Friday, April 03, 2009

Bitter cravings

It is a gray and rainy day but I have this in my belly:

Bitter Breakfast of Champions. Or Breakfast of Bitter Champions?

I've been craving bitter flavors lately--I've made an eaten 4 batches of slow cooked greens this week (collards, turnip greens, kale and even some escarole). Big batches. And Brian has only consumed one serving. I've wanted hoppy beer and strong black coffee. So for breakfast today I made some cheese grits, topped them with a large mound of re-heated leftover greens and made a cup of black coffee (I'm holding off on the beer. For now.)

God it was good. And eating a bowl of bitterness has put me in a good mood so I am actually sweeter (temperament wise) than usual.

I'm not sure if this is some nutritional cry from my body or just a phase I'm going through but the good thing is that bitter flavor cravings are pretty cheap to satisfy. Vast quantities of collard, mustard and turnip greens can be had for very little money. Kale is only slightly more expensive. And escarole's price depends on where you shop--if it is thought of as an exotic produce item for yuppies in a market where the cashiers know what it is, then it is likely to be a little pricey. But if it is unlabeled, crammed into a far corner of the grocery store, and it stumps the cashiers, then it is usually pretty cheap.

Here's my master recipe for greens:

  • either 1 T of olive oil or 1/2 slice of bacon, diced into small pieces
  • one big fat garlic clove, cut into slices
  • a shake of red hot pepper flakes
  • a sprinkle of salt and grind of pepper
  • two (or more!) big bunches of greens, stemmed and cleaned (no need to dry them) and cut into reasonable sized pieces
  • hot pepper sauce
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon

Get all of the above prepped and then in a big pot heat your oil or fry up your 1/2 slice of bacon. Toss in the garlic, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes and let sizzle for a little bit. Dump in your vast quantity of greens and give them a good stir. You might want to add a little water to the pot (depending on how wet your greens were). Slam on the lid and turn down the heat. If you are using relatively quick cooking greens like kale or escarole then you can come back in about 10 minutes and the greens will be ready for the lemon juice and/or hot pepper sauce. If you are using slower cooking greens (collards in particular) be patient. Go back and add a little more water. Set them on super low heat and let them soften up. Ignore them for an hour (just make sure the pot doesn't dry out because burning collards smell nasty). Then go back and add lemon juice, hot pepper sauce and additional salt and pepper to your taste.

The best thing about using collards is that the leftovers look about the same as freshly made (in other words, kinda ugly) so you can make a jumbo batch. Kale usually looks pretty when it is freshly made and then gets a little disturbing looking after exposure to lemon juice (yellowy-browny edges). It still tastes just fine but leaves a little to be desired in the aesthetics department. Then again, greens are not exactly a pretty-party food so who the hell cares.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Glutton for punishment

Despite its recent major feeding, I think my seam ripper might be getting a little peckish again. That's the only way I can justify my urge to sew again.

Did I mention that one time I actually gave myself a migraine from stress after a day of attempted sewing? It turns out that hunching over a torture machine with extreme tension in your neck for hours on end can trigger a migraine!

And yet, I want to try again.

Blame IKEA. They have a whole bunch of cool new fabrics and I really like one of the super cheap ones:
It has birds and leaves and is only $2.99/yard so when I screw it up, at least my wallet won't hurt (just my pride).

There's another more expensive fabric ($7.99/yard) that I also really like:
The good news is that the cheap one is presently out of stock at my local IKEA and I don't have the confidence to start with the more expensive one, so for now, the girl critter will have a little break from the swearing and ranting.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Writing mitts

I actually finished something! OK, it is something small. I made a pair of fingerless mitts for writing. My office gets a little nippy in the winter and my hands get cold easily so I'm hoping that these will help me keep my butt in my writing chair.

I picked a colorway I thought would cheer me up when it is gloomy outside and psych me into thinking that excellent writing would naturally flow from such cheerfully clad hands. They took less than once skein of Claudia Hand Painted Yarns fingering weight merino in colorway Summer Rose

I adapted the pattern from this one by Weaverknits, just made them a little shorter in the wrist and added some 2 x 2 rib around the edges so they don't roll. I like this pattern a lot more than the one other pair of gloves I have knit mostly because of the thumb shaping. It's a nice contour and keeps my thumbs from getting claustrophobic. And now I'm tempted to try the Neiman sweater pattern that Weaverknits had in the Fall 2007 Knitty.
A contoured thumb is a happy thumb.

It may officially be Spring now, but the weather decided that it would welcome my gloves to the neighborhood by snowing this yeah, those of you who had wet flakes slapping you in the face this afternoon can blame me. Just be thankful that I still haven't finished the Urban Aran cardigan (still frozen with terror at the zipper insert moment) which would have probably called forth a blizzard.