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It took a while after my trip to London to get back in the groove for knitting. Almost a month in fact since I had picked up the needles. I managed to find other crafty projects to occupy my time but eventually I pulled out a wallowing project and gave it some love.

When I last worked on the February Fitted Pullover I had just started on the sleeves before realizing that no amount of knitting time would make it possible for me to take on my trip. It went in a bag and there it sat until late March. It’s a little embarrassing to admit it took a little bit to get back into the rhythm of knitting again but eventually I got the hang of it (just don’t stare too closely at a certain spot on one of the sleeves)

I used some black Adagio yarn I stashed last year during my time working at a LYS and the silk and llama blend was heavenly to work with.  The yarn is a looser 2 ply, the silk has a subtle sheen and the llama ends up with a nice soft halo. Due to the fiber content the yarn doesn’t have a lot of bounce but it worked out wonderfully in the simple lace pattern of the FFP. The Adagio does shed a little so I expect to be cleaning my shirts of the extra fuzz for a bit but it’s worth it.

I of course finished the sweater just in time for a warm Spring so it will get packed away until Fall but I’m thrilled with how it turned out. I had a few issues with the decreases on the front so had to redo the left side but it was my lack of ability to knit to pattern than anything wrong with the pattern itself. All in all I’m loving my new sweater. Even if I can’t wear it till October.

As for getting those 10 balls of yarn to stretch when I decided to add several inches to the length of the body? Well I shortened the sleeves (and the drape of the Adagio made this barely noticable) and squeaked by with just enough yarn.

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I admit to letting loose a little squee of joy when I saw what the April Daring Bakers challenge was. I logged in to find out the recipe right after I got back from my trip to London and wouldn’t you know it…the challenge was English Steamed Puddings!

I had a delicious steamed syrup pudding my first night in town at a pub in Covent Garden and picked up some individual pudding molds while I was in England so I could experiment at home. The April challenge was perfect for me!

The challenge was to make either a crust or sponge style steamed pudding and I decided to try both. The original plan had been to make a savory crust pudding and a sweet sponge pudding but when the time came I ended up with 2 sweet ones.

First up I tried the Sussex Pond Steamed Pudding. The original recipe calls for making 1 large pudding, lined with suet crust and filled with a whole lemon (yes you just toss in a whole lemon), butter and sugar. It’s sealed up with more crust, steamed and when cut into you have a buttery sweet lemon sauce inside. Not heart healthy at all.

I had visions of a huge buttery sugar mess if I tried the large size so I opted to make individual puddings using this recipe from Delia Online.

It’s a lot of butter in each one of those molds. 2Tbs worth in fact. (told you it wasn’t healthy).

After steaming for several hours my Sussex Pond puddings were ready.

Looks fine. Tastes….um…ok.

I liked the flavors just fine but the steamed crust was odd. It was cooked yet texturally was so different from pie crust. Firm yet not dry, slightly chewy in rfact. I admit to eating a whole one but wasn’t loving the texture despite the flavor being nice.

I then opted to wait a week before trying a sponge style pudding. This time a Steamed Treacle Pudding (also from Delia Online).

Sponge puddings are what I typically think of when I think of steamed puddings, could be that is because it’s what I have been exposed to but also I think it’s because it’s so much easier to make. The crust was tricky to put into a mold without tearing but the sponge was just like any other cake batter. I love that the sponge pudding only requires very soft butter and you toss everything in the mixing bowl together, no extended creaming of the butter and sugar. Talk about easy!

The treacle pudding had a few Tbs of golden syrup in the bottom of the mold and the brown sugar/treacle batter was spooned on top. I steamed mine for about 90 minutes (my large mold is more of a bundt shape for faster cooking). For those without golden syrup or treacle in the cupboard (both are staples in my house) you can omit the golden syrup and sub in molasses for the treacle. I also tend to mix light and brown sugar in my house so the finished pudding had a very toffee like flavor that would be more subtle if you only used light brown sugar.

Delicious with a little custard poured on top.

Challah!

I never grew up eating a wide variety of breads, our options in Hong Kong were typically limited to basic variations of white or wheat sandwich bread or Chinese steamed buns. I’m also the only one in my family who loves bread, the rest are in the range of “eh whatever you have works” to “Screw the bread, give me rice!” It wasn’t until I went to culinary school that I got to try a lot of different breads, one of which was Challah. Even then it wasn’t until I started working at La Tienda Cadiz that I really grew to like it. Every morning I made a batch of saffron Challah buns sweetened with honey for sandwiches and every weekend I also made large braids for the cafe to sell.

It wouldn’t have been ‘right’ to not taste test the buns frequently…very few things are better than a hot saffron honey Challah bun slathered in butter. I did this for about a month before I realized I’d gained 5lbs just from eating that damn bread every day.

During the cleanup when I found the beloved Broa recipe I also found the original Challah recipe. Over my time at LTC I had tweaked the honey amounts a little but never wrote down what I did so when it came to make the April bread I stayed true to the original.

I opted to pull out my Pullman loaf pan for this bread in the hopes I would have some wonderful french toast Challah. It’s a pan I don’t use often and as a result I’m never really sure about the amount of bread dough that it can hold. I’ve underfilled it before and this time I overfilled. There was a bit of mess but thankfully no actual bread explosion.

A little pale, a little crumbly overall still tasty.

I will be trying the Challah again but make a braid and some buns. I’m not sure if the Pullman pan created issues with baking properly or if it had just been too long since I’d made it and lost the ‘touch’.

Challah french toast with a side of homemade bacon. Not a bad breakfast at all.

Flickr Photos

Dragonfibers

On the needles

February Fitted Pullover

Sapphire Waves of Grain

On the Bedside Table

The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan (ok not really since I can't find the book anymore)

on the wheel

Absolutely Nothing.

Stashdown 2009

January 1st 2009

Balls/Skeins of Yarn: 233 Total Weight:33.13lbs Total Miles: 27

February 1st 2009

Balls/Skeins of Yarn: 213 Total Weight:30.09lbs Total Miles: 26

March 1st 2009

Balls/Skeins of Yarn: 218 Total Weight:31.95lbs Total Miles: 27

April 1st 2009

Balls/Skeins of Yarn: 217 Total Weight:31.45lbs Total Miles: 26.5

May 1st 2009

Balls/Skeins: 229 Total Weight: 33.8 Total Miles: 28.4

June 1st 2009

Balls/Skeins: 210 Total Weight: 31.9 Total Miles: 27.7

July 1st 2009

Balls/Skeins: 201 Total Weight: 30.5 Total Miles: 26.5

August 1st 2009

Balls/Skeins: 228 Total Weight: 34.0 Total Miles: 28.8

October 1st 2009

Balls/Skeins: 254 Total Weight: 38.2 Total Miles: 31.8

November1st 2009

Balls/Skeins: 224 Total Weight: 34.9 Total Miles: 29.9

December 1st 2009

Balls/Skeins: 206 Total Weight: 31.9 Total Miles: 27.1

KAL

World Bread Day '07

April 2010
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