Monday, June 20, 2011

Why I Am Satan's Spawn

     The eye doctor (may he be chopped into pieces and thrown into a fire fueled by his own blood) cancelled my appointment today, delaying the possible prescription of nerd glasses, so I figured I'd take this extra time to share some of my recent activities.
     There are times in life where you try something and you fail at it.  Miserably.  I am no exception to this pattern.  One such occurrence occurred in the form of fudge.  I was home for a short time, an hour or two, and with the mother unit out of the house I was free to be as evil as I wished.  And I wished to make fudge.
     But the fudge didn't wish to be made.  Things went wrong from the beginning.  I needed evaporated milk, and couldn't find any, but after an extensive googling period I found that heavy whipping cream could (probably) be substituted for it.  With nothing to lose, I went ahead and added it...through a strainer.  It wasn't supposed to go bad yet, but there was a thick layer of yucky milky muck lining the inside of the carton.  I took my chances (and didn't tell anyone about it).  Hey, I strained it!  Following the cream problems, it turned out that the pot I was using, a 3 1/2 quart pot, half a quart larger than the recipe suggested, was far too small for the bubbling brew that threatened menacingly to spew forth from its cauldron.  I was forced to turn down the flame, as no amount of stirring could keep the monster back, thus preventing it from completely reaching the desired 236 degree temperature.  I went ahead and added the remaining ingredients regardless, because that mercury wasn't going any higher.  After pouring it in the pan, I licked the spoon, and although I burned my tongue, it tasted alright, so I burned my tongue a few more times.  
     And that was it.  It tasted alright.  It didn't look alright.  After hours sitting on a cooling rack, the fudge had the consistency of pudding.  I started trying to remove perfectly square pieces with a small cookie spatula and ended up spooning lumpy dollops onto a plate.  Not what I was going for.  A night in the refrigerator hardened everything up, but I still felt like the fudge was a failure.  I had to try again, had to get it right.  I had to get it perfect.

     About a week later, I was going to see a friend of mine after a long-time-no-see, and we agreed to exchange goodies.  I thought it'd be a good opportunity to try the fudge again.  Her allergy to nuts made it even more appealing to go for it.  (I'm not much of a nut fan.)
     This time I was going to do it right.  A visit to the grocery store got me the holy evaporated milk, and I switched to a larger, wider pot, with a roomy 5 1/2 quart bowl.  I was going to beat this fudge.  Pun intended.
     Everything seemed to look better, even smell better.  I turned the burner about as high as I could stand to get the temperature high enough, fearing a possible overflow, but the bubbling stayed where it was supposed to.  Pouring it into the pan to harden, it tasted pretty much the same as before, but I definitely burned my tongue more.  Then the moment of truth came.  Still slightly warm on the bottom, but it had definitely solidified into a glorious, swirly slab of irresistible chocolate fudge.  Here, take a look.


     I couldn't get it out by inverting the pan as would have been simply marvelous, but cutting pieces out worked just fine.  I cut them into little cubes that would fit into mini-muffin papers and fit 24 of them into a re-used tissue-lined box from a certain confection shop in Pennsylvania.  Check it out.

Cute, no?  I could do this for a living.

Here you can see the (Valentine's Day themed) paper cradle.   It matched the box.

     I really hope I don't get any flack about showing the box, but I won't know if I did something wrong unless someone complains, right?  And yes, that's my name on the box.  The same name as the (Greek) company.  Thought it might add a little charm.
     So, I've conquered Wonka's nightmare, at least the beginning of it.  The boss level comes when you start gettin' fancy with the flavors and colors.  And I don't think grit alone will be enough for that challenge.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Granger Danger

Now that school's out and I can't stand to wake up any later than eight, I have no excuse not to blog. So, for the next few months, I can put all those English classes to use and share with everyone how I fill my surplus of time. And by Georgie, it had better be entertaining.

I'll begin with my latest creation: a hat. But not just any hat. Hermione's hat, from the sixth movie. It all started with that two-week trip to the east coast, during a certain visit in the Amish country. We'd stopped in Intercourse (tee hee) and were browsing the little knick-knack shops for purchasable goods when my parents notified me about a yarn store in the area. The Lancaster Yarn Shop. Just what I'd been hoping for. A quick pace brought me up a small flight of stairs into a cozy little store full of woolen skeins and hand-dyed hanks in just about every color nature has to offer. After an agonizing sight of the price of truly local hand-spun Amish yarns, I settled on a Brown Sheep Co. mohair/wool hank of about 4 oz. It was a splendid green, one I'd describe as a hilly pasture after a summer rain, complete with a rainbow and highland cows lazily grazing. As it seemed to me to be somewhat thinner than my usual yarns, it had to be made into something delicate and beautiful. I decided to make a hat out of it, a knit one, and as soon as I was home from the trip I set out to find such a pattern.
Google is a wonderful thing. A few keywords, and like man's best friend the search engine brought back what I was looking for.

Delicate, no? It was the perfect hat for this yarn, I reckoned. There was just one thing, one tiny thing....cables. I'd never done cables. I've knitted plenty of hats, (baby hats, panda hats), but they were all just that. Knit. Nothing spectacular, just knit, knit, knit. This involved cabling, or knitting stitches out of order. Needless, to say, it was intimidating...but I like a good challenge. I knitted half of the brim and was overwhelmed by other things demanding my attention, (school, dance practices, graduation), so I put off finishing it for a long time, but just a few days ago I picked it up again and finished it! Cabling wasn't as tough of an ordeal as I thought it would be, but it made knitting tighter, and therefore more difficult. Regardless of the obstacles, it turned out to be a pretty cute hat, and I even took a picture of it...

And you can find the pattern at this blog. I only made a few small changes: a K2, P2 brim instead of the K1, P1, (which is not like Hermione's hat, I know, but I like a stronger looking brim) and in her 4.5 errata round, instead of K6, K2tog, I wanted to finish the purling sections with K6, P2tog.
So, there you have it! A blog post from me with a cute hat pattern to boot. I should get out of school more often...