Friday, January 22, 2010

The year-long scarf

Around this time last year I was coming off a bout of knitting madness. I had knitted something for just about everyone in my family for Christmas and after the holidays started in on a project for myself: a lovely, leaf-patterned scarf. I shared a peek at it with you here. This was to be no ordinary scarf. This was a 6 1/2 foot long, lusciously thick, incredibly soft, alpaca and wool scarf. Yes, that's right. 78 inches of wooly wonder. It knit up quickly on size 15 needles and I worked on it here and there. But then there was that first glimmer of warmth in the air. I stopped cold. I don't knit in spring. That's all there is to it. I lose all desire. So I packed away the scarf and moved on to spring.

The urge to knit finally returned about a week ago and I busted out that luscious leaf-patterned scarf. As I reviewed the pattern trying to figure out where I had left off, I stopped short. I had already knit 76 inches of the dang thing. How did I not realize this? Well I picked up that scarf and finished it off, lickety-split. I had waited eleven months to finish two inches. Oy vey.

Here I am trying to take a photo of it in the bathroom mirror. Don't I look serious?

Isn't it lovely? (The pattern is from the Vogue Knitting: Accessorize book available at the Ann Arbor library.)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The smell of baking bread: Dill Pickle Rye

I can never get enough of the sweet smell of warm yeasty bread. I used to have a friend on Elizabeth Street in New York and whenever I went to her place I would walk a certain route because one block always smelled strongly of yeast and bread baking. It was incredibly sweet and overpowering and never failed to make me swoon with happiness and warmth. I never found the source, but it didn't matter. I just loved to breath deeply while walking down the street filled with yeasty goodness.

Now, here in Michigan, winter is in full swing and I think about that smell often and try to recreate its yeasty goodness. Of course, this recipe, which my mom used to make for us as kids, smells a bit more dill-y than yeast-y, but it's scrumptious nonetheless.

Dill Pickle Rye
Makes 2 loaves.

4 cups white flour and 2 cups rye flour
3 cups white flour and 3 cups whole wheat flour

2 packages dry yeast
1 1/2 c. liquid from jar of Polish pickles
1/2 c. buttermilk
2 Tb. sugar
2 Tb. oil
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. caraway seed
2 tsp dill seed
1 egg mixed with 2 Tb. water

Stir together flours. Heat pickle juice with caraway and dill to 120º to 130º F. Mix 2 cups of the flour mixture, sugar, salt and yeast in a bowl. Add oil and buttermilk. Pour in pickle juice and beat with an electric mixer until smooth and then some, about 3 minutes total. Stir in enough of the remaining flour mixture to form a soft dough. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, 5-8 minutes. Place in oiled bowl, turning once to coat. Cover and let rise until double in size, 1 - 1 1 /2 hours. Punch down and divide in half. Shape into loaves and place in greased loaf pans. Brush with egg mixture and cover. Let rise until double again. Bake at 350º for 50-55 minutes. Cover for the last 10 minutes to prevent excessive browning.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Hitting the books

After two weeks off at the holidays, I came back raring to go in the new year. I was eager to do lots of drawing and cooking and projects. Yet two weeks in and the grey skies seem to have gotten the better of me. I'm finding it hard to motivate. So what's a girl to do? Hit the books, of course. I've been scouring my bookcases and pouring over some old favorites. I thought I would share a few here. Hope you enjoy!

Illustration from Florina and the Wild Bird
by Selina Choz, illustrated by Alois Cariget

Nancy and the Rubber Plant, 1975
Alice Neel

Seated Nude, 1966
Richard Diebenkorn

Page details from Alice in Wonderland
illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger

The Mirror, 1966
Fairfield Porter

From The New Yorker, 1942