Chicken feet, pretzels, and one big pillow

I had one of those really good, really random weekends. First and foremost, one of my favorite people ever came to visit! Sally and I were roommates for all four years of college but she moved back to New York to study design at Pratt so I’ve been missing her badly. If anyone was happier to see her than I, it was Shuffle:

 

They’ve always had a special bond.

Anyway, we had a far too brief reunion weekend. This involved some delicious Dim Sum at Windsor Cafe—which inspired me to add another item to my ever-expanding list of things to create: those miraculously cloud-like dumplings. Oh. So. Good. Sorry, I was too busy inhaling them to take a picture.

We also tried chicken feet:

 

Turns out, chicken feet are pretty much just bone and skin. They’re actually not bad, but, well, kind of what you would expect when eating a foot.

Saturday night involved drinks at Upstairs on the Square, a Harvard classic that apparently serves delicious egg white cocktails, with my sister Charlie (who, by the way, is in the midst of creating her own blog! If you are a runner/fitness enthusiast or admirer of those who are, you are in for a treat. I’ll post the link as soon as it’s up.)

 

(Charlie took the picture which is why she isn’t actually in it.)

Let’s just say that the rest of the evening involved more friends and fabulous, college-like behavior which I either 1. Didn’t photograph or 2. Am not going to post pictures of. Let’s just say bacon burgers were enjoyed, 40s were imbibed, and good friends got even friendlier than normal.

Somehow, amidst all this, I managed to finish up a project that you probably thought I’d forgotten about. Actually, I kind of had—or, at least, I’d temporarily lost interest. But shortly after starting my red and blue quilt, I felt a pang of guilt for having abandoned my Mexican napkin project. So I decided to finish this up before it devolved into UFO territory.

First off, I realized that too much wonkiness really is possible, and I wanted my stitching lines to be somewhat straight, so I decided to place strips of masking tape as guides. Several hours of hand stitching (running, zigaag, cross stitch) later, and the napkins were complete.

But, as I mentioned before, I only bought nine which amount to about 60″ x 60″, an odd in-between size. This is too small for a quilt, but I decided it was just right for a giant pillow:

Oh yes, I went there. And I felt legit insane the whole time I was putting this together, but it has made me happier than any of my creations have in a long time. I mean, think about it. What is more glorious than a giant, bed-like pillow? It’s basically a doggy bed for human beings.

I stuffed it with a grand total of eight bags of polyester fiber fill ($2 a pop at Sewfisticated, but don’t try to get your own any time soon since I depleted their supply.) I was so excited when I finished it, I emailed my brother a picture (he’s away at Princeton but has always had a strange understanding of my wacky crafty ways). His reply pretty much sums this one up:

So I first read this email a couple days ago. I’m napping in my bed, my phone makes its little notification tone, I wake up and semi-consciously read about a human-sized, Mexican napkin pillow. At the time I was sure I’d misunderstood something, so I went back to sleep. But no, it seems I understood clearly. Ironically, I’m surprised by how little surprised I was to see this. Pippa makes a Mexican napkin pillow? Yeah, it happens. Right on. – Gordon

Sunday night’s dinner was the perfect combination of fun and comfort. After what feels like a too-long break from yeasty bread baking, I decided to try something a little different: soft pretzels. I followed this recipe pretty closely (but substituted whole wheat flour) since this was my first attempt and experimenting would  have been unwise.

The first stage is not so different from other breads—and oh how I’ve missed the delicious smell of rising dough as it doubles in size and transforms into a big, soft, spongy mass.

But then things get a little tricky, and I had to really psych myself up for the next part. After rolling the dough into ropes, then pretzel-like shapes (incidentally, I had to do a Google Image search for pretzels to make sure I got the right shape and this turned up some very odd images, including a pretzel-legged merman, worth checking out if you have some spare time), you plop each pretzel into a sauce pan of boiling water + baking soda for 30 seconds. I was very, very dubious that this was going to be a successful operation. But, thanks to my mother’s superb kitchen setup skills, I happen to own a large, flat spatula-like object that was perfect for this procedure. Turns out, pretzels really do float:

 

Once boiled, the pretzels have to bake for about 10-12 minutes (12-14 according to the recipe but I think I have a hotter-than-average oven). And voila:

 

I’m just going to come right out and say it: I am super proud of these! Baking or cooking something that you were fairly convinced was out of your league is a very gratifying endeavor. Fresh, warm pretzels dipped in homemade butternut squash and bacon soup (which was really more like mashed squash since I like uber-thick soups):

 

Pretty much the best possible way to end the weekend. Well, maybe second best. This felt pretty darn good, too:

 

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3 Comments

Filed under Bread, cooking, sewing

3 responses to “Chicken feet, pretzels, and one big pillow

  1. that is one fabulous pillow Pippa!!

  2. I have napkins like that!
    PS I don’t think 60 by 60 is an off quilt size. Just a little nap quilt.

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