Saturday, March 26, 2011

Not-so-slopy Joe!

Ever wonder what to do with that drawer full of Ketchup and Plum Sauce packets? Cook up some Sloppy Joe! TV trays, Gun Smoke, Kung Fu, or Charlie’s Angels, corn chips, an icy glass of Tang... I have such fond memories of the 70’s and Sloppy Joe Night that I barely remember that we were in a recession.

This is one of my favorite cheap eats. You can find this Not-so-sloppy Joe recipe on

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Woven Stitch and Slipped Moss

The Woven Stitch (a.k.a. fabric, or linen stitch) is one of my favorite knit patterns, and as the name implies it looks exactly like a coarsely woven linen. It’s made by slipping alternate stitches with the yarn stranded across the right-facing side. The woven pattern is then worked syncopated over odd and even rows.

On reverse side is a wonderful Slipped Moss pattern. Although this stitch is not truly a reversible stitch I think both sides are equally handsome.

The Woven Stitch makes a very firm, elastic fabric. It's great for knit projects that require more tensile strength: cushions, jackets, bags, rugs, table runners... etc. It also makes a great ground for floss embroidery. I’m making an iPad pillow.

Swatch up the Woven Stitch with a sport weight yarn on US #6 (4.0 mm) needles and work loosely with an even hand. The woven pattern becomes more apparent after washing and blocking.

To work flat, cast on 21. Start on the wrong side.
(multiples of 2 + 3)
R01: Purl all.
R02: Sl1, (k1, slip 1 with yarn in front ) X9, k2.
R03: Sl2 with yarn behind, (p1, slip 1 with yarn behind) X9, p1
Repeat rows 2 to 3.

To work in the round, cast on 42. Join yarn
R01: Knit all.
R01: Purl all.
R02: (k1, slip 1 with yarn in front ) X21.
R03: (slip 1 with yarn in front, k1 ) X21
Repeat rows 2 to 3.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Tostones for Breakfast!

I thought I bought little red bananas the other day. When I sliced one open I could smell the scent of fresh cut grass. As it turns out, I bought a bunch of little red plantains by mistake — lucky me!

Although they look similar plantains are not really bananas, but a close cousin there of. They’re eaten green, or when they turn redish-purple to black. High in starch and low is sugar, they are prepared like a root vegetable... I like mine fried. Tostones are platano chips that are pressed flat and twice-fried, which makes them doubly delicious.

Tostones go with any meal that you’d serve with fries — I made them for breakfast. They aren’t hard to make but there is a little trick to peeling them. Lucky for us, we can find green plantains is most grocery stores, bodegas, and Caribbean markets here in Brooklyn.

You don’t need any fancy equipment — frying pan, sharp knife... if you don't have a tostonera press you can use a the bottom of a coffee mug. For a pictorial how-to and more, visit

Huevos con tostones  — make this for breakfast.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Japan: Spring Relief 2011

The first day of spring in very near, which means we’ve sprung forward and lost an hour over the weekend. But on the other side of the world people awoke to a much greater loss.

On Friday, March 11, an 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami left the north eastern coast of Japan in the wake of growing destruction. As more news, photos and videos are made public, they leave me profoundly horrified.

If you are reading this blog entry please follow the news and donate what money you can. The best we can do is keep ourselves aware of the situation and be charitable. Here are some reliable charitable organizations:

Google has created an aggregate resource page for Japanese and English speakers who are searching for friends and family. Visit Google Crisis Response: Japan.

My deepest sympathies lie with friends who have family over seas — as it is a troubling time to be abroad. Mostly, my prayers go out to the people of Japan who must endure the aftermath, a long road lies ahead. In these uncertaiin times I pray for a window of calm. Among the metaphors for flowers, Anemones (or Windflowers) carry deep meaning. Blue Anemones symbolize anticipation.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Motes Balaclava and a Great Unmasking in Gotham

Meet Mr. Motes – he’s up to no good. The Adventures of Miss Flit, is a beautifully illustrated cloak and dagger story by Beth Hahn, set in turn of the century New York. Emma Flitt weaves her way through back streets and alleys to find her sister Lucy, who has mysteriously vanished.

This is the Motes Balaclava that I contributed to The Adventures of Miss Flit, Vol. I, Chapter III, “The Séance.” It’s one of the many original patterns in this book. The Balaclava is a Russian winter mask that originated from the Crimean War – Battle of Balaclava (October 25, 1854). Interestingly this infamous British battle involved a legendary feud between Lord Raglan and the Earl of Cardigan.

In this four-part knitting novella you’ll encounter Mr. Motes and a cast of characters that include, magicians, clairvoyants, charlatans, pick pockets... and original knitting patterns. To purchase this series go to

Although Miss Flitt’s world is fiction set in old New York, shady characters do wander freely and openly. The wealthiest and dirtiest of them all roam the steps of Albany and their tangled pattern of corruption and greed is now becoming more obvious. Be warned, these men are dangerous...

In a Series of Phone Calls, an Ear into a Federal Corruption Case
(NYT, David Halbfinger,  March 11, 2011)

Recently in New York, the mask was pulled off the faces of a few unsavory Albany politicos. 8 corrupt lawmakers have been arrested, including Sen. Carl Kruger,  lobbyist Richard Lipsky, and Assemblyman William F. Boyland, Jr..  They all have finally fallen after a four year federal investigation revealed charges of money laundering, bribery, and millions of dollars in backroom deals. Potential jail time for Kruger is 60 years — orange jumpsuits and cheese sandwiches will soon replace a lavish life built on greed and tax payer dollars.

Developer Among Cast of Characters in Kruger Case
(NYT, James Barron, March 10, 2011)

This particularly turns my stomach as the trail leads directly to Atlantic Yards Developer, Forest City Ratner. So many dirty hands have passed through this deal, yet FCR remains virtually Teflon of bribery charges, even as their vice president of governmental affairs and public relations, Bruce Bender, is sourced in a taped $9 million covert conversation with Kruger. FCR has recently retired the service of their lobbyist Richard Lipsky effective since hearing the news of his arrest. Even as I look out my Prospect heights window, I see the traffic and congestion that leads to the arena, a reminder of how we have all been mired in this dirty deal. After the Ridge Hill bribery incident, will Bender and FCR be spared to gallows again?

Most Effective Corruption Hunter in New York
(The New York Observer, Azi Paybarah, March 10, 2011)

In the wake of these arrests, Manhattan federal prosecutor, Preet Bharara boldly proclaimed “This case should serve as a wake-up call.” “It seems that no matter how many times the alarm goes off, Albany just hits the snooze button...” Don’t they know that if they drink from the same dirty cup, they’re bound to be sucking up mud? Be warned Albany, there will be no one left to pay off.

To this day every filthy moneyed-hand that’s been involved with the Atlantic Yards Project mockingly call us “the opposition” and say that our neighborhood, Prospect Heights, is “blighted.” They fail to call us what we really are: the residents of Prospect Heights. We actually live here and must bear the brunt of their doing, meanwhile they watch from distant penthouse towers. But who will be left to tell this tale New York corruption? Visit Atlantic Yards Report, Norman Oder’s watchdog blog is dedicated to following our New York pols, Eminent Domain Abuse, and the backroom deals which gave us the money pit of tax dollars and public funds known as the Atlantic Yards Project. You can’t make this story up.

Thanks Bobby Young for lending your modeling talents to my Balaclava.

Another Square Meal...
Mushroom Frittata

I’m really getting into these cooking rings. Here’s another square egg dish: Mushroom Frittata with red pepper, parsley, cheddar cheese, and onion. It's served with cocktail sauce with a healthy side of buttered toast fries.

This recipe makes breakfast for two — or brunch for two depending how late your day starts on a weekend. It’s important not to over-fill the rings, otherwise they’ll flow over the tops of the rings as they cook. You’ll add the eggs into the rings to make layers, sorta like a parfait.

Since this dish is finished by steaming in a non-stick, you won’t need much butter, but that’s entirely up to you.

For this Mushroom Frittata recipe and more visit

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Take a Trip with Travel Peanut

I'm glad I don't have a peanut allergy. How would I have gone through college without peanut butter? I love every manner of peanut — boiled, fried, roasted, salted, spiced with chili and lime. You might say peanuts inspire me.

Phillip the cat likes my new Travel Peanut, but for now it only goes from the couch to the floor, and under a chair. Take this loungey legume along  in a car, on a plane, or a train — it conveniently scrunches down into a bag. Travel Peanut has just the right ergonomic support for your neck, so rest your weary head when you’re on the road.

Now here’s a legume for people with nut allergies. This is two a part pattern: zippered slip case and casing. It makes for easy wear an care if you travel a lot. I want to stuff this pillow with buckwheat hull— imagine how good that would smell when you lay your head down and close your eyes.

My lab assistant, Phillip gave it a thorough road test for durability. He took thoughtful paws... conclusion: he confirmed we have a winner.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Slipped Waffles

Here’s a tasty treat: Slipped Waffle Stitch. this is one of my favorite knit stitches. What I like about this version of a waffle stitch is that it creates a very deeply textured fabric. It works well with most medium or chunky weight yarn.

Gordon K. is wearing one of my Eskimo Pies. I modified the Slipped Waffle Stitch without purls to create a very toothsome sock stitch. I used Cascade 220 and Cascade Eco Yarn.

As with most slipped stitches, it’s very firm and warm on the body. I’ve used this stitch for making hats and bags. Accessories aside, this would make a great man's button-down jacket or coat. Give this swatch the taste test... bon appétit!

Swatch up the Slipped Waffle Stitch

To work flat, cast on 21. Start on the wrong side.
(multiples of 2 + 1)
R01: Purl all.
R02: K1, (k1, slip 1 ) X9, k2.
R03: P1, (k1, slip 1) X9, p2.
R04: k1, (p1, knit 1 through back of loop) X9, p1, k1.
Repeat rows 1 to 4.

To work in the round, cast on 42. Join yarn
R01: Knit all.
R02 : (Slip 1, k1, ) to end.
R03:  (Slip 1, p1) to end.
R04: (Knit 1 through back of loop, p1, ) to end.
Repeat rows 1 to 4.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Square Egg in a Round Hole

Square cooking rings: a culinary  oxymoron — I bought two at New York Cake & Baking Distributors the other day. I was actually supposed to have bought vanilla, but got distracted by the shiny isle.

So I made square poached eggs with chives, and home fries for brunch on a sunny Saturday afternoon — two eggs in each ring. I had a set of round rings at one point... lost ‘em between apartment moves. These new rings are much thicker and they distribute heat much better... most of all they just look real cool.

What did we do before these fanciful gadgets? My grandmother used to make her coconut flan in rings that were made from large coffee cans. The bottoms were cut free and the edges were filed smooth. They weren’t as impressive as store bought equipment but they did a nice job.

This was much less effort than poaching eggs in a boiling pot of water and vinegar. For details go to I’m making square coconut flan next time around.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

JimmiGirl: Eyelets Are on You

JimmiGirl is a skullcap made for her. Let traveling ribs take you from the office to a night on the town — just slip it on and step outside. A lattice of eyelets, and bobbles, make this women’s skullcap incredibly elastic — it’s very kind to your hair.

Delicate cables wind their way up JimmiGirl’s crown, ending in modest bobbles. The Vikkel Braid band elegantly frames your face — now all you need is a smile. Could a lady ask for anything more from a hat?

This PDF pattern will be available for purchase on this blog in about two weeks. JimmiGirl is written for knitters with an experienced hand. The pattern has instructions for women’s sizes S, M, L, and XL. It’s a quick knit for chunky yarn lovers.

Doesn't this look perfect on Joy? Thanks Joy M. for modeling my JimmiGirl hat.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

JimmiBoy: He’s a Chunky Monkey

Meet JimmiBoy, a skullcap designed for him… but she’ll probably steal it. The traveling twisted-rib pattern makes this cap extra-stretchy for lots of wear, tear, and lots of hair. It also fold neatly into a jacket or back pocket.

The Yarn Monkey pattern store will be up running in early summer 2011, but this PDF pattern will be available for purchase on this blog in about two weeks.

JimmiBoy is written for the intermediate knitter — experienced hands should be able to knit this hat in about 8 hours. The pattern has instructions for men’s sizes S, M, L, and XL. Chunky yarn makes for a quick knit. It also gives a clean stitch definition to the 1 X 1 twisted ribs and cables as they travel up the crown.

The band is knit in stitch called “Vikkel Braid,” a traditional Estonian stitch that lays completely horizontal.  It resembles a herringbone, but with a more rope-like quality. It makes for a very firm, elastic band.

Thanks again to James K. for modeling the JimmiBoy.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Blancmange for Dessert

Some Brits fondly refer to blancmange (blə-mɒnʒ) as “shape.” Similar to Italian panna cotta, This custard is made with whole-fat milk, cream, eggs, and sugar. But the key ingredient to this rich silky dessert is carrageen, aka Irish moss — without it, it's just pudding. Some recipes call for agar, cornstarch or gelatin as a substitute.

Blancmange is derived from Old French for “white food.” It was found on the tables of the upper-class, dating as far back as the Middle Ages, although the original recipe includes shredded chicken meat and almonds... yuk, that’s just wrong!

This is the same dried carrageen that Lucy sent to us from Ireland. After soaking in cold water, the dark purple bundles bloom into delicate lavender and cream petals. Carrageen dissolves easily in hot liquid to form a thick liquid.

This custard from the UK is actually easy to make, and you probably have most everything you need in your kitchen... except for the Irish moss of course. For this blancmange recipe and detailed instructions visit

Of Irish Moss and Old Lace

At first glance this might be mistaken for a fallen a Vanda orchid, or maybe florets of lacy Hydrangea Hortensia. These lovely petals are actually seaweed. This week a mysterious parcel arrived from Ireland. In it were a carton of dried Irish moss (Carrageen), and a bundle of Dillisk.

About a month ago when I met with Irish siren, Lucy Foley, we had the most inspired conversation over coffee and yarn. Beautiful colors and textures of music, the dance of lyrical poetry, chartreuse seaweed, iridescent kelp, nautical berries, knobs, and lace that drift their way into Irish crochet.

We sat down to design long flowing sleeves that reach the floor and drape like Dillisk washing ashore. Her upcoming performance is only in a few months. Are we ready? Soon after that, she left  — bound for Limerick.

Meanwhile in my kitchen... I could smell the Northwestern coast of Ireland as I soaked these wizened bundles in cold water — so salty and sweet. A tidal pool of rose madder, lavender, and cream branches untangled and bloomed like a mermaid’s forgotten corsage. Silky purple Dillisk unfurled, softly flowing like ribbon over the back of my hand — it’s translucent fingers running over mine.

I love Lucy’s music. As I listen to her song “It’s a Tangle” I clearly recall Lucy saying “Don't make me look like Queen of the Faeries, now...” I think she meant Kate Bush, not Maeve.