Monday, November 20, 2006

Weekend whirlwind

Another wild and burly weekend. I bopped about from craft fair to beachcombing (you never know what these storms will wash up onto the shore) to my back garden to some knitting to Gabriola Island with some friends for more craft fairs, beachcombing and a couple of awesome nurseries where I saw the most gorgeous eucalyptus tree (koala not included) and then back home for more knitting.

It was also the arrival of the Beaujolais Nouveau . Since BN is not a local wine, I decided that for every bottle of BN consumed, we would have to consume a bottle of local wine. I chose Blue Grouse’s Gamay Noir since it uses the gamay grape that the BN are made from. As much fun as the BN is, I blissed out on the summery tones of the Blue Grouse wine. Build on the fertile slopes of the Cowichan Valley, Blue Grouse vineyards puts out some of my favorite wines. Their Black Muscat is the perfect intense red wine to go with your favorite dark organic chocolate. Thanks to its great location and soil, the vineyard doesn’t use fertilization or irrigation.

We celebrated wine, local and not so local, with a couple of intimate dinners and a couple of not-so-intimate dinners. Here’s what we had for one of our dinners:

Local buffalo sausage, caramelized onions, roasted veggies and a butternut squash gratin. Pretty much everything was grown locally from the sausages to the veggies to the cheese in the squash. The caramelized onions are your basic recipe of sliced onions brown in butter and braised slowly. I used a glass of Blue Grouse wine to deglaze and braise the onions. Yep, it was divine.

The veggies included local purple & golden carrots and Saanich potatoes tossed in EVOO and dumped into roasting pan. The sausages were simply browned and then tossed on top of the veggies to finish cooking. The butternut squash gratin was leftover roasted squash dumped into a pan with some EVOO, Little Qualicum’s raclette cheese and a couple of cloves of roasted garlic. I drizzled some balsamic vinegar over it once it was done.

Everything roasted away in the oven at 350F for about a 40 mins while Kevin and I watched Harry Potter’s Goblet of Fire and drank too much BN and Blue Grouse’s Gamay Noir.

Here’s what we had the following morning to quietly move us into the day:

Blueberry pancakes with blueberry/blackberry syrup and scrambled eggs. I finally have started dipping into my hoard of frozen blueberries picked from a local u-pick this past summer. A sweet, summery visitor to our breakfast table, along with very egg-elicious scrambled eggs courtesy of Cedar Valley Poultry. This picture is Kevin before he stuffs that huge chunk of egg into his gullet.

I also roasted up a batch of local hazelnuts. These are from Foote’s Hazelnut farm in Chemainus.

They have a stand open on their hazelnut farm. Just go along the Island Highway to the big yellow and green Antique barn building on Henry Rd and turn in. Follow Henry along it’s mellow, winding limb for a couple of kilometers until you get to the green metal gate. Push the button for an ‘Open Sesame’ (or Open Hazelnut in this case), drive on through the orchard. You’re aiming for the big, brown house in the back. The hazelnuts are by the front door and it pretty much runs on the honor system.

I’ve found Foote’s hazelnuts also at the Quist meat market in Duncan. Nanoose Edibles also carries local hazelnuts.

To roast, simply dump the nuts onto a baking sheet in a single layer and toss into a 350F oven. After 10 mins, give the pan a shake and return it to the oven for another 5 or so minutes. Let the hazelnuts cool and then crack away!

They can be kept unroasted and in their shell for a few months in paper or mesh bags on the shelf or a couple years in a sealed plastic baggie in the freezer. Considering that hazelnuts in the stores are going for $1.50 to $2 for a 100 grams, buying them this way is a great deal. Especially since nuts go rancid once shelled, these are also tastier.

Warning: Ramblings about knitting ahead!!!

I’ve started on another sweater. I know I just finished one but I’m waiting for my lovely mum-in-law to drop off yarn for her sweater so until then, I’m working on this:

It’s the sleeve for what I’ve named the Midsummer’s Nights Dream sweater. I’ve been wanting to do a MsND sweater for ages. Here's the yarn I'm using:

The colouring is going to make it more of a Tri-seasonal Night’s Dream sweater but I can live with that.

My design ideas have taken several turns from a lace weight cardigan with bell sleeves (what the heck was I thinking? I can barely knit a lace weight dishcloth) to a cape and vest combo to an updated version of EZ’s Moebius sweater. Over the summer, I picked up a batch of Phildar Auteil yarn that struck me as very MsND sweaterish and decided to let the yarn tell me what it wanted to be. The yarn was uncooperative all summer long and wouldn’t confess it’s innermost desires. So I threw it into the darkest corner of my yarn stash and hoped imprisonment would loosen up its tongue.

While finishing up my kimono shrug, I heard whispers and sly riddles coming from that corner of the yarn stash. Or maybe it was the end-of-the-project itch. When you’re near the end of something and part of you is delighted that it’s finally going to be finished but the rest of you is wondering ‘What will I knit next?’

Finally the yarn betrayed its intent and I began doodling out scratchings and scribbles. So far I have a lot of scratches and scribbles in my knitting journal. I still have no idea what the body of this is going to look like. I’m hoping a couple glasses of Cherry Point’s Bete Noire will give me the inspiration I need when I get to that point.

I’ve usurped this construction idea from Simple design of tubes and there’s no seams! Yippee!

Of course, leave it to me to completely morph a simple and brilliant design into a monster of mayhem. As you can tell from the above picture, I’m not working the sleeves in a tube. I’ve decided I want the sleeves to decrease down into a leaf point at the wrists. Yes, a leaf point. Right over the top of my wrists. I don’t know how I’m going to do it. I don’t even know where the idea came from. I blame it on that 2nd glass of Beaujolais Nouveau. That will teach me to drink non-local wine.

I know that I could be working the sleeves on dp needles and be able to maintain the tube structure of the sleeves. However I hate working with dp needles. Also, there’s a high chance of my forgetting to count my rows, or mess up the decreases (or both) and turning this lovely pattern into a briars patch.

I am 2/3rds through the 1st sleeve. I haven’t done a swatch. I have no idea if I have enough yarn for this. On the good side, the yarn is machine washable and I’m loving that Aran pattern. It looks like dragon scales from certain angles.

I’m also playing with the idea of doing most of the torso with ribbing. Maybe a twisted rib. Not sure how I’m going to play the remaining two colours together. Maybe something intarsia, maybe I’ll just do panels. Not sure.

One of these days, I’ll actually design a whole sweater BEFORE I start knitting it.

Yeah, right.

Anyways, we’ve having our friends Karin and Dave and his parents over for a curry dinner tonight. Karin is coming over early for a refresher course on how to make naan. I have to make sure the house is in some sort of civilized order. I also have this annoying thing called a job I should get to...



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've got to get me some of those hazelnuts. I had no idea there was even a farm on the island. thanks for the tip.
BTW, you're a braver knitter than I am. I can't even knit a scarf without a pattern!