Sunday, May 30, 2010

On the Feeding of Guests!

Last night my son and ex were to dinner, along with two sister missionaries, making it six to feed. I'd been promising the AG a reprise of Tortellini alla Panna, so here it is; intro, story, and all.

A long time ago I used to work in Frankfurt, West Germany, in an office just down the street from the Bourse (stock exchange), so it was common to see young men in the street with the most garishly-coloured jackets (from the exchange floor, where each company had its own colour). There was a tiny Italian restaurant - almost exclusively stand-up and spread over, I think, three floors - literally stuffed into a street corner near the Bourse. It was very popular with the brokers and you'd often find the place packed with them, standing on the steps between floors and drinking glasses of wine or beer while waiting for their meals to be cooked - few people actually got to eat there; it wasa almost all take-out ("essen zu mitnehmen") food.

This is a dish that I first found there and have loved ever since, as it is really simple to make, has a surprisingly immediate flavour, and is almost impossible to destroy!

Tortelline alla Panna
The ingredients are:
  • 1 lb of Tortellini of whatever style and content you desire. Frozen, dried, chilled, or fresh - there are lots of types to choose from with lots of different fillings, and you can get them in red and green as well as white, which makes a nice change.
  • 2 rashers of bacon, chopped finely
  • 1/4 of a medium white onion, chopped
  • 1/4 of a stick of butter
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1 large handful of chopped mushrooms
  • 1 large handful of frozen peas
  • 2 large pinches each of Basil and Thyme
  • 3-4 slices of cooked ham, chopped finely into squares about 1/8 inch on a side.
  • Half a pint of either chicken stock or white wine - some people don't like cooking with alcohol, but the alcohol will be long gone before anyone eats this!
  • Half a pint of full milk or heavy whipping cream (cream is better, of course!)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Now to make it:
  • Read the instructions for cooking the Tortellini carefully: the people who make it usually have a very good idea of how long it will take to cook it! You can make the sauce mix and keep it hanging around for a long time as the tortellini cook. So, I'm not going to address timing - that's up to you! I'm concentrating on the sauce.
  • Melt the butter gently in a medium pot (preferably with a lid), drop in the onions, bacon, and garlic and let fry until the onions are getting soft; this may take between 5 and 10 minutes.
  • Next, add the mushrooms, cover, and let the mushrooms absorb butter and flavour - probably about 10 minutes.
  • Now add the herbs, the chopped ham, and then the wine or stick. Stir well, cover and leave bubble away for another five minutes or so. Stir a few times during this time to make sure it's not getting too hot and burning.
  • At this point you can add the peas (they'll thaw happily) and stop cooking the stock, set it aside, and cook the tortellini.
  • For tortellini you have to remember that, despite their shapes, they do actually swell by about a factor of two - even the fresh ones. So you really need quite a big pot for a pound - I had to use two pots last night and do some panicked redistribution half-way through!
  • When you cook them, get the water good and boiling before dropping them in, and don't forget to put salt in the water and also some olive oil to stop them sticking together.
  • When you consider that the tortellini are almost cooked, put some gentle heat back under the sauce and add your milk (or cream!).
  • Drain the tortellini, return them to their pot over very low heat, and pour over them the sauce mix. Stir well to mix the sauce and paste well, and serve.
Stuffed Cantaloupe
This is a recipe from one from my mother's cookery book. It's actually three books all bound into one, and the one I was using was Good Housekeeping's Picture Cookery from the 1953 edition, copyright The National Magazine Co., Ltd. I had been looking through it for a recipe for possibly making a trifle, but wasn't that enamoured with any that I found. In that same section (Fruit Salads and Trifles) I came across Fruit-filled Melon (page 132 if you're looking!), which looked rather good, as I'd seen that the local Produce Junction had an offer on melons, so off I went, hot-foot in search of a large cantaloupe and lots of little fruit to fill it with.

I chose the largest melon that they had, which wasn't really large enough, and some strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries. I got all this home, beheaded the melon about a third down, and then eviscerated all the innards to the trash! Then I cut out almost all the remaining orange flesh, chopping it into bits. I left some at the bottom to ensure that I didn't go completely through the bottom, and filled it up with some melon but mainly berries. I poured about a quarter of a pint of cream over the content, popped the "lid" back on, and put it into the freezer (I was about two hours from serving time, and all the fruit and berries were warm).

I mixed most of the melon flesh, the rest of the berries, and the content of a jar of mandarin oranges into a fruit salad mix, which was consigned to the fridge to cool. The remaining pieces of melon were made into smoothies, using some ice cream, cream, and orange juice and the not-so-tender ministrations of what must be the ultimate smoothie machine, The Magic Bullet Blender.

So, everyone came, was introduced, and we sat down to eat. The main course was tortellini, of course - two pounds of tortellini expands to fill a huge bowl! Everyone who cam enjoyed it, and the SMs went with boxes of "thirds"! Dessert was greeted with some curiosity when the unadorned, apparently untouched, melon was brought out, but as soon as the lid was off everyone was surprised and eager to eat! All went well, thanks in no small measure to the efforts of my AG in making the apartment neat and presentable.

Food, Glorious Food!

Yesterday and today I've cooked dinner - yesterday for three and today for six. I'm tired now, but happy that it all seems to have gone down well (pardon the pun).

Tilapia en Papillote
Strictly speaking this should be something like Tilapia en AluFolie, but I can't remember the French word for AluFolie, and anyhow, it wouldn't sound anything like as elegant as the title, so I'm leaving it!

I had to feed my son and wife, so three tilapia fillets were sufficient (I get them individually wrapped and frozen from BJs in six-packs). That's really for two reasons - cost and sloth! I'm getting mean and lazy in my old age - !

Anyhow, tear off three pieces of aluminium foil each large enough to wrap a fillet in, lay them down on a flat surface, and put a fillet in the middle of each. Drop a knob of butter on each and some salt and pepper. Pop on some chopped onion, and whatever other herbs you feel like, all sparingly. I put in garlic and some chive. For me alone some dill (the AG's not keen on it).

Then fold up the foil around the fish, so that you've made walls all around it (important, this, as the butter will melt and run! Now fold the walls in gently over the fish, lowest wall first to make an envelope. Pick up the now-encased fish and place it onto a cookie tray or similar to cook. I cook them at about 350F for about 15 minutes - you know that they're done because there's suddenly a wonderful smell of cooked fish from the kitchen!

I served this with couscous, which took all of five minutes to cook, so it waited almost ten for the fish, which is about right. I put about a third of a stick of butter in a pot, melted it on low heat, added almost three cups of couscous (yes, we have some left over!) and stirred well for a minute or so, to let it get hot. Then I added between a half and three-quarters of a cup of chicken stock and stirred that in very well, so that every piece of the wheat got to see its own liquid! I fluffed it up a couple of times while waiting for the fish, and then served the couscous in the pot and the fish in their foil. There's a fair amount of liquid with the fish, which helps moisten the couscous for eating. During cooking it also makes sure that the fish stays moist and doesn't dry out, so you should get nice succulent fish to eat.

I'm tired and going to bed, so I'll edit and finish this tomorrow.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Visiting some Friends

Phew! Back home, and almost time to go to Balsalmo's for some pizza. That's right! We haven't Balsalmo'd yet today! So we'll be going in just a little while to get pizza. Meanwhile I'm here to write about yesterday.

J, this good friend of mine, asked me to go up to White Plains and visit his mum, M, and give her a hand with some computer problems that she was having. I duly did so and, after some to-ing and fro-ing, we decided that the easiest and most effective way to get her computers all straightened out would be to ditch one old one completely and replace it with a little eeeBox. The eeeBox could act as Network Attached Storage and, in a pinch, take over for the Vista-powered hp that is the main computer.

So I got the disk from the old computer last week and the new eeeBox during the last week. I had time to copy all the files from one disk to the other, and the AG and I made our way to White Plains yesterday morning.

It took about 30 mins to unveil the little ASUS eeeBox and connect it all up; M was amazed at the lack of size of the thing, as is almost everyone who sees them. Then I had to fix up the network, and do some other housekeeping, but nothing much, and we'd be ready to roll on deciding what could stay and what could go. Then came the surprise. M had to go out and I was being left to cook. Now I knew I would be cooking that evening, and had brought some things, but not totally alone in a strange kitchen! This may sound weird, but cooking in an unfamiliar kitchen is a very difficult thing. Nothing is ever where you expect it to be - in fact, nothing ever seems to be quite where you left it five minutes ago! In short, all the inanimate objects of the kitchen - like knives, forks, spoons, plates, can openers, etc. - all seem to conspire against you, and the ingredients appear to try to hide from you in order to sabotage your efforts.

Whatever! I thought: dinner has to be made. So I got myself finished on the computer side and got stuck in to the food side. The target was to be a traditional Italian-style tomato-based meat gravy to eat on some paste - target pasta last night was Ziti, although my personal preferences are Farfalle and Spirale.

0. Ingredients
Before starting, look at this list of ingredients. Best to actually do the chopping before starting.

1 lb Italian sausage - sweet 1 lb Italian sausage - hot
1 lb commercial sausagemeat (Jimmy Dean or Bob Evans)
1 lb three-meat mix (veal, beef, & pork).

1 large onion, chopped.
About 2 oz (three heaped teaspoons) chopped garlic (I use a jar from BJ's!)
2 28-oz cans of diced tomatoes, opened
1 can of tomato paste, opened
1 egg, a bag or pack of breadcrumbs
Olive oil

Salt, pepper
Basil, Oregano, Bay leaves
Red Wine (not sour, but cheap is fine)
One Baguette (per four diners)

1. Make the Meatballs
First off was to mix together a pound of ground three-meat - veal, beef, and pork - with a fair amount of breadcrumb in a bowl. It's difficult to accurately estimate how much crumb to use because the idea is to get the meat to be somewhat dry, and how much you need depends on the condition of the meat at the outset. Once the meat mix is getting somewhat dry and sticky, beat off an egg, some salt, and pepper, form the meat into a cup, and add the egg. Now carefully mix the egg in to the meat mix, and add more crumb to help dry out the meat again (it'll be plenty wet with the egg!). Keep squidging and squeezing the lump of meat until it has a nice, pleasant, firm texture.

Now you have your meatball, you'll want to reduce it to cookable, edible pieces - meatballs. Make a huge ball and cut it into four; then do the same again and roll each piece into a ball, so you have sixteen balls of about an ounce each. That's about the right size. If you find that you have meatballs with gaping cracks then you'll want to squeeze them hard and roll them into cylinders and then back into balls and the cracks tend to vanish. You do want to get rid of the cracks if you can, or they tend to fall to bits during cooking.

2. Cook the Sausage
Next, we want to part-cook the sausage so that we can cut it up without having bits of sausage all over. Usually I get a pound of hot and a pound of sweet Italian sausage, each in one long sausage. This time I experimented and bought individual ones, in packs of five to the pound. They worked well and were easier to brown! Either way, don't forget to stab the sausages lots of times all over with a form, to relieve the pressure when they get hot.

I put them into a pan with about a cup of water and a tablespoon of olive oil - a strange mixture, but I'm looking to cook the sausage, not fry it. You get this up to close to boiling in the pot you'll use for the whole gravy in the end (so it's big enough to do all the sausage at the same time), and then add the sausages. Cook them, turning every minute or two, until they're good and cooked all around. Probably about 8 minutes.

3. Cook the Meatballs
Take the sausages out, put them on a plate, and reserve for a moment. Meantime, add some more oil, the chopped onion, and the garlic and set to a low heat so that the onion slowly gets to be translucent. As the onion cooks you should cut up the sausages. I cut them into thin pieces for sweet and larger ones for hot, so guests who can't take the heat know what to avoid. However you cut them up, cut them carefully with a sharp knife and you should find them only partly cooked, but cooked enough that they will cut properly. Oh by the way! run some cold water over each sausage before cutting - they stay really hot for quite a time, and burning your finger-tips really hurts!

After you've cut up the sausage the onion should be ready: add about a teaspoon of Basil and another of Oregano, some salt and pepper, and four large Bay leaves. Mix this up (you may need a little more oil) and let fry very gently for a minute or two.

Now add the meatballs. Gently!! Don't break them! Nest the meatballs in the onion - not on the base of the pan - and let them cook for about five minutes. Turn them over (tongs are great here!) and give them another four-five minutes before taking them all back out and setting them aside.

Now we've introduced the meatballs to the joys of herbs and spices, we leave them to finish cooking on their own while we start the gravy brewing.

4. Make the Gravy
You've got the onion-garlic-bits of meat mix gently simmering in the pot, so now add the pound of commercial sausage-meat. I've tried both of these brands and they both work well. Traditionally one would use sausage-meat from the butcher's, but butcher's shops almost don't exist any more, here in the USA. Use a fork or spatula to break up the sausage-meat and turn up the heat to get it to brown in all the herbs. You need to get it to break up into little bits - no large lumps, please!

Once you've got the sausage-meat all cooked and broken down into bits it's time to start some liquid. Turn up the heat and add about a third of a bottle of the wine! Stir it in and keep the heat up and it'll soon start to sizzle.

Once there, add the sliced pieces of sausage back in and let them cook in for a couple of minutes, before adding a can of tomatoes. Let this get hot, stirring well to stop it burning on the bottom, and then add the tomato paste and another third of the wine. Keep stirring and the whole mixture should start to bubble again, at which point you add in the last can of tomatoes. Get that hot again, and then turn down the heat to the lowest point possible and cover.

Leave for about an hour!

5. The Finishing Touches
ok. You've about 30 minutes left before everyone will be expecting food on the table. Get the water on for the pasta (don't forget salt and some olive oil in the water for stopping the pasta sticking together. Get the heat up under that water and also get the heat on in the oven - to about 350F!

Pour the meatballs into the gravy mix and gently submerge them. They need to come back out in one piece! Up the heat some.

Cut the baguette in four, and then slice each quarter to give a top and bottom half. Drizzle about a teaspoon full of olive oil onto each eighth of the baguette, along with at least a teaspoon full of chopped garlic (BJ's - I love you!). Put the baguette halves back together and lay on foil on a cookie tray. Cover the bread with foil too, but don't seal it off - the bread should dry a little.

20 mins to go: put the pasta into the boiling water, put the bread into the oven. Make sure that the serving dishes are ready and that the table is laid.

10 mins: taste the gravy: if it is too sweet, add some more wine. If too sour you can add some sugar if you like, but be very cautious! Too much would be bad! Remember: this is your last chance to tweak the taste!

0 mins: take the bread from the oven, plate, and serve it, maybe with foil over it to keep it hot. Get the pasta drained and into the serving bowl. Lastly, shut off all heat and start ladling gravy over the pasta - be careful of those meatballs! Every few big spoonfuls you should stir up the pasta mix to make sure that it's all well mixed.

Serve. Relax. Eat. Drink. Sleep and let the others clean the kitchen!

2010.05.24: P.S. I just got told that I have new socks. Admittedly they look like one was knitted in a straitjacket and the other fed LSD while growing, but they'll be warm and comfy, so who cares!
The AG rules - big-time !

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

"Official" Spam ?

No, that isn't an oxymoron. I would, and I would think that you'd probably agree at first blush, that it might mean things like election materials, public safety notices, etc. I'd have agreed - until the last few days - about that. However, I'm revising my opinions to broaden the scope right now.
I recently started working on a small project and am using my own laptop for some development. To do this I have had to install Access. This is not something I really want to do - I have been working to keep on this m
achine as the only office suite and, so far, its worked pretty well. However, Access is needed, so Access gets installed. Access 2003, that is. After that, I run Microsoft's update program to see what I need in the way of patches and fixes and find a whole list of items for MS Office 2003, about 5% of which are for Access, so I install the appropriate ones and continue.

It's been about two weeks now, and every day or two I find the machine demanding to install new software patches. I look at the demand, allow the Access ones, and tell it not to bother me again with the ones for Office, Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and whatever else might have come along for the ride! A day or two la
ter I get the same sort of demand for the same sort of patches! Usually they're new patches, but I've got this message three times today already:
and I've unchecked the two items, because I don't want them, and clicked OK. Then I get this message:
Here I check the "don't do it again box, and click OK. Then the *%$*&%$* thing comes back a little later. In fact, right at this moment, as I type this, there's a little yellow shield in my tray, with a hint saying "Downloading updates: 14%". What's the betting that it's the same pair of unwanted updated for products I don't have?

Now, I'm sure that Microsoft isn't producing patches at the rate of several a week, so I can only think that this is some weird sort of marketing campaign to get me to install the rest of the MS Office suite. Something along the lines of "look what good care we take of users of our software". Well, it isn't working: I know the saying "any advertising is good advertising", but in this case it's just telling me how bad, buggy, and generally unfit for use this whole suite is, and that I'm far better off without it. It's acting rather like aversion therapy, and being rather good at it too! As you can imagine, I'm looking forward to the day that I can get rid of Access again!


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Lunch in Ten Minutes

We woke late today. So late, in fact, that I stumbled up and realised that I would have to do something very quickly indeed about lunch or face the Wrath of Wife!

Half a stick of butter went into the pan on a very low gas while I washed and plucked some cilantro. Passing the pantry I grabbed pots of Basil, Mint, and Chives together with the couscous jar; then a couple of tomatoes, some scallions, and some chicken broth from the fridge.

The butter is melted, so dump in a couple of cups of couscous and stir well to make sure the butter is well mixed in. Leave it on the same really low heat to warm through, stirring occasionally. Then chop the tomatoes and scallions and put by in a small bowl. Open the herbs ready for use.

The couscous will be beginning to turn a little brick-red in places - it's done!!! Add about 3/4 cup of broth to the couscous and stir well; turn off the heat. Wait for about 3-4 minutes and then fluff up the couscous. If it seems (smells, mainly) done then add the veggies and cilantro and mix in well. Add a good shake of basil and two of chives and some mint.

Mix the lot together and wait for a couple of minutes for the dried herbs to gain moisture and start to offer scent and taste; then start the process of tasting and (if necessary) adding mint and tasting again (and so on), until the mint gives a nice, slightly tart, tinge to the salad. Each cycle will take about 5 minutes with dry mint. Of course, if you get it right to start with then the time taken will be nothing! Finally, put in fridge for about an hour to cool, then remember to fluff up well when serving.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


Medium-sized pieces of beast, with a little olive oil, salt, and black pepper rubbed in to each side. The potatoes have been peeled, sliced, and boiled soft already and the AG is pounding them into smash with milk, butter, and pepper to assist. The corn has thawed in boiling water and is hot and put into a serving dish.

The flesh hits the almost-red-hot pan with an angry sizzle. Some smoke vanishes up the exhaust fan and the outside starts to brown.

A minute slowly ticks past.

Another minute slowly ticks past.

The spatula and tongs flip the flesh - more seething sizzle and two more minutes of heat. The top is nicely etched with medium-brown lines on a grey background; the bottom suffers more.

Two minutes are up ... slice into a steak.......really pink. good.

Serve it all quickly and everyone's happy with flesh-in-face.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Scallops & Rice

So, here is the recipe as promised by the AG on Facebook. It started with a very hungry AG, and me looking in the freezer for something fairly quick to cook for her. What we had left over was about a quarter of a 2 lb bag of Bay Scallops from BJ's. They're shelled and cleaned and frozen raw, and about a centimetre across – that's about 50% too big to fit through the hole in a CD, for all you empirical measurists out there! We had a good portion over, and last night I made the recipe again, scaling it up from smallish portions for three to decidedly small portions for six. We had a main meal of the Italian favourite in America – meatballs and sausage in a thick tomato sauce.

So, the ingredients are:
¾ lb Bay Scallops
3 rashers of streaky bacon, if possible left out for 2-3 days to get dry!
½ bottle of white wine (the alcohol burns off in cooking!)
1 medium onion, chopped fairly fine
2 good teaspoons of chopped garlic, or three cloves, crushed. We use chopped in jars from BJ's 'cos I'm lazy!
1 teaspoon of Allspice powder. This makes the dish a little bitter ...
2 teaspoons of Ginger powder. This makes the dish a little sweet and very slightly hot!
½ stick of butter (1/8 lb)
3 teaspoons of dry chives
10-12 chopped leaves of fresh cilantro, preferably, or else 3 teaspoons of dried cilantro
2 cups of brown rice.

1.Put a pot of water on to boil for the rice. Don't forget to salt it! Least of all, don't forget to put the rice in when it comes to the boil! Stire the rice well when you put it in, and occasionally thereafter. It should take about 30 minutes to cook.
2.Melt the butter gently in a frying pan and set the onion and garlic to simmer. Minimal heat is best here.
3.Chop the bacon up as finely as you reasonably can, so that slices across the rasher are about 2 mm thick, and you slice the rashers 2 or 3 times length-wise.
4.Drop the bacon in to the onion mix to start frying. The onion should be getting translucent by this stage, but resist the temptation to turn up the heat, or the onion and butter will brown and burn.
5.Add the ginger and allspice to the fry, making sure that you stir them in and, if the mixture starts drying out, add another ½ stick of butter.
6.Add the cilantro now, again making sure to stir it in well. At this point you should have a mixture of herbs and spices with an infusion of cilantro that will gently change the taste of the scallops as they cook in it.
7.Break the scallops apart from each other (run warm water over them in a sieve) and then add them to the frying mixture.
8.Stir this mixture well, so that the scallops are well covered by the mixture in the pan, turn up the heat to about ¾, and keep frying for about 5 minutes, stirring to make sure that the scallops get cooked from all directions and don't burn at all.
9.Add the wine. It may seem like a lot, but about 15% will vanish as the alcohol evaporates, and you'll want a reasonable amount for wetting the rice.
10.After the mixture reaches a boil turn it down to a simmer and let it cook for about 5 minutes. Meantime, check out that rice! It should be almost done by now – lots more chewy than white rice.
11.When the rice is done pour it into a sieve and then into a serving bowl, and cover with a plate to keep it warm.
12.Back at the scallops, pour the whole mixture out into a service bowl.
13.Take everything to the table and wow your friends!

Monday, May 10, 2010

An Anti-Stress Diet ..... ?

Doing some re-arranging recently I came across a very very faded fax sent to me when I lived in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, in May 1993.

Under this Far Side sketch (see here) a friend had sent me a suggestion for a diet. Now, I wouldn't, in all honesty, take this up for the next ten years with the expectation of slimming down from a 300 lb tub to a size zero beach-blonde bombshell in line for the next episode of Legally Blonde, but it looks like a fun set of principles to live by. Or not!

1/2 a grapefruit
1 slice of whole-wheat toast, dry
31/2 oz. skim milk.

4 oz. of lean broiled chicken breast
1 cup of steamed spinach
1 cup of herb tea
1 Oreo cookie

Mid-Afternoon Snack
Rest of Oreos in package
2 pints of Rocky Road ice cream
1 jar of hot fudge sauce (topping for ice cream)
Nuts, cherries, whipped cream, to taste

2 loaves of garlic bread, with cheese
1 large sausage, mushroom, and cheese pizza
4 cans or one large pitcher of beer
3 Milky Way candy bars (unwrapped!)

Late Evening News Snack
1 frozen New York cheesecake (eat directly from freezer)

Dieting Rules
(These all-purpose rules may be applied with equal effectiveness to any diet, with similar results)
  1. If you eat something, and no-one sees you eat it, then it has no calories.
  2. If you drink a diet soda with a candy bar, the soda cancels out the calories in the candy.
  3. When you eat with someone else then calories don't count so long as you eat less than they do.
  4. Food used for medicinal purposes never counts in a diet. Examples are hot chocolate, brandy, toast, Sara Lee cheesecake.
  5. If you hang out around fat people, or fatten up everyone else around you, then you will be thinner.
  6. Movie-related foods don't count, since they are part of the entire entertainment package, and not part of one's personal fuel. These include - but are not limited to - Milk Duds, buttered popcorn, Junior Mints, Raisinets, and Twizzlers.
  7. Cookie pieces contain no calories since the process of breaking causes calorie leakage.
  8. Foods licked off knives and spoons, like peanut butter and ice cream, don't count if you are in the process of preparing something for someone else.
  9. Foods that have the same colour have the same number of calories. For example, spinach and pistachio ice cream and mushrooms and white chocolate have the same calories. Note: Chocolate is a universal colour and may be substituted for any other colour.
  10. Food eaten over the sink, without dirtying a dish, does not count.
  11. Using the adjective "just" cuts the calorie count in half - as in "I'll have just one more cream puff!".
  12. If you make it a habit to eat continuously, you need not worry about between-meal snacking ruining your diet.
  13. Smoked fish eaten over the weekend has no calories and no cholesterol, even when eaten with creamed cheese.
I rather liked it!

Friday, May 07, 2010

Sheep & Wool 2010, Epilogue

All the pictures for this year are up on Photobucket. Have fun and se if you saw what I saw!

Next; install a new copy of Windows and then Oracle 10! Fun Fun Fun !


Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Sheep & Wool 2010, Part Five

These first five or so are all from Tess' Yarns. I still love her colour combinations and the way the colours blend and merge on the yarn skeins.

And the red / grey / black combination is good enough to show more than once.

After Tess, the AG had to go back to Cloverhill in the Main Barn, so off we staggered in the heat!

There was still some Three Irish Girls left on the tall upright display (left) (the shot to the right is the lower part of the display).

The other display, with the sets on skeins in different colours, had all gone, however, and were replaced at this stage with the Dragonfly Fiber yarn in the next two pictures.

And the last yarn here is Unique Sheep

If anyone has corrections, please tell me: if anyone wants the pictures then you can contact me on Facebook or Ravelry ("dcpking") and I'll send them all to you.

Sheep & Wool 2010, Part Four

Well, it's 11 pm and cooling off, thank heavens! Almost time for news, and for me to post yet more pictures!

In Philadelphia there's a LYS called loop, on South Street.

Imagine our surprise to find this stall! They're from Gamerville, NY, and also called loop.

Next, after joining up with the Woolbearers gang (not shown - we were all way too hot to be pictured!) we hit Creatively Dyed Yarn.

Here are some more pictures:

And on the right is the pastel Hand Dyed Seacell yarn that we noticed last year.

Of course, wandering around, we fell under the hooves of Sheep Incognito, and spent a few minutes there.

I don't think that the wit can really be getting better by the year - it just seems that way, though!

Then, our final stop for this year, just like last year: Tess' Designer Yarns.

Yes, yes! I realise that I'm a guy and that guys aren't supposed to like pastel combinations - primary colours like Scarlets and Blacks and Blues are supposed to by for us; maybe "Earth" is the closest we get! Well, take a look at these!
(Yes, it does look like everyone's running to get there, doesn't it!) We'll start with some blues.

I have to go do other stuff now, so I'll finish this post tomorrow

Monday, May 03, 2010

Sheep & Wool 2010, Part Three

Phew! It's hot 'n' sticky here in Lindenwold today! More pictures, everyone! This had a sign caying that it was "Cotten", but that got taken down between one picture and the next !
Great colours, anyhow.

Just like this yarn here!

We also found Jerry Womack's Wild Meadow selling a Hand-crafted Electronic Yarn Spinner.

However, they were a little expensive - the AG thinks about $900! They did look very nice and neat, were indeed very silent as claimed in their flyer, and seemed fairly easy to use (I watched one or two visitors walk up and try their hands and succeed.

They also had some hand-dyed wool for sale, safely kept in what were possibly rabbit cages (to protect unsuspecting stall visitors ? )

Emerging from the Main Barn onto the small piece of meadow there we encountered a young lady and her lamb. I think it was learning tricks, although it seemed rather reluctant to be out on the grass!

We stopped in the small Cheese and Food barn to buy some Stony Man sheep's cheese and to collapse awhile (it was already, by 11 am, very hot). I tried a Lamb Sausage and found it mild and flavourful. We decided to stop off at the car and off-load our purchases, before returning to the fray. En route we passed the broom maker, and bought a yard broom from him. He has quite an assortment and we got one with extra stiffened bristles in the middle, especially for yard work.

As you can see from the picture on the right, the yurt (also seen in Rhinebeck last year) was here too. I wandered inside to see how it was in blazing heat (it had been warm with both doors open at Rhinebeck, where the weather was cold and rainy). It turned out to be pleasantly warm, and the two openings gave some breeze. The roof was open, giving the hot air a way out and encouraging a draft.

More of this in a while

I found a rather cool version of a bookstore up online yesterday. 101 Free Tech Books is a site that raffles off 101 books every month. You put your name in for some books and wait to see
what may happen. Maybe you win, maybe not!
Anyhow, normally you only get one chance per month, but if you have friends who will join in, then you get more chances. It's kind of a referral network, but you don't pay anything - its done by sponsorship. Of course, if you want to click on the links here and join in, it'll be me who gets referrals and more chances (just thought I'd better be honest!).

Sheep & Wool 2010, Part Two

Ok. Well, we didn't go to Glen Rock yesterday after all. We didn't even go to Woolbearers! Instead, we went home in the hot weather, unpacked the car, luxuriated in the cool shower water, and crashed!

The one thing I didn't mention yesterday was that the train line at Sykesville really is used! We kind of thought that it was a once-a-week affair, but if it is, then that's at about 6.45 on Saturday mornings - of course!

Here come the pictures! First off, the early-morning pics of the Main Barn.
The first thing we saw was this display of woodwork. There are pens here, to be sure, but also almost anything you could imagine that's made even partly out of wood! The workmanship was gorgeous!
There were quite a few vendors selling soap made from sheep product, and this was one very attractive display.

OK! I admit it! I'm a colour and texture junkie! I hadn't seen this sort of thing done with felted wool except with Loden in Germany. Certainly never with these colours!
I could be wrong, but I think that these were called "The Looms you always Wanted"!

Ok! Now we got to CloverHill and the Three Irish Girls yarn displays. Here's the main display at just four minutes past eight am!.
The bunches of yarn on the top are the sets of mini-skeins shown in yesterday's blog
And finally a close-up of the main display two minutes later: you can see that some skeins are already gone!

The AG bought about six herself. Selection took about 3 minutes, but then there was a huge line waiting to pay (CloverHill was definitely a popular store, and they seemed to do a fair amount of restocking through the day). However, the line wound through the (double-stall) shop, so buyers didn't seem to get bored at all!

Opposite CloveHill was The Golden Ram, full of antique objects associated with sheep, as you can see.

Another great store, where we spent a while chatting, was Trawitz leathers. I think the AG fell in lust with several skins!

More in an hour or so!