Saturday, April 23, 2011

Good Friday Shrimp -- Too Good to be a Sacrifice!

A few years ago, I bought a copy of Paula Deen's magazine at the grocery checkout, and found a recipe for Margarita Shrimp Cocktail. I made it that year for the Good Friday Fish Fry/Christmas Tree Burning, and it was delicious, but I have misplaced the recipe -- and, a pretty thorough internet search turned up zilch. So, I gleaned what I liked from lots of different recipes, and came up with what I think is a keeper. I used smaller shrimp, so I think I am going to call this a salad -- good to eat with a fork or with chips.
Good Friday Shrimp Salad

I made this in two parts -- shrimp and salad -- but I think you could mix them all together from the start.

2 pounds medium cooked shrimp (from Sam's), thawed
4 T. olive oil
1 cup lime juice
1 shot tequila (completely optional -- in fact, I think I will leave it out next year)
3 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped fine
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 t. salt
Toss all together and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
6-8 roma tomatoes, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
1 jalapeño, chopped
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
1/2 t. salt
1/4 c. lime juice
1 T. worchestershire sauce (I know -- weird ingredient, right? And I like to spell it that way, because that's how my dad pronounced it!)
Toss this all together and refrigerate, too.
2 avocados, coarsely diced and tossed with a little lime juice
wedges of lime
tortilla chips
To serve, drain the liquid off both shrimp and salad and toss all together. For a party at home, I'd line a platter with lettuce, then the shrimp; sprinkle with a little paprika for a nice color. Toss the avocado on top, and surround it with the lime wedges. Serve with chips along side. (For the fish fry, I took it in a 9x13, with the avocado on the side, since Clay can't stand avocados. I don't get it -- he'll eat almost anything in any country, but not avocados, which I am sure grow on the trees that line the streets of Heaven!)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Books and TED and Gossip and Poetry

Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. -- Eleanor Roosevelt

This quote shows up on Facebook every now and then. I suspect it is in response to someone having been a victim of some nasty gossip. I also suspect Mrs. Roosevelt may have said it in response to some nasty gossip spread about her or her husband. But I'm always confused by this quote, because to me, ideas, events and people are all tangled.

I'm currently reading Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas . This is a complex and beautiful book about a man with a great mind who was thrust into the events of Germany pre-WWII and gave his life for other people.* While he would have been completely comfortable in an academic environment (theology school, to be precise) he knew that the events of his time were so adversely affecting the people of Germany that he had to act. Tangled, I tell you.

And really, can you name one great idea that doesn't come right down to people? Peace = people. Virtue vs. vice = people. Democracy = of people, by people and for people.

I am guessing what Mrs. Roosevelt wanted us to understand from this quote is that she believed that great minds discuss the labyrinth of ideas, focusing not on individual people, but on "humankind."
Average people just try to figure out what the hell happened (would this, however, make historians simply "average?" I've just re-watched every episode of Ken Burns' Civil War, and I believe that Shelby Foote was brilliant. Period.)

And small minded people gossip.

But what is the difference between gossip and simple information? If I read it in the nosey news (aka The Crothersville Times), it's not gossip, is it? And if I tell something I know about someone, but don't have malice or hate in my heart, is that gossip?

Trained well by my "If You Can't Say Something Nice, Don't Say Anything at All" mother, I really, really try to avoid gossip. But it is so easy to slip from a lovely conversation into a gossip-filled talkfest.

April is National Poetry Month (perhaps my favorite month of the year despite that tax thing). I once wrote a poem about gossip, which I will try to dig out and post here. At one time in my boring younger life, I longed to be the kind of person someone might gossip about. You know --a bit questionable. Maybe a little fast and loose. But not quite a hussy -- let's not push it.

Now, after having been the target of some nasty talk, I don't find it quite so enticing. When you're the victim, gossip just stinks. As do the small-minded people who share it. Eleanor and I agree on that one.

And speaking of books (and ideas and events and people and entanglements), I finished another great one, The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom, in under 24 hours. The story of slavery set in Virginia in the early 1800's is sad and beautiful.

And, if you want some really great ideas from some really great people at a really great event, go to and watch a video or two. While I enjoy watching talks by people I have heard of, some of the very best ones are by regular old people like you and me.


*This would have been the perfect book for my high school German class, where I learned a lot about Germany, but not much German. God bless you, Mr. Lambertus, wherever you are.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Buddy Bunny

One of the favorite patterns of my Knit Nighters has been the Buddy Bear from Bev's Country Cottage. Since I first shared the pattern with the group in May of 2009, I know that many of these sweet little bears have been given as gifts and sent to charities by my friends in the group.
For Easter, I wanted to give them a bunny pattern (we have done eggs and baskets in previous years); I couldn't find one that wasn't too tricky or time consuming, so I thought I would write one up myself, and started with the Buddy Bear as my inspiration. Thus, Buddy Bunny was born.
The bunny is worked on straight needles. Although the Buddy Bear was worked in garter stitch (knit every row), I did the Bunny in stockinette (knit a row, purl a row). The entire bunny is worked in one piece, starting with a leg. Once the first leg is worked, the yarn is cut, the leg is pushed to the end of the needle and the second leg is worked, then both attached to form the body. Then you work up through the body, cast on extra stitches on each side for the arms, bind off those stitches, work the head then the ears separately (much like the legs) then down the other side of the ears, to the head, arms, body and legs. You'll see -- it will make perfect sense in just a few minutes of knitting!
Buddy Bunny
Materials: Any yarn. Choose a needle size down one or two from what is suggested for the yarn; this will produce a denser fabric for stuffing. You will also need some polyfill for stuffing, a yarn needle, a stitch holder and scraps of yarn for embroidering the face.

For my bunny, I chose a white worsted weight acrylic I had in my yarn basket, and held a thin strand of mohair with it -- it's a very soft bunny! I used size 7 needles, but I probably could have gone with size 6; if the bunny had been any other color, the white stuffing would show through. My bunny is 12" tall and her arm span is 7".
Pattern: Leg #1: Cast on 8 stitches. Stockinette stitch 16 rows; leave tail and cut yarn.
For Leg #2, repeat as for #1.
Body: Now, push the two legs together on the needle and knit across both legs (you will now have 16 stitches across); stockinette for 16 rows.
Arms: Using the knit-on cast on, cast on 8 stitches at the beginning of each of the next two rows (32 stitches across). Stockinette stitch for 8 rows. Cast off 8 stitches at the beginning of the next two rows (back down to 16 stitches)
Head: Stockinette stitch for 19 rows.
Ears: You will work each ear separately, just like you did for the legs. For Ear #1, knit 8 and place the remaining 8 stitches on a holder for later. Now, stockinette stitch for 7 more rows.
Row 9: knit 2 together (k2tog), k4, k2tog (6 stitches).
Rows 10-12: Stockinette. Row 13: k2tog, k2, k2tog (4 stitches).
Rows 14-16: Stockinette.
Row 17: k2tog, k2tog (2 stitches). Rows 18-20: Stockinette
Row 21: Knit into the front and back of each stitch; now you will have 4 stitches Row 22-24: Stockinette
Row 25: Knit into the front and back of the first stitch, k2, knit into the front and back of the last stitch (6 stitches)
Rows 26-28: Stockinette
Row 29: Knit into the front and back of the first stitch, k4, knit into the front and back of the last stitch (8 stitches).
Rows 30-36: Stockinette.
Put the stitches for Ear #1 on a holder, then go back and repeat for Ear #2. Slide the ears together, begin careful not to twist them, and knit across.
Stockinette for 18 more rows to complete the head.
Repeat arms as above. Repeat body as above.
Legs: Knit 8 stitches as leg instructions above and bind off (put other 8 stitches on holder). Then, pick up stitches from holder and work as above. This is what you will get: Looks a little crazy, doesn't it? If you use a natural fiber, you probably will want to block your work here. With an acrylic, you can probably just proceed.
Fold the bunny in half and sew a seam starting at the pit of one of the arms, around the arm, head, ears, head, other arm and legs; leave a few inches of opening on the body for stuffing: Stuff the bunny as firmly as you like, using the end of a knitting needle to push the stuffing into the ends of the ears. Stitch the side opening closed. Thread the yarn needle with an 18" length of yarn and use a running stitch around the neck; draw up as you like and tie in a firm knot. Do the same around each ear. Pompom tail: Here is a fun way to make a little pompom -- use a kitchen fork and wrap the yarn around several times. Thread another length of yarn between the middle tines of the fork, draw up and tie in a firm knot. Attach to bunny's backside.

Use yarn needle and scraps of yarn to embroider the bunny's face; hide your knots in the neckline, and cover that with a bow or some lace. I added a little blush on the cheeks and inside the ears. And, I sewed up a little apron, because I am a little crazy like that. Give to a child you love. Or to one who needs a little extra love this Easter. Peace.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Cake Post

So, I need to learn how to categorize my blog posts over there on the right. All my knitting posts in one spot, all the recipes, all the parties. I know it's possible, I just can't figure it out quite yet. Until I do, here's a bunch of my cakes, just for my pal, April.

Griffin's First Birthday

Nate's 2nd Birthday - that's Max and Ruby, if you can't tell

Baptism Cake for Macey -- flowers made from gum drops

Super Why! for Tommy

Allie's Baptism

Griff's 2nd Birthday

Allie's Birthday

Tommy's 5th Birthday -- my most successful fondant attempt

Paul's 1st Birthday

Wills' 17th Birthday - Up

Joannie's Coconut Cake

Cake, Cake, Cake for the Brown Wedding

Carnival Cake for my twin pals

Sweet Taylor's 11th Birthday

Nate's 5th Birthday