For the look of Relax in a worsted weight yarn, take a look at Worsted Boxy.

Misceloony

pumpkin2007.jpg
Dear Kay,
I’ve been under the weather, hon, so apologies for the lack of blabbage. I don’t really expect you to read all this, but I’ve got to get it out of my system before it starts to back up. You know that bloggy backed-up feeling?
So much to discuss.
Up First: Disappointing Knitting
mohairswatch.jpg
Just terrible, I tell you. There is something about this swatch that absolutely fatigues me. I can barely stand to look at this thing; it’s like a boyfriend gone BAD. Just move on, fella. This is NOT WORKING FOR ME.
This may be the single most deflating swatch I’ve made since the Day-Glo Fair Isle Swatch of 2003. As bad as My First Log Cabin. It may be worse than my all-time worst idea (and I hesitate to mention it, but it’s necessary to provide a sense of the scale here) The Fingering Weight Mercerized Cotton Debacle of 2005.
I think you recall the joie with which I bought this yarn at Rhinebeck. Heck, you’re probably still living with that joie, seeing as how I could not resist winding this Mohair in Motion into a ball even as we wandered the back roads of Dutchess County. I felt a little bad once I noticed that the interior of your car was completely breaded in mohair. But not bad enough to stop. I was in a fever.
What does this remind me of? I finally figured it out. It’s the HoJo connection. I look at this and think of Howard Johnson’s. I see this and crave a Howard Johnson’s clam roll. But where’s the orange? The partial Hojoness of this is what bugs me: if you’re going HoJo, go all the way.
There’s also some institutional vibe coming off these colors. Plastic tubs from the hospital? A spit-up bucket? Can’t put my finger on it, but I’m channeling some maternity-based plastic thing. I feel like I’m going into labor just thinking about it.
I haven’t given up on my quest for the plaid mohair coat of my dreams. But I gotta keep hunting for the right colors.
Next Item: Slow Cooking
Now. I have spent a lot of time thinking about the slow cooker: the promise, the hazards.
I’m actually kind of torn about the slow cooker, because the fact is, I spend most days inside my own home, waiting until it’s time to run my bus route, generally cultivating my agoraphobia. AW JUST KIDDING! I get out! I go to the mailbox! My home-bound lifestyle means that if I put together a batch of something in that cooker, I’m going to be living with its aroma for eight hours. It’s like working at the fried artichoke stand, I tell you–by the time dinner time actually rolls around, I want to flee from the house. “The aroma! THE AROMA! HELP ME ESCAPE THE AROMA!” I have found that cooking stuff on High for a shorter time leaves me more likely to be able to eat the stuff.
But if you work outside the home, the Aroma is pretty much a gift from Santy Claus. You come home, wishing that supper would magically appear–and it does. The aroma! The blessed, DONE aroma! You run TOWARD the aroma, not away from it.
In my slow cooking experiments, I was intially bummed out by what happens to meat if you put it straight into the slow cooker. It cooks, fer sure, but it doesn’t brown. It always tastes like it’s missing something. Kind of boily, not roasty. And sometimes a recipe just ends up watery. I went on slow-cook hiatus for a while, bumming about this lack of flavor.
Until I found The Gourmet Slow Cooker. It’s the slow cooker cookbook that has most captured my interest, and therefore is the BEST. The Gourmet Slow Cooker is the very same book that you just ordered because Mrs. Lear liked it. How’s that for a coincidence? I’ve made several of the dishes in it–the Guinness Stew because I discovered, inexplicably, a bottle of Guinness in the vegetable bin. And the Italian stew, with CINAMMON in it, looked so beautiful that I didn’t want to eat. Except that I did.
Most of the recipes call for browning the meat, which definitely flies in the face of slow cooker set-it-and-forget-it dogma. This book is not the greatest if you really want to dump and jump; there’s a fair amount of futzing in order to add flavor. But I’m here in this house all day, so I don’t mind a little futzing. The author does say that you can skip those steps if time is short. There’s a lot of deliciosity in this book, great ingredients and flavors.
Passing On
Three losses in the past days have affected me in different ways.
1. Porter Wagoner. Thin tall man of country. I showed you that YouTube of Dolly Parton singing “I Will Always Love You” to him on his 50th anniversary with the Grand Ole Opry. Such a tender thing to revisit now.
2. Robert Goulet. Speaking of crushes, he was one of my big ones, when he would appear on Lucille Ball’s TV show. The world’s biggest voice. So dreamy. And I have to say, Will Ferrell’s portrayal of him made me love the guy all the more:
on Conan O’Brien
3. Last and definitely not least: Hubbo’s great-aunt Elizabeth the Magnificent. She died yesterday at the age of 101–completely and utterly sharp until the very end. She lived the sort of full, connected life that inspired everyone around her. Infectious joy, a million stories, and the MOST amazing, beautiful voice. I just loved the sound of her as she told one of her sparkling tales. She sounded like she was laughing, all the time.
Love,
Ann
PS For today, for every day, the once and forever
pumpkinbutt.jpg
Pumpkin Butt. Happy Halloween, all you pranksters.

Tags:

38 Comments

38 Comments

  1. Mmmmm, slow cookers. I have a different version of the same problem you have. As soon as I can smell it, I can’t stay out of it. I start the picking and by the time dinner actually rolls around, there is little meat left and I’m full!
    They key to meat in the slow cooker is booze. Beer specifically. And cheap beer is best (yes, I do buy the 40). I guess it is all their sugar. Don’t use any water, just dump a beer or two and cook your meat in that.
    To. die. for.

  2. Try adding khaki to your mohair mix. It might de-Hojo it enough to be bearable. I’m not getting the plastic spitup bucket thing. I’m a size 24 if you really hate the yarn.

  3. You definitely cannot keep working in those colors! As soon as you said hospital, I thought–that is it! All you need is some of that pink color they also like in hospitals. The pink that says to me that someone tried to pick the worst pink ever.

  4. Love the Robert Goulet video! He’s another lost member of the bygone era of showbiz and Ed Sullivan. Thanks.

  5. When you’ve run through your book I’d suggest “The 150 best slow cooker recipes” by Judith Finlayson. I must admit that I bought it just to see how you could cook enchiladas in a slow cooker but it is my most used cook book. There are a few recipes that were not to our taste but most of them have been brilliant.

  6. So many topics! Where to start…
    First my condolonces to your family. May we all be sharp at 101.
    Second I think you are reffering to the blue booger sucker. I believe the technical term is aspirator but booger sucker conveys the function better.
    Lastly, my favorite two things to make in a crock pot is pasta sauce and then chili. yummo!

  7. So many topics! Where to start…
    First my condolonces to your family. May we all be sharp at 101.
    Second I think you are reffering to the blue booger sucker. I believe the technical term is aspirator but booger sucker conveys the function better.
    Lastly, my favorite two things to make in a crock pot is pasta sauce and then chili. yummo!

  8. If y’all keep chatting about slow cookers, I might have to figure out a way to dog-proof mine and actually use it. :)

  9. when you do have to “dump and jump” the meat in your slow cooker (or, as I do, the meat-like vegetarian product), a couple of sprinkles of hickory smoke salt works wonders for that browned, meaty taste.

  10. I really like that blue! Dump most of the white and find a bit of… peachy? Lemony? cinnamon?!

  11. Dear Ann – what a post! I laughed a lot and then was quiet at the end. A roller coaster ride. May Aunt E enjoy her time with the angels. and…crock pot aroma: plug it in in the garage or on the deck.

  12. Easiest thing to make in a crockpot ever: chicken. Brine a whole chicken or two (if you have a mega-crockpot like mine) for a bit if you like and have the time; otherwise just spray the crock with nonstick spray, pop in the chicken, sprinkle liberally with seasoned salt and/or your favorite seasonings, and let the darned thing cook for many hours on low, or fewer on high. I usually turn it off when the skin on the wing or leg starts to break, depending on how it’s sitting in the crockpot. No added water is needed. Then just bone and shred. DH and I usually do this as dinner — we can pick the best bits for then, and freeze the rest to use in tacos or soup or whatever. And the vast quantities of lovely stock gets saved for soup. YUM! Maybe in a week or two. . .

  13. Here’s hoping we can all get to be that sharp 101-year-old. Fare thee well, Elizabeth!
    Love the Pumpkin Butt!

  14. First, my sincerest condolences to your family on your loss.
    As for the slow cooker…I am dying to use mine and many of the recipes I had previously found were just ok. I think I will have to at least look for the Gourmet Slow Cooker at the library to see some of the recipes…but you are right about futzing around. I have generally enjoyed the meat meals more when I browned the meat first. Sometimes I try to brown the meat the night before as I am making dinner so that in the morning I can pretend to dump and run.
    Love the blog…always cheers my day!

  15. The light color is too light, needs to be more khaki in tone, you could use the lighter color as an accent. There is too much contrast between the two, and you are right it does speak to that HOJO thing…but don’t give up yet, just look for a “darker” khaki or beige color.

  16. Ann, bless you for remembering Pumpkin Butt. Somebody sent me a Pumpkin Butt of another kind in a mass email, and I have to say that I vastly prefer our version.
    Must be getting old.
    Off to boohoo fondly about Porter, Robert, and great-aunt Elizabeth. Life is sweet.
    xoxo Kay

  17. I’m with you on the boiled meat taste…yuck. I have browned the meat the night before and wrapped it up well, put it immediately into the fridge, and all seemed well when we ate it. Just a thought!

  18. I have a pork stew receipe for the slow cooker that is to die for. I usually brown the meat before I put it in, but if taking that extra time would mean no stew, I skip it.
    My condolences to your family on Aunt Elizabeth’s death. She sounds like a peach.

  19. You’re so right. The emanations of the slow cooker are nice to come home to, but getting stuck with them all day is torture by stoneware. I’m sending you Lina the Venetian’s Ga’ina in Umido (prosaically translated: Humid Chicken) recipe if you like what cinnamon does for meat. We usually eat that with sauteed greens and polenta. I have often suspected a Southern United States/Veneto Region connection that historians have yet to untangle. Figurati!

  20. Happy Halloween! Thank you again this year for the pumpkin butt!

  21. Thank god I am not the only one who keeps beer in the vegetable bin. Isn’t that why they give you two?

  22. Unbrwned meat does tend to be a bit flat, unless of course you cook all its flavour out into the broth. Browning adds that ‘burnt meat’ flavour. It is actually a very complex reaction, named the Maillard-reaction, involving carbohydrates and proteins, that produces those meat flavours.
    So either give meat a quick browning r add more spices.

  23. Luhrv dat slowcooker. I got married in 1970, and so of course one of our gifts was a persimmon-orange crockpot. I used that crockpot at least once a week or even more for for 36 years. Then, when the Halloween chili didn’t cook as fast as it should have last year, I compared temperatures between Old Faithful and New Kid on the Block, a bigger crockpot DH got me for those really big family dinners that include inlaws and grandkids. Poor Old Faithful–140 degrees was not going to give us healthy dinners. It’s a wonder we weren’t already dead! But 140 degrees will dye wool! So Old Faithful lives in the “wool room” now, still an honored member of the family. This Halloween we added Darth Crockpot to the family. He’s black crockery in a stainless cooker. He cooked the meat chili, and New Kid did the vegetarian one. With 17 people at dinner, there weren’t even many leftovers.
    A lot of weird stuff came out of the 70’s and went their way, but I’m glad crockpots hung around.

  24. thanks for pumpkin butt. I so needed that.

  25. I don’t like to put things in the slow cooker overnight because it always smells like – farts – in the middle of the night. eeww. (wwwknitsflyingmonkeys on Ravelry)

  26. Ann, while you were in Rhinebeck, you should have gone across the river to Newburgh…there is a HoJo’s there…..at least it was still there when I was up in June….
    And yes, I too just bought a new slow cooker, as I have started back to work full time. Thought I might actually have something decent to feed the kids at night since I do not feel like cooking when I get home!

  27. Ann, my condolenses on your family’s loss. How wonderful it must be to live to be 101 and still be sharp! I hope we all get to experiance that thrill!
    I love my slow cooker. I usually brown the meat, chop veggies, etc the night before, so all I have to do is assemble it in the morning. However, I’m at work all day and don’t have to live with it. I do find when I make chilie on weekends, I have your problem–after smelling it all day, I don’t want to eat it!! Maybe that could be a new diet?
    And finally, I love the pumpkin butt. I’ve never seen one before!!

  28. It’s those hospital blankets or sheets, the ones that say “PROPERTY OF SUCH AND SUCH HOSPITAL”–they have stripes *just* like that. Ah, I’m enjoying the video… do they have YouTube in heaven?

  29. To make that coat mod you need a lime green for the fine stripe of the plaid. All traces of HoJo will vanish.

  30. I used to work with a man who reckoned that the person cooking a meal had absorbed so much of it through his/her pores that it actually had an appetite suppressing effect.

  31. You’re right – the lighter color has a pinky-peachy cast to it, and the blue has a slight turqoise-y thing going on, so there you go. It’s HoJo’s.
    I too have a new slow-cooker and am trying to figure out what to do with it. I plug it in outside on the screened in porch so I don’t have to smell up the whole house. Just made a Thai mango pork curry that was good but really, it could’ve gone quickly on the stovetop.

  32. Wow, those are some pretty nasty swatches to hold the new one up to. Ick. How about a soft grey to go with Howard? Give him a NEW last name. After you let him sit in a closet for a long time.
    Re: slow cookers. If you have to stand the fragrance so blasted long, how about twinkies? Heck, they deep fry them now!
    For the ladies who don’t fore-plan dinner, but want their husbands to think they do, I think Yankee (or Dixon) candles should make “fried onion,” “roasting stew,” or “pizza with everything” candles. You could even put them under a fondue! What doyou think?

  33. I personally save the tail ends of red wine to use in the slow cooker, since I’m allergic to beer. Great with chicken, beef and pork!

  34. oh my word punkin’ ‘tocks… who’da thunk????

  35. Thank you so much for the Goulet/ Will Ferrell video. I shared it with my children and they are now addicted to it. They loved analyzing the pictures and how well they matched with the words. But more than that they also learned about a good, strong singer, talented entertainer(s), parody, and had belly laughs galore.

  36. Well… “mohair tube sock” was my first thought. The HoJos I waitressed at had booths in a brighter, bluer shade of teal. I actually like these colors together, just not with the narrow stripes.

  37. The mark of genious is admitting where you went wrong. After the bit to come of Kaffe, add ANYTHING and possibly EVERYTHING to help your swatch.
    funny how the absence of color can just suck the life out of you.

  38. wow, I have to admit MY mistake…… avoid tasteless comments by reading the ENTIRE post before jotting down my two cents worth.
    peace….