A cookbook review

I am a big Nigella Lawson fan. Not only is she a great writer, with lovely ancedotal recipes but she's pretty to boot. Obviously she has not gotten super fat on her own cooking. I also like her rather spur of the moment approach to cooking, as it so closely resembles my own; that unless I'm making an effort to cook a specific item I tend to bend the recipies I find around what happens to be in the fridge at the time and that in any recipie the more fat and butter the better it will taste, hands down (can you tell that I'm not fond of low-fat?). So I'm very pleased that yesterday my very own copy of Feast came in the mail. Purchased from a used seller on amazon for $10, I'm pleased that it arrived in even better condition than described - I'd swear that this book is new.
Early purusal of the contents and pictures has come up with some very exciting things so far; a ham cooked in cherry coke, the proper way to roast a turkey, goose or pork loin, an indian feast - with a recipie for chicken that looks, at first glance, rather similar to one sold in a certain restaurant in the Mission, Christmas pudding and pavlovas, and slime soup for Halloween. I love the photography, just the right amount for a cookbook; not so much that one gets stuck with the way things are 'supposed' to turn out, but enough to wet ones appetite. The writing is rather editorial, which personally I like but I know not everyone does. Nigella comments on all manner of things; from the importance of the stability of Thanksgiving and Christmas culinary traditions to the intense pleasure of homemade hamburgers. My one tiny, little hangup is the paper quality; I like a cookbook to have a heavy, archival sort of feel and this is a little thin, but no biggie.

Its also very interesting to read about anglo-saxon holiday traditions from the perspective of a British cook. English cuisine developed quite a bit in the later half of the 20th Century in my opinion with the integration of the immigrant cuisines from places like africa and india. And this is definately reflected in this book (This idea thrills me, I think that I could write an essay on the influence of colonization and immigration on the cuisine of the Parent country). Also for most of America, or perhaps just my own fairly bland catholic/protestant, anonymous white family, the traditional food of Christmas is just a shallower repeat of the food of Thanksgiving with a little more nutmeg. Not so for the British, with their Christmas plum pudding, Mince pies and goose. They have individual christmas recipies. A fact that I find very exciting.

In any case all theorizing aside, I've been looking for a long time for a cookbook that would allow me to forge my own holiday traditions; to accent the mush that I've made in my head of the childhood holidays spent around the tables of my Mother and Grandmothers, and more recently that of my in-laws. I think that this one will be perfect, I look forward to the next excuse to cook a feast.

The craftbook menu

Looking for the *right* japanese craftbook is a little like sticking your hand in a box full of cards and trying to pick out the ace. Well its not really like that, but you get what I mean. Its difficult. Without having a 'brick and morter' store that carries them close by one is forced to try to find them online. You can rely on places like crafting japanese where crafters have submitted photos of the interior of books they own which are posted along with the ISBN#s, but the selection there is limited. Or you can go to one of the overseas sellers. The difficulty there is that a. the sites like yesasia and amazon have limited english navigation, and just weird navigation in general, b. everything is in japanese and google translate is hopless (IMHO), and c. english speaking sites like kitty-craft have such a high markup that its useless to buy from them, and they only provide their own reference #'s not the ISBNs. All of the sites it seems charge high shipping prices to N. America.

But all these little pitfalls are part of the allure of the search I suppose. Its a little like a treasure hunt, looking at page after page of thumbnail-ed covers and (maybe) incomprehensible titles hoping to come accross that special one that will combine just the right amount of chic cuteness and accessibility. In that vein, I translated the menu of handicraft books at Amazon.co.jp so that its easier to at least find the catagory of books that one wants:

The Menu of craftbooks at amazon.co.jp

> ジャンル別 > 暮らし・健康・子育て > 手芸・クラフト

Books > General > Lifestyle, Health, Parenting > Handicraft, Crafts

  • 和裁 - kimono
  • 洋裁 - western clothing
  • 編物 - knitting
  • 刺繍 - embroidery
  • パッチワーク - patchwork
  • フェルト小物製作 - felt
  • 手作りバッグ - handmade bags
  • テディベア・人形 - teddy bears, dolls
  • ドールハウス - doll houses
  • トールペインティング - tole painting
  • ステンシル - stencils
  • ラタン工芸 - rattan crafts
  • アクセサリー製作 - accessories
  • ビーズ細工 - beading
  • 粘土細工 - ceramics
  • ペーパークラフト - paper craft
  • 私家版・手製本 - book arts
  • 折り紙細工 - origami
  • その他 - other, misc.
I think that I will try to follow this up with translations of common craft terms soon. But for now I hope that this is somewhat helpful; Happy Hunting!

*4/5/06 - My Little Mochi has done me one better and posted a pdf of common craft terms and words in japanese and english. It is very good and should be very useful for making softies or sewing.


In which I make a short trip to the frogpond

If you are ever in San Francisco, have a few hours to kill and its a wednesday, friday or sunday (if your a girl that is), I highly recommend going to the Kabuki hot springs. I went yesterday, and wow I feel like a completely different person. I went in slightly frazzled, definately stressed and came out serene and kind of floaty-like (not to mention completely red in the face- martial coloring doesn't take steam too well). I was only there for an hour and a half, but that was plenty of time to jump back and forth several times between the sauna, steam room, hot and cold pools and just lying about on a chase lounge without ever feeling rushed. It was really busy though. I didnt' really get the impression that it was 'crowded' but there were about 40 women in the baths total, and a line of about 15 when I left. The policy there is that once you've gone into the baths you can stay as long as you like so the spaces fill up fast; especially on the weekends. This was actually my second attempt yesterday at going. I went once at about 2, put my name on the list and waited an hour without noticable movement; because I was worried that I would never get in before my 'me' time (3 hrs) was up I asked the attendent if there was any hope at all or if I was banished to my bathtub at home. He told me that while the weekends were extremely busy all the time once one's name was on the list you would not lose your place, so if I came back in a couple of hours the list my have moved on but I would still be first. Which is exactly what I did. I went home, relieved the baby of Peter, played a while and put her back to sleep. Back down the street to the Kabuki; I walked in and they handed me a key, no wait. I now know the secret to irritation free relaxation!

In other news, I realized at one point yesterday while staring at the back of the cabled jacket that something was a little odd. The stitches didn't quite add up. Wasn't the last stitch in the row supposed to be a knit stitch? or was it reversed? I looked closer. And there, dangling forlornly where a new ball of yarn had been introduced was a solitary stitch, a knit stitch to be precise. 6 rows back; I couldn't believe that I had knit 6 rows without noticing that I was missing something but I had. So now I'm in the process of taking it back; which is very slow and not to be done when your attention might otherwise be diverted, say by a frisky child or cranky husband. (as you can imagine I'm only going to work on this in the middle of the night). But I'll get there eventially and progress forward no stitch left behind.


A Preview

Kinokuni-ya informed me that my order had arrived yesterday. Needless to say, I went to pick it up. A preview of things to come....


Quilting in Oz

Jane at Yarnstorm has pictures up of one of the most beautiful quilts I've seen in a while. She named it Dorothy after the wizard of Oz.

Isn't it lovely?


I hate being sick

My whole body aches. I cough weakly and unsuccessfuly try to quelch the constant drip in my nose. I can't muster the energy to sit upright so I'm typing this one-handed. Pathetic, no? Yes, I have a cold and to make matters even more exciting the baby has decided that she wants to get up before daddy to greet him when he awakes...unaware of course that it means that mom has to get up too. I spent the day trying to improve upon my four hours of sleep. Blu-Hime has discovered her voice, and so while I tried to sleep she sat beside me and talked *very* loudly. I had to back out of two engagements today, which makes me feel like a heel because I've put off both people once already. Oh well, I suppose that in the end it doesn't matter. Blu is going to the doctors tomarrow to get another one of her shots...which should be lots of fun for all involved. So still not much to report. Although Pete is making rather delicious sounds in the kitchen. He's making dinner tonight, having taken pity on poor sick me. (Can you tell I'm milking this?) Lamb with Mint sauce and fries, Yum. Alright, I think that I'm going to join the baby in bed now. ~Laura out.

And in unrelated random news: did you know that Snoop Dog's real name was Cordozar Cavin Broadus? Bizarre, Huh?


Not much to report

Not much has been happening recently. Haven't really had time to post, but haven't exactly done anything of note. Purchased the pattern book for Pete's sweater today, it will require 16 balls of yarn. I think that it will take me a while to knit...being as I probably won't start on it until may. This might be a good thing because: a. it will probably be ready just in time for Christmas, b. he'll be able to use it immediately upon finishing.



Today was a nice break in between rain storms. Blu and I had a pleasant morning, many smiles and playing. Leaving the house we walked to Nihon-machi to go to the video store and Kinokuni-ya. I wanted to see if they had any new craftbooks or any of those that I had seen on Kitty Craft. The walk was very nice, although I think that Blu is getting a little big to be carried by one shoulder. At Kinokuni-ya there was not so much. I guess they are inbetween shipments or someone got there before me and took all of the good stuff. I did find this:

which has some lovely things.

Then a quick stop at the video store for a couple movies (netflicks is moving too slow), and then a stop at the grocery for a katsudon which was still warm. It was lovely, I ate it in front of the pagoda as Blu slept in her sling.


Aahh! Oishi-sou!

Reese's peanut butter cups are one of my favorite candies. That being said, you can imagine my state upon stumbling across a recipe for :
Peanut Butter Filled Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache at my new favorite food blog cup cake. These look so tasty, I think that there are massive amounts of cupcakes in my near future! I just knew that I needed to buy Cake flour yesterday for a reason. I was lured to this blog after reading about 'persimmon pavlova cupcakes' on BecksNPosh, but honestly I can't make it past the peanut butter ones!

Lazy Mondays

My Mondays are pretty boring. A seemingly endless cycle of eating, sleeping and diapers on the part of Blu-hime interspersed with bouts of crying and some smiles. Occasionally, I have lunch. We knit a little, read a little, check email repeatedly (damn spammers), avoid telephone calls and walk in circles (a lot). In spite of the relatively small radius of our activities, I feel perpetually exhausted; its as if I run on a mouse wheel all day.
Usually by mid week all this becomes more routine, but then the weekend comes. And with the weekend I get Peter home as well. Which is both relieving and frustrating at the same time. Its a relief because there is someone else to change diapers, make food, smile at the baby, talk to..Etc. Frustrating, because after a week of inactivity I'm desperate to get out of the house; and after a week of long hours and aggravation, all Peter wants to do is sleep. However the feeling of relief tends to win over and our weekends are relatively blissful, so I get to feel spoiled. Then Monday comes again...And here we are.

Sorry about the rant. My ill humor is most likely caused by my absolute failed first attempt at clothes shopping post pregnancy over the weekend. The fact that I have jumped one shirt size and at least two pant sizes is very depressing. I say 'at least' because the size 10 I tried on after the 8s still didn't fit, but at that point Peter declared that 1.5 hours was entirely too long for him to be holding the (sleeping) baby and that we had to leave. Sigh.

On the upside, sock #2 completed!! Dekita, yeah!! I am now the proud owner of a pair of socks. Now I get to wear them. I'm not going to bother blocking these, mainly because: Duh, they're socks! and I read this morning that this particular yarn tends to wither and die when blocked. Which I don't want, so they are staying au naturale. Picture to follow when the camera comes home from work.



What a week. 1 injured father, an intense case of stomach flu, and a clogged duct later and I feel like road kill. And to add insult to injury, I woke up this morning with a sore throat. Argh!
When I knew that I was going home to take care of Dad for a week I had high hopes of getting some serious knitting done. Alas, that in no way happened...I turned the heel of the second sock this morning.

The only high point during this time was that the Princess realized that she has hands! What a revelation. To celebrate, she and I went yesterday to Giggle and bought a puzzle-rattle-chew-toy-like thingy that she happily deathlocks on and waves around.

This week I have been thinking alot about money. Specifically the money that other knitters use to enhance their stashes, and where it comes from. Knitting as we well know is a very expensive hobby, I find it difficult to consider taking on a sweater project when I know that its going to cost me $150 in yarn and then several months to make...and it still won't be as polished as the one in the store. However, I read post from prominant knit-bloggers all the time that refer to having a specific project already in stash, and complete sweater after sweater. How do they afford it?? Well, some of them spin their own. Which looks like an incredible amount of fun but I think that if I attempted to bring in another hobby into the house (one that smells like sheep, makes messes, and leaves fluff everywhere) Peter just might really have a heart attack. He's not exactly a country boy. So... I guess I continue to buy yarn. Which I will need to do soon because Pete decided that for christmas this year I should make him this:

The one on the right that is from Jaeger's Mens collection. I think that its a bit bizarre, but hey he's buying the yarn. For myself I'm always looking for 'the perfect cardigan' pattern, and while I havent found it yet this jaceket from a rowan mag. is very tempting.

with some minor changes of course.

And last but certainly not least....The Blu pic of the day!