I made a new thing! It took me about 6 hours to do the crochet, but three weeks to get the brim insert and finally sew it all together. This is a huge improvement over the hat I made for E, which took months and is kind of funny-shaped. I am apparently much better crocheter than knitter (no surprise there) and maybe it helps to be following a pattern. (Blasphemy!)

The hat I made for E:

The hat I made for me:





I think it looks stunning on Cheeto, don’t you?



Quick Candied Nuts

I decided to add some candied nuts to my otherwise boring salad plan. I had just under a cup of pecans, and a big Costco bag of frozen walnuts in the freezer, so I started with the pecans:

Melt over low heat in a small skillet:
2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp brown sugar
1 cup pecans
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

Stir for 2-3 minutes until the sugar melts and bubbles, then dump to cool on parchment paper.

They turned out really yummy, even though I nearly burned them. In fact, nearly burning the sugar may have been exactly what they needed.

I ate like half of them while finishing cooking dinner, so I decided to do 1c of walnuts and add a little heat. I discovered while melting butter that we are apparently *OUT OF CAYENNE PEPPER* (!?!) so I just tossed in 1/2c of paprika.

They didn’t come out right. My best guess is that the sugar didn’t quite melt enough, and I should have let those almost burn, too.


Orange Cranberry muffins


I discovered this morning that my orange juice was past it’s best-by date. While it still tasted fine, it seemed advisable to use it up as fast as possible. While just drinking 3 cups of juice by myself *could* work, I decided instead to make Orange Cumin bread (from The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook) and some kind of muffins. The Jr Asst Baker loves muffins.

This is inspired by the “Muffins, Infinite Ways” recipe in Bittman’s How To Cook Everything Vegetarian, but I departed pretty far from that starting point. All the liquid is orange juice (no milk). I used canola oil to make it dairy-free, but decided not to go all the way and make it vegan, because I don’t have much applesauce at the moment.

These came out good, if a little breadier than I prefer. They are plenty sweet (I used less sugar than Bittman, but the dried cranberries are sweetened and orange juice is quite sweet) so I probably could have used some of the cranberry-soaking water to thin the batter. The spices are quite mild—I can’t really taste the ginger—so next time I would do at least 2 tsp. The orange flavor is great, though!


Pour hot water over 1 cup craisins. Let soak at least 10 minutes, 30 is better.
Drain in colander.

Meanwhile, mix:
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
4c flour
6 tsp baking powder
1/3c sugar
1 tsp salt

Whisk together:
2c orange juice
6 tbsp canola
2 eggs

With the mixer running on level 1, pour the wet ingredients into the dry. Add cranberries. Put 1/4 cup into each muffin tin and bake at 350F for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Made 18 muffins for me.