Popovers!

IMG_5713A new restaurant opened near our cottage last year, Henning’s Local. The menu offers delicious dishes sourced from local farms, including the poultry and fish, and best of all, every meal is served with a plate of popovers. Popovers have been on my mental to-do list for awhile, and inspired by my first meal at Henning’s Local, I went out and bought a popover pan (as it turns out, a standard muffin pan works just fine, but I love to have an excuse to go to a kitchen supply store).

The challenge of finding a popover recipe is that they seem to vary – popovers must start in a cold oven, the oven must be at 450 exactly when the popovers go in,  you must stir the batter till “frothy”, you should only stir the ingredients till blended, and etc. I tried a few recipes with varying degrees of success until I found the best results with King Arthur’s recipe – the popovers definitely had no trouble popping up.

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Popovers are now my favorite bread-y accompaniment to meals, especially with a hot bowl of chicken soup after a three mile walk in brisk country air.

Special attire is suggested, but not required, when making popovers.

McCardell Popover ad

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If Julia Child Can Drop a Chicken on Camera

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I woke up Sunday morning with this vision in my head for that day’s project – Mark’s birthday cake . A tradition in our household carried over from when Mark was growing up: angel food cake topped with whipped cream and sprinkled with crushed peppermint candies.

As baked confections go, this is not a complicated pastry, no one is going to win the Meilleur Ouvrir de France competing with it. As long as you remember to buy enough eggs (12 egg whites!) and are ready to take out any aggression crushing hard peppermint candies on your kitchen counter (I used a rolling pin and contained the candies in ziplock bag), it’s a simple but delicious and festive cake. Easy! I’ve done this before many times and have dabbled with more ambitious cakes recipes. No problem! So, maybe I was feeling overly self-confident, or maybe our relaxing weekend had relaxed my brain a little too much, or maybe I shouldn’t have had that beer while mixing the batter, whatever the reason, this was the end result:

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Apparently, Julia Child’s advice to have the “courage of you convictions!” whenever you flip something won’t help you  if you don’t support the center  of a tube pan when it’s upside down, balanced on four upturned glasses – especially if it has a removable bottom. None of your convictions will stop the piping hot center of the pan to slowly detach from the pan and slide downward, taking the cake along with it to land in a messing lump on the kitchen counter, as you watch in frozen horror.

After we had carefully scooped the cake back into the pan – at this point, having the cake cool upside down so that it didn’t lose its shape was moot – Mark assured me that it still looked delicious. I broke off a chunk, put a big dollop of whipped cream, garnished it with more crushed peppermint candies and wished him  a very happy birthday.

It was delicious!

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It’s at times like these when I console myself with the thought that kitchen disasters happen to the best of them: Cleanup in Aisle 4!.

A lesson learned… maybe

IMG_5707That’s right folks, a mere 4 months from when I started my “Yellow Wall Cardigan”, I have finally bound off, blocked and sewn on the buttons – just in time for the 78 degree weather that is hitting New York. As my devoted readers may remember, this sweater caused me not a little bit of angst back in November. And, evidently, the trauma of unraveling over 2 skeins worth of sweater on my first attempt at knitting this design was not enough of a lesson in checking gauge.  On Sunday I found myself unraveling another project for the very same reason. This time it was my lovely “Eggplant Lace Pullover”.

So, that is why I now present to you the gauge swatch for my next project. A nice sized 7″x 6.5″, carefully blocked swatch of Knit Picks’ Shine Sport Yarn in colors (from top down) White, Platinum, Robot, and Wallaby.

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This will be for the “Gradient Pullover” that was featured in the Spring issue of knit.wear. Instead of the pinks that the designer used, I’m envisioning a cotton sweater in neutral tones, perfect as an extra layer on summer evenings. The swatch is serving the dual purpose of helping me decide what three colors I want to use.

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I think I’ve decided on my color combination, but the gauge is still a little big.

I don’t think I’ll bother with another swatch, I’ll just cast on for the sweater on a smaller needle and that should give me the right gauge.

I’m sure it will be fine.

And now back to you, Leeks…

My leek seedlings are coming along nicely, I’ve transplanted them into their own little paper pots to give them more room to grow.
IMG_5658Between the expense of buying new seedling pots each year and the appeal of just not consuming so much, I’ve been making my own seedling pots with the very handy PotMaker. It does require that you have newspapers on hand, and since our household has gone almost completely digital with our news, I pick up a handful of the free Manhattan News from the corner. I have to cut down the paper into strips, but as I assemble each one, I catch up on local news, brush up on my little Spanish and then have the satisfaction of creating neat little pots for each seedling. The newspaper pots can go directly into the ground and breaks down into the soil, so waste is minimal.

IMG_5660I love repotting seedlings, it’s so satisfying to give each seedling its own space to grow.

We do have other seedlings starting in our little apartment nursery. Last year I had great luck with dahlias, but terrible luck in storing their tubers over the winter. So, I’ve started a new round of dahlia plants.

IMG_5662I’ve also started various other flower seedlings and this week I’m planning on starting my tomatoes. In addition, my garlic bulbs and potato tubers should be arriving soon.

Happy Spring!