swans again?

At my church there are a dozen or so dedicated ladies who serve lunch every Sunday to the whole congregation. Yes. For years. As a small thank you, my girlfriend and I prepared lunch for them. It was a beautiful lunch and I'd like to share some pictures and some of the recipes.

First course was Carrot and Orange Soup served in my gorgeous Arte Italica soup bowls. I am thrilled whenever I get to use these beauties. Leek Bread Pudding was the main course, a Thomas Keller recipe I found on Epicurious. Very delicious. We served it with green salad and baked tomatoes.

Dessert was the show-stopping Swans! I remember having this wonderful dessert at a swanky restaurant when I was a little girl. Probably it was the old Tail O' The Cock on Ventura Blvd. in Studio City, CA., now long ago closed. My father ordered it for me, with a glass of milk, and my goodness, it was pure bliss. I have never forgotten that giddy feeling and my dad's smile when the extravagant dessert was placed in front of me.

I use the recipe from the 1972 version of Joy Of Cooking, but it's just a basic 4 egg pate a choux, (recipe found everywhere) But then the fun starts, and it really is pretty easy, I promise. On a greased cookie sheet with pastry bag and 1/2" round tip, form  a 3 inch "S" for the necks.  The bodies are about 4"x2". Bake at 400 degrees F for about 10-20 minutes until golden.Turn off heat and let them dry out for about 10 more minutes. Remove from oven, loosen from pan and let cool. With serrated knife, cut the top third off the body. Remove and discard the uncooked sticky bit from inside. Cut the top in half lengthwise, these will become the wings.

Fill the body with vanilla whipped cream, stick in the neck and wings, dust with powdered sugar and swim in a pool of chocolate or raspberry sauce. Now serve (to gasps of delight!)

I have made these more than a few times over the years, which prompted my husband one night to say these immortal words, swans again? Very funny, mister.

Table cloth and napkins are from my collection of Le Jacquard Francais linens. Glasses are mother's Waterford, gifted to me. Pink plates are vintage English flea market, Johnson Brothers.

Nothing is quite as sweet as a ladies lunch!

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Edited to add:  This was posted at a blog party at Overflowing with Creativity!

Audrey in Blue

My notes say I started this on Dec. 3. I worked on it for a few days, then put it away. When I decided I needed to work with this pretty blue again it was pretty quick knitting. Ravelry says there are 470 Audreys before me and all seem to love it. Me too! I think this will be the perfect spring and summer sweater.

I have a yarn crush on anything Cashmerino, sooooo soft. I used 6.2 skeins of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino in color 032, a bright cornflower blue and it matches my toes exactly. what. luck. ;)

Audrey in Unst is highly recommended and I also like Peyton, from the same collection. My Ravelry page gives the knitting details on this sweet lacey cardi. Sweater #5 for 2011.

I am finishing up another Effortless Cardigan, this time in some white wool from my stash. Will also start on something Veera using my new Stitches West purchase, either this one or this one or this one. Gah! So many choices!

It's a happy, rainy, knitty day for me today, hope you have a good day too!

Stitches West

I'd like to take you on a little tour of Stitches West, practically in my own back yard, just 15 minutes down the (rainy and windy) freeway. There were walls and walls of yarns insisting that we touch!

I came home with this Malabrigo Sock in Playa from the Imagiknit booth.

This crazy thing is a Stitch Light. I am a sucker for these contraptions and think this one will be the perfect one for me, finally, for knitting in the car, movie theater, etc.
Nifty Thifty Dry Goods booth was crazy popular...
everything displayed so beautifully...it was not easy to walk away...
so I ended up bringing these adorable buttons home. Vintage Japanese.A Verb For Keeping Warm had a beautiful booth. I think a road trip is on my horizon.
Another possible road trip? Ranch of the Oaks in Lompoc, they do it all from start to finish. Really soft yarn with the name of the animal on the label!
I loved these ruffley wool handbags.
Yarn tastings going on.
Cutest lil' Wooly Wonders
Alana Dankos of Never Not Knitting was so cute in her busy booth.
Did you know Marion Foale has her own yarn line? Me neither. It was very nice, here is Ali McGraw in the booth helping to promote. She looked great.
I bought a two-day ticket and may go back another day. It's just fun to be around so many knitters and wool, books and needles. You know how that is.

It really doesn't take much

It really doesn't take much to brighten up a corner, does it?

A few early spring blossoms
A camellia stem
Some ferns
But this amaryllis is a soooo amazing! I'm glad I planted it late so I can enjoy now, after the holidays.

Chiton Pullover

Last weekend we took the train from Emeryville to Reno, Nevada. Amtrak's California Zephyr must be one of the prettiest train rides EVER. I love to travel by train, especially with a group of friends and the beautiful views of the snowy Sierra Nevada. I especially like that my husband planned the trip. I purposely stayed ignorant about all the details so I could act like he usually does, a pampered guest. It was fun!

It's a 5-6 hour train ride, plenty of time to gab and knit (the girls) and play cards (the boys). See FO above! It's another one of the those trips when the getting there is just as good or better, than the being there. I have a few pictures from my iphone of Donner Lake and the Truckee River.While at Reno I stopped in at Jimmy Beans. I was surprised to see that they were not this huge warehouse of yarn like I imagined, but just an average sized knit shop. But then I found out that each bin holds just one or two of each color and they have huge storage rooms in the back where they store most of the yarn. They were welcoming and friendly and I hung around for a few hours. I ended up buying some Handmaiden Casbah wool in a deep blue shade with an idea to make Breakwater sometime in the future. I think the simple sweater will show off the subtle shades of the yarn.I knit another Just Enough Ruffles on the train, and also worked on this Chiton Pullover and finished it last night.About that sweater, hmm, I don't think the pics give it justice, it's pretty cute in person. Details on my Ravelry page.