Sunday, February 26, 2012

Baby quilts and a recipe

One of my friends from college just became a dad on Friday. Twins, even! And what do twin babies need? Quilts!

I used some of the seemingly endless Moda Verna jelly roll that I bought a few years ago (and have used in a few other quilts), and made improvised stacked-coins quilts with the same fabric in both quilts. I used off-white cotton from Halfpenny Home for the sashing, and a brown print with blue circles for the binding. I used a little bit of one of the blue strips for the corner of binding on one of the quilts, so that they'd be easy to tell apart (and because I ran out of the brown)!

The backing, which you can't see in any of these pictures, is blue polka dot flannel. Soft and warm for February babies!

I finished these just before leaving for NY, so I got to wash them and dry them in New Rochelle (we don't have a dryer at home), and deliver them in person.


While I was there, the then-almost-parents made a wintry salad that was so delicious that I asked for the recipe.

Barlow Salad (adapted from Food & Wine Magazine, March 2012)

1/2 head red cabbage, thinly sliced
1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
3 small oranges, peeled and sectioned
large handful cilantro leaves (that's coriander, for the Brits)
large handful tamari almonds, crushed [I'd never heard of these - apparently tamari is similar to soy sauce but stronger)
zest of 1 lime
zest of 2 lemons

juice of 1-2 limes
juice of 3-4 lemons
1/4 cup of good olive oil
salt & cracked pepper to taste

It was delicious, and wintry, and healthy. Make it!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Nom Wah!

Nom Wah Tea Parlor was reviewed in the NYT back in April, and then featured again in June. We had intended to visit when I was in NY in September, but ended up with a larger lunch group in Chinatown than we had anticipated, and didn't think we'd get in.

As part of the trip to NY for Grandma's memorial service, my mom and I had an epic day out in NYC. We went uptown to the Frick, window-shopped on the UES, then took the 6 downtown to Chinatown. We had a little bit of trouble finding Doyers St, but eventually managed it. They're right about the fact that it seems like a forgotten corner of the city - we knew where we were going and almost missed the street!

[I flew under the radar on this trip and really didn't see anyone other than family - if I didn't see you, don't be mad at me!]

When we sat down, we noticed that everyone else had big plates of greens on their tables, and appeared to be slurping them down with gusto. We ordered a pork bun (for me, mom doesn't like them), shrimp noodle rolls, scallion pancakes, dumplings, and Chinese greens with oyster sauce. SO delicious. Only problem is that they're kinda tricky to eat, especially with chopsticks. I think next time we'll ask for them to be cut in half in the kitchen. They were fresh, hot, glossy, crunchy, and really tasty.

Oh, and we were wondering about the table manners of the gentleman over mom's left shoulder in the picture above, with his napkin tucked into his shirt. Well, we didn't wonder long. It's for the greens. They're messy. We followed suit rather quickly.

Yumsters. I'm going to have to find myself a recipe for these, and possibly for scallion pancakes.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Podcasts I love

I'm a newly hatched podcast junkie.

I love:

This American Life. The "Continental Breakup" one from a few weeks ago was excellent, and should be required listening for all global citizens.

Front Row Weekly

All Things Considered

Nerdist, specifically the episode where he interviews David Tennant

Suggestions gladly taken!

Fair warning: I like geek-slanted podcasts that I can listen to while walking to and from the train. I'm not shy about laughing out loud while walking along by myself.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Review: Bill Bryson At Home

I've read and loved several of fellow expat Bill Bryson's books. 

I bought At Home sometime in December, and promptly put it on the shelf and forgot about it. I was in the mood for some nonfiction last weekend, so I picked it up and started reading. It's a little bit repetitive, but otherwise very well written (and exhaustively researched). It's one not to read if you're embarrassed about laughing out loud on the train; thankfully, I'm not!

It's one of those books that will give you random dinner party fodder for months. You'll never look at your pillow the same way again, either.

Photo of ginger beer from Frank's Bar in Norwich, quite close to where Bryson lives. Bill, next time you're in town, check it out! The food is delicious!

Friday, February 10, 2012


We had a snowstorm. The snow is still here (it's been freezing this week)!

What's a girl to do?

Visit the library.

And then make apple cake. (It's not showing on their website yet but it's from this month's BBC Good Food)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Knitting red things

This baby hat pattern for a Little Fair Isle hat was featured on the Purl Bee a few weeks ago. I had some leftover yarn from the mucklemitts, as well as quite a bit of pink from Ellie's dress. We went to Cambridge last Saturday, for brisket udon and a general Day Out, and the thought of 2 hours in the car with nothing to knit was a bit worrying! So I quickly printed out the pattern and cast on.

Once I started on the chart, I was getting irritated with alternating the colours, so I watched a few "continental knitting" tutorials (keeping the yarn in your left hand instead of your right), had a good long think about it, and off I went. The tension was fine and I was EXTREMELY pleased with myself.

As you can see, Katie Bear loves her new hat. Ok, it's not hers, but she had the closest head-size.

It's now blocking on the upstairs windowsill in James' bathroom.

I also finished the other mucklemitt - LOVE these. I had two work buddies ask me to make them a pair. That means I'll have to go to the yarn store for more yarn. Poor me! I may even hold off until New York and go to Purl Soho - I could knit them in the car (3 hours each way) on the way to Grandma's memorial service.

We went to the inlaws' for a cuppa last Sunday afternoon, and had scones with homemade blackcurrant-orange jam. My jam skills are poor, and they're not going to improve while the MIL keeps making such amazing jam!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Memories of my grandmother

My last remaining grandparent (my paternal grandmother) passed away after a very long illness last week. It was time - she was well into her nineties and had not been well for a long time.

Some miscellaneous memories:

-Open-faced grilled cheese with bacon and tomato at her country club (with fries and gallons of ketchup). My mom always had a salad, while Edward, Grandma and I went for the grilled cheese. Crispy bacon, cool tomatoes, and melted cheese on lightly toasted bread. And then the ketchup came in little metal pots. Oh YUM.

-Croquet in her back yard with my brother, being constantly reminded not to fall in the septic tank. I always thought it was a little odd that she kept reminding us about it. In hindsight, probably a good thing that your grandchildren avoided falling into the septic tank!

-She always had a wiffle-golf ball on the antenna of her car, to make it easy to spot in parking lots! (Years ahead of those upstarts with their mickey-mouse ears on the antennae.)

-The prism that always hung in her living room, casting a rainbow on the wall (it's now in our living room, doing the same thing).

-Going to the beach with her and "surfing" (standing on our boogie boards, mostly). And then rainbow sherbet from the snack bar.

-Our very reliable Staying At Grandma's House supper: ground beef, canned new potatoes (which I still love), and canned corn. Ok, so the cooking skipped a generation, but my brother and I thought it was excellent.

Here's an old picture my dad found, of me, Grandma, and Mom, on Sea Lark. 

And here's another one of her (same jacket, same boat, different year!) with my grandfather, who died when I was 9.

Be at peace, Grandma.