I'm starting with knitting today: I finished the piano bench cover! Here it is, blocked and drying in the guest room, far away from felines and canines. I really like the way it turned out. It was sort of unshapely when I finished it, but the blocking really helped. Now I am focusing on the textured rib socks (from the frogged Jaywalkers' yarn) and also the lace wrap. I will post a picture of the lace soon... I know, it will look exactly like a hairnet, won't it? The secret of lace is all in the blocking. I wouldn't believe it if you told me that, either, but I've seen it for myself, and now I am a true believer. So, stay tuned....
I also have this little pile of Portofino Souffle yarn, purchased on sale at KnitWit for a very, very good price. It is a cotton/acrylic blend, definitely perfect for a warmer weather wrap of some sort. I have some patterns in mind, but I have to swatch the yarn and see what it wants to be.
If you are in the mood for some knitting fun, you should check out Knit 2 Together by Tracey Ullman and Mel Clark. I love this book! No, it's not just another celebrity knitting book. The patterns are beautiful and well-written, the stories are funny, the photos are lovely. There are lots and lots of things I actually want to knit. I've already made the "Luxe Neckwarmer" and the "Grownup Bonnet" (photos in previous posts); they were fairly easy to knit and I love the results. I already bought the yarn to make the "South Seas Table Runner," which will be perfect for our kitchen table. I'm considering the "Pimlico Shrug" or the "Lacy Hug-Me-Tight" for the Portofino yarn. There are baby clothes, men's sweaters, family sweaters, a tea cozy, hats, bags, legwarmers, and more. Check it out!
I think it's time to talk about one of my other kitchen loves: my pressure cooker! The first thing I must say is: do not be afraid! This is NOT grandma's pressure cooker! Yes, I personally know 2 people who have had pressure cooker explosions; both were the "old-fashioned" kind of pressure cookers, and both people admitted that the mistakes were probably theirs! The newer pressure cookers have several safety release valves. There are stovetop models and electric models. All shapes and sizes. I definitely use mine at least once a week, usually more often. You can cook beans, soups, stews, potatoes, grains, meats, vegetables, anything, in a fraction of the traditional cooking time. You simply load up your cooker with food, bring it up to high pressure, set your timer. When the cooking is done, release the pressure, adjust the seasonings and serve. Lentil soup cooks in 7 minutes; split pea soup in only 6 minutes. You can soak dried chickpeas overnight, then cook them up in about 18 minutes for the best-tasting, creamiest chickpeas you have ever tasted! (Which, of course, equals awesome hummus!!)
You will definitely want Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure by Lorna Sass; it's the pressure cooking bible. My pressure cooker is a Kuhn-Rikon, and I bought it on Amazon. There are lots of good cookers out there, but remember, you get what you pay for. I originally bought a Fagor for around $20, and I don't recommend it. First off, it is aluminum, and you really want stainless steel. Secondly, I had a hard time getting it up to high pressure. Things never cooked evenly or completely. Go for the good one.
I asked Mike to buy me some greens at Whole Foods last week. He came home with Dino Kale. I didn't know what to do with it, but beans and greens are always good, right? Here is what I made: (you can easily adjust this recipe for cooking on the stovetop; simply follow the recipe but cook for 1-2 hours, until your beans are soft.)
Pink Beans with Greens (served on brown rice)
2 C (about 1 lb.) dried pink beans, rinsed and soaked (or pinto beans, or white beans...)
1 onion, diced
1 Tbs. oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1 large celery stalk, diced
2 tsp chili powder, +/-
5 C veg. broth (approx.)-- I used water and 1 Tbs. veg. bouillon
1 piece of kombu (optional)
1 bunch of dino kale, chopped
In the pressure cooker, saute onion in oil until soft. Add garlic, then carrot and celery and mix well. Stir in the chili powder. Add the beans, kombu and broth. Cover and bring to high pressure for about 8 minutes (will vary with type of bean used.) Remove from heat and release pressure. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add kale, stir well, and cook over low heat for a few minutes, until kale is cooked. Serve over rice.
Sorry, I don't have a photo, as it is GONE!! That's it for today; more soon!!