Saturday, February 6, 2016

Outer Darkness Cake

I stumbled across a recipe for this cake many years ago, and it has been our family's go-to cake ever since.  It is truly the archetypal cake (forgive my psychobabble), and once you take a bite, you will know the ultimate in cake satisfaction.

It all began because my oldest son requested a peanut butter cake for his birthday. Since Google Goddess never fails, I started my google quest for the perfect cake.  The photos on the Smitten Kitchen blog where I originally found the recipe made me swoon, and I just had to make the cake. I have adapted it somewhat from the original recipe and added a few hints, tips, and new techniques to assure that this is the moistest cake you have ever eaten. Watch for the ** to locate my extra tips.

Things you will need that you might not have on hand:
  • 3 8-inch round cake pans
  • Parchment paper
  • Double boiler
  • Flour sifter (used for powdered sugar)
  • Short whisk (I have a small whisk that is only about 6 inches long from top to bottom and is the best tool for whisking the ganache.

Outer Darkness Cake
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 cup sour cream (I use light and it works great)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp. white vinegar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
1. Preheat oven to 350° F.  Using one of the cake pans, trace three circles onto parchment paper and cut out. Spray the cake pans with cooking spray and place a parchment circle in the bottom of each pan.

2. Sift together the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add oil and sour cream and mix until well blended. Gradually beat in the water, scraping the bowl frequently to ensure no batter sticks to the side of the bowl. Blend in the vinegar and vanilla.  Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended, scraping the bowl to ensure batter is well blended. Pour batter into the three prepared cake pans.  **A helpful tip here, thanks to my brilliant son: Use a toothpick to measure the depth of the batter in the pans, moving back and forth between pans as you add the batter.**

3. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. **This part is very important. Do not overcook this cake!** Let cake cool in pans for 10 minutes, then turn out, parchment side up on cooling racks for 30 minutes. Cake layers will fall a bit, this is normal, do not panic. **Make sure to set a timer.  Following these times and the ensuing instructions will keep the cake moist.** After cake layers have cooled on the racks for 30 minutes, turn each one onto a separate plate, parchment side down, and wrap with saran wrap, then put into the freezer for 30+ minutes.  Do not stack the layers in the freezer.

4. To frost cake, put one layer, flat side up on cake platter and peel parchment paper off. Spread 2/3 cup of the frosting over the top of the layer. Repeat for second layer, then add the third layer and spread the remaining frosting over the whole cake.  If you prefer, you first frost a thin layer (crumb coating), then chill the cake for 15-30 minutes and use remaining frosting to add a second layer of frosting.  I haven't found this second step necessary.  You can chill the cake for an additional 15-30 minutes to provide a better drip effect when pouring the ganache.

5. Pour ganache over the cake immediately after making it, when ganache is still warm. Using an offset spatula, push ganache just to the edge in strategic spots, causing it to run down the side of the cake. This step is what will make people swoon and moan when they see your cake. Chill at least 30 minutes more to set ganache, removing from fridge 1 hour before serving. Serve with a nice, cold glass of milk or hot cup of coffee.

The last time I made these, I baked two of them. One to take to my cohort at grad school and the other to leave for my family. I knew that if I baked only one, that they might not let me back in the house when I returned home.

Voila!  The cake after my family cut into it.  My mouth is watering just looking at it1

Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
(makes about 5 cups)
  • 10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 stick butter, at room temperature
  • 5 cups sifted confectioner's sugar
  • 2/3 cup smooth peanut butter, preferably a commercial brand that doesn't separate
Beat butter and cream cheese together in the bowl of a stand mixer until fluffy.  Gradually add powdered sugar, mixing at low speed until combined, and scraping bowl often. Add peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended and fluffy.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ganache
  • 8 ounces semi sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. smooth peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
In the top of a double boiler, over simmering water, combine all ingredients except the half-and-half. Cook, whisking often, until the mixture is smooth and chocolate is melted.  Remove from heat (I put the top pot of the double boiler onto a silicone hot pad.) and gently whisk in the half-and-half, beating until smooth and shiny. Use while still warm.


Thursday, July 9, 2015

Heidi's One of Everything Minestrone Soup

I've been making this minestrone soup for many years.  It usually gets rave reviews, and everyone asks for the recipe.  It's a super easy and versatile soup, and, as you can tell from the title, it contains one of just about everything I can get my hands on.  As you can tell from the photo, I am a parmesan cheese nut, so I top my bowl of soup with a generous layer of fresh cheese.  My family likes to tease me that I have a little soup with my cheese.

  • 1 package Italian sausage links (hot, if you prefer)
  • 1 onion, cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 8-12 cups water, depending how brothy you like your soup.  I suggest adding 8 to start with, then increase as the soup simmers.
  • 3 Tbsp. beef base (I buy this from Costco, in the spice aisle)
  • 3 Tbsp. dried basil
  • 1-2 Tbsp. dried oregano (optional)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (two if you like more tomato), can use Italian style
  • 1 carrot, slices
  • 1 potato, cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 1 chunk (about 2x potato size) cabbage, cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 1 can white beans
  • 1 can green beans (or frozen)
  • 1 can corn (or frozen)
  • 1 zucchini, cut into 1/2" pieces
  • any other veggies you'd like to add
  • 1 cup ditalini pasta
Cut casings from sausage, and brown in large stockpot with onion and garlic.  When sausage is cooked, add water, beef base, spices, and tomatoes.  Bring to a low simmer, and add carrots.  After five minutes, add remaining veggies and simmer until veggies are tender.  Add pasta, and cook until pasta is tender, stirring every five minutes or so.  This makes a big pot of soup, so invite some friends over and serve with hot, crusty French bread!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Pork and Winter Vegetable Stew

This past weekend, I received a bountiful basket which included a bunch of kale, a head of cabbage, some fresh bay leaves, orange bell peppers, and three parsnips, among other things.  I started thinking about what I could make from this combination and came up with this delicious stew.  It tasted even better than I imagined, and was the perfect ending to this cold November day.

  • 2-3 lbs. pork tenderloin, cubed
  • 1-2 onions, cut in chunks,
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 3 fresh bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 15-oz. cans tomatoes w/ green chilies
  • 16 cups water
  • 3 parsnips, peeled and cubed
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1/2 head cabbage, cut into 1" pieces
  • 2 red bell peppers cut into 1" pieces
  • 2 orange bell peppers cut into 1" pieces
  • 1 bunch kale, stalks removed and cut into pieces

In a large stockpot, saute onions in a little olive oil.  When onions are translucent, add pork and garlic.  Cook and stir until pork is browned.  Add tomatoes, herbs, and water, and simmer 30 minutes.  Add parsnips and simmer 10 minutes, then add butternut squash and simmer 10 minutes more. Add remaining vegetables and simmer until cabbage is tender.  I love to serve this with my homemade crusty French bread.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Accidentally Awesome Brownies!

A number of years ago, we were living in Israel for my husband's job.  Brownies are one of our favorite desserts, but brownie mixes are hard to come by in Israel.  Other families attached to the military or the embassy could use the commissary, but we didn't.  We just made the best of the situation and found substitutes for things, or learned to make new things.  In this case, I looked up brownie recipes online.  We tried several recipes, but didn't find any that tasted like a boxed mix.....until...

I found a recipe online that was pretty good, but not quite the same.  I had made it a few times, and one night   I whipped up a double batch of brownies, and put them in the oven.  They turned out different than the other times I had made them.  I thought back, and realized that I had doubled all of the ingredients except the eggs.  They were fabulous, nice and fudgy, chewy around the edges, and, well, mmmmmm.  I've tweaked the recipe a bit more since then, and thought I'd share it today.  Don't you love happy accidents?

I baked a batch last night to take to some friends' house for dinner.  I was reminded how good they are.  They are especially yummy when served topped with ice cream and caramel or butterscotch syrup.  If you must, hot fudge is great as well.  Personally I love chocolate, vanilla, and caramel together.  I always use real butter, real vanilla, and other quality ingredients.  Enjoy!

Accidentally Awesome Brownies

1 1/2 C. Melted butter
3 C. Sugar
1 T. Vanilla
3 Eggs
1 1/2 C. Flour
1 C. Cocoa powder
1 tsp. Baking soda
1 tsp. Salt

Preheat oven to 350, and spray 9" x 13" pan with cooking spray.  Mix together first four ingredients and mix until well combined.  Stir together dry ingredients and add to wet mixture, mixing well.  Spread batter in pan, and bake for 40-45 minutes or until center is set.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Emperor Has No Clothes

The time has come to be open about some important events in our lives.  Usually my blog is lighthearted, talking about fun things, stories of my kids, recipes, and the ubiquitous sock knitting.  This post is serious.  It's about something that changed my life.  It is a change for the better, about living an authentic life, but it's been shocking nonetheless.

Last summer, one of the most devastating things I thought could ever happen to me, did, in fact happen.  Short of divorce, or death of a loved one, the worst thing that could happen to a faithful LDS wife is for her husband to lose his faith and walk away from the church.  This is what happened to me.  I knew almost immediately that I must do everything I could to save my family and to bring my husband back to the fold.

My husband is a good man.  He and I were both worthy temple recommend holders at the time these events occurred.  Within a week, I decided to study each of his issues with church doctrine and history in order to prove him wrong and bring him back.  Withing three weeks, I had found enough disturbing information from the church's own website, the Biography of Joseph Smith by his Mother, Lucy Mack Smith, and from the LDS apologist websites including to conclude that the church is indeed false, based on lies, continued lying, and flagrant deceit.

I was crushed.  I had dedicated the whole of my life to this church.  I believed in the teachings with all of my heart and soul.  I attended early morning seminary every day before my school days in high school.  I attended BYU and graduated with a degree in psychology.  I took classes on church history at BYU, and other religious classes.  I read a great deal on my own about church history.  I have a collection of biographies of the prophets that belonged to my grandfather.  Parley P. Pratt was one of my heroes.  In short, I was no dummy regarding church history.  I had studied extensively and faithfully read my scriptures.  I wasn't perfect, but I was always the good Mormon girl who tried to do everything I could to "choose the right".

How could this information have been hidden from me?  How did I get to be 43 years old and not know that Joseph Smith had 33 wives including teenagers and other men's wives?  As a matter of fact, I have been sharing this information about Joseph Smith's polygamy with other LDS friends.  Some of them are unfazed, saying, "Yeah, I know all about that."  Others are shocked and stunned, and one person even said, "I can't believe that someone as educated as you would believe that Joseph Smith had more than one wife.  He loved Emma and he would never do that to her."   My response was, "Well, the world is round, balls bounce, and Joseph Smith had many wives.  They are all facts, acknowledged facts."  In the December 1978 Ensign, there is an article about the Newel K. Whitney family, which is one of, if not the only mention of Joseph Smith's polygamy on  If this is not lying and deceit, I don't know what is.  He had 33 wives (give or take a couple), and yet there is only this one mention.  No wonder people are shocked and surprised by finding this information out.  Here's a link to a great YouTube video about how the church hides the truth and yet pretends to tell the truth.  A friend told me last night that the history of polygamy is no longer relevant.  No longer relevant?  Polygamy is still doctrine.  It's in section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants.  They cannot practice it with two living wives, but it's doctrine and LDS women need to understand this.

How did I not know about the history of the Word of Wisdom?  I did not know that Brigham Young owned a whiskey distillery in Utah, and being mayor of Salt Lake City, he sold his whiskey to the city for celebrations.  The bishop's storehouse had to dispose of approximately 2,000 gallons of wine when the church finally began to observe the word of wisdom.  It wasn't until the mid 1900's that the Word of Wisdom was widely lived, contrary to the picture the church loves to present.  If the Word of Wisdom was lived how the church likes to pretend it was lived, then why did the city of Salt Lake ever purchase whiskey for celebrations?  Brigham Young was the mayor, making the whiskey, and selling it to the city, and presumably consuming it as well.  In the version presented to students of the gospel, Joseph Smith received this wonderful revelation, everyone lived it right away, and they all lived happily ever after.

How did I ever accept that it's OK to punish an entire race of people because Cain killed his brother?  Racism is wrong, it has always been wrong, and it will always be wrong.  Racist practices were never from God, and any church saying so is a false church.  I don't care if it's written in the Bible, or anywhere else in history books.  Racism is wrong.  Any use of common sense and rational though tells you that, and yet the church held this practice until 1978.  Jane Elizabeth Manning was sealed to Joseph Smith as a servant in the eternities.  She was black, and begged her whole faithful life to be allowed to partake of temple blessings.  Finally, the leadership allowed her to be sealed as a servant to Joseph Smith.  This is wrong. Nothing anyone can say to attempt to explain this away can make it right.  It's just wrong, period.  You will find nothing about her on  Why? Because it's embarrassing.  It's wrong.  The church likes to pretend that people will never find out about these things, so they act like they don't exist.  But they do exist, people are finding them, and are being shocked at the lies.  

The more I read about the character of Joseph Smith in his own mother's words, and the more I read about the true history of the church, not the one that the church presents in the lesson manuals and missionary lessons, the more I couldn't believe that I had ever believed it.  Racism is wrong, polygamy is wrong, lying is wrong, discrimination is wrong.  God loves all of his people equally.  Any mandate pretending to be from God cannot be from God if it involves any of the aforementioned practices and policies.

Our lives are much happier now, living with truth in our hearts instead of copious lies.  I cannot abide a church that will lie, but yet not let members enter the temple unless they are "honest in dealings with fellow men".  I won't stand for a church that lets loving non member parents of a beautiful young woman, stand in the cold, crying outside the temple because they don't happen to belong to the same church as their daughter.  It sickens me that a church will not allow parents to attend their own child's wedding unless they are paid up on their tithing.  For lack of writing the church a check, these faithful parents are also left standing in the cold, in tears.  It's not right, everyone with any sense knows it's not right and yet many accept it an obey rather than leading a revolt to stand up against the tyrants.  This is my revolt, the beginning of the revolution in my own heart, my own life, and my own family.  All it takes is one person at a time pointing out that emperor has no clothes on before it becomes the acknowledged truth.  This is happening in wards and stakes all over the world.  The church is false, the general authorities actively lie and deceive, every day, in every lesson manual, on their website, in General Conference, in history books, in the scriptures, in television, radio, and print interviews.  For a "true" church, there sure is a lot of lying going on.

Below, I am including the text of my "exit story".  I wrote it in a Star Wars theme because of an ongoing joke between my husband and myself during our transition out of the church.  I hope you enjoy it!

Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away, there lived a brave young soul named John. John had many talents, but he was a lost soul with no direction in his life.

A sweet, beautiful young maiden named Jane moved to John’s corner of the galaxy. John and Jane happened to attend the same school. Jane first laid eyes on John in chemistry class, and thought John was super cute. John and Jane became friends and then they became sweethearts.

There was a problem for John and Jane. Jane was a Jedi; John was not. What’s a Jedi, you ask? A Jedi is one of the chosen people, a warrior, one possessing “The Force” Jane’s mother did not want Jane to date a non-Jedi and told John that he must convert to The Force or be forbidden his only true love. John was completely smitten with Jane and decided to explore the idea of becoming a Jedi himself. John took lessons to learn what it means to become a Jedi.

Becoming a Jedi sounded like a great idea. You get The Force to be with you all the time. You get to be part of a wonderful Jedi family. You can do many things to serve others, and your family can be together for eternity. You can also keep yourself free from harmful substances such as coffee, tea, alcohol and tobacco. Becoming a Jedi is so easy. Just a few lessons, then you can join the Jedis forever. John was especially lucky because, being a boy, he can get the special Lasar Sword Force, which is denied to girls. . This special force is the most powerful in the universe and John was told it can move mountains, although no record has been found to date that any mountain has ever been moved using The Force. This is only because no Jedi with the priesthood has had the faith to do it--or because they choose to not tempt the Jedi God.

It was a happy day when John became a Jedi. He joined the Jedi clan with enthusiasm and soon embraced their ways as his own. He attended weekly meetings to worship in the Jedi way. After some time had passed, John and Jane decided that John should embark on a two year journey to a foreign land in order to convince others to enter the Jedi ranks. John left on his journey, while Jane stayed behind and attended the Jedi University.

Jane faithfully waited for John to return. John and Jane exchanged letters, encouraging one another on the Jedi path. Only six weeks after John returned, John and Jane were married for all eternity in the Jedi Temple. Time passed. John and Jane finished their educations, both at Jedi U. They were blessed with two young padawan sons by the time Jane graduated, and three sons by the time John finished his studies..

They could not have been happier.

It was stressful being poor students and having three children. But John and Jane knew this is the path they must take because the Jedi General Authorities, yea, even those in the great and monolithic Jedi headquarters in Salt Lake City, the hub of all Jedi knowledge, had so decreed.. The mandate was not to put off marriage for education, children for education, or education for service.. One must do all of these, and trust that the Jedi God would provide. In spite of a hectic life filled with mutually conflicting mandates, John and Jane were secure in the knowledge that they were following the Jedi way.

They believed with all their hearts that it was the only way to true happiness.

It came to pass that John finished his education at Jedi University. John took a job in another state with his dream company and life was good in Jedi land. Another padawan joined the family and another, all sons. What a blessing to have so many sons to dedicate to the Jedi cause!

Meanwhile, Jane did all of the things that good Jedi wives do. She cooked, cleaned, took care of kids, made lots of crafts, and stayed true to the Jedi order. Jane never doubted the teachings, or looked for answers to things that did not make sense. Jane was certain that the Jedi way was the only way to live.

John, however, had periods of secret doubt. Questions nagged at John for years. When John sought answers to his questions, the answers he discovered seemed to indicate that the Jedi way was a false path. John attempted to show this to Jane, but Jane would not hear any evil speaking of the Jedi way. John gave up his quest for answers and pretended he did not know some of the things he knew.

He pushed the questions down because he loved Jane and did not want to rock the Jedi loveboat.

One day, John realized that he could no longer turn a blind eye to the problems with the Jedi way. He decided that he must seek the truth no matter where the truths lead him. John soon learned that the Jedi way was not only false, but actually corrupt! He was shocked to read for the first time that the revered First Jedi, Joseph Smith, had been a man of low character. History showed him to be a liar, polygamist, convicted con man, who pretended to be a prophet. All other Jedi’s revere this man, even very nearly worship him. What was John to do?

Perhaps The Force would turn on him if he spoke his thoughts.

John decided that some of the Jedi ways were good. He decided that he would, once again, pretend to believe in the Jedi ways. After nearly two years of this pretense, John no longer could pretend. Risking his family, his happy home, and his standing with other Jedi’s, John sat with Jane and told her that he had turned to the Dark Side and no longer believed that being a Jedi was a good way to live.

Jane was shaken to her core. Jane asked that night that John go and speak with the Jedi High Priest, which John did. At this time, John held a position on the Jedi High Council, a position of some distinction and visibility within the Jedi ranks. John was well known and well loved. Speaking with the Bishop had no effect on John’s decision to leave the Jedi order.

Jane decided that she would remain a faithful Jedi, no matter what John decided. John and Jane spent endless hours talking about the new life they were facing, Jane as a faithful Jedi, and John...not. . John jokingly said, “You can always join me on the Dark Side.” Jane replied, “No way, I’m a Jedi!” This addition of humor, became an inside joke between Jane and John, and lightened the mood considerably.

Over the next few days, Jane asked many questions. She was very concerned about the future of their family. Within a week, Jane decided that she needed to learn more about John’s issues with the Jedi order and study with him, so she could bring him back. Her plan was to show John the errors in his decision. John told Jane that there was DNA evidence showing that the Jedi Bible was false, that is, that it was of human origin rather than divine John also told Jane about more evidence proving that the Jedi order was not true. Jane had difficulty accepting the things John was telling her.

Finally, John told Jane that he had problems with the character of Joseph Smith. Jane had faith in Joseph Smith, and the book he translated by the power of God. She suggested that they read the History of Joseph Smith by His Mother, in order to explore the character of Joseph Smith. In that book, Jane found evidence that Joseph Smith could have written his book instead of translating it. His mother cheerfully wrote of the wonderful tales he spun about the ancient inhabitants of the continent “as if he lived among them.” She stated he thus kept them enthralled for hours will his remarkable storytelling ability. Jane was speechless; she felt as though she’d been struck in the stomach by a light saber. Something she had believed her whole life may not, in fact, be true.

At the very moment Jane found the first crack of doubt in her wall of faith, she could finally admit some things about the Jedi order that had never felt right to her. The Jedis practiced polygamy for decades. For the majority of their history, Jedis prohibited those with dark skin from holding the power of the Laser Force and partaking of the higher blessing of entering the Jedi Temples of Light Endowment. Jane knew, in her gut that these things were wrong, but she accepted them because of her faith in Joseph Smith.

Once the doubt began, the doubt grew. Jane discovered many more problems with the Jedi doctrine. She became obsessed with studying the history of the Jedi order. John called Jane his “little pit bull” because of her tenacious quest for the truth, wherever it would lead. Within days, Jane accepted the devastating truth. The Jedi order was false. Truth is truth.

Only three weeks had passed since John had told Jane he was leaving the Jedi order. Suddenly, they were united again in their conviction-- both out, and free. John was overjoyed; he was also stunned with disbelief. How could this be? His precious Jane was willing to look at the truth and accept it. So many who discovered truth paid the price of losing their wife and children. John knew he was one lucky former Jedi.

A short time later, John and Jane were walking hand-in-hand, along the shore. Jane said, “You know, this whole time we thought we were following the Jedi Order of Light, but in reality, we were following the Dark Side.” What they once thought was light and truth, was in fact interwoven with lies.

Thus ends the quest for truth in the lives of John and Jane, two jedis freed.

Friday, October 21, 2011

I've been a crazy sock knitter lately!

I can't help myself, I just keep knitting more and more socks! I have three pairs on my needles at the moment, and about 10 more ideas cooking in my head. I just finished a pair a couple of days ago and told myself, "no more starting pairs until you are down to one on the needles". Self is listening. I'm doing the heel increase for pair #1, nearly done with that, so the heel turn may happen today.

A few notes about my socks. I always use the two-at-a-time, toe-up method. I read about something called "one sock syndrome", it is a very real, and usually fatal illness. This is a disease infecting knitters who knit one sock at a time. Some socks can be difficult, or frustrating, and upon finishing the first sock, the knitter is reluctant to begin the next sock, thus being stuck with only one sock. I currently have this problem with a mitten. I finished the first one last winter, and the other still sits in the knitting bag, nearly done. Probably time to finish it!

Here is a link to a free pattern at This will help you get started with this technique if you have not tried it before. I have never knitted socks on DPN's, and I never will. I bought a whole, big, beautiful set of them, but discovered the magic loop method of knitting socks before I used them. I'm very content to let my DPN's sit and be used for other purposes, they do come in handy from time to time, for instance, when knitting an afterthought heel, but I get ahead of myself. Once you read and understand the concept of this method of knitting socks, you can make the changes I have, if you like.

I use Judy's Magic Cast On, just follow the link for a great youtube video showing this method of starting socks. I found the directions in the knitpicks instructions to be confusing. Videos help me a lot! Once you get to the heel, there are several choices, I'll explain them below after each pair of socks. I like to have a nice stretchy bind-off on my socks, and I tried a few until I found this one: Jenny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off. I find that it even works on a scalloped edge top, or any that you have to fold over and stitch down.

A couple of months ago, my friend Betty on Facebook started giving my socks a name. I realized then, that all handknit socks need and deserve a name. It's not fair to go through life with no name, what is the fun in that?

This fabulous pair is called Toad's Noses. They are now residing with my friend Jenice. She did some sewing for us and made fabulous aprons for girl's camp, so I made her a pair of socks. I think it is my favorite pair to date. Yarns used are from Knit Picks: Stroll Handpainted in Tree Fort Colorway, and Stroll Tonal in Canopy.

The pattern is from the Knit Picks Flash Dance Sock Pattern. I have made several pairs using this pattern. There are 6 different designs, and suggestions about how to use different kinds of yarns, to avoid pooling, or show off pooling. For those new to knitting, pooling is what you get when knitting with a variegated yarn such as the one shown above. Sometimes, you will get huge patches of one color that just happen to "pool" together. If you don't like that look, using a stitch such as the slip stitch shown here, is a great way to break up the pooling. This particular yarn doesn't lend itself to a great deal of pooling, but you can see it much more on the sole than on the instep.

I used the afterthought heel found in the Show Off Socks Pattern from Knit Picks. I'm not a big fan of this particular heel because it decreases in 4 spots, so you have a decrease going up the two sides of the heel, plus under the heel and up the back of the heel. I had never done an afterthought heel before but after doing this one, I found one I like more, you can find it here. I just adjusted the instructions and used the magic loop instead of DPN's. I did one heel at at time, rather than trying to do both. Heels are actually rather quick.

This pair of socks are named The Sea Babies. These socks are permanently installed on the feet of my Royal Sock Namer, Betty. The yarn I used is Knit Picks Stroll Multi in the Aloha colorway. I used the Fleegle Heel on this pair, and it is now my favorite heel method unless my design would be better off with an afterthought heel. You can find a tutorial for this heel here: Fleegle Heel. The pattern for the sock is from the Flash Dance Sock Pattern, linked above; I used the tents pattern. The cuff is a rolled cuff, just like the Toads Noses socks.

This pair is just a straight knit, toe up sock. I used Knit Picks Felici in the Aquarium colorway. I used the Fleegle heel on these, but as you can see, it made the stripe pattern a little wonky, so on my next striped pair, I used the afterthought heel. I like both of them, but I do think for striped socks I will stick with the afterthought heel. This pair is currently keeping my baby sister Mary's feet warm.

This pair also uses the Felici yarn from Knit Picks, but in the Tyrian Purple colorway. I opted for an afterthought heel and I like the way it turned out. I used a 2x2 ribbed cuff on the top. This pair, I sent to my sister-in-law Jennie.

This lovely pair of socks is called Panache. I sent them to my sister-in-law Gayle. She wears boots a lot, so I knew a knee length pair would suit her just fine. She loves quirky things, so I knew this yarn was perfect for her. It was a very fun pair to knit. The yarn is Cartoons colorway, and a Stroll Handpainted yarn from Knit Picks. This pair also uses the Flash Dance Socks Pattern, and is the slip stitch just like the Sea Babies. I used a 1x1 rib for the cuff and again a stretchy bind off.

This pair of socks belongs to my sister-in-law Patty. They are named Fading Sunset. I used the Fountains pattern from Sock Cocktails, again from Knit Picks. The yarn is also from Knit Picks and is a Stroll Tonal in the Queen Anne colorway. I used the Fleegle heel and picot edge for the top cuff, found in the Flash Dance pattern.

This pair, Chained Melodies went to my sister, Amber. I used a Knit Picks Stroll Multi in the City Lights colorway. I found the pattern at, it's called Summer of 2008 Socks. I again used the Fleegle Heel and a 2x2 rib knit for the cuff.

The name for this pair, Birds of Paradise was suggested by my friend Sue. She threw out a name suggestion and my mind immediately went to this yarn I've had in my stash for some time. The yarn is Fiesta Yarns Baby Boom 100% Marino in the Amazon colorway. I picked it up at a local shop, Kathy's Knit Corner in the clearance yarn. I had no idea what I'd use it for, but the colors just grabbed me, they were so fun! The pattern is also from the Flash Dance Socks. I used the Fleegle Heel and picot cuff. Sue doesn't know this, but these socks belong to her. I'm going to deliver them tomorrow!

Well, that's it for my sock rambling for today. I've spent most of my summer knitting socks, and I don't see an end in site. They are very fun, and not too time intensive. The toe is quick, and before you know it, you are doing the heel increase, then the heel turn, and up the leg. If you make ankle socks, you are nearly done at that point! Is there a twelve step program for sock knitting addiction? I hope not!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Orange Yogurt Muffins

I usually try to make a nice breakfast on Sunday mornings. Last week it was biscuits and gravy. I made heart shaped biscuits to show my hubby how much I love him. It was weird, though, they tasted just like regular biscuits...odd...

This morning I got it into my head to make yogurt orange muffins. I did a quick Google search and came across a recipe that sounded great. I made it, and sure enough, it was great! I found the original recipe at Taste of Home. I tweaked the recipe a bit by using half brown sugar and half white sugar, plus throwing in some whole wheat flour. I have also been known to use olive oil instead of butter in quick bread recipes such as this, though I used butter this morning. I'm a purist and don't allow margarine in my house, so I always, always, always use real butter (or olive oil)! A photo of my heart biscuits and my muffins are posted on Facebook.

The recipe calls for a lot more grated orange peel than you will need to make orange juice for the glaze. I sliced up the oranges and served them with the muffins along with scrambled eggs from our chickens.

Here's the recipe as I made it this morning. The muffins were nice and moist, a nice orange flavor, but not too heavy on the orange.


  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons grated orange peel
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 5 tablespoons butter, cubed
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 3/4 cup 2% milk

  • GLAZE:
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange peel


  • In a small saucepan, combine 1/4 cup brown sugar, orange peel and water. Cook and stir over low heat for 3-5 minutes or until sugar is dissolved. Add butter; stir until melted. Remove from the heat; set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and remaining sugar. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, yogurt, milk and reserved butter mixture. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.
  • Coat muffin cups with cooking spray; fill each with a scant 1/4 cup of batter. Bake at 375° for 13-18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Combine glaze ingredients; spoon about 1-1/2 teaspoons over each warm muffin. Remove from pans to wire racks. Yield: 1-1/2 dozen.