Tag Archives: granny squares

Moms… and Madness

I honestly don’t know what I would do without my mother.

When I tell her I need a larger container for my fabric dyeing, she shows up at Hamersley’s Bistro with a large, red, horse feeding bucket.


At our impromptu family dinner the other night, she gave my sisters and I the type of gift that only a mother could give.

 Her style is a bit more elegant and, frankly, subtle than mine, but she knows my taste well enough to buy me fun and funky accessories like this multi-colored cuff:


She keeps me well-stocked with fresh chicken eggs:


And delicious little surprises like stinky cheese. This  Roquefort made my usual salad-and-sandwich lunches so much more interesting this week:


 She gave me a bottle of Vitamin D for Christmas, and a few weeks later sent me an email about the dangers of taking vitamins due to their high folic acid content.


She makes me part of a larger history. I’ve inherited so much from my mom, including the majority of these threads and a lovely packet of crochet hooks which I’m finally putting to good use these days!


I can’t even begin to photograph all of the pots, pans, and kitchen accessories that she has passed down (not to mention bed sheets, table cloths, furniture…). I’ll take her hand-me-downs and all their memories over new goods any day.

Whenever there’s some sort of mishap or crisis, she sends out an email with the ‘victim’s’ name in the subject line. My most recent example: an email titled “Z” about my little sister’s car crash. I wonder how many “Pippa” emails she’s sent out over the years…

She has an incredible garden, full of fresh fruit, veggies, flowers, and even chickens—and requested a Mother’s Day dinner rather than brunch so she could spend the day tending to it. She also requested our help, so in addition to my usual crafting endeavors and an abundance of long-neglected chores, I’ll be spending my Sunday in a sunshiney garden.

On that note… Happy Mother’s Day!

Meanwhile, is it possible that I’m  a crochet convert? Granny Puffy squares are just so full of possibility…


Just as crazy—did I actually make a rough sketch of my next quilting project instead of taking my usual, improvisational approach?


Craziest of all: could it be that I met my chocolate cake match last night at Prezza and wasn’t able to finish every last drop of this incredibly rich, succulent, flourless beauty? OK, so I only left a couple bites, but still…

What is the world coming to?


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The Good, The Bad, and The Puffy

Let’s start with some bad. Kyle was supposed to attend his younger sister’s wedding in Kosovo this weekend (yes, you read that correctly), but due to a volcanic eruption in Iceland, his flight has been canceled. Actually, this is more bizarre than bad (a volcanic eruption? What are the chances) and, of course, I selfishly feel like it’s good news since I was nervous about him traveling and now he’s going to be safe at home.

Then again, in anticipation of his absence, I had made lots of fabulous plans with someone very special: me, myself, and I. Yes, aside from having Saturday dinner and Sunday brunch with other human beings (you know who you are and you know you’re special ;)), I’m really ready for a couple days of being more sewcial than social.  

I had planned on kicking off my me-time last night by finally making an individual soufflé in my new Mario Batali 2 cup pan. Fortunately, Kyle had massive amounts of cheeseburger and chili fries left over from a previous meal, so I went ahead and executed this plan anyway. And I’m very pleased to report that I had quite the soufflé success! (But Kyle also liked it, even though it was meat free, so next time I have to make two.)

I’ve been taking a very minimalist approach to grocery shopping these days since I’ve been pouring a fair amount of money into thread, fabric, yarn, etc., and I rather enjoy making do with what’s on hand in the kitchen (for the record, one of the best ways to economize your food budget is to ride your bike to the grocery store—you simply can’t overbuy). However, there are a couple of things that I always have on hand, and one of them is sweet potatoes (and, of course, eggs from my mother’s chickens). So, as is my usual approach, I did some scouting around online, flipped through a couple cookbooks and came up with a modified recipe that suited my current supplies. This one is worth sharing because it really was delicious—and, unlike my last soufflé, it rose beautifully; the perfect combination of puffy, moist, and creamy.

Sweet Potato & Cheese Soufflé



  • 1 small sweet potato
  • 2 tbsp butter, divided
  • 1 ½ tbsp parmesan cheese
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ tbsp flour
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • ¼ cup grated cheese (I used a lovely yellow cheese that my mom gave me, but any hard cheese will do)
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • salt
  • thyme

Use 1 tbsp of the butter to the grease the inside of a 2 cup  pan and coat it with parmesan cheese.  

Wrap the sweet potato in foil and cook in the oven at 400 degrees F for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, until it is very soft. Remove the skin and mash the sweet potatoes in a bowl, adding salt and thyme to taste. Lower the oven heat to 375 degrees F.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the remaining tbsp of butter and add the garlic, stirring for about a minute. Add the flour and 1 tsp of salt. Whisk consistently for about 30 seconds. Add the milk and continue whisking for 3 minutes; the sauce will begin to thicken. Add the sweet potato mixture and cook for about 1 minute. Pour in the cheese, stir until it has melted, and remove from heat.

Add about half of this sweet potato mixture to the egg yolks, then return the egg yolks to the rest of the sweet potato mixture and stir to combine.

Whisk the egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks begin to form. Mix 1/3 of the whites into the sweet potato mixture, then fold in the remaining whites.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and cook for about 20 minutes at 375 degrees F.

Soufflés are without a doubt going to be a new dinner staple for me. I fell asleep imagining other soufflé possibilities. I want to try adding tuna, bacon, spinach, broccoli, leeks…I could go on and on. And don’t even get me started on the prospect of a chocolate soufflé.

The forecast for the rest of my weekend? Well, a little bit of bad: it’s supposed to rain/snow (really Boston? really?) which means minimal bike riding. The good: on Wednesday afternoon, I biked to Whole Foods. I save my trips to Hole Wallet for very special groceries. In this case:


Guess what teff flour is used for? To make injera, aka Ethiopian bread. Oh yes, I have not forgotten that miraculous spongy delight from last weekend, and as is the case with most delicious breads, I can’t resist making my own. I’ve already combined  1½ cups of the flour flour with 2 cups of water and it is currently fermenting in a large bowl on my kitchen counter. It smells a bit funky and it’s nicely puffed—believed it or not, this is a good thing. At this rate, it will be ready for Saturday night when my sister and I are making a homemade Ethiopian dinner, complete with honey wine!

I also have a new infatuation that will undoubtedly occupy me a great deal this weekend. For some reason, I decided to do something a bit different with my recent batch of dyed yarns:


I know, I know, crocheting instead of knitting isn’t exactly revolutionary—but doing something fresh with my fingers feels really, really good. It took me a little while to find my flow, but now the yarn is looping around my crochet hook in a fluid, rhythmic, and addictive way. I’ve tried crochet in the past and it never really clicked, but for some reason, this time is different and I’m completely, utterly hooked (get it?)

I love these little squares, but I feel like calling them ‘granny’ squares doesn’t do much for crocheting’s reputation, and it certainly doesn’t capture how lovely and fun they are. I’m calling mine puffy squares instead, and I adore them.

Kyle’s assessment: “I like these. They’re like mini knitting,” but I think I’m so fond of them because they’re very conducive to the bite-sized approach that I’m drawn to these days. Each little square is a mini-project in and of itself, but they will come together to create a larger, beautiful whole. How perfectly patchwork.

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