Monday, October 24, 2011

dreaming of swans for dessert

I looked out my windows this morning to see a group of swans on our placid lake. Two things occurred to me: 1) the spectacularness of our Fall color was probably diminished by the rain this year (boo!),

and 2) when I see the swans floating on the surface of the lake with their bills tucked into their wings I think of the floating island recipe, technically probably Oeufs a`la neige. (I apologize for not knowing where the properly accented a and e's are on my keyboard.) I remember making Creme Anglaise in one of my many Pastry classes and talking about, but not actually poaching the meringues/swans that float in the soupy custard. Not sure, but I know I had the dessert in Paris decades ago.

Today, photograph the swans and just dream of Oeufs a la neige.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Yesterday I ventured into Manhattan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the Alexander McQueen exhibit. A friend of mine works there and has been encouraging me to come in and take advantage of their Monday visitor pass. Time was running out for the show and I had to commit. I was totally unaware of him and I'm not a fashionista, as proof I'm typing this in my Teva flip flops, $5 Danskin tee and red shorts of undeterminable age. I did zero research beforehand, so the show was an utter surprise.

Brilliant move, not knowing anything about him because I was amazed. Stunned by the excruciating beauty of his work. It was sculpture --- it was a dramatic and intimate theatrical staging of an open diary. Evocative, heartbreaking, sad. It left a lump in my throat as I walked through the several rooms of display. Expert tailor, draper, showman, romantic.

I was so knocked out after walking through the show that we just sat quietly outside the McQueen chapel. We went back in a second time. I focused on the pieces that attracted me the most---his tailored jackets from his master's show, a few of the pieces in the accessory room and several of the gowns in the glass cases. Whoa!

Opted for the book from the show instead of the refrigerator magnets (horror!) to try to hold onto this experience in some way. I've since skimmed through the book, took a couple of quick shots for the blog post and intend to sit down with it to find our more.

As I left the Met I was still somewhat suspended in time and place. I had a list of places to stop, so I hopped on the M4 bus and forged on to my next destination, the Magazine Cafe on W 37th. As I walked out of their storefront I saw the Tinsel Trader, though it didn't seem right somehow. I walked in and realized there had been a big change in layout or something. I perused the Tinsel Trading parallel universe and hurried on towards Penn Station,wondering what had happened since I was last there. And when was I last there?

Making one more stop on W 36th when I saw many, many of rolls of ribbon in the window. Shindo is the store. Tons of ribbon, huge palette of colors, giant array of textures. I picked up this linen/cotton ribbon with red stitching (Sheila!). Just didn't have anything else in mind, but I'll make sure I do next time I'm in the garment district.

Hurried into Penn Station just missing a train, but 15 minutes later I was seated in a cool train car with my current knitting dilemma in my lap on my way home. Mind still reeling with McQueen visions. It's not a show for everyone. But I would recommend it.

Thanks so much Cheryl.

Monday, June 13, 2011

What was I thinking?

Generally I don't take requests from the peanut gallery for blog posts, but my Mother suggested that I recount a craft-related incident, not only to her over the phone twice and in email with pictures but here too, in the blogsphere. She insists and her birthday was last week.

First though I must share the only inspiration that has almost made me almost post since December. Two weeks ago, I found a phenomenal specimen in the 5 lb bag of organic carrots I'd hauled home from the grocery store. I suppose if I was a vegetable gardener this would not be so special, but since I'm not and never will be...I have to share it with other non-vegetable gardeners.

There in my supply of organic carrots was one to be treasured, not juiced or roasted. It happened to be a two-legged carrot. As I am easily amused by mutant vegetables, it occurs to me that I should capture it on film for posterity, like the other mutant vegetables of history. Either it was overcast or I didn't have time to set up the tripod or I was too hungry. Who knows? Instead I scrubbed it, wrapped it and put it in a place of honor in the refrigerator to be ready for that moment with better available light for photography or possibly thinking that I would forget altogether and not embarrass myself, by giving it a name and taking a picture of it or by making carrot trousers for it and then taking a picture of it.

Okay, on with the main event of the blog post, to the more embarrassing moments that my Mom will find entertaining.

Recently I started to knit a baby sweater. A sweet little baby sweater for an innocent babe recently born. A cabled yoke sweater in a toasty fine golden yellow yarn was coming along nicely, relatively problem free, just about to enter into the cruise phase where you can knit and just measure and not read charts...

Then on one fateful tv-less evening I started to pick up my plastic seethrough knitting bag to tackle the last few chart-reading rows only to find a black spider settled in on the skein of yarn! I'm not a spider fan (Ugh!)and I really don't like seeing them on my sweet baby yarn. And well, earlier in the day I had been tormenting a thin column of marching ants on the floor with my Dyson vacuum because I don't have cats to torment them, it was handy.

My husband who is reading nearby and unwilling to save me from the spider says, Get the vacuum! In jest, I pick up the business end of the hose, replace the brush attachment with the infinitely more deadly crevice tool and press the on switch. Delicately I retrieved the knitting on the needles out of the bag and shoved the crevice tool in, quickly sucking it's way to the bottom of the bag! From my disadvantage point I couldn't see that I was sucking sweet baby yarn up and not the spider. I hear this voice shouting, Turn it off, turn it off! I did.

I had flung the knitting on the needles across the room to save it from the spider and the vacuum was now off. All I could tell was that yarn had gone into the crevice tool, not how much yarn had disappeared. I yanked on the strands to free them from the Dyson's grip. (One reason this is particularly painful is that I hate this vacuum. It is weighty, unwieldy and from the moment it entered the house I've been dedicated to hating it.) The surprised husband pulled the vacuum away from me and faced it towards the door, I think, because he could see how much yarn had accumulated in the seethrough canister and was sure I'd go uberballistic when I realized it.

How stupid could you be? It was late. I shouldn't even have thought about picking up knitting that needed your full attention at such a late hour or the vacuum. Whatever.

When I retrieved the cabled yoke from it's landing spot it bore no spider evidence. That voice is saying to me, will you have enough yarn to finish it? That's when I read the pattern. Apparently I'd overlooked the page where the required yardages were plainly written. Plainly written. The size I'd chosen required 110 gr of yarn. I only had 100 gr. of hand-dyed sweet baby yarn in toasty golden yellow. Double Ugh.

The next morning I grabbed the Dyson and ejected the canister. At this point I finally realized how much yarn had been sucked into the canister. Adding insult to injury.

I pulled it out in a tangled mess, wound it in a ball, made it into a hank and soaked it for hours in a bath of scented wool soap. The half-finished baby sweater, the sucked-up yarn and I have all recovered from the incident. I don't much care about the Dyson.

The lessons here are many. Read your pattern thoroughly, first. Don't do high maintenance knitting late at night. Don't fool around with the crevice tool, late at night....

Happy belated Birthday Mom!