happy year of the rooster!

Usually I’d be having a regular work day over Lunar New Year, but this year it falls on a Saturday! So I thought I’d celebrate by trying out a rice cooker turnip cake recipe :D

I remember my Hakka grandmother making lots and lots of turnip cakes in preparation for new year. Turnip cake is also Mike’s favourite at dim sum. So even though I’m not so good with cooking, I thought I’d give it a try. And it actually turned out quite well, and tasted like turnip cake! The recipe I found is all in Chinese, but if you can’t read Chinese but are interested in making turnip cake with a rice cooker, here’s what I did :D 

The main ingredients are: (they can usually be purchased at Asian grocery stores)

400g daikon radish (I don’t have a scale so I don’t know how much I used for sure, but used one average size daikon radish)
80g Chinese sausage (I used one)
80g preserved meat (?) (not sure what it is in English, didn’t use)
3 shiitake mushrooms (soaked for a few hours to rehydrate)
1 tbsp dried shrimps (soaked for a few hours to rehydrate. I probably used 3 tbsp, as pictured. Didn’t measure. 1 tbsp of shrimps just seems too few. I like shrimps.)
1 cup of rice flour (I used about 1/4 cup more because it looked like I had more daikon than called for)
1 cup of water (I used about 1/4 cup more, and used the liquid created from shredding the daikon, as well as the soaking water from the mushrooms, for flavour) 
I also used a small amount of cilantro, chopped

Seasoning for the daikon:
1 tsp chicken instant stock mix
1/8 tsp sugar (didn’t measure, used a pinch)
1/8 tsp salt (same as above)
a bit of white pepper

Seasoning for mushrooms/shrimps/sausage:
1/8 tsp soy sauce (a few drops)
1/8 tsp sugar (a pinch)
1/8 tsp rice wine (didn’t use, because I don’t have rice wine)

1) Chop mushrooms into thin strips. Roughly chop shrimps.

2) Chop Chinese sausage into small bits

3) Mix mushrooms, shrimps and sausage together with seasoning (the soy sauce, sugar and rice wine)

4) Heat wok (I used a frying pan because I don’t have a wok), quick fry mushrooms, shrimps and sausage with 1 tbsp of oil. Put in a dish and set aside.

5) Peel and shred daikon. Drain and save the liquid in a bowl, add water (I use the water from the mushroom soak, filtered with a coffee filter) to make 1 cup. In a bowl mix this liquid with rice flour. Set aside.

6) Heat wok (I used a large frying pan), quick fry the shredded daikon with the daikon seasoning and 1/2 tbsp of oil. Turn down heat and cover, cook for a few minutes until soft. Mix in the mushrooms/shrimps/sausage and cilantro. Turn off heat. Mix in the rice flower mixture quickly.

7) Grease rice cooker, pour mixture into rice cooker. Cook in rice cooker on white rice setting.

It looked like I had enough to make 2 cakes so I made an extra small one on the steaming rack in the rice cooker, on a greased tin plate. When the rice cooker finished cooking for the first time, the small turnip cake didn’t look cooked, and I wasn’t sure about the larger one in the rice cooker, so I cooked it again on the “quick steam” setting. After that the large one looked done (has a slight translucent quality), but the top one still looked uncooked (opaque like rice pudding), so I steamed it the old school way, until it looked cooked.

Here’s the large one cooked in the rice cooker. I’m quite proud of how it turned out! :D

The large one is for a family gathering tomorrow. The small one we cut up, pan fried and ate :)

It’s stickier than it’s supposed to, I think I used too much daikon, and didn’t drain it enough (I think one is supposed to press the shredded daikon to get all the liquid out). But it tasted like turnip cake! Which is a Chinese New Year miracle given my culinary skills, or our rice cooker is magical :D

May the new year bring you good health, much success and lots of happiness!
 

sideways reimagined

I wrote the pattern for the Sideways sweater a few years back, and wanted to make a new version based on the design with solid double crochet stitches. But then I thought just rows upon rows of double crochet stitches would be too plain to look at and too boring to make, so here’s what I came up with :D

It’s a very relaxed-looking pullover, with 3/4 sleeves. Use a soft yarn with nice drape. I used Caron Simply Soft, and it worked really well.

Size:
Finished circumference at bust: 37″ 
Sleeve circumference at upper arm: 14″
Sleeve length: 11.5″
Length: 22″ 

Material:
6.5 mm and 5.5 mm crochet hooks
Caron Simply Soft yarn in Dark Country Blue, 3 skeins

Note: 
Pullover is worked from side to side, starting from one sleeve cuff and ending at the other sleeve cuff, then folded in half along shoulders, and sewn together along underarm seams and side seams. The construction is fairly simple, so it would be easy to modify sizes. Pattern will include suggestions on making larger sizes.

Pattern

Sleeve

Row 1 (RS): with larger hook, ch 36, dc in 4th ch from hook, dc in each ch to end, turn. (34 dc — beginning ch 3 counts as a dc)

To increase sleeve circumference: for each additional inch, add 4 ch to the beginning ch 36. Note that the total stitch count will be increased as well.

Row 2: ch 3 (counts as a dc throughout), dc in each dc to end, turn.

Rows 3–5: repeat row 2

Row 6: ch 3, 2 dc in next dc, dc in each dc until last two st, 2 dc in next dc, dc in top of turning ch, turn.

Rows 7–11: repeat row 2

Row 12: repeat row 6

Rows 13–18: repeat rows 7–12 once more. (40 dc at row 18) 

To increase sleeve length: for each additional inch, work row 2 twice more.

Row 19: ch 3, dc in each dc to end, ch 45, fasten off.

To increase total length: for each additional inch, add 4 ch to the ch 45.

Front/Shoulder/Back

Row 1: reattach yarn to top of beginning ch of row 19, ch 47, dc in 4th ch from hook, dc in each ch, dc in each dc across sleeve, dc in each ch in the ch 45 from row 19, turn. (130 dc)

To increase length: if you’ve added ch to the previous ch 45, add the same number of ch to the ch 47 in row 1.Note that the total stitch count will be increased as well.

Rows 2–5: work as row 2 in sleeve.

To increase circumference at bust to 39″ (41″): repeat row 2 once (twice) more.

Row 6: ch 3, dc in next 61 dc, ch 2, sk 2 dc, dc in next dc, dc in each dc to end, turn.

Row 7: ch 3, dc in each dc until ch 2 sp, 2 dc in ch 2 sp, ch 2, sk 2 dc, dc in next dc and each dc to end, turn.

Row 8: ch 3, dc in each dc until 2 dc before ch 2 sp, ch 2, 2 dc in ch 2 sp, ch 2, sk 2 dc, dc in next dc and each dc to end, turn.

Row 9: ch 3, dc in each dc until ch 2 sp, [2dc in ch 2 sp, ch 2] twice, sk 2 dc, dc in next dc and each dc to end, turn.

Front

Row 1: ch 3, dc in each dc until 2 dc before ch 2 sp, [ch 2, 2 dc in ch 2 sp] twice, sk 2 dc, dc in next dc, turn. Leave remaining st unworked.

Row 2: ch 5, 2 dc in ch 2 sp, ch 2, 2 dc in ch 2 sp, ch 2, sk 2 dc, dc in next dc and each dc to end, turn.

Row 3: ch 3, dc in each dc till 2 dc before ch 2 sp, [ch 2, 2 dc in ch 2 sp] twice, ch 2, 2 dc in ch 5 sp, dc in 3rd ch of ch 5, turn.

Row 4: ch 5, 2 dc in ch 2 sp, [ch 2, 2 dc in ch 2 sp] twice, ch 2, sk 2 dc, dc in next dc and each dc to end, turn.

Row 5: ch 3, dc in each dc till 2 dc before ch 2 sp, [ch 2, 2 dc in ch 2 sp] three times, ch 2, 2 dc in ch 5 sp, dc in 3rd ch of ch 5, turn.

Row 6: ch 5, 2 dc in ch 2 sp, [ch 2, 2 dc in ch 2 sp] three times, ch 2, sk 2 dc, dc in next dc and each dc to end, turn.

Row 7: ch 3, dc in each dc till 2 dc before ch 2 sp, [ch 2, 2 dc in ch 2 sp] four times, ch 2, 2 dc in ch 5 sp, dc in 3rd ch of ch 5, turn.

Row 8: ch 5, 2 dc in ch 2 sp, [ch 2, 2 dc in ch 2 sp] four times, dc in each dc to end, turn.

Row 9: ch 3, dc in each dc till ch 2 sp, 2 dc in ch 2 sp, [ch 2, 2 dc in ch 2 sp] three times, ch 2, 2 dc in ch 5 sp, dc in 3rd ch of ch 5, turn.

Row 10: ch 5, 2 dc in ch 2 sp, [ch 2, 2 dc in ch 2 sp] three times, dc in each dc to end, turn.

Row 11: ch 3, dc in each dc till ch 2 sp, 2 dc in ch 2 sp, [ch 2, 2 dc in ch 2 sp] twice, ch 2, 2 dc in ch 5 sp, dc in 3rd ch of ch 5, turn.

Row 12: ch 5, 2 dc in ch 2 sp, [ch 2, 2 dc in ch 2 sp] twice, dc in each dc to end. Take hook off loop but keep loop on hold, don’t fasten off.

Back

Row 1: with a separate ball of yarn, attach yarn to the stitch to the left of the last stitch of row 1 of front. ch 3, dc in each dc to end, turn.

Rows 2–12: repeat row 1.

Fasten off.

Front/shoulder/back

Row 1 (join row): place hook back in loop where it was left off in row 12 of front. ch 3, dc in each dc till ch 2 sp, 2 dc in ch 2 sp, ch 2, 2 dc in ch 2 sp, ch 2, 2 dc in ch 5 sp, ch 2, dc in 3rd ch of ch 5, dc in last dc made in back, dc in each dc to end, turn.

Row 2: ch 3, dc in each dc till ch 2 sp, 2 dc in ch 2 sp, [ch 2, 2 dc in ch 2 sp] twice, dc in each dc to end, turn.

Row 3: ch 3, dc in each dc till ch 2 sp, 2 dc in ch 2 sp, ch 2, 2 dc in ch 2 sp, ch 2, sk 2 dc, dc in next dc and each dc to end, turn.

Row 4: ch 3, dc in each dc till ch 2 sp, dc in ch 2 sp, ch 2, 2 dc in ch 2 sp, dc in each dc to end, turn.

Row 5: ch 3, dc in each dc till ch 2 sp, 2 dc in ch 2 sp, ch 2, sk 2 dc, dc in next dc and each dc to end, turn.

Row 6: ch 3, dc in each dc till ch 2 sp, 2 dc in ch 2 sp, dc in each dc to end, turn.

Rows 7–9: ch 3, dc in each dc to end. 

To increase circumference at bust to 39″ (41″): if you’ve added rows in the previous front/shoulder/back section, add the same number of rows here. 

Fasten off.

Sleeve

If you’ve made increases in the other sleeve, make sure that this sleeve has the same number of stitches and rows.

Row 1: From last stitch made, count 45 dc, join yarn at the 46th dc. ch 3, dc in next 39 st, turn.

Row 2: ch 3, 2 dc tog, dc in each dc till last 3 st, 2 dc tog, dc in top of turning ch, turn.

Row 3: ch 3, dc in each dc to end, turn.

Rows 4–7: repeat row 3.

Rows 8–19: repeat rows 2–7 two more times (34 dc). Fasten off.

Finishing

With right sides together, fold sweater along shoulders, and sew underarm and side seams together. Weave in ends.

With smaller hook, attach yarn at shoulder seam of neck opening. Work one row of sc evenly around neck opening.

With smaller hook, attach yarn at side seam of lower edge of sweater. Work one row of sc evenly around lower edge.

(2 sc in each end of row worked for me.)

 

Hope you enjoy this re-make! Drop me a note if you have any questions, or if you spot any mistakes, I’d greatly appreciate it!

Happy crafting!

 

forest

First sweater project of the year is from a gorgeous pattern in Learn to Crochet Love to Crochet by Anna Wilkinson. The patchwork pattern was a lot of fun to make, and it reminds me of the diverse foliage in the forest.

I made the ribbed bands using single crochet stitches in back loops, because I had a lack of patience for slip stitches :S But I’m happy with how it turned out :)

Also! This is made with yarn I bought in Hong Kong! It’s really just acrylic DK yarn made it Europe I think, and it was on sale, so I bought a sweater quantity. So glad that it’s put to good use :D

AND! Did you notice the new design of this space? :D Mike kindly did an update! It’s not very different, because I wanted it to still feel like home, but just more contemporary and less late 90s blog-like, so it’s like a reno to the bathroom or kitchen and some reconfigurations of furniture. And I think the result is perfect :) and it’s responsive! (that’s a new word I learned :D it means that the layout adapts to the mobile devices so it’s easy to read on any device) 

Here’s a great start to a crafty year! Looking forward to sharing more crafty adventures with you. Cheers! 

holiday crafting

After making gifts for months before Christmas I finally had some time to make the things I wanted for myself! :D 

I lost my gloves on my first day off for the holidays. It was like the 10th pair I’ve lost. I buy the fleece ones from the dollar store and they’re the best — they’re warm and the youth size fits me perfectly. But I guess because they’re so easy to replace, I keep losing them! And most of the time I don’t even know how or where! So I thought if I were to knit myself a pair of mittens, I’d be more careful with them. 

I’ve always wanted to try the Ancient Stitch Mittens by Purl Soho, the stitch pattern is just so beautiful. But the thumb part is knitted in the round with DPNs. Not that I haven’t done that before, but I’d much rather knitting with 2 needles, and I didn’t really want to get a new set of short DPNs just for this. So I made up a way to knit them flat.

This isn’t a great photo, but you can see that I’ve knitted the mittens in 3 parts — back, thumb, and palm, then joined them together. Maybe I’ll write another post explaining how I did that in case others are interested. And yes, I was also visiting with some old friends during the holidays :) Mike found his copy of Bunnicula while going through some old stuff at his parents’. 

I also added cuffs so they’d tuck in better inside my coat’s sleeve cuffs. I was quite happy with the finished mittens! But they turned out really huge on me, and I’ve used 6 mm needles instead of the 8 or 9 mm needles that the pattern called for. My dad ended up taking them because they fit him :D

I was determined to give the pattern another try, this time using a lighter yarn and even smaller needles. I used a skein of hand dyed wool that’s slightly heavier than the regular worsted, and used 5.5 mm needles for the mittens and 4.5 mm for the cuffs. And they fit much better! :D

Here’s a better picture of them.

Another project I wanted to make was the polka dot hat. I used the Loving Hat pattern by the Garter Stitch Witch, but knitted it flat of course. It is a bit of a hassle to knit this flat because on the purl side I had to carry the white yarn all the way across. Sometimes I wonder why I’m so stubborn about knitting everything flat… but anyway, the fair isle knitting made the hat extra thick!

My mom wanted the same hat, and because this one ended up being too big for me, I gave her this hat, and made some modifications to make a smaller hat for myself, with wider spacing between polka dots.

For the new year Mike and I decided to make some soup jars for the pantry, since we so often come home from work in the evening with no idea what to make. We used this recipe from She Uncovered

Added a bay leaf because it’s pretty :D

More projects to come, keeping hands busy and mind happy with more knitting and crochet! :D Have a good weekend everyone!

 

one busy elf!

Now that the holiday’s over, I can show you the Christmas gifts I made and all the fun I’ve been having since the fall! This was one busy elf!

So I made a number of wash cloths, to give with artisan soaps that I got from craft fairs, very practical gifts that I thought everyone could use :) The butterfly wash cloth is from this Paillon Cloth pattern, which was a lot of fun to make with a variegated cotton. The tiny fish ones are for my niece and nephews, from this pattern on Ravelry. The hanging towel was a modification of the Circle Cloth pattern. Also made a couple of these pineapple hanging towels.

 

I took a workshop in November with my co-workers at a glass shop making millefiori pendants. I’ve made one for myself before and it was a lot of fun, so I made another for a gift :)

While making pom pom hair ties for my sincere sock cupcake project, I thought I’d also try making some soot sprites hair ties for a couple of Studio Ghibli fans :D

Caught in a perfectly tiny tin! :D (that used to hold some sparkly tea)

These hedgehogs mitts are for my niece, made almost entirely in commute. Excellent pattern from mom.me.

Spent a couple of Sunday afternoons at the Gardiner Museum drop-in clay class, and made an army of ornaments and tea bag holders! It was a great way to spend a weekend afternoon creatively, must go back sometimes!

And my newest invention — sushi sock rolls! :D For my dear friend’s baby. I used this 2-needle baby sock pattern, but had to modify it quite a bit to get the black part long enough to roll around. So the socks are faaarrr too big for the baby right now, they’re more for a toddler. But they’ll fit soon enough! And the idea is that when the child out grows the socks, they can be rolled up and sewed together permanently and be used as play food, or a pin cushion :D

 Now, the biggest project ever undertaken — behold the polar bear blanket!!!

I’ve been working on it for months and it’s for my parents! Wish I have a better picture of it, but it’s just so big! I didn’t have the room in my place or my parents’ for a good photo shoot. So here it is on my parents’ bed :) This is my first attempt at corner-to-corner crochet as well. I first made the polar bear blanket from Simply Crochet magazine (issue 50), then thought my parents would probably like a larger blanket. So I thought I’d add squares around it. I used the pine cone pattern from Make & Do Crew, then found and modified some knitting and cross-stitching graphs to make the snowflakes and the north star. Discovered that Microsoft Excel is a great program to draft crochet charts! 

And now, one great gift I received from my sister — from the awesome Out of Print clothing, a Miss Peregrine shirt!

Stay peculiar and levitate!

(Well, maybe not too much levitation this year. I haven’t tried taking this kind of photos for a while, and then afterwards my knees were a bit sore… another year older, after all. But stay peculiar, definitely!)

Happy first week of January! Hope everyone had a re-energizing holiday and have a great start to the new year! :D