Category Archives: podcasts

Episode 33: Black Is the New Green

rice5This episode includes the following segments: The Back Porch, The Front Porch, A Little Bit of Learning, Ever-expanding Skill Set, and Double Happiness.



The Back Porch

freshflannel1Complete: Deviate, a shawl design by Lisa Mutch, in the squishiest superwash Merino sock yarn dyed up in Fresh Flannel by Heather of Highland Handmades.  I should have been working on some other projects, but I couldn’t resist this really cool design and very pleasing garter stitch texture.  It’s a winning combination.

The Front Porch

rowanIt’s time to think spring with craft projects as well as culinary ones.  This week, I’ll be starting Galactic Orbits, a crocheted tank top by Linda Skuja.  I’ve made her Triangle Cowl at least three times.  I’ve decided on an organic yarn of wool and cotton in a gorgeous peony color.  My plan is to complete this top in time to wear it to Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival.

A Little Bit of Learning

rice7Is black the new green?  My endeavors with the Bulk Bins Cook-along are more to do with experimentation and improvisation than nutrition.  Still, it’s difficult not to investigate the nutritional value of ingredients that are new to me.  This week, I cooked black rice for the first time.  This recipe for rice pudding yields a subtly sweet, luxurious dessert.  The rice grains are soft, but still a bit chewy.  Incredible.  And I learned that black rice contains even higher levels of immune-bolstering vitamin E than brown rice, and as much anthocyanin (an antioxidant) as blueberries.

Rice is great if you’re really hungry and want to eat                              two thousand of something. — Mitch Hedberg

Ever-expanding Skill Set

Sunday morning’s searches for a springtime rice dish turned up some fresh ideas.  I added a few of my own improvisational touches and came up with this recipe.  What flavors do you associate with spring?  For me, sweet peas, artichokes, lemon and mint are the essential elements.

A Taste of Spring Warm Rice

rice2Pour 1 1/4 cups water into a medium saucepan.  Add 1 tablespoon butter, 1/2 teaspoon salt, the juice of 1/2 lemon and 1 tablespoon dried mint leaves or 1 mint teabag.  Bring to a boil.  If using teabag, simmer for 3 minutes then remove bag. Add 1 cup brown California basmati rice.  When rice boils, reduce heat and cover.  Simmer for about 45 minutes, or until all liquid has been absorbed.

Meanwhile, set a large earthenware bowl on the counter and add ingredients to it as you prepare them.

Saute one small, diced onion in a bit of olive oil.  Add 1-2 cups diced ham and warm through. Add these ingredients to bowl, along with 1 cup fresh or frozen petite peas and 1 cup quartered artichoke hearts.

Spoon cooked rice into the bowl and toss to warm all ingredients.  Garnish with chopped fresh mint, sliced scallions, and additional lemon juice or grated lemon rind.

Double Happiness

It’s April — National Poetry Month.  I’ll be ending each episode with a poem.  This week, I’m reading “Daily” by Naomi Shihab Nye.  This poem reflects the importance of craft and the beauty of objects that get a lot of use.  Nye has a special ability to make the ordinary extraordinary in her poems.


Episode 32: An Affirmation

primitiveThis episode includes the following segments: Ever-expanding Skill Set, Double Happiness, and Gratitude Journal.






Ever-expanding Skill Set

I’ve been using my improvisational skills to make this South African inspired meatloaf ever since I learned of the dish ten years ago. Here’s my best attempt at pinning down a recipe.


bobotie1.25 lbs. ground lean turkey
2 slices of stale bread, toasted and cubed
2 eggs
1 tblsp. whole milk or half & half

1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, diced
1 tblsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tblsp. high quality ketchup, jam, or chutney

1/4 c. dried apricots or golden raisins, diced
1/4 c. blanched almond slivers

1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. sweet curry powder
1 tsp. tumeric
1 tsp. lemon peel powder
1/2 tsp. ground coriander seed
1/2 tsp. salt
freshly cracked black pepper

your favorite homemade or store-bought BBQ sauce

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Prepare one regular or two small loaf pans. I like to use two small loaf pans, so that I can serve one meatloaf and freeze the other. This recipe freezes exceptionally well.
  3. Place first four ingredients in a large bowl.
  4. Coat a cast iron skillet with olive oil, and sauté onion for five minutes. When translucent, add garlic and sauté for another minute. Add next two ingredients and heat until bubbly.
  5. Pour contents of skillet into the large bowl.
  6. Add fruit, nuts and spices to bowl. Mix thoroughly.
  7. Spoon mixture into prepared pans, making sure there are no air bubbles. Top with BBQ sauce.
  8. Bake until meatloaf is cooked through (bubbly all around edges of the pan). This takes about 20 minutes for two small pans or 45 minutes for a large loaf pan.

I like to serve bobotie with roasted cauliflower and a green vegetable or salad. It is so much more exciting than plain old meatloaf!  Join in the fun of the Bulk Bins Cook-along by posting your recipes, photographs and links to the Ravelry forum.  You can also tag your posts on Instagram or Twitter with #bulkbinskal

Double Happiness

mdswThis week, I made plans to visit the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival on Saturday, May 3rd.  I look forward to meeting listeners and new friends and taking part in the excitement of the day.  Samuel has designed a logo for a field bag so that fans of the show can identify me in a crowd. I also ordered a new shipment of buttons to give away.

A few weeks ago, when Kris of Halcyarn knitting accessories sent my prize project bag, she included a gift for a lucky YAYH listener.  I’ve decided to hold a little contest to see what your creative ideas are for festival shopping on a very tiny budget.  Visit the contest page to enter.

Gratitude Journal

hillerThe older we get, the more difficult it can be to find mentors.  I believe in the student/mentor relationship, and have been very fortunate in my choice of mentors, and fortunate also that others have sought my mentorship.  Sometimes I meet or hear of someone about whom I can say, “I want to be like her when I grow up.”  This week, in a video suggested by Paula of Knitting Pipeline, I found another.  Her name is Renate Hiller and in this video she shares her philosophy about the importance of craft. She begins by talking about the spindle, but really her point applies to the practical arts in general.  In Episode 4, I shared some of my thoughts about the importance of empathy — in particular, the necessity of educators to develop their capacity for empathy.  Renate Hiller’s teachings are an extension of that core idea.

Today, more than ever, the crafts have the mission to reconnect the human being to the Earth and her substances, bring healing to the senses and soul, and foster the creative capacities of the human being. — Renate Hiller

Episode 31: Love me some flannel

bunyanThis episode includes the following segments: The Back Porch, The Front Porch, and Ever-expanding Skill Set.







The Back Porch

bandanaThis week I completed Round 1 of Sock Madness by finishing my Brucie socks.  This very clever pattern by Amy Rapp was a lot of fun to knit.  Since I was on a field trip that yielded a lot of knitting time, I was also able to complete two other quick projects.  Purl Soho has a great tutorial for the Bandana Cowl.  This pattern is easy and fun, and is idea for men and women — and kids too.  I think it’s a great project to turn 4 ounces of bulky 2-ply handspun into wearable art.  I’m very pleased with the way mine came out.  For the wraps and turns in the pattern, I turned to Alice Yu’s tutorial on shadow wraps, which can be found on the Socktapus blog.  Since learning about the Sockhead hat, I think I will always have one of those on the needles.  I just finished the one I started at VKL in NYC.  The SockEase yarn in rock candy is nice, sturdy yarn.  I’ve already started another hat, and I have a ball of SockEase in lemon drop to continue the project.

The Front Porch

deviateMy first order from Highland Handmades came in the mail and I immediately started a new project.  Deviate by Lisa Mutch is an asymmetrical shawl pattern with a zig-zagging spine, garter stitch and stockinette stitch.  It is working up beautifully in Heather’s yarn.  I mean BEAUTIFULLY.  The colorway is Fresh Flannel and the base is White Maple Sock, which is 100% superwash merino.


Ever-expanding Skill Set

harissa2This week, I’ve been experimenting with harissa, a North African spice blend of hot peppers, other herbs and spices, and oil.  Because of the oil, it’s a condiment or sauce.  I like the balance of mint and peppers — it doesn’t need to be searingly hot.  And a home cook can really improvise with this stuff. Tonight, I’m drizzling it over some leftover mashed potatoes.  For more ideas of how to make and use harissa, check out this series of recipes from The Huffington Post.

Once you get a spice into your home, you have it forever.  Women never throw out spices. The Egyptians were buried with their spices.  I know which one I’m taking with me when I go.  — Erma Bombeck

Episode 30: Hill and Dale

bread2This week’s episode includes the following segments: The Front Porch, Ever-expanding Skill Set, A Little Bit of Learning, and Double Happiness.







The Front Porch

wenselydaleI’m still very busy knitting the Brucie sock for the opening round of Sock Madness.  But sometimes I need a break from my US #1 needles. That’s when I go to my wheel and spin some  Wensleydale.  If you feel like a departure from Merino, Wensleydale fiber is about as far away as you can get.  A conservation breed from the English Longwool Family, Wensleydales “may be the only breed that can be traced directly to a single ancestor,” according to Deborah Robson and Carol Ekarius in their Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook.  The Wensleydale I’m spinning was dyed by Ginny of FatCatKnits in the London Fog colorway.  The wool has incredible luster; the single seem translucent.  With a staple length of 6-8 inches, it can be spun with a low amount of twist.  There’s quite a halo on the spun product, but the singles are very soft.

Ever-expanding Skill Set

This weekend, I’m making several loaves of Irish Soda Bread.  Over the years, I’ve experimented with several different recipes.   I began with this recipe from Epicurious, and made some subtle changes.

Irish Soda Bread from Yin Hoo Cha Yuan

  • bread12 1/4 c. organic all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1/4 c. organic whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 c. (1/2 stick) butter, cubed
  • 1 c. golden raisins
  • 2 tblsp. caraway seeds
  • 1/3 c. organic sugar
  • 1 c. buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • grated rind of 1/2 orange
  1. Preheat oven 350.
  2. Sift 2 cups of all-purpose flour and next four ingredients together in a large bowl.
  3. Use a pastry cutter to cut butter into dry ingredients.
  4. Measure raisins and caraway seeds into a small bowl with 1/4 c. reserved flour.  Toss to coat.
  5. Whisk last four ingredients together in a medium bowl.
  6. Make a well in the center of dry ingredients, then pour in wet ingredients.  Stir about ten turns with a large wooden spoon.  Before ingredients are thoroughly mixed, add raisins and caraway seeds.  Stir a few more times, then turn out contents onto the counter.
  7. Give the dough a quick knead with a very gentle touch to make sure all ingredients are well-incorporated.  Add a bit more flour if the mixture is sticky.  Don’t overwork the dough or your bread will be tough!
  8. Shape into a large round loaf and place on cooking tray.  Cut an X 1″ deep on the dough surface.
  9. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until bread is golden brown and skewer inserted into center of loaf comes out clean.
  10. Cool.  Serve with real butter and orange marmalade.

A Little Bit of Learning

shamrockHere I’ve been thinking that making Irish soda bread is an authentic way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.  It turns out that the recipe above constitutes an American adaptation of the soda bread that would have been familiar in Irish households as early as the 1800’s.  The raisins or currents in most contemporary recipes would have been considered luxury ingredients.  However, buttermilk, traditionally a by-product of butter making, would have been on hand in most households.  Also, there was a custom of putting a handful of caraway seeds in bread — a custom that made its way to America.  Read the whole story about the corruption of real Irish soda bread by Megan O. Steintrager here.  She cautions against kneading the dough.  I find that a very quick knead actually works the dough less than turning with a spoon to fully incorporate ingredients.

At Yin Hoo, mixing traditions is a way of life.  So it won’t be a surprise that, instead of Irish breakfast tea, Samuel and I enjoyed our soda bread with some delicious homemade Chai. Thanks to Linda from Delaware for posting her recipe on the Bulk Bins Cook-along board. Post your recipes, links, and photographs.  Each month, a randomly-selected participant on the board wins a free pattern on Ravelry.

Double Happiness

halcyarnThis week, I found out that I was selected  Valedictorian of  the February graduating class.  This tradition, on Dr. Kelly’s Ewe University’s audio podcast, is a lot of fun. Join the Ewe University group on Ravelry and post projects you’ve completed in March for a chance to win. My new Just My Type project bag from Halcyarn Knitting Accessories is really cool.  Colorful typewriters on the outside, groovy paperclips on the lining, and the perfect size for a small or medium project.  Check out Kris’ Etsy shop to find a the perfect project bag.


In Ireland, you go to someone’s house, and she asks you if you want a cup of tea. You say no, thank you, you’re really just fine. She asks if you’re sure. You say of course you’re sure, really, you don’t need a thing. Except they pronounce it ting. You don’t need a ting. Well, she says then, I was going to get myself some anyway, so it would be no trouble. Ah, you say, well, if you were going to get yourself some, I wouldn’t mind a spot of tea, at that, so long as it’s no trouble and I can give you a hand in the kitchen. Then you go through the whole thing all over again until you both end up in the kitchen drinking tea and chatting. 

In America, someone asks you if you want a cup of tea, you say no, and then you don’t get any damned tea.

I liked the Irish way better.

                                                                                                                  – C. E. Murphy, Urban Shaman

Episode 29

This week’s episode includes the following segments: The Back Porch, The Front Porch, Gratitude Journal and Double Happiness.

The Back Porch

apoc3The big news since last week’s episode is . . . I knit my first sweater.  I have never felt like anything other than a real knitter.  In my opinion, if you know how to knit and purl, and follow a pattern (any pattern) on your own, you’re a knitter.  However, I do feel a special sense of accomplishment after completing this project.  And I’m thrilled to wear the finished sweater.  It made its debut just hours after the seaming was complete and it had been steam blocked.  The pattern is Apocalypta by Amy Herzog, which is found in Knitting it Old School.   I’ll be sending my copy of the book to a lucky winner.  Check out this thread on the YAYH blog on Ravelry for details.

The Front Porch

luna2Since knitting a lot in a short amount of time to complete my first sweater, I’ve been taking it slow for a few days.  One pattern that has been in my queue for awhile is Luna 2, a scarf by Reiko Kuwamura. It features some interesting color work, alternating on the right and wrong sides of garter stitch, and more German short rows.  I’ve been admiring the projects of others and now I’ve begun my own version.

Gratitude Journal

hatdonationThis week, I sent 44 hats to Click for Babies, sponsored by the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome.  I knit seven hats in all, and was grateful to my colleagues and students for contributing additional hats for the cause. If you or members of your crafting group are looking for a worthy cause, consider this one. The website provides more information and links to free knit and crochet hat patterns.

Double Happiness

improvised.jarsHave you been following Sally Schneider’s blog, Improvised Life?  If you haven’t, you should be. Just reading blog’s manifesto is sure to empower you and get your creative juices flowing.  Recently, the team has added a clever article about collecting an assortment of vintage jars and using them for spices and other bulk ingredients.  It’s worth your time to a look. From recipes to craft ideas, to living well in small spaces, this blog is cleverly conceived and clearly archived.

Spices are in the spotlight this month in the Bulk Bins Cook Along.  Share links to recipe ideas, photographs of your spice collection, and other resources on the Ravelry board.

A Note about the Show’s Theme Music

1618585_813690578647791_1610690173_nMany listeners have commented on the theme song that plays at the beginning and end of each episode.  The song, Saweeet, was written by my partner and my co-inhabitant of Yin Hoo, Samuel.  The lyrics are inspired by our home, a rustic, 1922 replica of a Chinese tea pavilion. Samuel’s band, Bovine Social Club, has recorded a version of the song, and the lyrics can be found on the band website.  You can LIKE the band’s page on Facebook in order to receive notices for upcoming shows.

So often, we think that making a difference involves spending a lot of money, or investing a lot of time.  It doesn’t have to.                              

  — Morristown Fiber Fairy

Episode 28

We interrupt this sweater to bring you a podcast!  This episode features the following segments: Ever-expanding Skill Set, The Back Porch,  and Double Happiness.

Ever-expanding Skill Set

merrillIn the event of a snow-pocalypse, which is the only kind I can imagine as we limp our way out of a snowy winter here in the Northeast US, I definitely want to have snowshoes among my provisions.  This weekend, I tried snowshoes for the first time, taking a hike with my friend Kim at Merrill Creek Reservoir.  The usual population of snow geese that over-winters on the reservoir had mostly flown further south; what remained of the flock occupied a small space of open water near the tower.  We could only spy them through binoculars.  What an incredible feeling to crunch around on the icy surface above several feet of snow.  I think I want a pair of snowshoes so that I can go out any time.

The Back Porch

swing2This week I completed a swing knitting project — a scarf project from Brigitte Elliot of Skacel Fiber Studio.  This scarf employs the technique of German short rows to create gradually shifting fields of color amid solid furrows of color.  I used a US size 8 circular needle and Zitron Zeitlos, a twelve-stranded, cable-plied yarn.  The technique grew easier as I continued the knitting.  This pattern has the option for a scarf with leafy motifs at the end or a cowl that’s created by a provisional cast-on and kitchener stitch.  I chose the cowl, and completed two repeats of the fields and furrows. Blocking helps to easy the fabric and intensify the patterning.  The result is wonderfully textured and squishy.

hedgehogsDo you recall Mrs. Tiggly Winkle, the washer woman  from the Beatrix Potter stories?  I had been thinking about her ever since I heard Paula of Knitting Pipeline talk about her experience in the Lake District and her knowledge of Potter as a important force of land conservation in the UK.  I decided to make knitted hedgehogs for a colleague who is expecting twin boys.  This pattern from Purl Bee includes an excellent photo-tutorial for making the cutest, fat little hedgehogs.  I stuffed them with fluffy fiber and included a small bag of poly-beads at the bottom of each belly to keep them from rolling over.  To make their little black noses go “sniffle, sniffle, snuffle,” I pushed a bit of crinkly material into their snouts.

lentilIt has been nice to work on a crochet project over the past few weeks.  This pattern, Indian Lentils, was a gift from Andrea Delhey.  You cast on with the appropriate number of stitches to get the length you desire, then work back and forth in very long rows.  It worked up nicely in earthy Noro colors.  Check out Andrea’s Ravelry store for some clever designs.  Since I used yarn thinner than that specified, I made half-double crochet stitches rather than double crochet.

Double Happiness

cookiesOatmeal cookies without baking?  Plus chocolate? Plus coconut?  That is a good day!  I also added some chopped dried cherries.  Thanks to Linda from Delaware who posted the recipe on the Ravelry thread for the Bulk Bins Cook-a-long.  February is all about oats and we have just a few days left.  Post your recipes, photos, and links for a chance to win a pattern.  Use the #bulkbinscal when you post to Twitter or Instagram.

You can be miserable before you have a cookie and you can be miserable after you eat a cookie but you can’t be miserable while you are eating a cookie.    ― Ina Garten