Friday, October 11, 2013

Chipotle Beef Stew with Root Veggies

It's a been a while since I posted and lots of things have changed for me.  I have joined the working outside the home world.  My first foray into the working world since becoming a parent was at the flailing JCPenney.  After that got tiresome I started applying to positions that interested me much more.  I got hired on at my local co-op.  I love it there.  I work in the education and outreach department mostly behind the scenes for the cooking classes.

I am learning all kinds of things and getting to rub elbows with fantastic cooks and chefs. Ergo I am more inspired to be in the kitchen.

Tuesdays dinner plan that turned into lunch was a goal to use up some things:  an unlabeled roast with little marbling and a nice fat cap,  local peppers, sweet potatoes and some celeriac.


2lbs roast - I trimmed the fat cap off and cut into cubes
2-3 tbl - local lard
1-2 cups beef broth
1 chipotle in adobe sauce from the freezer - roughly chopped
1 yellow onion cut in to quarters
salt an pepper for the beef

My plan was to pressure cook the beef so it would be tender and juicey for a stew or beef tacos.  I seasoned the beef cubes with salt and pepper and browned them in the pressure cooker in two batches in lard.  Then added them back into the poth with chipolte in adobo sauce and onion the topped the cube off with about 1.5 cups of beef broth cubes that were in the freezer.  Got the pressure cooker to pressure and cooked for 15 minutes and waited for it to cool down naturally.

1 yellow onions  chopped
1 tbl oregano
2 tbl tomato paste
3 peppers both red and green chopped
4 cloves of garlic minced
about 1/2 cup celeriac  chopped medium fine
more beef broth to cover the veggies and beef

When the beef was done I prepared the above veggies.  I pulled out my 6 quart enamel dutch oven and sauteed the onions until mostly translucent then added the garlic and oregano then the rest of the veggies and cooked a bit more.  Then added the tomato paste, beef and most of the pressure cooking liquid.  I over salted the beef and the broth was quit rich so I saved back some of it and put it in the freezer and topped off the stew with more beef broth in the pantry. I brought the stew to a simmer and had it for lunch.

I thought is was pretty good even if a bit salty and had a nice smokey flavor and heat from the chipotle.


You could top it with some fresh cilantro like I did for leftovers the next day.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Yarn School Spring 2013 - Part 1

Wow it's been a while since I updated my blog. I've been busy dyeing fiber and spinning.  I'm doing more drop spinning than wheel spinning.  I have plans lots of plans and never enough time.  I got a part-time job and still homeschooling at least one of the kids.  I wanted to share all my goodies from Yarn School this year.  I got to go with a great fiberista friend who has finally figured out I am weird.  It took her a while.

Anyway on to the fiber I dyed at Yarn School this spring.

Merino - Lavender Love
Lavender Light - Merino
I was going for something a bit darker so I may overdye this after spinning it up.

Neon Mercury
Neon Mercury - Falkland
Inspired by a photo of Mercury.  This one is handpainted and nuked in the microwave.  The depth of sahde is growing on me but I might try this darker later.

Muted Mercury
Muted Mercury - Portuguese
I used the same colors I used in Neon Mercury but poured them willy nilly on the fiber in a crockpot in layers.  I added the citric acid at the end.  I'd like to try this again with the acid in the fiber and/or in the dye so it strikes faster and gets less blending.  I do like the more heathered look this has.

Pale BSG
Dusty BSG - Wool
The colors I chose for this one were supposed to be inspired by Battlestar Galactica but the depth of shade is off so I plan to give this try but darker.

Indigo Blue
Indigo Blue - Wool
Dyed in an Indigo Dye Vat.  I have all the supplies for this and want to do more at home.

My plans are to spin up the Indigo Blue, Muted Mercury and Dusty BSG for a sweater.  Lavender Light may be a shawl and Neon Mercury screams baby sweater but I don't know of any babies just yet who need this yarn.

Stay tuned for Part 2 -  This was the funnest Yarn School Evar!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Happiness is.....

a drawer full of clean hand knit socks


and some new ones for my feet.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Fiber Friday: Core Spinning

Thursday I tackled core spinning. Core spinning is a technique where you sort of draft fibers over a core yarn. The core yarn can be commercially prepared or you can spin your own. You can even spin two single then while you ply you core spin. I didn't challenge myself that much. I took some Lion Brand Fisherman's wool I had handy and added some extra twist and carded up some fiber on the carder.

The results of my hard work: about 20 yards for each skein.

From left to right skein 1, 2 3, 4.

Skein 1

Fiber: Punta. Carded on the drum carder in layers: yellow, green, blue not necessarily in the order. It wasn't much more than .6 oz on half the carder. I attenuated the batt before spinning.

 I dyed this last week.
A little blurry but you can kind of see the colors after I attenuated the batt.

Core: Added extra twist to the left. Core spun to the right. Held fiber in left hand and yarn on the right. When the skein hangs it twists to the right.

 In theory adding the left twist then core spinning right or vice versa helps create a balanced yarn when you're done. I also had a hard time controlling the drafting.

Skein 2 
Fiber: The same Punta fiber as above about .6 oz. Carded on the drum carder by lining up the colors side by side. I attenuated the batt before spinning.


Core: Added even more twist the left. Core spun to the right. Held fiber in left hand and yarn on the right. I tried to slow things down and did a little better. When hanging it still twists to the right even with the extra twist in the core. Here where I realized I usually hold my fiber in my right hand. Then thought I should change how I add extra twist because of that.

From left to right skein 1, 2 3, 4. You can see here how the skeins hang.

Skein 3

Purple Polworth I'm using for another project but some of the darker bits called out to used for the core spinning.

Fiber: purple polwarth and the same punta above. Carded the purple on one side and the layered the other on the left using half the carder for a .6 oz batt. Did not attenuated the fibers. I just pulled chunks off for spinning.

Core: Added twist to the right until the commercial yarn looked liked it was plied to the right. Core spun to the left with the fiber in my right hand and core yarn on the left. This felt so much better to have the fiber in my right hand. I felt like I had lot more control.

I still had too much twist in the end. This time to the left since I core spun to the left.

Skein 4

Fiber: About .6 oz of purple polwarth and the same punta above but I layered the colors on the carder. No attenuation. I didn't get a fiber prep photo for this skein.

Core: Added extra twist to the left. Core spun to the right with the fiber in right hand and the core yarn on the left. I kept things pretty slow. I do find as I go along needing more take up to get the yarn to wind on. This was my best skein so far although still a little unbalanced.  The fiber drafted on more smoothly.

I'm thinking bulky knit hat.  I want to try some core spinning on some lace or fingering yarn next. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Fiber Friday: The Merino Saga

A while back I got some some purple merino and tussah silk in a trade thinking I would spin some lace yarn.

Using about 3 ounces of the purple merino you see above and an ounce of the tussah silk in the lower left corner. I made some batts.


I got bored spinning so fine so I chain plied what I had spun so far and set the yarn aside.

3ply, chain plied,  over the fold, short forward draw, no twist in drafting zone.
187 yards, .92 oz/.06 lbs, 3224 ypp, 40wpi, lace weight

Then I decided it would be lovely fiber for a hat or mittens but a thicker yarn.  So I set the ratio to 5:1 with some take up and spun over the fold long draw.

2 ply, 5:1 ratio, over the fold long draw
134 yards, 1.6 oz/.17 lbs, 1340 ypp, 18wpi, sport weight

Then I spun some more:

2 ply, 5:1 ratio, over the fold long draw
108 yards, .98 oz/ .06 lb, 1808 ypp, 16-18wpi, sport weight but a little thinner than the skein above.

Then I decided to take what purple fiber I had left, some natural merino and the last once of tussah silk and blend in various ways to play with color.


I divided the fiber up for two batts.  So the batts would be light and airy.


Above you can see the little bit of purple merino I had left and some of the silk.


Here I added another layer of natural merino

One of the lovely batts right after it's first pass.  I made another batt.  I took one batt and blended it one more time.  Then took half of that and blended that for a third time.   Sadly I did not document the batts for those skeins.  All this was also  spun pulling off small chunks of the batt and spinning over the fold long draw at a ratio 5:1 with some take up.

From the top one pass (1x), two passes (2x), three passes (3x) through the carder.

Blended 1x - I like this this one the best with the little bits if colors popping out.  I'm excited to see how this knits up:
blended 1x
2 ply, 5:1 ratio, over the fold long draw
167 yards, 1.6 oz/ .11 lb 1670 ypp, 18 wpi, sport weight

Blended 2x - I like how I can still see some of the colors but it's more muted and heathered.  I love heathered colors:
blended 2x

2 ply, 5:1 ratio, over the fold long draw
100 yards, .88 oz/ .06 lb, 1667 ypp, 18wpi. sport weight

Blended 3x - Even more muted than the skein above.
blended 3x

2 ply, 5:1 ratio, over the fold long draw
111 yards, .88 oz/ .06 lb, 1853 ypp, 18 wpi, sport weight - little thinner than skein above

The colors are fairly well represented in the photos.  In natural light you might be able to see the greens and purple in the yarn more clearly.  Yet my online and real life friend saw gray.  From a distance I think these skeins did come out a warm gray.  I think I fill in the other colors because I know what the tussah silk looked like before it was blended with the the fibers.


This photo is a bit blurry but you can see how intense the colors were. Initially I planned to over-dye some of the skeins for more colors.  My knit groups told me not to.  They thought the colors were beautiful as is so I'm going to listen to their sage advice.


So now the hat idea has turned into a shawl idea.  Stay tuned for future project updates.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What's Cookin' Wednesday: Stew is the thing

The cooler weather just sings soup and all things starchy and roasted. Monday nights dinner was a light beef root veggie stew with homemade beef broth.  Stephen helped me with it before he headed into the office on Monday.  We used Julian Child'' directions.  I didn't cook the broth down since I wanted a broth rather than a glaze.


Luscious Light Beef Stew

About 1 lb stew beef -  Browned in my pressure cooker then filled the bottom with beef broth and cooked for 12 minutes at high pressure.  I ended up using only half that amount because my soup bone was quite meaty.

1 large rutabaga cubed
1 large leek chopped
4 garlic cloves chopped
1 large sweet potato cubed
1 pablano pepper chopped
2 ribs of celery chopped
6 cups beef broth

Add some oil or ghee to the pan ans saute the leeks, celery for a bit then add the garlic and peppers.  After a bit add the the other veggies and cook a bit more.  Add the beef and top it off with about 6 cup beef broth.

Heat to a simmer for 20 minutes or until the veggies are tender.  When done add more broth if you want a lighter soup.  I added about 3 more ladles of broth.
Serve with a salad or roasted veggies.  I had roasted brussel sprouts and carrots.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Belated Fiber Friday: Stockings are done!

I just love them.  They are colorfun.  I'm going to hang them up now and enjoy them everyday until Winter Solstice.

From left to right: Dad, Mom, Girl Kid, Boy Kid.

Plenty of yarn left for a pair of stockings for my feet or maybe a super cute colorful baby sweater.