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a different kind of string theory

Category Archives: Cooking

One of the great things about growing up in the 1900 House is that you usually know what to do with excess fruit and vegetables. Too many radishes? Pickle those suckers. Too many strawberries, about to go off all at once like little moldy bombs?

My strawberries were riper than these cyberberries.


I’d made strawberry jam years ago, and it ended up tasting kind of raisiny (Once I tried making grape jam, and it was DISGUSTINGly raisiny. Some things you should leaved to Welch’s, it seems), so this time I hunted around on the interwebz for a different recipe. I used this one from Ina Garten, but you know me. I can’t follow a straight recipe to save my life. Well, I can, but I don’t. This is why you are getting this post: I want to remember what I did, because it came out spectacularly good. If I do say so myself.

In a pot, boil 2 cups of sugar and the juice and zest of a lemon. (I used a regular Eureka lemon, but it was huge. And I need to invest in a real zester, because mine is really just a cheese grater, and my zest is more of a sludgy paste.) Boil for 10 minutes. So far, I’ve followed the recipe.

While the sugar is boiling, wash, hull and halve the strawberries in question.

Don’t use moldy ones, or very overripe ones. The recipe calls for two pints, but in the heat of the moment, I totally forgot to measure. I think it was roughly that, though. If you wanted to get persnickety about it, you would measure the prepared fruit and then put the same weight of sugar– but I actually like conserves more than jam, so I was playing fast and loose with measurements.

Then crush the berries and add them to the sugar. I used my hands, and it was a very hedonistic experience. I recommend it. Boil gently until the jam gels when you dribble it onto a frozen plate (an Ina Garten tip, and what a good idea). I was doing other things (multitasking ftw!) but I think it took about a half hour.

I didn’t boil my jars, because it doesn’t make a whole lot of jam, and I knew I’d be eating it right away in my morning yogurt. In the bottom of each jar (and here is where I think I’m a genius!) I sprinkled a couple of pinches of lavender and dropped a centimeter of vanilla bean that I’d whacked with a cleaver. Then I poured the very slightly cooled jam/conserves into the jars, sealed them up, and stuck them in the refrigerator.

This morning, I tried the conserves with plain yogurt and some muesli, and I may have had a religious experience. Click the link, seriously.


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It is astonishing what a little St. John’s Wort, a rainy day, and a brand spanking new coffeemaker can do to improve one’s mood. A little Black Moth Super Rainbow and Lulu Rouge doesn’t hurt, either.

I got this:

I don't think I'll caress it, but don't judge me if I do.

My old Krups finally bit the dust this weekend, when I tried to get the coffeepot out and the little spring that holds the coffeepot in and directs the coffee stream came unsprung like a overworked Slinky. Also, the coffee had been tasting old even when it was fresh. Once I started making coffee with this new creature, the coffee didn’t have to be nuked after adding milk– which means my poor Krups had been declining slowly and I hadn’t even noticed. It lived a nice long life– almost a decade. I think I got it about the same time I got L. or a little after.

This coffeepot has survived three major friendships, and at first I wasn’t sure what to do with its carcass. It’s kind of like dealing with a dead animal when you live in an apartment. I mean, what do you do with it? I can’t bury my Caffee Duomo in the backyard, that would just be weird. I can’t sell it at next weekend’s yard sale, because it’s broken and the heating element is shot. So, I’ve set it next to the garbage cans, but not exactly in a garbage can. Even thinking about it has made me a little maudlin, which is ridiculous, but there it is.

I am knee-deep in Chapter Six and am all excited about the trouble I’ve put my characters in, for once. I tend to avoid drama in real life, so putting my characters in jeopardy is always a toughie for me.

I made lavender honey cookies the other day and ate them all. Not good when you’re trying to lose five pounds.

I’m still waiting for my felt and roving to arrive. Yesterday, The Babyhead and I were out in the front yard– she was hunting down fallen leaves with her fairy contingent– and a UPS van (not a truck– did you know they had minivans, too?) rolled up. The guy was checking an address or something, because he waved at us, then drove on. What a tease. The Babyhead gave him a frown of colossal proportions. Even she knows I’m waiting for something.

And here is what I’ve been listening to.

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Since L’s been all low-carb, low-sugar lately, there’s been a dearth of baked goods about the house. Iso and I finally got the undeniable hankering for some cookies the other day, and last night we made some. It was such a primal desire for hot cookie action that I didn’t even bother to use a cookbook. I totally winged it, and Iso helped. They turned out superwell, so the purpose of this post is to remind me what I did so that I can do it again.

Cookies were definitely harmed in the making of this blog.

Brown Sugar Lemon Cookies

Cream together:

1 stick softened butter (I prefer salted.)

3/4 c. brown sugar (I prefer dark brown.)

Then mix in:

1 capful of vanilla extract (Has anybody else found that alcohol free extract is kind of blah?)

1 egg

Slowly stir in:

2 c. flour (I used all purpose white, this time.)

1 T. baking powder

And when that’s well mixed, incorporate as much flour as you need to make the cookie dough rollable. For me, this was one more cup. We rolled the dough out, about 1/4 inch thick, then baked at 375 for 10 minutes. After they cooled off, we frosted them.

Lemon Frosting

2 c. powdered sugar

2 drops red food coloring

1 capful of lemon extract (For a fresher lemon flavor, toss in some lemon zest and/or replace some of or all of the milk with lemon juice.)

1 t. soft butter

a bit of milk

Stir until it’s the right consistency, then ice the cooled cookies.

Because we used dark brown sugar, they came out a little caramelesque. And because we used all-purpose white they came out very delicate and crumbly, like a lighter version of shortbread. Naturally, if you use a heavier wheat flour, you’ll get a denser cookie, or a whiter sugar will produce just a plain sweet cookie, but it will still be tasty.

I think this recipe made about two dozen, but we were so crazed for cookies that I really have no idea anymore. It was like a cookie massacre around here.


Okay, so this is not knitting related.

But I made pumpkin bread for the first time, and it came out so well that even my husband ate it. He’s not a sweets eater.

My mom had cleaned out her pantry and given me some cans of pumpkin puree, so I winged it. I figure the guilt of the butter is outweighed by the presence of whole wheat flour. What, no? Luckily, my kitchen experiment came out fantabulously!

Well, it'll be gone soon. . .

Mix together:

1 can pumpkin puree

2 eggs

1 c. brown sugar

1/2 tsp. each of cinnamon, five spice, and cardamom (or whatever floats yer boat)

1 capful vanilla

1/2 cube butter, melted (I like salted, but whatever)

Then stir in the dry stuff:

1 c. all-purpose flour

1 c. whole wheat flour

1 tsp. baking soda

dash of salt

Mix, mix, mix, then pour into a greased loaf pan and bake for about 55 minutes in a 375* oven. I’d be willing to bet that 350* would do, but my oven tends to run a tad cold. I think I’m supposed to get it calibrated or something. Anyway.

Then I made a glaze for it, because after tasting the batter, I could see it wasn’t going to be very sweet at all. I’d adapted the recipe from a banana bread recipe, and bananas have a lot more natural sugar. For the glaze, I simply mixed together about a cup and a half of powdered sugar, a half teaspoon of butter, zest of half a lemon, juice of half a lemon, and a splash of milk. After the bread cooled, I drizzled the glaze over it. It was pretty runny, so I just scooped it up again and redrizzled it, until it eventually stayed on the bread or was soaked up by it.

Even Iso likes it!