Monday, February 9, 2015

Picadillo the Sequel

I've been making this for years, and have been eating it years before that when my mom would make it. Either I'm getting older and my tastes are changing, or this new way is really kind of awesome. Rather than a meat mixture over starchy rice, I've begun adding lentils to sort of "extend" the beef and add more nutrients. Other than the texture feeling less meaty, the taste largely remained the same. Then, I got this sprouted bean trio and used that instead of lentils. Actually, I replaced about half the beef with beans this time. To compensate, I increased the spices. We really love our spices in savory foods here. I also got some farro from my mom, and have never cooked with it before. Well, I'm sold. This is going to be the way we do picadillo from now on. Thanks mom for the grains, and sorry mom that we don't like picadillo the old way anymore.

The original post is here.

Picadillo mixture:
3 large beefsteak tomatoes, diced
1 large green bell pepper, diced
1 large onion, diced
small head of garlic, minced
1.5 lb of beef
1 cup green olives
3/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
2 tsp cumin
salt to taste (we had around 3-4 tsp, I think)

Grains & Beans:
2 cups of sprouted bean trio
2 cups of farro
about 12 cups water

1- Brown beef in a wide, deep pan on medium heat. Meanwhile, chop onion, tomato, and pepper, and peel garlic.

2-Drain fat off beef. Add onion and garlic to beef, and cook until onion starts to soften.

3- Add tomato, peppers, spices/seasoning, olives, and raisins, lower temperature and cover.

4- Add water to larger pot with farro and bean mixture. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to med-low and cover. After about 15 mins, check to see that the beans have softened and the farro is "al dente". Cook longer as needed.

5- Toast the almonds in a small saucepan in butter over low heat. Be careful, it can burn if you leave it unattended!

6- When the beans/farro is done, drain excess water. Add picadillo mixture from the first pan into the larger pot. Mix it all together and top with almonds. You won't regret it!

Personally, I like it after it simmers a bit to allow all the flavors to mix, and the olives and raisins absorb some of the juices.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Fitbit One Wristband

It's been a long, LONG time since I've posted anything here. I just wanted to share the sleep tracking wristband I created for mine and my husband's new Fitbit One, as we find it more comfortable than the one it comes with.

4.0 (size 6) double pointed knitting needles (or go down a size if you tend to knit more loosely. I am a tight knitter!)
Small amount of Worsted yarn (I used leftover scraps)
Yarn needle

Long tail CO 10 sts.
K1P1 rib in the round until the pocket measures a little longer than the Fitbit (without the case). Mine was about 2 inches.

Then, divide the stitches evenly on 2 needles and knit the 2 rows as one to close the pocket, which is known as a 3 needle bind off.

Knit the band (5 sts) in garter stitch until it is the right length for the wristband, keeping in mind that it will stretch out a bit once you try it on. I stretched mine out a little first so it fit a little more snug.

BO and use the tail of the yarn to sew the BO edge to one side of the pocket opening. The band can be worn with the opening on the inside to prevent the Fitbit from falling out, but it isn't necessary. It stays in pretty well as long as the pocket fits snugly over the Fitbit.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Looking to buy new needles, part 2

I heard back from Knitter's Pride customer service. Basically, the set sold on Amazon that was on par with the Harmony needles price-wise is not considered to be from an "authorized dealer"and therefore I'd be out of luck if a needle broke. My alternative is to buy it from an "authorized dealer" and pay $20 more for a set. I was a little confused because I saw a couple of Amazon reviews that mentioned they got replacement parts. I want to get something that will last,  but also something affordable,  so I am trying to make sure I'd be covered. I don't want to rush out and buy anything just yet, but I am excited to start knitting with a new set of needles! Pretty, shiny needles that will improve my knitting experience from now on.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Looking to buy new needles

When I started seriously knitting (around the time I joined Ravelry) I purchased circular bamboo knitting needle sets to get me started. They shipped from China, and were extremely affordable (15 sizes for $20). Those have lasted 2 1/2 years now, but sadly, as my Ravelry project page has climbed to almost 90 projects (although a few have been made on DPNs), a couple of the cables have snapped or popped off. More irritating though, is that the cable portion is a clear tube that stays kinked up from being folded, and is a little infuriating much of the time. These interchangeables have memory-free cables.

I have considered getting a nicer set since I am officially a knitter now, not just someone dabbling in knitting. It's not just a passing phase. I haven't had huge issues with the set I have, but from reviews I've read, there are pointier, slicker needles with more flexible cables that may be so wonderful to work with, there will be no going back.

I am not considering splurging on anything too extravagant, but want to purchase a set of interchangeable wood circulars. The two that I've seen that have rave reviews (not just for quality, but customer service) have been KnitPicks Options and Knitter's Pride. Specifically, I want pretty shiny ones like KnitPicks Harmony or Knitter's Pride Symphonie Dreamz (as much as I loathe the spelling).

Knitter's Pride Dreamz Deluxe Interchangeable Long Tip Knitting Needle Set

There are many who absolutely love both of these sets. So I can't go wrong with either, right? Once I felt like I was leaning toward one, I would find something to make me skeptical. I've read people complain about so many things concerning each, despite all the people who loyally love them dearly. I still think it would not only be a huge upgrade from my eBay needles, but the customer service would cover any defects, which is reassuring.

KnitPicks Options Interchangeable Harmony Wood Circular Knitting Needle Set

One of the concerns expressed recently about the KnitPicks needles is that I've heard they have switched manufacturers which has caused the quality to suffer. I heard they were previously manufactured in the same place as the Knitter's Pride needles, but now are more cheaply made. That really disappointed me, because I heard so many good things about them before, and the needles really are beautiful. I had total faith in KnitPick's customer service, too.

I leaned more toward the Knitter's Pride Dreamz needles after that, and they are being sold on for only $5 more than the KnitPicks Harmony set. The only concern I have there is, will I be able to get a defective tip replaced as easily as at KnitPicks if anything should happen? One may complain that there even has to be any replacements made at all, but in that price range, I'm sure it happens. Maybe it just happens no matter what. But I'd rather be covered. So... which set will it be?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Gumbo-ish soup

I had some keilbasa in the freezer and thought of making some kind of soup with it. After looking up a few different gumbo recipes, I decided to write down a bunch of the ingredients and just make it up as I went along. I was a little skeptical, but when I tasted it, my eyes widened in a "holy-crap-that's-good" sort of way. Here's what I used:

3tbsp of bacon grease + 4 heaping tbsp flour for the roux.
3 cups of beef broth or 3 cubes bouillon with 14-16 cups water (add after the remaining ingredients- some of the water will cook off, and you will need to add more for a total of 14-16 cups)
1 large onion -diced
3 large celery stalks -diced
6 small/med carrots -sliced
2 med green bell peppers -diced
2 large tomatoes or 28 oz canned tomato -diced
1lb keilbasa -quartered, then sliced
2 chicken breasts
1 cup long grain or wild rice
6 baby portabella mushrooms -thickly sliced
1 small bag frozen okra (12-16 oz)
10 cloves garlic -minced
1 tsp ground bay leaves or 3 whole
2tbsp Worcestershire
2tbsp hot sauce
1 tsp cajun seasoning
1 tsp salt (after tasting, if needed at all)

I basically made the roux, added the water/beef broth (and made sure it was smooth), then threw in the rest. The chicken was thrown 1/4 breast portions, then shredded after it was cooked. It was just the right amount of spicy, and a lot of tasty. I let it boil then turned it to medium heat and left it simmering for a good 2+ hours. I'm not sure the minimum time it takes, and I would have left it in the slow cooker if it fit. When making the roux, turn the heat on enough to melt the fat, and whisk in the flour until smooth. Add a little of the broth at a time, whisking, and make sure that you keep an eye on it- if you have the burner on and leave the mixture on the stovetop before adding the broth, you will end up with dumplings instead of a soup base. Yes, I've done that before. You can also briefly cook the kielbasa first and use the fat cooked off that instead of some of the bacon fat.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

I found so many awesome Valentines online that I wanted to create a treasury of them.

This last one is dedicated to my husband, who fixed up my "balloon".

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Hats and more hats

It's been over a month since I updated. I am doing better than I was then, just because I've had time to digest what's happened in my personal life. I'm trying to do NaNoWriMo this month, but I'm finding myself very distracted and generally emotionally drained. That's a bad thing. I feel really off my game. Some of those who have given me constructive criticism have said that one of my greatest strengths is my ability to convey emotion vividly in writing. I don't feel like I can give it my all right now. Even when I'm not thinking about my daughter, I just have that weariness.

Anyway, I've kept knitting. I have about six weeks left to finish gifts, and I can safely admit here that I am making hats for my family, knowing they will never ever read it. So far, I'm on my 8th hat. One for each of my siblings, my mom, as well as Jorge and me. I wanted to make another one for myself because I'm selfish like that. I also made mittens for Jorge and myself. I am getting really psyched about seeing snow for the first time. If I have time after making the 9th hat (for me), I will make a cowl/scarf. I am on fire! Not literally, but if I was then that would be too warm, what with all the winter clothes and all. I will post pictures eventually.

The hat I'm currently working has cables, and in a sad and lame way, I'm excited about learning cables.  Sometimes I look at that hat and say, "Oh, you fancy, huh?"

See how disconnected this all is? Back to NaNoWriMo-ing. It is sure to be a muddled mess.