Skip to content

Tiny party shoes

January 9, 2012
Baby shoes by melynda.huskey
Baby shoes, a photo by melynda.huskey on Flickr.

I love this pattern for so many reasons–the sheer adorableness of them, of course. The speed: I made these last night while watching Tuxedo Boy play through the Night to Remember quest on Skyrim, and still got to bed at a reasonable hour. They fit baby feet very nicely, too. You can see them in another colorway in the archives–August 5 2009.

Also, love Instagram. And love that Flickr’s figured out that I want to be able to blog my photos. Looks like blogging will be easy again.

Frosted Cranberries

January 1, 2012
  by melynda.huskey
, a photo by melynda.huskey on Flickr.

This is my new addiction, thanks to the Assistant Dean, who brought them to the office. They are irresistible, like juicy, slightly explosive sweet-tarts–but there’s no need to try resisting them, because they are nothing but good for you. And they are shockingly easy to make, although they do require some planning ahead. A quintessentially winter-time treat–the combination of sugar shell and bright fruit is beautiful inside and out.

So buy a bag of fresh cranberries and a box of superfine sugar (sometimes called Baker’s Secret or Baker’s Special sugar). When you get home, wash and pick over the cranberries while you dissolve a cup of plain old regular granulated sugar in a cup of water over low heat. Don’t boil it–just warm it till the sugar is all dissolved. Put the cranberries in a container with a lid (I used a mason jar) and pour the syrup over them. Let them sit for at least 12 hours, stirring once in a while if it occurs to you. Line a baking sheet with sides with parchment paper (or freezer paper or wax paper or whatever) and pour out a goodly amount of your superfine sugar. Drain the cranberries and drop them in the sugar. Gently toss them around with a fork till they are all covered with sugar. Leave them for another couple of hours, whereupon the sugar will have hardened into a thin crunchy carapace around the berries. Crunch them resolutely between your teeth, and enjoy an incredibly vitamin- and anti-oxidant-filled taste sensation

Sleepover! Also Leaf Garland!

January 17, 2011

Tuxedo Boy turned 11 last week, and we celebrated his double ones with a slumber party Saturday.  He had three friends over (the full extent of guests possible in tiny Ramshackle Hall) for a monster pizza, root beer, nearly unlimited Godzilla Unleashed on the Wii, and the Gir cake pictured above.  A fine time for everyone, I think, although I will confess I resorted to Extra-Strength Excedrin at about 11:30 p.m., when they held an impromptu flatulence contest.

Leaf Garland

And here is our fall garland, a perfect project for a sunny, windy day in fall. Here’s what you do: go for a walk around an old neighborhood with the kids, picking up a bagful of beautiful leaves. When you get home, drink some hot cider while sorting through the leaves, choosing the most beautiful ones with long stems. Melt some paraffin in a clean aluminium foil pie plate (we did this by roughly chopping the paraffin, dropping it in the pie tin, and putting the whole thing in a large skillet full of hot water. Just be careful not to get any water in the paraffin.)

dipping the leaves

Dip each leaf in the melted paraffin, being sure to cover it completely. Let them cool on a large sheet of butcher’s paper–the most versatile craft supply ever.

waxed leaves

Use baker’s twine–or any old string, really, but I like the juxtaposition of butcher, baker, and candle[stick]maker–to create a garland that suits you.

Leaf Garland

(Astute readers (if any readers are left!) will note that this was written on 8 November 2010.  Yes, I forgot about it.  Yes, I am a lazy blogger.  But the garland is still going strong!)

Carrot Bacon. That’s Right. Carrot Bacon.

August 13, 2010

No doubt you, because you are trendy like that, have already had kale chips (and very delicious they are, too!). But I bet you haven’t had carrot bacon.  Invented by a culinary genius named Kent Brewster, it couldn’t be easier to do.

Peel some beautiful big carrots.  Use your vegetable peeler to slice long planks off–or if you have a fancy mandoline and aren’t afraid to use it, go ahead.  You want pieces of carrot about the size and thickness of raw slices of bacon.

Maitre Brewster recommends a deep fryer, which is great if you have one.  I don’t, so I just used a skillet and some canola oil.  BE CAREFUL, no matter what method you use.

Fry your carrot slices  until they are quite brown and crispy.  Drain them on paper towels.  Sprinkle with kosher salt (or, if you really want the complete bacon experience, with some smoked salt), and then eat them all.  The kids will scoff, initially.  If you’re smart, you’ll let them.  I kept saying, “No, seriously, it’s really, really good.”  And then they tried it, and there wasn’t any left for me.


August 13, 2010

Isn’t that beautiful?  A classic Salade Nicoise (at least as I learned to make it).  Boiled potatoes, steamed green beans, boiled egg, tuna in olive oil, Nicoise olives (and some Greek olives for Tuxedo Boy), tomatoes, basil, and a mustardy vinagrette.  Quite possibly the best summer supper ever.

The produce is all from my latest discovery, Bountiful Baskets.  Despite the somewhat hokey name, it’s terrific.  I pay $15 on-line on Tuesday, and on Saturday morning I drive out to a ginormous machine shed just outside Pullman and pick up enough fruit and vegetables to fill a laundry basket.  As much as I’ve loved my csa, I have to admit that there’s not much there.   But in my basket of bounty?  Last week, I got 4 kiwis, 2 cantaloupes, a head of romaine, 3 broccoli, an eggplant, a pound of strawberries, 6 bananas, 7 peaches, 2 cucumbers, 3 mexican squash, 16 plums, and 2 pounds of green beans.

And then we have delicious vegetables all week long!

Why Didn’t Somebody Tell Me?

July 31, 2010

It’s hot.

I know I complain about this every summer, and it’s not like it’s a big surprise that in July it gets hot, but still, I feel put upon.  Because it’s hot.   Too hot to eat, too hot to sleep, too hot to knit.

It was almost too hot to read.  Until I discovered that our thoughtful and courteous neighbors to the North invented a whole class of genre fiction designed perfectly for my situation:

The Northwestern!

It’s the snowy, Mountie-y, majestic-firry, “a man comes here to  . . . forget”-y, sweet-brave-girl-y, (and so far, anyway, not painfully and obviously racist-y) version of horse-opera–and it’s perfectly divine.

I don’t know how I missed this:  I, who pride myself on my encyclopedia knowledge of crappy popular fiction.  I think it must be the notorious diffidence of the Canadian which has prevented these fabulous novels from obtruding on my notice.

They’re so snowy.  That’s what I like best about them.  People are forever falling into snow drifts or getting frostbitten or being swept into icy rivers . . . mmmmmm.  Icy rivers.  Also, and this is unexpected, they’re a little bit obsessed with hard work.  Mostly, but not exclusively, manly hard work.  My first Northwestern, The Greater Power (1909), could reasonably be described as tree felling/stump pulling/log fluming/rock blasting porn:

Men undoubtedly work for money in Western Canada, but one has only to listen to their conversation in saloon and shanty to recognize the clean pride in their manhood, and their faith in the destiny of the land to which they belong. They have also proved their faith by pitting their unshrinking courage and splendid physical strength against savage Nature, and, among their other achievements, that track blown out of the living rock, flung over roaring rivers, and driven through eternal snow, supplies a significant hint of what they can bear and do. They buried mangled men in roaring cañon and by giddy trestle, but the rails crept always on.

All that clean manhood freezing to death . . . it’s very cooling, somehow.

Let me make haste to point out that I’ve only just finished The Greater Power, and started Ranching for Sylvia (another Bindloss) and To Him That Hath (Ralph Connor), so far.  The genre may turn out on further inspection to be significantly less delightful than it seems up to this point.  But seriously, as long as they keep delivering strong men’s sinews cracking under terrible feats of blizzard lumberjack prowess while I languish on my sofa drinking sweet tea and fanning myself, I’ll be happy.

I’m sure this doesn’t reflect well on me.

Cheap is Good. Cold is Good.

July 25, 2010

What you see above is a truly great discovery:  the easiest, fastest, and most delicious homemade ice cream I have ever made.  I found it on Shelterrific, to whom all praise and honor is due.  You see it above swirled with the syrup left over from poaching plums, peaches, and nectarines for dessert.   (Save the syrup also for making completely frou-frou champagne cocktails, if you have the kind of friends who not only understand that occasionally you’re going to go femme-to-the- wall, but look forward to it.)

Before I do the ice cream explanation, though, check this out.  If you are spending a fortune (modest or Rockefellerian) on cold coffee drinks from any source whatsoever, you need to know this:  I’ve got you covered.

Do you know how to cold-brew coffee?  It’s insane, really.  You take a pitcher, and put about a third of a cup of ground coffee in it, and then fill it up with cold water, and leave it over night.  In the morning, strain it through a coffee filter into a clean pitcher.  Put it in the refrigerator.  It’s smooth and extra-extra-strong.

If you want hot coffee, put some of the extract in a mug and fill with boiling water.  If you want iced coffee, pour it over ice.  And if you want to have a very inexpensive and delicious imitation of the iced lattes in a glass bottle that cost $7 for 4,  you mix it with sweetened condensed milk to taste and pour it over ice.  And if you want to save even more dosh, throw it all in the blender and get yourself a frappacino at a fraction of the total retail price.

I know.  Awesome, huh?

And then add this ice cream.  Cheap and delicious.  Cheap, and delicious!

Greek Yogurt Ice Cream

2 cup whole milk Greek-style yogurt
2 cups  half and half
Juice of one lemon
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vodka (or limoncello, if you have it)

Whisk all the ingredients together gently and pour into your ice cream maker. Churn as directed by your ice cream maker’s instructions. When it’s done, cure it in a lidded container in the freezer for at least an hour.

Buckwheat. How Can It Be This Good?

July 5, 2010

Buckwheat.  Not buck-related in any way.  And not wheat.  It’s not even a cereal.  It’s more like a teeny-tiny sunflower seed.  And the “buck” is a corruption of Middle Dutch “boek,” (beech tree), because the kernels look like little beech nuts.  According to K.A.H.W. Leenders, the grain was first cultivated in the Lowlands in 1389, but can be found in Iron Age settlements, suggesting that it was harvested in the wild and mixed with other grains.  Seriously old-school.

Fun facts about buckwheat (as usual, for a given definition of “fun”).  It is gluten-free (but in noodle form, it’s usually mixed with wheat flour, so read your label carefully).  It was a major crop in the U.S. throughout the 18th and 19th century, as part of the pre-nitrogen fertilizer crop rotation.  Americans ate it primarily in the form of yeast pancakes, which were a breakfast staple well into first decades of the 20th century, but which have now completely disappeared.  Another U.S. foodway lost, alas.

Russians eat it a lot:  kasha porridge, kasha varnishkes (buckwheat and bow tie pasta), and in the stuffing of all kinds of pies and dumplings.

And in Northern Japan, it’s transformed into noodles, soba.  Where buckwheat is still eaten, it carries a lot of cultural baggage.  It’s soul food, peasant food–real food.  The mystique of soba is huge:  the best soba is homegrown, hand-milled, and made at once into noodles to be eaten on the spot.  I’m happy to report that even commercially-produced soba from a gigantic chain grocery is delicious, though, and makes the best hot-weather supper imaginable.  I like mine with sauted greens on the side, which is not authentic.  But a tangle of kale, chard, broccolini, beet greens, and mustard greens (from the ever-blessed csa), washed, roughly chopped, and quick-fried in olive oil, made an astringent and lovely accompaniment to a cold bowl of these.

Cold Sesame Noodles (adapted from Nigella Lawson’s indispensable Forever Summer, which is for my money her best book)

Toast 1/2 cup sesame seeds in a dry frying pan over medium heat till they are dark golden brown and glistening.  Pour them onto a plate to cool.  DON’T LET THEM BURN!

In a largish bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon rice vinegar (not the seasoned kind), 2 tablespoons tamari, 1 tablespoon honey, and 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil.

Cook an 8-ounce package of dried soba according to the package instructions, or snag a couple of vacuum-sealed packets of fresh soba from the refrigerator case of your grocery, and pass them quickly through a boiling water bath and then (in both cases) into a big bowl of ice water.  Drain thoroughly and dump them into the sauce.  Toss gently, cover, and refrigerate for as long as you can wait.  An hour is good, if you can manage it.  If not, put it in the refrigerator, wash, chop and saute your greens, and pull the noodles out as soon as the greens are limply crisp and toothsome.  Put greens and noodles into a bowl, cover with sesame seeds, and enjoy.  It’s especially tasty eaten outside.

If there’s any left over (good luck!), it makes a great bento item.

New Menu; New Serving Size

July 3, 2010

As I have mentioned in passing, my darling wife lives with a chronic and debilitating illness.  Luckily, it can be managed with a somewhat baroque regimen of medications (which are compounded of melted gemstones from other galaxies, judging from their price).

If you are a comic book reader, you will already know that no alien technology is an unmixed blessing.  In this case, the side effect is “metabolic syndrome X.”  No, seriously.  That’s what it’s called.  Look here.  See?  I wasn’t lying.  Left to its own devices,  MSX becomes coronary disease, hypertension, and diabetes.

And it turns out that what works best to control metabolic syndrome is .  .  . a Mediterranean diet, with extra walnuts. Which means more hummus, Greek salad, and whole wheat pita, and a lot less cake.

Bear with me as I shift gears.  Looks like the csa was a good investment.

Stupid Bundt Pan.

June 3, 2010

I have nothing else to say at this time.