banana chocolate chip muffins

Well, I can't eat muffins in an agitated manner. The butter

would probably get on my cuffs. One should always eat

muffins quite calmly. It is the only way to eat them. ~Oscar Wilde

The original recipe for these banana chocolate chip muffins is apparently from Evelyn's Coffee Bar in Banff, Alberta. Although I have been through Banff several times, I don't remember stopping at Evelyn's. Next time I'll be sure to stop in and thank her for sharing her banana muffin secrets with me (actually, it was with Bon Appétit).

I've only made a few modifications to Evelyn's perfectly banana (and not too sweet) muffins: I used half all-purpose and half whole wheat flour, used an extra banana for a total of 3, and added a tsp of vanilla.

banana chocolate chip muffins
makes a dozen

3/4 C all purpose flour

3/4 C whole wheat flour
2/3 C sugar

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

3 ripe bananas, mashed

1 egg

1/2 C (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

1/4 C milk

1 tsp vanilla

3/4 C chocolate chips (semi-sweet)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease/spray muffin tin. Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix mashed bananas, egg, melted butter, milk, and vanilla in second bowl. Stir banana mixture into dry ingredients, just until blended. Fold in chocolate chips.

Fill muffin tins about 3/4 full. Bake until tops are golden and tester comes out clean (about 25 mins). Transfer muffins to rack to cool -- try laying parchment paper down on top of the rack so the hot muffins don't settle between the wires.

Lastly, put on a pot of tea and enjoy your hard work slowly.


two-tone fingerless gloves

My friend Max has apparently stolen his girlfriend's fingerless gloves, so I thought I'd make her a pair -- cables and all -- for her birthday. I doubt he'll be getting his mitts on these gloves (Knitty's "Fetching" pattern). Knitting up Cashmarino Aran (by Debbie Bliss) on smaller-than-recommended needles makes for extreme softness and warmth.

A few of the nitty gritty details...

After I had finished the cabled wrist, I decided I wanted to try two colours for the main part - knitting four sts in my main colour and purling 1 st with the other colour. But even though four sts isn't far to carry a second colour on other types of pieces, I figured for a glove -- with hurried hands, nails, and rings -- I wouldn't want any loops in the inside. So, I needed to learn how to "float" the other colour.

I searched the internet high and low for how to carry the second colour and didn't really find any easy, straightforward instructions or tutorials. I found lots of wordy explanations and no pictures! So I took matters into my own hands. If you ever needed to know how to float a second colour, I hope these picts make your life a little easier...

Try to keep the float yarn below the main yarn. For my span of 4 sts, I knit two sts normally (letting the float yarn hang), then knit/float the third stitch. (I suppose if you're really worried about having no loops, you could knit/float every stitch.)

For the knit/float stitch, your needle will do a sort of figure 8 between the two strands. First, take the needle in front and under the float yarn. Then, take it over and behind the main yarn, thereby knitting a stitch with the main yarn...

The float yarn is simply along for the ride, at this stage it is being carried on the needle...

But as you pull the stitch through, the float yarn gets twisted with the main yarn and is no longer on the needle.

As you transfer the stitch to your right needle, you'll see that the float yarn has been attached to the stitch on the wrong side of the work, but isn't visible on the right side. Success!

And here's the finished glove, just waiting for a thumb. Turns out, picking up the live stitches above the waste yarn is not as straightforward when you're dealing with more than one colour. But, it is possible, even if a little messy. Good luck!


birthday pie

I'd prefer a piece of pie over a piece of cake any day (except the day that a rich, moist chocolate cake with yummy chocolate frosting is offered). I don't know why birthday cake got to be such a thing, but I think "party pie" would be better ~ at least for my party.

Hence, this birthday card ~ even the simplest silhouettes make fun cut-paper images. The caption reads: It's pie time for a party!

Tips: tweezers work well placing/gluing the itty details and a coat of 'mod podge' makes a nice finish.


it's all greek to me

For a little mid-week mediterranean fare, try this menu idea. It involves throwing together a couple of salads, cooking the chicken, heating the pita, and enjoying everything with a batch of hummus. If you want the exact measurements, check out Real Simple's chicken souvlaki recipe. If you want my hummus recipe, link here. I tend to make a few substitutions to the RS recipe since I'm not a fan of onions and Jeff can't stand olives.

In general, you'll need:
chicken breasts
pita or flat bread
tomato and sweet bell pepper
dried spices: oregano, thyme, & ground pepper
red wine vinegar
freshly squeezed lemon juice
plain yogurt
fresh dill

First, make the vinaigrette: whisk together a couple pinches of oregano and thyme, a dash of pepper, couple/few teaspoons of vinegar, and the juice of half a lemon.

Divide the vinaigrette and toss some with some sliced tomatoes, crumbled feta, (pitted kalamata olives, if Jeff isn't around), and sliced bell pepper. Use the rest of the vinaigrette to marinate the chicken breasts for about 10 mins.

Mix together some diced cucumber, plain yogurt, and fresh dill. Put the pita in some tinfoil and into the oven to warm.

Finally, drain the chicken and cook it in a skillet with a bit of olive oil until done. Serve with all the fixin's.


toques for twins

Jeff's co-worker is having twins. I can't imagine how one goes about preparing for welcoming twins into the world, but I figured a couple little toques can't hurt. Besides, her baby shower crept up on us, and I only had a day and a half to make something (make that two things!)

I wish I'd had loads more time, 'cause knitting for twins would be fun -- "A" and "B" blankets, two-tone booties, mini 'blu jeans' and cargo pants...

Oh well. I suppose I should be working anyway.


happy valentine's day

We all have a rebellious period in our teens. Part of my rejection of the establishment was turning my back on Valentine's Day, claiming it was only a "Hallmark holiday" (extreme words for a teenager, I know), but I eventually grew up and out of that bitter phase.

Now, Valentine's Day takes me back to the days when I literally put my heart into someone's paper heart. Remember when we were schoolchildren and Valentine's Day was all about heart-shaped paper pockets taped to the sides of our desks, pink and red candies, chocolate, having a safe excuse to tell crushes you liked them, asking them if they would "be mine," butterflies in our stomachs, and heartache? I'm so thankful that it's still about the same stuff (except maybe better-quality chocolate) and that I'm "mature" enough to handle the giddiness of it all.

And now for my close-ups...


soulful leek and potato soup

It has been cold here lately. The weatherman's "sub-zero temperatures" really doesn't convey how friggin' cold -24C with windchill can be. Cold weather is among my excuses for making soup. This leek and potato soup warmed us up good -- and it's tasty to boot.

leek and potato soup

2 leeks, tough ends removed, sliced lengthwise, washed, and sliced
3 large potatoes (I used yukon gold), peeled and cut into chunks
ground black pepper
1-2 teas coriander
1 Tbs of dried thyme
3-4 C chicken broth
1/2 C cream

Saute the leeks, potatoes, and spices in a bit of olive oil and a pat of butter. When the leeks have softened, add enough chicken broth to cover well. Bring to a boil, then simmer until potatoes are done (20-25 mins). With a slotted spoon, remove potato chunks into a bowl. Mash the potatoes or puree them with a hand mixer, then add back into the soup. Stir in cream. Serve, topped with croutons.

*I cut leftover french or italian bread into cubes and stash it away in a ziplock bag in the freezer for occasions such as this. To make croutons, I take some cubes out, toss them in olive oil, salt, and a pinch of dried herbs (such as thyme or italian seasoning), and then broil until toasted, shaking the baking sheet often.


origami CD cover

I saw how to make these CD covers from a post on the Craftster forum. Since I can't stand those plastic jewel cases, I was happy to learn how to make these little envelopes -- and they're fun to personalize.

Here are lots o' picts on how to make your own...

Start with a piece of 8.5 x 11 paper --
you could try other fun papers or wrapping papers too

Fold in each side, lengthwise, towards the center.
Then, fold up the bottom quarter to the paper's mid-point.

Unfold the bottom quarter and fold back its edges, creating triangles...

here's a close-up

Next, refold the bottom quarter up to the mid-point, and
tuck in the flaps behind those triangles. Now you have a pocket for the CD...

Finally, to help tuck the cover into the pocket, fold small triangles on the opposite end.

Voila! A perfectly-tucked little envelope for my new tunes.


comin' up roses

I'm really diggin' making my own stamps. Here's my stylized rosebud for Valentine's day. I highly recommend trying your hand at cutting your own designs - it's very addictive.



I don't put raw garlic in anything I eat, because I (and those around me) would regret it. But there is an exception to every rule and my exception is hummus (okay, and baba ganoush). The dip simply requires the heartiness of great garlic. But no need to overdo it --a little clove is plenty.

I can only assume this says "tahini" :)
(this wasn't hard to find -- check your grocery store)


1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 small garlic clove, roughly chopped
pinch of ground cumin
pinch of ground nutmeg
a few Tbs olive oil
2Tbs tahini
a couple Tbs water
freshly squeezed lemon juice (1/2 lemon, maybe more)
coarse salt

...............before...........................and after.............

Put all ingredients into a food processor. Press the button and voila -- you have hummus! Get the right consistency and flavour by adjusting the ingredients. Remember, the flavours will get more potent the longer it sits (that's a warning for anyone who's tempted to add another clove of garlic.) Enjoy with crackers, warm pita, fresh veggies...mmm.


reducing the stash for a good cause

I found out about the Interim House from this post on Phillyist. It's a drug and alcohol treatment center for women in Philadelphia that has a therapeutic knitting/crochet program. The program relies on donated yarn, needles, and notions -- I think this is the perfect excuse to go through my box o' yarn and give away the items someone else might love more.

Do you have any extra yarn? (what a silly question for any knitter!) Check out the details on Phyllist.