15 March 2017

Pi Day Cookery

Many geeky people celebrate March 14th as "Pi Day", because the number begins 3.14.  Many of my friends talked about the pies they were making for lunch or supper, ranging from simple names or descriptions to photos of pies with "π" cut into the top crust, or with the number cut or stamped around the border.

Because we were having a bit of weather here (Blizzard Stella, or whatever it was called), I continued my pantry cooking plans.  Having given up gluten for Lent meant I could not do my usual quick pie crust and bake something yummy.  I didn't think to pick up potatoes, or a Shepherd's Pie would be the easy answer.  Then I realized I've had some spaghetti squash waiting to be used, so a Spaghetti Squash Pie it would be!

First. baking the squash.  Into the oven in a baking tray with some water in it at 350°F.  Then a colleague needed help and it was almost two hours before I got back to them, which was more time than needed but luckily they didn't explode or get mushy.  This was on Monday, and I had some with a quick tomato sauce and the last couple slices of provolone from an Italian cheese tray.  Not bad.  The rest I seeded and fluffed and put into the refrigerator for Tuesday, along with a package of tomatoes from the freezer, so they would have time to thaw.  It happened to be the package from which I have taken tomatoes for other recipes, so was a bit under two cups of roasted tomatoes.

There seemed to be a pinhole in the bag, because when it thawed some of the juice ran out.  I didn't mind because this left the pulp and saved me having to simmer it to concentrate the sauce.

Before cooking, I did a quick bit of research for vegetarian spaghetti pies, to get some idea of the proportions of egg and so forth.  Most agree on two eggs although some say you can use more.  This was my starting point for the dish:
The cheese is a local product, a hard, aged cheese that I thought would sub well for Parmesan: Niantic Abbey from Sankow's Beaver Brook Farm.  It has been in the 'fridge since I bought it at a farmers' market last summer, and I decided to use it so I can get some fresh this year.  I had to carve off the rind, which had gotten a bit moldy, but the cheese was fine.
I grated it on the shreds side of my new(ish) box grater.  When I was almost moving last year, I bought it (on sale for $4.99!) for my temporary apartment.  After I returned, I decided it was time to retire (recycle) my old box grater, which was not stainless steel and hard to clean.  This one is a treat!

First I shredded about a quarter cup of cheese to go into the crust, then finished the rest and set it aside for later.  I guessed at how much spaghetti squash would be equivalent to the pasta used in the recipes.  Then I mixed these with my hands, patted and spread it in the pie pan which I had oiled, and put it into the oven for about ten minutes while I made the sauce.

For the sauce, I sliced the scallions (left from St. David's Day) and sauteed them in a bit of olive oil with some minced garlic.  Then I added herbs and spices, including basil from my CSA which I had dried to keep through the winter, and some oregano, fennel seeds, hot pepper flakes, a bit of parsley.
I cooked this together for about a minute, then added the tomatoes.  I pulled out the rack with the crust on it, and spread the sauce in it.  Then I baked this for about twenty more minutes.

After that, I spread on the rest of the shredded cheese.  I thought I'd have some for later, but nope!  It's hard to see in the lefthand photo, but the crust was getting solid and crusty next to the pie pan.

After ten minutes, it was toasty, and the cheese had released oil.
I let the pie sit for a few minutes and the oil was absorbed.  Letting something like this sit for a few minutes is necessary so that it will slice neatly:
It's tasty, and the intensity of the roasted tomatoes and the intensity of the cheese play well with each other.  The other flavours are very subtle by comparison, and if I had not been hungry I would have played with the herbs a bit more.  The onion cooked down and was quite mellow.

And now I have pie to eat for lunch all week!

If you want to know how much snow we got, this picture shows the same view just after dawn, when it had been snowing for a few hours already, and just before sunset:
There had been no snow in this area the night before.  Total in my town was 14.5 inches, officially.

11 March 2017

Freeform (and Others) UFO Blog Hop

Among creative types, "UFO" means an Un-Finished Object.  Most of us have a lot of these, because we run into a creative block, or the piece becomes unwieldy, or we put it aside for some reason.  We try to encourage each other to finish UFOs, and every year in October a lovely lady named Afton hosts a UFO Completion Month on the KnitTalk list.  People post when they have completed the item and Afton sends out Prizes Of No Significant Worth with the able assistance of her Dragon-Slaying Daughter and Lara Girlcat (others of the household remain amusedly out of the way) which most recently consisted of individual pages from Franklin Habit's I Dream of Yarn and wee packs of crayons.

Everybody is delighted.

However, this is just once a year, and I have a number of other UFOs.  So when my friend Karen announced that she was hosting a UFO group, I jumped aboard.  Because Karen designs and teaches freeform beading projects (a couple of which I own, and which do not yet qualify as UFOs because I haven't started them), most of the people who joined are also beaders, but she said it is OK for me to use fiber projects as my goals.

Although I have a few other UFOs (two of which are baby blankets, but of course I cannot post about those, and one really only needs to have its ends woven in, and it's a generic one that I'm putting "in stash" for some future baby, but I digress) I decided to focus on three shawls I've started for myself, partly because of their age, and partly because people say I never make things for myself.  Which isn't entirely true, but I digress again.

One of the shawls will have beads added at the end, so it somewhat fits with everybody else's projects:

It is a ball of Taiyo Sock (which is apparently no longer being made because the Noro Yarn page just lists worsted and sport weights) that I bought at Madelinetosh a few years ago.  The pattern is an adaptation of one I was given with a ball of Kureyon Sock in a fiber guild holiday gift swap.  The pattern alternates stockinette and reverse stockinette, and after making it I decided to use all stockinette for this one because the alternating bands act as ribbing and I have to keep re-blocking the other shawl.  Since Taiyo Sock is so light, I decided to add beads to the final stripes to give it some weight.  Since I generally center-pull yarn, it was easy to determine what the colours would be and find a tube of beads that should work.  I'll report later this year if I finish and what I think of the result.

Another shawl is made from hand-dyed, handspun yarn from Iris Creek Farm.  I am doing it all in garter stitch because I think the stripes look pretty.

There is no pattern, I'm just doodling in different directions.  I'm sorry it's hard to see the directions in the full shawl picture, but when it's finished they should be more visible.  You can see the border I am doing crosswise to the previous section on the left side of the photo.

Finally, the shawl I started as part of a Knit Along when I was temporarily living and working in Wisconsin and needed something to do.  MarlyBird created the pattern and led people through it, and I just had too much solo commuting time and not enough knitting time.  Then I moved and lost track and........  

I need to get back to it.  This will be a nice big shawl that will be handy for travel, and I used a washable yarn specifically for that reason.  I'll be able to wash it easily no matter how grubby, and not worry about blocking, which the natural-fiber ones tend to need.  I love the colours, especially that pop of pewter between the blue and purple.

Some of the other participants have finished at least one UFO so far this year, but I've been dealing with deadlines (one of the aforementioned baby blanket, and items for the annual grad collection done by the mommas of Mittens for Akkol), so these are still in progress.  I have done some more on the Taiyo Sock shawl, but hope to finish the handspun one this year for sure.  To check out the other blogs in this hop: