Thursday, January 30, 2014

Knitted Sweater + Tips on how to knit a sweater that fits you


At last I have finished my first sweater. I started it sometime in the fall and finished it recently and I have to say I am pretty proud of it!

I didn't follow a specific pattern, I just altered it as I went a long and towards the end made my own design.

I started with the bottom part of the body. I spent quite a lot of time trying to figure out how big (wide) I should make it so that it would fit me. At first I considered buying an actual sweater pattern, but I gave up because I have a hard time understanding other people's knitting notation.

So I basically reverse engineered it - in a way:

1. I measured my waist (940 mm).
2. I measured the thickness of the string I wanted to use (2mm).
3. I measured the thickness of my needles (3 mm)

With those measurements, you can determine how wide one stitch is and from there you can determine how many stitches you need so that it fits your own body. Here is an illustration that might help:

So here I figured out that 134 stitches would properly go around my waist with the string and needles I was using. I obviously added a few more stitches so that I would have extra room (15 stitches more -- I would actually add more next time).

I then tried on the sweater at different stages to make sure I was liking the size. When I reached the bust area, I begun adding 1 stitch every 10 stitches just to give me extra room. So I continued knitting the body until I reached the armpit and then I followed the same logic to start the arms.

Here is what it looked like:


I also stopped knitting the arms when they reached my armpit. Once I finished what you see above, I put about 1/4 of the live arm stitches on a stitch holder (this is for the armpit). I put the same number of stitches aside on the body and then begun knitting the rest of the stitches into the body. You obviously need to equally space both arms.

I worked myself upwards and begun drastically decreasing stitches when I reached my shoulders. At this point you need to decide how high you want your neck to be and you need to leave a hole big enough for your head to fit in.

Lastly, you need to knit together the stitches you put aside for your armpit. Since you put the same amount of stitches on the arms and body aside, you should be able to easily knit those together.

And that is all. :D

Adriana

Monday, January 13, 2014

Mulled Wine: What's in the Santa Maria Gløgg Spice Mix?



The best mulled wine I've ever had has been German. And that's probably because the German ones I've tried have been fruity but not too sweet. If I can't get a hold of German mulled wine and if I can be bothered to get all the spices, I prefer making my own. 

I saw this Santa Maria mulled wine spice mix at the Helsinki-Vantaa airport during the Christmas holiday (about 2 euros) and I was curious, so I got it! As shown in the picture, I was surprised to see the amount of ginger in the packet. The instructions say to use 1 l wine per bag plus some sugar, but I actually think this is good enough for only 1/2 a liter.

I used half of its contents to make two small cups and added a bit of cane sugar. It was excellent. I will definitely be reproducing the contents of this bag in the future.

Adriana


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Making Näkkileipä with Rye Sourdough


I tried making the Finnish näkkileipä from my normal rye sour dough. I would say that they turned out great.


First I thinly spread the dough on a baking mat (you can do this with baking paper). Then using a spatula, I sliced everything into rectangles to make it easier to separate once it's baked.



Here is what they look like out of the oven. I baked these at 200 C for 30 minutes. Then I took them out, separated them and flipped them (so that their bottom is facing you) and placed them back in the oven for another 15 minutes.


Here is the end result along with some extra rye sour dough bread. Delicious!

- Adriana

Monday, December 9, 2013

Recipe: Christmas Sugar Cookies


As promised, here is my basic recipe for sugar cookies. :D

Sugar Cookie Recipe
Makes about 20 cookies.


60 g butter
125 ml sugar
pinch of salt
1 large egg
1 tbs vanilla sugar
4 dl flour



1. Cream the butter, salt, and sugar together (vanilla sugar included). This step is easier if your butter is at room temperature.

2. Add your egg to that mixture and mix until well incorporated.

3. Add in the flour until everything is well mixed.

4. Gather all of your cookie dough and wrap it in plastic wrap. We want the dough to chill fast so make it flat and store it in the refrigerator for 2 hours. You can try the freezer for 30-45 min.

5. Once your dough is chilled, roll it until it is about 3 mm thin and begin cutting out your cookies. It's best if you work fast because the dough will quickly get soft and impossible to handle.

6. Place your cookies on a baking tray and bake at 175 C for about 7-10 min. They are more than ready when the edges begin to brown.

7. Let them cool completely before decorating.


Royal Icing

1 egg white
~ 2 dl powdered sugar
5 drops of lime juice


1. Slowly begin whisking all of the ingredients together. I like to mix some sugar and the egg together before adding the drops of lime. 

The amount of sugar you need is dependent on how large your egg white is and how thick you want your frosting to be.

2. Continue mixing in powdered sugar until your mixture is thick and glossy. 

3. Separate your mixture to make more colors by adding food coloring.

The thicker you make your mixture, the faster it will dry out.

4. Quickly add all of your mixtures into piping bags to prevent them from drying. Begin decorating!



As you can probably tell, I am not very skilled in the art of decorating. I just used a plastic bag with a tiny hole to pipe the frosting and a toothpick to make the designs.

Hope you try these out! They make good office snacks. 

Adriana

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Rye Bread Sourdough Starter: Woes and Solutions

It has been a while since my last post. Sorry! I've been distracted. Anyway, as I said in some other post, I've been making one loaf of rye bread every single week. I am now in the process of making Rye Bread #16. My last proper rye bread update introduced a new recipe that produced a really delicious rye bread. Because I have been keeping a rye bread journal, I can keep track of how I am treating my starter and the bread-making process. The unfortunate thing was that the recipe that I had deemed as optimal was just not good enough any more. The two breads after this came out alright, but the ones after that were just not right.

I don't know if something happened to the starter during storage (I keep it for about 5 days maximum in the fridge inside a sealed wooden box). Maybe feeding it constant wheat was bad for it (although it was only about 2 tbs total). Anyway, the point was that my breads were bland, didn't taste like rye bread at all, and they were not sour. I was quite upset!

So, in a desperate attempt, I decided to continue following the optimal recipe, but instead of adding wheat flour, I added two table spoons of oatmeal stout the second day. I don't know how, I don't know why, but it totally worked. Within a couple of hours I could tell the mixture was back on track. It smelled great and it bubbled properly.

Just in case anyone is curious, the specific beer I added was a Norwegian brand: Havre Stout Øl (Nøgne Ø). I think a lambic would also do the job since that ferments with the help of wild yeast.

So, in conclusion....it really is hard to point out one and only one solid recipe for making this bread. The sourdough starter is a wild thing and needs to be nurtured and observed. Sometimes it may need a little beer (proper beer) and sometimes it might need a little wheat and something it might need nothing. I've concluded that it really comes to trial and error. I would highly recommend keeping a journal so you know what works for your baby starter. It's a volatile picky thing!

Moving on.

I have plans for December. Here is a little preview of what is coming next:



Can you guess? :D

Toodles!
Adriana

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Recipe: Quark Buns


I am not a big fan of sweet breads, but these are too good to skip. I made these last weekend and I am only sorry I didn't make more. = /




Here is what they looked like before baking. I shaped them into flat buns and let them rest.

After they had risen again, I made a small well on the center of each and scooped as much quark as I could.

Then I took some of the egg and brushed the dough generously.

You don't have to use my recipe for the dough. You can use your favorite sweet bun mixture and just fill it/top it with quark. I mean, the filling really is the best part.

...and you really shouldn't make these without the egg wash. Just look at how nice and golden that looks! You can eat these warm, but I actually prefer them cold. You can also have fun with the looks of this. For example, instead of making buns, you can shape your sweet dough into a pizza and top it with quark to make it look more like a pie! 

Enjoy.

- Adriana

Friday, October 25, 2013

Finnish Rye Bread: Shapping and Resting


This is my weekly rye bread following this recipe. I made this gif to show what is done on DAY 4 of the process. The first part of the gif shows me adding and mixing the last portion of salt, wheat, and rye flour. The second part shows the amount of dough I reserved to serve as my next starter. The last part shows the shaping and the resting of the dough. Resting took about 4 hours and baking took about another hour.

I hope this was helpful to someone! The bread was delicious by the way...

- Adriana