Saturday, January 31, 2009

New Wheel!

I got a new wheel on Craigslist - today I clean and finish him. Pictures soon :)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Think I'm Ready?

Well guys, this past weekend the lace bug hit me HARD again. At first I thought I just wanted to knit some lace, so I cast on for a shawl or two, knit twenty rows or so, and realized that hey, this is not what I want to knit. It's like craving a favorite food, fixing yourself a plate, and realizing that that wasn't what you were craving at all.

I think I want to write another shawl.

I can already see it in my head, a little bit. I think I want to write up something that's either a pi shawl or a square shawl that has * radial lines instead of four. Not an octagonal shawl - I'm seeing either a round edge or large points. Maybe points done in-pattern and then filled in with a background mesh to make it round. Not sure yet.

I'm really digging on this awesome persian tile ceiling I found on Flickr, and if I can, I'm going to reproduce at least what I see as the most prominent design elements. I'm not sure if it's possible, but I've got to try, right?

So, yeah, this one is going to be a lot more work than Galveston, and I can tell that from the get-go. I know that I don't want visible lines of increase, like I used in Galveston and as have been used to great effect in many other shawls. I'm not sure if I should start going about things math-first or string-first, but I do have a couple of sketches down already.

The nice thing is, I'll only have to chart out one-eight of the actual shawl, right? And then get real friendly with some graph paper. I'm not usually very good at intuiting curves on a graph-like surface, so this will be interesting.

If it ends up well, I might put it up for actual sale. Galveston will always be free, but I've been thinking lately that I would like to get some sort of pattern portfolio going, and this would be a nice start. What do you guys think?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

OMG I love kebab

We made 5 lbs of kebab, as per FavAunt's instructions, though we did end up cooking it on a George Foreman grill instead of outside on the propane one, and we added 3 tbs of dried spearmint to the mixture (and it was excellent, added just the right flavor to complement the onion-y goodness). We all of us age kebab until we were stuffed, and there were still over 2lbs of leftovers.

There were a number of awesome moments - like when LibraryOverlord saw exactly how much onion was going into this giant mass of meat, and when Mr. Sweetie was talking about 'onion goggles' that keep folks from crying, and I laughed at the very concept... until I was mixing the onion in, crying hardcore. And of course we watched some Frisky Dingo, so that was good times.

And for those of you who want a more cleaned-up recipe, here you go:

5 lbs ground beef (75/25 worked, yours can be leaner if you want)($10?)
2 large onions, pureed ($1-2?)
2 tbs tumeric
2 tbs salt
3 cubes Knorr beef bullion (Knorr bullions are the giant soft rectangles, your amounts may be different with other types)($1)
3 eggs
3 tbs dried spearmint

First, add all your spices and the eggs into the bowl. Add the meat in 1 or 2 pound increments, mixing it all in very well as you go. It will be very, very cold at first, and make you go 'GAH!!!' and not want to mix it, but suck it up. When all your meat is mixed up well, start adding onion in increments of half-onions at a time. You will cry at this point.

When all your ingredients are in the pot, just keep mixing. It gets warmer with time, and easier, and you can form the giant meat-lump into fun shapes, like the MeatBoob, the MeatMountain, the Curiously Phallic MeatLog, and others. When the fat warms up it will spread out and kind of turn the meat lighter in shade - mine was also quite yellow, from the turmeric, but I was fairly certain this was the "turning white" phase my Aunt was talking about. Either way, it was delicious, so just bash the shit out of your meat until you really can't stand to do it any more.

We formed our kebab into 2 1/2" patties and grilled them for 8 minutes, flipping them halfway through to get those attractive grill lines. HOLY CRAP, we lost about a pound of fat off the patties when we grilled them, so you know, you can definitely go for a leaner cut if that's what you're wanting. Maybe toss another egg in there to bind it if you go really super lean?

But yeah, we have kebab aplenty, and I am no longer afraid of cooking with raw meat. This was one of the most fun dishes I've done, and when I make some cucumber sauce tomorrow to go with the leftovers, it's definitely going to hold us for a couple of days. And cheap! Maybe this whole cooking thing is going to work out after all.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Kebab Fest 2009

Okay, bitches, this weekend we're starting a grand and noble tradition here at Casa del PenName: KebabFest!

Through my life, I have loved kebab as made by my family. Persian-style kebab, delicious lengths of ground meat and spices wrapped around flat swords and cooked on a flaming grill. It is quite possibly one of the best foods ever, and I will never get sick of it. It's good as cold leftovers, or heated in the microwave. You can make one large batch of kebab and eat on it for days and days.

But I have never made it myself. I'll admit it, up until I moved in with Mr. PenName a few years prior to our marriage, I wasn't really interested in cooking, so I didn't really pay attention to what was going on in the kitchens of my family members. But I emailed FavoriteAunt earlier this week, asking for a few recipes for kebab (I planned to make kebab meatballs in the oven) and various rice dishes, and this is what she sent back:

Kebab I know by heart, I'll have to look up the other rice and get back with you. Dill rice you just add dried dill and butter to white rice at the end, it's easy. I'll double check in my Persian cook book though. I make a lot of Kebab when I make and it is really not the same in the oven but close. Get really cheap hamburger (u like that part don't ya!), high fat content is necessary for good Kebobs. For 5lbs puree two whole onions, two table spoons of turmeric, about two or three table spoons of beef bouillon granules, 2 or 3 Table spoons of salt and a couple of eggs.

Two things are key 1. the onion has to be like a paste to really flavor all the meat and 2. You mix all that together and then you need to mash it and mash it alot until the meat changes consistency and tuns kinda white. I usually sit in the floor with the bowl between my legs and mash it with my fists for a long time, if you don't skimp on this part you will really be happy with the results. If you are cooking them in the oven cook for a little while and then broil to finish them make them in the shape of kebobs on a cookie sheet you might put a few dashes of liquid smoke in them since you are not grilling but if you do cut back on salt and do it in the mixing/mashing stage. If you don't want to cook that much at once freeze some raw after you have done all the work and just defrost and cook later.

There is a spice called sumac that goes on after but yo probably have to get that here in town. Same thing for the saffron that stuff cost more than crack!!LOL
Good luck!

And with that, an idea was born. LibraryOverlord makes great bread, and Hastur loves my hummus (which is mighty fine hummus if I do say so myself), and kebab tastes better on a grill. Mr. PenName is a lover of delicious food in all its forms, especially when accompanied by friends and good beer.

So Saturday, Saturday, Saturday! We are getting together with them and trying my Very First Recipe Including Actual Raw Meat. I am excited. I think I can do this.

Monday, January 05, 2009

PenNames on a Plane

Holy crap. I saw my dad over the holidays, and he was all "Hey, we're all in financial pretty-goodness, we should totally go to Iran and see all the family and whatnots. You want to go, PPN? All you gotta buy is a ticket, and update your passport. Maybe get a visa."

Well, let me tell you something, The Internet. I have wanted to go to Iran for over 17 years now, ever since my dad went and took PrimaryBrother instead of me & TwinSister when we were all little kids. PrimaryBrother can't go this trip, of course, now that he's old enough to be drafted into the army, but the rest of us kids are either too young or too ovary-having to have to worry about that, so yay for us!

Mr. PenName was invited too, but he said he'd be more comfortable staying here and looking after the animals. It's cool, I can see why he'd be nervous about going, and honestly having one paycheck still coming in while we're gone will make things much easier.

All of this, of course, assumes that I can actually go. Because we're going to be gone for (I shit you not) a whole goddamn month, I won't have enough vacation time, so I have to ask work if I can take an UNPAID month off. This request has to go through university red tape, plus I have to assure my boss that I will be back in time for the fiscal end of year (dad wants to go right as the school year ends), so not only am I going to have to save up for that plane ticket, but I'm going to have to save up an entire month's worth of rent & bills for while I'm gone. Which, you know, will suck ass, and make it so that I won't be doing a whole lot of the buying of yarn for the next 5 months or so, but again, that should be okay. I've got enough in the way of stash and roving to keep me occupied, especially if I spin up impressive yarn to knit with while I'm there.

I'm also going to try and finally do two things I've been meaning to do for a while now: lose weight and learn farsi. I hope to combine them, by listening to language tapes while walking home from work - maybe also to work, if I start getting in really good-type shape so I can walk it faster.

But hot damn. I am so excited!