Thursday, January 9, 2014

be on the lookout for escaped mojo...

I seem to have lost my knitting mojo.  This is bad for a number of reasons, first and foremost being the fact that I have a cardigan for Julie on the needles that is 90% finished.  I have let so much time go by now since I last worked on it that I am certain I will make a huge mistake as soon as I start up with it again.  So it sits reproachfully in my knitting bag next to the couch, waiting for me to pick it up and fuck it up.

The second reason this is a bad thing is that I have literally thousands of dollars tied up in yarn and needles and patterns and just stuff that is necessary to have if one is going to knit on a regular basis - which I did for some years.  I knit every day for years.  Winter, spring, summer, fall, I had at least two or three projects I was actively working on.    Now, I have, just, you know, that one.

You might not think so, but knitting is good mental exercise.  It keeps my brain and my fingers nimble and quick.  I like the challenge of puzzling out a new pattern - if it's not too difficult - and I like the feeling of pride that accompanies the completion of a successful project.  I managed two Christmas presents this year, but that was more out of necessity than anything else.  Since I didn't have much extra money, I used what I did have - time and yarn - to knit some gifts.  Knitting has provided me with a wonderful creative outlet for the past five years, but that's gone, and I miss it.

Why did I lose my mojo?  I have given that a great deal of thought, needless to say, and I think there are multiple reasons.  But the most compelling reason, I believe, is that I don't have a knitting group anymore, and haven't since I moved here three years ago.  I knew that I really enjoyed my knitting groups, and that I loved spending time with the warm, funny, intelligent women who comprised those groups.  What I didn't realize was that the exchange - the give-and-take of yarns and patterns and ideas  - was crucial to my continued enjoyment of knitting.  But it turns out it was.

I am fortunate to have a yarn shop right here in the town where I live.  I have gone in there countless times looking for, I don't know, some fellowship, I guess, or the spark of a kindred spirit.  I have yet to find it there, and now don't believe I will.   (Also, all the yarn I have is better than all the yarn they have.)

So, what to do?  What to do?  I don't know, frankly.  I am open to suggestions.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

lesson #439 for the life-long learner

So I've lived in Maryland for three years now, and have eaten my share of Maryland crab cakes in that time.  Not as many as Ben, of course, but more than a few.  Until yesterday, however, I had never attempted to make them myself.  And I probably won't have even then without the prompting of the fish guy at my local grocery store. 

There are two different fish guys, actually, and they are both extremely knowledgeable and friendly.  In fact, one of them is too friendly and too loud and a bit alarming.  I tend to shy away from the fish counter when he is working, frankly.  But he wasn't working yesterday, and his slightly quieter co-worker was.  "What's good today?" I asked him.  "Lump crab meat, $7.99 a pound" was his reply.  When I asked him if that was a good price, he was incredulous.  "$7.99?!  A pound?!  Yeah, that's good!   I bought two pounds myself."  When I asked him what he would make with his two pounds, he launched into an explanation of how to prepare salmon stuffed with crab meat.  "Or you could make crab cakes, of course" he said in an offhand way. 

He made the sale, and we came home with a pound of fresh lump crab meat.  Then Ben and I started searching on line for crab cake recipes.  I mean, who uses cookbooks anymore?  We knew we wanted to bake or broil the crab cakes, not pan fry them, so that ruled out quite a few recipes.  We found a likely candidate (one that I had all the ingredients for) and I got to work.  The only glitch was that the cooking time was off, and I flipped them too early.  You can only flip those once, believe me.  But I cooked them longer on the second side, and that seemed to work out okay.  I include the recipe here:

Maryland Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes


  • Time 7 minutes
  • Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1 large egg
  • 2 heaping tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce, or to taste
  • Few drops of lemon juice (no more than about 1/4 teaspoon)
  • 2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup crushed Ritz Crackers
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 pound fresh jumbo lump crabmeat -- drained of all excess liquid
  • Non-stick cooking spray

How to make it

  • In a medium bowl, combine the egg, mayonnaise, mustard, Worcestershire, Tabasco, lemon juice, Old Bay, salt and pepper. Mix so that all the ingredients are well-incorporated.
  • Add the cracker crumbs and parsley and mix well.
  • Gently fold in crabmeat until just combined (try not to break up lumps of crabmeat).
  • Using wet hands, shape mixture into 6 patties---8 patties if you like them smaller (do not pack too firmly; cakes should be as loose as possible and still hold their shape).
  • Put the crab cakes on a large platter or cookie sheet as they're shaped. Cover with foil and refrigerate at least 1 hour before cooking.
  • Set oven on Broil ( around 450 ) and place crab cakes a non stick sprayed cookie sheet. Put crab cakes in oven on medium height rack.
  • After 3 minutes of initial cooking time open oven to turn crab cakes over
  • using a spatula and your hands. Cook an additional 2-3 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Drain on paper towels. Serve with lemon and tartar sauce.


I did use Colman's dry mustard instead of Dijon to keep the crab cakes as dry as possible, and I would recommend letting them cook for 4 minutes before trying to flip them and 4 mintues after.  But, keep an eye on them.  I made six of them, not eight, and they weren't very big, so I wouldn't try eight from this much crab meat.  Oh, also, I put them on a plate to refrigerate instead of on the cookie sheet.  It seemed to me like it would take them even longer to heat up if they were on a cold sheet. 

Anyway, our family crab cake expert (that would be Ben) declared them as good as any he has had out here.  I'm going to count that as a huge success, and if you can get your hands on fresh lump crab meat, I heartily recommend this recipe.   Bon App├ętit!