Sunday, March 25, 2012

Curried Chicken Salad

This is a combo of lots of different recipes I've tried for this -- some that I've made in restaurants, some at home, my mom's recipe growing up.... Curried Chicken Salad seems to be gaining in popularity, and the best thing about chicken salads in general are that they can be made with basically any combination of different materials you have in your cupboard. Of course, traditional chicken salad includes grapes, celery, chicken, mayonnaise, and spices to taste (usually plain old pepper for mine, I like it to taste really simple, clean, and fresh.) I started using a rotisserie chicken for my chicken salad a few years ago - it makes a large amount of chicken salad and if you want to have chicken for dinner the same night, you can use it in pasta or just eat some of the chicken for lunch. Plus the fact that the chicken has been slow cooked with sauces keeps your salad from getting dried out or tasting bland. If you can find it, a rosemary enhanced bird is my absolute favorite.

First, determine your ingredients. I prefer all chicken salads to have at least 2 types of fresh fruit, a few different kinds of nuts, a dried fruit (cranberries or raisins are spectacular here), mayonnaise for the base, and then spices. For this one we'll obviously be using curry, but I decided to use all of the following ingredients:

1 Rotisserie chicken (a small chicken makes for enough chicken salad for a few people for 2 days, or one person to have for lunch for about a week.) 
Mayonnaise (your preference, I'm a blue-ribbon girl all the way, personally)
Granny Smith Apple
Grapes (halved)
Dried Cranberries
Sunflower Seeds
(I cheat a bit here and use a fruit-and-nut trail mix that includes sunflower seeds, almonds, peanuts and cashews. I like a lot of crunch in my salad!)
Yellow Curry
Chili Powder (a little goes a long way but can add some spicy sweetness with the cinnamon)
Lemon Juice

I don't really cook anything to specific ratios, so the best I can tell you is to do what feels right. Mix the drier ingredients (like the chicken, fruits, nuts, seeds) together. Mix the mayonnaise with the spices to taste in another bowl -- this will help you get the sauce ratio right for you without it being oddly distributed in the final batch. Add a teensy dash of lemon juice if you are putting apples in your salad - this will keep them from turning brown on you. Also, if you have a more delicate fruit like a blueberry, this will keep it from being totally crushed when you mix the batch up, since you only have to mix it once! After it's done, I like to pile it on a bed of lettuce and top it with some cucumber, with hummus on the side. It makes great lunches and snacks!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Future Colorwork

I spent a lot of nights this week spinning this, mostly because my apartment can get very quiet, but also because I like to spend my evenings in a productive way while doing non-productive activities like watching the season finale of The Bachelor or additional episodes of Once Upon a Time. Neither of which, just so you know, are incredibly enriching shows, but I just can't sit down and listen to something serious after a long day at work.

Altitude is a lovely Southern Cross Fibre corriedale prep -- I matched it up with three of the four colors that came in my Citrus Splash club installment, I think the browns go nicely together with the deep blues and purples. I've plans to turn this into colorwork, or perhaps gift it as a colorwork kit to someone, not entirely sure yet. It's about a very light worsted or heavy dk weight.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Square One

I have started a little at-work project, for knitting during my lunch breaks, although occasionally it comes home with me -- a Mitered Crosses Blanket. If you aren't familiar with the origin of this particular blanket pattern, you'll be pleased to learn that not only do you get a gorgeous blanket out of it, but you'll also have donated to charity. Each purchase of the pattern gets donated in full to the Mercy Corps. At the time this pattern was written, the money was mostly going to Japan to relieve some of the tsunami damage. I am not entirely sure what the Mercy Corps. is putting all the money towards now, or if it is still going to Japan, but it's nice to know that I could give at least a little to charity with the purchase of this pattern.

All in all, the pattern is well written, and fairly easy to understand -- making it a great beginner pattern for learning increases and decreases. Since it's in garter stitch, I would highly recommend it to someone who knows the basics of a long-tail cast on. It also uses an additional cast on -- the Backwards Loop, that, as it turns out, is the cast on that my mother, who is just beginning to knit, knew from her childhood.

I am knitting the blanket out of some handspun superwash BFL, 'Hello Yarn', in the 'Chard' colorway. I have about 500 yards of it spun up to about a light worsted weight, and it coordinates very well with my background color, which is Universal Yarn's Deluxe Worsted. Universal is the yarn-store sister brand to Premier, where I work, and we had some yarn that got wet during transfer or maybe during a rain storm in the warehouse. Since we would never send damaged yarn to a store, we split up the lot amongst folks in the design studio and all took home a bag, which we then washed and dried out. Honestly, it was dry when I got it, and it didn't smell musty at all, so I'm just knitting with it, since it'll be washed later anyway. I've dealt with some pretty gnarly yarns before (fleeces that have been underwashed, etc.) so it didn't bother me too much that the yarn might have gotten a bit waterlogged.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Southern Cross Fibre Club

This December, I got invited to be in the Southern Cross Fibre Club, after being on the waiting list for a bit. This club is well known on Ravelry for great colors that work for a variety of people -- including guys -- and fibers that are interesting and often unusual. So far, that's held true for me, although one month of the installment wasn't really my colors, and I thought about trading it (ended up keeping it), I am trying to broaden my comfort zone and try some new spinning. After all, if I just kept adding favorite colors to my stash I would have so much green that I could never knit it all up.

I think it's really important that people review clubs they are in, so after a year of being in club I plan to post a review based on my experiences in this club talking about various points that I think are important to folks looking for a club to join. So far, I have only been in three months, though, so you'll all have to wait until December. In the meantime, enjoy the gorgeous Texel (a new fiber I haven't tried yet) above! It was the January 2012 installment. The colorway is called 'Tequila Sunrise.'