Saturday, November 26, 2011

Little Black Bag

Starting on Christmas presents today.  This is a special Little Black Bag for a co-worker.  She loves black so I hope she will enjoy it, it's very festive and suitable for holiday parties as a strappy little bag or great to just tuck into a purse to hold goodies neatly.  

The bottom corners are boxed to give some additional room.  The strap is detachable and can be stored inside the pouch.  

The interior is lined with a pale butter yellow dotted with gold.  There is a small pocket on the interior lining.

All ready for Christmas!  Now to make a small covered notebook (Little Black Book) to match and I think we can call this one good.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Easy Thick Crust Pizza Recipe

If you LOVE thick crust pizza but don't like the prices at the local pizzeria...this is your answer.  Quick and easy, the dough for each pizza cost about 50 cents.  You can top it with left overs, vegetables out of your garden, even the expensive toppings (you will more than save money over the store bought stuff)  And the taste is amazing.  This recipe is so easy, your kids could make this up while you're sleeping in on Saturday morning and you'll have pizza for lunch!  This will make 3 large pizzas, 6 small pizzas or 9 individual personal pizzas!

3 cups warm water
1 1/2 Tablespoons dry yeast
1 1/2 Tablespoons kosher salt 
(if you use table salt only use 1 tablespoon)
6 1/2 cups of UNBLEACHED all purpose flour

Unbleached is important.

You will need to use a large bowl.  I like my glass bread bowl because I fill it with hot water and let it sit till it's toasty before I start my recipe...that way, the bowl is warm and the yeast gets a little boost.

It does not matter what ingredient you add first.  I start with warm water, add my yeast and salt, stir and then add my husband does just the opposite...he starts with the flour, adds the yeast and salt and then the warm comes out the same either don't stress.

Add all your flour at once and then stir until all the flour is moistened.  You are done.  Cover and let rise in a warm place for two hours.

To make the pizza:

Liberally flour your hands before you handle the dough, this is a wet dough.

Tear off a piece of parchment the size you want, sprinkle with cornmeal flour and grab a large grapefruit size chunk of dough to roll out.

Flour the top of the dough and your rolling pin and roll out your dough to the size you want.  Placing a towel under the parchment will make rolling easier.

Top with sauce, cheese, toppings and bake in a 475-500 F oven for 18 minutes or until done.  You will need to monitor your oven the first time you make it and check your temperature and time carefully.  Everyone's oven is different.  To bake...make sure you preheat your oven, use a cookie sheet to transfer your pizza on the parchment to your oven rack and then slide the cookie sheet out so the parchment is resting right on the oven rack.  No you will not start a fire.  The parchment will brown, your pizza will have a crusty bottom and all will be right with the world!  To remove, just grab a tip of the parchment and slide your pizza, parchment and all right back onto your cookie sheet to transfer to your counter to cut.

Drizzle dough with olive oil, top with carmelized onions and herbs for a thick focaccia. 
Spread with bar-b-que sauce, top with left over chicken and red onions for a bbq pizza.
Roll into long strips and then roll in herbs, or cheese, or kosher salt and seeds, bake for bread sticks.
Roll into a log and slice the top on a slant with a wet knife, mist with water, bake in the over for a crusty french loaf.
Roll out and flatten, make sure it's floured well and bake off for a chibatta loaf.
Grab your local pizzeria menu and use their same topping ingredients to make your own much less expensive version.  You can easily spend $25- $50 or more going out for pizza when you could make this at home, hot and ready in minutes for pennies on the dollar.


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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Pie Glorious Pie - John's Mile High Lemon Meringue Pie

Kudos to my husband John, who makes the BEST lemon meringue pie in the whole world!  (I may be partial)  I know his secrets, but if I told you, well, you know the rest.  One bite of this and you are hooked!  Your mouth waters with every bite and you just can't seem to get enough.  It's lemon pie on steroids, I kid you not.

We had fun yesterday making our pies together.  I made pumpkin (well, what's Thanksgiving without pumpkin and whipping cream, right?)  His secret lemon recipe and my secret pie crust...a match made in heaven.

Now mind you, there are only two of us home here for Thanksgiving...but, hey, you have to make two of everything don't you?  I mean, we will eat half that pumpkin pie for breakfast tomorrow easy!

I made a special herb rub for my turkey this year, I ground up the following in my mortar and rubbed it liberally over the bird inside and out and then loosely stuff it with onion, celery and orange, both cavities.
For the rub I used, thyme, sage, rosemary, marjoram, pepper corns, ginger, celery seed, oregano and coarse kosher salt.  I placed coarse chopped veggies in the bottom of the roasting pan, sprinkled liberally with the rub as well and dotted with butter before placing my turkey on top.  Roasted the bird and made gravy from the drippings...OMNerves....that gravy was to die for.  The bird is wonderful too, but oh man, that gravy...yummmmmmmm!  

So we have already feasted....mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean cassarole...all the usual suspects...yata, yata.  Now, I am thinking about pie, glorious pie!  See you!

Green Tomato Mincemeat Pie Recipe: A Day Of Thanks and Feasting

Well, it is Thanksgiving 2011.  My husband and I are home's lovely.  We have been enjoying each other's company all day, cooking together and remembering Thanksgivings gone by.   I have been reflecting on how the smell of the different foods is so very comforting, evoking strong memories of family sharing a beautifully prepared meal together.  It makes me feel very calm and serene today, the gray weather outside is intensifying that feeling.  

This week, one of my co-workers brought me two big bags full of heirloom tomatoes.  I had mentioned that I wished I had some to make my tomato mincemeat pie recipe.  Put it out in the universe and the universe will conspire a way for you to have exactly what you desire!  This recipe is an heirloom recipe from my Grandfather's sister (there were 16 siblings) who got it from her mother, so it dates to at least 1890. 
Grandpa is 5th from the right in the back.

 Many stories were told about how the girls would stay up all night 3 nights a week with their mother to bake bread for the family.  They had a large store house next to their home.  The bottom was a root cellar which was always full of apples, carrots, potatoes and the like, the upstairs had shelves all around the walls on which were stored the food that the women would put up at harvest.  These jars of mincemeat would have been among them.
The family home, which still exists today!

Okay, so here we go! This is an heirloom recipe and I am using heirloom tomatoes!
You will need a very large bowl and a very large pot to cook this in.
9 cups Chopped Green Tomatoes
9 cups Chopped Green Apple (or tart cooking apple)
3 lbs raisins
9 cups sugar
3 tsp. salt
3 tsp ground allspice
3 tsp ground cloves
6 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
(the next two ingredients are my "improvement" on the recipe and are optional)
1 cup of bourbon
1 large vanilla bean cut in half length wise.

All ingredients in the pot to boil
Stem the tomatoes and dice. Peel, core and dice the apples. You can do all this in your food processor, but I find that you get a better textured product if you will take the time to dice. Mix all the ingredients in a large pot and bring to a rapid boil...for those of you who don't know what that's a boil that you cannot stir down. Reduce the heat a bit and simmer until thick. The time will vary depending on how juicy the tomatoes and apples are...just check on it now and then and give it a stir...when it's thick and all the ingredients have a lovely brown are ready to bottle it. Pour into clean (sterilized) canning jars to within 1" of the top, put the lid on and tighten. Process in a water bath for 25 minutes. Makes enough for 12 can cut the recipe in thirds and make smaller batches...but the goal here is to put up enough to have for presents, pies for Holiday parties, etc. Makes great mincemeat cookies too! Enjoy!

Your mincemeat should look like this when you are ready to bottle it.

Can in Quart canning jars.

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Quilted Book Cover Tutorial

I have looked at about a dozen different directions on the web for ways to make a quilted cover for a book.  Here is my mini tutorial based on a compilation of what I have seen.

First select your book, or note pad, or what ever you want to make a quilted cover for.

Record your measurements here:

Width   __________  Length___________ Thickness (Spine)_____________

Now draw these measurements out: Replace the example numbers that are shown with your measurements and add 1.5" to the total length and total width.  See the example below.

You will need

2 pieces of fabric Length A x Width B for the body and the lining. 
1 piece of batting slightly larger that your base piece
2 pieces of fabric for the pockets  Width x 2 – ½”  in this example would equal 7.5” x 8 

Step One.  Lay your cover fabric on your batting and quilt if desired.  This is your opportunity to piece something pretty, I just use plain fabric for this tutorial.  Embellish as you wish, but be aware that you will have a 1/2 inch seam allowance on all sides.

Step Two:  Fold your flap fabric in half and topstitch.  Test the fit and make sure you folded it the right way.

Step Three:  Trim your cover to the correct dimensions and finish any embellishment, if you wish to add a closure elastic or ribbon, now would be the time to stitch that to the edge.

Step Four:  Place the flaps with the raw edges matching the raw edges of the cover  like below and pin in place.

Step Five:  Place the lining fabric on top and pin into place.

Step Six:  Stitch around the entire  piece, leaving an opening at the bottom sufficient to turn the piece right side out when finished.  Stitch 1/2" seam allowance.  Clip corners, trim seams back to 1/4" and press the lining back to the seam on the side where you have the opening.  

Turn the piece right side out and press.

Top stitch completely around the piece, closing up the turning opening.  Insert your book.

And WAAALAAA, you are done!

Now, this little chicken tablet is 3" x 5"...I just wanted to see if you could do it tiny...and you can!  These will be in the stockings for Christmas.  I will be adding an elastic closure to the next one, but I wanted to get this up and posted.  Here is the little quilted paperback book cover that I did this morning.

Have fun and please post me pictures of your quilted book covers!  I would love to see them!!!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Bitty Blocks From Left Over Scraps

I've been up since 3am, thinking about ways to use up scraps and what I want to make.  I have several ideas for stocking stuffers in mind. I am also auditioning scrappy projects to use in the Newby Quilting Bee sew along starting in January 2012.   And I have an enormous stash of scraps.  So I took out the scraps left from the Red Rover Quilt that I made for our granddaughter and decided to play.  Looking through the bits, I noticed some left over triangular pieces and stitched them together to make rectangles, then cut those in half again to make squares.  I didn't square up the rectangular pieces but did square up the small 2 inch squares.  Then played with those putting four together to create a little bitty block that has a star in the middle as a result of the scrappy bits.  I am planning to use these this morning to create an armchair sewing caddy like the one blogged about at "During Quite Time"  

All finished and neatly folded up. 

 I had some pips hexies that I found in my hexie stash and used those on the outside ends for interest. Stitching around them with white cotton thread.  The gray fabric is Kona cotton which I have quilted in a simple grid pattern.  I used the gray Kona cotton for the inside  base as well.  There was just enough red to bind the whole together.

I used the "Bitty Blocks" for the pockets on each end and the pincushion in the middle.

Here we are pressed into duty and ready to go!  

I've added a little Pips Clips Catcher and Spool Holder

When you are done with your sewing, the thread catcher will unbutton and fold neatly into one of the side pockets.

This was an enjoyable project...and I get to use it every day!  ;-)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Newby Quilting Class Starting January 2012

Starting in January 2012, I will be teaching a class in beginning quilting at our church in Foresthill, CA.  We will start with the very basic Friendship Star Block and progress through the next 9 months learning new techniques and tackling more complex blocks.  In month 10 we will assemble and finish the quilt.  A tutorial will be posted here for each class with photographed step by step instructions for each block.  Included will be tips and techniques for accurate cutting, piecing and pressing.  If you cannot join us in person, I hope you will join us online and enjoy this class.  A Flickr site will be set up to post pictures of your blocks and finished quilts.

If you would like to practice your block each month and make one extra to send to us, we will put those together for charity quilts.  This is totally optional and not required.  Contact me if you would like to donate a block or a few, and I will provide you with a mailing address.

The finished quilt size will be 78" x 78", feel free to enlarge or reduce the patterns.

You will need some basic supplies to get started.  A sewing machine, thread, bobbin, rotary cutter, rotary cutting mat, 6" x 12" rotary cutting ruler, scissors, pins, a pencil or a "disappearing ink/mark-b-gone" pen.
Watch the sales, you can pick up a rotary mat, cutter and ruler in a kit for 1/2 off.  It will run you around $25.00.

Fabric:  Please use 100% cotton.  For the Friendship Star Block, you will need 2 fat quarters.  A fat quarter is 18" x 22".

Pattern and instructions will be posted January 1, 2012.