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Homemade almond butter is the best. All store-bought ones I've had now just taste subpar in comparison. #diy #homemade
Every time I post photos about my homemade almond butter, I get questions from friends interested in trying it for themselves. You ask and you shall receive!

Almond butter is very easy to make and delicious! I made some over the holidays to give as gifts and saved a few jars for myself. I ate all the almond butter and got a little too busy to make more, so I went to both Mother’s and Trader Joes and bought some good almond butter. Yuck. Okay, not to say that they are low quality butters. They are excellent…unless you’ve made your own, then there’s no going back. The beauty of making my own almond butter is that I can get it they way I WANT it…extra roasted and extra crunchy.

The following recipe can be adapted to your own tastes and preferences. The measurements I give are estimates based on my own preferences and taste. I also use organic ingredients whenever possible.

Ingredients

4-5 cups of raw whole almonds

1/4 tsp sea salt

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, or your preferred oil

1-2 tsp brown sugar or honey

Tools

food processor

spatula

storage jars or containers

Instructions

1. Place almonds on a cookie sheet and roast in your oven at 250 degrees Farenheit for 30-60 minutes, stirring at least 2-3 times during baking to prevent burnt nuts. I like my nuts really toasty so I bake them for a while. After removing from the oven, let the nuts cool for at least 30 minutes.

2. Toss the almonds in your food processor with the “S” blade. Process the almonds until you get small chunks. Remove approximately 3/4 cup of the chopped nuts and set aside. Be careful not to cut yourself with the sharp blade when removing the nuts.

3. Add salt and sugar. Process the remaining nuts until they get really thick and sticky. At this time, it may appear that the food processor won’t go anymore, but don’t worry, it will. Just scrap the bowl and move the butter around a few times with a spatula. Add oil.

Homemade almond butter in the making! Smells so good. #yummy

4. Continue processing until desired consistency. I don’t like my butters creamy, so I process until the nuts are almost grainy, somewhere in between the size of granulated and turbinado sugars. Add the chopped nuts you set aside earlier. Process for a few more minutes until blended.

5. Scoop out the butter and store them in your storage containers. You can keep them in the refrigerator or in your freezer if for some odd reason you don’t go through your almond butter as fast as me. ūüėČ How many containers you get depends on the size of them and how much you eat while you make your almond butter.

Substitutions: You can substitute other nuts like peanuts, cashews and walnuts. For those nuts, I would omit the oil because they are oilier nuts. Also, I find that the roasting time for those nuts are shorter than almonds.

Enjoy!!

Running a mini almond butter factory in my kitchen! Canning lots of jars!

If you are making some almond butter as gifts for friends, why not add a special touch with these awesome gift tags?

Handmade love

A note regarding my website

Folks, I also want to let you know that my website is going through a major facelift and some construction woes. You can still navigate and purchase from it, but I cannot list new stuff on it. So, for the time being, you will see a new tab at the top of this blog, “~~PATTERN & PRODUCT INFORMATION~~” That’s where I’m putting and listing all my new stuff. Thanks!!

**For up to the minute updates and news, follow me¬†@AnneKuoLukito¬†on Twitter and¬†CraftyDiversions¬†on Instagram or ‚ÄúLike‚ÄĚ my¬†Crafty Diversions page¬†on Facebook!**

TNNA part 2: Goodies!

As I try to balance getting ready for Stitches West, like teaching and getting products and samples to vendors, trying to finish the collection for Manos del Uruguay yarns, a recent health scare and other normal life things, I find that my brain won’t stop! It seems like that’s always the case…when I’m super busy, my brain always seem to go into overdrive and come up with lots of creative thoughts and ideas, ideas for which I don’t have time to develop when I’m super busy. One of the many reasons for the inspiration is all the lovely colors, yarns and other products that I find and see at TNNA.

TNNA sample yarns & products. TNNA sample yarns & products.

TNNA sample yarns & products. TNNA sample yarns & products.

Clockwise from top left: (1) amazingly deep rich colors of fingering weight yarn handdyed by Baah Yarn; (2) I love the versatility of Berroco Ultra Alpaca and got a sample of the Ultra Alpaca Fino, along with a couple skeins of Flicker to swatch and experiement with; (3) a fantastic new line of yarns from Erika Knight featuring British wools. I’m super-excited and inspired by Fur and can’t wait to play with all these yarns; (4) I love HiyaHiya sharp stainless needles! I already have a set of their interchangables but I bought a 2 more sets, since a designer can never have too many needles!

TNNA sample yarns & products.

I mentioned earlier and on Twitter¬†that Anzula would be selling kits of my new pattern set, Fantome Hat and Cowl at a retailer-only event at TNNA. If you’re going to Stitches West, Anzula will be selling the kits to the general knitting public, as well as several of my patterns like Haiku and hats from the Liberation collection.

Brave knitting is grafting live stitches off the needles. #knitting Teaching materials.

Above left is a photo of Project 5 for the Manos Collection. I made a mistake in my spreadsheet and ended up cutting out 5-6″ of my knitting, which was faster than ripping out everything. After correcting it, I reattached the border by grafting the edging back to the body of the garment. I guess it was a good refresher for the “Kitchener Like ¬†A Pro” class I’ll be teaching at Stitches West! The right photo is a peek at the handouts for another one of my Stitches classes.

The Crafty Diversions half of the booth

Since this year’s Winter TNNA trade show was held in Long Beach, I decided to take home court advantage and got a larger booth. I collaborated and shared space with my friend and fellow designer Pam Powers. Our goal in collaboration is to always try to make our spaces look like they belong together, while remaining distinctive in our own styles and designs.

Exhibiting is very hard work (still am recovering!), but also exciting and  loads of fun. There are many reasons why I exhibit: meet LYSOs and LYS staff, introduce my products/designs to consumers, networking, marketing. For me, highlights at  TNNA include seeing friends old and new, and looking at new products/yarns to use for future designs. Finding energy and inspiration is not a difficult task at TNNA.

I debuted the¬†Fantome Cowl¬†and¬†Fantome Hat¬†at the show, which was very well received. The set was sold by Anzula¬†as part of a kit. Anzula will also be at Stitches West, where I’ll be teaching, and selling the Fantome kit.

At this show in particular, I was struck with a bit of Fan-Girlitis.¬†I don’t often get giddy or fawn over any celebrities, knitting or otherwise, but I sure did at this show. I still smile and blush at the memories. And I’m proud; so, allow me the indulgence of some lines to brag and recount my stories to y’all below. ¬†First are some photos of our pretty booth! You can see more photos in this album.

TNNA Jan2013 booth 3854

TNNA Jan2013 wiht Pam

TNNA Jan2013 booth 3858

Lily Chin showing her amazement at my Lakedale jacket.

Lily: About 3 years ago, I took a class from Lily Chin on reversible cables after being hooked and intrigued by them after designing¬†Remy. Since then, I’ve seen Lily at the trade shows and when I teach¬†at Stitches.¬†After all this time, I’m always a little surprised that she knows me.¬† At TNNA, she stopped by my booth to compliment on the design of my jacket, Lakedale. It was such an honor! and Squee! She joked that I should advertise it as “inspired by Lily Chin” because she was actually the first person to introduce me to brioche knitting in the reversible cables class, which is the technique I used to construct the jacket’s placket.

Cat:¬†Cat Bordhi¬†is like the Tim Gunn in my life and I’m sure that many of my fellow Visionary Authors feel the same way. Her innovative, introspective and out-of-the-box thinking is one of the many reasons I have immense love and respect for this woman, and am so honored to consider her a friend and a mentor. So, when she admires my general body of work and comments on the fascinating patterning in Fantome Cowl and Fantome Hat, I blush and get giddy like a 11 year old girl.

ErikaKnight 2

With Erika Knight at her booth of fabulous yarns.

Erika:¬†I stopped at her booth because I was struck by the amazing new yarns on display. I did not realize that¬†Erika Knight herself was standing there (never met her before). Like other major knit-celebs, she’s just as nice and down-to-earth. It was a lovely conversation, made even more so when she said something to the effect of liking my work. I kept a poker face and remained calm, though inside I was like “What!?! OHEMGEE, does really she know who I am and my stuff?!?” It was surreal. The next day, I went back to her booth and told her that I was too shocked to ask for a photo earlier and she obliged me with a photo. I hoped she didn’t think I was crazy. Luckily, she asked me to come back to her booth at the end of the show so she can give me some sample yarns to swatch and play with. Wow! (I’ll share the yarns in my next blog post.)

Norah: On the last day of the show, my helper and A version of my Fantome Cowl in a deep rusted orange and turquoise. http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/fantome-cowl
talented lampwork artist Denise Wilkinson to the Berroco booth to evaluate some yarns and colors for some of my future projects. Norah Gaughan came to chat with us (I met her once before, but I doubt she remembers me) and complimented on the design and colors of an orange & blue version of Fantome Cowl¬†I wore. (It’s one of my favorite color combos, inspired by the colors I used in Mandarinfish Hat and Mandarinfish Cowl). More super squeees!

I don’t know about y’all, but it’s such a good feeling and validation when such accomplished and innovative designers and teachers like Lily Chin, Erika Knight, Cat Bordhi and Norah Gaughan compliment your work. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, and it brightens up the road ahead for the sometimes difficult journey one must travel as an indie freelance designer.

**For up to the minute updates and news, follow me¬†@AnneKuoLukito¬†on Twitter and¬†CraftyDiversions¬†on Instagram or ‚ÄúLike‚ÄĚ my¬†Crafty Diversions page¬†on Facebook!**

I you follow me in social media (Twitter, Facebook, my business fan page, or Instagram), you probably know that I’ve been working on some really tight and important deadlines. The first of which is an accessory set for Anzula for debut at a retailer-only event at TNNA¬†called “Sample-It!” For the event, Anzula will sell exclusive kits using my patterns. The other BIG project I’m working on is a 7-piece collection for Manos del Uruguay yarns with only 2 months to achieve the feat. Eek. I can’t show y’all official photos for any of these projects yet, but I’ve been releasing lots of teasers on the projects via my various social media streams. ¬†So to make sure you’re seeing them as I write and knit, make sure you follow me!

Knitting in bed in my sheepy PJs with awesome yarn & listening to rain = win

Teaser of the Anzula project. Yarn: Sebastian. Colors: Avocado and Violet.

A mountain pile of @manosyarn on my kitchen table. #tease

Yarns for the Manos del Urugual Fall 2013 Collection. Aren’t they gorgeous?!?

Project 1 of 7 completed yesterday; sample knitter working on #2 & #3; am moving to #4 today. Woot! @manosyarn #fall2013 #manosyarn

Project 1 of 7 completed! It just needs to be blocked. Yarn: Manos Silk Blend; Color: Nickel

A designer's brain

Indecision has been the theme of designing the Manos collection. I want the fit to be *just* the way I had envisioned it and it always takes lots of tweaking to get there. Do you make it easier to write/read for the knitter or does the exact rates of shaping matter more? How do I balance the both better? It’s sometimes a very hard decision for me.

**For up to the minute updates and news, follow me¬†@AnneKuoLukito¬†on Twitter and CraftyDiversions on Instagram or ‚ÄúLike‚ÄĚ my¬†Crafty Diversions page¬†on Facebook!**

In my last post, I promised to put up some of the recipes that I cooked over Thanksgiving. I had big plans of recreating and properly photographing some of the dishes, but work got in the way (in a very good way). I’m very busily getting ready for TNNA, doing work in collaboration with Anzula as well as working on a collection for Manos del Uruguay yarns. I also will be teaching at Stitches West and the¬†Craftcation Conference.

I also made butternut squash and carmelized onion tart with goat cheese and #glutenfree  crust. #family #thanksgiving

The following crust recipe was what I used for my¬†Butternut squash and carmelized onion tart with goat cheese. I loved the result from it…buttery and flaky! I adapted it from the Flaky Pie Crust recipe in The Essential Gluten-Free Baking Guide Part 2. Most of the flours I used are organic flours from Bob’s Red Mill. I also used organic butter and eggs. ¬†Unfortunately for those who are vegan or have an egg allergy, this is not a vegan recipe. I haven’t tried a vegan crust yet, as I’m not sure what the comparable substitution for eggs in a pie crust are. I don’t think using psyllium husks, flax or chia seeds will get you the same results. As for the butter, you can always substitute a vegan shortening or butter.

Gluten-Free Savory Pie & Tart Crust Recipe

3/4 cup brown rice flour
1 1/2 cups white rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
3/4 cup cold unsalted butter
2 eggs
1/4 cup cold water

  1. Combine the white rice flour, brown rice flour, tapioca starch, salt and xanthan gum into food processor.
  2. Cut the butter into 1″ chunks and add to food processor. Pulse food processor until the butter is cut into small pea-sized pieces.
  3. Add eggs and water. Process together until it becomes a thick dough. The dough should be soft and easy to work with.
  4. Roll dough out onto a sheet of parchment paper or on a silicon mat. It might be necessary to flour the surface with additional white rice or brown rice flour to prevent sticking. I roll mine out to about 1/8″ thick or a little thinner for mini tarts. For a really flaky crust, I recommend refrigerating the dough ball (covered in plastic wrap to prevent drying out) for at least 30-60 minutes before you roll out.
  5. Place on pie plate or cut into desired shape/ size for mini-tarts.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees F for 20-30 minutes until slightly golden. Bake time will depend on how thinly you rolled your crust and to what size you cut it.

**For up to the minute updates and news, follow me¬†@AnneKuoLukito¬†on Twitter and¬†CraftyDiversions¬†on Instagram or ‚ÄúLike‚ÄĚ my¬†Crafty Diversions page¬†on Facebook!**

First Thanksgiving

Our Thanksgiving feast.My immediate family and I have never had a Thanksgiving together until this year. I know many of you would find it odd to hear that. Many factors contributed to this: we emigrated to the US in the early 80s, so it really wasn’t part of our parents’ culture, my parents weren’t exactly on good terms with each other and other family, and my parents divorced in 1989. ¬†Thanksgiving really is only part of my sister and my culture since we grew up here.

When I was in high school, my mom took my sister and I to my maternal uncle’s house for Chinese-style hot pot a few times for Thanksgiving, where the table was mostly Asian food unless the kids forced the adults to buy a pie or something to be more “American.” We never had a holiday thing with my dad. Christmas was very much the same or nonexistent. On Xmas eve and Xmas day, my cousins and I would often end up at the movie theater with all the Jewish kids, other non-Christian Asian and Asian-American kids and others whose families didn’t celebrate those “American” holidays.

Dad and stepmom. Their very first Thanksgiving with us! #family #glutenfree

When I went to college, I started my own traditions and cooked Thanksgiving and Christmas orphan dinners for myself and friends. After both my sister and I moved to California, away from our parents in Texas, I continued my own tradition and hosted holiday dinners for her, my friends, my soon-to-be ex and brother-in-law’s family. My mom, dad and stepmom had never come to participate in the celebrations (again, it’s not really part of our culture and tradition) and the few times I went home during the holidays, we just ate regular meals at home or went to a Chinese restaurant.

Thanksgiving 2012

This year, my sister, her boyfriend, their dog, my dad, my stepmom and a good friend of mine all came out to visit for Thanksgiving. A first for all of us! So I cooked up a feast that included a brined turkey and about 8 other dishes. All the dishes were gluten-free and vegetarian, except the turkey, of course (sis and her bf are vegetarians and both sis and I are on gluten-free diets as well). It was quite a delight and fun having our first family Thanksgiving.¬†My sister and I always have a good time hanging out with my dad and stepmom, and I know that they enjoyed the experience Untitledand all the good eats as well. I hope that this may be the start of a new bicultural tradition for our small little family. My only regret in this is that we won’t ever get the chance to share this with our mom, though I’m sure wherever she is, she’s happy for us.

I am thankful everyday for my life, friends and family. I hope that all of you had a wonderful weekend, whether or not you celebrate Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving 2012
1. Turkey brining, 2. Butternut squash and carmelized onion tart with goat cheese & gluten-free crust, 3. Wine-roasted pears with super gingery ginger snaps, 4. Gluten-free kabocha pumpkin pie,¬†5. Roasted Turkey with fennel, carrots and baby potatoes, 6. Cornbread stuffing (sister made), 7. Harvest medley of purple yams, jewel sweet potatoes and pears, 8. Vegan Almond & Cashew nut loaf, 9. From-scratch green bean casserole (sis’s boyfriend made), 10. Teff muffins with almonds, flax & cranberries, 11. Cranberry-Orange relish and Mushroom ragout, 12. Thanksgiving spread

Many of you friends, fans and followers have requested the recipes for some of my gluten-free dishes. I’m working on getting them out and will post them shortly!

**For up to the minute updates and news, follow me¬†@AnneKuoLukito¬†on Twitter or ‚ÄúLike‚ÄĚ my¬†Crafty Diversions page¬†on Facebook!**

Flame & Wrapture

Flame 3140

target=”_blank”>Flame is a shallow crescent shawl that has an attractive reversible lace motif. It’s worked in one piece without any picking up for the edge.

A while back, I stumbled upon an interesting but a little too fussy looking stitch pattern in one of my Japanese stitch dictionaries. While I didn’t love the fussiness, I loved the basic bones of the stitch pattern. So, I started playing around with the stitch pattern and manipulating it on the computer. One of the manipulations resulted in a beautifully textured pattern that’s also reversible,¬†perfect for a shawl. ¬†(Several of the other manipulations inspired a few designs that are still under wraps.)
I was a little stuck in deciding a name for this shawl, which I had worked using Windy Valley Musk Ox¬†Luxury Blend (45% qiviut, 45% merino, 10% silk; 1oz, 218yds); Color: 2016-Autumn Crimson. A week after finishing the shawl, I went on an Alaskan cruise and I realized how much the stitch patterning resembles a whale’s fluke. Destiny led me to name this after one of the humpback whales that I saw. She is named “Flame” by the locals and naturalists in and around Juneau. I think it’s an apt name for the fiery color and spirit of this shawl.

Flame was initially debuted only to retailers (yarn shops) for wholesale orders at TNNA this past June. It has since been in storage and got a little wrinkled. Re-blocking it was the perfect excuse to use the bottle of Eucalan Wrapture wool wash send to me by my friend and designer of the scent Kristin Omdahl. At first I was a little scared of the jasmine scent since many jasmine-scented and floral-scented products are overly scented with synthetic fragrances that smell quite chemical to me. I had nothing to be afraid of. Jasmine essential oil gives Wrapture a nice romantic floral scent while the lanolin in it conditions your knits and other delicates washed with it.

I’m now releasing¬†Flame¬†to all of you and our knitting community. It’s available for purchase as a PDF download on Ravelry and on my website. ¬†Do you want a chance to win a copy of¬†Flame¬†and a sample of Wrapture as well? I’m trying out Rafflecopter and running the giveaway through it. You can enter as many times as allowed; the more you share, the more entries you can earn! Winners will be chosen at random.

 Flame 3086 logo Flame 3064 logo

Flame 3102 thumb logo

flame giveaway

CLICK TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY. Giveaway starts Nov. 19 and ends midnight EST Nov. 30.

**For up to the minute updates and news, follow me¬†@AnneKuoLukito¬†on Twitter or ‚ÄúLike‚ÄĚ my¬†Crafty Diversions page¬†on Facebook!**
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