House Favorites

You’ve seen both of these make appearances on ScratchCraft multiple times, but in different forms. The beautiful thing is that there is no limit to the types of combinations available for us to make and sample. I’m talking about mittens and I’m talking about pies. Virginia likes making the former and I the latter.

She just finished making Charlene Schurch’s “Pattern 1” from the book Mostly Mittens.

Mittens (Pattern 1)

These are knit with some lovely yarn by Simply Shetland. It’s their Lambswool and Cashmere blend – super soft, super warm, perfect for keeping hands cozy.

Mittens (Pattern 1)

I prefer taking a more indirect approach to keeping ourselves cozy and warm. It starts with a few basic ingredients, then add some heat, serve with tea.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Winter seems to be dragging on in Minnesota, and for everyone bemoaning the fact that Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow (meaning another 6 weeks of winter), I say, “If only we could be so lucky.” It’s going to be awhile before Summer rolls around. In the meantime, Strawberry Rhubarb pie (made without refined sugar, of course) does the trick.

So, really, these are not just house favorites, but house necessities. And, ones we’ll continue to make and enjoy for awhile.

Apples on my mind

Apple Head

It might be possible to have too many apples in one’s life, but I don’t think I’ve come close. Saturday morning I picked up another bunch of apples, including some “seconds” that required some fairly immediate attention (lest they continue to decline).

More Apple Pie

The result was two enormous pies (I think each pie has about 25 apples), which is good, because I figured the recommendation of eating 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables can probably be fulfilled with one slice.

Other apples in my life that I enjoy are the ornamental crab apples outside our kitchen window. Not only do the blooms in the spring cheer up the yard, so does the fruit in the fall and early winter. While I was peeling the apples for the pies, this was my canopy:

Crab Apple

A couple of notes about my previous post on leaves and Carl Sagan – I obviously got a little distracted by apples and raked very little. The leaves aren’t going anywhere, and will be there for another day. I also tracked down the quote that I was hoping to find and replaced the one that I posted yesterday. It’s worth checking out.

Erin (and apple pie)


Virginia wrapped up another cardigan (even before the keyboard was able to cool down from the previous post). This is “Erin” (from Heartfelt) by Kim Hargreaves, knit using Rowan’s Calmer.


Like her, I have my hands clasped in front of me (more over my stomach, really), because as I type this, the aroma of baking apple pie wafts through the air and is making me quite hungry.

Apple pie - before the oven

Yes, it’s that time of year again. Apple pie is a staple around these parts, and will continue to be so since a coworker bestowed upon me several bags of Haralsons from a tree in his yard.

I’ve done what I can to make this not so much a treat – instead something that can be eaten as a meal (as breakfast with a cup of coffee is perfect), a dessert or just because. Basically, the apples (about 20 of them) are peeled, cut up and tossed with a handful of chopped dates, spices (cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom) and some flour (3-4 Tbsp).

The crust is about 1/3 cup butter (chilled and diced) pressed into 1.5 cups of flour (I also like to add a dash of cinnamon to the crust) and a sprinkling of water to hold it together when rolling out. Roll the crust so that it is quite a bit bigger than the pie pan used. Fill with apple mixture and fold the crust over (like a rustic tart). Bake in a preheated 425ΒΊ oven for 50 minutes (or until apples are done to your liking). I also like to put a small piece of foil over the opening at the top of the pie to help the apples steam a little. I remove this piece 15 minutes before pie is done baking.

There is debate on if apple pie is better eaten cool or warm. Personally, I like the pie to cool before eating (the apples seem sweeter, and the flavor is more melded). However, if I’ve completely lost my self-control and there is vanilla ice cream in the house… umm, let’s just not go there.

Edited to add:

Apple pie - after the oven


Biopsy no. 4

My oncologist phoned us up on Wednesday to ask that I come to the clinic for another bone marrow biopsy. My platelet count had dropped (unexpectedly) which prompted him to schedule the biopsy sooner rather than wait 2 months for a follow-up. So, we went in yesterday (bright and earlier) to add a fourth scar to my lower back. I am getting the hang of these things, but I am very thankful for the availability of drugs like Ativan and Dilaudid (although, Virginia might argue differently, knowing that the stronger the dose, the cornier my jokes become, and they doubled my dose yesterday).

The test that they will use on this biopsy is something called a polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Even though the last biopsy showed molecular remission, it only analyzed 500 cells. From what I understand, this test allows for greater accuracy, and will determine to what extent the remission has occurred. The Mayo Clinic labs have a pretty good explanation of the test. My oncologist, in theory, will be able to determine the course of treatment based on the results of this test, if their indeed is a change. Analyzing the marrow this way can allow for early detection of relapse, which will mean quicker treatment. The results, unfortunately, take a week. So, we won’t know anything until Wednesday.

In the meantime, life goes on. I’m feeling better and better, the hole in my chest is healing nicely, and since our bikes are fixed up, we’ve already been out several times. And, what better way to illustrate a return to “normal” than by showing some scratchcrafty goodness…

Keefely Mittens

…like, these Keefely Mittens that Virginia made (pattern by JoLene Treace):

Keefely Mittens

…or, this apricot pie I baked for a friend’s birthday:

Apricot Pie

Normal is good. We like normal.