Monday, February 22, 2016

At the Beep.....

Hi,you've reached the blog of Ka'a Christian. She is currently trying to spot river otters in Yosemite and knitting on top of rocks in the middle of rivers. Please leave a message at he beep and she'll get back to you on Wednesday. Till then enjoy this picture of her last trip to Yosemite with the girls:

Friday, February 19, 2016

Random 10

So I have nothing planned for today and since I leave tomorrow for Chinese New Year and then a girl's trip to Yosemite this is going to be a quick and dirty 10 random things about me.

1. I just got back from the salon and my nails are whore red (though the label said Red Apple) for the Chinese New Year tomorrow, and I'm typing carefully as not to screw them up.

2. My best friend Anna is Chinese and we go to the festival in San Francisco every year. It is the largest celebration of the Chinese New Year outside of China.

3. I'm supposed to make and bring a casserole for our trip to Yosemite. I'm always known for bringing something tasty. Currently I have no idea what I'm going to make.

4. I'm only 5'1", and a little on the dumpy side, however I can squat 250 pounds and run half marathons regularly.

5. I had asthma as a kid and told I would never be able to run. I also have been hit by a car and had a skiing accident that caused permanent damage to my knees when I was a teen.

6. I was born the year of the Rabbit and collect bunny stuff like jewelry, paintings, shirts, pillows, ect. Currently I'm looking to make Louise's hat from Bob's Burgers.

7. I didn't know how to knit well (could only knit and knew 1 cast on) till I was 22. I'm now 28.

8. I hate mint and avocados. I think this year I might be able to get over avocados, but I shall always hate mint.

9. I used to work at Kepler's Books as a Children's Specialist and Author Host. I have met many authors and have tons of signed and personalized books by them. My favorites are my matching hardbound Game of Thrones set, my collection of Francis May's books, and Ben's and my Patrick Rothfuss collection that we got signed on our 1 year anniversary.

10. I can usually tell where you know me from by what name you call me.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Dear Smokey Orchid,

You and I were meant to be, that I'm sure of. I bought you while visiting relatives in Petaluma, and you were the only yarn I wanted at Knitterly. You were a little expensive, but I knew in my heart that your purples and browns where just what I wanted to warm my frozen little toes.

Recently you saw a harsh purge of the yarn stash. Three actually. I know you were worried when you saw the sweater yarn that matched you get tossed into the bag, but that was only because it was scratchy and the sweater knit from it was too small (though I got gauge and went up a size, it would have fit my 8 year old niece). You have been always saved due to your lovely colors, softness, and I knew you'd be perfect for socks.

You knew your number was called when I was halfway through my 2nd Santa Cruz socks, and though I can't find my ball winder, I hand balled you in the car, on the train, and cast you on as soon as my needles were free. That is where the trouble started.

My Cup of Tea has lovely lacework down the front, and working on US1, with my normal number of casted on stitches, you pooled only on the lace panel. Now I knew this was a risk, but I kept knitting you for FOUR WHOLE INCHES. I knew that I wasn't giving up on you and ripped out all the work (sorry for swearing, it was due to anger at the printer that had decided to become a paper holder). I read up a little on how to prevent pooling, I grabbed US0 needles, though they're sharp and kind of hard on the hands when knitting sock yarn, but You Still Pooled.

You've got one more chance to straighten up tonight when I not only change the gauge, but also the number I cast on. Otherwise there is still plenty of room for you in the purge bag.


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Marching Along

I, like most Americans, have some weight to lose, and to help motivate me I bought myself a Fitbit. I love this thing, and it's connected to my friends, who are constant reminders that we are cheering each other along.

Features I love are the challenges, that it keeps track of Lifetime steps, and the badges! I am obsessed with badges and Lifetime personal goals, and this weekend I hit 2 of them! I have taken more then 1,000,000 steps since getting my Fitbit in November, and I have climbed more then 1,000 flights of stairs. These badges and personal goals remind me to eat better all the time, and one of my worst eating habits is not packing a lunch. This week I'm making it a goal to eat lunch in every day, with the goal to make March be an entire month of eating in for lunch.

To start this week I made myself a simple cucumber noodle salad with mozzarella chunks, chopped tomato, and a 50/50 balsamic and olive oil dressing that is seasoned with the lovely 21 Seasoning Solute. It turns out that cucumbers loose a lot of water after you chopped them up and it was kind of soupy. Next time I'll know to pat them dry after cutting.

Today I'm back to Thug Kitchen for Grilled Veggies Couscous Salad that I've only changed slightly (it's like a disease). I swapped out the couscous for quinoa since it doesn't go bad as fast. Couscous is actually a tiny type of pasta and only lasts about 2 days after being cooked. Quinoa lasts about 6-7 days which means that it's perfect for making a hug batch and then dishing it out a little bit at a time for lunches through the week. It's stupid simple to cook, and I grilled veggies for dinner and just added the few extra things I needed to the grill for lunch. It took 10 minutes to create!

BTW if you want to add me on Fitbit click here
Also, here is the noodle cutter I love and adore, but remember to try to pick it up locally!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Art, Drinks, and Chocolate

This weekend was packed full and I didn't even get today off from work! None the less I truly feel like I had a 3 day weekend.

Maybe it's May Day fever but mid February is a very popular time to have a birthday in Ben's and my families. I have a grandmother, an aunt, Ben's cousin, and a friend all with birthdays this weekend.

We went to visit my wonderful grandma Sue, who is an artist in Petaluma, and we walked, ate good food, and raided the local establishments for local brews.

Sue Heinz Landscape made with just ink and coffee
This almond tree near grandma Sue's home has
 informed us winter is over and spring is here.
I have mixed feelings/drinks about this. 

After driving all the way back home we took right off for a double date to and ended up seeing Hail, Caesar!, which I'll let you go see and make up your own mind on how it was because our party was of mixed reviews.

Valentine's Day was kicked off with eating See's for breakfast before heading out to a birthday party for the lovely Alex (who is the sister of Ben's cousin Nick, whom I hold dear to my heart), and then to Deadpool.

I cannot rave enough about that movie. I loved everything about it (well maybe not the part when the guy gets his head taken off by a motorcycle chain. I could have done without that). I want to see it another ten times, but alas we were having over friends for dinner, and we told them they had to see it before coming over because we needed to talk to them about it (we're all pretty geeky).

 Dinner consisted of a fine selection of beer, blackberry bourbon fizz, and in the spirit of Lady and the Tramp spaghetti and meatballs. Now it was not  just any standard spaghetti and meatballs, but I also made bean balls and zoodles (I swear my vegetable pasta cutter is a gift from my heathen gods).

I have a thing for Thug Kitchen and they turned me on to Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute, which is my go to seasoning for just about everything for just $1.99 per jar! What says better tasting then quality ingredients at a bargain? Thug Kitchen makes these amusing pictures and they're motto is "Eat like you give a Fuck", which is something we should all remember.

Lastly, should you be in the Petaluma area, and have a love for food, jot over to Thistle Meats and get a gift card for yourself and promise to get over to support them in a couple weeks. A drunk driver hit their storefront, and such an disaster can have huge consequence for a small business.

Friday, February 12, 2016

An Outing of Ladies

My family is full of artists. We have fiber artists, painters, gardeners, sculptors, designers, musicians, and wood workers. For this reason we visit museums a lot. Oddest thing is that we never  go together as a group, until now.

Early yesterday morning, my grandma, my mom, her best friend, and I all piled into a car and headed up to the Legion of Honor, and have lunch there.

We saw Raphael's "Portrait of a Lady with a Unicorn"

But the real gem of the Legion right now is the Bonnard exhibit. It was amazing, breathtaking, and I went through it twice to just stare in wonder at his use of color and peaking into his world. I'm rather a fan of impressionistic work and the works that came out from 1880-1920 are my favorites. I bought several postcards to put around my desk at work.

That yellow wallpaper is a show stopper
I brought my current socks in progress to work on while walking around the museums. It's my own hand dyed yarn and I'm in love. The colors remind me of Bonnard's Southern Landscape with Two Children, 1918. All the yellows and blues remind me of the ocean. I named this colorway Santa Cruz when I dyed it, and it makes me want to hit the beaches.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Very Black Sabbath

We're keeping it short but sweet today as I'm looking a little rough around the edges due to being at a Black Sabbath concert last night with Ben. The concert was our Valentine's Day present to each other (along with t-shirts) since we'd rather experience new things together then buy each other "stuff" (though we did get one another chocolate).

Enjoy the pictures!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Very Lemony Lemon Bread recipe

I know I'm evil. I mentioned the lemon bread recipe on Friday and didn't give you the recipe. Well I had to really search for it. I mean really search.

Years ago my best girls and I went to The Gingerbread Mansion  for Stina's birthday and my best friend Anna saw on their website a lemon cake recipe and she suggested that I bake it for a birthday cake for Stina. Well the day of the trip I printed the recipe and baked it without nuts (Stina is deathly allergic) and off we went.

It's been nearly 4 years and the website with the recipe has been redone and I found out that they had removed the recipe. Gasp! I have a hand written recipe book that has all my personally tweaked recipes in it, including this one, but that is still packed away. So what was I to do?

I thought about how I had cooked it, printed it, and where I was living at the time and about my computer. Well at the time Anna and I lived together and she was the one with the printer, so I checked my email to see if I had emailed it to her and it turns out I had, back in 2012.

Does anyone else do this? Do you ever search for a recipe and think back and try to relize the day you last made it or how you found it? I can't be the only one!

 Very Lemony Lemon Bread recipe

1/4 c milk
1/2 c Finely chopped nuts
1/4 c Butter
1 ts Baking Powder
2 Eggs; slightly beaten
1/2 c Flour; sifted before
1/2 c Sugar

1/4 ts Salt
1 c Sugar
Grated peel of 1 lemon
Lemon; (juice of)

Recipe makes 1 Loaf

Cream butter and sugar. Mix in eggs. Sift flour again with baking powder and salt. Alternately add flour mixture and the milk to butter mixture, stirring constantly. Mix in the nuts and the lemon peel. Bake in greased 5 x 9-inch loaf pan for 40 to 50 minutes at 350F. Make topping while bread bakes. As soon as the bread comes out of the oven, poke holes in the top with a fork and spoon over the topping.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Lemon Cake

You didn't think I just made cookies with those lemons now did you?

I was honestly on a baking spree last weekend and while searching for a long forgotten lemon bread recipe I ran across a lovely upside down lemon cake recipe, which I then proceeded to screw around with while baking.

I think it would be perfect done as single servings in cupcake tins for Easter, but Ben protested and I'm leaving it up to his mother (the hostess) to decide if I'm bringing this or my famous carrot cake that he loves.

Isn't that an amazing yellow?

Couple things to know. After you turn it onto a plate the brown sugar syrup will drip down the sides. Be prepared by using a plate that is larger then the cake

Don't worry if it looks more brown then golden when it's done as you really want the center to be fully cooked and no one will see the bottom. I had to bake it a full 15 extra minutes then the original recipe suggested to get it fully cooked.

Also, always use a very clean stainless steel bowl and whisk when beating the eggs to get them to peak. Any grease (butter, oil, ect) will cause them not to peak, and you're cake will be as dense as a pound cake.

Lastly, use lemons that you have candied, otherwise you will have to warn guests that they are really tart, or you can watch in anticipation for who will find out how tart they are first (though this plan risks your reputation as a baker).

Upside-Down Lemon Cake

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 thin-skinned lemons, candied
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Sweetened whipped cream, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350°. Add 4 tablespoons of the butter to your pie pan (I use a glass one) and pop into the oven till it is melted, stir in the brown sugar until dissolved. If it's still grainy, return to oven and check and stir every 2 minutes. Remove from the oven and arrange the lemon slices in the melted brown sugar.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the remaining 8 tablespoons of butter with the granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and the egg yolks, one at a time. At low speed, beat in the dry ingredients in 3 batches, alternating with the milk.

In a stainless steel bowl, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar beginning at a low speed and increasing to a high speed until firm peaks form. Fold one-third of the beaten whites into the batter, then fold in the rest. Scrape the batter into the prepared pie pan and bake for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert it onto a plate. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

What hat?

The hat is having issues and therefore is not complete. Actually the hat is in a little time out as I had plan on only using one ball of my Pioneer yarn that costs $26.00 for 50grams. It's pricey because it's grown by sheep here in California, milled in the US, and then dyed in small batches at the wonderful A Verb for Keeping Warm. I've knit an entire short sleeved fair isle sweater from it and adore this yarn for all it stands for (though I would love for it to be 3 ply instead of 2), and am using the leftover yarn to knit a matching hat. It has plowed through the first ball and while in the second ball my increasing and decreasing math left something to be desired.

I have been knitting these instead:

Currently on the heel flap of the
second sock

This is my take on the Dublin Bay Socks knit with Malabrigo, bought at Knitterly, in a colorway I cannot name because I lost the label a while ago when it was destined to become another pair of socks that went the way of frogging. I grabbed this yarn because it reminds me of rain and since it has been raining recently I thought is was appropriate. I'm a simple kind of gal.

This year I have a goal to knit myself 7 pairs of socks so that when Ben and I go to the cabin on the lake I will not freeze like I normally do. Wool socks are a must there as there are no carpets, and it's not heated unless someone is there, which is never during the winter. We love going in the winter as not many people are in town. We spent our anniversary there and went to the country club nearby for a great dinner. It really is the best way to vacation. I'd honestly live there year round if possible.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Lemon Tea Cookies

I bet you're wondering why my blog is named The naked Baker and why the first two posts were not about baking.

First part, I bake often in the morning on the weekends. This means I roll out of bed, toss something together to eat, and  either mix my cookie dough or bread and leave it in the fridge or to rise and go on with the rest of my morning. When I come back to check on things I'm often times fresh out of the shower, or I'm switching batches out of the oven, right before I get dressed. It's dangerous, and I've had a couple burns. Not as bad though as an old roommate that upon first meeting decided to demonstrate our clothing optional rule and whipped off his sole piece of clothing (his board shorts) while frying something. But it's how I roll.

As for the post topics, since they were made on a Wednesday and Friday I had nothing to show. I had already eaten my baked goods from the weekend. But Mondays are the days that I will show you what I cooked!

I received this recipe from a friend in Russia, and spent the better part of an hour translating it and discussing spoons and their uses.

I suggest doubling the recipe because you can't stop at just one!

Makes 32 cookies


1/3 cup butter, melted
3 tbsp powered sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 pinch salt
zest of a lemon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp starch, corn or potato
1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup powered sugar for tossing hot cookies in

While mixer is running add the butter, sugar, juice, salt, baking soda, and starch together.

Once well mixed begin to slowly add the flour till you have to knead the dough together. The dough will be greasy, but don't add extra flour!

Roll into logs that about 1-1.25" think. Wrap tightly with saran wrap and place in the refrigerator for an hour.

Top one is already wrapped

Preheat oven to 350°F and line a cookie sheet with ungreased parchment paper.

Using a sharp knife cut the logs into coins that are about 5/16" thick and place on the cookie sheet.

Bake for 12-15 mins. Prep a baggy with the remaining powdered sugar.

Once cookies are removed from the oven pop them into the baggie with sugar and shake it up so that they are covered.