The First “Russian Salad” of the Season

It’s getting warmer, finally. After teaching my last class this afternoon I went out for a walk without a jacket on and wearing sandals. The warm weather got me in the mood for an ensaladilla rusa which, literally translated to English, would be “Russian salad.” But really, it’s just a potato salad. Yes, that’s correct, Spain also has its own special version of potato salad. This is what Spanish potato salad looks like in my kitchen, in case you’re curious:

Photo May 27, 4 09 15 PM

If you want to make one of your very own, here’s how to make an ensaladilla rusa for four people:

Step 1: Boil four medium-sized, unpeeled potatoes and a good-sized, peeled carrot in a big pot of salted water. It should take roughly 30 minutes to cook them. When they’re done, remove them from the water and let them cool on the counter.

Step 2: Cook some frozen peas in the microwave. Shock them in cold water.

Step 3: Hard boil two eggs. Let them cool.

Step 4: When the potatoes  and the carrot have cooled, peel the potatoes and cut them into cubes. Cut the carrot anyway you like (julienne, slices, medium-sized dice).

Step 4: Combine potatoes, carrot, and peas in a bowl. Also, add some drained, canned, solid white tuna to the bowl. In Spain all that’s available is tuna packed in oil so, to make it truly Spanish, use that kind. If you worry about fat, use solid white tuna packed in water and just Americanize it. I wouldn’t recommend using chunk light tuna but if that’s what you like I won’t ever know!

Step 5: Add some salt to the bowl if you like, to taste. Moisten the mixture with mayonnaise. Use as much mayonnaise as you usually do for your normal potato salad. In Spanish restaurants this salad is practically swimming in mayo and I hate that!

Step 6: Peel and slice the hard-boiled eggs. Decorate the top with the slices.

Step 7: Decorate the top of the salad with green manzanilla olives. You can use pitted or un-pitted, whichever you prefer.

Step 8: Chill in the fridge before serving. This should be enough for 4 people.

Now, of course, an ensaladilla rusa can be as unique as you are. The recipe, above, is for the typical one you can find just about anywhere in Spain but, as with everything, there are always regional and restaurant variations. In Madrid, for example, you are very likely to find your serving of “Russian salad” garnished with red strips of pimiento along with the olives and hard-boiled egg slices. I prefer to mix the tuna in with the potato and carrot and other people like to use the tuna as an additional garnish. Basically, it’s just a potato salad. Enjoy!

And now, for the crafty talk. My knitting club has decided to start a CAL because, apparently, here in Spain the Wayuu bag is going to be fashionable this summer. If you are wondering what a Wayuu is, I’ll tell you: it’s a Native American ethnic group from Colombia that makes crocheted bags with interesting, colorful designs. I decided to join the fun because my mother is going to be having a birthday soon. Since the point is to be summery, I picked some bright colors. Here’s my progress so far:

Photo May 26, 3 43 43 PM

As you can see, it’s just nice and easy tapestry crochet. I’ve crocheted this way before, but never for a bag and I can’t believe I never thought of it on my own. Using cotton yarn creates a very firm fabric that won’t need a lining. I decided to use a cotton-synthetic blend just in case my colors run in the washing but a lot of people are going with DMC Natura because, let’s face it, the colors for that yarn are outrageously beautiful.

Progress all around!

When I wasn’t updating my blog I was busy knitting. Last week I finished my Owlie socks. Check them out:

Also, I sort of accidentally acquired some self-striping sock yarn by Gründl called “Hot Socks.” I say “accidentally” because the yarn sort of took me by surprise at a new local yarn shop. It’s good fun to knit with this yarn. The knitting is going pretty quickly. I finished one sock and I’m already down to the heel flap on the second one. When I snapped the picture I hadn’t got that far on the second sock. This pair will be for my sister:

Photo May 20, 4 00 38 PM

Also, I have finally finished the sleeves on my sweater! The only thing left to do is finish knitting the collar and add some length to the body (I tried it on and it needs more knitting, whoops!).

What have you been working on?

Peyote crochet

It’s very unusual for me to blog on a Tuesday but here I am. Between classes I had time to finish yet another Patricia Kristoffersen doily. This one is called “Visionary Sense” and can be found in Ultimate Doilies published by Leisure Arts. I suppose at this point I should buy stock in Leisure Arts if it ever becomes a publicly traded company (which it won’t, haha!). Anyway, as I was crocheting this doily I was asking myself, “Why did she give it a name like this?” The photos in the leaflet don’t really give you an idea as to why it’s called what it’s named. But, as I photographed the doily, completed it, and stared at it, well, I can say that it can make you somewhat dizzy which could mean that you’re “having visions.” It could be crocheted peyote. I’m not sure if looking at a photo of it long enough will do this, but try to make yourself dizzy looking at it:

Photo May 03, 7 44 57 PM

Usually, I’m not very into crocheting doilies that are all spinny as if they were a wheel. This one caught my interest and motivated me to make it (as well as decorate my coffee table with it) because of the front and back post crochet work that it calls for. It’s truly a masterful design and provides hours of entertainment for the price of some dollar store bedspread crochet thread #10. It’s so much of a masterful design that I think the center “wheel” deserves a close-up:

Photo May 03, 7 45 22 PM

Do you get what I mean? It’s just a good time to do all that front-back post stuff. In the center, front post triple crochets create a wheel of diamonds. The center is lined off from the outer edges with a round of back post stitches to add an interesting 3D effect. The edging, which takes up about three rounds, is also worth seeing close-up. It’s the easiest thing ever to make, but it looks so, I don’t know, “professionally finished” with back post stitchery:

Photo May 03, 7 45 31 PM

So there you go. I have effectively procrastinated knitting the sleeves on my sweater quite nicely and for months. Procrastination has never felt so productive. My living room now has lots of color (check out previous posts) and texture decorating it.

The Doily Abyss

I have fallen into the doily abyss. There’s nothing that can convince me to work faster on my sweater. I’ve crocheted two more of Patricia Kristoffersen’s designs: “Memorable” from Simply Delightful Doilies  and “18” from The Best of Patricia Kristoffersen which, according to Ravelry, also appears in Coffee ‘n Cream Doilies. I also have the Coffee ‘n Cream book but I didn’t notice the pattern also appears there.

Here’s “Memorable:”

Photo Apr 25, 2 05 14 PM

I definitely want to make this doily again. I really like how the front post crochets outline the flower design in the middle.

I want to make “18” again as well simply because it’s a simple beauty. It is not complicated at all to crochet this doily and the stitch patterns used (especially the filler that goes around the final round of pineapples) are very interesting. As a matter of fact, I learned a lot about the usefulness of chains in creating a fascinating overall look. You could say that in knitting this type of stitchery would be related to fagoting in its appearance. Check it out:

Photo Apr 30, 5 59 01 PM

Now that I’m older and haven’t looked at these patterns in over a decade, I can appreciate these older patterns a whole lot more. I have to say that Patricia Kristoffersen’s doilies are unique for two simple reasons: 1) she sometimes adds a third dimension to their shape with more stitches than simply popcorns; the front and back post stitches on some of them make them outstanding experiments in texture; 2) she uses combinations of chains and single crochets, or the single crochet stitch alone, to make interesting stitch patterns.

I also have some news about my sweater: I did in fact knit some on the first sleeve. I’ve got about 3/4 of a sleeve done. So, maybe in a couple of weeks I’ll be talking about how I finished my sweater.