Monday, February 09, 2009


Your comments about my first book review buoyed me through a particularly long work week. Thank you for sharing my excitement! A few other things have boosted me a bit while working. (Note to self: When submitting additional photos and an article AND working on my taxes feels relaxing and fun on a Saturday morning, this is a hint that things have gone seriously off-kilter in my work world...!)

On Friday afternoon, I took a break to cook. You may remember the Bartlett pear invasion of October, 2008? Besides the endless jars of pear jams, and chutneys (which I admit, I'm still somewhat enthusiastic about), we also processed roughly 2 lbs of dried pears. I thought this dried fruit would be eaten quickly, as part of daily snacks. I ignored the dried fruit recipes that had accumulated. Now, in my winter effort to clean out freezer space (dried fruit processed without preservatives does best long term in the freezer), I came upon a colossal amount of dried pears.

I took this as an opportunity to make a local speciality, the Kentucky Apple Stack Cake. Frank Browning occasionally reports on NPR. You may have heard him reporting from Paris last, I think. He and his brother also have a family orchard in Eastern Kentucky, and he's written a book or two on the subject. One of those books, An Apple Harvest contains this recipe. It's a bit complicated. You make a dense batter of spice cake which is distributed among 5 pans. (3, in my case, since that's all I had.) Then, while this is baking and cooling, you reconstitute a pound of dried apples (pears, in my case), by cooking in water, rum, or cider. I chose water, it was convenient, and threw in a vanilla bean for added kick. When all is cooled, you construct the cake...cake layer, fruit, cake layer, fruit, cake's enormous. Right before serving, you put the powdered sugar on top. The cake was a success. This is what's left! (Lunch? cheddar cheese and Pear Stack Cake, coming up!)

Our dinner table was filled with 5 fabulous guests who ate: beef/lamb shwarma spiced meatballs with onions served over brown rice, homemade hummus, avocado salad, tabbouleh, dilly beans, challah...and of course, that cake for dessert. Beverages included water, red wine (Merlot and Shiraz) and decaf coffee to wash down that cake. It was a great distraction from the work week.

I've also been spinning. Infrequently, I admit, because I've been knitting a lot for work and lacking in any big chunks of time. However, this Sunday was the meeting of our local spinners' group. We saw two new groups of folks who were interested in learning more about spinning! Also, as usual, we shared lots about fiber arts and life. Two of our regular members (a couple) are still without electricity from the ice storm...2 weeks ago. Another mother and daughter combo said that the mom was without power for over a week...but her chickens kept laying, her woodstove warmed the house, and she made it through ok. Homesteading and camping skills are a good help in times of stormy weather!

I'm spinning this totally vanilla Romney wool and it's great becomes a lofty two ply, about worsted weight. Although 3 ply, tightly spun yarns (in fingering to dk weight) seem to be all the rage just now, I'm resisting the fad. I'm fully capable of spinning those fine yarns, but I don't actually knit with them that often, aside from socks! I also love turning out these soft skeins that beg to be thrown into the dyepot with their siblings....or just knitted up "natural." Inexact, a little thick and thin, these kinds of homespun make "plain vanilla" yarn enticing for me...anything but boring. (notice the vanilla theme here?)

So, when stress overtakes you, do you make cake? Do you spin? Do you eat dinner with friends? (I'm taking any and all suggestions....) Sleeping? Sleeping is good. I'm trying that, too!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

stress breakers for me, in no particular order: spinning, reading a great book in one sitting hence wasting an entire day, canning or cooking a great meal, long walk (especially near a body of water), wine, sleep.

I wrote about this on my blog recently:

February 9, 2009 at 12:37 PM  
Blogger cyndy said...

stress breaker = walk

That Romney looks lovely! What wheel are you spinning it on?

February 10, 2009 at 1:49 PM  
Blogger Joanne said...

Cyndy, don't know if you'll come back this way...but the wheel I used for that is my Majacraft Little Gem. It's great for these fast, lofty yarns! I find my great wheel wants to do more tightly spun singles, and the Schacht sometimes doesn't have big enough bobbins for this much loft. My Canadian Production, of course, prefers skinny singles only. :)

February 10, 2009 at 3:08 PM  
Blogger Bonnie said...

Mmm, that handspun looks delicious. I'm afraid I might need another spinning lesson sometime as I have trouble starting.

I like to make chocolate chip cookies from scratch to de-stress..with the recent bit of good weather, a wandering walk helps too!

February 10, 2009 at 7:23 PM  

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