Food Friday: New Year’s Eve Fondue

January 2, 2009

fondue1

If you only know me through this blog, you may not know what a foodie I am.  There was a time in my life, when money was no object, that I drank expensive wine and cooked lavish meals all the time.  Mr. Slippers and I hosted some serious cook offs, and generally lived it up.  When the bunnies came along and we were working to make it on one income, money was certainly an object.  I drew on my rural upbringing and creativity and found ways to feed us all very well on very little.   Today I operate somewhere in the middle.  I cook almost all of the food my family eats, it’s a challenge but I love it.  Sometimes I triumph and sometimes I fail. I suspect many of you are in the same boat, so I thought it would be fun to welcome you all into my kitchen this year.  We’ll kick off the first Bunnyslippers “Food Friday”  with a recipe for our traditional New Year’s eve dinner, fondue.

On New Year’s eve 2005, my big bunny was 20 months old and  I was pregnant with the little bunny.  We were definitely NOT planning on going out but we wanted to do something special to celebrate (especially since champagne was not on the menu!).  Like so many toddlers, big sister bunny was heavily into the “dipping” phase of food discovery, I’m also guessing  Martha Stewart had a fondue recipe featured on her website that set off some sort of hormonal trigger for me.  I made a traditional swiss cheese and kirsch fondue that we all picked at, and a chocolate fondue that MEZMERIZED the bunny.  While it wasn’t a raging  success, we all had enough fun with it that Mr. Slippers and I felt we should try it again in 2006.   A tradition was born.  I have to say this year we were at our fondue best.  It might have something to do with the fact that the bunnies are both old enough to appreciate the cheese fondue now (that and champagne is back on the menu for us grownups), but it’s probably largely  due to my new recipe.

I’m not going to lie to you, fondue is as fussy as it is fun (that’s really why I only attempt it once a year).  You should have a fondue pot (I use a medium sized Rival one that my sister gave me for Christmas in 2006), or some sort of apparatus to keep the mixture warm, because it will turn into a hard, gloppy mess when it gets cold. Really that’s a great excuse to gobble it all up while it’s warm!  I think this recipe was irresistible for both toddlers and grownups because I used a good amount of medium cheddar.  If you’re still in the gourmet phase of your life, you may want to use all swiss or all handcrafted gruyere, I certainly would have!

Also, very important, around here we dip much more than bread in our fondue.  Above you can see a roasted potato that I dunked late in the evening (just minutes after I got the inspiration for Food Friday… subsequent editions will have better pix!).  A wide variety of meats (if you go there), crackers, olives, pickles, any kind of veggie, and this year’s new discovery, red grapes all go well with this.  And just as flexible are the drink pairings.  The bunnies thought sparkling blueberry juice was the perfect accompaniment, while I would suggest the same wine you use in the fondue.  Champagne or even beer would also work well.

So yeah, I h ope you enjoy this… there’s more in store for next week!

BUNNYSLIPPERS’ CHEDDAR-SWISS FONDUE

1 clove garlic, peeled

1 cup dry white wine

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

1 cup medium cheddar cheese, shredded

1 cup swiss cheese, shredded

1.5 Tablespoons cornstarch

Cut the clove of garlic in half and rub it all over the inside of your fondue pot (or a medium saucepan if you are not using a fondue pot).  Add wine and lemon juice to the pot and bring to a boil.  Meanwhile combine both cheeses and cornstarch in a large mixting bowl, tossing to coat cheese with cornstarch.  When wine mixture is boiling, slowly stir cheese mixture into the pot.  Continue stirring until cheese is melted.  Reduce heat to low and serve with  your choice of items to dip in the fondue.

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New Year’s Reflection

January 1, 2009

2008 was not a bad year for me. I pushed myself to do more and and allowed myself the time to savor more of the little, everyday things than in many years past.

At end of 2007 I lost a work at home job that I spent a LOT of time and energy on. It was never a good job for me, but I believed it was my only shot at being able to work from home and make money while raising the bunnies. That loss was so depressing, but it was also inspirational. it helped me get here, where I am at the end of 2008.

I’m 10 pounds lighter than I was at this time last year. I’ve channeled my angst, boredom, and ennui into movement. The bunnies and our new beagle get to enjoy the fringe benefits of long walks with mama, and lots of opportunity to examine the natural beauty of our neighborhood (dude we are so lucky to live where we do). Not to mention, their mama isn’t bored, anxious or depressed. I ate better and started to experiment with ways I can nourish my body and my soul and still give my family the giant chunk of myself that they (rightly) need every day.

While I am an extremely creative and organized person, I have always felt like I wasn’t a person who could pursue arts or crafts as a source of income cue the voices in my head… I lack business skill, I’m not a marketer, I don’t have the discipline). But after losing that job and taking time to explore possible sources of income, I pushed myself past that. I am so proud of my little Etsy shop and the steady stream of custom knitting orders I’ve had this year. While my expectations are solidly realistic, I am thrilled that I’ve started that ball rolling, I’m excited to see where that takes me this year.

And in the vein of realistic expectations, I know my creative endeavors are not providing enough of an income stream. So, I found what feels like the perfect part time job. I pursued it full force and was thrilled to start in November. It nourishes my needs, leaves ample room to continue (nearly) full time motherhood/household management, and provides an income edge that allows us to thrive. I am very excited to see where this path leads me in 2009.

Still, although I have a lot to be thankful for this year, I am uneasy this January 1st. I am nervous. I see clearly the progress I’ve made this year. I see my family developing in beautiful ways and feel grateful to enjoy so many wonderful moments with them. But I want to preserve it. I want to continue to push myself, but I’m scared of my own laziness. I am, like many of you, deeply affected by the uncertainty of our times. Will my own bubble burst somehow in 2009?

So today I made myself take a deep breath. I have faced many scary things in my life, I know how to push past my fear and push myself. I may take it slowly, one tiny task at a time, but I land on my feet, I’m hopeful we all will. I’m looking forward to sharing the ride this year. I’ll be back tomorrow with something new. For now, take a moment to savor the good around you.

‘Tis the Season

October 4, 2008

I love October. Where I live, leaves turn color, the air is crisp, the rain begins, and I get a surge if craftiness at the same time Mr. Slippers gets the urge to build a fire every night and the bunnies demand hot cocoa as often as we will allow.

Holiday crafting is ramped up around here.  You can expect an Etsy update soon, and perhaps an appearance at a local craft show (if I can hop fast enough), ans because so many folks have admired them, a little early gift for you.  Here is my free cup cozy pattern, To Go.

And because I am feeling generous (and in the midst of crafting things for sale).  I want any knitters out there to know that I am quite happy to allow knitters to make these cozies for sale this holiday season.  I only ask that you contact me and give the details of your plans.

All right, back to crafting then.

Woof

September 22, 2008

Isn’t he cute?  He doesn’t have a name yet, but that’s actually not my responsibility now that he’s in the mail, on his way to his new owner. I DO have copious notes on his contstruction and am considering putting the pattern together for sale ($1-2) on Ravelry.  Knitters out there… wanna adopt a puppy?

OMG!

September 17, 2008

BOTH of my bunnies are in school right now.  How is it that hours fly by when they are heare but I have already run errands, changed linens, and knit part of a red dog’s ear and the 21/2 hour school window is only just beginning to close???

I’m certainly not complaining.

Here’s a look at the red dog doll I’m designing for my lovely Aunt.  He’s turnign out very cute and he’ll make an appearance here later this week, after some assembly and of course after his head is complete.

Ok, gotta run… must savor every second of school time.

P.S.  Julie had her baby, a sweet and healthy girl.  Lucky little lady

Oh Baby

September 10, 2008

Today is my friend Julie’s birthday and it just might be her baby’s birthday too.  Although we live very far apart and as this blog demonstrates, I’m not the most consistent correspondant, I am so excited for her.  Julie and her husband are going to be AMAZING parents.  They’ve got the love and excitement requirements met ten times over, but they’ll also do just fine with the challenges this gig entails.  That is going to be one lucky babe.

I wanted to do something special for this new family, originally I thought about a knit layette (I’ve wanted to knit a moderne baby blanket since that book came out).  Then, while shopping at JoAnn Fabrics a bolt of flannel jumped off the shelf and assulted me.  It was pulling on my shirt screaming “MAKE ME INTO A BLANKET FOR JULIE’S BABY, SHE WILL LOVVVEEEEE MEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!”.  That’s not something you can walk away from easily.  With the help of my rotary cutter and quilting mat, inspiration from this flickr set, and just the right backing (that 40% off coupon really came in handy, thanks JoAnn) I was able to assemble the most gorgeous baby blanket I have ever seen.  See?  See?

Ok, bring on the birthdays!!!

What I did on my summer vacation

September 8, 2008

Good Lord will someone please make this year slow down????  As excited as I am that school is about to start up again,  and altough I am thoroughly enjoying all the little whispers of fall in the air, I STILL FEEL LIKE 2008 is JUST GETTING STARTED ALREADY!

At least I’ve been enjoying myself.

Many blueberries have been picked.  Marshmallows have been roasted, the new tent has been pitched (and will be again one last time), our feet have gotten muddy, sandy, and dipped into icy cold lakes and friends’ swimming pools.  I had some serious fun here (I am sorry I have failed you in the picture department… I so wanted to tell you about  Bob throwing the first pitch, if it’s any consolation  I still can’t find my lovely stitch marker keepsake from the event).  And we went to the state fair!!!  I do have a few pictures from that batch of fun, see?

There’s just one week left, I’m hoping to pack in as much fun as I can amidst the work that needs to be done before the weather hits (wood to stack!, hedges to trim!, gutters to protect!, a shed to set up so that we can both park in the garage… etc etc).  And maybe by trying to savor this last week, I’ll ease the feeling that it’s all flying by, maybe.

Felt It, Felt It Good

August 13, 2008

I wanted to blog about Eugene’s Stitch and Pitch Event today. But when I went to take a picture of my commemorative stitch marker, after the bunnies went to sleep last night, I couldn’t find it.  I’m pretty confident the bunnies know where it is, so I’ll save that post and show you the sweater I “finished” right before the Stitch and Pitch, thinking I’d wear it to the event.

A few years ago I used some birthday $$ to buy enough KnitPicks Sierra to make a lovely red Blackberry.  Somehow it never got knit.  When I stumbled upon the Shalom Cardigan while poking around on Ravelry last month, I remembered the yarn and dove into my stash.  It knit up quickly and beautifully.  I finished it the day before Stitch and Pitch.

It was  cloudy that day and I was hopeful that it wouldn’t be too hot to wear it to the baseball game the next evening.  I washed it in Eucalan, laid it out to block in the spare bedroom, and went on about my business.  When I was ready to get dressed for the game, I went to get the sweater and was shocked to find it was still quite damp.  The sun was out but I didn’t have enough time to move it outside and let it dry before the game.  Here is where I should have sucked it up, moved it outside, thrown on a sweatshirt and jumped in my car.  Instead I thought “hey I’ve got a fancy schmancy new dryer, it was a godsend last fall when Mr. Slippers’ cobblestone was still damp after 3 days of laying out in the spare room”.  So I tossed her in, set the dryer to “Ultra Delicate, air only (no heat) for 15 minutes” and went to brush my hair.  Thank goodness I didn’t put it in for 30 minutes!  When I opened the dryer, my beautiful cardigan had already started to felt.  It wasn’t too bad, but not too good either.  I tried it on… still damp, still fit, whew.  I cut my losses there… didn’t wear it to the game, but brought it and asked all my fellow knitters whether I should keep it and work the fuzzy, felty look of it or just turn it into a cat bed.  They all agreed the cardi works, now that it’s dry, I have to agree… but I think I’ll knit another one this fall and let it air dry… even if it takes a month!

Put it On

August 11, 2008

This weekend we had a nice taste of early fall weather.  Cool and crisp in the morning and evening and gorgeously sunny and warm during the day.

I took advantage and had Mr. Slippers take some pictures of the sweaters I’ve recently finished.  I’ll share them all this week.  Today, let’s catch up though, here’s what the gorgeous Juno looks like on.  I just adore this sweater.

Little Red Hat

August 7, 2008

Around here there are always several knitting projects being worked simultaneously. I’m usually working a large project after the bunnies go to sleep and one or two (or four) small things during the day. A hat that sits on the kitchen counter gets a round while I check my email, a scarf in my purse gets some action at the park, etc etc.

This little number is Shadkitty’s Buggerloo , worked in Paton’s Classic Merino. It  took a few days of randomly knitting here and there.  Little bunny LOOOVVES it. She suggests wearing it backwards and accessorizing with a feather boa (those little white flecks in the picture are fuzz from hers). It’s one of a few winter hats’ I’ve finished this summer, anticipating the first really cold day this fall and promising myself to actually have something warm for my kids to wear (instead of, you know, trying to knit a couple of hats really fast that morning). Now I’ll work on posting pictures of them here before that cold weather hits!