March 31, 2013

Popovers and Tea

My grandmother, Onnie, is one of my favorite people to have ever graced this earth.  She was a difficult, strong-willed, opinionated woman, and I loved all of those things about her.  Up until her very last days she made her own decisions and stuck to them.

Growing up neither of my grandmothers fit the cookie-cutter, kids' book picture of a grandmother.  Both of mine were strong, passionate women, with their own loves and interests to guide them.  To my recollection neither of them have ever baked me cookies.  When I was little I thought it was so strange that all of the media representations of grandmothers are sweet, rotund, delicate women with quiet voices and gentle attitudes.  Mine were nothing of the sort.  They were happy to tell you off if you were wrong and were never particularly adept in a kitchen.

It took me years to realize how truly fortunate I am to have these women in my life growing up.  I learned that women need to do what's best for them and their family.  I learned to keep that good man if you find him, but don't be afraid to get rid of those that don't treat you the way you deserve.  I learned that women are strong, confident, and opinionated.  And in this world that is no small thing.

They also introduced me to many of the passions that drive this blog: knitting, crocheting, sewing, and a totally healthy obsession with my dog.

As I said earlier, my grandmothers rarely cooked.  But each have a few specialties, and this is one of Onnie's.  For me, they're one of those comfort foods that takes me right back to my grandmother's dining room.  It always makes me smile to remember the way she would tease my brother by knocking on the underside of the table and saying that the geese had come for him.

  They might be a New England thing; they seem pretty British.  Where ever they came from they are most definitely amazing.  Popovers are this buttery, delicious, light, eggy roll made in a muffin tin.  They take a little bit of time, but the recipe is pretty simple, and they only have four ingredients.  Give them a try.

The delicious final product!  
Intrigued?  Read on for set-by-step pictures, and the recipe at the bottom.

Happy spring!

Happy Easter, Passover, or simply a nice warm spring day from the Charm Hour family to yours.

the pattern used for the nest and eggs can be found here, from the Purl Bee

March 25, 2013

Hour Time in the Twilight Zone

This weekend I joined Joe and his rugby team on a trip down to Nashville for a tournament NashBash.
I first went to NashBash back in 2008 when both Joe and I were new to playing and had just started dating.  Our college still goes and we were fortunate enough to catch up with a few old friends.  I also have an amazing friend from my time abroad in Africa who lives in Nashville, so seeing her was an extra treat.  And as always, it involved an immense amount of beer, mud, and dancing so I am a very happy camper.

I wish I had pictures from all of the awesome rugby that happened, but I decided not to bring my big fancy camera around for three days of debauchery.   Fortunately, someone else did!  These pictures come to you courtesy of Becky Roberts:

photo by Becky Roberts

photo by Becky Roberts

March 18, 2013

Irish Soda Bread

This weekend was St. Patrick's day, also known as my anniversary, so it's a pretty exciting weekend in our house!  In honor of our mutual Irish heritage I decided to try out something totally new - Irish Soda Bread.  Joe is especially fond of dense breads, and this is super simple and takes very few ingredients so it was destined to be a great new addition to our recipe book.

I based my creation off of this recipe.

The Ingredients:

1 cup buttermilk - OR - 1 cup milk and 1 tsp vinegar stirred together and left to sit for 10 minutes

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 Tbs sugar

Mix dry ingredients, stir in buttermilk.

If it's too sticky, add some flour.  If it's too dry and won't stick together, add a dab of milk.  It probably won't be perfect.

You can also add exciting things like nuts or dried cranberries or more sugar, but it was my first time so I went basic.

TOO STICKY!!!  Add more flour. 

Now that looks more like bread dough.

Don't forget one of the essential essential elements of Charm Hour- your drink of choice.
And you gotta go Irish on St. Patrick's Day if not always.  

March 11, 2013

My Meat-Eating History

I started writing this post about bacon and this amazing breakfast for dinner Joe and I did last night, but it took such a long detour I thought I should make this it's own post. Plus having pictures of goat skinning and bacon pancakes in the same post seemed a little extreme.  So, here's a port just about me!  And why I went from eating nothing but grains to being an avid meat-eater.

Warning:  some of these pictures might gross you out.

I didn't eat meat growing meat growing up- and not because I have hippy parents, but because I am ridiculously bull-headed sometimes (more like all the time).   I started being a picky eater around age 5 and was stubborn since birth so I refuse to give in once I made my decision. Not to mention the only meats I remember trying after that point was cold cut ham and salmon which have probably convinced NO ONE to eat meat.

But then in college I decided to go study Wildlife Management in Kenya and Tanzania through the School for Field Studies.  This was one of the best decisions I've even made.  When we left Tanzania the staff at Haven Nature sent us off with a ceremonial goat roast.  The goat was around for a little while, during which time he got the name Buckets (why he was named Buckets is long and unrelated story).  Festo, one of our staff members, slaughtered it and those of us who wanted to helped skin it before it was cooked up for dinner.

Festo and Buckets

March 10, 2013

The Simple Ripple Blanket

My grandmother is the queen of these blankets.  Each grandchild gets a full-size blanket in their college colors before they start their freshman year.  I've still got my red and white one in my bedroom here in Illinois.

I wanted to try out a new pattern for the baby of a friend of mine, and it seemed like the perfect one to try since it means so much to me. I found some similar patterns but they were annoyingly complicated.  I decided to make up my own pattern where there's only one pattern to remember that's the same for every line.  It's also really easy to adapt to the size you want to make.