Saturday, August 9, 2008

Lazy Days of Summer and Brownies

Unlike those more ambitious ones out there participating in Ravelympics 2008 (of which there are over 6,000 participating) Puff and I are enjoying a respite from our busy lives. Everyone experiences ups and downs in life. I try to enjoy the good times and ride out the tough times knowing that they too shall pass. One thing I like to do when I'm not too busy is participate in my Topanga Knitters Group. There are 4 of us "Topaganites" in this group formed through the connectivity power of Ravelry and one rather more social and computer savvy member who organized us.

It is a bit of a risk getting together with people that you don't know anything about. For that reason, our first meeting took place in a local coffee shop. Now that we know each other we rotate meeting at each of our homes (we meet every other Wednesday) and everyone brings something to nibble on. As you can see from the spread above, we enjoy our nibbling and imbibiling. Typically it's some savories and sweets along with wine and iced tea but after I missed the last couple of meetings they toasted my return with champagne! Any ole excuse, me thinks.

This week we met at Jane's house and sat outside on her deck and enjoyed the quiet shade and late afternoon sun. Jane has a beautiful rose garden and the roses pictured on the table above were cut from her rose bushes. When we leave she always cuts a rose for us to take home too. So sweet. I can only offer a weed from my "garden" of which I have plenty to give away.

Although we are a small group we are diverse both in life and knitting experience (everywhere from a new knitter to a knitwear designer) which makes for lively discussions. The topics flow from knitting to life and back to knitting again. As I noted once, collectively, around the table we have the combined experience of 200 years of living. That's a lot of knitting and life experience represented.

We always bring along our current and recently finished projects. This week one of the ladies brought a baby sweater as well as a tam, which we wisely convinced her that she needs to keep for herself, it looked so cute on (I'm talking about the tam - not the baby sweater).

For those out there who don't immediately recognize this baby sweater, it is the Baby Surprise Jacket ("BSJ") designed by Elizabeth Zimmerman. This sweater pattern is such a classic there is even a Knit Wiki article which includes background information; links to various pattern sources; and helpful techniques. By the way, Knit Wiki is a great technical resource which I have only learned about through this group (see what I mean about these ladies).

Scouting for Brownies

Brownies are particularly nice around Halloween but are enjoyable any time of year. The ones I made for our knitting group (pictured above) are from a recipe I discovered years ago in Dying For Chocolate by Diane Motts Davidson . Parenthetically, the first book in this series is Catering to Nobody . I always find it hard to figure out which is the first book in a series, so I mention it here for your convenience.

This is a series of culinary mysteries that are better than average summer reads and have quite good recipes to boot. I've read probably half a dozen or so of the books and have enjoyed them all. The protagonist is a single mother raising a son and earning her living as a caterer. Since I love cooking these books were a natural for me. I really enjoy the way she weaves stories of catering events and food preparation through her mysteries. The way she described the food - oh my - can she describe food in an appetizing way.

Here's a link to the brownie recipe "Goldy Bear's Scout's Brownies."  It's a very versatile and reliable recipe and I've made it many many times over the years. In the shot above I added fresh smashed blackberries to the top with milk chocolate chips sprinkled on top and it tastes a lot like a truffle this way.   Sometimes I'll add a cup of walnuts to the batter with semi-sweet chips sprinkled on top and at Christmas it's nice with broken candy canes sprinkled on top. I've also added an espresso flavored icing instead of chips on top and that's wonderful too.  It's really hard to go wrong and there's a million ways to enjoy it.

Have a great week everyone and I hope that you get the chance to meet some of the local knitters in your community!


Bridget said...

What a nice-sounding group! (Of course, any group involving brownies and/or champagne would sound nice to me ...)

You are quite ambitious with your plans to knit that jacket - I can't wait to see how it goes.

Hi to Mr P.

t does wool said...

the group sounds like so much fun-camaraderie/good food/drink/knitting...thanks for the wonderful links,Claudia-and that cabled jacket is to die for!!!-oh,before I forget-is there any focaccia left? :-)

Anna said...

Your knitting group sounds perfect. Knitting on the porch in the summer is one of my favorite things to do (too bad I don`t have a porch) but champagne and chocolate goodies?
The Riding Jacket is beautiful. I can`t wait to see your progress and what yarn you are going to use.

Monika said...

Your knitting group sounds wonderful. The food looks delicious, and the knits gorgeous! Wow- your cabled jacket looks like a lot of work - but beautiful! :o)

jillian said...

Sounds like an incredible group! Hope the "riding out" passes quickly and smoothly!

And oh my goodness, those brownies. Thank you for the link to the recipe.

Bon chance on your Cabled Riding Jacket!

dogwithbooks said...

Those brownies make me lament the fact that I'm a diabetic. Kisses to the Puff :@

Firefly Nights said...

I enjoyed learning more about your knitting group and the table and goodies look wonderful.

I also agree that brownies should have nuts in them, and lots of them.

There's another series of food related mysteries that I learned about on someone's blog. Joanne Fluke scatters recipes throughout her mysteries. I'm currently reading her Carrot Cake Murder but so far the recipes are better than the plot, but I'm not too far into it yet.

That is a very industrious knitting project but you'll probably have it all done in a week or two with Mr. Puffy's help.

Channon said...

Love that riding jacket, and can't wait to see your finished version.

The photos are lovely as always. Did I spy some guacamole? Mugsy and I love that... Clearly, you've found a great group of ladies to knit with!

Brownies without nuts are always a bit of a disappointment to my mouth.

amanda said...

What a relaxing time you're having! Well deserved.

The riding jacket is STUNNING. Not a foolish choice at all. Cast on!!

Marie said...

I am beginning to regret that I signed up for the RavOlympics. It is going to keep my very busy over the next 2 weeks.
It must be so nice to have a group of knitters that you can meet with. I was smitten with the amount of goodies on that table. I would join your group just for the food. Grin.

tiennie said...

Those brownies look delicious! I wish I had a knitting group to go to sometimes. I think it would be so much fun!

Kathleen said...

Lovely food and flower laden table and deck. I used to love driving through Topanga Canyon on my way to the beach when I still lived in So Cal. What a fun group!

Alison Boon said...

The knitting group sounds like a great place to go. I like the sunny decorated watering can. It is quite something to be with like minded women. I love my social knitting group which meets on Mondays. We still meet at teh LYS but I think it won't be long before we move to people's houses.

amanda said...

How beautifully civilised your knit nights are. Gorgeous roses!
That cable sweater is in my faves too. Looks like a serious yarn eater don't you think?

Tracy said...

What a great gathering--great friends, great food, great knitting...sounds perfect! :o) Happy Days ((HUGS))

Hilary said...

Mmm...sweets, brownies, champagne, and outdoor porch, and knitting friends? That's the life!

The cabled riding jacket will certainly not be a foolish undertaking -- it will be gorgeous!

knitting dragonfly said...

Sounds like a great time, and the food looks great!
Can't wait to see the jacket!

Grace Yaskovic said...

what beautiful pictures, and what sounds like a wonderful time!!!

Windyridge said...

Sounds like fun and of course the "imbibling" sounds even better. LOL

Denise said...

Oooh I wish I could get together with you all, sounds like a lovely 'small' group, just the way I like them ;-)
That cable sweater is to die for. Can't wait to see your progress on it.
I'm diligently working on a pair of rainy day socks for a friend, then I'm telling myself no more new knits til I finish some wips off (that I started at the beginning of the year).
btw, I didn't get to try any tea in England, except a herbal one 'peach and echinachea'! It was ok, and I'd like to try some other herbal teas, so I thought I would ask you if you could recommend any before I go out buying something terrible that would really put me off?!! or don't you drink herbal teas?

Sherry said...

Your knitting group sounds wonderful. I like that it's a small group of people. I've been to large knitting groups that meet regularly at a coffee shop & I find it too overwhelming. Talking to a few people and sharing life stories and knitting (nice food) sounds perfect!

Those brownies look AMAZING! Thanks for sharing the info on the books. I had no idea that there was a mystery series written around cooking ... great idea.

The jacket will be beautiful.