.B. And after her warning that it takes forever (and is better the next day), I straw-polled the fam and got approval to cook it for Christmas lunch.

As you can see, Christmas Eve was spent, chopping, browning, sauteeing, simmering, and otherwise cooking. The house (and the beef) smelled amazing.

Mmm...bacon. And, in a circular "I'm in the movie" moment, I had Julia's recipe printed out and held up by the wedding gift given to us by the actress who played Julia's idol in the movie.

[Space-time continuum collapses.]

Oh, you're all still there? Well, that's good. Since we have BACON!

And browned beef-y goodness!

And onions and carrots ("Oh, hi, Le Creuset from the John Lewis vouchers! Yes, we love you, too.")

And all mixed together, ready for the oven:

Julia's non-crowded butter-doused Mushrooms. These aren't mushrooms, they're MUSHROOMS. If you make nothing else from this page (but you should make the boeuf bourguignon), make these. 

Seriously. Can you resist? And yes, they tasted as good as they looked

Now the onions:

And all mixed together after three hours in the oven.

A few things.

1. This was not as intimidating hard as I thought it would be. (It's still intimidating.)
2. I've had this before - my grandma used to make it. I remembered as soon as I smelled it.
3. The "serves 6" actually gave us 4 servings on Christmas day, 3 supper leftovers on Boxing Day, and 3 lunches the following day (with pasta). The beef dried out slightly over the 4 days but the flavours just got better.
4. My excellent husband suggested that we watch Julie & Julia a few days before I made this. I was rockin' the J & J mojo when I made this (and had mini J & J sitting on my shoulders, yelling "Dry the beef!" "Don't crowd the mushrooms!").

LOVE. Go make it.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Latkes

I was feeling a bit homesick last week.

We interrupt this blog post for a Public Service Announcement.

If you know an expat and it's a big holiday that is traditionally associated with family or their home nation, don't ask them if they miss it. They miss it. And you asking them is not helpful. Yes, they left. Yes, they left on purpose. But no, they did not completely finish their life wherever they were before, and yes, they miss it.

Thank you. This post will now resume.

Right. So, homesick. And it was not-quite-Christmas. But Hannukah had started, as had the Facebook posts from my Jewish friends. And I really wanted some latkes.

There was a recipe posted last week in the New York Times for Apple-Potato Latkes, which we followed. I didn't bother with the cinnamon sour-cream - we ate them with creme fraiche and homemade applesauce (also known as 3 peeled apples, cooked while the latkes were being assembled).

John was an expert potato-, onion- and apple-grater.


The complete mixture, ready for frying:

WOOHOO! They look like latkes!

They were delicious - crispy, moist, slightly appley, and tasting resoundingly of New Yawk. Thanks, NYTimes!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Peace on the earth

I had never really listened to the words of "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear" until our carol concert last weekend, when for some reason they really resounded.

It came upon a midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold:
"Peace on the earth, goodwill to men,
From heaven's all-gracious King."
The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing.
Still through the cloven skies they come,
With peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heavenly music floats
O'er all the weary world;
Above its sad and lowly plains,
They bend on hovering wing,
And ever o'er its Babel sounds
The bless├Ęd angels sing.
Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel-strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love-song which they bring;
O hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the angels sing.
And ye, beneath life's crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing!
For lo!, the days are hastening on,
By prophet bards foretold,
When with the ever-circling years
Comes round the age of gold
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendours fling,
And the whole world give back the song
Which now the angels sing.

                         -Edmund Sears

Long Melford church, December 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

Rangers Heritage Jersey Quilt: Finished!

You may remember that my brother asked for a quilt, several months ago. He asked for one inspired by the New York Rangers Heritage Jersey, so with some help from Google Image Search and my Leuchtturm dots notebook (thanks, Liz!) I created the design. 

The red fabric is from Spoonflower, the rest are Etsuko Furuya Echino and Kokka prints that I bought at the Purl Bee in an epic crafty afternoon back in September. It's a good thing that I don't live on the same continent as that store...I wouldn't have any money left to eat or pay the mortgage.

You had a quick update when I was working on the applique (which I really enjoyed, by the way), following the letter applique tutorials on Oh, Fransson! and using a New York Rangers font that I downloaded and printed out.

Here it is, before quilting and binding, with the picture of the inspiration on my iPad in the middle:

Yes, the selvedge is showing. I wanted to make it as wide as possible, but I also didn't want to lose any length. There were NO scraps left!

I quilted it with my usual meandering quilting, in dark blue on the blue stripes and in cream on the white and red stripes. The binding is a red polka dot. The bottom right hand corner has our initials embroidered, along with the year.

The back has more cars fabric, along with the meandering bicycles that I bought in Cambridge last winter.

I'd classify the size as a twin extra-extra-extra-long. But then again, the recipient is 6'4" and I want him to be able to curl up under it and take a nap (or watch the Rangers WIN) and not have his feet get cold.

I love you, Little Brother. Enjoy the quilt!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Holland: Part 1

We certainly ate well in Holland. Our B&B and nearly all of our meals were guided either by the New York Times or by TripAdvisor, and it was definitely a success.

For our first lunch (after a somewhat choppy but otherwise uneventful Stena Line crossing - thank you, Tesco Clubcard vouchers!) we went back to the Blauwe Pan, where John had a Dutch stew (vast quantities of meat and sausages, on top of a carrot and spud mash), and I had a brie, walnut and honey sandwich. Not a combo I'd ever tried before but it definitely worked.

We explored the Jordaan for a while, and I loved this vintage shopping list. A wall-mounted shopping list (in Dutch) doesn't really fit with my schedule, unfortunately. Cute, though!

And then, beer. Lots of delicious Dutch beer.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Bach Choir Christmas!

[shameless plug for what will be an excellent concert]

This Saturday (17th December) at 4:30pm, the Bury Bach Choir will be performing our Christmas concert in Long Melford.

Included will be Britten's Ceremony of Carols (imho, the coolest Christmas piece ever), assorted Rutter-arranged carols, and a world premiere of a very excellent setting of the Coventry Carol.

AND your ticket includes a free mince pie and a glass of mulled wine.

[/shameless plug for what will be an excellent concert]

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Pardon the radio silence

We went on an adventure to Holland (mostly Amsterdam and Utrecht).

More pictures (and customary roundup) to follow.

But first: THIS IS THE BEST BIKE EVER. I think I might need to Dutch-ify my bike. Or at least put flowers on the handlebars.