Two years later

Well, it’s been a while. After repetitive stress injuries forced me to give up knitting one more time, I got busy with non-knitting stuff and before I knew it I had stopped blogging. The past two years have included a very low-key wedding, a six-months stay in Italy, a family saga straddling four countries and two continents, a bureaucratic odyssey, another couple of curveballs, and now, finally, I am knitting again.

The truth is, I can never stay away for too long. I may stop reading the blogs, looking at Ravelry, buying yarn, but sooner or later my hands feel better and I find myself opening my boxes of yarn, looking at color cards, and logging into Ravelry to check the new patterns and projects added during my absence.

I am not sure that I want to get back to blogging on a regular basis, but I wanted to say Hi and Thank you to those of you who got in touch when I was in hiding. It’s good to be knitting again.

What’s on my needles? A little scarf that I hope to finish in a couple of weeks. Until then, happy knitting to all of you out there holding needles.

Mosaic in the Mausoleo di Galla Placidia, Ravenna, Italy

Possibly my favorite mosaic in Ravenna, the starry sky in the Mausoleo di Galla Placidia

St. Patrick’s Day (all’italiana)

This St. Patrick’s Day we had a big celebration. The plan was simple enough: invite a few friends and neighbors for Irish Coffee. Along the way I managed to spend half a day shopping and two days cooking. Not a single Irish dish, but almost everything was green or had some green in it, other than the apple Sharlotka and the orange-almond cake.

Among the various savory and sweet dishes, the green hummus was a big hit. Best in show, though, went to the homemade salame.

salame incartato

The half that didn't get consumed on St. Patrick's Day

a peak at the salame

When I brought it to the table, someone asked if I really made my own salame.

Looks like the real thing, doesn’t it? And it even has some green it it, courtesy of the pistacchi.

salame al cioccolato

Only after cutting a few slices it became clear that it was a vegetarian salame. :)

By the way, I’ve been thinking about those Italian lessons, but haven’t had any time to get started. Mostly it’s that I want to figure out a plan of attack and I am not sure how to proceed. In the meantime I leave you with a few Italian words:
• salame al cioccolato = chocolate salami
• pistacchi = pistachios
• all’italiana = Italian style

In Italian we say salame, not salami, when we talk about one item. Salami in Italy means more than one salame. Several Italian words that have made it into English have been modified and often Americans use the singular where Italians use the plural and viceversa.
We say lasagne (plural) and Americans say lasagna (singular). Just so you know.

Happy Spring!

Piadina

Piadina romagnola

Piadina romagnola

Hey, thanks for the comments and emails. :)

While the knitting languishes in a dark corner, I am trying to figure out where to put my energies next, ’cause by the way my jeans don’t fit anymore it’s clear that I need to do at least something that does not involve food.

In January I tried 16 new recipes; in February 17. This can’t go on, though Ben is not complaining. YET. Maybe he will when his jeans stop fitting.

Piadina e coppa

Piadina e coppa

Someone suggested I revive an old idea that I explored briefly in my old food blog (tantarobina) — teaching a little bit of Italian. I remember that preparing those few posts took a lot of time and planning, but I did enjoy it. I am not sure if I would have an audience… are there really that many people trying to learn Italian? Most people I know are more interested in Spanish, but then this is California and that makes a lot of sense.

Piadina romagnola

Let's not count the calories, shall we?

I think my dough is ready to be rolled. Making my very first piadina today. We’ll see how that goes.
___

My piadina was not perfect, but definitely edible. In fact, we consumed most of it.

Buon appetito!

Knitting woes

It happened again: my hands and arms got worse and I had to stop knitting. After several weeks of physical therapy it’s clear that I won’t be able to resume knitting any time soon, and when I do it will have to be for very short intervals. I’ve been bummed, of course, and that’s part of why you haven’t seen any posts in two months.

To make up for the loss of knitting, I’ve been spending more time in the kitchen. Cooking and baking is not great for my hands but at least the movements involved are less repetitive than in knitting and it’s easier to be careful. These past two months I’ve been trying lots of new recipes and our dinners have been more experimentatal. Some things have come out well, others have been complete disasters.

No pictures of food because our kitchen is very dark and, between that and artificial light, my food photos are nothing to brag about. But I leave you with tonight’s main feature: Kelvin jumping on Ben’s shoulders at the end of dinner. This may turn out to be a good-bye post, and I know some of you are still fans of Kelvin. :)

Bohus WIP

Almost out the door for a quick trip up north to visit family. To keep me company during the long drive is my Wild Apple pullover in progress. The yoke is done, with some frogging and tinking along the way, and I started the short rows after much scouting of Ravelry’s forums for help with many questions.

Happy holidays to you all, wherever you are.

Wild Apple pullover yoke

Piper didn't seem impressed by the yoke. I don't think he can see all the colors.

About power

In the various conversations with neighbors and friends this past week the word electricity was never used. We all said “Is your power back?”, “We are still without power.” and so on. And truly we felt powerless after a windstorm with winds up to 100 mph fell trees and power lines causing major problems in the Glendale/Pasadena area. Our house was without power for three days and three nights, and I know that those of you on the east coast who went as long as a week a while back in much harsher weather conditions know something about it.

We were actually very lucky that our next-door neighbor, who is connected to a different grid and got his power back within eight hours, let us string a cable from his house to ours so we could hook up one thing at a time. Mostly we hooked up the computer so Ben could work and then a little space heater, but we still we had to throw out all the food in our fridge and freezer and it was cold (I know, I know… Southern California cold). All my pasteis de nata, all the croissants and baguettes, the shrimp… It was sad.

package from Sweden

My eagerly awaited package from Sweden

But in the middle of it all I received a special package form Sweden, my Christmas present to myself: a Wild Apple pullover kit. That’ll keep me busy for, uh, six months or so? There hasn’t been much knitting going on here in the past couple of months following yet another hand injury and distractions of various nature. Now I hope to get back to it. A Bohus kit is a thing of beauty and I find it especially appealing at Christmas time. A book, a fire, a kitty, and a Bohus project. What more can a girl want?

Wild Apple pullover kit

Wild Apple pullover kit

Knit for penguins

The little oil-soaked penguins of New Zealand need you.

penguin sweaters

I didn't want to steal images, so this is not as cute as the real blue penguins in their colorful sweaters. For those, follow the links in the text below.

Please, check out the Worldwide Campaign To Knit Sweaters for Penguins to prevent them from ingesting poison while they wait to be cleaned up.

These tiny sweaters are a quick knit. Instructions for the Penguin Jumper in 8ply are on Skeinz’s spring newsletter.

Now I have to find some wool of appropriate thickness. 8-ply doesn’t mean much to me, and unfortunately there is no mention of gauge so I’ll have to guess based on the needle size. It also seems to me that it would be easier to knit this in the round up to the wholes for the wings (are they called wings?). What do you think?

859 Fåglar

My latest book acquisitions arrived last night thanks to Ivar in Sweden. After several unsuccessful attempts at procuring these booklets online on my own, I was lucky to exchange goods with Ivar and getting my hands on these three little books by Britta Johanson:
— 7668 Stjärnor (7668 Stars)
— 893 Hjårtan och kronor (893 Hearts and Crowns)
— 859 Fåglar (859 Birds)

The birds are my favorite, especially the little goofy ones in the first few pages. There are more books in this collection of charted designs and I hope to get them in the future.

Inspired by Mozza

It seems that I always preface our dinners with some kind of disclaimer (I overcooked this, I undercooked that, there’s not enough salt, there’s too much salt, I burned the garlic, it’s not right…), and Ben’s usual response is “Can I enjoyed it anyway?”

Caprese

Mozzarella di bufala, pesto, slow roasted cherry tomatoes, crostone with homemade ricotta.

In this case ricotta is a misnomer and I am using the word only because that’s what everybody calls this kind of homemade cheese. Real ricotta is the byproduct of cheese making, where you use the whey left over from making mozzarella. This ricotta is made with milk, heavy whipping cream and — dare I say it? — lemon juice. If you can’t find good ricotta, this is a good alternative.

If I seem fussy about ricotta it’s because I know what the real thing tastes and feels like; the texture is different and so is the flavor. My favorite ricotta happens to be made with sheep milk, and that adds to the difference. Not that there were any leftovers, mind you.

Pesto and olive tapenade

Pesto and olive tapenade on the side.

So much pesto… I think we’ll have pasta al pesto tonight.

Caprese Mozza style

The photos are bad, but the food was good.

Pesto, tapenade, homemade ricotta and slow roasted tomatoes were all inspired by recipes from The Mozza Cookbook and for the most part I followed the recipes exactly (I replaced burrata with mozzarella di bufala and I was missing an ingredient in the olive tapenade). The styling leaves much to be desired. What can I say… by the time everything was ready to be assembled I was too hungry to bother with style.

A collar by any other name…

I refuse to call it cowl.
The word irks me, to the point that I’ve resisted knitting one until now, I suspect, because of the name. Don’t ask me why; I haven’t the faintest idea. I know a woman who breaks into hives if anyone says “moist”.

Do you have a word that makes you want to scream? Please tell me — I need to know that I am not insane.

Collar or cowl?

Collar or cowl?

This is a mindless knitting project so I don’t care that it goes slowly. And even for a unitasker like me, it does not preclude conversation.

stitch detail

A stitch I made up

I might even finish it this month.

the other side

The other side

Yeah, yeah… all of you fast knitters snickering in the background. I know it’s only the 3rd of the month.

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