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Sunday, February 28, 2021

Craft On: Better Late than Never

Elementary, my dear

This has been an exausting week. I feel like I have been busy all the time, but at the same time have not been accomplishing much. So, needless to say, this post is coming rather late.

My Stitch-Along project is back on track, I started it last weekend, only to find that the crochet hook I had was making my stitches a bit too tight, but I didn't have the right size, so I had to wait for an order of hooks. I undid the work I had done before, and restarted it, and now I am doing pretty well. Crochet is slower for me, and this slip stitch pattern grows a little more slowly, anyway, so I am really hoping I can have a finished object before the SAL ends. However, it is beautiful, and I am enjoying making it. This is yarn I bought in Tokyo, and it comes from Denmark. It seemed like a perfect choice for our Around the World SAL event. Please consider joining in the stitching and fun on either our Ravelry Group or Instagram feed. The Around the World Stitch-Along will go through March 28, 2021.

In other news, I have been working on Alexander's convertible mittens and also Basbousa, and also, because I am so distracted right now, a stripy sock. I was hoping to have Alexander's mittens finished, or at least the knitting finished tonight, but I am pretty sure that will not happen. They are close, though. I need to cover the button with yarn so it won't be something that could scratch any aircraft he might be working on, too. Do you have any recommendations for doing that

We should be finishing Jo's Boys this week. I'm still mostly having sleepless nights, or interupted sleep, so my goal to finish Desert Queen has not been realized, but I am hoping to get enough rest to read and enjoy it this week. Even though we are a week and a half in, I haven't picked up a Lenten book, though I have been reading the short stories to the kids about the season and about the crucifixion and resurrection and the saints from our Lenten book bin.

Linking to Unraveled Wednesday.

If you would like to receive updates and early notice of new patterns, beta knitting opportunities, and great discounts (plus pictures of new yarns, new tools, fun places, neat hints, book ideas, recipes and more) each month, please subscribe to 1,001 Knits. My best, and sometimes my only, discounts go to my subscribers.

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Menu Plan: Second Sunday in Lent

Be steadfast, brothers, and do the little things.

So, I like to buy good coffee. I get heiromonk roasted coffee from either Father Michael's or the Vashon Monks. It is a little more expensive than coffee is at the store, but it is so much better, and a fresher roast, and we get to support a Christian monastery when we do it. Now that most of the kids drink coffee, it is rarer that I have a lot leftover, but usually there is a little. In order to steward our money and food better, I heat it up the next day and drink it with milk or cream. Normally, I prefer my coffee strong and black, but in the interest of being wise with the expenses we make, I do this, because I don't want to throw it out and because I don't care for the overcooked taste when it is reheated. Now that we are dairy free for Lent, it means that there is a lot more coffee left. So, I have gone back to making coffee cubes to freeze. We pour the dead coffee into the ice cube trays, freeze them, and then pop the cubes into a freezer bag. When we are in Bright Week, I am going to have so much coffee iced chocolate milk.

We found a great deal on shrimp the last time I went grocery shopping, and so we had it this past week, and also are having it a couple times this week. It feels decadent to eat it right now. Everyone had come to a point where we really needed something like that as a boost. The fish tonight will be awesome, too. It is only five more weeks before we can break the fast, and honestly besides the spiritual benefit, I think it really makes us appreciate things like dairy products, eggs, and meat. It is easy to become so used to these things that we forget how wonderful they are and to be grateful for them. Fasting, even this abstinent diet, teaches us how much we need God, and for that reason alone, it would be worth it. That He offers it to us as a tool to grow us and to join our lives to His and to appreciate His creation is just a bonus.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday. Linking to Menu Plan Monday

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Saturday, February 27, 2021

Recipe Round Up: Muhamarrah



This is such a delicious dip. It is hearty enough to make up a good part of a meal, and you can use it as a sauce for pasta or rice with kofta, too. On top of all of this, it is really simple to make with a food processor. Since Jerome is on his grain free, sugar free diet, we had to modify this a bit more recently, so I can tell you with confidence that you can omit the bread crumbs and increase the walnuts to make up for it, and it is quite fine that way. You may also leave out the pomegranate molasses and increase the lemon juice, but we did so reluctantly, as it really is much better with it in there. However, the walnuts are really essential to this recipe, so if you cannot have them, you may want to try something else. Pine nuts are not traditional in this, but would probably make an admirable substitute, and if you can have them, you could swap that for the walnuts.

6 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled and seeded (or 2 12-ounce jars of drained, roasted red peppers - save the liquid for soups or cooking rice)
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 1/4 cup walnuts
3/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1 bunch of parsley, ends trimmed
6 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to serve
3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses (you can omit this, and increase the lemon juice by an equal amount, but it really adds something to it)
juice of 2 lemons, strained
2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander

In the bowl of a food processor, place the roasted red peppers, garlic, walnuts, bread crumbs, and parsley (including the stems), and pulse until a coarse mixture is made, stopping to scrape down the sides occasionally. When the pieces are uniformly small, add the olive oil, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, Aleppo pepper flakes, salt, cumin, and coriander, and pulse several more times, until a relatively smooth mixture is formed.

Pour out into a large, shallow dish, and use a spoon to make furrows in it. Drizzle with more olive oil. You may wish to garnish with a walnut half, or a few sprigs of parsley. Serve with bread.


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Sunday, February 21, 2021

Menu Plan: First Sunday in Lent

There are many beautiful icons of the Temptation of Jesus, but this painting by Duccio captures the essense of our Lenten journey with Christ in the desert. After being driven to the desert to fast for 40 days and be tested (not as a trick or pop quiz, but to model for us and to teach the way we make our spiritual battle), He commands Satan away, with the angels waiting to attend Him.

Jerome is doing so well keeping to his diet as well as our Lenten fast. It is really hard on him, especially the bread part. He missed that. I found a chickpea flour bread that was both safe for his diet and Lenten, so I am going to try to make it this week. We are doing pretty well either having an easy alternative for him in our meals or making meals that he can join us in as a family. There were these tiger nut "tortilla" chips at the Grocery Outlet, and they are safe for his diet, and taste good, and were really inexpensive. They taste almost like a cross between corn and flour, so they are rather versatile, too. We crushed them up as the breadcrumbs for the topping on his "macaroni" and cheese, and he has used them instead of tortillas when we have burritos and uses the filling we do as a topping.

We are still eating dairy and eggs and some fish on Sundays, and it was amazing how good scrambled eggs tasted after only four days of not eating any. It makes you appreciate such simple goodness. Most of our menus are Lenten for both East and West. This year of such a long separation between our observance has us praying more fervently for unity. That is a Lent the Church must endure, but it will bring a glorious Resurrection.

This week is also the feast of one of my favorite saints, Saint Polycarp, who was taught directly by Saint John the Evangelist. So much of what we know about the Apostles' teaching comes from him and men like him. Take some time to read his martyrdom, and his life. His faith is a model for ours. The early church used his bones as a lesson to catechumens that in choosing Christ, they were choosing martyrdom. It is a good thing to remember during Lent.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday. Linking to Menu Plan Monday

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Saturday, February 20, 2021

Recipe Round Up: Kusheri, Fastnacht Kreppel


This recipe has a lot of steps, but if you set out all your ingredients and have them ready, it is not hard to do. I tried to streamline the method so you only use two pots, a saucepan, and have only one extra bowl. It is completely worth every effort, though, and will feed loads of people. Everyone ate it all before I could get a photo. Next time I make it, I will try to catch it first! This is a traditional Egyptian dish, and honestly, though I had heard of it, we always ate mejeddarrah in my house rather than kusheri. However, a friend from church who lived in the Middle East for a while remembered this fondly and asked me about it, so I started looking into recipes, and this is what I put together for us. This may not be a true, authentic, recipe. It is what I came up with after reading many recipes from multiple Egyptians. It is delicious, though, and a good recipe for Lent or other abstinent times. You can use olive oil or safflower oil, and it will be fine either way. If you want to cut down on your hands on work just before dinner, I would prepare the cumin sauce and chickpeas ahead of time and have them in your fridge. Or you can pre-cook a whole lot of them, and freeze them in smaller bags, and pull one of those out of your freezer. Canned chickpeas will work, but I find their texture to be mealy. This meal will feed 10 - 12 people easily, and it is delicious the next day, either cold or re-heated.

For the Chickpeas: (This can be done up to three days ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator, or cooked ahead of time and frozen, to be thawed in time to heat and serve with the meal).
1 cup dry chickpeas, soaked four hours to overnight
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
or you can use a can of chickpeas (but really please cook them from dry, they are so much better)

For the Lentils:
2 cups lentils (green or brown)
water to cover lentils
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion chopped
1 16-ounce can tomato sauce or purée
1 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste

For the fried onion:
3 large onions, peeled and sliced
oil for frying

3 cups of short grain rice (I use Egyptian rice)
1 16-ounce package dry pasta, preferably Ditalini or elbow macaroni
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

For the tomato sauce:
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 16-ounce cans tomato sauce or purée
salt to taste

For the Cumin Sauce (Kamouniyeh): (This also can easily be made ahead, up to a week, and kept in the refrigerator, then warmed gently on the stove).
6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup white vinegar
salt, to taste

Cook chickpeas:
Drain soaked chickpeas and place in a pot, add salt and baking soda, and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and continue cooking 60-90 minutes until the desired tenderness is reached. Make sure to check on water level and add water whenever necessary. Conversely, place drained chickpeas, baking soda and salt, and water to cover in a pressure cooker and cook at high pressure for 5 minutes, then release the pressure (this is usually how I do it). If you cook the chickpeas in a pot, you can use that same pot to cook the pasta.

Prepare lentils:
Wash lentils thoroughly in a colander under cold, running water. Place lentils in a large pot covered with cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for 20 minutes until just about al dente, checking water level occasionally and adding water if necessary. Drain, but do not rinse, and set aside while in the same pot heat oil and sauté onion until fragrant. Add lentils back to the pot along with the tomato sauce and seasonings. Continue cooking about 5 minutes, until al dente, and remove to a bowl while you prepare the other ingredients. Reserve pot for frying onions, and then cooking the rice. You don't even need to wash it.

Fry onions:
In the same pot, add oil to cover the bottom by 1 inch. Add onion slices and cook on medium-high stirring every now and then making sure not to burn the onions. Remove onions to a plate to dry and get crisper. Set aside and return to the other ingredients, leaving the oil in the pan.

Rice and pasta:
Rinse the rice, drain, and place in the pot in which the lentils and onions were cooked. Cover with about a knuckle's length of water, season with about 2 teaspoons of salt, and bring to a rolling boil. When it comes to a boil, return the lentils to the pot, spooning them on top of the rice, and cover with a lid, reduce the heat to low and cook for about 15 minutes, undisturbed. Remove from heat. While the rice is cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to boil (you use the same pot you used for the chickpeas) and cook the pasta according to the package directions for al dente pasta. Drain and toss immediately with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Set aside. While both of these are cooking, you can prepare the tomato and cumin sauces.

Make tomato sauce:
In a medium sauce pan, sauté garlic in oil until fragrant, about a minute. Add vinegar, tomato sauce, and salt and stir to combine. Pour into a heated bowl and set aside in a warm place. Rinse out the pan and use to make the Kamouniyeh.

Make cumin sauce (Kamouniyeh):
In a small sauce pan, sauté garlic and cumin together until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add vinegar, water, stir to combine well, and taste to adjust salt.

To assemble:
Stir rice and lentils a bit, and turn them out onto a large, shallow platter, leaving a small circumference around it for the chickpeas. Spoon the chickpeas around the rice and lentils on the dish. Drizzle the cumin sauce over the top of the rice and lentils. Cover with the cooked pasta. Then spoon the tomato sauce over that. Finally, top with the crisp onions.

German Fastnacht Kreppel

These German doughnuts are traditional to the eve of Ash Wednesday. Our non-traditional modification is to use a pomegranate-raspberry preserve as the filling. I use my stand mixer to save time and work.

6 cups bread flour
1/2 cup sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1/8 teaspoon salt
zest of one large lemon
14 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
3 extra large eggs
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons milk, warmed slightly (I microwave it a minute or so)

raspberry jam (to fill)
powdered sugar (to dust)
light, neutral oil (to fry, I use safflower oil)

In the bowl of the stand mixer, mix the flour, sugar, yeast, salt, and lemon zest to combine. Pour in the butter, eggs and milk. You do not want either the butter or milk to be hot, simply warm.

Mix the dough with the flat beater until it comes cleanly of the sides of the bowl and you can see bubbles start to form in the dough. Cover with a lid or a clean kitchen towel and let rise for about 2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.

On a lightly floured surface, turn out the dough and roll to about 1/2" (1.5 cm) thickness. Use a glass or biscuit cutter to cut circles for filled doughnuts. Cut the remaining pieces into triangles for unfilled doughnuts with a sharp knife or pastry wheel cutter, or pizza slicer (these can be dusted with powdered sugar or glazed, as you wish).

Place doughnuts on a large baking sheet and cover with a kitchen towel to rise for another hour or more, until they are doubled in size again. Please make sure you let them rise enough, as this will make them cook more evenly and won't over brown in order to get the middle cooked.

Prepare your workspace so the dough is on the left, the pot with the oil in it for frying is in the center, and a pan with racks over it is on the right.

When the doughnuts are almost all the way risen, heat oil in a wide and deep pan until it is hot enough to fry. (Test by putting a piece of bread in and if it immediately sizzles, begin frying). Slowly place the doughnuts in the oil and fry on both sides over medium heat until they are golden brown. Use a slotted spoon or spider strainer to remove from the pan and place on the cooling rack.

Filling: Empty your preserve of choice into a small bowl and whisk it until it is smooth. Place in a decorating bag or a ziplock bag with the corner snipped on one end. Fill doughnuts using a pastry tip.

When they are filled, roll in a bowl of powdered sugar. You may do the same with the triangle pieces, or glaze them. This year, we used a bourbon-maple glaze on ours.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Craft On: Lent and Little Kisses

Basbousa and Jonah

I promised a progress photo of Basbousa, and here it is. The slip stitch pattern is finally what I wanted, and works out mathematically for all the sizes. It's hard to see in this picture, but the slip stitch makes a little red heart every three stitches on those rows. Also, the yarn I chose will have plenty to make all three mittens, including the two cuffed one for holding hands and in fact, is even be enough to make a second set of the single mittens, in case you want a separate pair for when you are not holding hands.

The kids and I are pretty close to the end of Jo's Boys, which I have been informed is a more fun read than the Little House Books are. Nejat grabbed the book in the picture, Into the Sea, Out of the Tomb: Jonah and Jesus, from our Lenten book bin for us to read together. I really cannot endorse this book enough. It is theology made simple, but not simplistic or condescending or dumbed down just because it is aimed at children. Adults can learn from this book, but it is not a text book. Rather, it is a beautiful book with a story that is so profound and lovely that one cannot help being moved by it. The illustrations are engaging and lovely, well executed, and interesting enough that younger or struggling readers can find the story in them, as well. It turns out that this author has two other books in this same vein of connecting the Old Testament with the New. The first is The End of the Fiery Sword: Adam & Eve and Jesus & Mary, which I think I will pick up for our Advent book bin, and Building the Way to Heaven: The Tower of Babel and Pentecost, which I am ordering to have for Pentecost for the kids (and us).

Tomorrow is the last day of the sale for the SAL, but there is more than a sale, and I hope you are able to join us in the stitching and fun on either our Ravelry Group or Instagram feed. The Around the World Stitch Along will go through March 28, 2021.

Linking to Unraveled Wednesday.

If you would like to receive updates and early notice of new patterns, beta knitting opportunities, and great discounts (plus pictures of new yarns, new tools, fun places, neat hints, book ideas, recipes and more) each month, please subscribe to 1,001 Knits. My best, and sometimes my only, discounts go to my subscribers.

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Sunday, February 14, 2021

Menu Plan: Quinquagesima, Mardi Gras, and Ash Wednesday

Snow day

With the snow and road conditions, it is looking like we will be missing church. It was supposed to stop snowing three hours ago, and it is still going strong. Our roads are some of the last plowed, and church is on a hilly stretch of road from here, as well as down hill from town.

What a week we have! This is the fiftieth day before the Paschal feast for us in the West, that's what that big name up there means. The past two weeks were also part of our pre-Lenten season, so we actually overlapped our Christmas and Lenten observance this year. That they exist points to the validity of the Eastern practice of meatfare and cheesefare, the counting down to Lent, and preparatory season of giving up parts of our diet, little by little, rather than all at once. It also teaches those of us in the West that the practice of giving up not only meat, but fish, dairy, eggs, wine, and oil, are part of the earlier practice of the Church. Even the shrivening of milk, butter, oil and eggs in pancakes or doughnuts that are a common meal for Shrove Tuesday (Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras) indicates that practice to us.

Our family still has people in it who are not required to keep the whole fast, and so we make allowances and don't keep the strictest fast. If we are with those who do not know better and are serving us food, we try to keep the fast as best we can, but we don't make a point of telling them off and refusing to eat if there is nothing we can lawfully consume. On the other hand, we try not to go out or eat out or attend parties during this time, so we aren't in that position in the first place. We struggle within our strength and try to keep our eyes on our own plate (and that of our young children). I have found myself more and more irritated and agitated on social media, so though I will still be posting here and Instagram, I think I will take a break from Facebook for a little while.

My posts here about how we fast are not meant to be holier than thou or preachy, they are to show the reality of how we live out our faith, and to (I hope) give encouragement and meal ideas to those seeking them. There will be some meals that include dairy or eggs during Lent, and we relax the restrictions quite a bit on Sundays, though I try to keep it from being too reckless. However, we will eat meat on many Sundays in Lent, usually excluding it entirely, and keeping the strictest fast, from Palm Sunday through all of Holy Week (as we do for the meals we have this first partial week). We do have some birthdays within Lent, and we have not wanted to embitter our children to the teachings of the Church and have either allowed them to break the fast that day, or celebrated with a Lenten, but festive, meal and dessert. We try to keep the strict fasts on Wednesdays and Fridays, as two days a week will not put anyone at risk, and we want to accustom our children to striving to live in this way, just as we have them fast from one meal or two meals as they are able on strict fast days in which the older family members are not eating at all. This is how we both practice our faith and teach our children to practice their faith. Just as we have grown in this practice, we teach them to do so as well.

Poor Jerome is having to go on a grain free and sugar free diet for 60 days, so he is beginning on Ash Wednesday. At first, he thought it wouldn't be too bad, until he realized that the Paschal feast would be within that 60 days. He asked me to freeze some of the special foods we make so he can have them after the diet, and I have worked out how to make a some of them in a way that he can eat them that day. He was rather upset when I suggested that he take the diet as his fast and that he eat meat during Lent, so we are going to increase his fish and dairy and egg, and he will still eat meatless otherwise, and we will give him alternatives to the grains/pastas/etc that we eat during the fast. I did pick up some cauliflower rice, some vegetable "pasta," and some monkfruit sweetener so he can try to eat some of the things we do, with different side dishes, sweeten his tea and so on. This adds a little more of a challenge to our Lenten observances this year, but he and I are working out a plan.

As for you readers, I pray that this will be a profitable and Holy Lent for you, however you observe it. Please pray for us, as well.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday. Linking to Menu Plan Monday

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Thursday, February 11, 2021

Craft On: Around the World Stitch-Along & Sale

2021 SAL

Tomorrow night the sale for the SAL begins, and I am so thrilled to be part of this again, this time with 26 designers! We began our endeavor last year with 11 designers, so this is more than two and a half times the designers, and our participant numbers are growing, too. That is really gratifying, and I am so thankful for all of you who have been joining us. If you are able to join our Ravelry Group, or follow our Instagram feed and participate there, we have games and prizes as well as access to our designers in both places.

Each designer has a bundle of five patterns that are on sale with the coupon code sal2021 from 5:00 pm PST February 12, 2021 through 11:59 pm PST February 19, 2021. You can find my bundle on Ravelry and the same five patterns are in a collection called 2021 SAL in my PayHip store, where the coupon will also work for you. The actual knitting and crocheting begins Monday, February 15, 10:00 am PST and will go through March 28, 2021, at the end of the day (also PST).

There are so many beautiful patterns from our designers, many of which are new to me, and I am really excited to make at least one of them myself. I hope you will play along with us and tell your friends! We hope to be able to continue this next year and have even more designers, so if you know of any who are interested, please put them in contact with us.

My various mittens are progressing, and I promise I will have photos for you next week! We are about a third of the way through Jo's Boys and having some great discussions about it. It's been a good way for us to discuss the historical and literary references and talk about vocabulary and roots of words while having fun.

Linking to Unraveled Wednesday.

If you would like to receive updates and early notice of new patterns, beta knitting opportunities, and great discounts (plus pictures of new yarns, new tools, fun places, neat hints, book ideas, recipes and more) each month, please subscribe to 1,001 Knits. My best, and sometimes my only, discounts go to my subscribers.

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Sunday, February 07, 2021

Menu Plan: Sexagesima


I mentioned last week how this whole past year has felt like one long Lent, and it occurred to me that Lent is our spiritual preparation for doing spiritual battle and the hard work of growing His Kingdom. That readjusts my attitude toward it a little. It's not that I look forward to any such battle, but I appreciate that we can be prepared for it. We are officially in the countdown to Lent this week. Technically, we were last week, but with the feast of the Purification and the end of the Christmas season, it was more like a blend of the two. Next week contains Ash Wednesday, and the beginning of the Great Fast.

We are glad that Valentine's Day falls both on a Sunday and before the beginning of Lent this year. Rich was able to buy a ticket to an online concert of Shostakovich's music for Saturday, so we will have a Valentine's concert and dinner then.

This week through next Tuesday, we are making and eating a lot of sweets and treats that we will not have for more than six weeks. It's funny, because Rich did not grow up eating with the Church in this way, and I certainly didn't, but now, it seems absolutely foreign not to mark time and remember God in even what we eat. Our kids find themselves surprised that people eat meat on Wednesdays or Fridays, just because it is such a normal part of their lives, and we have to remind them that not everyone marks Christ's betrayal and Crucifixion each week, even other Christians. This pattern of eating and having to think about what we are eating has imbued even mealtime and days of the week with the spiritual. That is a good thing. Even though it is a hard thing. Maybe because it is a hard thing. It is like the Old Testament admonition in Exodus and Joshua to do something specifically so your children will ask why and what it means. Talking about Wednesdays, Fridays, Advent and Lent, and why we eat differently then, brings the conversations up about Jesus, His betrayal, His Crucifixion, His Incarnation, His Resurrection.

What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday. Linking to Menu Plan Monday

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Saturday, February 06, 2021

Recipe Round Up: Braided Egg Bread, Orange Cranberry Cookies, Chocolate Cranberry Walnut Cookies, Pistachio and Cardamom Crescents and Pomegranate Poppyseed Cookies


Braided Egg Bread

This is based on a recipe I found when Rich and I were about to get married. The internet was exploding and Bon Appétit was putting its recipes online. The recipe included some things we didn't care for, so I modified it to work for our tastes, and I have made it, off and on, for the past 24 years. This makes quite a lot of bread, and leftovers are great either frozen or used in French toast. Wrap tightly in foil and freeze up to 2 weeks. It makes 2 loaves, but can also be made into rolls. You may wish to reduce the baking time for the rolls.

This recipe is really forgiving, and if you have too much potato/liquid, just add a little more flour, or vice versa. Also, normally I do a three strand braid, but this year, I tried a four strand crown braid and really thought it turned out well. Normally, I braid it in a normal three strand braid, but this year, I did a four strand round braid.

16 oz red-skinned potatoes (about 3 medium), peeled
5 cups water
3/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons butter, room temperature
4 teaspoons coarse salt

1/2 cup warm water
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon dry yeast
Pinch of sugar
4 large eggs
8 cups bread flour

Cornmeal for the pan
1 egg, beaten to blend with a tablespoon of warm water (glaze)
2 teaspoons each poppy seeds and sesame seeds (optional, but really good)

Combine potatoes and 5 cups water in large pot. Cover and boil until potatoes are very tender, about 40 minutes. Ladle 1 1/4 cups cooking water into a bowl and reserve; cool liquid. Drain potatoes and mash in a medium bowl until smooth. Add 3/4 cups sugar, butter, salt, and reserved liquid to mashed potatoes. Beat until well blended.

Combine 1/2 cup warm water, yeast and pinch sugar in a small bowl. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add to potato mixture and beat to blend. Beat in 4 eggs. Mix in enough flour, 1 cup at a time, to form a soft dough. When it seems as though only 1 more cup of flour is necessary, add 1/2 cup and reserve 1/2 cup for kneading. Turn out dough onto generously floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding reserved flour as necessary to form soft dough, about 10 minutes. Lightly oil large bowl. Add dough, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then towel. Let rise in warm area until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Oil 2 large baking sheets. Sprinkle generously with cornmeal. Turn out dough onto floured surface. Divide dough in half; knead each piece lightly. Divide each half into 3 equal pieces. Roll out each portion to make a 15-inch-long rope. Form into braids using 3 ropes for each braid. Tuck ends under and pinch together. Place 1 loaf on each baking sheet. Cover with towel and let rise in warm area until almost doubled, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400˚F. Brush loaves with egg glaze. Sprinkle with poppy seeds or sesame seeds. Bake 10 minutes. Reduce over temperature to 350˚F. Continue baking until loaves are deep golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on bottom, about 25 - 30 minutes longer.

Orange Cranberry Cookies

This easy to make cookie is delicious and beautiful, and makes a lovely gift on a cookie plate. Also, they both freeze and ship fairly well. Makes about 3 dozen.

Sugar Coating:
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon grated orange zest

1 cup sugar
3/4 c softened, unsalted butter
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups pastry flour (or all purpose)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup dried cranberries (or instead, use 1/2 cup dried cranberries and 1/2 cup chopped pistachios)

Preheat oven to 350˚F and line baking sheets with parchment. Combine sugar coating ingredients in a small bowl, and set aside.

Cream sugar and butter. Add orange zest and continue beating to incorporate. Add vanilla extract and egg and combine. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add, a little at a time, to the creamed butter mixture. Stir in dried cranberries, scraping in the ingredients on the sides of the bowl.

Form balls of dough, about a tablespoon each (I use a small scooper), and roll in the sugar coating mixture. Place on prepared pans, about 2 inches apart, and bake for 9 - 11 minutes, until just beginning to brown on the edges. Cool on pans for about a minute or two, then remove cookies to rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Cranberry Walnut Cookies

These cookies were one of the family's favorites this year. It does take a little extra effort to brown the butter and toast the walnuts, but both of those can be done ahead of time. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

1 cup (8 ounces/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 and 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (Ceylon, if you can get it)
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla paste (or extract, but the paste does make a difference)
2 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
10 ounces dark chocolate chunks
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Continue cooking until solids turn golden brown and begin to fall to the bottom of the pan. About 8 to 10 minutes, depending on your stove's heat. Remove pan from heat and pour into a medium sized bowl. Set aside until it solidifies again, or place in the refrigerator about an hour to solidify. You want it to be soft like a stick of butter for baking normally is softened, but not melted. You can toast your walnuts over medium heat while the butter is browning, in a little frying pan on another burner. Do not look away, and stir or shake the walnuts in the pan until they just start to brown on the edges and smell fragrant, then remove from the heat immediately.

Preheat oven to 375˚F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the browned butter and both sugars. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add vanilla and mix, scraping sides down. Beat in egg and egg yolk, one at a time, mixing until just combined, and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

While the butter and sugars are creaming, In a large bowl combine flour, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda. Whisk well to combine.

Add the flour mixture to the stand mixer, a third at a time, mixing well in between additions. Stir in the chocolate, cranberries, and walnuts by pulsing in the stand mixer. I put them in the bowl, then turned on the mixer for a couple seconds at a time to stir them in, then finished mixing with a strong spatula.

Scoop 2 tablespoon sized rounds of dough onto the prepared sheet, leaving 2 inches in between each cookie for spreading. Bake for 10 to 11 minutes, or until edges are set and the center is still a tiny bit soft. Allow cookies to cool on the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.


Pistachio and Cardamom Crescents

This is such a delicious cookie, and much easier to make than you might think. If you have a stand mixer and a food processor, it goes together quickly, and the dough is relatively easy to work with for shaping.

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups + 1/2 cup powdered sugar (plus more for dusting)
2 teaspoons vanilla paste or extract
2 teaspoons rosewater (or use an additional teaspoon of vanilla, if you can't get rosewater)
1 cup raw, unsalted pistachios
2 cups pastry flour
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350˚F and prepare a sheet pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a stand mixer, cream the butter with 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar until light and pale. Add the vanilla paste and rosewater and blend, scraping down the sides to incorporate completely.

While the stand mixer is blending the butter and sugar, grind the pistachios with 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, pulsing in your food processor until the mixture is the texture of coarse cornmeal. Add the pastry flour, ground cardamom, and salt, and pulse a few more times to mix thoroughly.

Slowly, add the dry ingredients to the stand mixer bowl, a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Knead lightly to form a ball.

Using 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough at a time, roll into a log and bend into a crescent. It may crack a little, and that is fine. Place on prepared baking sheet spaced about an inch apart and repeat with the remaining dough. Bake 10 - 12 minutes. Allow to cool on the pan about 3 minutes, then remove to a rack and cool completely. Carefully roll each crescent in a dish of powdered sugar and serve.

Poppyseed Pomegranate Thumbprints

These are a little pricier to make than some of the other Christmas cookies I make each year, but they are so good! You can usually find pomegranate juice at the store in the refigerator or produce section, but I had to order the jelly online. We live in a small town.

1 cup (8 ounces/2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 large egg
2 tablespoons pomegranate juice
2 2/3 cups flour
2 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup pomegranate jelly, stirred so it is uniform in texture

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Prepare a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add in the egg and pomegranate juice.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, poppy seeds, and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, little by little until a crumbly dough forms.

Shape the dough into 1 inch balls. Place 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet, and make an indentation in the middle of each ball of dough with your thumb.

Bake 10 - 12 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Enlarge the indentation in the middle of each cookie, if necessary. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

Spoon 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon of the jelly into the center of each cookie.

To store, layer cookies between wax paper and place in an airtight container up to 3 days at a cool room temperature, or freeze for up to 3 months, unfilled.

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Friday, February 05, 2021

Flashback Friday: Marine Layer

This set of quick to knit mits, scarf and cowl is my idea of a great project for a short month that might turn frigid at any point. Last year, we had a little snow on and off through winter, but were dumped on the first weekend in March. The year before that, we had no snow until the second week of February, and then we had a blizzard. So, this set of cute accessories would have come in handy then. I like it because it allowed me to use some singleton skeins of yarn I picked up for fun, and is so soft and comfortable.

Because of the way these different sales platforms work, the patterns are available in different ways on each. On PayHip, you can buy the the mitts, the scarf and cowl, or the whole set. On Ravelry, you can find the mitts and the whole set. On LoveCrafts, you can find the mitts and the scarf and cowl. If you use the coupon code FebruaryChill, you can receive 25% off of either the mitts or the scarf and cowl pattern, or 15% off of the set. This coupon is valid through the end of the day February 11, 2021 on both PayHip and Ravelry. Unfortunately, LoveCrafts does not permit me to create promotions, but I am always willing to invoice you directly or to refund you a portion of your payment on LoveCrafts, if you provide me with a receipt.

If you would like to receive updates and early notice of new patterns, beta knitting opportunities, and great discounts on patterns like this one (plus pictures of new yarns, new tools, fun places, neat hints, book ideas, recipes and more) each month, please subscribe to 1,001 Knits. My best, and sometimes my only, discounts go to my subscribers.

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Craft On: We Have a Winner!!!

Basbousa and Jo

Basbousa is coming along well, and I hope to have this sweet set ready for beta knitting by Valentine's Day. That is probably a foolish hope, but I am an eternal optimist. I wanted to imply the hearts and romance, but still create a mitten a man would wear. What do you think? Am I succeeding?

This little mitten has been started, re-started, ripped back and corrected about seven times, and it is finally doing what I want, both mathematically and aesthetically. That is a success, at least.

We finished Little Men and are starting in on Jo's Boys. I've made some slow progress in Desert Queen. It is really interesting, and I am praying for enough sleep so I can finish it this next week or two.

Giveaway Winner!
Thank you for your entries in the drawing for Serendipity: Luxury Knits! Random.org picked a Laurel as the winner, and I have contacted all the entrants to let them know. If you didn't see a note from me, please tell me.

The Around the World Stitch-Along is just about started, and I am getting really excited. We hope to publish the participating designer thread either Monday or Tuesday! Please join in our Ravelry Group, or follow our Instagram feed to participate in all the fun. The event kicks off on February 19, and we hope to see you there!

Linking to Unraveled Wednesday.

If you would like to receive updates and early notice of new patterns, beta knitting opportunities, and great discounts (plus pictures of new yarns, new tools, fun places, neat hints, book ideas, recipes and more) each month, please subscribe to 1,001 Knits. My best, and sometimes my only, discounts go to my subscribers.

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