Saturday, July 31, 2010

Vegan comfort food

Why, yes... I did get a new cookbook. heh

I broke down and bought a copy of Vegan Comfort Food when I bought The Kind Diet awhile back. Finally tried a couple of the recipes today. I've been craving mac & cheese for awhile but finding a vegan version pre-made (at least in this part of the country) isn't an easy task. I did finally find Amy's new frozen  rice mac & soy cheese at the store. Nice that they're making an effort, but... it still has dairy in it. *sigh* I'd heard good things about the mac & cheeze in Vegan Comfort Food so... I made my own. =)

At first glance, the recipe doesn't sound incredibly cheesy, but amazingly, the macadamia nuts, raw cashews, carrot and potato (plus seasonings, of course) come together and result in a surprisingly good alternative to dairy-based mac & cheese. Definitely a keeper!

The fillet o'tofish from the same book:

Hmm, I think I may need to try this one again with thinner slices of tofu. The directions weren't incredibly clear how I was to cut the block of tofu so mine were a little thick, I think. They're okay I suppose. I was never a huge fish fan before going veg when I was a kid though, so I may just move on. I think the chik'n seitan is up next... =)

(Forgive the crappy photos. I just took quick ones with my cell before lunch. heh)

Friday, July 30, 2010

Another kool dye job

I tried it again.

This time, I used some the inexpensive wool I picked up at the fiberfest last month. It started out like this:

This stuff picked up the Kool-Aid really well.

I think I prefer the way the Lion Brand came out, but this stuff will be fun to play around with. I picked up a few different shades of KA yesterday and I'm planning to use a 40% off coupon at Michaels to pick up a set of Wilton icing gels. This is addictive! =)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Variegation Frustration

Variegated yarns almost always frustrate me... they pool or flash... or they don't... usually the opposite of the effect you were hoping for. So now, I'm causing myself even more headaches by creating even more variegated yarns for my stash. Am I a masochist? heh

I wanted to work up my new hand-dyed yarn into something I'd use often. I thought, hmm, a small bag that would fit my cell phone and a bit of cash and possibly my keys would be perfect. Previously, I crocheted a cover for my droid and it's worked well, but it really needed some sort of strap to make it easier to cart around. Too many times I've been frustrated trying to hold it while shopping or at the check stand or even out of a walk when not wearing a jacket with pockets big enough for my phone.

I don't have photos of the ones that didn't make it, but I first tried a crochet design found on ravelry. I got about halfway and realized I didn't have enough yarn... but didn't like the way the colors were all over the place anyway. I pulled out a set of dpns and set about knitting up a small bag, similar to what I ended up with, but slightly wider resulting in great flashing. Sadly, I didn't have enough yarn for that either. So I frogged that one as well. Next, I tried a more vertical design - a rectangular-bottomed bag with a drawstring. HATED it. The colors were all over the place and I just didn't like the bag at all. Frogged once again. heh This was my final attempt.

I like the more subtle, diagonal stripe here and love how the colors worked up in the seed stitch. I just need to figure out the closure. I tried buttonholes but didn't like the look. I was thinking of adding simple loops for buttons, but I'm kind of like how the needle looks (but with something else). Any ideas?

BTW - there's more yarn hanging in my shower right now. =)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Dyed in the wool

I've been wanting to try dyeing for awhile now. I did overdye the tan parts of my messenger bag with brown Wilton's icing gel. It came out darker, but not quite as dark as I'd wanted. So I'm planning to overdye the purple strap a darker color before putting it together. Forgot to take a pic of that, I was so distracted by my newest attempt at dyeing. =)

I had a small amount of Lion Brand wool in winter white so I tried dyeing it with black bean soaking water. eh I got kind of a tannish color, nothing pretty. I didn't use a mordant though and probably hadn't soaked the beans as long as I should have either so didn't have enough color in the water. I'll try it again someday...

So, instead, I overdyed it again with Kool-Aid. LOVE!! And so freaking easy!

I rinsed the yarn first in vingar water, then I used black cherry, grape and berry blue and microwaved it (2 min, let cool 2 min, heat 2 more min then let cool completely before rinsing).

I'm SO happy with the results! I have another ball I've made into a skein and plan to dye it as well. This could get addictive very quickly! heh I'm already thinking of what I can overdye that's in my stash. There's a pale yellow that was super soft and so cheap even though I didn't love the color... =)

I've also made a few more of the little wash mitts. They're so quick and easy and use almost no yarn.

Great for using up scraps of cotton! =)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Yummy yarn and playing hooky

Yum! Yarn cake. =)

I ordered this while at the Hoosier Hills Fiberarts Festival last month. The seller (Sandy's Palette) had some roving dyed in these colors, but nothing spun. I don't spin... yet. The positive? I got to pick the yarn since Sandy offered to dye a couple skeins for me and ship them for free (the shipping was free, not the yarn - if only!). I've been looking for nice yarn in chocolate and turquoise for awhile, but have only seen it in acrylic. I chose a wool/mohair blend and it is so soft. The colors in the second skein are a bit less vibrant, but a slight difference is to be expected with hand-dye jobs, right? I'll just have to be sure to alternate the skeins when I knit these up. The plan is a pair of mittens and a hat or maybe a cowl. =)

I tried my own hand at dyeing yesterday. All the parts and pieces for my felted messenger bag are finished. I felted everything yesterday, then followed a tutorial I found online for dyeing using Wilton icing colors. I didn't take into account just how much these pieces would look like muppet pelts once felted! lol The tan didn't go as dark brown as I'd hoped (was hoping for chocolate, I got camel) and the purple lost some color in the felting process. Not thrilled with the resulting combo. I'm debating over-dyeing the purple I used for the strap to get a darker color. Thinking of using black cherry Kool-Aid this time...

Played around with cotton and a hook this morning and came up with this:

Version 2.0 of my previously attempted face mitt. The one I made a few months back worked, but is so dense it takes forever to dry and it too stiff to easily form to my hand. So this one is worked in a much looser stitch (ext dc rather than hdc) with a row of sc at the edge to keep it from stretching out too much and of course, a loop for hanging to dry. A little texture, but not too much. Worked wonderfully on its maiden voyage. =) This would be great for washing dishes too.

Now I'm off to peruse my new vegan cookbook. Yum!

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Red, White and Blue... and exploding cupcakes

Sharing cars in Buffalo meant some extra time spent in the hotel over last weekend. I filled my time with yarny fun. I finished knitting up the wool I had on hand for my messenger bag and started in on some cotton with my crochet hook.

The water bottle is my own design. The star can be found here (I stopped after a few rounds and added a chain across the back for easier use) and the spiral scrubbie here.

On Thursday, I had the opportunity to browse through The Kind Diet while killing time at Barnes & Noble. This is one I've had my eye on awhile but hadn't yet caved to purchasing. I copied down the recipe for Peanut Butter Cups to try out in the meantime. Um... yum!

Seriously good stuff! Though they're incredibly rich! I used smooth pb I had on hand and I didn't want the extra cost of nuts, so I ground up a few extra graham cracker squares for on top. Next time, I'll probably opt for mini cupcake size instead. Being one of  chocolate peanut butter's biggest fans, even I thought one at this size was a bit over the top in richness. Whew! Sugar coma, anyone? You've been warned.

Since I was already melting chocolate (vegan chocolate chips from TJ's) anyway, I pulled out my bag of pb filled pretzels (also TJ's) and drizzled them as well. I used to love the choc pb pretzels from Trader Joe's... but they're milk chocolate covered... so now I make my own. =) And I think they're even better. heh Sprinkled a bit of the leftover graham crumbs on top. Delish! 

This morning, I decided to celebrate the red white and blue with a red, white and blue breakfast! The Joy of Vegan Baking has quickly become one of my go-to cookbooks. I used the Blueberry Cobbler recipe, using raspberries from our yard and frozen, organic blueberries and subbed a bit of whole wheat flour for some of the white flour in the biscuit dough. Yeah, it was yummy!

What about the exploding cupcakes, you ask? Okay, they don't really explode... but there is a surprise inside! I do love a dessert with a good surprise inside! My mom's been talking about the chocolate lava cakes you can get at restaurants for awhile now so I decided to give it a go... in a vegan version. Most recipes are heavily egg-based and undercooked to keep that ooey, gooey center. A quick search turned up a few vegan versions online. I settled on one filling that looked particularly simple and viola!

Vegan chocolate lava cupcakes! I used the Chocolate Cake recipe from the vegan baking cookbook above and the filling from here. Fill the cups about halfway with batter, place a dollop of filling in the center and cover with more batter. They're maybe more pudding-like than lava-like, but they're yummy and the thicker filling definitely makes eating them easier. No mess! Being on a pb/choc kick this weekend, I made half the cupcakes with a hit of pb... in the form of a teensy peanut butter cookie (yep, recipe from the same cookbook). I'd seen this done in another cookbook at B&N. You fill the cupcake liner about 3/4 full and place a small ball of cookie dough in the center and bake - I flattened my mini pb cookie dough balls with a fork first. These rock when warm out of the oven! You could easily use whatever cake/cookie dough combo you prefer. =)