Harvest Crumble

IMG_1617Much as I would have liked to go apple picking last weekend, my friends‘ trees are small, and there was not enough fruit to harvest for her to need our help. But there was some, and she gave me a basket of freshly picked apples, I made a sweet yeast dough, my husband peeled and sliced, and in the afternoon, we all had cake together in her sun-dappled garden. And since we had miscalculated how much fruit we were going to need for the cake, I also made a few jars of apple sauce.


Chunky Apple Sauce

Apples, peeled, cored and cut into slices or chunks

Brown sugar (or any other kind) to taste

Cinnamon to taste

Squeeze of lemon to taste

A few TBSP water if required

In a non-stick cooking pot, put apples to the boil. After a few minutes, they’ll begin to fall apart. Stir every now and then, you don’t want them to stick to the bottom. Add a little water if the fruit don’t exude enough moisture. When the apples are cooked, add sugar and cinnamon to taste. In our case, we did need quite a bit of sugar, because the apples were _very_ tart – perfect for a cake, but for the apple sauce, extra sweetness was definitely needed. Add a few drops of lemon if you wish. And that is it – healthy, easy to make apple sauce that beats the flavor of the store-bought variety by miles.

Speaking of freshly picked produce, now for the exact opposite! Looking at the content of my veg drawer with a keen eye this morning, I found all sorts of sad-looking, orphaned seasonal fruit: three wrinkly apricots, one ancient wild peach and a mushy regular peach, as well as yellow and regular plum-colored plums that nobody loved because they were NOT sweet. This morning, I felt like giving the lot of them a happy ending in form of a decent, autumnal crumble. Nobody’s going to care what the fruit looked like before, and the tartness will easily be balanced with a bit of sugary, buttery, crumble topping. After arranging the fruit slices in a pleasing manner, I sprinkled some brown sugar on top, and then made the crumble:

Crunchy Crumble Topping

100 g butter

50 g brown sugar (stevia or other sweetener if you’re skipping sugar, J.)

50 g ground almonds

50 g spelt flour

Pinch of salt

1 yolk

Zest of 1/2 lemon

Vanilla powder to taste

Quickly combine the ingredients with your hands to a consistency of large crumbs, just as you see above. Top the fruit with the crumbs. Refrigerate until needed, or bake right away if you’re hungry. My brood’s prob. going to break out the ice cream or ask that I make whipped cream to go with this, but that is, as many things in life, a matter of taste. Which brings me to a question I have for you today.

Yesterday night I worked some more on the baby blanket I wrote about in my last post. I’m pleased with how it’s coming along, even if I find making irregular-width stripes vexing, as I do like my things in EVEN PROPORTIONS, thank you very much … in this case, it’s how it needs to be though, in order to become a cute baby blanket. Or so I thought.

Because my sweet son, wandering in after his shower to say goodnight, stopped in his tracks and said: „Oh cool, you’re knitting a Pride flag!“ :-))) Wonder what the fashion-conscious queer crowd would make of a hand-knit Pride flag ;-))! And while at first I found this hilarious, of course now I’m beginning to question my design, because while I wouldn’t have minded my babies having a pretty thing that is also a political statement, I find I have no idea how the mom-to-be feels about that kind of thing. What do you guys think? Is it not appropriate for a newborn? Do I need to switch the color sequence around a bit…? Please advise!

And have a happy Thursday, everybody – gay, straight, or any other acronym.

Knitting for Little Creatures

So it seems that there’s a baby cluster happening in my little world. My boy’s awesome cello teacher and his wife just had a daughter, my girl J.’s due date is on Halloween (seeing very cool birthday parties in this kid’s future), my lovely tattoo artist E. is due on Christmas Eve, and then end of February, my sweet friend M. is having her third girl in a row, much sooner than anticipated.

As you can probably imagine, my crafts brain (right next to the lizard brain, it’s there, I’m sure of it!) has been busily thinking about baby stuff, and I’ve been playing with yarn more than I have done for months. It helps that the pup has settled down some, also I’m getting into the groove of the fall season. This year, it began with my knitting a dog sweater. IMG_1370Charlie has this very fine, silky coat, which we all love petting so much. Unlike most other breeds‘, his unfortunately doesn’t come with an undercoat. If I ever made fun of people who put coats on their dogs in the winter in the past, I’m eating my words with a big spoon right now, regretting every pun I ever made, because, lovely people, dog clothing is a thing. I don’t see us not taking walks in the winter because we’re too cold, right? We just wrap up in warm coats, and off we go. Why would I not give my dog that option, seeing that he needs to be outside even more than I do?

On the first day temperatures dropped to around 15 °C, I started looking online, and wasn’t really loving any of the sweaters I found, simply because they’re all made of acrylic yarn. As you know, I’m more into the natural fabrics. So I had a basic idea of the sweater’s construction, more like a vest, really. A long tube with holes for the front legs. I knew it needed to be longer in the back than in the front, given the anatomy of male dogs. You don’t want dog pee on fabric of any kind, hence the front needs to be a crop.

So I started thinking about it, made a little drawing, and went through my yarn stash. Fellow crafters know how it is – there’s always yarn that hasn’t found its true purpose yet. I unearthed this reddish-brown pure new organic wool that matches Charlie’s coat to a t. I immediately knew I wanted to do something with a textured pattern. Then, believe it or not, I actually got out the tape measure. It was my first project like this, and I found I had no idea how long my dog really is, or how wide his shoulders are and stuff. So I measured him, I swatched, and I cast on a test piece – which turned out to be the right size, awesome.

About halfway in I realized I didn’t have enough of the reddish brown yarn, so I went through the options in my stash again, deciding with my friend M. of the impeccable taste’s help that navy would go with it best. So, the finished sweater now has a navy neck and navy details I added later on. It was a three staged process, and now I feel it looks just the way it needs to look, it’s long enough in the back and it seems to be comfortable enough ;-).

As for human baby things to knit, I just mailed these IMG_1479.JPGto the string musicians‘ baby (mom’s a violinist, dad’s the aforementioned cellist), and may her teeny little feetz be warmed as well as look pretty.

Since our future nephew has a mom who also likes to knit, I’m not even going to bother making him socks. Instead, I just bought a lovely handcrafted baby wrap in the most gorgeous shade of coral – in a way, somebody else did the crafting for me :-). I fondly remember using my own baby wrap on a daily basis after my daughter was born – there’s really nothing like having the little ones close to your body the first months. Magic times :-). If you’re wondering, this is the one. Beautiful color, right?

The other two ladies with the bumps are a different matter. One’s my tattoo artist friend E. who is amazing at her craft but doesn’t really do yarn and fabric, no doubt because she’s too busy with managing her thriving business, 2 kids and a cute, energetic Boxer dog dude. E. will hopefully be happy to wrap her baby in what is going to be a multi-color stripy knit blanket, the beginning of which you can see here.

Again, I made a swatch (see bottom left) – and wouldn’t you know, the real piece turned out to be too wide the first time around anyway … still, I’m happy to have seen the way the colors are going to blend into each other. For the correct color sequence, I enlisted my daughter’s help. She knows these things way better than I do, much in the way I just instinctively know what a sauce needs to become its most delicious self. She just throws colors together, and it would take me hours to achieve what she can do in a matter of minutes. Amazing! As a beneficial side-effect, this project will be diminishing my yarn stash very nicely, thank you.

For my friend M. who’s having the February baby, I’m not sure what to make, yet. I did order some gorgeous pastel colored merino yarn that made me think of her, but for now, I’m busy enjoying the stripy project. It’s a very uncomplicated pattern – just knit, knit, knit and knit some more… easy while I’m binging my way through Queer Eye, which I’m enjoying more than I thought I was going to. My sweet niece M. who is also my media guru said it was worth watching, and so I gave it a shot. In the beginning I was watching mostly for Tan the fashion expert (this guy)’s sake, but in the meantime, all five of them have grown on me. And yes, I have shed a tear or two, just like everybody else.

Have a lovely time with this early fall weather. Isn’t it great? Scarves, and hats, and long sleeved clothes, and all the bright autumn-y colors to look forward to. img_7150.jpg