Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Can’t Beet a Good Burger?

Every fall I look forward to candied red beets, my favorite autumn treat with a flavor as deep and complex as its color. Rich, dark, earthy and sweet as candy — it’s my favorite way of dressing up that same-old-same-old burger. Put those pickles away, it’s time you met the Candied Beet Burger. These beauties came from my friend Eric’s garden.

Beets are naturally high in sugar and range in colors from dark yellow to pumpkin orange to the deepest burgundy red. I’m not so keen on canned beets, they are best when you roast or boil them yourself. It's not hard to do but it can get messy. Here are some instructions.

Candied Red Beets
You have to cook them first. Select beets of similar size to ensure even cooking, remove the greens then soak and wash them thoroughly to remove any grit. Peel them after they are cooked and have cooled down. Larger beets (over 2" in diameter) are best roasted in your oven. Otherwise you can just boil smaller beets (under 2").

Baking instructions for large beets:
Lightly coat the beets (with skins) with Canola oil and place in a baking dish. Set oven to 300°, cover dish with tin foil and bake for about an hour. When you can stick a fork through the skin your beets are done.

Boiling instructions for small beets:
In a large pot bring water to a boil. Place beets (with skins) into the water. There should be enough water should cover the beets. Lover heat to medium, cover and cook for about an hour. When you can stick a fork through the skin your beets are done.

Now this part can be a mess that resembles a CSI crime scene. If you don’t own a paper Hazmat suit wear an apron and put down lots of newspaper over your working area, you might want to wear gloves too. Drain the beets in a large colander and let beets cool enough to handle. Cut off the root tips and crown. To peel use a butter knife. The peels should rub off easily, but if not just use a vegetable peeler.

Candying instructions:
- 1/8 tsp of each: powdered ginger, sea salt, cumin (optional)
- 1 tbsp brown sugar.
- 1/2 cup honey
- 2 cups sliced cooked beets
- Large covered sauce pan

You should make enough for the week, but work in smaller batches. Bring a large sauce pan to medium heat and add enough honey to cover the bottom. Add dry ingredients and dissolve into honey. Slice beets into rounds that are about 3/8 of an inch thick and place beets in a bowl to collect the red liquid. Place beets and juice into the pan to a depth of two layers. Add the rest of honey and stir. Cover and cook for half an hour stirring every 10 minutes. The beets are done when you can put a fork through their centers. Remove from heat and let them cool. Place beets with juice in a covered container and store refrigerated. Use these on you burger instead of pickles. Now... does anyone have a good tip for getting beet stains out of a wooden counter top?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Identity Crises Resolved

Finally! After pondering a plethora of mood boards, look books, color systems, iconography and logotypes... I have arrived at the perfect logo for The Yarn Monkey™. A logo is the cornerstone of an identity system that visually communicates the brand’s personality— playful, creative, innovative, reliable. It takes a focused vision and critical thinking to design a unique logo  that will live through out a variety of media.

But what is a brand? Throughout the late ‘90s its meaning became diluted into a confusing PR buzz word that became further confused through unfocused marketing campaigns. If one is trying to “think out of the box” too often, there must be something wrong with that box. Brands often suffer from an identity crisis in this day and age, most people do not know the difference between Toyota and Honda. And much like a reliable car a brand needs care and maintenance.

Simply put, a brand is the idea or conceptual image of a product or service. It identifies a company or product by name, logo, slogan, and philosophy. In a digital age, branding is integral to websites and blogs, as it allows a company to expand its reputation directly with the people it serves. The Yarn Monkey™ is a brand of Softwear Patterns for People Who Knit & Crochet... now back to work on my online pattern store.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Kimchi Jigae on a Gloomy Day

Kimchi Jigae, or kimchi soup, is one of my favorite Korean winter dishes. As our weather quickly moves towards fall, I find myself battling a sinus infection. This soup just might be the cure... or least a delicious home-made kitchen remedy on a clammy overcast day. It’s spicy enough to knock out an on coming cold.

I first had this stew in Flushing, Queens. Thinly sliced kimchi, vegetables, and aromatic spices stewed in a home-made stock — the key to this dish is slow, low cooking. I like mine topped with lots of sweet corn, but the traditional garnish is green onion. For this savory Korean Kimchi Soup recipe go to GardenFork.tv.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Two-color Zuki — Hand-knit for the Handheld

The Zuki Cell Phone Caddy is SoftWear made for the handheld generation. Here’s the final version of Zuki made with two colors of Misti Alpaca worsted weight yarn — soldier blue and dove gray. The eyes and ears are crocheted as one piece and sewn onto each side. The body is knit in two types of durable stitches — woven stitch for the uppers and sock stitch for the belly. Although it’s filled with dried Azuki beans you could use plastic beads. The pattern is written for the iPhone and Blackberry. Soon you can make your own Zuki.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Blue Zuki iPhone Caddy

OK Paloma, if you’re reading my blog it’s no surprise, I finally got around to finishing your Zuki iPhone caddy in your favorite shade of blue. It goes in the mail tomorrow bound for L.A . — Happy Belated Birthday and don’t text while walking!

I was very flattered — of all the things that a very hip tween wanted for her birthday, my friend Dawn’s daughter requested my Zuki cell phone caddy. Everything is just late, and as of late I’ve been busy developing Zuki’s big brother, the Wombat® iPad Tech Pillow. This Zuki is a vast improvement over the first one. It’s now 200% cuter. In other news, Tom and I have are close to getting the Wombat® into production and out to market. Cheers to TomTone Industries!

This bean bag caddy uses a combination of crochet and knitting techniques. The upper portion is knit in Woven Stitch. The eyes, ears, base and trim are crocheted. Check out Blue Zuki with Justin’s iPhone, shot at Prospect Perk CafĂ©. That’s Justin’s dog Rector in Zuki’s mouth.. or hands, or is it a pouch...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Pear-Apple Sauce

My friend Eric gave us a bag of pears and apples from his yard, I made sauce from the ones that were bruised. Apple sauce is super easy to make and pears give it a nice texture.

Pear Apple Sauce
Peel and core the apples and pears, and get rid of the bruised portions. Cut them into 1" pieces then soak them in a large pot of cold water of with juice from half a lemon. Soak for 20 minutes and drain.

You’ll need: 
- 8 cups of apple and pear, cut and cleaned
- half cup water
- 1/8 cup sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 tsp powdered ginger
- 1/2 a lemon for soaking and for zest
- a large sauce pan with a lid
- wooden spoon

In a sauce pan bring water to a boil and dissolve sugar, then add apple and pear pieces. Lower temperature to medium and cover for 10 minutes. Now add lemon zest, cinnamon, salt, and ginger. Mash the apples and pears with a wooden spoon, stir and return cover. Mash and stir about every 10 minutes so that it doesn’t caramelize. In about 45 minutes or so you’ll have a sweet, tangy rustic sauce.

I like the lumps, they go well with oatmeal. But if you want a very smooth texture run the sauce through a ricer, a food mill, or blender. Store it jarred in the fridge to prevent you from eating the whole batch. For Eric’s video on making apple sauce go to GardenFork.tv.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Zucchini and Corn Fritters

The weather is quickly changing, it's much cooler and the sun is setting earlier. Time to make some dinner. This end-of-summer meal, Zucchini and Corn Fritters, is fresh from my Eric’s garden. I got the last harvest. I think of this type of recipe as typhoon food. We made a lot of fritters during that summer-long blackout of Typhoon Pamela (1976). This recipe combines dried and fresh ingredients.

This dish is typically made with young green squash, but just use a zucchini. You can also use a young pumpkin, the color is pretty. Use fresh or frozen corn, either works fine.

The spices lend an island flavor: cumin, oregano, chili and garlic. The version of this recipe is vegetarian (not vegan) but if you wanted a more authentic flavor, add minced dried shrimp to the batter and fry a piece of dried chili in the cooking oil. For this Zucchini and Corn Fritter recipe and tips on frying crisp, golden fritters, visit Gardenfork.tv.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

A Tropical Treasure — Blue Mahoe Hardwood Needles

I'm branding a new line of knitting tools for Stitch Therapy. Proprietor, Maxcine Degouttes, arrived back from a working vacation in Jamaica with her line of handcrafted knitting needles made from Blue Mahoe (Talipariti elatum), an exotic Caribbean hardwood that has striations that range from ebony and cream to blueish-gray and pale violet — no two cuts of wood are ever alike. Turning, sanding, and varnishing the wood on a lathe enhances the subtle detail and color.

Talipariti elatum is an arboreal hibiscus that grows quite rapidly, reaching heights of 60 feet or more at maturity. It is ecologically sustainable and forested regularly. One of its natural qualities is resistance to rot which lends lends itself to making to make musical instruments, storage cases, architectural details, and hardwood floors. These hardwood needles feel good in my hands — light weight and smooth. The mahogany cap adds a bit of warmth to the palette. But most of all these single points look stunning. BTW, these are mine.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Last BBQ of the Season at Freddy’s Bar — September 5, 2011

A mountain of food magically reappears— this is round three.
The Memorial Day BBQ is the last one of the season — a toast to the official end of summer. Pat O'Shea and I grilled afternoon into evening at Freddy’s Bar. As the days grow short and the leaves fall, may we all recall the good times and the wonderful flavors of summer: Ellen’s wasabi potato salad, Josh’s potato and bacon salad, Diane’s famous fudge, Clara’s deviled eggs, Anna’s BBQ chili chicken, Rick James’ jerk chicken patties... corn on the cob, grilled pineapple, fresh anchovies, veggie dogs and patties, German bratwurst, Polish Kielbasa, kimchi relish... great weather, grilled food, old and new friends, good times.

The grill calls and a crowd assembles.
It’s not a dive bar unless you have a decent-size backyard shark.

I can caramelize a pineapple with EVO but what can one make from "UVU?"
People wait patiently for a burger as Clara shares her delicious deviled eggs.
Jer, Freddy’s partner Matty Kuhn, and Tom are at the front of the line.. again.
Dogs, bratts, burgers, kielbasa, BBQ chicken....

Of course we had a few vegetarians...

Will spiced things up with freshly brined anchovies and Polish mustard.

This little sneaky fella is waiting for something to stray from a plate.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Cat Nip Bagel for Breakfast

The act of play is a healthy instinct for people and pets, so I try to keep Phillip the cat entertained with scrap yarn toys — otherwise he destroys the couch. I think every New York cat needs a Cat Nip Bagel, so make one for breakfast.

Crochet a Cat Nip Bagel
You’ll need a US C hook (2.5 mm) and some left over medium to DK weight yarn.

Side One
Chain 5. Join yarn
R01: 14 sc into ring. (st total: 14)
R02: 14 sc into top of chain.
R03 and R04: 14 sc to end.
R05: Sc twice in each stitch. (28)
R06: 28 sc.
R07: *6 sc, 2 sc in next stitch; repeat from * 3 more times. (32)
R08: *sc, 2 sc in next stitch; repeat from * 7 more times. (48)
R09 to R11: 48 sc.
R10: Sl st between posts to end. Cut yarn, sew in ends.( st total: 48)

Side Two
Pick up 14 sc from R01 of Side One, then repeat R02 to R10. Stuff with batting and sew sides closed.

Don’t make it heavy or too large. Cats like things that they can bite into and carry. My assistant, Phillip the cat, will demonstrate it’s mesmerizing properties. Now fill the bagel hole with cat nip and stand back.

What Do Cats Want?
This is an age-old question that will always remain a mystery. But after a bit of research and vet question, I have good idea as to what cats see — more subtle shades of gray than any Midtown fashion victim could ever sport in a lifetime. By nature they are nocturnal creatures whose eyes are hair-trigger sensitive to motion in low light.

Humans and primates perceive colors in combinations of red, green and blue but cats do not perceive red. After much animal testing I found that Phillip the cat prefers yellow, gray, and blue toys... and much to our disgust, a dirty frayed 3" piece of white packing string.