Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thai Red Curry with Chicken and Vegetables

There hasn't been much quilting or knitting going on around here lately. I've been painstakingly repairing a pair of socks for the last few weeks. It seems to be taking longer than knitting a whole new pair! The yarn, Regia Color 4-Ply, is supposed to "wear like iron" but I'm not impressed. They are a full year younger than my oldest socks, the Lorna's Laces Jaywalkers, and they first found themselves in the mending basket a year after the Jaywalkers so I thought that the yarns were wearing equally. But upon closer inspection, it turned out that the Regia socks were completely threadbare around the toes and heels.

I opted to do some duplicate stitch over the threadbare areas to reinforce them and eke out a few more years of use, but after spending several hours, I'm starting to question that decision... my time would have been better spent knitting a new pair of Lorna's socks! Ah well. Lesson learned. Don't waste time knitting socks with Regia if I want them to last!

While my sewing machine has been sitting idly by, the stove has been pretty busy. It is getting chilly in the house so I tend to gravitate toward the warm west-facing kitchen. I've also been trying to make the most of the last few weeks of outdoor farmer's market by frantically buying and cooking all kinds of produce before I'm forced back to the grocery store for the winter (ugh!).

We've been eating a lot of soup and roasted fall vegetables lately so I wanted a change. Something Asian. Something a little bit spicy. Something soup-like but not exactly a soup. And quick.

I found this recipe in my email archives. Not sure what the original source is or if I just made it up after a little research. The version below is what I had made in Cleveland a couple years ago, using tofu. Tonight's version used boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into large bite-sized pieces and stirred in after the curry-garlic-ginger step. I was trying to make the chicken more flavourful by briefly sauteing it before adding the coconut milk. Not sure it was any different than adding it later, but it did have the advantage of having the chicken be cooked through by the time the vegetables were just tender. Had I added the chicken after the coconut milk, I think the vegetable would have gone from tender to soft by the time the chicken was ready.

Red Curry with Tofu and Vegetables
This served 5 for dinner with some leftovers.

Feel free to substitute any veggies you like - diff bell peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, potatoes, various peas (shelled, sugar and snap pods), shelled edamame, zucchini, yellow squash... This is just what I used, to give a sense of quantity.

In a large pot, heat some oil.  Add:

1 med onion, halved and then thinly sliced

Saute this on med-high heat for 3-4 min until onions soften. Add:

3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1" piece of ginger, minced

2 t. Thai Red Curry Paste (it's in the asian aisle at the store, 3" high bottle. usually it's reasonably spicy but tonight's bottle was really mild so I had to add quite a bit more)

Saute 1min and mash up the paste so it is evenly dispersed.

If using chicken, add:

2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into large bite-sized pieces.

Saute 1-2min. Add:

1 can Light Coconut Milk
1/2 can water
1 T. brown sugar
2-3 T. soy sauce
Bring to a boil, then add:

1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced in 2" strips
2 carrots, sliced thinly on the diagonal
4-5 baby bella mushrooms, stems removed, sliced
1 small (6-8oz) can of baby corn
handful of green and yellow beans, cut into 2" lengths on the diagonal (I probably used a total of 50 beans - it was literally handful of each colour)
1 container Firm or Extra Firm Tofu, cut into 1" cubes (I don't recommend "Silken" brand because it is all slippery and disintegratey and totally falls apart when you stir it!)

Lower heat to a simmer.  Add another half can of water if there isn't enough liquid to cover everything. Taste the curry - if it is too mild, add more of the paste at this point. Cover the pot and simmer for 8-10min or so.

* * *
The version I made tonight included mushrooms, red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, yellow squash, some shelled edamame, and I think there was something else that I can't remember now.  I also stirred in some fresh baby spinach towards the end.  We ate this with frozen paratha because I didn't feel like making rice. Plus P loves paratha and declared the meal "super delicious"!

Oh, and I should add that I accidentally used regular/full fat coconut milk - should have just used half the can. It was a little too rich for my taste!

Also, not sure what is going on with the formatting. I am not sure why I have to reset all my customizations with every post...

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Starry Night at the Bloggers' Quilt Festival!

I'm very excited to be in the 2011 Fall Bloggers' Quilt Festival, hosted by the talented Amy!

I made this quilt a year ago for S + R's new baby. I wanted to make something bright and colourful but not too babyish, as it would be big enough to use through the toddler and preschool years.

When I came across Bonnie Hunter's Sister's Choice quilt pattern, I knew this would be perfect for the jewel toned batiks I had been hoarding! I love these batiks - the colours are so vibrant, the designs are beautiful and varied, and they are completely colourfast so I don't have to worry about prewashing. (I only work with Hoffman and Kaufman batiks since I know they won't bleed in the wash, and the hand of the fabric is wonderful. I haven't tried anything else but if anyone has any others to recommend, I'd be happy to hear your suggestions!)

Using Bonnie's pattern, I made a dozen star blocks that were mostly scrappy. They all have various shades of green for the points, and the background is made up of a couple of different dark navy batiks. (do you see the rogue red block in there?) At this point I liked how they looked (the below photo is a little washed out), but wanted to brighten it up with an interesting border.

Auditioning borders

I chose the border on the right - navy in the middle.  To solve the problem of the corners (I didn't feel like dealing with a mitered corner, as much as I love how they look!), I just added a 9-patch block which also gave the corners a neat woven look.

The quilting is just a basic meandering pattern that I resort to far too often when I can't decide what to do.  I backed the quilt with a hippo print from Ikea, and bound it using the same navy as the background.  The binding was finished by machine using a blanket stitch. I usually hand-stitch the binding down on the back, but I most likely left this to the last minute and had no time!

And here is one last photo that shows the colours best (on my screen, at least), and also shows that crinkly texture we all love! There is nothing better than taking a new quilt out of the drier for the first time, when all its little flaws have magically been erased!

I hope you enjoyed this little post! Please go and look at all the other wonderful quilts at the Festival!


Tuesday, October 25, 2011


The second quilt I ever made was for Nanu. I pulled together squares from various sources, including some boxer shorts and a dress of Anumasi’s. It was not the best-planned quilt though I did try to have some sort of theme (frogs, animals, foods, more frogs…) for each row of squares. It had not occurred to me to make it bed sized so instead, it was arranged to fit the backing, which was an end-of-bolt square-ish piece of fleece (that really didn’t match anything anyway, so I’m not sure what prompted that particular choice!).

This quilt went with Nanu to college, then came home for a while, then went off to grad school with her. I’m amazed that it lasted as long as it did before it needed a repair. Those boxer shorts had already lived a long and full life before they made it into the quilt, so it was not surprising that that particular square was the first to go.


After months of tripping over the quilt as it sat on my studio floor, I finally bit the bullet and got to work on it over the weekend. First things first, that square had to come out. I tried the seam ripper but it was easier to just grab the fabric and gently tug it out of the seams (carefully, of course!). Once it was out, I cut out a replacement square from… yet another pair of boxer shorts. These poor shorts were so old and ratty that, before she left, Nanu reluctantly gave them to me with the words, “use these up as a rag.” I couldn’t make myself use them up as a rag because these were her favourite pair, perfectly broken in and softened up. Plus, the fabric was still in good shape – it was only around the waistband that the fabric had given way – so I could definitely use a piece to repair the quilt!


I cut the square with 1/2” seam allowances which I folded and pressed before pinning in place, overlapping with the surrounding seam allowances and using the existing seams as a guide (another advantage to tugging out the old square rather than removing the stitches).


Hand stitched it into place and completely forgot to take a picture of it! The whole process took about an hour (mostly because my hand sewing is very slow).

Incidentally, this is my first attempt using Windows Live Writer. I can't say it was any more convenient than just writing it up in Blogger, especially since I had to format each picture as I added it which was a little tedious. Maybe there are some settings I can change somewhere? It did manage to get the colours and fonts right on its own...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Old new socks of the mysterious variety

I found these photos on a long lost SD card.  After updating the details on Ravelry, I thought I'd add them to the blog too.  Particularly since this quilt blog has yet to mention anything other than food.  Fiber is a small step in the right direction!

Last fall when I had plenty of other things on my plate, Kirsten Kapur offered up another fabulous mystery sock pattern for Socktober.  Granted, I didn't know for sure that it was fabulous since it was a mystery, but her patterns are generally interesting to knit, have nice details, and are well written, so I grabbed some Lorna's Laces (of course) and jumped in.  

Unlike my usual method of knitting both socks at once starting from the toe, these started off being knit separately, and started at the cuff. I should have stuck with a tried-and-true stretchy cast on but something possessed me to try out something new (Double Estonian CO, not sure where I found it), and of course it was not nearly stretchy enough to get over my heel.  I'm not sure why I continued knitting despite this obvious and major issue, but I did.  All the way up to Amherst, MA, and all through that weekend at UMass.  

The weekend also included a pilgrimage to Webs. I hadn't been there since the mid 90s, when my weaving class went there to pick out yarn.  At the time, I had no idea how big Webs was - we just went into the coned yarns section, made our selections and left!  This time around, I tried to savour the experience a bit more, armed with researched lists of things I wanted to look at, touch, and possibly buy, but it was still a little overwhelming!

Back to the socks... 

I was loving how fast the single sock was knitting up, and the pattern was definitely just the right mix of interesting and memoriseable.  I substituted my usual eye of partridge heel which fits me better on a cuff-down sock, and once the foot was started, I put both socks onto one needle to avoid the dreaded (and inevitable) Second Sock Syndrome!  

What is interesting is that whenever I knit socks on my own, they take me a lot longer to finish, but when I join a mystery KAL, somehow the socks seem to just knit themselves.  A couple years ago I  churned out two pairs in a month!  While doing other things! It must be the sense of competition and urgency that I get, even though these are not about who finishes first and who made the most pairs!

Sadly, these socks sat in the closet for a year because the inelastic cast on edge was awful and I was too mad at myself to look at the socks.  Eventually, I dug them out, unpicked the cast on and the first section of the cuff, reknit the cuff in k1p1 rib for 1" and bound off with the fantastic JSSBO.  NOW these socks are finally wearable and even the weather is finally cool enough for me to wear them without feeling too sheepish. Sheepish... hehe!

TTL Mystery Sock 2010 (pre cuff-redo)

The details:

Pattern: TTL Mystery Sock 2010 by Kirsten Kapur
Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Berry, a little over 1 sk.
Needle: 2mm
Size: 56 st
Mods: JSSBO (should have done the JSS cast on from the beginning), EoP heel.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


For a long time I've been trying to figure out a system to keep track of all the "stuff" I find online - images, tutorials, recipes - and have a meaningful way of organizing them. I tried Evernote but it felt awkward (though in fairness, I gave up pretty quickly even though it came highly recommended). And then a few days ago I discovered Pinterest. My new beloved. 

It does everything I didn't know I wanted it to do! I love being able to keep track of everything in an organized way. All I have to do is pin an image and Pinterest saves the link back to the original source.  It's so easy to share images and ideas... goodbye tedious copying and pasting of images into emails!  

I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I've been pinning like mad for the last couple days, to the exclusion of all other nonessential activities! I might need a 12-step program to ease my way back, but at least my partner in pinning (PIP!) will be there with me!

Ready to see what it's all about?

Follow Me on Pinterest

Don't worry, there was a brief break from the pinning frenzy to cook a meal when we ran out of leftovers:

Believe it or not, my phone took that picture!

Sunday, October 2, 2011


I'd like to claim that we made pink pasta in honor of breast cancer awareness this month, but it was really just an excuse to use the beets that I bought with too much enthusiasm and not enough planning!  

Pintu thoroughly enjoyed mixing this in the food processor and cutting the strips. He could not stop exclaiming about how much he loved the color.  Unfortunately that beautifully saturated, almost-magenta dough turned into a pale and fleshy pink after being cooked!  But it still tasted good enough for P to request it for lunch tomorrow.

Carefully cutting strips
Laying them on our makeshift drying rack until we have enough to go in the pot

After dinner, P tried to claim all the credit, saying that the meals I cook without his help are just OK but when he helps, they become super delicious!  A couple more years and that might actually be true!