Demented Ramblings life is too short to refrain from eating jam out of the jar


not dead, I swear

I'm even still crafting! Oh! The crafts! Sock monsters and ceramics and knitted things and tunisian crochet and felted items and hand spun yarn and Big Bob is finally in progress! I rarely take time to post anything more than a quick photo to fb before moving on to the next thing.

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Super lemony lemon bars

I got this recipe from my pop, he'd clipped it from the local paper. I made this for a barbecue I attended this weekend and it went over very well. So well that I must now share the recipe.

Lemon Bars

butter for greasing pan
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, divided
3/4 cups powdered sugar, plus more for garnish
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
6 large eggs
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons grated lemon zest

Heat over to 350F. Grease a 9 inch square pan. Combine 2 cups flour, powdered sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add butter and blend with pastry blender or your fingers until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Press into greased pan, pushing dough all the way up the sides.

Bake until edges are golden brown, about 20 minutes, then remove and reduce oven temperature to 315F.

Meanwhile, in another large bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar until smooth. Gently stir in lemon juice and zest. (To minimize aesthetically displeasing little bubbles on the top of the bars, avoid whisking further.) Fold in remaining 1/2 cup flour.

Pour egg mixture over hot crust and bake until curd is set and no longer jiggles when you move the pan, 35 to 45 minutes.

Cool thoroughly before cutting into bars. Dust with powdered sugar and serve. Makes 9 servings.

**Now, I did not follow this recipe exactly. I used a 9 x 13 pan, so my bars were a lot thinner and I actually liked them better than the original which were very thick. I kept an eye on the pan both trips through the oven, but didn't note exactly how long I left them in the oven. I also added more zest than it called for, I just zested all of the lemons that I used to get the proscribed amount of lemon juice.

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Needle case

I've gotten this really bad habit of buying new knitting needles every time I do a new project. This means that I have several of certain sizes. Surprisingly though, I have fewer needles than expected. Today, I made myself a caddy for my knitting needles/crochet hooks. I'm quite pleased. I'm also quite pleased with my sewing machine and the fact that I can sew through 8 layers of fabric without it complaining.

Here's the open caddy:

And here it is all rolled up, with a Moe beside it.

It was a quick project, using fabric from my stash. Yay for not having to purchase fabric!

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My tinsel scarf

As I have stated elsewhere, I popped into my local yarn shop the other night and saw this really neato demo scarf and declared that I must make it. My yarnmonger gave me a quick tutorial and set me free. I found the yarn rather awkward with my limited knitting skills, but I enjoyed it and am looking forward to making another one.

First, a picture of the finished scarf, wrapped around my neck several times as it is somewhere around 10 feet long.

Next, a picture of a single strand of the scarf. I swear it looks just like this tinsel we had on the Christmas tree when I was growing up.

Now, I have promised Miss Cara a tutorial of sorts and I will do the best I can with the whole 4 inches of yarn I have leftover.

First off, here's the label:

Here's what the yarn looks like:

You are to knit with that little ladder section along the top and keep the rest flat.

I was instructed to use a size five needle. I fear that this may have added to the awkwardness as I am not used to using anything this small. I mostly use an 8 minimum. Also, these are spiffy casein needles and are much slicker than the wooden/bamboo needles I usually prefer.

First up, fold the end over a couple of times and insert your needle, this hides any ugly end on the yarn.

From here on out, I'm going to undo that fold. Ya know, four inches for demo and all....

Pick up the first 5 sections of the ladder:

Next, start knitting into the next section, each ladder section is one stitch:

It's a simple garter stitch from there on out. I've tried to separate a couple of rows to show you what the inner bit looks like, but it's tough to do.

One thing I noticed, my scarf is much more compact than the original demo. Mine is more tinsel, it was more boa. Turns out that when I flipped the label over, there was a pattern. It's quite a bit different than what I did, but I really do like my tinsel scarf. For the next one, I'll most likely try this other pattern.

So, there ya go, my first ka-nitting tutorial. I hope it makes sense. If not, go visit Miss Stephanie at A Tangled Yarn and she will be most happy to show you how to do this. She was kind enough to help me out.

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The last January birthday present

My mommy didn't want anything for her birthday, so I'll probably just buy her dinner. Besides, I kind of blew out on her for Christmas.

My friend Dream shares a birthday with my mommy. She's recently become addicted to Angry Birds and I'd thought of making her an Angry Bird plush like I'd seen over at Obsessively Stitching. I'm especially in love with her piggies. However, when it came time to start work on the gift, I just wasn't feeling the birds.

So, I called up her hubby, who clued me in to the fact that she'd been silently coveting the sock monsters. Thanks again, Homes.

It seems that each monster gets more detailed than the last. This one has teeth, a gothy collar, earrings, silly hair and a tattoo. I introduce to you - Fang von Lichtenstein, the Baron Fang von Lichtenstein to you lowly peons.

Why yes, that IS a Horde tattoo. Freehanded even! And here he is with his new person.

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Chicken a la boom

They say you should learn something every single day. For the most part I do. Today's lesson was, just because it looks like Pyrex, does not mean that it necessarily IS Pyrex.

Earlier today, I had a few minutes to kill and cruised Tastespotting looking for a little inspiration. I haven't cooked anything beyond a fried egg since I moved and I am sick of fast food. I was craving something home cooked and yummy. I saw this recipe and could not stop staring at those beautiful chicken drummies. Plus, it sounded super easy, that's definitely what I'm after on a work night.

I work until 8 pm, so if I want to get home, cook AND eat before 10, it has to be pretty simple.

I prefer white meat over drumsticks, so I picked up a package of breast strips and the makings of a salad. While the chicken was in the oven, I sliced some strawberries for my salad and made a quick strawberry balsamic dressing. When the chicken came out of the oven, I removed them from the baking dish and put it on a burner for the sauce to thicken. The sauce thickened and I poured it over the strips, no problem.

I sat the now empty vessel to the side to cool and turned around to fluff my couscous. And...

BOOM! Glass everywhere!

All of the glass seemed to stay in the area of the stove/floor, so we swept it up and went ahead with dinner. Fairly tasty, but I think next time I should let the chicken marinate in the sauce for a while so it'll soak up some of the flavors.

On a positive note, at least I didn't have to wash that pan.

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When I purchased The Asylum, I declared that it was absolutely perfect as it was, there was no need to change a thing. Um, except this one little thing and that one little thing.

Do you know what happens when you casually mention to my father that you (ok, only if YOU are me, his most precious favorite and only child) would like to have undercabinet lighting "someday"?


Tour d’Asylum

I'd forgotten that the day I came over to take pictures, I got so wound up with talking projects with Dad and giving tours to my friends that I completely forgot to take pictures of the OUTSIDE. Dur! I'll admit to not being super pleased with these pictures, but pictures of empty houses aren't terribly exciting.


For the love of spring and lemons

One of the things on my to-do list for my vacation was to do some baking. I rarely seem to find time to experiment in the kitchen these days. It seems that I didn't really find the time over my break either. I just wasn't feeling inspired to cook, instead I spent the week either crafting or being lazy.

Last night/this morning at 3 a.m., I woke up with an urge to create something yummy. My brain wouldn't shut up and let me go back to sleep. 3 a.m. is not a good time for baking though, I'm likely to fall asleep and burn whatever I'm cooking. However, I perused TasteSpotting for a bit and kept coming back to one picture.

This morning, when I woke up again, I was still determined to give it a shot. Hungry Girl's Lemon Cream and Cheesecake Pots was haunting me. Lemon cream looked like a lot of work, but I was willing to try it once.

If you are afraid of the fat grams, don't look at the recipe.

I had a bit of trouble with the Lemon Cream. I put a glass bowl over a simmering pot of water and stirred my mixture. However, the temperature seemed to do the Macarena on me. It would go up and then back down. I spent over a half hour stirring it and it just would not come up to 180F. I finally gave up and moved it to a saucepan over low heat and stirred it constantly and didn't look away for a second. That did the trick, it hit temperature within another 2 minutes. I finished off the lemon cream and moved it to the fridge. A spoonful of this is tart-ally awesome. Think the initial taste of a Lemonhead candy.

I followed her recipe for the Cheesecake pots and split them between 3 ramekins for baking. There would be 3 of us for dinner.

At serving time, I spooned a couple of dollops of the lemon cream on each cheesecake and spread it around.

It's a bit tough to differentiate the layers in this picture.

However, I think this next picture will explain our opinions on the dessert.

My final thoughts are this: yes, lemon cream is fiddly, but it's worth the effort. Also, I can totally see this cheesecake becoming a favorite - it was quite simple and not terribly sweet and made just enough for dessert for 3-4 (I could have easily stretched it to 4 ramekins if a fourth person were coming over) with no leftovers. However, I still have half a bowl of lemon cream, so I'll either be making cheesecakes again this week or else smearing lemon cream on everything.

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A lovely dinner!

A bit of foodblogging goodness!

Last night, I lay awake last night obsessing about spaghetti squash. That actually wasn't the only thing I was thinking about. I was thinking about the scallops in the freezer that were beginning to freezerburn. I was also thinking about the fact that I had bacon. Grilled, bacon-wrapped scallops! So, I got up and put those items in the fridge to thaw.

While visiting my hairdresser, we talked about my biking down to the farmer's market and the spaghetti squash I bought there. She asked if I'd be making it with garlic. WHAT? I can do that? Any time I've cooked it before, I filled it with butter and either honey or brown sugar and baked it. Today though, I took the quicker, much more savory, approach. Split the squash in half and cleaned out the seeds. Placed it cut side down on a plate and microwaved for 7 minutes. While that was cooking I started some butter and garlic browning on the stove. When the squash was done, I fluffed it and scooped it into the butter mixture, then stirred in a wee bit of salt.

The green beans came from a can. I just added a spoonful of bacon grease and microwaved them for 4 minutes.

Sparks grilled the skewered scallops and bacon. The one drawback was that they took over twice as long as any of the websites said. This meant that the vegetables were cold by the time we got to them. However, it gave me time to mix up a quick lemon herb sauce.

The first bite of scallop was so yummy that I immediately jumped up and went over to kiss Sparks!

And hey - a picture!

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