Episode 36: Lettuce Pray

lettuceThis week’s podcast episode includes the following segments: Off the Shelf, Ever-expanding Skill Set, Yarn Lover at Large, and Double Happiness.




Off the Shelf

I’ve been intrigued with this book by Deborah Madison, a cookbook organized by families of the plant kingdom.  The chapters cover vegetables, herbs, spices and grains in surprising ways that help the home cook use them creatively.  The author also appeared on this week’s edition of KCRW’s Good Food program.  She talks with Evan Kleiman about the approach she takes in Vegetable Literacy, and explains how plants from the same family can create contrasting depths of flavor and texture.

pistachioriceEver-expanding Skill Set

I was particularly inspired this week by Rice with Spinach, Lemon, Feta and Pistachios from Deborah Madison’s book.  I used a variety of types of rice, cooked in ham stock, as well as bits of ham left over from Easter dinner.  The cheese was a special gift of smoked feta from Vermont.  This was a great meal after Samuel and I worked to suspend a salad bar from the porch railing of Yin Hoo.  I have fantasies about picking delicate leaves of lettuce all summer long.  Let’s hope the squirrels leave it alone. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

fieldbagYarn Lover at Large

On Saturday, I’ll be traveling to the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival.  Thank you to everyone who has made shopping suggestions.  I like the idea of finding a new tool — perhaps a nostepinne or lucet.  I’m also considering some punis for spindle spinning.  Mostly, I’m interested in meeting the talented people who work carefully all year and then bring their hand-crafted wares to the festival.  There will be a podcaster meetup in the Lower Corral at 1:30 pm on Saturday and I’m eager to meet listeners and make new friends.  I’ll be handing out groovy buttons, too.  Hope to see you there!

nerudaDouble Happiness

Thanks to everyone who left comments and shared poems during National Poetry Month.  This week, I’ll be reading an old favorite that was suggested by Rmh258 — “Ode to My Socks” by Pablo Neruda.  In his work, Odes to Common Things, Neruda heaped praise onto the simple things of our everyday lives. Many of the poems in this collection have become favorites. Look for translations by Robert Bly, who maintains elegance and simplicity in English.


Episode 35: Poem in Your Pocket

denimThis episode includes the following segments: Ever-expanding Skill Set, The Back Porch, The Front Porch, Double Happiness and Gratitude Journal.



ricepieEver-expanding Skill Set

My contribution to Easter dinner was a rice pie with a custard-like texture.  I’ve made this dish many times, and I’m always trying to find new ways to amp up the flavor.  This year, I used freshly-squeezed orange juice as the cooking liquid for basmati rice.  I also soaked the pine nuts overnight in orange liqueur.  Finally, I scraped vanilla from 1/3 of a fresh bean rather than use vanilla extract.  Farm-fresh eggs and very high quality ricotta are essential. This dessert is not too sweet, light because of the phyllo crust, and a great balance to a salty ham dinner.

farbklang3The Back Porch

Farbklang, (the color of sound) is an asymmetrical design for an accessory by Simone Eich of Wollwerk.  This pattern knits up quickly and lends itself to improvisation and experimentation.  I’m very pleased with the results.





tripartiteThe Front Porch

I’ve heard the yarn and the colors of Leading Men Fiber Arts praised on several podcasts, so I thought I’d try some lace weight to knit Tripartite, a loosely structured Stephen West design.  The color, seaweed, is going to be perfect for summer.  It is a beautiful tonal turquoise, and will look well with natural linen, white, and black garments.

klincherThe Clincher by Ash Kearns could become your new sockhead hat, as long as you don’t mind purling.  I guess a lot of knitters DO mind purling, but this accessory is a great project for a precious skein of sock yarn and some scrap yarn in a contrasting color.  It has a pleasing ribbed texture and can be worn in a variety of ways.  I think it’s pretty easy to work on in a social setting and works well for travel knitting, too.

pocketDouble Happiness

Thursday, April 24th is Poem in Your Pocket Day.  You’re encouraged to select a pocket-sized poem, place it in your pocket, and share it throughout the day with loved ones, co-workers, even friendly-looking strangers.  Here is a link to short, printable poems in case you need some help finding one.

Share the happiness.  Here are some ideas from Poets.org for giving poetry a place on Poem in Your Pocket Day:

  • Post pocket-sized verses in public places
  • Handwrite some lines on the back of your business cards
  • Distribute bookmarks with your favorite immortal lines
  • Add a poem to your email footer
  • Post a poem on your blog or social networking page
  • Project a poem on a wall, inside or out
  • Text a poem to friends

prize1Would you like to win what’s inside this pretty pink package?  It’s a project bag from Halcyarn Knitting Accessories.  All you need to do is enter the contest in the Yarns at Yin Hoo group on Ravelry by posting your shopping advice.  I’m traveling to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival in May and I’d like your suggestions for how to make use my shopping dollars.

Gratitude Journal

This week, I read “Thanks,” a poem by W. S. Merwin.  This poem is not new; however, I recently discovered it in my six-week poetry class with the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.

in the faces of the officials and the rich and of all who will never change we go on saying thank you thank you 

Episode 34: Sunny Side Up

orbitz2This episode includes the following segments: Ever-expanding Skill Set, The Back Porch, The Front Porch, Gratitude Journal, and Double Happiness.







Ever-expanding Skill Set

There’s a fantastic dish at Spice Market, an Asian-fusion restaurant in NYC’s meatpacking district, or near it.  Actually, it’s a very convenient location for lunch or dinner if you’ve been spending some time on the High Line.  The dish is ginger fried rice.  Mark Bittman has reverse-engineered the dish.  He’s a genius, frankly.  Deb Perelman recognizes his genius and has included the recipe on her Smitten Kitchen website.  And now you can enjoy this intriguingly simple rice at home.  It goes very well with any protein dish that is vibrantly-flavored — it balances out spicy and exotic notes.  Topped with a fried egg, it makes a great lunch or light supper.  I am one of those people who finds the interrogation of a fried egg too violent for a morning meal, so I prefer an egg like this served after noon, thank you very much.

redriceAmong my bulk bin purchases this month was a cup of pink rice from Madagascar.  It wasn’t easy to find recipes specifically devised for this rice.  I did, however, become caught up in the agricultural lore of “Dista rice,” which I talk a bit about in the podcast.  I did manage to find a recipe for a pink rice pilaf from Whole Foods.  Start by toasting the rice in a sizzling dollop of coconut oil and roasted chili paste, then use orange juice as a cooking liquid.  Great with chicken roasted on the Big Green Egg charcoal grill.

The Back Porch

wensleydaleThis week, I completed the Galactic Orbits top by Linda Skuja and finished plying 6 ounces of Wensleydale in the London Fog colorway from FatCatKnits.  The fiber spun up into 390 yards of a sport/DK weight 2-ply.  The extremely long staple length of this fiber meant that it was a very different spinning experience from what I’ve had so far.  My wheel is empty as I decide what project to begin next.


The Front Porch

farbklang1One new project went on the needles since the last episode.  That is Farbklang “color of sound” by Simone Eich of WOLLWERK.  This is an asymmetrically-designed scarf that is great for using scraps and experimenting with color combinations.  Here is Simone’s completed piece.  Mine will feature blues and greens, and lots of beads.

Another up-and-coming project is Tripartite, a swingy, softly-structured vest design by Stephen West.  I have never knit with lace weight yarn before, but the versatility of this garment intrigues me and I think it will make a great layering piece for the summer.

Gratitude Journal

Learn some new vocabulary and make a contribution of rice to the World Food Programme by playing Free Rice.

Double Happiness

This week, I read a poem titled Egg by Ales Steger, a Slovene poet, in honor of National Poetry Month.  It sums up nicely my sentiments regarding the fried egg.



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

a podcast about the fiber arts and other post apocalyptic skills