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Crazy for Ewe

The path to serenity is right on your needles

The path to serenity is right on your needles

Dijon and Cognac Stew

Last night I was reading New York Times' article "What to Cook this Week," and I came across this delicious looking beef stew with whole grain mustard.  Clicking the link took me to the recipe and a reference to the recipe having been promoted in those dark days in 2001 just after September 11th.  The original recipe was part of an article by Regina Schrambling "When the Path to Serenity Wends Past the Stove" about how she had felt an inexplicable urge to cook and bake in the aftermath of 9/11.  She talks about the slowness of the process -- no aspect of this kind of cooking can be rushed. She talks about the physicality of the process and how it engages her senses and fires up her endorphins, and she talks about the psychological impact as well:

But the psychological impact is even more obvious. When you're all finished, you have something to show for the time and effort: a loaf of bread, a batch of cookies, a pot of stew. On Thursday, those three hours of putting one step after another led to a kind of serenity, the feeling that no matter what was happening outside my kitchen, I had complete control over one dish, in one copper pot, on one burner.

Knitters know this same feeling, and it's no coincidence that interest in knitting took a sharp uptick after September 11th.  People turned to knitting because, like cooking, it's an activity that engages the senses and offers a comforting, repetitive, meditative physicality -  and equally importantly, a tangible end product that's completely under our control.  That dark day was 16 years ago, but we still struggle with upsetting news on many fronts -- devastating storms flooding Texas and Florida, nuclear weapons in North Korea, and more.  We need our knitting now more than ever.  We need our knitting to help us focus, and be mindful, and find a calm space in the eye of whatever storm is upsetting us. 

If you would like a little guidance getting started with knitting as a mindful practice, join us 28 September for an interactive workshop on mindfulness in your knitting.  I look forward to seeing you in the shop and around the table.  You are always welcome here. 


Back to 11 September 2017 Newsletter

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Lazy Sunday

Sundays are wonderful days.  A little extra sleep, cozy breakfast, and not much of a schedule.  I've got a nice batch of granola going, and it needs to be stirred every fifteen minutes, so I'm hanging around the kitchen smelling cinnamon and seaming my Kelmscott. Here it is all clipped together


All clipped together


I'm pretty happy with the way my seams are turning out and I'm super happy with my granola.  Plenty pecans

Plenty pecans

For those of you who are interested, I use Alton Brown's recipe with a few tweaks to suit my husband's cinnamon addiction and the fact that for some unknown reason I have two bottles of Kings Syrup in my pantry.  Here's today's version:

3 c old fashioned rolled oats
3/4 c shredded coconut - I use the sweetened kind because the other is just too hard to find
2 c pecans - if you have other nuts, they're great too.
1/4 c dark brown sugar
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 c vegetable oil
1/4 c + 2 T Kings Syrup (or honey or maple syrup)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Lightly grease a large shallow baking sheet tray or roasting pan. Mix up the oats, coconut, pecans, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Combine the syrup and oil in a measuring cup and pour over the oat mixture. Stir well. Spread the mixture onto the tray and bake for an hour, stirring every 15 minutes. It may not seem crisp after an hour, but it will get crisp as it cools. Store tightly covered. I couldn't tell you how long it keeps, because it's never around more than a week or so.

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What to cook when you'd rather knit

Saturday, Ginni and I went up to La Plata to teach Reading Your Knitting.  It was a wonderful class, but I knew I'd be gone all day and would probably end up getting home late, so I wanted something that would be ready for dinner basically when I walked in the door.  This is typically a crock pot kind of day. 

Most of you already know that in addition to being very particular about my yarn, I'm a foodie and I love to cook.  That being said, I'm a Southern girl at heart, and I love me some good pork.  I like it rich and fatty and cooked till it's falling of the bone,  Richmond barbecue style, y'know.  I've used pork shoulder, but there was always too much fat left in it - even for me!  Switched to boneless pork loin but that was always dry unless I drowned it in barbecue sauce.  My kids liked that, but I want to taste the meat.  My mother, who's addicted to Food TV, mentioned an episode in which Anne Burrell had made barbecue from a Boston Butt cooked in the oven for 9 hours at 225 degrees.   She said it looked delicious, and she doesn't even really like pork. 

So I got a big old pork shoulder, rubbed it with the spices and put it in the pan with a beer, just like Anne said.  I asked my darling husband if he would turn it over every two hours, which he agreed to do.  When I got home, the house smelled like heaven (that is what heaven smells like to a pork addicted southern girl) and even the boys were ready.  I made up a little sauce, but the drippings from the pan were really all you needed.  Bought some mini buns and threw together a little coleslaw and we had barbecue sliders.

Honestly, this was the best pork I have ever put in my mouth.  I would eat this all day long.  It was so simple too - the perfect thing to make when  you want your family to think you slaved all day when actually you were just sitting around knitting and waiting for the pork to cook.  Think how knitting you could get done if every dinner was this easy! 

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Comfort food

Elizabeth, my DD has quickly found the goodness of French café food in Grenoble.  She sent me a picture of a croque-monsieur she had the other day, and I was jealous - it's one of my favorites.  Chef Loic at Café des Artistes in Leonardtown makes the best I've ever had.  Friday afternoons at the shop, we often order in lunch from the Café, and croque-monsier (avec frites, bien sûr) is a popular pick.  These decadent treats are so huge that two of us often share one - it is only lunch, after all.  I could probably eat one by myself, but then I wouldn't want dinner and my family would be, um, rather disappointed. 

I haven't had a croque in quite a while.  I've been good, ordering a house salad -- sometimes with a salmon fillet on top.  Loic's perfectly cooked salmon and delicious mustard vinaigrette keep it from feeling like you're being good, but I digress.  So I want a croque monsier at home - I want to share it with my family.   Tonight, I'm thinking it's perfect for an early pre-pro-bowl dinner.  Here's the recipe I'm going to use.  I have gruyère cheese in the fridge and am headed out for some Black Forest Ham.  Do you think fries would be over the top?  Yeah - might as well go for broke. 

Then I'm going to sit and knit my Bedouin Bag, and try not to think about calories and cholesterol.

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