Kandahar Downhill Socks

It’s gone back to being cold, just as well I’m working on another pair of mittens since it feels like I definitely am going to need them in the coming days!  And to help keep warm on the inside, DH and I are jumping head first into our stash of sichuan peppers.

These babies are dried berries from the Chinese Mountain Ash. They have a weird (ahem, I mean ‘unique’) taste and effect – they numb the sides of your tongue (which Wikipedia says is caused by it’s 3% of hydroxy-alpha-sanshool – um, huh? any chemists out there who can help make sense of that?).  Wiki also says it has ‘lemony overtones’.  When I used to live in Beijing (many many many moons ago) dishes ordered in the local restaurants would sometimes come covered in sichuan peppers, and I hated them.  Biting into one was like having an soap mint explode in your mouth. Like a mint made of soap. Ugh.  Strong soapy smell, floral almost, but rather unpleasant. Wiki says, rather accurately I think, that “they produce a strange tingling, buzzing, numbing sensation that is something like the effect of carbonated drinks or of a mild electrical current (touching the terminals of a nine-volt battery to the tongue).” I wholeheartedly agree. In large doses it’s an acquired sensation, but ah! in small doses… nicely judged doses where the berries are crushed up… the soapy smell morphs into something altogether aromatic and lovely.  The electricity is also reduced to a pleasant tingling.  All good.  Moderation is key in all things I suppose!

Tonight I took a tablespoon of those berries, crushed them, added some chicken legs, spring onions, and some of this:

sauteed them to bring out the flavours then put them all together in a pot with lots of water and a splash of Shaoxing wine (chinese rice wine).  A hot spicy chicken soup for the soul is simmering away on the stove as I write. I plan on eating it with lots of noodles. Perfect for this cold snap.

I mentioned before Christmas that I had designed sock for my Christmas swap pal – and she finally received them so I get to show them to you know without fear of spoiling her surprise.  So here they are!

Pattern: Kandahar Socks
Yarn handdyed by me

It’s a lovely little pattern, easily memorised, and repeated. It will be featured in my new sock pattern book so will be available when the book is published which should be around October/November this year.