Beef and Barley Soup

Tonight we made Beef and Barley Soup from the October issue of Martha Stewart Living.  It turned out excellent and the broth was so flavorful.

I was a little nervous because it says it takes four hours and we didn’t start it until later in the afternoon.  I think ours took closer to three hours but I didn’t skimp on any of the steps.

Our broth doesn’t look like the picture but it was still great. The London broil turned out so tender.  Next time I might add more carrots and we forgot to add parsley at the end. We were just too ready to eat it and it was pretty perfect.


Finished: Quick Cable Slouch Hat

It wasn’t finished as quickly as I’d hoped but my Quick Cable Slouch Hat took me a little over two weeks to knit. But in all fairness, most of it was completed last Saturday.

I used a US 8 and a US 11 to make the hat like the notes suggest and it actually fits my head (which is abnormally big, I think) and has good slouch to it.  I blocked it on Sunday and I was out of town most of this week. So here it is finally.

I used a surprise ball of Patons Shetland Chunky Tweed.  There are two more where that came from and it was such a treat.  I was borrowing some things from Jenn and when I looked in the bag, I was surprised to find yarn!  It really did make my day.

Here is the hat as I blocked it on a dinner plate.

And this is the finished hat.  The pictures were horrible so this is as good as it gets.  The gloomy gray snowy day didn’t help.  But you get the idea.

This one is going to my mom who requested a hat like this a while ago and my first attempt didn’t fit the best.  We’re going to swap and I’ll take that first hat and give it to a deserving child or a woman with a really small head.

Mushroom Goulash with Pierogi

Tonight we made another Rachael Ray recipe – Mushroom Goulash with Pierogi.  This was one of the first times that one of these recipes actually took thirty minutes.

We made it a little differently. We didn’t cook the mushrooms first, just threw them in after we sauteed up the onions and peppers and other ingredients in that step.

This was way better than I expected. I’m not the hugest pierogi fan and this was definitely a delicious way to eat them.

I finished knitting a slouchy hat and it’s blocking now.  And this afternoon I started a new hat for a friend. It’s been a productive day.

The Lemont Soup Guy

We’ve lived in Lemont for over five years and every week we’ve noticed the sign ups in our post office for the weekly soups from the Lemont Soup Guy Tom Everly. (Yes, we have to pick up our mail at the post office because we don’t have mail delivery to our house.) Tom is a local chef and he and his wife Judy own Keystone Yankee Catering. They were the caterers of Granary Gourmet Candlelight Dinner we went to in September.

Anyway, every week Tom offers two soups that you order before noon on Wednesday and can pick up between noon and six in the evening on Thursday. He uses fresh, local ingredients and makes most of the stocks himself so that many of his soups are low sodium.  And his prices are very reasonable: $5.30 – pint; $10.60 – quart; and $42.40 – gallon.

I don’t know why it took us so long but this week, we finally ordered. We were planning to be out of town for the weekend (although we canceled because Mike doesn’t feel well) and thought we’d love to have soup on Sunday. Instead, we ate it tonight.

We chose the sweet potato and Andouille sausage with cream. According to Tom’s description it is gluten free. The Andouille sausage is locally raised, butchered and sold from Hog’s Galore in Philipsburg.

It was so good and the perfect end to this gloomy, damp day.

You don’t have to live in Lemont to get his soups but you do have to be willing to go there to pick them up on Thursday. You can email him at to get on the list and order your soup.

First Soup of the Season: Rabe and White Bean Stoup

We finally had the time to plan a few new recipes this week and tonight was our first soup of the season, Rachael Ray’s Rabe and White Bean Stoup.

This was so easy to put together. We made a few modifications. We didn’t cook the broccoli rabe first but added it at the end with the pasta. We also put in an extra cup of broth and substituted orzo for the orecchiette because we had a cup sitting in an open box.

It was quick, hearty and flavorful.  Great for a weeknight.

More Noro

Previously, I posted about my Noro Striped Scarves and how much I really like using Noro. On the scarves, the color changes are interesting and appear even more gradual because of the alternating yarns.

I used Noro Kureyon to make my mom a Star Crossed Slouchy Beret.

Slouchy BeretThe Kureyon blocked so nicely and the hat grew a lot and softened quite a bit.  I like how you can see the color changes more clearly when you knit with just the one skein.

When I decided that I wanted a bulky ear flap hat, I went into Knitting to Know Ewe in Penns Park, PA and asked what they recommended. The woman working there was so helpful and she introduced me to Noro Transitions. At the store, she told me it was discontinued so I don’t mean if that meant the colors they had or the entire line.

Ear Flap HatI ended up making short & sweet with my yarn. What’s so cool about transitions is not just the color changes but the different kinds of fiber that make up the skein. And, instead of being a blend, the actual fiber changes as you knit also. It’s a super bulky weight of wool, silk, alpaca, angora and cashmere.

That hat is so warm and so soft around the brim. I really love wearing it.

Finished: Sun Kissed Neckwarmer

Last week I finished a Sun Kissed Neckwarmer.  It was a quick and easy knit and only used one skein of Misti Alpaca Hand Paint Super Chunky.

I blocked it last week and it took forever. But it got even softer!

This neck warmer is so warm and cozy.

The best part is it can be worn different ways.  Here it is buttoned straight on across the bottom.

Or on an angle.

Yarn Garden in Carlisle, PA

Last week when I was traveling, I had some time to kill before an appointment. I quickly googled yarn stores and discovered the Yarn Garden in Carlisle, PA.

The parking meter in front of the store has been yarn bombed. In fact, there were a few others along the street too.

I loved this yarn shop so much. They had so many great yarns and the way they were displayed was perfect. It was bright and welcoming inside the shop.

A really fun coincidence is that the owner is the aunt of one of the women in the group I knit with!  I knew she had an aunt that owned a store but I wasn’t confident that this was it so I didn’t ask. But we chatted a little as I checked out and sure enough, it was her.

I bought a little more yarn than I probably needed to but I just really liked it here and saw a lot of stuff that was new to me.  To be fair, some of it was on sale.

I got this skein of High Society Sock Yarn. The colorway is called Childhood and it appeals the part of me that loves all things rainbow. Also, the woman who dyes this yarn lives in Harrisburg so it’s nice to try something almost local.

I also got two skeins of Sheep 3 Yarn. Sheep Shop Yarn is no longer in business so all their yarn is discontinued which is a shame because I can tell I’m going to love this yarn. It has a nice shine to it and it’s very soft to the touch. I’m always so quick to buy a fingering weight yarn on the fly but I want to start diversifying my stash and this sport weight yarn is a perfect addition.

I also got a skein of fingering weight Kraemer Yarns Sterling Silk and Silver. This is a Pennsylvania yarn made in Nazareth.

I don’t normally buy anything like this but there is actual silver spun into the yarn and it has a slight sparkle to it that is so interesting. Here you can see it up close.

I was so excited with my finds and I can’t wait to find the perfect patterns for these yarns. I wish I had more time to knit so I can keep getting great yarns.

Sunday Dinner: Gourmet Goulash

My dad’s boss and his wife are originally from Hungary. His wife shared this recipe, which she called Gourmet Goulash, with my mom at least twenty years ago. I have no idea how authentic it is but I know it is delicious.

I used to request it a lot growing up. So ever since I had my own kitchen, I’ve made it a few times every fall and winter.

The ingredients are pretty simple and it’s easy to put together.

You cook everything on the stove first and then bake it for an hour and a half. I used to have to cook it in a big pot and then transfer it into a big casserole dish but then I found this Cuisinart dutch oven at TJ Maxx a couple years ago and it makes this recipe much easier.

I am very picky about onions, but all the onions in this get soft and translucent and take on the flavor of the sauce which gets so thick and flavorful after baking.

After it’s been in about an hour, I start boiling water for egg noodles.  You could serve this over things like spaetzle or mashed potatoes or rice but I like egg noodles best.

I also think it goes really well with green beans and almost always make some to go with. And because I like foods all mixed together, I just throw them in my bowl and then mix it all up.

The best part of this dinner is the sauce. It’s thick, creamy, tangy and delicious. The onions and beef get so soft and tender that you don’t even need a knife. To me, this tastes like a cold Sunday night and it makes the house smell homey and feel warm. I love this dinner so much and because it makes so much, we always have at least one night of leftovers to look forward to later in the week.


  • 3 tbsp butter or margarine
  • 2 pds lean beef cubed
  • 2 medium onions (I like to cut them in rings but that’s just a personal preference)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 1/2 cups of red wine
  • 1 1/4 cups of sour cream
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce

Melt butter in a dutch oven and brown beef. Add onions and lightly saute about ten minutes. Stir in salt, pepper, flour and paprika.  Add wine, sour cream and tomato sauce and stir until well blended. Transfer into a 375 degree oven and bake for one and a half hours.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Today really feels like fall.  It’s cold, it’s rainy and the leaves are noticeably changing and falling off the trees. One of my favorite fall things are pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.

Many of the desserts I make come from my childhood (like those awesome caramel brownies) and these cookies are no different.  For all I know, this is the most standard pumpkin chocolate chip cookie around but I have no idea where she got it from.  All I know is they are good.

They are so soft and smell so wonderful.  They’re almost like mini muffin tops.

Here are all the ingredients.

I ended up with this organic pumpkin because that’s all our grocery store had.

I know in previous years there has been a pumpkin shortage and I heard this year might be the same because of all the rain so I bought two cans, just in case.  This can is 15 ounces and I doubled the recipe which calls for one cup of pumpkin, so it was a little shy of two cups.

This is so easy to put together.  Today, I threw in a bit of nutmeg.  I’ve never done that before and I think it worked really well. I also usually put in extra cinnamon because I love that flavor in them.

Then you drop teaspoonfuls on a lightly greased cookie sheet.

I baked them for 10 minutes at 375 degrees and they came out perfect.  They are soft and cake-like almost mini-muffin tops.

Because I doubled the recipe, I now have a lot of cookies but we plan to share.

Look at the innards – cinnamony, pumpkiny and chocolatey.  Perfect.Recipe:

  • 1 cup cooked pumpkin
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda dissolved in 1 tsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

In a large bowl combine the pumpkin, sugar, oil and egg. In another bowl stir together flour, baking powder and cinnamon. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture along with dissolved baking soda and mix well. Stir in vanilla and chocolate chips.

Drop by teaspoonfuls on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes.