Tuesday, November 29, 2011

More Christmas Goodies

What?!  It's after Thanksgiving now, so it's socially acceptable, right?

Some cute crocheted Christmas ornaments, loosely based on this pattern from GoodKnits.  The best part about this easy pattern is that I got to use up scrap yarn leftover from all of those sweaters I have been making.

Now I just need a Christmas tree to put the ornaments on...  May I poll the audience?  

Since I can't cut down my own Christmas tree out here in Indonesia, should I:

a) purchase an artificial Christmas tree, or   

b) hang the ornaments from a tropical houseplant (also to be purchased when we move into our permanent apartment on Thursday.)


Another sparkly snowflake stocking to match the one I made last week.  

Tim doesn't like them- he thinks they're too girly.

I think he's just mad at me for whistling "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "Frosty the Snowman" as I crocheted.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Part II: Overly-Optimistic Apple Pie and Biscuit Success

For our second Thanksgiving celebration here in Jakarta, I decided (in a very overly optimistic moment) that my contribution would be to make homemade apple pies, despite having virtually no kitchen equipment to speak of.  I also promised biscuits, which were a little bit more realistic.  The whole process was, shall we say, a learning experience, for several reasons.

The pies: 

I read about this method for making a fool-proof apple pie in the Washington Post last week, and, entranced by the article, I decided to make it without having read the recipe itself.  Oops.  Always read the recipe first.  This might be the most complicated recipe I've ever made: make the crust, let the crust sit, roll out the crust, freeze the crust, bake the crust... saute the apples, refrigerate the apples, put the apples in the crust, top the apples with the other crust, bake the whole pie. Soooo many steps.  After getting this complicated process started, I was having a lot of trouble getting the pie crust dough to stay together; it was so crumbly that it was unmanageable.  Sigh.  Ultimately the pies came together but the crust was ridiculously thick.  Not the best.  Some of it I blame on the recipe, some I blame on the kitchen conditions, such as:

1. The oven: temperature not so accurate, only heats from the bottom so the top doesn't get brown (and then when you turn on the broiler on the top, the top gets too brown).  Plus the timer on the oven is super fast (compared to Tim's iPhone, it was 3-4 minutes faster over the span of 10 minutes). 

 2. Counter space: I rolled out the pie crust on the dining room table.  Voila:

3. Cooking equipment: like I said, not ideal.  I bought disposable pie plates, but they could barely handle the weight of the pie, and the sides were a bit steep as well.

The biscuits:

Did you know that the KFCs in Jakarta don't have biscuits (or mashed potatoes, for that matter)?  Instead, they serve rice.  Ben and Erin were telling us how they miss biscuits, so I decided to make them for Thanksgiving.  The biscuits went much better than the pies.  

I had planned on using a recipe I'd used in the past, but when I went to the grocery store, the only flour they had was (inexplicably) specialty flour like whole wheat, bread flour and self-rising flour.  I bought the self-rising flour in the hopes that I could find a biscuit recipe that called for it... success!  I made the buttermilk version of this recipe from Gold Medal (no buttermilk to be found, but I used the old milk plus lemon juice trick).  Worked like a charm.  Also, I used butter rather than shortening.  I like buttery biscuits.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

New Favorite Thanksgiving Dish: Pineapple Ritz Casserole

Erin cooked my new favorite, shamefully delicious Thanksgiving dish this year: pineapple Ritz cracker casserole.  

It's a total throwback, Americana dish in the same vein as, say, green bean casserole with crispy onions on top: butter, cheese, crushed Ritz cracker, canned pineapple.   It's sooooooo good- salty, sweet, buttery, crunchy.  I couldn't get enough (and my stomach is not happy about that).  
My new favorite dish... just above the turkey.  Not much to look at, but tastes so good.
I'm not sure exactly which recipe she used, but there are a million out there and they all seem to use the same basic ingredients.  Give it a try!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Who needs a job?


My fingers hurt from so much crafting, and I may or may not be going a little bit crazy at this point, after not having worked for over a month now.  Must find a job soon!!!  

Anywho, here are my latest creations, all Christmas themed:

Using some of the sparkly white snowflake yarn paired with leftover turquoise yarn from Zoe's cardigan, I crocheted this super easy striped Christmas stocking loosely based on this free pattern from Lion Brand.  I sewed on one of my previously made sparkly snowflakes at the end because Tim said the color wasn't Christmas-y enough without it.  Pretty cute, I think.  Gotta make another one now so Tim and I each have a stocking to hang over our non-existent fireplace.

 I also crocheted this pretty poinsettia based on this great pattern from Planet June...  Not sure what I'm going to do with it yet.  Maybe it's a tree topper?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Missing Cooking

You may be thinking to yourself, 
"Why so much crafting and so little cooking, Meg? 
I grow weary of crochet do-dads and knit thing-a-ma-jigs."

Me, too... me, too.  

But the cooking in Indonesia cannot being in earnest until my gear (sweet, sweet Le Creuset, how I miss you!) arrives on the slow boat from the U.S. and we move into our new place.  Until that time, here is what I have to work with:
Tiny, tinny pot and a frying pan that is probably giving me cancer each time I use it.

I do have some Indonesian recipes I want to try, though, once I do get a hold of my equipment.  For example, these amazing satay we tried in Bali, skewered on lemongrass stalks.  Aromatic, garlicky, spicy, tender... so good.  And not too hard to make, based on my understanding.

Knit Baby Jumper

I know I've probably said this before, but I think this might be the cutest thing I've made so far. 

Chuck and I bought a ridiculous amount of yarn right before I left the U.S.; huge skeins of yarn were on super-clearance at Jo-Ann Fabric.  $4.97 for 600 yards?  Yes, please.  We'll take 10.  This jumper is made from only a small portion of just one of those skeins.

I'm also pretty proud of this jumper because it's the first piece I've made using stockinette stitch.  Prior to this piece, I was having trouble with the purl stitch, so I stuck with the garter stitch, which just isn't as refined looking as stockinette.  Now I'm pretty comfortable with it, although I was a little ham-handed at first.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Crocheted Snowflakes

While Springfield and the whole U.S. East Coast was blanketed in (or battered by) snow over Halloween, I was sweating it up in Jakarta and Bali, nostalgically crocheting sparkly snowflakes.  

Loosely following this free pattern from Red Heart yarn, I used yarn I bought at the local craft shop, Sidar Snuggly Pearls (a thin white yarn laced with silvery threads).  I changed up the pattern in a couple ways:  I didn't connect the snowflakes into a garland, but kept them separate.  Also, the yarn I used was thinner than they yarn called for, so it stretched out the snowflakes a bit, as did the fact that I double crocheted instead of single crocheting.  I think it made them lacier and pretty.