Sunday, December 23, 2012

Recipe- Texas Style Spiced Pecans


My husband's family often sends us goodies from a local (Houston area) nut shop for the holidays. They mostly do sugary pecan concoctions, but they have a couple of savory varieties, too.
Unfortunately, (or maybe fortunately cause now I figured out how to make them myself) they have hydrogenated sunflower and soybean oil.
The biggest hurdle is getting really really good raw pecans. I've been making my spiced nuts with Trader Joe's pecans after having a bad experience with a package from Whole Foods recently. I just discovered that the Collins St Bakery sells raw pecans online, so I may have to try those. I don't know if anyone outside of Texas is familiar with them, but they are a major player in the mail-order fruitcake business!

Anyway, here's my version-

8oz raw pecan halves
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp smoked paprika (I use Penzey's)
1/2 tsp onion powder (I use Penzey's)
1/4 tsp garlic powder (I use Penzey's)
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp to 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tbsp ghee (clarified butter), butter, or coconut oil

Preheat a skillet (I use my Le Creuset enameled cast iron) over medium heat while you blend all spices together in a small bowl (salt through cayenne). Dump the pecans into the hot skillet in a single layer to toast them, moving them around with a spatula to avoid burning. When they are warm and fragrant but not burnt, add the ghee to the skillet and stir until pecans are coated in melted ghee. Add spice mixture and stir until evenly coated. Dump spiced nuts onto cookie sheet to cool/dry.

Friday, November 30, 2012

FO: Berry Cute Hat & Pumpkin Hat

Pumpkin Hat

These are both Fiber Trends patterns that are ostensibly for kids, but have rather large sizing. They are constructed the same way and the berry hat has a really cool stitch pattern. It's not bobbles- it's a lot easier. You basically drop a stitch several rows then knit into the row where you stopped dropping. I realized that the same technique is used for this Madelinetosh cowl pattern that Susan (the new owner of Yarndogs) is working on as a shop sample. In 2 colors (as in the cowl), it looks even more complicated but is still incredibly simple!
About the sizing- the smallest size would fit a big kid at 19" around (probably 8-10 years old), and the largest easily fits most adults. When customers want to make a baby size, I've been having them buy DK weight yarn and size 4 and 6 needles and make the smallest size. The pattern calls for worsted and size 6 and 8. I used Madelinetosh Vintage for all my hats so far. (Moorland and Lolita for the berry hat, and Moorland and Terra for the pumpkin.)The berry one is a shop sample (in size small) that I had intended to go to a baby when it was done being a sample, but I'll probably need to make a smaller one. The pumpkin one is all mine! It's hanging out in the shop right now cause it hasn't really been cold enough to wear it much.

My Paleo Thanksgiving- Year 2

For breakfast, I made this pumpkin bread french toast from PaleOMG, which was completely amazing!
The other new thing I made this year was her carmelized onion & sausage stuffing.
I really like it, but Bryan thought it wasn't casserole-y enough. I realized that we have totally different eating styles (at least for Thanksgiving). I like to get a bit of everything on the fork, and he likes to completely finish one thing at a time.
Everything else was the same as last year-
roasted brussels sprouts & bacon
braised turkey legs
sweet potato casserole and cranberry sauce from Paleo Comfort Foods
stuffed dates
pumpkin chai bars

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

FO: Big Snowy Owl


So this is the Big Snowy Owl from It's another one of those fads that was going around the shop and I really wanted to make one for some reason. The pattern calls for Blue Sky Bulky alpaca/wool, but I used Encore Mega instead. It was super fast and fun and cute, though I'm still not sure I need a huge stuffed owl around the house. Right now it's sitting on top of my crafty bookshelf. I know the eyes are crooked, but I'm not sure I care enough to go back and fix it. Maybe eventually.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

FO: Lamb by Susan B. Anderson


I've been wanting to make this little guy since Itty Bitty Toys was published several years ago. I love the pompadour hairdo! I was never quite sure what yarn I'd use for the body until we received the Rowan Purelife Sheep Breeds Fine Boucle at the shop a few weeks ago. This is a newer yarn that is thinner than the original Rowan Sheep Breeds Boucle (which I am not familiar with). Many people on Ravelry used the thicker Rowan boucle, but thought it was a bit too thick. This one worked out perfectly. This colorway is Masham stripe, with subtle stripes of the different natural colors of the Masham sheep. That's a breed I'd never heard of before!
The yarn for the legs and head is Blue Sky Cotton, and the whole thing is done on size 4 needles.

The legs are i-cord stuffed with drinking straws so the lamb can stand up on surfaces that aren't too slippery. I'm going to try sticking coffee stirrers through the straws and into the body to give more support so it can stand up on the tables at the shop. It was really fun and easy to make and very easy to sew together. Each piece is done seamlessly in the round or as i-cord, and the boucle texture hides any minor uneveness in the whipstitches use to attach the pieces to the body. I'll be teaching a class on this project several times this month.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Recipe Resource Master Post

Here's a quick guide to where I find recipes. You can expect these sources to be free of grains, soy, and legumes. Some of these sources may call for dairy in some recipes. If you are on a strict challenge (hi, CFWG buddies!) or are dairy-free, you can always substitute coconut oil for ghee or butter and you can usually substitute coconut milk for cream. Skip the cheesy stuff (sad, I know).

recipe aggregator with most of the popular blogs and some obscure ones (like mine!)
Try one or both of the following tags if you are completely avoiding dairy-

Nom Nom Paleo
This is the site that kind of started it all for me. She's a local Bay Area blogger, so a good place to get the scoop on restaurants and local markets too! She tends to do a lot of protein sous vide which I'm not currently interested in, but there are a ton of fantastic slow cooker (and pressure cooker) recipes and great side dishes. I don't have her iPad app yet, but I'm planning on getting it.
Top picks-
Roasted broccoli & bacon
Slow cooker Korean grass fed short ribs
Slow cooker roast chicken & gravy
Paleo krabby patties
Slow cooker kalua pig

The Food Lovers Kitchen
Tons of recipes from the authors of Make It Paleo. It looks like most of the recipes in the book are on this site for free.
They tend towards grilling, which is great if you have a grill. There's a ton of baked goods for all special occasions if you're into that.
Top picks-
Jamaican jerk salmon  (can easily be baked instead of grilled and you can experiment with other spice blends using the same method)
Smoky lime rib steaks
Dates stuffed with goat cheese (better than any baked good, IMHO)
Cinnamon coconut butter truffles (just coconut butter, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla!)

a little heavy on the treats sometimes, but always entertaining!
Top picks-
Pistachio pesto chicken pasta
Mexican-inspired burgers

Jan's Sushi Bar
I'm ashamed to admit that I haven't tried that many of her recipes, but I have most of them bookmarked!
Top pick-
Fig and chevre stuffed chicken breasts (utterly amazing!)


Well Fed (my current favorite)
Getting bored? This book has tons of fun stuff with flavors from all around the world. Highly recommended.
You can download a 30-page sample PDF here, and follow the author's blog here.
Top picks-
Chocolate chili
Bora Bora fireballs
Cinnamon beef stew with orange gremolata
Morrocan meatballs

Practical Paleo
This is way more than a cookbook. Really awesome resource. It just came out, but I'll be cooking my way through it in the coming weeks during the nutrition challenge at CrossFit Willow Glen.
Top picks-
pumpkin pancakes
spiced lamb meatballs with fig compote
lamb chops with olive tapenade
(I've been cooking a lot of lamb since I took the lamb butchery class at 4505 Meats!)

Make it Paleo
highly recommended if you have a grill and enjoy using it. May not be so useful otherwise.
Top picks-
Smoky lime rib steaks
Jamaican jerk salmon
dates stuffed with goat cheese

Everyday Paleo
lots of good stuff in here. don't expect perfect photography
Top picks-
shrimp tacos
Red curry beef stew

Paleo Comfort Foods
Spectacular for beginners who want to satisfy their cravings without wrecking their gut, people from the South and/or Texas , impressing family, and holidays.
Top picks-
homemade breakfast sausage (this has become my quick breakfast staple)
coconut flour tortillas (used this to make traditional Tex-Mex enchiladas)
sweet potato casserole
pork tenderloin p,b,&j
osso buco

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Recipe: Chicken No-tortilla Soup

Slow Cooker Chicken No-tortilla Soup
about 5-6 servings
This recipe is adapted from some recipes in a slow cooker cookbook I own. It leaves out the beans, corn, and tortilla chips from the typical tortilla soup and adds some other vegetables. This is incredibly easy to throw in the slow cooker before work!

3-4 chicken breast halves
2 15-oz cans Mexican stewed tomatoes or Rotel tomatoes
     (I used 1 can regular stewed tomatoes and 1 can tomatoes with green chiles)
1 cup salsa (I used a tomatillo-based salsa)
1 4-oz can diced green chiles
1 15-oz can tomato sauce
1 cup green beans, cut into bite-size pieces (I used up some frozen green beans. You can add whatever vegetables you like.)

Combine in slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours. Check for seasonings when done. If you do not use tomatoes with Mexican spices, add 1tbsp each
chili powder
dried cumin

top with sliced avocado and cheese and sour cream if you do dairy.
Homemade root vegetable chips would be really cute as a topper, too, if you want something crunchy.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

FO: Mondo Cable Cardigan

Mondo Cable Cardi

I finished this Mondo Cable Cardi a few weeks back when there was still a little bit of cold weather left. It was another sort of impulse sweater I'd been considering doing one for a long time, and we got an especially nice dye lot of Dream in Color Classy in Gothic Rose in the shop. I alternated 3 skeins to make sure they were well blended. I was planning on doing a crochet edging down the front to cover up the sort of loose edge stitches from switching skeins, but I couldn't make it look very good. After blocking, the edge looked fine anyway. There are no buttonholes on this- just snaps with buttons sewn on top. Teri from the shop has the idea to use magnetic closures instead of snaps. I'm very curious to see how that turns out. I already made a hairline crack in one of my buttons from the pressure needed to snap the snap. This is the tallest collar option and I modified the ribbing at the bottom and cuffs to have more purl stitches for less tendency to roll than the original. I think that's the only change I made.

Mondo Cable Cardi

Friday, April 13, 2012

FO Roundup: Portland Hoodie Cowl, Tardis Socks, Shawl Collared Cowl

Portland Hoodie Cowl

I cranked out this Portland Hoodie Cowl in a couple of days after seeing it pop up on popular new patterns on Ravelry. Really simple and cute! It took 2 skeins exactly of Madelinetosh Tosh Chunky in Tart. I might just have to make another one in Opaline. (The batch we have right now is sooo pretty!) Now I have something for my black t-shirts that don't go with my purple set (more on that in a minute) and I can get some use out of my leather jacket maybe. Usually I just grab an actual hoodie.

Bryan's Tardis Socks

I finally finished the 2nd Tardis sock! More on the pattern and my modifications here.

Shawl Collared Cowl

This was done a long time ago, but I didn't get a pic of the buttons for a long time. It's a Shawl Collared Cowl (another recent Yarndogs favorite) in Misti Alpaca Chunky to go with my purple set- a Capucine hat in Aquarella and Maine Morning Mitts in Road to China. The buttons on the cowl reflect a pretty copper color that goes with the hat.

I'm still cranking along on my Spectra Scarf. It may be time for an in-progress blocking to see how much further I have to go. I was messing around with some 2-at-a-time socks for the first time in ages and of course I had to rip them out and start over because I had the wrong needles. My needle gauge lied! It may have been a little white lie (the next half size up in a different brand still made it through the hole) but still! So I picked up another languishing sock. I also picked up my Siamese mittens for a few rows and I'm about to start a Featherweight Wrap to Knit (really a cardigan, but not the more famous Featherweight Cardigan, but pretty similar) from Dovetail Designs in Blue Heron Bamboo Lace as a shop sample. Bryan's out of town and I've already done some damage at Sur la Table, so I should have plenty of knitting time this weekend!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Recipe- Curry Chicken Salad

Curry Chicken Salad

Here's a tweaked version of my tangy chicken salad recipe. I started putting curry powder in my chicken salad just because I recently bought some from Penzeys, then just a day or two later I found curry sauerkraut from Farmhouse Culture (my favorite!) at the Ferry Building farmer's market! So I feel it's evolved into something that deserves its own post.

Seasonings from Penzeys

Curry Kraut!!!
Farmhouse Culture is only available in California or a couple spots in Nevada. Diane from Balanced Bites came up with this recipe for making your own fermented raw sauerkraut after she moved away from the Bay Area.

For every 2 cups of cooked chicken-
4tbsp homemade mayo from the previous recipe, with or without the additional spices and lemon. I originally used an olive oil/avocado oil blend, but then I couldn't find avocado oil and used macadamia oil for half the total oil instead. Either one is great.
1/2 cup broccoli slaw (easier and more interesting than celery!)
2 tbsp curry raisin sauerkraut (Farmhouse Culture)
1 tsp Penzeys Tandoori Seasoning
1 tsp Penzeys Sweet Curry Seasoning (there's no sugar in it- it's just called that for some reason)
1 tbsp raisins
a few pecans or walnuts
chopped wedge of tart apple

Monday, March 19, 2012

WIP Roundup- Spectra Scarf, Mondo Cable Cardi, Tardis Socks

Spectra Scarf WIP

I'd been toying with the idea of starting a Spectra scarf of my own for a long time, and even dreamt about it once, but never quite decided on the right yarn and colorway. After pouring over other people's Ravelry projects, I really fell in love with this one color of Zauberball. Then I realized we had that color on the shelf, the shop started carrying solid colors of Kauni, and we got in an awesome shawl pin that matched the colorway perfectly! Everything fell into place and I started on this very addictive pattern about a week ago.

Mondo Cable Cardi
So technically I finished this Mondo Cable Cardi last night and wore it today, but here's a still kinda in progress photo. I am thrilled that we're having another cold spell so I can wear it a lot. I made it in Dream in Color Classy in Gothic Rose. I alternated 3 skeins at a time, 1 row each. That was a little weird at the front neck cast on area, but I managed it with minimal weird floats. It wasn't an issue to keep things from tangling on the body, but I was getting a little impatient having to untangle the yarn balls every so often on the sleeves. I'd still always recommend alternating skeins.

Tardis Sock #1
I'll probably be finished with these Tardis socks later tonight. The first one looks funny here because they are sized for Bryan but I only have an Amy-sized sock blocker. I think the pattern was for 72 stitches but I bumped it up to 81 (80 for the ribbing and foot) by spacing out the words a little and adding an extra 9-stitch repeat of the window colorwork and texture. The yarn is my Merino/cashmere/nylon sock that I dyed just for this.

Friday, March 16, 2012

FO Roundup: 3rd BSJ, Hemp Market Bag


Here's a Baby Surprise Jacket I made for a high school friend's baby. It's my 3rd one, all in Claudia Hand Painted Sport. This colorway is Eat Your Veggies.

Knitted Market Bag

I also recently finished a Shop 'til You Drop bag from Lanaknits Designs in Allhemp6. I love it so much! I made the medium size and had to get a 3rd skein of yarn to finish the second handle. The official site says there are 2 sizes, but I swear the pattern I bought at Yarndogs had 3! I need to get an action shot because it stretches out super huge and holds a ton of stuff!

Creatively Dyed Woven Scarf

Here's the only (kinda crummy) photo I have of the woven scarf I made from Creatively Dyed Steele in Cumin. I'm always shocked at how little yarn weaving takes! It's a good stashbuster, but it creates lots of leftovers. This is the project you can see me starting at the last spin in I made it to.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Recipe- Tangy Chicken Salad


Here's the deets on how to make my favorite lunch- chicken salad with paleo-friendly (ie, non-canola) homemade mayo.

After I got friendly with fat but before I started avoiding industrial seed oils, I was in love with this stuff called Lemonaise. Now I have a homemade version that I think is even better because the oils I use now have actual flavor. A lot of paleo mayo recipes call for "light tasting" supermarket olive oils. After reading Extra Virginity, I am pretty squeamish about that. Even if it does actually contain olive oil and not seed oils(staggering amounts of fraud in the industry), it is probably a lesser grade product that has been deodorized and refined. The whole point of making my own mayo is to avoid "vegetable" and seed oils, so I've gone with a mix of avocado oil and the Artois Ranch EVOO by California Olive Ranch that is naturally a bit milder than some EVOO, but still very flavorful. It might not be for everybody, but I've grown to enjoy the olive flavor and with all the spices I add it isn't overpowering in the final mayo or final dish.

I use the process and more or less the basic recipe from The Clothes Make the Girl/ Well Fed for the base. I used a 50/50 mix of the avocado and EVOO.
1 whole egg (room temp)
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup + 1 cup 50/50 blend of avocado oil and EVOO

Blend all ingredients except the last cup of oil in the blender for 20-30 seconds.
Add the rest of the oil extremely slowly.

Once I've got the basics, I tweak the spices to my liking. This time, I used-
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
pinch of cayenne pepper
another couple of squirts of lemon juice

And on to the chicken salad.
1 cup shredded chicken meat- I usually use the slow cooker chicken recipe from Nom Nom Paleo. It comes out super moist and you have all the juices to make a gravy or save for another recipe.
2 tbsp of the mayo described above
1 tbsp raw sauerkraut- I love Farmhouse Culture horseradish + leek. I really don't taste the horseradish in the final dish- it's just more tang and crunch. You can use chopped pickles instead. I hear good things about Bubbies brand.
1 celery rib, chopped
1 green apple wedge (about 1/8 of small apple), chopped
a handful of walnuts or pecans (or omit if you are geeking about about reducing Omega 6 consumption, but my philosophy is nuts are ok and I just make sure to take my fish oil)
about 1/2 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves
a few hits of freshly ground black pepper
It's great served with tomato wedges and/or avocado slices. I was out of both, so I just threw in some sprouts.
This actually evolved out of my tuna salad lunch. The only other difference is the tuna version doesn't have rosemary and usually has pickles.

EDIT: I recently started drizzling a bit of fig balsamic vinegar from The Olive Bar in Campbell on the chicken salad. Uh-mazing! I also wanted to throw in my tweaks to my favorite dessert- chocolate monkey from the Caveman Cuisine blog. I think I have a thing for little rituals where I assemble the same dish over and over again. Unlike the chicken salad, I have this at most once a week- preferably after my Convict Conditioning and/or Primal Blueprint Fitness (free!) bodyweight exercises. Basically, fry some sliced ripe plantain in coconut oil. Mash and add chopped unsweetened chocolate and cinnamon. I have discovered it is amazing with coconut milk or heavy cream, cocoa nibs, and if you're feeling really crazy, my new favorite treat find- Lydia's Organics Apple Grainless Cereal.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Recipe Roundup- Grain Free Treat Edition

Oh, hi! I just found this post from the holidays which was languishing as a draft. The season for wintery treats is mostly over, but here it is.

grain free pecan bars

Over X-mas, I tried out a few more grain free treat recipes. These vegan pecan bars were great despite my skepticism about the lack of eggs, even though the crust wasn't initially cooked all the way. We're pretty picky about pecan pie-like treats, being from Texas. "My" antique gas oven is incredibly uneven and I'm just now figuring out how to optimally use it. The top looked fairly brown, so I went ahead and poured on the topping (which initially didn't look voluminous enough but was really fine) and put it back in the oven. After letting it cool, I sliced into the bars to discover an oozing crust! I put a lid on the dish and put it back in the oven on the lowest rack until the crust firmed up.
These pumpkin bars (which happen to be vegan as well if you follow the recipe) were amazing! I couldn't find agar powder, so I used a packet of gelatin instead. They turned out maybe a smidge too firm, but they were delicious! I was skeptical about the crust not sticking so I sprinkled a little almond flour in the bottom of the dish. I don't think this was necessary. They bars didn't really stick to the dish- they peeled off easily once a corner was lifted.

The hands-down winner is still these dates stuffed with goat cheese. Dates are pretty much candy as-is.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Finished Yarns- The Borg and Zombies

Borg Yarn

I spun up the singles from my Star Trek SAL batts from A Dyeing Wish several months ago, but I never quite decided how I'd ply them until recently. There were 3 batts- one was black and light gray with red sparkle, one black with red and green sparkle, and one black with red, green, and yellow sparkle. I thought about just using them as singles or maybe chain plying for 3 different but coordinating skeins. Finally I decided just to ply the 3 singles together for a consistently colorful yarn.

Zombie Handspun

My Braaaaiiiins colorway batts from Heavenly Fiber also arrived as 3 batts, but all very similar. I spun up one at a time, splitting the batt lengthwise in strips so each single went from black to gray to light gray/pink. I plied the 3 singles all going in the same direction to get a gradient yarn. I have about 160 yards of worsted-ish yarn. I'm thinking a hat or cowl/scarflet. That may be a little boring, but it needs to be something I can wear a lot and show off that doesn't come in pairs. :)

While I'm talking Etsy shops, I'd like to mention a few others I've fallen in love with. ZooZ jewelry from Greece made my silver bat necklace and is seriously tempting me with the matching earring and the T-Rex design. I recently received some silver and enamel constellation earrings (mine are medium and tiny) from the Montreal-based Mariane Alexandre. They are sold as singles so you can mix and match sizes and colors. I've been a fan of Sunbasilgarden soaps for a long time and loaded up on minty and chocolatey scented soaps just before the holidays. Now she has a ton of adorable Valentine's Day themed soaps (like pink cupcakes!) in her shop.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

FO Roundup: Mukluk Slippers, Adipose & Tarn Ugly Rug

Mukluk High TopsMukluk Slippers

Apparently I have a thing for knitting things for my feet out of Noro Hitsuji. I almost used this colorway for my felted clogs, so I decided to use it for these Mukluk slippers that are quite popular at the shop right now. Most people go for the low tops, but I thought the neon color and high tops had a nifty 80's legwarmer thing going on, especially with the two-piece suede bottoms that make them look like dance shoes. They are slightly ridiculous, but they make me smile and no one outside the house who's not a knitter will probably never see me in them. :) They are really comfortable and warm and will stay on my feet while I sleep, unlike the clogs. The construction is interesting to knit and I love the result, but to be honest the process of knitting chunky yarn on size 7 needles is a little intense. Definitely more of a "little bit every day" project than something to be worked on for hours at a time.

One of my X-mas gifts for Bryan was this knitted Adipose from Doctor Who. The BBC forced the removal of this pattern from the author's blog, but thanks to the wibbly wobbly timey wimey-ness of, it can be found.

Ugly Rug

Finally, here's the rug I recently crocheted from tarn (t-shirt yarn). It was fun and incredibly quick. Here's the method I used for cutting the shirts, down to the exact same ruler! I cut my strips about 1" and used an enormous size S (20mm) crochet hook. I called it "ugly" because my color joins suck, I forgot to stagger my increases all the time and it started to get a little hexagon-y, and it looks funny where I fastened it off because I did a spiral instead of rounds. I'm a self-taught knitter, but I'm really a self-taught crocheter. Most of the time, I can't be bothered to go look up the best way to do something when I think I can wing it. We'll be having a tarn making party at the next meeting of the Knitspiration guild. Feel free to contact me if you're an interested local who's not already a member!