Thursday, December 22, 2005

robot-y goodness

This robot
is looking forward to jumping into this stocking
so he can greet Fiona like this
on Christmas morning.

I had the dickens of a time finishing this robot (from Jess Hutch's fantastic knitted toys booklet) without Fiona noticing since of late she has been imitating a barnacle in her mommy-attachment.

And for those of you who are into noticing the background items in photographs, yes that is a photo of a monkey hugging a cat.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

More than the sum of its parts

Ok, I admit that this Pork and Hominy Stew is not an impressive looking dish. Also, it is so simple to make that you might be fooled into thinking that it would also taste basic too. But somehow it combines to become much more than the sum of its parts.

I've made this recipe for many people and while they don't look thrilled when it is first served, once they taste it they almost always want the recipe. And it is such a pleasure to spread the gospel of a dish that is so damn easy to make. If only all recipes delivered so much flavor for so little effort.

Pork and Hominy Stew with Chipotle
adapted from a Mark Bittman Minimalist column

4 Cups canned white or yellow hominy (one 28 oz can or two 14 oz cans)

1 lb boneless pork (shoulder, loin, country ribs, whatever is on sale that week), trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1 inch chunks

1 t dried oregano

1 chipotle in adobe sauce, cut into smallish pieces (I get a can of these and freeze the peppers individually in little ziplock bags. Then I grab one out of the freezer when I make this and chop it up.)

1 T ground cumin

1 large onion, peeled and chopped

1 T minced garlic

juice of 1 lime

1 and 1/2 t salt

ground pepper to taste
2 T chopped cilantro

any additional vegetables--canned diced tomatoes, red or yellow pepper strips, zucchini or yellow squash cubes (optional)

Toppings (any or all of the following):

more chopped cilantro

lime wedges
sour cream

avocado chunks

grated sharp cheddar cheese

1. Combine canned hominy with all its liquid, pork, oregano, chipotle, cumin, onion, garlic, lime, salt and pepper in a big pot or slow cooker. Turn heat to medium high. Bring to a boil then adjust heat so mixture simmers steadily. Cook covered until pork is tender, at least an hour, though you can let it simmer at low heat in a crock pot all day (perfect to throw together in about 15 minutes in the morning and then dinner is ready when you walk in the door).

2. About 15 minutes before serving, add additional of the optional vegetables.

3. Stir in chopped cilantro just before serving. Ladle into bowls and let diners customize their bowl with the assorted toppings (or go ahead and be a dictator and make them all have the avocado/sour cream combo--my personal favorite).

4. Stand back and let the praise for this humble looking and terrific tasting dish rain down on you. Hand out copies of the recipe.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Spaghetti Monster Tree Topper

Last night our home came under invasion.
This Spaghetti Monster flew into our kitchen, circled around a few times and then chose to land
on the top of our Christmas Tree.
There he stayed, waving his noodly appendages and
muttering in Spaghetti lingo about pirates and climate change.

He is not the first spaghetti monster to decide that the top of a Christmas Tree is a good place to put forth his message. But he may be the first of the knitted noodly brethren.

Construction Instructions:

FSM was made from a few miles (exaggeration) of 4-stitch knitted I-cord on size 8 dp needles and Lion Brand Wool-Ease cream yarn. The I-cord was tacked on a knitted stuffed sphere made of the same yarn. His meatballs are knitted stuffed spheres made with Lion Brand Suede yarn (it isn't easy to find meaty-colored yarn out there...). Two google eyes were attached to lightly wired eye-noodles and a few of the noodly appendages also were wired with jewelry wire so they could wave and wiggle effectively.