Two Years

June 20, 2011 § 1 Comment

When we moved into our house in June 2009, the garden situation was a bit dire. There was a super-ugly old cedar in front, underplanted with plain hostas (in the sun! why?) and goutweed.

May 2009

May 2010

June 2011

I think we’ve done well here.

Pineapple Progress: complete

June 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

So candying a large fruit whole involves exactly the same steps as candying small, soft fruit, just (lots) more time. Prepare the fruit, boil it, make the syrup, douse with increasingly-sweet syrup daily for three weeks, then every second day for ten days, then dry it, covered for… as long as it takes. I cheated a little and let her spend an hour in a warm-ish (120 F or so) oven because our summers are humid and I hate fruit flies. Also, I’m waging war on the ants and don’t want the ant equivalent of El Dorado drying on my counter. Also, I need the counter space back.


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Note the sugar crystallization on the leaves; I’m especially proud of that.

Petit Hibou, Complet

May 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

Not too Muppety, I hope.

Pineapple Progress, Day 20(?)

May 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

The fruit as shrunk significantly, by almost 40%, I’d say. The syrup is now a lovely golden brown. Photos to follow.



Ooh, look, it’s gone all luminous, like our inspiration. And it’s tiny now! Remember how big it was to start?


Petit Hibou

May 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’ve been busy working on a little something else, too. Meet Petit Hibou:

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Hoo, his insides are messy. But I guess everyone’s are.

I intended to make myself a pair of wrist warmers, but finding the second skein of yarn would have required excavating the storage closet to a greater extent than I have energy for. The yarn had always reminded me of owls, anyway, so this is better.

I used up some stash ends for the top of his head and bottom (not pictured, and not attached in those shots. I was so surprised and excited to see that he looked not-too-terribly wonky. For me, this constitutes a major knitting success. Worked entirely in garter stitch, no less.

It’s the very forgiving and fluffy nature of the main body yarn that makes it look acceptable, but nonetheless — wahoo! Now I’ll probably get in way over my head and try my hand at things like a jelly bean cushion cover or, (the peak and pinnacle of perfection) The Clapotis.

I’ve since knit and attached his bottom, and (over-)filled him with polyfill left over from some pillows that came with our couch. I’m hoping we’ll get to a fabric store at some point over this long weekend in order to procure some felt for two big eyes and a beak.


Count Tolstoy at Home (particularly apt since we finally watched The Last Station last weekend — while I was knitting Petit Hibou’s body, in fact.)

Another, more delicious, Petit Hibou

Join my book club. We’re meeting on Thursday to discuss The Book of Negroes. THERE WILL BE SNACKS.

Pineapple Progress 2

May 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

It’s starting to get that golden glow, which I now recognize as the color of cooked pineapple. Goddamn.

Pineapple Progress

May 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

I started with a whole, enormous and not-very-sweet-looking fruit:

Trimmed off its skin and scales, as prettily as I could:

… which turned out not to be very prettily. I mean, I’m aiming for something along these lines:

So, I’ll maybe see if I can whittle it into a more pleasing form at some point. Anyway! Onwards!

Given this specimen’s heft, I needed to trim a bit off its headdress, too, in order to wedge into my largest pot and bowl. But even that was too tall, so:

I also removed a couple of inches from the core on both ends, and pierced the remaining core twice with a long bamboo skewer.

Then, into the pot. I simmered the whole package in water just to cover for 10 minutes, flipping halfway. I’ve had some trouble in the past following this direction with other fruits that completely disintegrated during a very gentle simmer, so I was probably too cautious here, as the pineapple is a relatively sturdy fruit.

But it’s going to be soaked in hot syrup daily for two weeks, and I err on the casual side when it comes to food safety anyway. Total risktaker. Indeed, the pineapple should technically be fully submerged in the syrup, but I don’t have a vessel up to the task. So I flip it whenever I think of it. No mold so far.

Anyway, then I measured out seven cups of cooking liquid and brought that to the boil with two cups of sugar. I didn’t take a photo. It looked like slightly yellow water in a pot. Use your imagination.

Then, I poured the sugar-syrup over the pineapple, resting serenely in this bowl.

Note how unattractively olive-colored the leaves have become. Sadness.

Now I add a further quarter cup of sugar to the syrup and bring it to the boil every day for a week or so, before moving on to the next step. We’re now on Day Three. I shall update later with a new photo.

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