Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Book! A Book!

Monday would have been Charles Dickens' 199th birthday, and on that day Cooperative Press announced that preorders for What Would Madame Defarge Knit? opened in honor of the author whose formidable character Therese Defarge inspired Heather Ordover's book. If it's been a while since your last literature class, remember that in A Tale of Two Cities Defarge knits and knits, secretly encoding the names of people she will have killed. Vive la revolution?

And why do I care?
Because I have three designs in the book!

Don't worry, there isn't a murder prerequisite to love this book! Ordover, the creator of popular podcast CraftLit, has assembled an inspiring and thought-provoking collection of 20+ patterns, as well as essays and other tidbits inspired by literature, illustrated by the talented Jen Minnis in a black-and-white woodcut style that pays tribute to Dickensian-era publishing.

And if you're reading this, chances are good you are a strong supporter of small independent publishers. You may be interested to know that this book will be the first Cooperative Press release where all designers receive a direct royalty share of each sale. Our Fresh Designs series, which will be out later this year, is set up similarly. Instead of a small, one-time payment for their work at the beginning (and not a penny afterwards, no matter how many copies the book sells), designers have an opportunity to earn an unlimited payment for their work.

Visit the WWMDfK? website for more about the book's contributors and other behind-the-scenes information. As of today's pre-release, the book is 200+ pages, illustrated.


Signed, with extras. This is a special creation and will be limited to less than 100 copies, numbered. Shipping is included, as is a PDF copy of the book.

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DIGITAL (PDF) + PRINT ($26.95)

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E-READER EDITION ($16.95) (For Kindle, Nook, Sony e-Reader, iPad, etc)

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Monday, February 7, 2011

Pursued by the Headless Horseman ...

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow has been a fireside classic for centuries. The tale of a gangly schoolmaster and the ghost of a Hessian soldier has set spines tingling the world over and spawned many dreaded fears of the dark forests. I myself loved the story and spent many childhood hours out in the forest with my father imagining all sorts of wild things happening around me.
Now it is JennietheDog who roams the forests of the Italian Dolomites with me. Wild boar crash through the undergrowth and the small deer that live here occasionally spring up and scare the daylights right out of me. But it is beautiful ... spring, summer, and fall. This soup recipe is seasonal here in Italy and served all throughout the Fall and winter. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I do.

Zuppa di Zucca
(Pumkin Soup)

You will need:
olive oil
1-2 T. butter
1 small kubocha or a nice size butternut squash
1 sweet potato
1 small onion (diced)
2-3 cups of a good vegetable or chicken broth
1-2 t. of maple syrup or honey (optional)
Garnish with creme fraiche, sour creme, or roasted hulled pumpkin seeds and a sprig of chives.

Preheat oven to 350 F. or 175 C.
Cut the sweet potato in half. Cut the pumpkin or the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Lightly coat with olive oil on the inside and the outside and roast, cut side up, for about 1 hour or until very tender. Allow to cool.
While that is cooking sweat the onions in the butter over very low heat till clear but not browned.
Once the squash and sweet potato are cool enough to handle scoop out the flesh and add tothe pot along with enough the onions and enough of the broth to cover. Simmer for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to combine. Purre in small bahes in a blender or use a hand blender and ouree in the pot. Add salt and taste. If you would prefer it to have a bit more sweetness add the syup or honey. Serve hot with a dollop of creme fraiche, sour creme, or roasted hulled pumpkin seeds.

Roasted Pumkin Seeds

Lay a piece of parchment paper in the bottom of a cooki sheet and lightly coat with butter.
1/2 c. hulled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 T. butter
1 t. sea salt ( I like the bits of salt but you could easily use kosher salt)
roast till they bigib to turn golden.
In a sauce pan boil 1/2 c. maple syrup  for 3 or 4 minutes. Add the seeds and a pinch of smokey paprika or cayenne pepper. Boil for another 3 minutes and pour out onto the buttered piece of parchment paper. Allow to cool and break into bits.

We eat these as a snack quite often which is why there are none in the photo above. Sorry, just imagine little golden brown toasty bits perched on top. There you go!

Brewing the Love Potion ...

The story of Tristan and Isolde was very popular here in Italy and many cantari or oral poems were presented in the public squares all over the country. Love potions hidden in wine have been around for ever. Here, in Italy, the famed Medici were experts at all sorts of potions and poisons. This spiced wine is served in the winters at all of the Christmas Markets here and is a trade mark of a celebration called "the Bufana" which is a fire celebration held the night before Epiphany.

Spiced Wine (for the Bufana)

1 bottle of good red wine
3/4 - 1 cup of sugar
2 or 3 cinnamon sticks
the zest of a lemon and an orange
3 cloves (for the three wise men)
and a few cardamon pods (optional but I love them)

Combine all of the ingredients in a pan and gently heat. DO NOT BOIL. After 30 minutes strain out the zest and spices and it is ready to serve in some good sturdy mugs ... or your favorite magical chalice.
This can be made ahead and reheated when you are ready. I keep a bottle of it in the refrigerator all winter ... just for medicinal purposes.


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