Friday, November 28, 2014

Knitted playfood for Annabel!

A few months ago I thought it would be fun to knit my daughter some playfood for Christmas. I was a bit worried about working with DPNs again (the octopus wrangle) but I actually really enjoyed knitting these little projects. It's nice to be able to finish a project every week and let's be honest, she is going to get a lot more use out of these than a sweater in Socal!

I still want to knit her some strawberries, apple, banana, and a fish. Does anyone know of a good fish pattern? 

So I thought I'd link you to the free patterns available on Ravelry! 

Donut: loved this pattern and it gives you do many opportunities to jazz it up with different colored frosting sprinkle beads, or even embroidery sprinkles!

Ice Cream: so many options here! Waffle cone or pointed? Swirled or scooped? 

Squash: gotta have some veggies!

Celery: creative way to use the natural curl of stokinette!

Mushroom: a really quick knit! You could also embroider some spots on the cap!


All of the playfood was knitted on size 4 Bamboo DPNs. I think wood needles are the best for very tiny intricate projects since they "grip" the stitches better. Aluminum needles are just so slippery!

I use Knit Picks Wool of the Andes (worsted) for most of the food. They have a wide variety of colors to choose from and I just love the consistency of their yarn.

I use polyfill stuffing which is washable! When stuffing take lots of little fluffy clumps and pack in tight!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Cran-Apple Butter for the Holidays!

It's that time of the year where many are whipping up delicious delicacies in their warm cozy homes in hopes of sharing them with sweet friends and family. I've always been a sucker for homemade gifts, edible ones even more so!

The wonderful thing about this recipe, and like many other fruit butters as well, is that it can be made in a crock pot leaving you time to tidy the house, wrap gifts, or knock back a few glasses of Pino Grigio. What you do with those extras hours of free time is up to you!

Now this Cranberry Apple Butter pulls double duty in my book. It's savory enough to be used with meats (turkey, pork, or chicken) yet sweet enough to be plopped atop an english muffin slathered in buttah.

Also! In the past 3 weeks I have had 3 different kinds of Holiday sandwiches at Publix, Earl of Sandwich, and Trader Joes! Don't judge I was on vacation. Have you heard about Holiday Sandwiches?! No? Well allow me to elaborate. Holiday sandwiches feature ingredients usually leftover from epic Turkey Day feasts. They may sounds something like this: thick sliced turkey, apple and sage stuffing, with swiss cheese, mayonnaise, and cranberry sauce piled onto hearthy whole wheat bread.

I promise there are cranberries under all those apples.

Aha! See there they are! This is what your Cran-Apple Butter will look like after 15-20 minutes. 
You may even hear the little cranberries popping! Give the pot a good stir every few minutes to prevent any fruit from scorching. 

At the end of the 45 minute cooking time you will end up with a blushed colored mush of cranberries and apples. Mmmm.....Brains! 

Now I moved my crockpot bowl right next to the stovetop so I could easily transfer the mush into the mesh sieve. For me this was the most time consuming part of the recipe since it required mashing everything through the sieve. But that silky smooth fruit butter is worth it!

Mash em, boil em, stick em in a stew!

This is what you fruit butter should look like (like the pink slime from Ghostbusters).

Once the Cran-Apple Butter is done thickening in the crock-pot you can ladel it into jars and process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.

 Recipe: Cran-Apple Butter
Adapted from Aimee Wimbush-Bourque from

5 lbs of Fuji apples (cored and halved)
1 1/2 lbs of cranberries (I used Trader Joes)
1 cup of maple syrup
1 1/2 cups of apple cider
1 TBS of Saigon Cinnamon

Combine cored and halved apples and cranberries into a large pot. Add the 1 1/2 cups of apple cider and bring the heat up to medium. Stir the mixture every few minutes to distrubute heat and prevent scorching. After 15-20 minutes everything should start looking more mushy and you will notice a lot of liquid is now in the pot.

At this point turn the heat to medium-low and cover for 45 minutes. Give the pot a good stir every 5-10 minutes. Once everything looks like a big gooey mess you will mush it through the seive into your crock pot.

Now that you have a smooth velvety cran-apple butter in your crockpot you can add your sweetners. I think pure maple syrup adds a really warm flavor but you can also use honey. Add cinnamon. Stir well and set crockpot to low. Let sit for 4 hours. For the final hour prop lid open to allow butter to thicken.

While the cran-apple butter is cooking it is a good idea to prepare your jars by sanatizing them in a boiling water bath. The same bath with which you will process your jars for 20 minutes after being filled.

Finally fill your jars to 1/4 inch below rim, place lid on and tighten the ring. Place all jars back into the water-bath and bring water back to boiling. Once water is boiling you can start your 20 minute timer. After 20 minutes remove your jars and listen for those sweet little pings of delight! Bam, done!