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Patterns and Recipes: Getting it Right Every Time by Bruce Weinstein


So many crafters love to knit and cook, but have you ever thought about how these two skills are similar?

Bruce Weinsten has.

He’s the author of more than 20 cookbooks, as well as a talented knitting designer, teacher, and author of Boyfriend Sweaters. Bruce shares his four principles for making any recipe or pattern your own, and a delicious lemon pudding cake that you can make (in your slow cooker!) while swatching for your next sweater.

The holidays are the time when crafters gear up–we’re knitting presents, baking cookies, crafting ornaments, and creating handmade good cheer. And nothing puts a damper on it all and slows us down like patterns and recipes that don’t work. After writing 2 knitting books and creating over 10,000 original recipes for more than 21 cookbooks, I know just how hard it is to get it right every time.

But let’s face it, what’s right for me may not be quite right for you. While I like cuffs on a sleeve you may prefer them straight. While I like rosemary in my coq au vin, you might just prefer extra thyme. So the first thing to ask yourself when you come across something that “doesn’t work” is to stand back and objectively look at it. Is this something that you just don’t like or is there something really wrong with the project? If it’s something that is just not quite jiving with your taste, change it. Change the color, change the length, change the collar, change the seasoning, go ahead and change the chicken to pork. Adjust it to fit your taste. In all my books, both knitting and cooking, I offer suggestions on how to adjust the patterns and recipes to fit individual tastes.

In my new knitting book, Boyfriend Sweaters, you’ll find sidebars recommending ways to make each design a little more masculine or feminine, and tips and tricks to adjust it to suit your taste or your fella’s. As a confident designer and chef, I won’t mind if you modify my creations to fit your taste. In fact, I encourage it.

But what about patterns (or recipes) that just don’t work at all. Sadly, we’ve all run across them. We follow them exactly and they’re still a failure. How can you tell if the project you are about to embark on is going to turn out right? Here are some simple steps to follow to keep you on track.

1. Know your source.
Most authors and publishers have rigid testing guidelines and so books and magazines are always a good source for trusted patterns and recipes. And while the Internet is a great resource, beware. Many sites and blogs offer patterns and recipes, but make sure you go to one that has a trusted name in the cooking and crafting world. Look for blogs from published authors as well from acclaimed cooking and knitting instructors and publishers.

2. Research the pattern or recipe before you begin.
Despite all of our best attempts to make sure there are no errors, mistakes happen. And professional crafters and cooks take responsibility and offer up corrections. Check for errata online before you begin a large project and you might save yourself a lot of trouble later. Check out comments on or and see if anyone else has tried it and had success.

3. Reach out to the author.
Most authors can be emailed via their website or their publisher’s website. And most are happy to help you through a tough spot in a recipe or a pattern. Simple questions are always welcome.

4. Consider your local yarn and gourmet store.
Both places are staffed by people who know how to cook and craft. And if you’re buying yarn or ingredients from them they’re usually happy to give you a few minutes of time to explain something you might not understand.

Recipe: Lemon Pudding Cake

Here’s a delicious lemon pudding cake recipe, perfect for the holidays–which you can modify to your heart’s content for small, medium, and large slow cookers–from the forthcoming Great American Slow Cooker Book (out in 2014).

Ingredients Small size Medium size Large size
Sugar 1/2 cup 3/4 cup 1-1/4 cups
Large eggs 2 eggs 3 eggs 5 eggs
Buttermilk (regular or low fat) 2/3 cup 1 cup 1-2/3 cups
Lemon juice 3 tbsp 4-1/2 tbsp 1/2 cup
Finely grated lemon zest 1 tbsp 1-1/2 tbsp 2-1/2 tbsp
Salt 1/2 tsp 3/4 tsp 1 tsp
Flour 1/4 cup 6 tbsp 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp

1. Generously butter the inside of a small, medium, or large slow cooker insert.

2. Separate the egg whites and yolks into two bowls. (Make sure the bowl with the whites is scrupulously clean, without a drop of egg yolk in it.)

3. Add the salt to the egg whites and beat with an electric mixer at high speed until you can make soft, droopy peaks. Set aside.

4. Clean and dry the beaters. Add the sugar to the egg yolks and beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl occasionally, until the mixture is smooth and thick, about 4 minutes. Add the buttermilk, lemon juice, and lemon zest; continue beating at medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Beat in the flour, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go, at low speed just until smooth.

5. Use a rubber spatula to fold the beaten egg whites into the buttermilk batter, in long, slow, smooth arcs until the egg whites are fully incorporated. (If necessary, press any lumps against the side of the bowl to dissolve them.)

6. Pour the batter into the prepared slow cooker. Lay long strips of paper towels over the top of the slow cooker to cover it completely, then set the lid in place. (The paper towels will catch any drips that could fall back onto the cake).

7. Cook on low for between 1 hour and 1 hour 30 minutes, until the top of the cake is set, a bit spongy, and puffed slightly in the center. Serve immediately, scooping up bits of the cake with the warm pudding underneath.

Happy Holidays,



About the Book
Boyfriend Sweaters
19 Designs for Him That You'll Want to Wear
Written by Bruce Weinstein
Category: Crafts & Hobbies – Knitting
Format: Paperback, 160 pages
On Sale: October 9, 2012
Price: $21.99
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