Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Knitting up Rhinebeck 2012: Red Hypernova Shawlette

Persimmon Tree Farm yarn Piggy Toes SW

It's not easy being a yarn magpie. Well, the shopping part is easy. But then deciding what to make of each skein, or set of skeins...and figuring out where to put them in the meantime...those are problems we usually don't think about when we're doing the shopping.

I did try to be mindful, when shopping at Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival 2012, of what I already have and why I have it, and therefore avoid duplication and fill in gaps with things in my current taste. Because as I've been playing with my stash over the past year, rearranging the storage bags roughly by Do These First, Do These Next, etc., I realized that a whole bunch of older yarns had fallen out of favor. Stuff I really wanted to work on last summer, suddenly not so much. Which is great, because now I just have to relocate them to a new Giveaway bag and re-prioritize everything else.(And the trouble is, all this playing with stash takes time away from actually knitting any of it. But really that's another post.)

While my absolute favorite colors remain dark turquoise, leaf green and deep purple, preferably all together in one yarn (indie dyers all over seem to agree), I'm not committed to having all my yarns be just variations or combinations of those. I like black, hot pink, orange, red and dark blue too. Even gray. Even brown, if it's delicate and toasty and warm. I think the color least represented in my stash has to be red. Several friends of mine are fiends for red, and it suits them, but putting it too close to my fair skin doesn't work all that well so I learned over the years to avoid it (despite the bright scarlet sweater dress I wore in my 20s, among other experiments). I certainly wouldn't knit a red sweater for myself.

But a shawl? In exotic shades of red ranging from chestnut to pink? Well, there it was, hanging on the wall at Persimmon Tree Farm's booth. 2 skeins of unique Piggy Toes merino sock yarn, luscious squoooshy soft 560 yards of pure awesomesauce. 2 skeins was enough for a cropped cardigan, but really one skein just cried out to become a Hypernova shawlette. The destiny of the other skein awaits, but it certainly will become some other shawl...one of the couple of hundred patterns in my Ravelry queue. 

Hypernova Shawlette

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Chicken with Fresh Apricot Sauce

Improvising dinner isn't all that hard, if you have a base recipe in mind and accidentally happen to have a great combination of ingredients on hand. Tonight proved that to me, again.

I had errands to do on the way home from work, that usually tire me out, but I really didn't want to resort to takeout or delivery again. So I picked up a package of bone-in/skin-on chicken thighs, figuring I'd make my favorite and very reliable Chicken in Mustard Sauce, based on a recipe from one of Jacques Pepin's books that I've been making for years and years. It's utterly foolproof. Also really best made with dark chicken, but that's a personal preference.

I happened to also buy a dozen lovely ripe apricots at the same supermarket, and by the time I got to the stove the recipe was evolved in my mind into a fruity sweet/sour sauce. Last year I discovered the pleasure of adding halved fresh apricots to the pan when roasting a chicken. Well, same difference!

So, recipe for 4 chicken thighs: begin sauteing the chicken in olive oil, seasoned with just salt and pepper, in a just-large-enough nonstick pan over medium heat. Add 1 small chopped onion to pan, and a good sprinkle of thyme. Turn chicken pieces and place over the onion bits.

When onion begins to brown, add a splash (that is, about a tablespoon) of decent sherry (NOT  nasty supermarket cooking sherry). Stir, let bubble, and cover the pan and lower the heat a bit.

After about ten minutes, add 4 or 5 small apricots -- halved, pitted, each half cut into 3-4 pieces. (Use fewer apricots if you've got big ones.) Stir. Add 1 teaspoon Palm Sugar Jaggery -- this stuff is like wet brown sugar, and is great to cook with. Stir. Turn chicken. The pan should have accumulated some juices.

Cover again, let cook another 5-10 minutes until chicken is pretty much done. Add about 1 teaspoon good balsamic vinegar, stir juices and now-dissolving apricots. Turn chicken again. Simmer a couple of minutes uncovered. Turn off heat. Let sit 5 minutes to let chicken juices settle.

I served this with sauteed potatoes and asparagus. Anything that soaks up the sauce is allowable. The fruity, tangy, tart-sweet sauce went really well with dry, fruity, non-oaky Fetzer Chardonnay.

I can hardly wait until I make this again! Like next week. Apricots will be in season awhile!