Saturday, March 24, 2012

I Knit Something!

I've been learning to knit. I thought it would be a great productive thing to do while Everett played. Then I found out how toddlers like to get all up in your business when you try to do anything crafty (works with computer time too, but there's less yarn to unravel when you're blogging).

But this knitting project was great to have with me during the holidays when we spent a lot of time at my in-laws', and everyone else was playing cribbage or cooking.

I kept bringing this scarf over, and my father-in-law would say, "you're still working on that?!?" Well, I only worked on it there, when other people were entertaining the baby.

It's a super simple scarf, almost not worth sharing, but I haven't shared anything for a while (someday you will be BLOWN AWAY by my lampshades!).

Maybe the take-away from me sharing this is--if you're intimidated by knitting, but want to try--YOU CAN DO IT! I made something cute after a couple days of learning and a couple weeks of knitting (in tiny bits, when I had time). 

This is my second knit project, my second scarf. The first it a holey, crooked, curly mess. But I still want to keep it to remind myself where I started.


If you knit, you'll know there are two basic stitches, the knit and the purl (sort of the knit backwards). The knit is slightly easier and faster--but I still wanted to practice the purl--and if you switch back and forth, all the stitches are going the same way, and the edges curl in on themselves. So I believe I did four knit stitches, then a purl (repeat), to get this pattern.

I'm embarrassed writing about this stuff in case good knitters read it. I'm just such a beginner! 


I'm happy with it. It's pretty. But I don't wear scarves a lot, and I'm intimidated to try for a sweater or anything like that. I don't know, I might learn how to crochet instead. (;

My favorite video tutorials are at Wool and the Gang. She uses HUGE yarn and needles, so it's easy to see the stitches, and she has the cutest accent!

I also like this lady who explains the purl as a train wreck.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Muffins!

I made my "famous" blueberry muffins again yesterday (they went over very well), and today I thought, "I wrote a blog about my muffins AGES ago on my personal blog, but I wish that post was on this, my Beyond Fine blog." So I copied and pasted. But, lately I've been making them gluten free*, so I'll put a little gluten free note at the bottom.

*******

The original blog, from February 2010:


For the wedding, my cousin Wendy and her fiance (now husband) Ash bought us a sweet, shiny muffin tin and a muffin cookbook. So I started making muffins: pumpkin, veggie and cheese, blueberry, blueberry again, apple pumpkin, and blueberry again!


The first time I made the blueberry muffins (with my personal modifications), I was blown away. They are so delicious! And they're healthy too! I mean, if you don't mind butter and cream (which I don't). Instead of all-purpose flour, there's a mix of whole wheat flour and almond meal. And blueberries are healthy too! (;

So I thought I'd share the recipe:

Blueberry Muffins
(from the book Mad about Muffins by Dot Vartan . . . modified by me!)

6 tablespoons softened butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt (1/4 teaspoon table salt)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup almond meal (buy in the nut section of Trader Joe's)
1/2 cup milk (I've used half and half, and it works out fine)
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

Streusel topping (totally necessary):
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (I just shake it in)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:
Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs. Add the vanilla extract, baking powder, and salt. Mix in half of the flour/almond meal and the milk alternatively, mixing gently by hand. Then add the remaining flour/almond meal and milk. Stir in the blueberries. Fill greased muffin tins (I now almost always use cup liners--never a muffin lost to sitckage). To make streusel topping, cut the butter into small pieces and mix it with the brown sugar, cinnamon, and walnuts. Sprinkle the topping over batter. Bake 25 - 30 minutes until muffins are lightly browned. Makes one dozen muffins.

For some reason, the first batch I made was a bit sweeter than the subsequent two batches. I think I may have been running low on granulated sugar and used half granulated, half brown (would that result in sweeter muffins?). Either way they are really good, but if you like sweet, you may want to add a bit more sugar to my recipe.


* I've had no issue whatsoever making these gluten free. They're definitely more expensive, but some might say it's worth it. I go the cheat-y (but delicious) way and use Pamela's Gluten Free Baking Mix. That Pamela got it RIGHT, and I don't think I could top her. One time I did half Pamela's and half almond meal, but then I realized the mix has almond meal in it, so that seemed like possibly too much almond meal (they still turned out great!) My most recent batch, I only had about one and a half cups of Pamela's (only one grocery store in town carries it), so I used oatmeal flour for the last half cup. These turned out fine--a little undercooked in the center when I first pulled them out, so I had to put them back. If you're doing gluten free, I'd recommend leaving them in as long as you can before they burn on the top to insure a full bake all the way through.