Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Playing With The... Stand Mixer?

Yes, that's right! I have been playing with the KitchenAid mixer. Making butter! Cindy and I were talking at work about making 'things', and I got to wondering, if you could make butter with a KitchenAid mixer. Well, you can! It can be a little messy mind you, but you can make butter - yummy home made butter. Now, making butter is a rather expensive thing to do, unless you live near a farm (or have your own), because the cost of heavy cream is generally more than purchasing butter out right. But what the hey? I wanted to try it. So, I did.

Once again, I didn't take pictures of the process. I was not planning on posting it. WeaveThings / Butter? Hmm, but I say again, what the hey?

I did do a little test. I purchased 3 pints of organic heavy cream. Let them sit out to reach close to room temperature. Then one I poured into the Black & Decker food processor with the plastic blade. It fluffed up super quick and then just stopped. I had to keep taking off the top and scraping the foam down. It wasn't too much fun, but I did produce butter!

The other two pints I poured into the stand mixer with the metal whip. I started it off on medium speed (so it would not make such a mess) and then turned up the power once the cream started to froth up. While the mixer was going I used a rubber spatula to push down the sides. When the stiff peaks form, just let the mixer keep going. The whipped cream will eventually break down and you will see it start to turn a light yellow. Then it will start to look like what I call 'hotel-style scrambled eggs'. At this point, I switched out the metal whip for the paddle attachment, and turned the power down to low.

Shortly after, it happened! Liquid separated from the 'scrambled eggs' and then the paddle started to get caked with butter! I poured off the liquid (buttermilk) and then added water to the bowl to 'wash' the butter - you need to make sure you don't forget this step, otherwise it will go bad if you leave buttermilk in with the butter. I wrapped the bowl with a heavy towel and turn the mixed on low and let it slosh for a bit. Then I poured off the water and did it again, about 5 - 6 times, until the water ran clear. Then I pressed out the water and placed the butter back into the mixer bowl and added a touch of salt and whipped it on high for a few seconds to incorporate the salt. Nice and tasty. Next I scooped some of the butter into a glass container, and the rest I wrapped up in plastic wrap. Then, into the refrigerator to firm up. The bowl of liquid in the photos is the buttermilk!

Next, some yummy buttermilk waffles from the new issue of Cook's Illustrated magazine that just arrived yesterday!

WeightWatchers, you'll just have to weight! Ugh  :)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

3N1: The Spinning Monster

Last night the spinning monster hit me so I went downstairs where the wheel was hiding and started to play with some fiber.

Spinning Singles:
First I decided to spin up some hand-dyed Panda fiber that I had dyed a bit ago. I wanted to see how it would handle if I spun a 'kinda' thick singles and then finish it the way Judith MacKenzie McCuin suggests in the Spring 2010 issue of Spin-Off Magazine - "Spinning Pleasantly Plump and Silky Singles" (her lustrous yarn on the front cover was 50/50 wool/silk).

The spinning was fun and fast. The skein was just like a scrunchie when I slid it off from the niddy noddy - just like Judith said. The finishing was a bit messy, as I used Judith's method of sloshing the skein around in hot soapy water with a plunger (brand new of course and just for yarn), and then into cold water and then hot, cold... a good squeeze in a towel and up to dry.

I'm sorry I didn't think to take pictures of the process, but here is the outcome.

The 'Perfect' Skein:
... next up was some Bluefaced Leicester that I had purchased from my friend Felicia Lo of SweetGeorgia Yarns. I dyed up a small lot a few weeks ago and this was some 'extra' that I wanted to play with. It's dyed in purples, blues and grays and felt so soft to spin and ply.

Usually when I take my skeins off from the niddy noddy, I usually get some, to a lot, of twist. This time? The skein hung nice and straight. Perhaps watching Judith spin on her new DVD's, The Gentle Art of Plying helped.

I decided not to wet-finish it just yet. Just in case I do use it in a weaving project. It's best to wet-finish the cloth after weaving, instead of the yarn before. Just more advise I've received from Judith. She is such a joy to work with.

The Coil:
I confess, this didn't really happen last night. It was about a week ago, shortly after MD Sheep & Wool.

The inspiration this time came from the Winter 2009 issue of Spin-Off Magazine - "Coils: Adding To Your Art Yarn Repertoire", by Jacey Boggs. I had read the article over many times and found it very easy to understand. Just takes a bit of patience and practice to get it right when you're actually doing it.

I certainly need to keep up and practice at it. Some of the coils have no definition, others somehow just got lost, some slid a bit before I could anchor them, but some, a wee few, turned out quite nice.