Friday, August 17, 2007

Silver CVM - Spudnick

The hand spinning has been going wonderfully. I so much enjoy the process of making yarn, the feel of the fibers sliding into the twist, flowing through my hands. The dark silver CVM (California Variegated Mutant) type wool I've been spinning is now in 2 huge skeins ready to be balled and knit. They are 6 7/2 and 6 3/8 ounce, respectively. I ended up with 5 bobbins spun on my Mazurka which I plied into a 2-ply using the jumbo head on my Lendrum.

I'm now working on 4 drum carded batts of a silver-white from the same fleece. I'm about a quarter of the way through spinning that to match the dark silver. I expect about a single bobbin of this silver-white, which I expect to use as contrast on whatever garment I decide to knit of the dark silver.

Spinning this fleece was a bit of a challenge for me, as I've not had much experience spinning from carded batts, and because I wanted to spin it worsted weight. My usual spinning is very fine, so allowing so many more fibers into the twist, making a much thicker yarn, meant I had to slow way down. It worked, though, and I'm totally thrilled that I was able to stay pretty much in range of my target sample through 5 whole bobbins of yarn!

When I get a chance I'll get some pictures.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Limoncello & Mandrinetto

A few years back my husband was traveling to Europe fairly regularly. On some of his trips he brought home Limoncello, a lemon cordial, and Mandrinetto, a tangerine cordial. Both are very good. My husband's boss learned I make cordials and sent me the below recipe. He has a lemon tree, and had tried it and liked it.
"This is the one I used but I have immersed the lemon zest for a much longer period to get a fuller flavour!

From JB, who kindly posted this to the BBS: - Here is a Limoncello recipe from the food section of the San Francisco Chronicle of several months ago.

• 15 thick-skinned lemons (Eureka, Lisbon or Citron)
• 2 bottles (750 ml each) of the best 100 proof Vodka
• 4 1/2 cups sugar
• 5 cups water

Wash the lemons in hot water before you start. Remove the peel with a vegetable peeler, removing all white pith on the back of the peel by scraping with a knife, and put the peels in a 4-quart Mason jar. Add 1 bottle of Vodka and stir. Cover the jar, date it, and put it to rest in a dark cabinet at room temperature.

After 40 days, take out the lemon-Vodka mixture. Ina sauce pan set over high heat, stir the sugar and water together and boil for 5 minutes. Let the sugar syrup cool completely in the pan, about 10 minutes. Add the sugar syrup to the lemon-Vodka mixture along with the second bottle of Vodka.

Stir well to combine. Replace the cover on the jar and note the finish date. Return it to the dark cabinet and store for 40 more days.

At day 80, remove the limoncello from the cabinet. Strain the mixture and discard the lemon peel.

Pour into clean, unused bottles with caps or decorative corked bottles. Store the bottles in the pantry, but put one bottle at a time in the freezer until ready to use. "

I tried the recipe, too, and it sure came out well.

Last November, when the Clementines showed fresh in my local market we got a nice flat of them and decided to try the Limoncello recipe on them, hoping that would make Mandrinetto. Clementines have very thin skin, so we ended up just grating it off, as it didn't come off well with a peeler. It turned a lovely orange color, and seemed to be working up quite fine.

After straining a thin layer of rind from the grating came to the top in addition to the expected small bits that settled to the bottom. I didn't think it was going to be possible to rack the clear liquid from between them, so I used a coffee filter in a funnel and strained it all. Came out wonderfully clear, and it's got lovely flavor. It's not as dark in color as commercial Mandrinetto, which appears to have been colored orange, but the aroma and taste are fantastic!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Mocha Delight - Coffee Cordial

I sometimes enjoy a cup of milk, cocoa or coffee with some coffee cordial in it. A couple of years ago, when I started making cordials at home, I tried the recipe my book had for coffee cordial, hoping to be able to make my own version of 'Kahlua' or something like. I'd done taste testing years before, trying various coffee liqueurs side-by-side, and found Kahlua and Kamora to be the best. Kamora was quite a bit cheaper, so I rarely got Kahlua.

My new book had a recipe for coffee cordial, so I tried it. And didn't like it much. So I put the idea of making my own out of my head as I had plenty of other things to try! Then one day my husband asked me why I hadn't been making my own coffee liqueur. We decided to see if other recipes were better, and did a lot of searching on the internet, as well as going through my now slightly larger library of such books.

We found a lot of recipes, many similar, and next thing I knew, my husband was cooking up recipes! He rarely drinks, but he's an awesome cook, and I very much appreciate his interest. We did a bunch of trials, mixing up tiny batches of likely-looking recipes, and tried them. We then made some recipe adjustments based on taste preferences, and made some more. A few rounds of this and we ended up with the below recipe, which I call Mocha Delight. It can be cut or multiplied. These instructions make about a gallon.

Mocha Delight

In a large sauce pan put:
2 quarts water
1/2 cup instant coffee (I use decaf)
2 Tbsp chocolate syrup (or to taste, I often squirt in a bit more)
4 cups, which is 2 1-lb packages, of dark brown sugar
2 cups sugar

Bring to boil, then boil for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave
until cool. I generally do this right before bed, then leave it to
cool overnight.

If your pan will hold a gallon you can just add the last 2 ingredients
to it, otherwise get a container that will hold a gallon and put into
2 Tbsp vanilla extract
4 cups 80-proof vodka (I generally use Schmirnof's red label)

Add the coffee mixture. Stir to blend well, then put in clean bottles.

This can be used immediately, and will last well without need of refrigeration. I do not recommend using higher proof Vodka, as it will give a harsh taste.

Elderberry Cordial

Over the 4th of July my mother and I started some Elderberry Cordial using the recipe in "Cordials from Your Kitchen". I've made this before, and it's wonderful! The berries were some Mom had picked last year and frozen. We put the frozen berries straight into the mix. Per instructions I've shaken the containes (quart and other such jars) every few days.

Yesterday was the day to strain the cordial. It sure is lovely. Dark, rich purple, and the smell is heavenly. A week of settling then I'll rack it and put it into nice bottles.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Spinning again

It's been a while since I've posted and a lot has been going on. Now that things have settled down just a bit I've gotten back to handspinning. I spun some Targhee, then decided it was time to spin some CVM I've had waiting for just the "right time". This fiber was from a fleece I'd purchased, washed and then carded up on a drum carder. It's been waiting for quite a while.

I spun up some samples, which was a bit interesting, as I've not spun from carded bats much. I settled on a 2-ply worsted weight yarn. The singles are spun on the 6:1 ration of my Mazurka spinning wheel, with about 21 degrees of twist, about 17 wpi. The finished 2-ply is 8 wpi. I've been using techniques I learned from Rita Buchanan in a spinning for knitting class to match my sample.

I've spun 4 bobbins, and have enough more fiber to do another bobbin, possibly 2. I'll ply it up mixing up the bobbins so the first is plied with the 3rd or whatever is the middle one, and so on.

I'm still deciding how to knit it up. I'm thinking a from-the-top, seamless sweater ala Barbara Walker. This CVM is a medium silver-gray, too dark to show cables all that well. The yarn is a bit randomly heathered, so should be quite interesting enough without much fussiness.