une tricoteuse nommée allison

a knitter named allison (who also does other stuff)

A few words about biscuits July 16, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — A @ 2:57 pm
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Hi, it’s your regular blogger’s daughter again, with a word about the South’s favorite bread product, biscuits.

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Several years ago, when I hadn’t been dating my now-husband for very long, I brought him and his daughter (then about four) along with me to a traditional family holiday breakfast at my now-late great-grandfather’s house. Since I can remember, my mom’s side of the family gathered during the holidays for breakfast at Papaw’s house, a tradition that only ceased with his passing at the age of 98. Christmas breakfast meant piles of country ham (in his younger days, Papaw would season and smoke the hog himself), sausage, eggs, grits, gravy and biscuits – you know, your standard Southern breakfast. I directed my then-boyfriend and his daughter to the buffet line, and heard her little voice piping up asking “What’s this?”, as she pointed at a biscuit.

 

“It’s a biscuit,” I said.

 

She looked at me doubtfully.

 

“You can put butter or gravy or jelly on it, or make a little sandwich with the ham or sausage,” I said.

 

She looked at me like I was crazy.

 

You see, the dear child is half Hoosier, and apparently in her short life had never had a biscuit. We fixed that right away.

 

I’d known before then that biscuits are a cultural marker. During my year living in Washington, D.C., I was comforted to find that the cafeterias on Capitol Hill served fluffy biscuits in the mornings. I also knew that in my brief forays into the Northeast, I’d found that even down-home diners considered toast to be an adequate breakfast bread; they had never heard of biscuits, and wanted nothing to do with them. Biscuits mean the South, and they mean home. They’re something you make into a quick sandwich to eat before Sunday School, or something that you slather butter on when they’re so hot out of the oven that they burn your fingers. While they may occasionally come out of a can or the freezer case when time is short, the best biscuits are made from scratch and love, rolled with your Mimi’s rolling pin, and cut with a jelly jar on the kitchen counter.

 

With all this talk about biscuits, you might think that I have fond memories of making them from scratch as a child. Well, um, no. We were Bisquick people at the most, Pillsbury can people when in a hurry. What can I say? The Eighties were hectic.

 

So now, at the age of 33, I have set out to learn to make really darn good biscuits. I want them to be fluffy, buttery, and just barely golden brown on top. They need to have proper spring, and a bit of flakiness, and be the perfect vehicle for a piece of country ham (not city ham, thank you. They are different. That is another blog post altogether). I’ve surveyed Southern friends around my age, asking for their favorite recipes. I’ve studied America’s Test Kitchens, and the Junior League cookbook. Somewhere, I know there is a perfect biscuit recipe, and I’m going to find it. The leading contender so far is actually the recipe printed on the back of the White Lily flour (which I buy at the local grocery, but elsewhere in the country is sold by Williams-Sonoma in tiny packages as a gourmet item).

 

My stepdaughter has come around to biscuits, by the way, and now loves them. In fact, she’s not bad at making them herself, using her mom’s recipe (which I’m sure is fine, but I like to DIY this kind of thing, so I’m hunting for my own method).

 

Interesting side note: my husband, who hears about such things, informs me that biscuits are now trendy outside of the South. Apparently the rest of the country is just now discovering them, and as usual they’re going to turn them into some kind of crazy fusion cuisine insanity, as people tend to do with a lot of traditional foods. But thank you, I do not need chipotle sriracha shallot biscuits. I’ll take the ones I have eaten my entire life. With a dab of butter or a slab of country ham. As God intended them to be.

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Yarny goodness, possibly made of cocker spaniels. April 7, 2010

Filed under: Knitting,Photos,Uncategorized — A @ 1:41 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I went to a little event for work – with some people you may have heard of – and on the way back I decided to cruise by

ReBelle to fondle some Springy non-wool yarns.  You will not be surprised to hear that I bought some. See?

What’s that? You actually want to see what’s inside the bag?

Here’s a peek:

It’s the yarn of the month at ReBelle, Eden Madil, in color 623. I bought five skeins (all they had in that colorway…that’s right, it’s mine all mine! Get your own!). I’ve used this yarn before. It’s very soft, and has beautiful stitch definition, and wet-blocks wonderfully. It’s slippery as heck, so I’m going to have to wind it into cakes on the ballwinder so it won’t fall apart while being knitted, but that means that it should be able to show off drop stitches very nicely.  The plan is to make a Clapotis (yes I’m officially the last knitter on the planet to make this pattern) to wear to a couple of weddings coming up this Summer. (You know how it goes – the church is always cold, then you get hot at the reception, then cold again leaving at night, and someone’s Great Aunt Mabel always says uncovered arms are inappropriate in church, even though you weren’t aware that your friends’ extended family members were apparently from 1895 and members of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union…).

Now the real question is – what’s with the two dogs on the label? If you were a non-English speaking person, wouldn’t you assume that this yarn was made of dog?

 

How Science Becomes (Sorta) News April 5, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — A @ 9:22 am

I spend a lot of time explaining to people (friends, elderly relatives, random strangers) what it is that I do for a living. This cartoon pretty much illustrates it. I’m the “University PR Office” link in the chain:

 

Knitting Olympics/Ravelympics February 15, 2010

It’s time for the Knitting Olympics and Ravelympics! This year I am competing with Ravelympics “Team Hopelessly Overcommitted”. I’m also signed up as an individual knitting athlete with the Yarn Harlot’s official Knitting Olympics. My project is a cardigan. It was going to be Laura Chau’s Top-Down Raglan but, well, I forgot to print out a fresh copy of the pattern, and had tossed my old marked-up one in the recycling bin. So the night of the opening ceremonies I studied a few cardigan patterns and decided that I could wing it. After some false starts due to gauge issues, here is what I have so far:

I cast on 12 for each front, 10 for each sleeve, and 19 for the back. Seed stitched for a while, and now I’m doing YO raglan increases (I like the openwork look it gives). I’m maintaining a 5-stitch seed stitch border on each front, and when I get to the bottom and cuffs I’ll do a deep seed stitch border (I like seed stitch – can you tell?). No buttonholes – I’ll probably install toggles or ties later. The yarn is 8 balls of KnitPicks Wool of the Andes in “Williamsburg” (as you can see, a muted colonial blue). This is a mellow knit – challenging to complete during the Olympics because it’s an entire sweater, but not so technically challenging that I can’t knock out most of it while watching TV or talking with people. Watch for in-progress photos as the Olympics (and the knitting) continue!

 

Attention – blog soon to be brought back to life! January 5, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — A @ 5:20 pm

Yup, that’s right. I’m going to start blogging again. I need to limber up my writing muscles, which I fear have a repetitive stress injury related to news release writing. Stay tuned for more soon!