March 20, 2012

Celebrate Spring with Fruit Tea and Pimento Cheese!

I love this time of year, the flowering trees (red bud is my favorite!), the Easter egg hunts, and the beginnings of being able to entertain outside! We celebrated the lovely weather this past weekend with some friends over for brunch and an early Easter egg hunt! There were 7 little ones, each received a bucket with their name on it and some festive Easter grass, and they were let loose in the backyard to find the eggs! We adults enjoyed ourselves with Fruit Tea and Pimento Cheese- yum, yum!

For those of you unfamiliar with Fruit Tea, it is truly something special. You've all most likely heard of sweet tea, which is a Southern staple and also wonderful. Fruit Tea is like a punch that incorporates sweet tea, fruit juice and other flavors- no one place makes it the same. What I found is that I LOVED Fruit Tea when we were living down South, but, I liked mine a little less potent than what is usually served, either with a little cool water added, or some unsweet tea. This version is the way I like to drink it! It can most likely be successfully made even more 'adult' with the addition of gin or vodka- I do remember a wonderful brunch in Atlanta with a dear friend of my husband's, who ordered an iced tea and added, 'and just put a shot of vodka in that.'

Pimento cheese, which you may recall I love so much I wrote a poem about it:

Ode to Pimento Cheese
Oh, Pimento Cheese,
I used to be too scared to try you,
Until you were made for me by someone from the Bayou.
Now I enjoy your salty taste,
And sample your varieties without haste!
I have had you as a dip and as a spread,
As a tea time sandwich between two slices of bread.
As I contemplate your elegant simplicity in my mouth,
I know now why you are the pate of the South!

Pimento cheese is a 'salad' the way chicken salad is a 'salad,' it's used as both a sandwich filling as well as a dip. A wonderful country club we used to go to used to serve it with celery sticks instead of putting bread and butter on the table. Pimento cheese is usually made with orange cheddar, (that is the most common preparation). We like ours a little different- we use a sharp white Vermont cheddar. We like to eat ours either with Club crackers or as a sandwich; a truly wonderful pairing is cranberry pecan bread. There is no wrong way to enjoy Pimento cheese- I've seen it grilled on a croissant, as a hamburger topping, and as something called 'The bonefish special' down in the Florida Keys, a sandwich with ham and pimento cheese- enjoyed on a skiff during a sunny day of salt water fishing. Oh, and this is important, it's pronounced 'pi-men-a.'

Fruit Tea
6 cups water (boiling)
6 tea bags (I use decaffeinated, but you don't have to)
1 cinnamon stick
1 whole clove
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup frozen limeade concentrate
1/3 to 1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
4 cups cool water

Bring the six cups of water to a boil. Add the tea bags, cinnamon, clove, and sugar. Stir once or twice to help the sugar dissolve, after about 4 minutes, remove the tea bags. Add the remaining ingredients and refrigerate. If you are not crazy about cinnamon and clove, remove them. If you like their flavor, remove them either after 6 hours in the refrigerator or overnight. A note- if you use a pulp-heavy OJ concentrate, the Fruit Tea may appear to 'settle' and may need to be stirred or shaken before serving. I make this ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator in very large mason jars.

Pimento Cheese
8 ounces Cabot brand 'Smooth Sharp' white cheddar, shredded using my grater's finest setting
1/4 cup chopped pimentos (drained)
1/2 cup mayonnaise (Duke's is first choice, Hellman's second)
Pinch sea salt
Ample amount of freshly ground white pepper

Shred your cheese into a bowl. Add the drained pimentos, mayonnaise, salt and pepper. Using either a spatula or a spoon, blend gently together, using a folding motion. Enjoy on either crackers, on celery, or on bread in a sandwich!

March 6, 2012

Lace Baby Sweater


Hello! Here's a pattern for an adorable lace baby sweater I have knitted- I have literally gone knitting CRAZY. I hope you like it! The sweater is a little jacket that has two different patterns, the bottom is an open, lace pattern and the top is a moss stitch pattern. It is finished with three little buttons and a ribbon tie, the ribbon tie is optional, you may also omit the buttons entirely and form ribbon closures. The shape is a-line.

Don't have time to knit your own?  Check out our Etsy store- there's one currently for sale and more to come!  Click here:  La Dolce Duchessa's Etsy Store


You will need size 6 knitting needles and yarn that is between 3 and 4 gauge- the yarn should say what number gauge it is on the label. I used a normal sized ball of baby yarn for this.
There was some leftover (for matching booties?!). This will fit a baby between 0-3 months.


You may also use size 7 needles for the lace portion, then, at row 40, change to size 6.

To begin:
BACK
Cast on 73 stitches
Row 1 K
Row 2 K2tog, *K4, yo, K1, yo, K4, s2kp2o, repeat from *, end skpo
The s2kp2o means slip 2, k1, pass the 2 slipped stitches over
Row 3 P
Row 4 K2tog, *K3, (yo, k3) 2 times, s2kp2o, repeat from *, end skpo
Row 5 P
Row 6 K2tog, *K2, yo, K5, yo, K2, s2kp2o, repeat from *, end skpo
Row 7 P
Row 8 K2tog, *(K1, yo) 2 times, skpo, K1, K2tog, (yo, K1) 2 times, s2kp2o, repeat from *, end skpo
Row 9 P
Row 10 K2tog, *yo, K3, yo, s2kp2o, repeat from *, end skpo
Row 11 P

Repeat rows 2-11 until you have knitted 39 rows.

Row 40 *K2, K2tog, repeat from *, K1 last (you should have 55 stitches)
Row 41 P2tog, P24, P3tog, P24, P2tog (you should have 51 stitches)
Row 42 K
Row 43 P
Row 44 K
Row 45 P
Row 46 *K1, P1
Row 47 *P1, K1
Row 48 *P1, K1
Row 49 *K1, P1

Rows 46-49 form the 4 row moss stitch repeat. Repeat rows 46-49 reaching row 67.

Row 68 *P1, K1 for 13 stitches, leave these 13 stitches on a stitch holder. Bind off 25 stitches in the pattern, knit remaining 12 stitches in the pattern.
Row 69 *K1, P1
Row 70 bind off in pattern
Rejoin the yarn to the 13 stitches on the stitch holder, knit one row *K1, P1, next row, bind off in pattern.

LEFT FRONT
When knitting the even lace pattern rows, end skpo, not s2kp2o for the last repeat.
Cast on 42 stitches
Row 1 K
Row 2 same pattern as the back’s row 2, except last 5 stitches are knitted
Row 3 P
Row 4 same pattern as the back’s row 4, except last 5 stitches are knitted
Row 5 P
Row 6 same pattern as the back’s row 6, except last 5 stitches are knitted
Row 7 P
Row 8 same pattern as the back’s row 8, except last 5 stitches are knitted
Row 9 P
Row 10 same pattern as the back’s row 10, except last 5 stitches are knitted
Row 11 P

Repeat rows 2-11 until you have knitted 39 rows.

Row 40 *K1, K2tog (you should have 28 stitches)
Row 41 P
Row 42 K
Row 43 P
Row 44 K
Row 45 P
Row 46 *K1, P1, repeat from *, end K3
Row 47 P3, *P1, K1
Row 48 *P1, K1, repeat from *, end K3
Row 49 P3, *K1, P1

Repeat rows 46-49 until you’ve knitted 62 rows.

Row 63 bind off 5 stitches, *K1, P1
Row 64 *P1, K1, dec. 1 stitch at end
Row 65 bind off 2 stitches, *K1, P1
Row 66 *K1, P1, dec. 1 stitch at end
Row 67 bind off 2 stitches, *K1, P1
Row 68 *P1, K1, dec. 1 stitch at end
Row 69 bind off 2 stitches, *K1, P1
Row 70 bind off in *K1, P1 pattern

RIGHT FRONT
When knitting the even lace pattern rows, end skpo, not s2kp2o for the last repeat.
Cast on 42 stitches
Row 1 K
Row 2 K5, same pattern as the back’s row 2
Row 3 P
Row 4 K5, same pattern as the back’s row 4
Row 5 P
Row 6 K5, same pattern as the back’s row 6
Row 7 P
Row 8 K5, same pattern as the back’s row 8
Row 9 P
Row 10 K5, same pattern as the back’s row 10
Row 11 P

Repeat rows 2-11 until you have knitted 39 rows.

Row 40 *K2 tog, K1 (you should have 28 stitches)
Row 41 P
Row 42 K1, yo, K2tog, K to end (this forms the lowest button hole)
Row 43 P
Row 44 K
Row 45 P
Row 46 K3, *K1, P1
Row 47 *P1, K1, P last 3
Row 48 K3, *P1, K1
Row 49 *K1, P1, P last 3

Repeat rows 46-49 until reaching 62 rows with the following exceptions:

Row 52 K1, yo, K2tog, *P1, K1 (this forms the middle button hole)
AND
Row 61 *K1, P1, last 3: P1, yo, P2tog (this forms the top button hole)

Row 63 *P1, K1, bind off last 5 (cut yarn with enough to weave in during later finishing, 12+ inches)
Row 64 rejoin yarn with a 12+ inch tail, bind off 1, *P1, K1
Row 65 *K1, P1, last 4 p2tog twice
Row 66 bind off 1, *P1, K1
Row 67 *P1, K1, last 4 p2tog twice
Row 68 bind off 1, *P1, K1
Row 70 *K1, P1, last 4 p2tog twice
Row 71 bind off in *K1, P1

SLEVES (make 2)
Cast on 23 stitches
Row 1 K
Row 2 *K1, P2
Row 3 K1, P1, *K2, P1
Row 4 K1, P2
Row 5 *K1, P1
Row 6 inc. 1 (K), *P1, K1
Row 7 inc. 1 (K) *P1, K1
Row 8 *P1, K1
Row 9 inc 1 (K) *P1, K1
Row 10 inc 1 (P), *K1, P1
Row 11 *P1, K1
Row 12 *K1, P1
Row 13 inc. 1 (P) *K1, P1
Row 14 inc. 1 (K) *P1, K1
Row 15 *K1, P1
Row 16 *P1, K1
Row 17 inc. 1 (K) *P1, K1
Row 18 inc. 1 (P) *K1, P1
Row 19 *P1, K1
Row 20 *K1, P1
Row 21 inc. 1 (P) *K1, P1
Row 22 inc. 1 (K) *P1, K1
Row 23 *K1, P1
Row 24 *P1, K1
Row 25 inc. 1 (K) *P1, K1
Row 26 inc. 1 (P) *K1, P1
Row 27 *P1, K1
Row 28 *K1, P1
Row 29 inc. 1 (P) *K1, P1
Row 30 inc. 1 (K) *P1, K1
Row 31 *K1, P1
Row 32 *P1, K1
Row 33 *P1, K1
Row 34 *K1, P1
Row 35 *K1, P1
Row 36 *P1, K1
Row 37 bind off in *P1, K1

The sleeves’ correct side will be obvious to you by the moss stitch pattern being matched to the top of the other parts of the jacket.

I would recommend hand washing and laying the pieces flat to dry before assembling, since the center front has knitted portions that have most likely taken on a curled shape. Once the pieces are dry, mattress stitch the shoulder seams first, then the sleeves, then attach the sleeves to the jacket. The sleeves only go as far down as the moss stitch pattern on the bodice. Sew the side seams of the jacket. Select and sew on your buttons and or ribbon.