Sunday, November 17, 2013

Cooking Sundays: Cooking to Knit By... Why Yes It Does Seem Chili to Me

After an awesome, awesome week away from home, it's back to the old grindstone.
(kinda sad face here.)

Since I did visit a few yarn stores in my travels, why I could in fact sit and knit while the washer is rolling along...
Which leads me to ---


The leaves are half fallen (sad), the chill is on the pumpkin (brr) and there's football on the telly (what! how did that get in there).
Well then, Hallmark Channel is firing up its christmas movie lineup. (Don't let them kid you... B actresses/ actors don't fade away, they move to the Hallmark Channel. Sorry couldn't resist. )

What does this all mean you say?
It means ---

Easy Turkey Chili!
And no, they will never miss the red meat in this dish. Promise. :)

Here. You. Go.

Easy Turkey Chili
Prep time - 15 mins.
Ready time - an hour or so
8 servings, but double this because you are going to need to

2 tsp. of olive oil or butter or I like a combo
1 pound or pkg. of ground turkey
1 onion, chopped
2 good spoon scoops of minced garlic (ok 2 Tbs. for you scaredy cats)
2 cups water + a bit more if it gets a little thick in the cooking process
1 large or (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1 large or (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 (16 oz.) can canned kidney beans, lightly drained (sometimes I add a mix of light/dark or maybe pinto or you get the idea)
2 Tbs. chili powder
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
anywhere from 1/8 tsp. to 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper (this is where a lot of the "heat" comes from in this recipe, believe it or not... tread carefully! Add to taste!)

To add to individual serving dishes - optional
a slice of provolone cheese in the bowl (or am. cheese slices work well, too, very creamy)
a small handful of tortilla chips hand crushed into the bowl
or a slice of cornbread of your choice on the side instead of the chips

1.Heat the oil/butter in a large pot over medium heat.
Add turkey and cook until lightly browned, breaking up into chunks.
Add onions and garlic and continue cooking until tender.

2. Pour in water, stir in tomatoes, beans, spices.
Bring to a boil.
Turn to low, cover, and simmer 30 or more minutes (until the diced tomatoes soften and meld into the soup a little).

To serve:
Put a slice of cheese in the soup bowl, add broken up tortilla chips and pour soup over.
Serve and enjoy!

You can also make a vegetarian version adding some sweet red pepper slices and mushrooms instead of the meat and using just the olive oil no butter. Anyway, you get the picture, just experiment to make it vegetarian-friendly.

I automatically double the batch to make some for lunches/leftovers and to freeze.
And PS, if I posted a turkey chili recipe before, this is a variation. But, whatevah. Experiment and enjoy!
Desert Vista Dyeworks
Peppermint Hot Chocolate colorway
Vintage style stitch marker
- MooncusserBags on Etsy

The knitting I'm going to cook by today?
I have two choices.
Finish my Maine Retreat socks?
Start the mallory cowl with my newly acquired Quince & Co. yarn in the gingerbread color way?
Decisions, decisions....

Have a Spicy One. :)

Saturday, November 16, 2013


Remember that best friend in grade school?
The one who sat beside you in class?
Who tossed you notes when the teacher wasn't looking, saved the best swing for you, had your back with the playground "biotches" standing by the monkey bars at recess?
Who you talked to endlessly on the phone at night... even plotted what outfits you two were going to wear the first day of school?

Fast forward 30 or so years....
Do you still have one?

Well BFFs are alive and kicking... and knitting at a fall fiber retreat in Maine this weekend.

I only bring this up because... well, it's too great of a story not to.
And it because continues to point out how great people of New England (and beyond for that matter) really are.
And because best friends can be had at any age.
No, you are not too "old" to have a "bestie". :)

This last week I attended a knitting retreat hosted by Paula of the Knitting Pipeline video podcast. If you haven't tried your hand at listening or viewing podcasts - give it a whirl, you will not be disappointed. (they are on all subjects and hobbies - the choice is endless)

Anyway, since you already know I'm crazy over yarn and fiber since forever, it will not surprise you that I would drop everything to attend a short retreat in the heart of interior Maine - specifically at the Notre Dame Spiritual Retreat Center, Alfred Maine.

And while yarn and knitting was number one on the list of things to do while there, meeting and finding new friendships came in as close second.

Over the course of four days, one of my best friends - Erin from Boston - and I first wended our way over hill and dale, turnpike and country road and then immersed ourselves in the upper new england wooly retreat together... meeting people we had never met before to initially do the one thing we all had in common - use sticks and string to make things lol.

In a word or two, we had a ball! But more importantly, we made new friendships I don't believe we would have ever made out "in the real world" so quickly or so permanently.

There was Grace from Canada.
Grace with "hunky J" in the background ;)
Effervescent personality, kind and open heart, ridiculously creative ideas, projects and end results that would put a Disney exec to shame, I tell you.
Funny to the point of depends moments, deep to the point of endlessness and the kind of person you are sure if there is reincarnation has been a long lost relative in a previous lifetime. :)

And then spinner Jan from Pa. Calm enough to run a platoon (former armed services leader) of soldiers in work or knitters on a mission to save the world (using a pattern whose purchasing power could help fund reducing/eliminating chemotherapy in the future).

Mel and Erin
(Erin's photo)
Or how about Mel who's compassionate and open essence, funny and refreshing take on life could meld a heart into gold just by standing beside her.
Paula as sea nymph ;)
photo by Erin

And then fearless leader Paula (who plays bagpipe nobody's business!). A slip of a woman strong enough to whip a group of 40+ knitters into a cohesive circle of friends, funny enough to lift the even the most momentarily lonely spirit from being away from home, and creative enough to dazzle with her ingenious designs and instruction.

But best of all, I could finally spend time with my newest bestie, my BKFF Erin (Best Knitting Friend Forevah).
Saco River Dyehouse

We talked, we shared, we knitted, we kvetched, we problem solved with abandon! We shopped, we toured a yarn dyehouse , we sauntered, we reflected, we discussed, we laughed until we cried and we forged a bond of limitless proportions.

And on the last day, when I embraced the beginnings of a cold, she took on added care and concern effortlessly and with love and kindness.
Yes, the knitting was important... although for the life of me, I could barely get my sock project done over the noise of happiness and chatter. :)
my sock project
stitch marker by MooncusserBags
on Etsy

Saco River Dyehouse
Friends come in all shapes, sizes and ages, from every road of life and from every corner of the world. Whether we choose to keep and cherish these connections or let them fly up and into the winds of life is up to us.
carded sheep wool

You can always tell when two people are becoming best friends - they are usually having waaay more fun than they should be.

The whole retreat was kinda like that. :)

Have a Good One by going out and making a new friend (even if it's just at the local Starbucks).   :)