#tcfiberfellowship

UPDATE: Location is pending. Most recently, we’ve been meeting one block west at Grand Central. For biweekly email updates, please send me a note at kate@thelittleredtunk.com.

I’m following through on at least one of my New Year’s Resolutions this year and am organizing a fiber craft night (or really, any sort of craft night) for Twin Citians!

Introducing…

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The impetus: all knitting groups I know of meet either in the suburbs or at 2:00 on a weekday. What about us young grandmas who have full time jobs? (And actually no grandchildren at all?)

I’m super excited and hope to be joined by at least one other person. :)

The Easiest Scarf You’ll Ever Make

Scarf 2

Right now I’m transitioning between two big knitting projects: a wrap I designed and cast on in November, and this Brooklyn Tweed sweater.

But sometimes you just want to start and finish a project in a single day—or in this case, a single hour. Enter this spring cotton blanket scarf.

Scarf 9

Materials

1.5 yards cotton fabric of choice (the dimensions should be at least 4′ x 4′ to get a full-looking scarf)
Scissors
(Yes, that’s it!)

Instructions

1. Cut a 1/4 inch slit perpendicular to the selvedge of the fabric.
2. Rip along the slit.
3. Pull outermost threads out one at a time from the fabric until your fabric is as frayed as you want it.
4. If ripping your fabric left an uneven fray, trim it.
5. Repeat on the opposing side.
(Note: I chose a fabric with a frayed selvedge. If you choose one without, repeat steps 1-4 along each edge instead of just the two edges perpendicular to the selvedge.)
6. Wash, iron (or not) and wear.

Scarf 3Scarf 4Scarf 5Scarf 6Scarf 10

Pottery Thisaway

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A little photo recap of my 10-day, 5-year-reunion trip to WV/VA: 2 days traveling out, 3 days wood firing in WV, 2 days in VA while waiting for kiln to cool, 1 day back in WV oooing and ahhhing while unloading the kiln, 2 days traveling back. (*Travel days not documented.* Whoops.)

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_DSC3772 v2Exploring the pottery forest with Buddy.

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_DSC3268 v2All hands (and paws) on deck.

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_DSC3416 v2Sealing her off! 

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_DSC3425 v2And now we wait! Meanwhile across the border…

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_DSC3518 v2Human home; baby chicken home.

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_DSC3490 v2I packed light for this leg of the trip. My footwear choice was a bad one.

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_DSC3573 v2It’s hard to document the more meaningful moments of reuniting with friends. So there are a lot of pictures of bottle feeding the lambs. But it was lovely to see former boss lady Nancy and her family again! :)

_DSC3594 v2Linus and Ida.

_DSC3611 v2Caramela is a charmer.

Time to unload the kiln!_DSC3633 v2

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_DSC3785 v2Joy and Lynsi further inspecting pots in the daytime.

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_DSC3789 v2The Counsel agrees that it was a good firing.

And I’ll end with one more of this guy._DSC3784

Virginia is for Lovers

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Part II of the journey was a trip back to the aforementioned livestock-farm-pasta-kitchen-B&B operation that brought me here in the first place.

The farm is one that favors (or favored, rather) the apprenticeship model. During my tenure, there were 4 of us: I was the kitchen apprentice, Lynsi was the artist apprentice and Aaron and Lars were the two farm apprentices.

While lunching in Shepherdstown the other day, Lynsi noticed on the menu that the eggs were from Green Gate Farm, the farm that Lars started while at Smith Meadows. Lynsi took a picture of the menu and sent it to Lars via Facebook messenger. Next thing we knew, we had an open invitation to visit. (Little did Lars know that we were already en route.)

Lars happily toured us around his operation which has both livestock and produce. I didn’t snap too many pictures, unfortunately, but I’ll share a few I took on my phone…

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Lars, Ruby and Rosco on their way to feed some happy piggies.

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Grumpy isn’t as grumpy as he once was, apparently.

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The ladies…

IMG_2329Lynsi giving Ruby the rubdown.

Then it was across the WV-VA border to Smith Meadows. It was so great to spend time with Nancy and Linus, plus see a few familiar characters.

IMG_2338Robert, longtime farmhand and friend to the animals.

IMG_2370Bottle feeding the lambs that need a little extra TLC! Here is Linus and Ida.

IMG_2372And Lynsi and Caramela. 

IMG_2361 Nancy’s bottle feeding posture belies her city girl roots.

IMG_2356My posture and clothing, however, do *not* belie my city girl roots.

IMG_2339These shoes—the only pair I brought for this leg of the trip—were the absolute worst choice for walking around a livestock farm. I’m clearly out of practice.

IMG_2351Lynsi and I parked ourselves on a bench out front of the B&B for some fresh air and knitting.

Tonight we unloaded the kiln and pack up the car; tomorrow Lynsi and I head home, with one “layover” in Bloomington, ID because we are officially old and cannot make the drive in one swoop like we did when we were 21 and 22 (*sigh*). ;)

#WVGDFR

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It’s day 2 (not including travel days) of my 5-year reunion trip to WV/VA with my dear friend Lynsi. Our 2-day drive out here saw the pop stations on heavy rotation, because trashy pop is what we do when we travel together. We heard plenty (too much?) Flo-Rida, hence the G.D.F.R. reference in our trip hashtag (because you can’t have a trip in 2015 without a special hashtag).  This trip was a long-time coming, so Going Down For Real seemed fitting. Annual conversations took place between Lynsi, who has since made regular trips back, and me:

You coming this year?  //  No, I can’t swing it this year  // Oh. Maybe next year  // Definitely!
[one year goes by, same conversation occurs.]

But here I am! Here we are! A little background on how we ended up in this neck of the woods in the first place . . .

Lynsi, one year older than me, found a live-in-nanny-slash-art-studio-apprentice-on-a-farm gig through some green jobs website while wrapping up her senior year. Seemed sort of random to me, but not everyone has a job lined up when they graduate.

Fast forward a year and there I am with no job lined up. I had offers from both my parents and my then-boyfriend-now-husband’s parents to live with and work for them. Either would have been good (and ultimately Kyle and I did spend time living with both sets of parents) but a fateful phone call to Lynsi the day after graduation quickly turned into a conversation with and seasonal job offer from her boss, and I flew out the following week.

My position was Farm Kitchen Apprentice, or some flavor of that. I lived onsite at Smith Meadows Farm, in the basement of the family home. Every weekday I’d wake up, walk the 30 yards to the onsite pasta kitchen, and make lots of pasta and other delicious food, which was then sold the following week at 5 or 6 D.C.-area farmers markets. Every Saturday, I’d go into the city to sell fresh pasta and “happy meat” at Dupont Circle.

Besides establishing friendships with our roommates, boss Nancy and her 5-year-old son, Linus, we met a lot of fascinating characters on and near the farm, from old ladies who believed in fairies to hippie leathersmiths to ravers-turned-yoginis (just scratching the surface here . . . )

And then through Nancy, Lynsi, and then I, met Joy Bridy, a wood fire potter outside of Shepherdstown, WV. (Joy often forgets that she lives in this state and cringes at being reminded. She likes to say she lives in “Potomia” or the Potomac Watershed Region.)

Lynsi and I helped Joy build her kiln 5 years ago and stoked it in its first firing. Now we are back for the kiln’s 10th firing, staying with Joy and husband Daniell in their lovely old home on their beautiful, wooded land.

I’ve been snapping quite a few pictured on my actual camera, but at the moment don’t have a way to get them from camera to computer, so pardon the phone pics:

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 Joy engineered this beast: a 70+ cubic foot bourry box kiln she calls “The Overkiln.”

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Lots of tea in ceramic mugs this weekend. Not to mention delicious food. Potters are notorious foodies and Joy is no exception. (Lynsi made that little plate!) 

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This is old hat for Lynsi.

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New friend since last I was here! Aptly named Buddy.

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Joy at her wheel while the fire roars outside.

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Double duty: fire stoking and sweater knitting.

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And it burned through the night. Today’s the day for the big-time stoking—from 400° 1200°.

Well, I’m out into the wind to feed the fire! More to come soon!

Lazy Meyer Lemon Tart with Reconstituted Brown Butter Crust

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Kyle’s aunt recently gifted us a PieBox with carrying strap and hidden quote pie plate. The retailer threw in a couple recipes as well, so I figured Pi Day/Saturday would be a great time to finally try one out! (Even though I made a tart and not a pie.)

The recipe is called “Lazy Mary’s Lemon Tart” and involves throwing all of the non-crust ingredients in a blender (or food processor, as it were) and letting her rip!

Lemon Tart 1

I paired it with fresh berry compote and some fresh whipped cream (also made in the food processor—see the theme here?) and ended up with a perfectly light/sweet/tart dessert that has me more set than ever on growing a Meyer lemon tree in my apartment. This is a recipe that I will make again and again and again.

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Lazy Meyer Lemon Tart Filling

Serves 10

1 large Meyer lemon, cut into 8 pieces with seeds removed
1 1/2 C confectioners sugar
1 stick unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla
4 eggs

1. Heat oven to 350°.
2. Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until ingredients are blended.
3. Pour into tart shell.
4. Bake for 40 minutes or until set, watching that the top doesn’t burn.

Reconstituted Brown Butter Tart Crust

6 Tbsp unsalted butter + 1 Tbsp additional butter
1 C flour, slightly mounded
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp sugar
Pinch of salt

1. Heat oven to 410°.
2. Put all ingredients except flour and extra 1 Tbsp butter into an oven-safe bowl.
3. Place into hot oven for approximately 15 minutes until butter begins to boil and brown.
4. Remove from oven and quickly add flour one spoonful at a time until a ball forms and starts to pull off from sides of bowl.
5. Once dough is cool enough to touch, press it into pan evenly with your fingertips.
6. Pierce dough several times with the tines of a fork.
7. Bake for 15 minutes or until crust is light brown and shows fine cracks.
8. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, melt remaining butter.
9. Break up crust into large sections and place in a food processor with melted butter. Pulse several times until crumbs are medium-fine.
10. Press crumbs back into pan firmly and evenly with your fingertips.
11. Fill and bake according to tart recipe.

Lemon Tart 9

Third Time’s a Charm: Irish Soda Bread

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For anyone following along on Instagram, you’ll know that it took me a while to figure out this bread.

Irish Soda Bread is notoriously easy—a rustic, no-yeast bread with a low emphasis on perfectly smooth and round loaves. But . . . I am also a notoriously bad baker. (I should really be kinder to myself and say I’m a novice baker on the rise—ha!)

For the first loaf, I didn’t add enough buttermilk, so the dough was too dry and I ended up overworking it. I also didn’t shape it very well, resulting in a tall loaf with an undercooked center.

Irish Soda Bread Fail 3

The second loaf had the tastiest biscuit-like (albeit not-quite-picture-perfect) crust, but I cut into it too soon, halting the essential last stage of cooking that happens within the loaf while it cools. I was too eager to take pictures (#aspiringfoodstylistproblems).

Irish Soda Bread Fail 2

For the third loaf, I added an extra 1/4 C of buttermilk to the dough and waited a full 40 minutes to cut into the loaf. Cooling time is the most important lesson here.

I’ve modified the Cooks Illustrated recipe.

Classic Irish Soda Bread

3 C all-purpose flour
1 C bread flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp melted butter for brushing loaf
2 C buttermilk at room temp

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Cut 2 tablespoons of cold butter into chunks and, with clean hands, work the butter into the dry ingredients until it is completely incorporated. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add 1 3/4 cups buttermilk. Use a spatula to work the ingredients into a dough. Add up to 1/4 C additional buttermilk as needed.

On a lightly floured surface, gently knead the dough and pat into an 8” round. (The buttermilk and baking soda give this bread its “rise” and start reacting as soon as they are mixed, so working quickly is key!)

Place dough into an 8” inch cast-iron skillet. If you don’t have a cast-iron skillet, you can use a baking sheet, but the crust won’t get as crispy. Use a sharp knife and cut an X into the top of the loaf, about 5-inches long and 3/4-inch deep. Bake for 40 minutes.

Remove from oven and brush with 1 Tablespoon of melted butter. Cool for at least 40 minutes on a drying rack. Cut with a serrated knife, serve, and enjoy!

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Irish Soda Bread 4