Sine I was last here, I have worked hard, gotten a nasty chest infection just in time for my final exam. Postponed my final, studied while taking cold medicine (I really don’t recommend this), written my final exam while taking less cold medicine (I passed! Yay!).
I organized a last minute family party for Little Girl and T who have the same birthday. I ran around to twelve stores to find the one thing Little Girl wanted, it was ridiculous! I hate last minute shopping, but I was busy. Everyone helped with the party. V made cupcakes. The Aunties brought food. I even managed to get the one big thing that T wanted as a birthday-holiday combined present. AND I even was able to unload it out of the car.
Barely making it through the big day with out a nap, I took about a week off for rest, recovery and knitting. I finished the first Octopus Garden sock I started in March. I cast on the next one. I have a touch of Second Sock Syndrome on this one. I started that first sock three radiography classes ago. It took a ridiculous amount of time to finish the first one and I don’t really remember the pattern anymore.
I finished the sweater I cast on, knit to almost completion, frogged and restarted over the summer. I have woven in the ends, but not blocked it. So far it looks too big, but we will see.
I cast on the Adam’s Rib Sweater last week. Now I just have to knit 250 meters a week to get it done before the holidays. If you know me in real life and see me in person in the next five weeks, just ask and I will show you this project. It will be in my purse. No more of this six months to make a sweater! I want to wear this one, darn it!
I invented a new recipe for Blackberry cobbler, but didn’t take pictures. It’s a keeper and blackberries are on sale just now, so I will make it again.
I’m not knitting gifts for anyone this year, except for me.
I plan to get the tree today. All the gift shopping was done in two mad days at the end of November (not Black Friday). Despite having a incredibly busy November, I think I might be back on track for the holidays.
I will own it. I am exhausted. I would like to apologize to my family and social contacts for my level of extra crabby-ness. I like to think it is for a good cause.
So far this month I have had a midterm Oct 11. I got 86% because I studied really hard and ran up a sleep deficit. This was followed by a big family Thanksgiving with T’s parents. I was lucky enough to only be responsible for one day of cooking, not three. Thank you, Y, for taking such good care of the lot of us!
No sooner did I get home from Thanksgiving but I had to start studying for the mandatory lab for the class that was Oct 20. It was basically a P/F lab, but it counts 10% of my final mark. Done.
It took two days to clean up the house after kind of neglecting it all month, then it was time for the SACLXT fall conference. I’m on the board of directors for the SACLXT. It’s a volunteer position. This year we were asked to keep track of our hours. I haven’t actually done that for a volunteer position before. I was a little shocked when I added up the final tally and found out that I spent the equivalent of 28, 8 hour days volunteering this past year. I hadn’t really planned to spend more time at my volunteer position that I did at my job, but that’s how it worked out. I’m feeling a little frustrated by that.
It’s made worse by the fact that the only shifts I was offered this month, I didn’t take because I had made a commitment to help with the conference. I wasn’t too worried because there is a per diem in place for if you miss work to attend board events. Except when I went to claim it, I was told that I was not required to attend and was only give a half day for the AGM. Never mind that taking a half day off isn’t possible at my job. So… November is going to be a little tight.
Off to for a quick visit to my Mom’s yesterday. Little girl was very happy to see her.
My final exam is scheduled for November 7th. So, as soon as I get through the four loads of laundry that has built up, I’m back hitting the books. I have been spending so much time on this course that I am dreaming about image recording. It doesn’t make for a restful night.
I have a post planned about my spiffy old waffle irons, but this is your warning that the blog will still be slow for another few weeks.
Back to school really, truly is in full swing. Despite inability to get text books, the bookstore sending out the wrong course manual and lack of information about exams and labs, the last class I need for my diploma is up and running.
I received the corrected course manual in the post yesterday. My midterm is next Friday. I don’t know why they seem to always schedule these thing during Thanksgiving break when Little girl is home from school and I have to frantically try to find care for her but this is two years in a row that they have.
This class is Digital Imagining. I am already using a CR unit. In theory I could challenge the exam. In reality, it doesn’t work that way. No one will tell you what challenging the exam involves until you commit to writing it. Once you commit, you only have two weeks to prepare. The set up feels like playing chicken. Pay the fee, then we tell you what you just bought.
There is an expression “buying a pig in poke.” It is so old that most people don’t understand that the other half of that expression is “cat out of the bag.” The whole story is that people would sell a piglet in a bag. It made sense. Easy way to contain it, keep it from getting away what you were at the market. Unscrupulous people found that a cat was about the same size, same level of squirming and a heck of a lot less valuable. If you buy a pig in a poke, you might let the cat out of the bag.
But I digress.
I just wasn’t comfortable paying a fee, paying a week of groceries, to challenge the exam without more information about what that meant. If it wasn’t a reasonable possibility, I would be out the money and still have to pay the full course fee. We don’t have money for that. As it stands I had to borrow money for the tuition and sell some of my household items to pay for the textbook.
I know that in a couple of year, Little Girl will be in school full day and I will find a job that actually gives me some hours. It’s just that right now, when I am working so hard to get my diploma, spending money we don’t have to buy the courses, while at the same time going more that two months between work shifts and effectively having no income… The whole mess is kind of depressing.
I just want to get the whole thing over and done with, but so far it has been a lot of work and even more frustration. I don’t understand how any business can run this way. How do you sell the wrong course material and take a third the class time to correct your mistake?
Still, it’s better that the last one where I took the whole class and the text book didn’t ever arrive before the final exam. This class uses the same text book and it finally arrived only days before we were due to start in September. Two weeks before the current class started, I had to complain to the distance eduction department and flat out insist on a refund if it wasn’t here in the next 10 business days because it still hadn’t been ordered yet. Not that having the text helps when the list of reading assignments was wrong.
It’s the only game in town, so I guess that’s what you get.
All of that aside, the whom I have never met, seems good. He has been diligent about posting note to the class website and offering self quizzes. I am doing well based on the notes provided. I have no idea what to expect on the midterm.
Ras El Hanout
- 1 tablespoon ginger, powdered
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 ½ teaspoons cardamon, ground
- 2 tablespoons coriander
- 3 tablespoons cumin
- 1 tablespoon anise seed, ground
- 1 tablespoon star anise
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
- 1 ½ teaspoons cloves, ground
- 3 tablespoons turmeric
- 1 ½ teaspoons lavendar
- 1 tablespoon nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon allspice
- 1 tablespoon cayenne
- 1 tablespoon pepper
- 1 ½ teaspoons mace
I have recently joined a facebook group called Cast Iron Cooking. I am quite enjoying it. It is a nice bunch of mostly Americans. That has been interesting. The third person to welcome me to the group has turned out to be a lovely man, but his avatar is looking down the barrel of a handgun. The idea of someone saying “welcome!” while pointing a gun at me seemed odd to my Canadian heart.
But I digress
The general consensus of the group is that “they don’t make ‘em like they used to.” I absolutely agree. Older pans tend to be milled on the inside or at least polished from use. This makes them nicer to cook in than your modern day pan. They tend to be a little thinner and lighter. I like that. Even if I buy a very nice Lodge Pro-Logic (which I have) it would take years to get the kind of interior you can find on a vintage pan. I have eventually gotten there with my Lodge Signature series through years of twice weekly use, so it does happen, it just takes time and effort.
The part that I find interesting is that despite everyone agreeing that (insert favourite vintage brand name here) is better than (modern American Made Cast Iron Brand Here (who are we kidding, it’s Lodge, Camping Grade Cast Iron is not beloved by anyone)) people have very unusual ideas about how much you should pay for an old pot.
Some of the deals people find ARE amazing. A bundt pan for $5 was recently shown and my heart went pitter pat and I went a little green with envy.
Up here, there isn’t the same huge supply of vintage cast iron. I have to live in a world of finding one piece in a garage sale or thrift shop every few months. To be fair, I have not suddenly made hunting for cast iron a full time job. On the other hand, I thrift shop for most of our clothes (especially at the rate Little Girl is growing) so I am in there fairly often. If there is a huge supply out there, I am not seeing it.
And this is where I think it gets interesting. If I find a nice vintage piece of cast iron for close to the cost of (hardware store wax coated monstrosity) I am OVER the moon! If I can find it for the cost of a new piece of Lodge I am still very happy. I am confident that I can judge if I am getting a piece with a nicer interior and lighter weight. If I order it from away shipping alone would cost more than a new piece of Lodge, never mind brokerage fees and import duties.
I did eventually find a cast iron waffle iron. I paid $50. I am very happy with it for that. It was less than a new one and it has a base, which new waffle irons don’t include. I am really looking forward to using it. I expect that by American standards I have hugely over paid. I see them come up for $15 or less on the internet…. except that it would also be $60 for shipping.
While I envy the affordable vintage, I kind of find it a bit…. strange that people admit that vintage pan are better, but still want them for so much less money then new. Hey we are all looking for a deal. But for me, living in a land of vintage cast iron scarcity, a deal is getting a better pan for the same cost as a worse one.
Little Girl started Kindergarden in the beginning of September. I went back to school. This time it’s a digital radiography class. It runs until the end of November.
I have a few posts planned. I would like to show off my updated cast iron pan collection. I would really like to talk about what I have learned about seasoning cast iron. I want to share my really easy recipe for chai tea and the one for citrus ice cream sauce.
Although I plan to share my sock pattern, I don’t really want to talk about how I have had to frog the sweater I am knitting… again. Yes, that is three in a row for those of you keeping score at home. Have I learned my lesson and decided to just stick to socks? Heck no! I frogged that bad boy right back into yarn cakes and promptly cast on a new sweater pattern with hope in my heart and determination in my eye.
At some point, hopefully soon, I will get the zipper sewn into the sweater I made Little girl and I hope to be able to post some pictures.
The thing is… I have been knitting and working hard on fall canning and gardening and what not. While it is important to my family that I get those things done, it doesn’t make for great blogging.
A whole other week of not blogging was spent doing this:
New coat of light grey paint. New bedspread.
Paint colour matched to the fabric:
By some mad stroke of luck I found the exact same colour in plain canvas fabric and recovered the chair to match:
I used left over paint to coat the frames of a couple of bulletin boards:
With cute little lady bug pins:
Some floral decals from the local mega mart:
And I sewed new curtains from grey sheets and fully lined with blackout fabric. Some jewel tassels for a little bling:
Still hoping to find a carpet for the floor, but we got it to the done enough point. There is also plans for a silver detail to be added to one wall with some craft paint.
T built us an electrolysis tank. It isn’t for hair removal, it’s for using electricity to clean metal. It has done an amazing job on all of my yuckiest pans. Cleaning and reseasoning explains a whole week of me not blogging this summer. Helping my mom move explains another four.
Here it is, Cast Iron Porn:
It’s that time of year again. The garden has gone completely nuts and I am processing veg as fast as I can. Today I am making salsa. I posted the recipe last year. This year I have learned and improved! The big thing I am doing differently is freezing my tomatoes before I start. When they thaw, the skins pull right off. Then if you give them a gentle squeeze the water and seeds squirt right out, leaving the valuable pulp behind. Since I blend my tomatoes anyway, I don’t worry about the lack of chunks and I have reduced my cooking time down to 30- 45 minutes since there is WAY less water to cook off.
Here’s the thing that I find completely amazing. I would have thought that squeezing a ever so slightly frozen tomato would squish out tomato juice. It doesn’t! The water melts first so if you find that sweet spot when you are holding what is basically a tomato slushy, and give it a squeeze, the liquid that comes off is clear.
This discovery was a happy accident. My garden is small and I never have a whole batch of tomatoes ripe at once. So I started just throwing them in the freezer thinking I would make salsa when I had the three pounds worth. Now I have an easier time removing the skins and seeds and a decreased cooking time! Win all around. The taste is exactly the same. If anything it is a little fresher tasting since you don’t have to cook it as long.
I have also started using my skins and adding them back in. This makes a nice thicker salsa. I got the idea from North West Edible Life who uses her tomato skins to make tomato sauce. It adds a nice texture.
I have also started to try lower temp pasteurization when I process my pickles. I am curious to see how it goes.
I don’t usually like Kimchi… except the one my mother in law makes. I got her recipe today and now my kitchen is covered in little bits of cabbage.
Gramma Brown’s Kimchi
- 1 head of white cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
- 2 large onions cut into thin rings
- 1/2 cup salt
- 10 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 2 Tbsp slivered fresh ginger
- 1/2 Tbsp crushed dried chilies
- 1 tsp sugar
Put the cabbage and onions and salt in a bowl bowl and knead with your hands. Leave to rest over night.
Next day, rinse off excess salt under cold running water. Drain and rinse again. Drain.
Add remaining ingredients and knead together.
Pack into large jar or pickling crock. Add enough water to to just reach the top of the ingredients. Leave sit in a cool, not refrigerated place for at least 1 week, then transfer to the fridge.
Serve with meat, veg or a spoon.
(I made double – I think I was carried away)