Sunday, October 31, 2010

a taste of the old country*

I've wanted to be Luigi for Hallowe'en forever - and this year I buckled down and made it happen. After begging my much more easygoing friend, Fariya, to be "Fario," I got to work on a pair of Mario and Luigi hats to be ready in time for her friend's Friday night kegger.

I used this pattern, buggerloo, but omitted the brims in the interest of time and the hat still fitting my massive head. Given that I only worked about four or five evenings on them, I can't believe they finished so quickly. However, I've spent an entire summer in flat knitting hell and a liberating two weeks of in-the-round really got me out of my funk.

The Mario hat is with Fariya now, but I still have Laurweegi with my, posing with a Nintendo controller. Every so often I go through the ritual of hyperventilating in order to get my NES operational, and it's always worth it. Now that you can download most of the original games onto the Wii, I may have to invest in one.

Fariya and I at the Hallowe'en party. I put a retro filter on this photo - children of the 80s, unite!

*Except not really.

creativ-ly yours

Last weekend my friend Nathalie and myself made our second annual trip to the MetroCon to the Creativ Festival, which only pops up in my head as "knitting fair" and thus sounds much lamer to the average person than intended. That said, the place is rife with septigenarians and the general besweatshirted.

We still always have a great time, often to the chagrin of the elderly around us. While they debated the pros and cons of Pfaff (a real brand of sewing machine, though we've reclaimed the word as an obscenity, as in "Let's get some pfaffing lunch"), we took pictures with the taxidermied animals - and one live alpaca, Ollie - that were stationed around the place.

There I am with a Muskox, whose Qiuvit wool is actually ridiculously soft and insulating. The price for one ball, which could maybe make one sock, was $79.50. I sadly passed.

Nathalie with Ollie the alpaca. Last year we couldn't pet him, but he was in a much better mood this time around.

Us with a wolf - you can see the nose.

As usual, I spent way more than I should have on things that I thought I would have around for a long time before usig them. This, however, wasn't as true as I thought. I bought two balls of cheap red wool to knit up a Mario hat for a friend's Hallowe'en costume, and it was gone before I could take a photo of it (imagine yarn, that's red).

The rest I can't wait to get started on!

Last year I bought some fat quarters from a great little fabric vendor, mad about patchwork. I actively sought them out again this year, and was not disappointed. I love the mustard with the trees!!

I've been dying to try sashiko embroidery ever since I saw this post on the purl bee, but haven't been able to find the materials anyplace. A little sewing notions vendor with a huge lineup had a great deal on sashiko floss, and they stocked the needles as well. Still trying to decide what to do with it, but I love the colours they had.

Last but not least, some sock yarn, which I balled without thinking. The brand is "MissBabs Handdyed yarns and fibres" from Tennessee - it's 2-ply 100% merino and I think it'll make up some mighty lovely Christmas socks for my Nonna.

Monday, October 11, 2010

happy canadian/southern/italian thanksgiving

What a weekend.

Thrilled to finally assist in making this year's bird (an astonishing twenty-five pounds), I woke up bright and early Saturday morning to stuff, truss, and do whatever else it is you have to do. Our family dressing is what I live for - onions, butter, celery, apples, pears, bread, and spices.
The turkey went in just a little after noon and I went off to enjoy a lazy midday, when disaster struck. Remember how I was off raving about my oven last week? We're barely on speaking terms now. The heating element decided to crap out right in the middle of turkey time. Ruination.

Long story short, after coaxing my parents down from two seperate conniption fits, I sought out a "cook your turkey on the barbecue" tutorial on the interwebs - one hopefully minus thousands of conjunctions (especially y'all or ain't). We ended up finding one that worked and, thank the Lord, Thanksgiving was saved (to be honest, it was delicious).

As I'm the one taking this photo, you can't see me giving this oven the finger it deserves.

Sunday night was my family's Italian thanksgiving spectacular. Open bar, five courses, dancing. Though I've tried explaining this tradition in the past, it might be easier if I just show you.

Miguele nella signora from Lauren P on Vimeo.

This is my cousin, Michael, dancing a fine tarantella in a 10 (maybe 11) foot lady costume. We call her la signora, and she's supposed to represent Santa Maria della Salette. This, to be honest, is nothing. In Italy, they attach firecrackers to the suit and then burn the entire thing down. Probably not acceptable in Woodbridge's finer banquet halls.

Monday called for much more traditional fare - turkey two-point-oh. I couldn't resist cooking up some ming tasties to accompany the pumpkin pie. I used - what else - recipe #15, Pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese icing and candied ginger. A little leftover yarn and some handmade nametags, and poof, instant placecards.

I hope everyone's thanksgiving was bawllin' (read: no oven meltdowns). I will be posting halloween costume haps these coming weeks - I have a lot of work to do!!

Ming cupcakes: 4/33

Monday, October 4, 2010

to reap autumnal rewards

Being Italian-Canadian has left me blessed. In values and culture, sure - but especially in food. My dutiful Nonni grow three out of four seasons in the year, and work overtime to make sure that enough sauce and pears are jarred when winter hits. This fall has been no exception: bushels of pears, zucchini, the final few tomatoes, and apples.

Now, my grandparents don't really eat apples. My Nonno avoids hard-skinned fruits because he thinks they all need to be peeled. As a result, much of their harvest was handed down to us. After my mom and I made a blitz of apple crisps (ein apfelkreig) they largely sat neglected on our countertop.

Until today. Not forgetting my promise to get through ming's list, I settled on the appropriate Cupcake #10 - apple cinnamon cupcakes with caramel frosting. Given that I don't regularly stock heavy cream, I opted instead for a simple cinnamon buttercream (recipe below). I also replaced the sugar with brown sugar, because apples and brown sugar should be together all the time.

Apples going rotty. What a horrible, ungrateful anonna I am.

I swear this gloop of a batter looked more delicious in person.

Can I use this space to jot down a quick ode to my stove? Look at the glass. It is an original, 1950s, yellow-enamelled GE Frigidaire. The light on the inside sources from a huge globe bulb. It's beautiful.

Out the oven!

Normally I take out my piping bag to frost, but I thought the rustic-ness of the recipe called for spreading with a knife. I couldn't resist giving them all a little cowlick, though!

Simple Cinnamon Buttercream

Blend half a stick of butter, one teaspoon vanilla and 1/4 tsp cinnamon. Add 2 and 1/4 cups of icing sugar, blend (frosting will be dry and crumbly). Add 3 tbsp milk, blend until fluffy.

Ming cupcakes: 3/33