Hum hum ~ girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes; snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes; silver white winters that melt into spring ~ these are a few of my favorite things ~ I'm sure most of you recognize this refrain from the Sound of Music. Alas, without a proper Winter I have no snowflakes on my nose or eyelashes. Instead I've embroidered snowflakes onto my fingerless mitts. A wise person makes do with what one has, so I believe. After a particularly severe cold snap our Winter has apparently come and gone in a matter of weeks. Yet it's still cool enough in the mornings to need fingerless mitts and shall be through May!
It's the ability to add my own touches that makes knitting so satisfying and a unique expression of my personal taste and style. And I find embroidery a quick and easy means to beautifully embellish my knitting. I added this snowflake to the mitts by using a simple combination of the basic running stitch and detached chain stitch. That combined with using a sparkly yarn for the embroidery helped turn these ordinary mitts into something more special.
Particulars: Snowflake Fingerless Mitts; this is a person pattern that I'll eventually share as a free pattern but first I want to test knit it again to eliminate any mistakes. I used 2 Skeins Manos del Uruguay (silk blend); US 5 & 6 DPN. Over the years I've knit many many pairs of fingerless mittens but a couple of my favorites are my Kyla Fingerless Mitts and Welted Fingerless Gloves For this design I thought the finished mitts were a bit limp so I slightly felted the finished mitts in the dryer to firm them up and make the yarn more dense and that worked beautifully. I used a sparkly metallic yarn to embroider the snowflakes to give it some sizzle and shine. You can find many embroidery templates online; I used this snowflake design as my guide.
Rustic Pear Tart ~
After consuming way too many sweets over the holidays it's nice to change things up with a savory and mellow dessert and I found this pear tart to be just the ticket. Along with pears it has cranberries and hazelnuts and has a nice kick of citrus. However I found it does not keep well and is best eaten the same day baked. The recipe is inspired by the nutty cranberry pear tarts published in the 2009 Southern Style Christmas Cooking magazine but modified to reduce sugar and fats and ingredients I have on hand. My version is shared below.
Rustic Pear Tart
2 ripe pears (pealed, cored and diced)
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 Tbs. melted butter
1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts (skins removed and finely chopped). Plus extra for garnish
1/2 cup dried cranberries (I used whole organic cranberries)
2 Tbs. honey
1 Tbs. orange zest
1 Tbs. orange juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 pinch ground cardamon
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 egg white mixed with 1 tsp water
Pie Dough Ingredients:
I used the dough recipe I used for my raspberry tart but I think any pate brisee (pie dough) recipe would work such as Martha Stewart's.
Orange Syrup Ingredients
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbs fresh honey
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper;
2. Combine tart ingredients;
3. Make Pie Dough and roll into a large circle. Transfer dough to baking sheet and spread pear mixture in the center leaving approximately 1 inch to fold over for crust;
3. Brush egg wash over crust and sprinkle with sugar;
4. Bake approx. 30 minute or until fruit mixture is bubbling. Check tart frequently and to prevent burning cover with foil after crust is golden brown; and
5. Serve warm with orange syrup. Orange Syrup: combine all ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to boil and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Can be stored in refrigerator.
6. Garnished with fresh mint and extra chopped hazelnuts and/or cranberries.
Until next time be well and love well and don't forget Valentine's Day is soon approaching. Valentine's Day is a fun and whimsical holiday to celebrate anyone who is special in your life. So have fun and please don't be restricted to traditional ideas of who can be a Valentine!