Sunday, 18 March 2012

Knitted Butterfly Cup Cozy

Last year my sister bought my other sisters and I (she forgot to get one for herself) a cup cozy from some trade show.  I didn't think I would use it very often since I try to use my travel mug as much as I can and because I hardly use the cardboard cozies anyway.  Nonetheless, I threw it in my purse thinking I should bring it with me wherever as opposed to remembering to bring it out with me.  It worked.  I find that I use it a lot more than I anticipated and yes, it does make me feel better about not using a cardboard one.

Anyway, I've been trying to figure out what to do with all my leftover yarn from projects and I figure cup cozies are the way to go.  I've been meaning to try out different stitch patterns as well and I figure this would be a low commitment project if I didn't like it.  It was very simple since I've knitted in a round using double pointed needles.  It took me about 2-3 hours total (watching the tv while knitting probably prolonged it).  I really like the little 'butterflies" since it's not a common stitch.

Needle: size 5 double pointed needles
Gauge: 5.5 stockinette stitches an inch

CO 47 stitches (the butterfly pattern calls for multiples of 10 + 7)
Row 1 - 3: *k1tbl, p1 to the end. Remember to mark the end of a row with a stitch marker

Butterfly Pattern:
Row 4: k1, *k5, sl5 wyif; rep from *, end k6
Row 5: k
Row 6: Rep Row 4
Row 7: k
Row 8: Rep Row 4
Row 9: k8, *insert right needle over and under the bottom of the 3 slipped strands to the top, knit the next stitch on the left needle but before slipping the stitch off the left needle, bring the right needle back behind the 3 strands then slip the stitch off the left needle.  It's hard to explain in words so here is a GREAT YouTube video on how to do it:  Butterfly Stitch; k9 rep from *, end with 8k
Row 10: k1, *sl5 wyif, k5; rep from *, end sl5 wyif, k1
Row 11: k
Row 12: Rep Row 10
Row 13: k
Row 14: Rep Row 10
Row 15: k3, *form the butterfly as you did in Row 9,  p9; rep from *, end last rep p3

Repeat Rows 4-15 once so you have 4 butterfly rows

Row 16 - 18: *k1tbl, p1 repeat from * to the end

Bind off as you would normally but using Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off every 3 or 4 stitches.  This makes the top very elastic to accommodate the width of the cup. 

Note: Since the stitch pattern wasn't for knitting in a round, there's a section of the cozy that won't alternate (see the picture below).  I'm not too picky about it so it doesn't bother me but thought I'd give you the heads up. 

k - knit
p- purl
k1tbl - knit 1 through the back loop
sl5 wyif - slip 5 stitches with the yarn in front

Friday, 16 March 2012

Cabled Toque (aka beanie)

I love cables since they're easy but look very impressive and more complicated than it actually is.  I wanted to make a toque (otherwise known as a beanie or knitting hat, apparently it's a Canadian word) for my husband so I went over to* (where else?) to find a pattern.  I found this Cable Hat pattern and it is great to learn to knit in a round, decreasing and cabling.   Modifications I made to the pattern:
  • Used a size 8 16" circular needle (5mm) & double pointed needles for decreasing because I knit tightly
  • I made a folded rib by repeating rounds 1-3 until it measures a couple of inches
I think it turned out pretty well!

*Ravelry is a social network for knitters and crocheters.  You can basically find any knit or crochet pattern on this site and a number of them are free (I love FREE!). 

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Cooking - About this much, about that much

My mom is a great cook and I've never really fully appreciated until I was about to move to California.  Whenever I asked my mom for a recipe, she always gave me "rough" ingredient measurements of the  which being somewhat new to cooking didn't help me very much.  It was always "about this much soy sauce" or "about that much" as she poured the oyster sauce into the wok.

I find that somehow that approximation of sauces, spices and other seasonings has seeped into my mind.  When I cook my mother's recipes now, I hardly take out the measuring spoons/cups.  So far so good and I think it has encouraged me to taste the food as a cook.  (Yes, I used to hardly do that).

I made my mother's eggplant & ground meat stir fry the other day.  It's a quick and easy eggplant recipe, which I don't eat very often.

My Mother's Eggplant & Ground Meat Stir Fry

Ingredients (again below measurements are estimates):
  • 1lb ground meat -  I use ground turkey but my mom uses pork. My mom usually adds a teaspoon of fish sauce to the meat for some extra flavour but I didn't since I didn't have any.
  • 1 small - medium sized Japanese eggplant (the long skinny eggplant) but into 1-2 inch pieces about an inch thick
  • 1 small chopped onion
  • 1 small tomator
  • 2-3 tbsp of vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic - chopped
  • 4 tbsp of oyster sauce - more may be needed.  Taste it as you cook!
  • Sautee garlic and onions in vegetable oil until a bit translucent
  • Add the meat and oyster sauce
  • Once the meat is cooked remove everything from the pan and set aside.
  • Sautee the eggplant with vegetable oil.  If it's too dry add a bit of water. 
  • When the eggplant is half way cooked, add the tomatoes and a couple tablespoons of oyster sauce
  • Once the eggplant is cooked, add the meat and mix everything together. 
  • Serve with rice

Friday, 9 March 2012

Gathered Clutch - My First Attempt!

I found this online tutorial on how to make a gathered clutch via Pinterest (where else?).  It seemed easy enough but being me I knew it was going to be somewhat of a struggle.  I'm enrolled in a sewing class so this would be the best time to do it since the teacher is great at helping students out with their projects.

I got the fabric at FabMo which is a non-profit that collects designer fabric sample usually from furniture/upholstery stores and then sells them to the public.  They have selection events on a monthly basis where you can purchase fabric.  Since it's not-for-profit, you can pay however much you want for the bag though they do have suggested pricing.  The fabric is great for small projects like this since they're not very large.

The online tutorial is pretty self explanatory but the only thing that I would suggest to do is to also gather the top and bottom of the piece where you gather in the middle.  By doing this, it makes it much easier to line up the gathered piece to the other pieces.

I didn't bother with the card holders or the interfacing because I figured I'd start with baby steps and keep it simple.  Also, in regards to the interfacing, since I used upholstery fabric as lining.  It makes the clutch a tad bit more stiff than using regular fabric.

There are a ton of mistakes and poor sewing techniques on this clutch but since it's half black you can't see much of it from a distance (woot!).   I'm taking this clutch public this weekend by going to see the Peninsula Symphony play Beethoven's Emperor this weekend.  Let's hope it doesn't fall apart on me!

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Meal Planning *Update*

So I didn't do too well.  I didn't make the trip to the Chinese grocery store so all of my mother's recipes that I planned on making this week just isn't going to happen.  However, I did make the others.

Pasta with sausage & a simple salad - I cheated with Classico Tomato & Basil sauce and I 'unwrapped' sausage from its casing to make mini sausage meatball.  I think this is in a way to make me feel as though I'm really making dinner.  I threw in some green peppers, chopped onions and a bit of garlic because there  should be some vegetables in it.  It's okay, but I find that canned/jarred pasta sauce not as tasty as the ones in restaurants.  Probably because it's more processed and not fresh.  Oh well, I'll try to make my own sauce one day.

Today I went a bit ambitious and made:

  • Balsamic chicken - I actually used a different recipe since I didn't have rosemary and left out the parsley & sesame seeds since I didn't have them.  It's very simple and since I only ended up making 5 drumsticks I halved everything except the garlic (I love them).
    • Ingredients 
      • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
      • 1/4 cup honey
      • 1/4 sugar (I used white since I ran out of brown sugar)
      • 1//8 cup low sodium soy sauce
      • 3 minced garlic cloves 
      • 5 or 6 drumsticks
    • In a bag or container (I use a container since I think using a bag is wasteful) mix everything but the drumsticks together.  Once mixed, throw in the drumsticks and coat them well.  I usually just put on the lid and give the container a few shakes.  I marinate it in the fridge for 2 to 3 hours and give it a shake whenever I remember while its marinating. 
    • Preheat the oven at 450 degrees and then bake for 30 minutes.  I used to turn the chicken over half way through but I didn't do so this time and found the chicken was fine.  By not turning it also left some crispy skin (so good...and so bad)
    • This recipe turned out a lot better than I expected.  I feared it was going to have a vinegar taste to it since the smell was pretty strong but all that honey and sugar really took care of it.  I'd make it again. 
  • Lemony white bean & arugula salad - followed this Giada De Laurentiis' recipe but left out the capers.  The cannellini beans tend to all gather at the bottom of the bowl so you just have to remember to scoop them out when you serve it.  I didn't think I was going to like the dressing because I wasn't too fond of it when I tasted it by itself but with the beans & arugula it was great. I don't think I would have liked the capers in this salad.  It would have too much of a sharp salty taste.
  • Potato and bacon soup - I have a bag of potatoes and a package of turkey bacon in the freezer that have both been sitting there waiting to be eaten.  I found this on and since it had great ratings I tried it out.  Modifications (it seems like I can't follow a recipe very well): 
    • I used turkey bacon which isn't as fatty as regular bacon so there was hardly any bacon fat to saute the onions & garlic in.  I ended up adding olive oil to it.  
    • I didn't have half & half so I used the skim milk that I did have in the fridge and added a couple tablespoons of butter so compensate.
    • Instead of 3 tablespoons of flour I used four since I wanted it a bit thick.  I still didn't get the consistency I wanted but left it at 4 tablespoons.  
    • The soup was good but didn't have the bacon taste I was expecting since I used the turkey bacon.  It was still pretty good and probably healthier than the original version. 

No pictures of the chicken & salad because I was way too hungry once everything was ready to take pictures (left the soup for last since it needed to cool down).  Oh well!  The recipe links have pictures except for the salad if you're that interested.  I'll try to be better next time!

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

My Favourite Korean Dish

'Ja jian myun', 'ja jiang myun' or some other form of spelling is a Korean black bean noodle that I love.  It's the one dish that I almost always order if it's on the menu.  According to my Korean friends it's originally a Chinese dish that the Korean adapted and called their own so it's difficult to find it in restaurants in Korea. 
I wanted to try to make this at home so thanks to Google, I found this blog.  It's fantastic since it seems to have real authentic recipes and she also has video of her cooking various dishes so it's pretty much a no fail way of cooking up her recipes.  
A few changes that I made: 
  • Substituted the pork belly with ground turkey since it's healthier
  • Substituted turnips for carrots since I don't usually eat turnips and didn't want to have left over unused turnips
  • I garnished it with green onions instead of sliced cucumbers. 
There are a number of Korean supermarkets in the Bay Area so finding the black bean paste was really easy.  The dish was easy to make and delicious!

Here is a link to the recipe: Ja Jang Myun

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Meal Planning

In an effort to cook more and save money I have decided to try to cook more. While I have tried to cook more previously, I never took the time to plan out days in advance. It seems like it would have been logical to start awhile ago but oh well - starting it now! With my Pinterest boards filling up and my Google Doc with a list of my mom's recipes, I really don't have an excuse not to plan so here it goes. And yes, it only goes from Tuesday to Friday for this week and for the weekend, I'll try spontaneity, which I'm unfortunately not well known for - so here's to trying!

Monday - Yes, I'm starting off the week with a bit of cheating. I'm going to my husband's work to have dinner. Small steps!
Tuesday - My mom's tong ho soup and chicken & shiitake dish
Wednesday - Pasta with sausage & salad
Thursday - balsamic chicken, lemony white bean and arugula salad
Friday - My mom's steamed fish with soy sauce and eggplant stir fry

So while this is my plan, it's booked in my calendar (since I check it every day) and I'm also going to try to take photos to post.  I have found that when I  have tried this previously I get caught up in cooking (more like eating) that I forget to, so like I said - here's to trying!