Hi friends, My vacation is just a week away and I've got my work cut out for me if I'm going to have my sweater finished in time. That means I'm knitting at every opportunity: on the bus, on the subway, at lunch – my knitting is with me everywhere I go these days. One of the handiest things I own as far as travel knitting is concerned is this tin filled with knitting notions.
The tin is about the size of an Altoids tin, and here's what I keep inside:
tiny Swiss Army knife (love those wee scissors!)
safety pins (great as stitch holders, or to mark right side/wrong side)
bodkin (for sewing in ends)
retractable measuring tape
stitch markers (two kinds and multiple colours – I like to code my markers)
At times you'll also find buttons, short lengths of wool (great as stitch holders, stitch markers, or for provisional cast-on), straight pins and a thimble. I've also got my eye out for a short crochet hook – something like
this would be perfect. I think that a tin like this would be a great gift for a novice knitter (Christmas is only 109 days away, after all). If you're looking for more inspiration (or if you're like me, and just plain nosy about what people keep in their knitting bags) check out the "
What's in your knitting bag?" pool on Flickr. What's the most essential tool in your knitting kit?
All you need is time and patience to make the perfect caramelized onions. Here's how.
Golden and sweet, yet super savoury, caramelized onions add depth of flavour to so many dishes. They make the best pizza, burger and sandwich toppers and turn plain old cooked pasta or potatoes into gourmet dishes.
And guess what? They're really easy to make! You'll need a large skillet, some onions, a pat of butter, a pinch of salt, and some time. It's a long process (40 to 50 minutes), but absolutely worth the wait. Time and patience means no scorched onions and the ultimate in flavour and texture. Here's how:
First, choose the right skillet. For best results, use a large heavy-bottomed cast iron or stainless steel skillet. If the skillet is too small the onions are crowded and will steam instead of caramelize, meaning the process takes more time. A nonstick skillet will work if that's all you've got, but you won't get the same sticky bits (called the fond in chef speak) on the bottom of the skillet that really add flavour.
Slice the onions. Trim the stem and root ends of the onions and peel away the skin. Slice the onion, lengthwise, thinly (about 1/4 inch or just less). You can use 1 to 4 onions in a large skillet. More onions will take longer to caramelize and fewer onions will take less time, simply keep your eye on the skillet depending on how many you start with. Yellow cooking onions are the most common and versatile onion to use for caramelizing. However, you can use any onion each with subtly different flavours and colours, experiment to find your favourite.
Melt butter (about 1 tbsp) in skillet over medium heat.
Add the onions when the butter stops bubbling and stir a few times to coat the onions. Cook over medium heat (reduce to medium low if the onions start to look or smell like they're burning), stirring once every 5 minutes or so, until the onions are ultra tender, a rich golden colour and have a delightful sweetness. At 10 minutes the onions are still plump and mostly white with just a few golden edges. At 20 minutes look for the onions beginning to shrink, become a little sticky and deepen in colour. At 30 minutes you'll see that the onions are a deeper, richer colour, have really started to shrink and become almost jam-like. The bits are beginning to stick to the bottom, use your spoon or spatula to scrape them up when you stir. At 40 minutes, taste the onions and check the colour. You're looking for meltingly tender onions with a rich golden hue and a sweet taste. Add a few more minutes (up to 10) depending on where they're at now. Note all the bits stuck to the bottom of the skillet in the photo below. These are good!
Deglaze the skillet and season the onions. To deglaze means to add liquid (you can use water, wine or vinegar, about 1/4 cup) to the skillet and stir for a minute or two in order to scrape up all the delicious bits (fond) that are stuck to the bottom of the skillet. The liquid will bubble up and steam, releasing those nuggets of flavour. Often in cooking, we are fearful of things stuck to the bottom of the pan, but unless it's scorched and totally black, this is where the true flavour lies. Once deglazed, stir in a pinch of salt, taste and add more as needed.
Let the onions cool. Then use as you desire. It's a good idea to make a large batch. Simply thaw before using. These are great to have on hand for quick pizza toppings or to stir into an easy pasta dish.
Warm up in style this winter with this super soft—and luxurious—alpaca yarn wrap.
Cuddle up with the Banff Wrap – an extra soft wrap knit in a luxurious alpaca yarn. The wrap is knit with two strands of Eco Alpaca DK yarn held together, and the ombre effect is created simply by alternating the colours of the strands – a lot simpler than it sounds! The large finished wrap is the perfect size to keep you warm from indoors to outdoors, fall to winter.
The Banff Wrap is knit in three sections – each one with a different colour combination. When you run out of yarn for one colour combination, you switch to the next. The instructions clearly explain how to switch between colour sections, so you can smoothly transition and avoid mistakes. If you desire a smaller or larger wrap, simply subtract or add stitches when you cast on, but it is important to remember that your cast on must remain an odd number.
Materials: - 7 Skeins of Americo Eco Alpaca DK (100% Superfine Alpaca) 100g / 262 yards (240 m) - 7 mm (US10.75) 24-inch (60 cm) circular needles - Yarn needle
Contrast Colour AA Eco Alpaca DK in a dark colour 3 Skeins
Contrast Colour AB Eco Alpaca DK, one strand of colour A and one of B
Contrast Colour BB Eco Alpaca DK in a light colour 4 Skeins
Note about the yarn:Eco Alpaca DK is available through Americo Original online and at select yarn stores. You can substitute for other DK weight yarns in your stash. Remember that you will need 3 skeins of one colour, and 4 skeins of a second colour.
Measurements: One Size – 67 inches (170 cm) in length and 23.5 inches (60 cm) in width
Gauge: 13 stitches and 17 rows = 4 inches (10 cm) in garter stitch using 7 mm (US10.75) size needles or size needed to achieve gauge
K, k: knit
P, p: purl
CC: contrast colour
This pattern is knit using 2 strands of yarn at the same time.
Section 1: Colour AA
Using 2 strands of colour A held together, cast on 79 stitches
Purl 2 rows
Begin Seed Stitch Pattern:
R1: K2 *(p1, k1), repeat from * to last 3 stitches, p1, k2
Repeat row 1 until you have used up 2 full skeins of colour A.
*Note: As new colours are added, make sure that they are joined on the same side of the work in order for the stitches to look consistent on both sides.
Section 2: Colour AB
Add colour B to the 3rd skein of colour A and with 2 strands held together continue knitting until you have used up colour AB.
Section 3: Colour BB
Using two strands of colour B held together continue knitting in seed stitch pattern until you have enough yarn to complete the following:
Repeat row 1 once more
Knit 2 rows.
Cast off and weave in ends…and enjoy your beautiful new wrap!
Americo Original is a Canadian yarn company and online knitting shop that features a high-end selection of yarns, textiles, custom knitwear patterns and accessories. Only natural fibers, produced especially for us in the Andean highlands of South America are offered, including luxurious wools, llama, alpaca, organic and premium cottons, linen, silk and cashmere. Americo's one-of-a kind runway pieces and classic styles for the hand knitter are created in our design lab. Americo is based in Toronto, Canada and ships internationally from their online store: americo.ca/shop.
When you have a handful of picky eaters to please, going out for Italian is a good start. But a few key ingredients and techniques can help you make delicious Italian recipes right in your kitchen. Try our tips for making the best Italian food at home.
1. Cook pasta until it’s al dente Restaurant-quality pasta should only be cooked to the point where it’s firm to the bite, as opposed to mushy. To ensure that your pasta isn’t overcooked, taste a strand of pasta one minute before the suggested cooking time indicated on the package directions. Then you’ll be able to best assess when to drain it.
2. Properly salt your pasta water Delicious pasta dishes start with well-seasoned pasta water. Pasta water should taste like the ocean, which requires more salt than you might think. Most of that salt doesn’t end up in your food, of course, but generously salting your water is the key to ensuring that you have a tasty canvas to work with. Use two tablespoons of iodized table salt per five quarts (20 cups) of water and 450g (one pound) of pasta. You can decrease that amount to one tablespoon if you want to use lightly salted pasta.
3. Use good quality extra-virgin olive oil Extra-virgin olive oil, made from the first pressing of the olives, is la crème de la crème of olive oils. It’s full-bodied, fruity and very flavourful. Use good-quality extra-virgin olive oil as a finishing oil to drizzle over salads, pasta or grilled meat or fish dishes. Though it costs more, it’s well worth the splurge.
4. Don’t buy pre-grated cheese Look for blocks of cheese and stay away from the already grated kinds, which are less fresh and less flavourful. Grate cheese using a microplane or grater for small shreds, or a vegetable peeler if want to top your dish with larger shavings.
5. Amp up your herb game Whether it’s garnishing a Caprese salad with fresh, torn basil, making gremolata to top grilled fish or tossing in some fresh parsley to finish a pasta primavera, fresh herbs are an essential part of Italian cooking. Look for fragrant herbs and add them generously to your favourite Italian dishes for an extra touch of freshness.
â€¨6. Keep it simple Italian food is all about simple recipes that showcase fresh, good-quality ingredients. Look for the best ingredients you can find, even if that means using them in smaller quantities. Good-quality fresh buffalo mozzarella, tuna packed in olive oil and paper-thin slices of cured meat will transform your meal from tasty to spectacular.
7. Let cheese come to room temperature before serving Love a good antipasto platter? Make sure to take cheeses out of the fridge about one hour before serving so the cheeses have the best flavour and texture.
Here's how to make your own shower bomb with essential oils for a whole new level of relaxation.
If you enjoy a hot shower or bath to help you relax at the end of a stress-filled day, you'll love these quick DIY shower bombs that allow you to add a soothing essential oil blend to your shower's steam. Essential oils have long been used to aid everything from sleep to energy.
Now Solutions created this recipe to help you get the benefits of essential oils through inhaling the scented steam of your shower—it's like your own home spa treatment. When these scents are diffused through steam, they reach the nerves in the olfactory cavity, which go right to the brain, so you're likely to feel the calming effects right away.
How to make your own shower bomb
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a mini-muffin tin with foil liners. Mix 1 cup of baking soda with 1/3 cup of water to form a thick paste. Pour by tablespoon into the mini-muffin cups. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Top with several drops of essential oils.
For a shower bomb that will help you relax and unwind, Now recommends a blend of one drop of chamomile oil, two drops of lavender oil and two drops of sandalwood blend oil. But you can make your own blend, too. Clove essential oil is also soothing and comforting, as is ylang ylang. Or, if you're looking for a pick-me-up to start your day with, basil essential oil is known to be energizing, and bergamot and lemon are both uplifting scents.
When your shower bomb is ready, place it on your shower floor and enjoy the relaxing vapours.