Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Crocheted Newborn Slippers

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I got an order a couple of days ago for some newborn slippers and hat.
Sounds pretty simple (and it eventually turned out to be).
After all, I have made plenty of slippers before,
but not newborn.

I was a little stumped on the sizing,
until I remembered that I had Ben's footprint from moments after he was born.
It's hard for me to believe that his feet were ever that small,
but there it is: proof.

From there, I was able to re size my pattern fairly easily to make these happen.
So small... sigh...

Anyway, scroll all the way down to find the pattern if you're interested,
and please let me know if anything is unclear
so I can correct it.

For those of you who don't crochet,
I'll be having these "take home" sets available in my Etsy shop in the coming weeks.

And Maria, if you're reading this:
thanks for the order
(and the motivation to figure these slippers out),
and more importantly, CONGRATULATIONS.
Newborn Slippers Crochet Pattern:

CH- chain stitch
SL ST- slip stitch
SC- single crochet
HDCD- half double crochet decrease

For the Slippers:

I used a medium weight (4) 100% cotton yarn and a US H/8 (5 mm) crochet hook.
(please note that I reversed the colors for the pictures below, using pink for the slipper and white for hte flower)

*This has been edited and I've added pictures since the original post due to so many comments that y'all were having a difficult time. Thanks for letting me know!
And special shout out to my reader, Katelin, who helped me immesely by simplifying the pattern! I hope it helps!

CH 10
Row 1: Skip first chain, SC in next 8 chains, 3 SC in final chain.
turn,*you're now going to SC in next 7 st along the back side of the chain,

2 SC in last st. SL ST to join.

Row 2: CH1, SC in next 8 st

2 SC in next st, SC 1, 2 SC in next st

SC in next 8 st, 2 SC in last st, SL ST to join.

Row 3: CH1, SC in next 9 st, 2 SC in next st, SC in next st, 2 SC in next st, SC in next 9 st, 2 SC in next 2 sts, SL ST to join.
Row 4: CH 1, SC in the BACK of each st around (see pic below), SL ST to join (you will have 27 sts total).

See the two threads that you would normally stitch through?
You're just going to stitch through the back one.
You'll now have the sole of the slipper with a little rim around the bottom.
Starting to take shape, yes?
Row 5: CH 1, SC in next 12 st, 2 HDCD (half double crochet decrease) over next 4 st
*this means you're going to be decreasing by 2,
over the four stitches at the "toe", yarn over, pull a loop through the first sc, yarn over, pull a loop through the second sc, yarn over and pull through ALL of the loops on your hook (then repeat once for the next 2 sc stitches),
SC in the next 11 sts, SL ST to join.

so now you should have a toe shape
Row 6: CH 1, SC in next 11 sts, 2 HDCD over next 4 st, SC in next 10 st, SL ST to join, tie off and weave in ends.
tah dah!

Repeat to make a second slipper.

For the Flower:

CH 4, join to make a large loop.
Within that loop, SC 1, CH 3, SC 1 into loop, CH 3, SC 1 into loop, CH 3, SC 1 into loop, CH 3, SC 1 into loop, CH 3, SL ST to first SC (five petals).
Tie off, using left over tails to attach the flower to the slipper where ever you want it. Weave in ends.
Again, I hope that's clear!
Let me know if you have questions. :)

***This just in: the pattern for the Flower Newborn Hat is up! To take a gander, click here!***

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Peter Piper Had a Peck of...

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pickled peppers.

Pickled peppers are one of my husband's favorite things.
He eats them on sandwiches, salads,
and more often than not, straight out of the jar.
I started making them last year,
starting with about 4 jars and thinking that would last awhile.
They lasted not even 2 weeks.

So I kept making more
and more
and more.
And still don't know if I could ever make enough.

As with most of our veg,
we don't have enough space in our garden to grow everthing that we like to put up for the off seasons.
But I think we've figured out a good system where we grow our own hot peppers,
and just buy the bells in bulk from our regular guy at the farmers market.

And this time, I was lucky enough to get a whole trash bag full of bells from a family friend! Score!
I use a variety of sweet and hot peppers, but you can use this recipe with all bells or all hots.
I think it would be good to use with just jalepenos if you're a fan of spicy.
They have the heat, but not so much that they're inedible if you eat them straight.
You can also easily control the heat level by keeping or leaving the seeds and ribs
(see my note at the very bottom for tips when working with hot peppers).

So without further ado, here's my recipe:

My varieties:
Bells (red, orange, yellow, green)
Sweet Banana
Hot Banana

Step One: Roasting
Wash your peppers and cut them in pieces.
I roast my bells and the larger banana peppers to take some of the skins off and to give them better flavor.

For the little ones, I just split down the middle and remove some of the ribs and seeds to control the heat. Set them aside in a large bowl.
Now back to the roasting, I cut mine into pieces and take out the ribs and seeds, trying to cut them about to "snacking size" (or the size I would want them to fit on a sandwich).

Place them skin side up on a baking sheet.

Put the baking sheet under the broiler until they begin to char.
This usually takes me many batched and turns of the pepper pieces for as even a char as I can get.

Once they're charred, place them in a large bowl and cover with a lid.
This will let them steam while they cool down and help the skins to come off later.

After all of your peppers are done and cooled enough to handle, start taking the skins off (it should just slide right off).
Then place them with the small peppers and mix together.

Then, place them in your sterilized mason jars.
I use wide-mouthed quart jars.

See all that juice left at the bottom? Don't pitch it!
I just add all of that to my brine (keep reading for more on my brine)

Step Two: Brine
To make your brine, place the following ingredients in a nonreactive pan and bring to a boil.
5 Cups Water
5 Cups White Vinegar
4 bay leaves
3 Tbsp Ground Coriander
4 Tbsp whole peppercorns
1/4 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Coarse Salt
5-7 Whole Garlic Cloves, peeled

Allow to boil for a bit, until the sugar and salt are dissolved.

Step Three: Canning
Using a funnel, pour brine over peppers into mason jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.
Meanwhile, place your mason jar lids in boiling water for about 10 minutes.

Using a sterilized knife, run the knife along the outside of the mason jars, allowing some of the air bubbles to work themselves out.
Wipe off the rims of the jars with a clean cloth and place the lids on top, not touching the inner side.
Loosely screw on the rings.
Process in a waterbath for about 20 minutes (for quart containers).
Tighten rings and allow to cool.

You should hear the lids pop if they're airtight.
If they don't pop, or if they come unpopped after time, throw them out.

The longer these sit, the better,
but I recommend letting them marinate for at least a few weeks for the best flavor.

Tips for Working with Hot Peppers:
  • Know your peppers. The better you know the variety you're using, the more prepared you'll be for their heat.
  • Wear gloves. This seemed a little extreme to me at first... until I went a week afterward feeling like my hands were ON. FIRE.
  • Take out the ribs and seeds to control the heat. The more you leave, the hotter they'll be.
  • Use a separate cutting board and tools, and try to use a nonporous cutting surface. Nothing worse than making baby food or cookies and tasting the remnants of hot peppers! (I've done it. And it was bad.)
  • Clean up afterwards really well. The oils from the peppers can linger, so wash up thoroughly!
  • DO NOT touch your face (or anything really) until you've done the above.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Greek Meatballs

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or "keftedes".

*Disclaimer: I am not Greek. Generally speaking, I don't cook Greek food. If you are Greek, please feel free to hate this recipe, say "these are not keftedes", or just ignore entirely. I will not be offended. :)  I've taken some liberties in changing this recipe from traditional keftedes.

I will say though, that they are pretty darn tasty, simple, fast, and use ingredients that I almost always have in my kitchen/garden :)

So without further ado,

(Chris' Diet Version)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large bowl, add the following ingredients

1.5 lbs. lean ground beef
zest of 1/2 lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 large onion, grated
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
about 2 sprigs of fresh mint, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
a pinch of nutmeg
1 egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Mix until just incorporated (I use my hands). Don't overwork.
Shape into balls (I make mine about the size of a golf ball),
and place on a baking sheet, not touching.
Bake for 20 minutes or until browned and cooked through.
Serve with some slices of lemon.

Makes about 24 meatballs.

 I served mine with cucumber salad and chickpeas.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sewing on the Go

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We've been traveling a lot lately.
After all, it is summertime.

Between family vacations and weddings and such,
it's been difficult to start and finish a sewing project on the sewing machine in one sitting, or even two or three if I'm being honest.

So I've been spending more time doing projects that I can take with me.

And here is the one I've been working on lately.
A simple, beautiful, classy sampler.

Yes, I know.
Cross stitch is for old people.
And samplers are for older people.
But whatever.
I love it.

It's been a great project for car rides and rainy days,
and while I'm not usually a fan of super long term projects,
this one is coming along nicely.

The great thing about samplers is that there is a lot of negative space,
and if you get bored with one motif, you can just move on the next one and come back to it.
It's a really easy project to start and stop and start and stop
which, obviously, lends itself really well to life with a toddler.

I'll keep you all updated on the progress and hopefully, eventually the finished product. :)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


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My cucumbers have been coming in more and more as the days go on.
There is not quite enough to make a big batch of pickles yet,
but there are too many for just salads and snacking,

so I've been making a lot of cucumber salad,
one of our favorite summertime sides.

My husband is on a low carb/dairy free diet right now, though,
so I've had to adjust my recipes.
I had one with a dressing similar to green goddess (dairy)
and one vinegar based (with sugar).

So here is our compromise:

4 Cucumbers, peeled and sliced thinly
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (some sugar, yes, but much less that my other recipe)
1 green onion, finely chopped
a couple sprigs of fresh parsley, chopped
a pinch of salt
freshly cracked black pepper

Mix, let set for a bit (the cukes will release a lot of their water in this time), and enjoy.

Simple, cheap, and my kid (who has been particularly picky lately) LOVES it to boot!

Win, win, win.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Stocking up on Stock

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Every couple of months or so
(more in the fall and less in the spring),
I devote a day to replenishing my supply of homemade chicken stock.

Because I cook mostly everyday,
we go through a lot of stock.
Let me mention also, that storebought stock really does pale in comparison to homemade.
I'm really not a homemade snob.
I swear.
I've been known to use some storebought items in lieu of homemade on many occasions.
And I do use storebought stock when I'm really in a pinch,
but I'm telling you:
make the exact same recipe with homemade stock vs. storebought
and people will be asking you what you put in it
because it has so much more flavor.
Last week I made a huge batch and froze it in portions.
It was really nice to be able to use all ingredients that either came from my garden or the farmers market.

I use two hens
a few carrots cut up,
an onion cut in half,
a head of garlic cut in half,
a couple ribs of celery cut up,
a generous handful of parsley,
some dill,
lots of thyme,
a palm full of whole peppercorns,
some salt.
Cover with water and simmer for 4 hours.

The smell is so nice.
Once it's done, I strain all the bits out of it
(that's why I don't bother with peeling or whathaveyou)
Then I let it sit overnight,
then skim off the fat.

Portion and freeze.

I really think this stock has about 100x the flavor of the canned variety.
Not to mention, you know from where all of your ingredients come.