Drop Biscuits

I tried my hand at an 18th Century cookie recipe today, and it turned out great!

The recipe is from Eliza Smith’s The Complete Housewife (that links directly to the recipe’s page – folks outside the US may not be able to access it). I first came across it in this video.

This is a very simple egg-leavened cookie. You start by combining the eggs and sugar and then gradually add the flour, then beat the batter to the ribbon stage (and it’s definitely more the consistency of cake batter than of cookie dough). Despite what the guy in the video says, this will not take an hour in a stand mixer. I let mine run for about ten minutes on medium to get it to the right consistency, and I probably could have stopped a minute or two before that. Even with a hand-held electric mixer it won’t take an hour.

Since it was going to be mixed so vigorously, I used cake flour instead of AP, and I added a little bit of almond extract, just for fun (I’m going for yumminess, not historical accuracy).

The recipe recommends doing a double-bake, in order to drive out the moisture and get a super crispy cookie, so after baking them at 400 F for about 4.5 minutes (the video suggested 5 – 6, but my oven runs hot), I let them cool completely while the oven cooled to 250 F, and then popped them in again for 10 minutes. The first bake goes really quickly, so you have to keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t brown.

They are great! They’re super crispy, but not hard, and they just melt in your mouth. I made little cookie sandwiches out of the ones I taste-tested, with some dulce de leche. Yum!

UPDATE: It occurred to me that these had a similar structure to lady fingers, so I decided to try them in a trifle. As far as texture goes, they’re spot on, but they are a little bland. I think next time I might add a pinch of salt to the batter just to give it a bit more depth, and maybe a little bit of lemon extract instead of the almond.

Knitting thoughts

I’m working on a new baby sweater for a coworker who’s recently adopted a toddler. The pattern is called Metamorphic, and if you use three shades of the same colour, you get a cool ombre effect. I’m doing it in shades of brown.

Metamorphic Sweater

I’ve always known that I’m a tight knitter, but it was really driven home to me when I started this sweater. The pattern calls for DK weight yarn, but I could only find three shades of the same colour in worsted. For a normal knitter, this would mean that you’d have to go down a needle size to account for the thicker yarn, but when I started swatching, I found I needed to go up a needle size!

I’ve never been tempted to instagram my food, but it occurred to me this past week, watching a few friends at knitting circle trying to get good shots of their projects, that we look just like those food bloggers when we’re doing so. I have found myself perching on a step stool perched on a chair to get the height needed to photograph some of my larger projects.

Rainbow Valley by Lucy Maud Montgomery

My latest LibriVox recording is out!

Rainbow Valley is the sixth book in the Anne of Green Gables series. In this book, the narrative switches from Anne to her children and their friends the Merediths.

This is my last Anne book to record for LibriVox, since the remaining Anne books are, unfortunately, still in copyright in the US.

Ten From Infinity by Paul W. Fairman

My latest LibriVox audiobook has just been published. Ten From Infinity is a Science Fiction novel by Paul W. Fairman.

LibriVox audiobooks are free recordings of public domain publications.

The summary from the book jacket:
It began when a pedestrian got hit by a cab in New York City. No doubt it was the only motor mishap in the history of creation that reached out among the stars—for far out in space a signal was registered: Something has gone wrong….

And something had gone wrong, for the doctors discovered their accident patient had two hearts. It was the beginning of the discovery that the Earth had been invaded by 10 such creatures from Outer Space.

Every effort was made to learn their purpose. An orbital flight was launched to spot alien bodies—only to be destroyed in space. One of the alien men was captured—but no threat of pain or death could unlock the secret in his brain.

Something had gone wrong. And somehow, some way had to be found to make it right—before the threat of danger overwhelmed all mankind.

Parental guilt trips

So about ten years ago I made this shawl. It was my first attempt at large scale lace, and I only made it because I wanted to try my hand at a big lace project. I don’t often wear shawls, and so it stays in my closet most of the time. About the only time it gets use is if I need such an item for a theatre costume. My mother has seen and admired the shawl for the last ten years, but shown no particular interest in it. Then last December I loaned the shawl to a friend to use as part of her costume in Miracle on 34th Street and a picture of it ended up on facebook. My aunt admired it and commented that she wished I’d make her one, so I said she could have this one. My mother’s reaction, “You could have offered it to me!” *sigh* Mothers. So now I’m making another, identical shawl for my mother, to keep the peace (I gave her the choice of taking the original one, and I’d make another for my aunt, or of getting something different. This was her choice.) At this point in its construction, it looks sort of like a mermaid’s tail.

A Charming Magic by Tonya Kappes

My latest audiobook has been released! A Charming Magic, by Tonya Kappes, is the 5th book in the Charming Cures Mysteries.

Publisher’s Summary
Bubble, Bubble….
Magic is floating all around Whispering Falls. There is a new flower shop, Magical Moments, and an upcoming wedding that has the town on cloud nine.
Cures and Trouble….
Arabella Paxton, the owner of Magical Moments, is smart, beautiful, and has her eyes on Oscar Park. Not even the dark cloud looming over Whispering Falls is going to stop her from what she wants.
Magic Stirs….
Village president and A Charming Cure owner, June Heal, is on a mission to find out why things are dying in Whispering Falls, including her relationship with Oscar Park.
And Trouble Doubles….
There is a perfect storm brewing and a beloved Whispering Falls resident has been poisoned from a potion bought at A Charming Cure. June Heal has to use all her sleuthing skills and a little bit of magic to not only clear her name but help Oscar remember that she is the love of his life.

Sweaterpalooza is over!

I’ve finished the last of the baby sweaters for friends who’ve been having babies this year! I have this half feeling that I should make one more, so it’ll be an even dozen, but there’s no way I’d get it done before the end of the year. 🙂

This pattern calls itself “Easy Aran”, but the only cabling is in the top section just below the collar. The rest of it is more of a guernsey (also known as gansey). For those who aren’t familiar, traditional Aran patterns (the knitting style that originated in the Aran Islands, which are part of Ireland), tend to incorporate lots of texture in the form of cables, where the stitches are worked out of order, in order to pull them in one direction or another, and form what look like plaits, or sometimes, diagonal lines of stitches. Guernsey patterns originated on the Channel island of Guernsey, and also incorporate texture, but tend to knit/purl patterns instead of cables. In both cases, these started as fisherman sweaters, and needed to be thick and warm. The texturing traps air, and depending on the stitch, can double the thickness of the fabric, making it warmer.

Games!

I’m a big fan of the show Tabletop on Geek and Sundry. I was already familiar with Settlers of Catan before I started watching, but have since been introduced to a whole lot more European style board games, and I love them!

One of my favourite little features on most of these games is the score track along the outside of the game board. Keeping score with paper and pencil isn’t my favourite activity, and these games have spoiled me. So I decided to make myself a score track that I could use on games that don’t have one built in, like Qwirkle. It’s just foam board, and the game markers are painted wooden spools, but it does the job and it was cheap. The supplies cost me less than $10.

Twin Sweaters

Two more sweaters (nearly) in the bag! These two needed to be the same size as the previous three, since the two sets of babies were born around the same time, but I hadn’t marked down the size I used for the first three (6-9 month), and chose the wrong one (3-6 month) and ended up with a too-small sweater. So, technically, I have three more sweaters (nearly) in the bag, because I went ahead and finished the too-small one for the next person on the list.

For my second attempt at the first twin sweater, and before I realized that the error I had made was choosing the wrong size, I decided to use the Tulip sweater from the last set as my base again, and just add the colourwork from the other sweater. I chose to put the colourwork on the yoke, however. I ended up liking this shade of blue better than the original too.

The second twin sweater also has the Tulip sweater as a base, and colourwork from a different pattern. This time, the original pattern had the colourwork on the yoke, and I decided to put it at the bottom of the body instead, because my brain is weird and doesn’t like doing things the easy way. This one still needs the ends woven in and the buttons sewn on (sheep buttons!).

I have one more baby sweater on my list, but I’m taking a break from baby clothes for a little while to knit a blouse for a co-worker. I’m uncertain who it’s for. Our first conversation led me to believe it was for her; the second that it was for her sister. They picked out the yarn and pattern together, but my co-worker never even started it. I get the sense that, when it came down to it, she was out of her depth, and so kept putting it off, to the point where her sister has stopped asking about it.

Triplet sweaters

I’ve nearly finished the trio of sweaters for a set of triplets. They’re two boys and a girl, so I decided not to make identical sweaters. I started with the tulip yoke sweater in my previous post, and then used the same basic pattern but with different colourwork for the two boys’ sweaters.

Three baby sweaters

The paw print sweater has a bear on the back. I was able to find flower and bear buttons for the tulip and bear sweaters, but couldn’t find any buffalo buttons at the store, so I was making do with some random cute sheep buttons, until one of the ladies at the knitting circle mentioned that she had once used some buttons made from old buffalo nickels. The woman is brilliant. Look at these. Aren’t they just perfect?!?

Buffalo nickel buttons

I’m just waiting for them to arrive, and then this set will be completely done!

Next up, identical sweaters for identical twins.