Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Regal Color Palette

I dyed up some tussah silk yesterday for a few projects, but shouldn't these all be put together into a project? Such a gorgeous and regal colorway.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Sunflower Garden

Just in time for the end of summer, our small collection of giant sunflowers bloomed this past week. It's so nice looking out the kitchen window and seeing all shades of sunflowers and wildflowers together lining our driveway. 

Bomber also loves to run around them to try and sneak up on birds and butterflies.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

German Chocolate Cake Ice Cream

Earlier this year I got my new favorite toy, a Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker. With the help of two awesome books, Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones and Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams At Home, I started with simple Strawberry Buttermilk Sherbert and was soon making gourmet ice cream like Goat Cheese with Apricot Jam.  

I've recently gained enough confidence in ice cream making to try out my own combinations, and the most successful so far is definitely the German Chocolate Cake Ice Cream. Below is my recipe. You will need a 1.5 quart ice cream maker (and this recipe really will fill it to the brim), and a basic knowledge of how to make ice cream.

This is Betty, or as Brian likes to call her "Big Mouth Betty", because she sure does 
let you know when she's running with constant hum that goodies are on their way.

German Chocolate Cake Ice Cream

Ice Cream Ingredients:
- 6 egg yolks
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup dutch processed cocoa powder
- 1 cup 1% milk
- 2 cups half and half
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 8oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened

Coconut Caramel Swirl Ingredients:
- 3/4 cup toasted coconut (I toasted my own on a baking sheet in the oven under the broiler for a couple of minutes)
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 3 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1/8 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp vanilla

Making the Ice Cream:

1. In a medium heat proof bowl whisk the egg yolks and 1/2 cup of sugar together. Set aside.
2. In a medium heat proof bowl whisk the cream cheese until smooth.

Make the base:
1. In a heavy nonreactive saucepan, combine the cocoa powder with the remaining sugar. Whisk in 1/4 cup of milk to make a paste until smooth and uniform. Don't add the milk all at once or your cocoa powder will be lumpy. Whisk in the remaining milk, cream, and salt and put the pan over medium-high heat. When the mixture reaches a bare simmer, or 180 degrees, reduce the heat.
2. Scoop out about 1/2 cup of the cream mixture and, while constantly whisking egg mixture, add the 1/2 cup of cream mixture to the egg mixture. Repeat this step once more. Carefully pour the egg mixture back into the pot of hot cream mixture.
3. Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it has slightly thickened, about 1-2 minutes.
4. Whisk the hot cream mixture into the cream cheese. You can put the mixture through a fine mesh strainer for a super duper smooth texture, but I didn't find this to be necessary. Set the bowl in an ice water bath, or put it in the fridge. Allow to completely cool, 2 hours or overnight. I like to make my mixture in the morning and freeze it in the afternoon.

Making the Coconut Caramel Swirl.
1. In a small saucepan stir together the sugar and water. Turn heat to medium and stir constantly until the sugar has dissolved. Stop stirring the mixture and watch for the mixture to turn a deep amber color.
2. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter, cinnamon and vanilla.
3. Allow to cool slightly and stir in the coconut.

You will want the mixture to be cool, but not harden before adding it to the ice cream. Once it is layered with the ice cream it will become slightly more liquid and any hardening will go away.

Freezing the Ice Cream:
1. Add the vanilla to the ice cream base.
2. Freeze according to your ice cream makers instructions. Make sure it gets really thick before removing it from the ice cream maker for the smoothest texture.
3. As you take the finished ice cream and put it in a freezer container layer the coconut caramel swirl and the ice cream, but don't mix them together. Make sure to put a little of the coconut caramel swirl in the bottom of the container and reserve a little for the top too.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Designer Madness

After lots of deliberating, scheming, sketching, swatching, procrastinating, and researching, a final burst of creative energy and verbal pushing from a few friends has helped me get to the point where I can share my next idea with the world: my first knitting pattern collection. What makes it special? All of the patterns will be written specifically for hand spun yarn.

This certainly isn't the first set of patterns written for hand spun, and I know it won't be the last, but it is special and unique in that I get the opportunity to put my love of color and texture into (hopefully) easy to follow instructions for daring and bold fiber artists.

There are 3 great challenges for this project:
- Designing patterns that are easy to follow, but challenging enough that they're worth paying money for.
- Finding a way to meld a pattern with bold yarn (one or the other or both should shine, not overpower and drown out the other).
- Find the time for all the testing, typing, tech editing, photographing and formatting that goes into making this work.

Luckily, I have found a great group of knitters willing to test and critique my patterns in my Ravelry Group (head over there and join in the fun!) and that definitely helps keep me working. It's very easy to get overwhelmed or distracted and give up or move on, drawing out the work and seeing the finish line get further and further away. I'd love to have this done by November, but knowing me it will be some time before next spring.

How could I get overwhelmed when I keep all my designing ideas all nice and organized?

Click on the picture for a more up close and personal look at my yarn inspiration.