Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Crochet for the Kittehs

I finally got my crocheting done for Dixie (previously referred to as my daemon) and Odin (Nicole's cat and bunneh snuggler). In case you've lost track, Dixie loves me (usually) and Odin hates me (permanently), but that's not stopping my crafting for Christmas.

Earlier this year, I blogged about the Cozy Crochet Kit and today's post is about another pattern from it. There is a pattern in the kit for crocheted cat mousies. I've made Dixie a few of them in the past, stuffed with Fiber Fill and catnip, and she LOVES them.

This year, I decided to try and make amends with Odin and made him one as well. I like to overstuff the ones I make so they are firmer. Hopefully, they'll hold up better that way because Dixie beats the holy hell out of her mousies. And this year, we ended up getting some really quality nip, the Kong brand, from PetsMart.

The only thing I don't recommend doing with this pattern is using a mohair-type yarn. I think these need a sturdier yarn so they'll hold up better. I've used boucle and even the ugly ass yarn from my friend Jan, and Dixie puts a hurtin' on her favorite toys, so this year I'm trying a sturdy cotton yarn.

Pink meeces. I included the can of cat food to give you an idea of how these are for size. I don't know what size hook I used because it was a thin, unlabeled hook. See how plump these suckers are? I think the creator of that pattern probably figured they should be stuffed with about half as much Fiber Fill as I used. Dixie will grab a toy, roll over onto her back and wrap her arms around it, while kicking the crap out of it with her back legs.

I had a good little giggle while making these, just because of the color. It's Lily's Sugar 'n Cream in Strawberry and they hardly need any yarn to complete. I'm almost hoping cats are colorblind (because who can know exactly how an animal sees?) because once Odin sees his girlie-looking mouse, I don't think he'll forgive me. Despite being a Mama's boy, he's a pretty tough little guy.

Adventures in Pork

I am usually at a complete loss when it comes to how to make pork chops since I make them so rarely. I took one out of the freezer a few nights ago for my husband and it was time to look for a recipe. This one turned out amazingly well and made the best gravy ever, which was a feat in itself because I usually can't make gravy.
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 pork chops, 3/4-inch thick, bone-in
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (I didn't have any buttermilk so I substituted a quick shot of regular 1% milk.)
  • Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
Put the flour in a shallow platter and add the onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne, salt, and pepper; mix with a fork to distribute evenly. Pat the pork chops dry with paper towels to remove any moisture and then dredge them in the seasoned flour; shaking off the excess. 

Heat a large saute pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat and coat with the oil. When the oil is nice and hot, lay the pork chops in the pan in a single layer and fry for 3 minutes on each side until golden brown.

Remove the pork chops from the pan and add a little sprinkle of seasoned flour to the pan drippings. Mix the flour into the fat to dissolve and then pour in the chicken broth in. Let the liquid cook down for 5 minutes to reduce and thicken slightly.

Stir in the buttermilk to make a creamy gravy and return the pork chops to the pan, covering them with the sauce. Simmer for 5 minutes until the pork is cooked through. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with chopped parsley before serving.

Somehow, this instantly made gravy with the easiest bit of work I've ever come across in a gravy recipe. If it had been any easier, it would have come out of a jar.

A Fast Paced Christmas Carol

Friday, December 17, 2010

A True Fortune

I got this in my fortune cookie today. Seems pretty true to me.

"Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort."

Turns out that it's a quote from Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Best "Peanuts" Theme

"Linus and Lucy" by the Vince Guaraldi Trio from "A Charlie Brown Christmas."

My holidays aren't complete until I see the Peanuts holidays specials!

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Greatest Christmas Carol EVER

Tater Tot Breakfast Bake

On Saturday night, I did a mental inventory of the breakfast items we had in the house for a good breakfast the next morning. I typed in a few keywords in Yahoo and came across the Tater Tot Breakfast Bake recipe.

This is one of the best breakfasts I've had in a long time, and it made enough for leftovers for a couple of days. In fact, even reheated the next day, it was still just as good as it was fresh out of the oven. The flavors of everything had time to really meld together overnight in the frig.

  • 6 slices cooked and crumbled bacon
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard (this was the only thing I had to leave out because I didn't have it)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 16 ounces tater tots
Prep Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 55 mins
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Beat together eggs, milk, salt, mustard and pepper.
  3. Grease a 9x13 baking dish. Layer bacon, egg mixture and cheese.
  4. Arrange tater tots on top.
  5. Bake for 40 minutes or until eggs are set and tater tots are golden brown. When I made it, I know my oven was properly preheated because our oven has a digital readout and actually dings when it gets heated up to the temperature you want. But for some reason, maybe it was the pan I was using, it needed to bake another 10 minutes, for a total of 50 minutes. After 40 minutes when I took it out and cut into it, the milk and eggs were still a bit runny. 
Like I said, this was a wonderful breakfast. With the Tater Tots on top, it really turned this into a firm casserole. It's definitely a keeper recipe! 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Little Something For Me Today

It's fun to lurk on other people's knit and crochet blogs because you never know what you're going to find. Now, I don't know how to knit (I tried once and the two needles just left me confused) but some knit patterns can easily be converted to crochet right in your own head.

A while back, I stumbled across "Off the Hook Astronomy" by Ilana. Aside from being a grad student in Astrophysics at University of Toronto, she also knits and crochets. In 2009, she created a kick ass knit pattern for a potholder. It's of the Star Trek: The Next Generation logo.

Even though I don't knit, I was able to look at her pattern and figure out how to do it in crochet, because she made it into a chart, like the Steelers blanket pattern that I did earlier this year.

There are some minor changes going between knit and crochet. While Ilana's knit version measured 8" square, my crocheted version measured 13.75"x9", which makes for more of a hotpad than an potholder. But that doesn't matter to me! :) I love how this turned out!

It was crocheted on an H sized hook with 2 strands of each color yarn (from my Grandma) at a time: 1 skein of Red Heart in Jockey Red and 1 skein of Pamida brand Wintuk in Black. (I think the Wintuk was a part of Red Heart's line.) These are some of the new yarns I got from her after she passed away, that are about 26 years old and still in beautiful shape. I did rows of SC's, but not in Tunisian stitches because I haven't figured that out yet. The black is actually all one long continuous piece of 2 strands, but I added in the 2 strands of red for each row it appeared. After finishing it, I trimmed off the tails and gave it a little tug in each direction and I'm very happy with it.

Many thanks to Ilana for posting this pattern. I'm heading back over to her blog to let her know someone else made it.

While I was working on it, I managed to figure out a way to use Photoshop to graph some other images into squares to crochet into potholders so those will be coming in a few days.