My current work in progress:

Geiger by Norah Gaughan, knit from Wollmeise Merino DK in the “Schwefel” colorway, using 3.25mm and 3.75mm needles.

Boeuf Bourgignon

Today I assembled Boeuf Bourgignon, which will be our Christmas dinner. And here’s how I did it.

Note that this is one of those recipes where I really don’t measure. Just kind of put things together until it seems right.

First, I hauled out the ingredients.

ingredients122308 240x160 Boeuf Bourgignon

Pictured there is about three pounds of stew beef there, a bottle of Pinot Noir, a one-quart carton of beef stock, bacon, garlic, pearl onions, and mushrooms.

I have three cartons of mushrooms: regular white mushrooms, baby portobellos, and cromini. I like to use a variety of mushrooms for added flavor, and I used a total of about 12 ounces of them. Sliced.

First thing. put a tablespoon or so of vegetable oil in a large heavy pot and gently saute about a tablespoon of chopped garlic just until it releases its aroma and is lightly browned. Remove the garlic from the pan with a slotted spoon and let it drain on a paper towel.

Chop 4 or 5 slices of bacon into 1-inch pieces and cook them in the pot until they are browned.

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Remove them from the pan and drain on paper towels.

Cut the beef in approximately 1.5 inch chunks — just try to make sure that the pieces are about the same size so they’ll cook evenly.

Put approximately 1/2 cup of flour in a gallon ziplock bag, along with 1/2 tsp. salt and a few shakes of pepper. Put about one-quarter of the beef cubes in the bag, seal it, and shake it to coat the cubes with flour.

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Place the cubes in the pot and brown them in the bacon fat, turning them to brown all sides. Remove from the pot.

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Repeat this process until all of the beef has been browned.

Pour 1 cup of beef stock and 1 cup of wine into the pot and stir over medium heat until you have thoroughly deglazed the pan. Return the beef, bacon, and garlic to the pan. Add the mushrooms and pour in equal amounts of stock and wine just to cover. Add 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp of pepper and a couple of bay leaves.

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Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 1 -1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. At the end of this time, add 1 pound of pearl onions and cover and simmer for another 20 to 30 minutes.

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Adjust the seasoning at the end of this time and remove the bay leaves. You can either serve over rice or noodles immediately, or let cool and store in the refrigerator in air-tight containers. I always make this a day or two before I plan to serve it, because I think it’s much better re-heated.

Lucy did lift a finger to help me, but this is as far as she got:

lucy122308 240x160 Boeuf Bourgignon

Cookie Day

Today was chocolate chip cookie day. I use this cookie recipe. While the story behind it may be a hoax, it makes really really good chocolate chip cookies.

Here’s the cookie dough:

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And ready to be baked:

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Fresh out of the oven:

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And cooling:

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And as you can see, Lucy was her usual big help!

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Tune in tomorrow when I will make boeuf bourgignon!

My Little Helper

I’ve been on vacation for a couple of days now, and as you can see, Lucy has adjusted nicely.

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She has stepped up eagerly, cheerful and willing to help.

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Her energy exhausts me.

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Lucy sez

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“Momma still has not turned on the heat. And it’s supposed to get really cold tonight!”

Random Pics

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This tree is in the main lobby at work. We have a second floor mezzanine, and that’s where I stood to get the photo. Great vantage point for photography!

And I  got this today:

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My reward for donating blood this morning: a cheesy tote bag. Though as cheesy tote bags go, this one is pretty nice — very well-made with a flat bottom and a piece of cardboard that fits into the bottom to make it stand up.

Yes, I survived my blood donation. The worst I can say about it was that it was disorganized. It was a totally different group of people  running the bloodmobile since the last time I donated, which is a good thing. The only stupidity was that they had a boombox cranked up so loud I could not hear the questions in the health screening. Kind of ruins that whole “confidential” thing if you have to ask the person asking the questions to yell to be heard above the music. Turning it down was apparently not an option.

But as I was the only blessed donor in the place, there was no one else to hear my answers anyway.

On the bright side, someone in my office told me he had signed up to donate this afternoon inspired by my donating this morning. 😀

Speaking of the office, today was my last day of work until January 5, 2009. And there was much rejoicing.

I plan to spend the next two weeks lying around, watching soap operas, and eating bon-bons. Note to self: hire cabana boy to peel grapes for me.

Just kidding. I’ve got approximately eleventy-billion things I’d like to accomplish before heading back to work in January. And I’m sure Lucy will be happy to help!

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Lucy fears that this will cut into her strict nap schedule.

Ooh, Cake!

cake121708 240x160 Ooh, Cake!

I recently winkled together a recipe for a chocolate pound cake. My panel of impartial judges deemed it edible, so I will share the recipe here.

Wendy’s Chocolate Pound Cake

1- 1/2 cups unsalted butter (3 sticks)
3 cups sugar
5 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
3 cups flour
2/3 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees, and grease and flour a tube or bundt pan.

Sift the dry ingredients together and set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, and add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla with the last egg.

With the mixer on low speed, add 1/3 of the dry ingredients and mix to incorporate. Add 1/2 of the buttermilk and mix. Repeat the process, ending with the last 1/3 of the dry ingredients. Mix just until blended and pour into the prepared pan.

Bake in a 300 degree oven for 1- 1/2 to 1 – 3/4 hours, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack until the pan is cool enough to handle, then turn the cake out on the rake to finish cooling.

You can sprinkle powdered sugar over the top or drizzle with chocolate glaze, but I think it’s fine plain.

This is a good-sized, filling cake, but it freezes very well. You can cut it in half, wrap half in plastic wrap and stick it in the freezer to keep for another time.

Coraline Sweater

Back when I posted about the contents of my Coraline box, a number of you asked me to share the Coraline sweater pattern that was in my box. I refused all requests, because the pattern was not mine to distribute and I did not want to violate copyright.

So I was very pleased this morning when I read Nipperknits Jenn’s blog — she designed the pattern that I received in my box! How cool is that? Check out her blog entry about it — she tells you how to get the pattern.

Meanwhile, Lucy is wondering what she’s getitng for Christmas.

lucy121708 160x240 Ooh, Cake!