Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Winter solstice thought...

Be the blessing this time around...

Be the giver this time around...

Be the first to say thank you this time around...

Be the first to apologize this time around...

Be the first to forgive this time around...

Be willing to take the risk this time around...
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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Day, the rest of the best...

I had to wait until I had time to tell you about the rest of my gifts from Belinda.
When you receive a present from Belinda it will be very nicely wrapped, she foofs, and she foofs well! I wish I had thought to take a picture, but I couldn't wait to tear into my presents!
The first gift was this most awesome book by Darina Allen, which I had been coveting, Forgotten Skills of Cooking. Its magnificent, it tells you everything, I've only had small moments here and there to look through it, I can't wait to sit down and devour it cover to cover! The next gift was this pretty kitchen towel, the fabric used was a favorite print that a dear departed friend loved, Belinda knew I would appreciate that and I do, very very much. The last gift was a gorgeous wall quilt. I had read in her blog that she was making this, I had no idea at the time I was a recipient. Its really beautiful, my crappy pic does not do it justice. She is so amazing, she has no time at all, but she found time to make this and to get together with Kimber and I.
I thank God everyday for Kimber and Belinda, I wish everyone could have friends as kind, thoughtful and talented as these two, on top of it all, we just have a good time together. Every time I get together with them its a treat, and I do not take their time for granted, its too precious to waste.
They have both made this Christmas very special for me, and I do not know what I would do without them!
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Thursday, December 16, 2010

It was Christmas yesterday...

I had the joy to spend the day yesterday with my two best friends Kimber and Belinda. We did our gift exchange and wow! What awesome friends I have, as if you didn't know that already. I am always surprised, happily so, at their generosity. Not only in regards to gifts, but also with their time, talent and advice. Oh and their patience!
Today I will show you Kimber's gifts to me, and tomorrow I will show you Belinda's.
I cook a lot, and I have outgrown my recipe box. Kimber her extraordinary wisdom saw this and gave me this beautiful new recipe box, already loaded with some new recipes to try! I also have been attending the Prairie Women's Sewing Circle with Kimber, and being a newbie to Civil war fabric collecting, I received this great collection of civil war fat quarters. Then she gave me this little box, which the box itself was neat but I loved what she put in the box: a little folder of nifty post it tags, which I love and need, a lovely handmade vintage paper christmas box, and pretty little blocks of sticky notes. She's such a quilter, she knows I put sticky notes on everything!
It wasn't just the gifts that made it all special, it was spending time with these two beautiful and talented women, who both inspire me to be not only a better quilter and stitcher, but also a better person.
Tomorrow, Santy Claus Belinda!
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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cinnamon Maple Honey Granola

Working on Christmas basket stuff and tonight was the perfect night to make this granola. Its cold cold cold outside but this made my house warm and it smells so good! One more thing, this isn't exactly healthy, its got lots of butter and sweetness!


1 stick butter
1/2 c honey
1/2 c real maple syrup
6 c uncooked old fashioned oats, or quick cooking oats
1 c brown sugar
3 tsp cinnamon
1 c sliced almonds (I omit)

Melt butter with honey and syrup, set aside.
Mix oats, cinnamon, sugar and almonds, if using.
Blend in butter mixture. Spread in well greased 9 x 13 pan, pack down firmly. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Remove from oven, turn mixture and pack back down, bake 15 min more. Turn out on foil to cool. Break into bite size pieces. Store in air tight container. Makes about 2 1/2 lbs.
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Sunday, December 5, 2010


I think, now that I am on the fifth book in Jan Karon's Mitford series, I know one reason why I like it so much. This is just one of many: they love to help others. No one grouses about money or what's in it for them (pet peeve in regards to helping), they love to welcome people without complaining about being put out (another pet peeve). No wonder everybody wants to move there!
Oh, and its set in the south, so they cook REAL southern food, not just a bad imitation (okay, last pet peeve for this post).
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Thursday, December 2, 2010

That time of year...

Its that time of year, making gifts, decorating and trying to keep the focus. I miss my family so much this time of year! I have no family close by, no kids even in laws a hours away. But maybe I wouldn't appreciate or long for them so if they were closer.
I'm giving my good friend Trahvae some homemade liquors this year. He takes good care of my hair, I've yet to get a bad color or cut. Best part? I never have to worry about trying to describe what I want, he thinks about and plans my style before the appointment! He will receive a bottle of coffe liquor that I have been mellowing for a year now, limoncello, pear liquor, and when its ready spiced rum.
Last year for Christmas, my dear, sweet and awesome friend gave me Jam It, Pickle It, Smoke It, and its been my go to book. If. I could have Christmas wishes, one would be that everyone has a friend like Belinda, but I am one of the lucky ones because I do!
So, happy holiday preparation everyone!
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Monday, November 29, 2010

Good quote...

From a friend who recently lost her father,

"Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different, it's accepting the past for what it was and using this moment and this time to help yourself move forward."
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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Olive Bread

I just made a ring of olive bread and remembered I never posted the recipe. So here for your baking pleasure, Olive Bread.

Olive Bread
1 pkg yeast
1 c warm water (110-115)
1/4 c canola/olive oil blend
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 1/2 - 3 c flour
3/4 c pitted olives, I used kalamata and brine cured kalamata

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add oil, sugar, salt and 2 c flour, beat until smooth. Stir in remaining flour to form a stiff dough.
Knead until smooth, 6-8 minutes. Place in greased bowl, turning to cover with oil. Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Punch down, roll out to a 16 x 12 rectangle and spread olives evenly all over. Roll up jelly roll style. Pinch seams, I form into a ring, and tuck ends together somehow.
Place seam side down on greased baking sheet and rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
Bake at 375, for 20-25 minutes until holen brown. I butter the crust when I take it out of the oven. Let cool at least 30 minutes before eating, and this tastes marvelous even on the second day.
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Monday, November 15, 2010

Give away!

My good friend Kimber is having a hive away on her blog! Check it out! Enter! Win! http://www.google.com/gwt/x?source=reader&u=http%3A%2F%2Fheirloomsbyashtonhouse.blogspot.com%2F2010%2F11%2Fowl-pincushion-giveaway.html
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I am lucky enough to have dramatic upheavals on a pretty regular basis. Why lucky? It causes me to pull back and soul search, to remember past lessons I thought I learned or forgot, to glean deeper meanings.
Today it hit me, that forgiveness is not a one time act, its not a this person in this situation action, that to forgive one person truly, you have to forgive the others in your life. I'm aware of this deep down, but I finally allowed it to float to the surface. Now I will put it into action.
To change because of forgiveness means to evolve, to progress, become stronger, more aware.
To forgive also means opening yourself to be hurt again, but you can forgive and still move on without allowing another the opportunity to hurt you.
Sometimes letting go and moving on means making room for something new, it also allows the other person room for new things, people and experiences.
What I've learned:
Change won't kill you,
Forgiveness won't kill you,
Moving on won't kill me.
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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Give Away!

My very very very talented friend Belinda of Blue Ribbon Designs is have an awesome give away, peek at the details and enter! http://blueribbondesigns.blogspot.com/2010/11/sewing-companion-giveaway.html#comments
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Thursday, November 4, 2010

good times, bad times, in between times...

I havent been happy with the status quo. Why? I realized I don't want to be that 50 year old overweight woman going through menopause making the same mistakes over and over again. Although I am not 50, I don't want to start waking up and evolving in the middle of menopause, its going to be hard enough without trying to make life changes.
So I am starting now. I don't want to have to enable people to keep them happy with me or in my life. People, you are put on notice, Step Up or Step Off. The women's groups in Iowa that I have been a part of have a terrible habit of dumbing everything down to the lowest common denomimator. That is not my way of doing things: put yourself out there, rise up. Don't expect me to babysit your way through my life. I want partners in my life adventures, whether its quilting, sewing, home made or whatever. I don't want tag a longs, I want people that I can learn from and be inspired by.
This public opinion was brought to you by one fed up lady.
Please dont take this personally, it doesn't apply to anyone who follows me. Its just a rant, vent and need to express.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Best Friends

Friday was spent with the best of people I know, the best of the friends I have. It had to be one of the more perfect days I have spent with my friends, even today, I am still aglow with the awesomeness of that day.

I don't use the term best friend often. One reason is I have had that term held against me, with a huge level of expectation that was impossible to live up to.

For me, best friends is more a category than a position or title. It is the category of stellar, affectionate, reciprocal people that I have in my life. The people that are closer than family, ones I try to give my BEST to, and also ones that have a high degree of tolerance and acceptance for me.
I am fortunate to have a few people like that in my life, and I was lucky enough to spend the day with some of them on Friday. What would have made the day perfect would have been if the fourth leg of our group could have been there, but, that means that we have many more days to plan together to reach our goal!
Belinda, Kimber and Mary are my people, my best people, my best friends, with no other expectation than to just keep being the lovely, wonderful people that they already are.
I am blessed!
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Friday, October 22, 2010

Rendering Lard

I had heard someone mention that she renders her own lard, then read a little about on Mary janes Farm forum. I then realized that Crooked Gap Farm was having a pie bakers special on lard, so jumped at this opportunity to make my own lard.
I use lard in my pie crust, ask my family, it makes the best pie crust, but I didn't realize that the store brand that I buy is partially hydrogenated which equals bad and unhealthy. Well I'm not gonna eat that much less serve it to my family, so rendering my own lard is the only logical step, right? I'm not changing my crust, I'm certainly not gonna stop making pies!

I did as much research as I could find, and of course there is tons of info out there. But knowing myself, I needed an idiot proof way to do this the first time out, so crockpot lard it is.


Use clean largemouth jars and clean lids and rings.

(1) My lard arrived in 4 - 5 pound chunks, and was already ground up. If yours is not, cut into very small chunks or grind, it makes the whole process much nicer. You can use frozen, or thawed, it didn't matter much in my case.

(2) Put the lard in your crockpot, add a 1/2 cup of water, cover, turn on low and let cook for about 3 hours. Check it, stir it so nothing browns or burns. I checked and stirred every hour or two.

(3) when most of the fat is melted down, (12 hours for me), start filtering and putting into wide mouth jars or containers. I put a funnel in my jar, then a strainer, then a coffee filter. Filter while you jar as once it starts cooling it doesn't filter very well. You do want to filter and not just strain, especially if you intend to use for pastries, it makes a nicer end product and no pork odor. Start filtering and jarring before the lard starts browning. When jar is full, lid it and put in the fridge. You can keep it in the fridge or freezer. Opinions vary!

(4) what is left in the crockpot will need to keep cooking, but keep checking and stirring and pouring off, filtering and jarring until its just solid stuff and its difficult to get any more liquid out. This lard will be light but will turn white when it cools.

(5) transfer out these semi solids to a tall pot and keep cooking on medium low watching carefully and stirring so it doesn't burn. As the liquid rises to the top, scoop out solids and oils and filter and jar as before, just stir the solids around so the liquid filters into the jar. Keep doing this until the solids are nearly dry. Keep watching and stirring so it doesn't burn. This lard is amber, but will turn creamy white as it cools. This will be good for savory dishes and frying.

(6) cook these solids, which are now called chicharrones until crispy and dry, but don't overcook. These are good salted for snacking, but I am saving these as a special treat for my dog :)

I haven't used my lard yet, but I'm excited to use it in my pie crusts!

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Thursday, October 14, 2010


My garden didn't really over produce this year, it did alright, I don't believe anyone in this area had an outstanding harvest this summer, but that's how it goes sometimes. Although, I do find myself with a deep profound thankfulness for what I did harvest. We had green beans, pattypan squash, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and lots and lots of basil and other herbs. My garden have me all I needed, when I wanted it.
I purchased a lot of jalapenos from my Coop, and I make bread and butter jalapenos, they are hot! I also canned green tomato and jalapeno relish. I still have peppers left and wondered if my poor tomato plants had enough for me to do another batch. Of course they did, and happily have them up for me. I also needed a red sweet pepper for my relish, and of course, there was one, plus a lot of my own jalapenos to use.
See? What I needed when I wanted! I'm a lucky lucky lady! Its the little things :)
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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Little Lunch Tote

I have been anxious to get caught up on a few projects so I could make this awesome little tote. I used this tutorial http://ayumills.blogspot.com/2010/08/tutorial-lunch-bag.html

I pretty much made it exactly as the tutorial, except for the inside gathered top, I did piece part of it (inside the bottom portion) because I didn't quite have enough using fat quarters. But if you use 1/4 yd cuts width of fabric, you will be fine, providing they are cut generously, or straight and accurate.

I intend to make some for my buddies for Christmas. I think part of the fun was finding fabric that I knew they would like. I am so excited to start sewing their totes!

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Monday, September 27, 2010

pumpkin pie Oh My!

I think I have finally found the perfect fresh pumpkin pie recipe. This might even pass the husband test. This was this best pumpkin pie I ever made, and it might even be the best I ever tasted!

My issue with fresh pumpkin pies has been that they taste blah. Not pumpkiny, but watery, pulpy, just not good at all. So I researched a few recipes and hit upon one that seemed good. This recipe also gave me tips on how to make the filling smooth etc., and a secret ingredient, molasses. Wouldn't you know I didn't have molasses? Well they don't call me the queen of punt for nothing! I used dark karo syrup and brown sugar and it worked. Next time I will use molasses, in fact, next time I will try the recipe exactly as written. Sure, right, but there's a first time for everything!

I am going to give you the recipe as I made it, also the original before I changed it. Make them both, you decide.

Be aware that sometimes your pumpkin may just not be a tasty pumpkin. I try to use sugar pie pumpkins. I try to choose ones that are small but heavy for their size.

Homemade Fresh Pumpkin Pie as I made it

Single, unbaked crust
2 large eggs
1/2 c fat free evaporated milk
1 1/2 c pumpkin puree (instructions below)
2 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 c brown sugar, packed
2 tbsp dark Karo syrup
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (I use Penzey's)
1/8 tsp cinnamon
Pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Beat eggs until frothy, add milk. Whisk in pumpkin, sugar, syrup, butter, salt and spices. Whisk until well blended.
Pour filling into crust, bake until center is firm, 45-50 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack.

Homemade Pumpkin Pie - original recipe

Unbaked single crust
2 large eggs
3/4 c milk
1 1/4 c pumpkin puree
2 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 c sugar
1 tbsp dark molasses
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves
Pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350.
Heat milk in saucepan over medium heat until just starts to bubble around edges. Remove from heat.
Beat eggs until frothy, add milk stirring constantly. Stir in pumpkin, sugar, butter, molasses, salt and spices. Whisk until well blended.
Pour into prepared our crust, bake until center is firm 45 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

How to make pumpkin puree

Split pie pumpkin in half cross wise, remove seeds and fibers.
Place cut side down on lightly greased baking sheet. Bake at 325 until tender, about 1 hour.
Scrape pulp away from skin, discard skin.
Place pulp in blender or food processer, process in batches until smooth.
Push puree through a course sieve. Puree can be stored in freezer for up to 6 months.

My way of doing things

Cut pumpkin, remove stem. Place cut side down on greased baking sheet, seeds pulp and all.
Bake at 350 until tender, scrape away seeds and fibers, discard. Then scrape pumpkin pulp into bowl, discard shell. Blend until smooth with stick blender.
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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Easiest Cookies in the World

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip cookies

1 c peanut butter, any kind
1 c sugar
1 egg
1/2 c Mini chocolate chips

Mix all together, drop by spoonfuls onto cookie sheet. Bake 10 minutes at 350 degrees.
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Monday, August 30, 2010


I recently purchased the book A Blessing of Bread by Maggie Glezer. This is a fantastic book about challah, and how bread is used in the Jewish life all over the world. I'm not Jewish but I loved this book.
I learned more about how to make bread with this book than all the bread books I have read put together. Also, there are many usable recipes, unlike a lot of cookbooks, that look good at first, until you get them home and really read them, only to realize that the few recipes you saw skimming through are truly the only ones you liked.
So I made chocolate cinnamon babka using this books recipe. It turned out beautifully! I didn't have to fine tune or change the instructions, I could make this exactly as written. A rare occurrence let me tell you.
Maggie has obviously done her research and has done it well. I won't give you the recipe for the babka, I want you to either check out this book from your library or buy it. I believe this book has been titled accurately, you will feel blessed when you read it.
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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Homemade Cottage Cheese Redux

So, although the quick way to make cottage cheese is one way to do it, I wanted to try the longer version to see if it was better. It was.

Put one gallon of skim milk in your crock pot, mix in 1 cup buttermilk. Cover and let sit for 12 to 20 hours until milk clabbers. Cut curds into large cubes and heat on low until whey separates from the curds and the curds firm up. Drain in a tea towel lined colander and rinse with cold water. Squeeze out water, place in container and salt. Add cream and enjoy!

This is the link to the directions I used.
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Friday, August 20, 2010

Refrigerator Pickles

Best refrigerator pickles I ever made, and the leftover pickle juice after the pickles are gone make a great salad dressing!

Pickle solution

1 1/2 c cider vinegar
1 2/3 c sugar
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp pickling spice
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 c kosher salt
1 sprig fresh dill
3-5 pickling cucumbers or enough to firmly pack quart jar.

Slice cucumbers and pack into jar, slide dill sprig down side so it shows and looks pretty :)

Put vinegar, sugar, spices, salt, garlic is pan and bring to boil, cool.

Pour over cucumbers in jar and refrigerate. Let sit in refrigerator for at least 24 hours before eating.

Pickling Spice mix

1 cinnamon stick, crushed
5 bay leaves, crushed
2 tbsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp whole allspice
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp peppercorns
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tbsp dill seeds
2 tsp cardamom seeds
1 - 2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp whole cloves

Mix, store in cool dark place.

Pickle juice salad dressing

1/2 c leftover refrigerator pickle juice
2 tsp brown spicy mustard
Olive oil

Take 1/2 cup juice and add 2 tsp brown spicy mustard, whisk in olive oil until desired taste is reached.

Keep in refrigerator.
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Turkey Skillet

I am loving these skillet recipes, doesn't heat up the kitchen too much and just add a salad and bread and your meal is done!

Turkey Rice and Brocolli Skillet

4 turkey cutlets
2 cups rice (not minute rice)
2 cloves garlic, diced
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 packets turkey gravy
1/2 tsp Italian herb seasoning
1-2 cups chopped brocolli
Seasoning salt
Olive oil

Season cutlets with seasoning salt and pepper, brown on all sides in olive oil in hot skillet. Remove
In same pan saute garlic and add chicken broth, bring to boil.
Add rice, gravy packets and Italian seasoning, stir and being to simmer.
Cover and simmer 15 minutes, them add brocolli on top.
Cover and cook until rice is done and broccoli is cooked.

I didn't add too much additional salt because of the broth and gravy, so taste as you go and adjust seasonings as necessary.

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Homemade Cottage Cheese

Ever since I watched Alton Brown make quick cottage cheese I have wanted to try it myself.

Well today was that day. Truthfully, I didn't hold out much hope for the taste because I love my creamy cottage cheese and there is no way I can replicate that. Was I ever wrong! It was a bit firmer but it was so fresh! I say that every time I make something from scratch, which tells me that what we get at the store is definitely not fresh. It was salty and creamy and it was yummy! It only keeps for about 5 days, but one gallon of skim milk will only get you about 1 1/2 cups of cottake cheese.

This is the recipe directly from Alton Brown on the foodnetwork website.


• 1 gallon pasteurized skim milk
• 3/4 cup white vinegar
• 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt • 1/2 cup half-and half-or heavy cream


Pour the skim milk into a large saucepan and place over medium heat.
Heat to 120 degrees F. Remove from the heat and gently pour in the vinegar. Stir slowly for 1 to 2 minutes.
The curd will separate from the whey.
Cover and allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Pour the mixture into a colander lined with a tea towel and allow to sit and drain for 5 minutes.
Gather up the edges of the cloth and rinse under cold water for 3 to 5 minutes or until the curd is completely cooled, squeezing and moving the mixture the whole time.
Once cooled, squeeze as dry as possible and transfer to a mixing bowl.
Add the salt and stir to combine, breaking up the curd into bite-size pieces as you go.
If ready to serve immediately, stir in the half-and-half or heavy cream.
If not, transfer to a sealable container and place in the refrigerator.
Add the half and half or heavy cream just prior to serving.

Give this a try, I think I could even use this as a ravioli filling, or even in lasagne. Mixed with some eggs, herbs and a little cream, I think it would work.

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010


If you've kept up with the national weather, you know the Midwest has been deluged with torrential rains. Relentless, unending hard rains. Like many people in Iowa, I have a leak on my lowest level, in the corner of my den. Also like many, I have to wait several months before I can get it fixed because of the long long waiting list.
The last few nights have been one long exercise in staying ahead of the flood. My husband has had duty most of these nights, so me and my arthritic body have been doing our best. Oh did I mention my dog is scared of thunder? Negotiating a quivering dog while hauling heavy sopping towels and blankets to and fro, emptying buckets and mopping. *wipes weary brow* oh and these storms come about 10p to 5am, long long nights.
Last year I joined the Maryjanes Farm sisterhood. I have met a lot of people there, but one of the best has been Diana, Gramadinah on the forum. From the beginning we have become fast friends. She is just an awesome, thoughtful friend. She always knows when I've had a bad day, I would get a card or little present in the mail, so unexpected and very very appreciated. Best of all is the knowledge that she is there for me.
Today I received a bouquet of flowers. I wasn't sure who sent them until I saw the card.
I am unequivocally blessed with wonderful friends. After the last few nights, my perky levels were a little low, and those flowers were just what the doctor ordered.
Thank you Diana, for being my friend and for being the wonderful person you are.
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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Zipping Corn

I don't know about the rest of you, but here in central iowa, the corn is really growing! We have a plethora of corn! Having ordered quite a bit from my Coop, I decided to freeze it.

I remember helping my mom can corn when I was a kid, corn boiling in the big canning pot, that is what summer smells like to me, cooking corn!

I shucked, de-silked and blanched them for about 4 minutes in boiling water. My friend Carolyn reminded me of a trick I had read about, to make zipping the kernals off the cob easier. Take your angel food cake pan, pop that cob in the center, then start cutting down with a sharp knife. I put a cloth on the edge because I kept hitting my hand, but wow! I was able to zip and freeze several quarts this afternoon while watching TV! Well, I was really just listening to it, I had to keep my eyes on my cobs! My corn had been in my refrigerator for a while, so the sugars had turned to starch mostly, but I am looking forward to zipping some fresh corn I just ordered from the coop.
Spread a kitchen towel underneath your pan, and be aware the corn will spit its juice everywhere, on your cell phone and especially your glasses!
Happy Corn Season!

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Eating Local

You may know, or not, that I am a member of my local food coop, Iowa Food Coop http://iowafood.org
I found them through http://localharvest.org

I was on a quest to support my local farmers and producers. When I owned my small business, I learned how important it was to have loyal local customers, and wanted to return the favor. Its been a good thing, I have met wonderful people and have tasted the best whole food that has ever been grown and raised my human beings.
Making your living as a producer or farmer isn't about making money, oh it may be for the huge operations, but for the local guy, its mostly a labor of love. Long hours, sweat and sometimes tears to hopefully break even. But what they give us, the consumer is the best of what they have to offer, a basket full of beauty, masterpieces of nature, and a little bit of their heart and soul.
Recently, I checked this book out of my local library. Eating Local http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d.html/ref=mp_s_a_1/180-9106406-5370007?qid=1281215871&a=0740791443&sr=8-1

I loved this book. If you ever run out of ideas for recipes to use up your weekly CSA share, buy, borrow or check out this book. Creative recipes from the growers and the best part? Lots of backstory on CSA's from across the country. Some are century farms passed down for generations, local kids who moved back home and married their childhood best friend to individuals from the professional side changing their career and wanting to make a difference in the health of their community.
Very often I feel to many retailers I am just a dollar amount, do they care if I am happy with their goods? Not really, as long as my check doesn't bounce, I'm not given a second thought. Not so with these local producers, they care and they care a lot. We don't give much thought about how our food got to the distribution sight, we mostly just care if its there! Just as much care went into prepping it for market as went into the growing and harvesting.
The recipes are great, the stories and interviews are heartwarming, and even though you don't know these particular people, you do know many just like them! Many with just as much heart, courage and chutzpah!
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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Chicken and Yellow Rice with roasted green beans

We ate this dish so completely, and packed it away for lunch so quickly, I didn't get a picture. The rice I used was the Mahatma Saffron Yellow rice package, the small one. I would think any rice mix would work, and just about any frozen vegetable would too, adjust your seasoning and cooking time accordingly.

Chicken with yellow rice

6 boneless, skinless, chicken thighs
1 minced clove garlic
1 package yellow(saffron) rice mix
1 c frozen peas

Season chicken with seasoning salt and pepper. Brown in deep skillet in small amount of olive oil. When browned on both sides, remove and saute garlic. In the same pan, prepare rice by bringing indicated (package directions) water to a boil, add rice, bring back to simmer, including the cooked garlic. Place chicken on top, cover and cook until water is absorbed and rice is tender. Sprinkle peas on top, cover and cook 5 minutes more. Turn off heat and let steam until peas are hot.

Roasted Green Beans

1 lg red onion sliced
2 lbs fresh green beans, cleaned and trimmed and snapped
3 cloves garlic, diced
3 tbsp or more of olive oil
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Copius amounts of sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Toss all together, spread evenly in large baking dish and roast at 375 for 30 minutes or until beans and onions are cooked and caramelized.
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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Egg Obsession

Ask anyone that knows me well, and they will tell you that I periodically go on what I call a Quest for Knowledge. They simply call it Obsessing.
Well, my latest quest is all things eggs. Egg coddlers, cups and spoons. I purchased a few egg coddlers, oops, now I have a collection! Found out I already owned an antique egg spoon. I only have one egg cup, its all I could find at the time. I used it for the first time today and realized, the dorky butterfly on it is a handle so I don't burn my fingers while digging for eggy goodness!
I am able to purchase the most incredibly flavorful eggs from my local Co-Op (coop, get it?) and have been having the most enjoyable breakfasts lately.
EBay seems to be a great place to find coddlers and cups, but I plan to make a trip to my local antique barn to look for more.

Here are some instructions and recipes for to use with your coddlers and cups.

Soft Boiled Egg
Get a small saucepan of water boiling, make sure water completely covers egg. While water is boiling carefully lower eggs with a spoon into the water. Cover, turn off heat and let sit 3 to 5 minutes.
If you find your egg softer than you would like, I just pop it in the microwave for a few seconds. I like mine med hard, just when the yolk gives in and solidifies.

Coddled eggs

1 or 2 eggs
Shaved Ham
Shredded cheese
Chopped parsley and chives

Spray the inside of your coddler with Pam or butter it.
Crack one or two eggs carefully into it, depending on the size of your coddler. Don't use jumbo eggs, it wont leave room for anything else!
Sprinkle a little salt and pepper or I use Sylvias Soulful Seasoning.
Top that with some shaved ham, shredded cheese and chopped parsley and chives. Gently screw on the lid, but keep it loose.
Lower the coddler gently into a pan of simmering water that comes 3/4 of the way up the coddler.
Two eggs will take at least 10 minutes, depending how hard you want the yolks. One egg may only take 6 minutes, depending on how hard you like your yolk.
I remove the lid to check on the eggs, remember the coddler holds heat, so they will continue cooking for a bit after you remove them from the water.
Remove your coddler from the water, using a fork through the metal loop on the lid.
Let sit for a bit while you make and butter your toast.
Gently unscrew the lid, plunge in your spoon, take a dip with your toast 'soldier' and enjoy, yum!

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Easy As Lemon Pie

Love this recipe. Comes out right every time and once the ingredients are assembled, comes together rather quickly.

Graham crust

1 pack graham crackers, crushed fine
6 tbsp butter, melted
1/4 c powdered sugar

Mix, press into pie plate and bake at 375 for 15 minutes.

Lemon pie

1 c sugar
2 tbsp flour
3 tbsp corn starch
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 c water
2 lemons, juiced and zested
2 tbsp butter
4 egg yolks

Whisk sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt together in pan.
Stir in lemon juice and zest. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until comes to boil.
Stir in butter.
Place yolks in a small bowl and whisk in 1/2 c of lemon mixture, whisk that mix back into pan.
Bring to boil and continue to cook until thick, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat, pour into crust.

I top this pie with cool whip because *sigh* its what my husband loves. But I think whipped sweetened cream would be great, or nothing at all! Just eat it like that, straight from the pan!

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Thanks Donna...

For catching that!

Yes, please add 2 1/2 c all purpose flour to the cake ingredients for the banana cake.
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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Banana cake with peanut butter frosting

I had over ripe bananas, buttermilk that needed to be used and lots of peanut butter. What to do? Make a cake!
This was truly one of the easiest cakes to make, from beginning to end.

Banana Cake
2 c sugar
3/4 butter Crisco
3 beaten eggs
1 tsp each baking powder, baking soda
1/2 c buttermilk
1 1/2 c mashed bananas
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cinnamon (optional)

Mix all in large bowl and beat for 3 minutes. Pour into greased cake pans or 9 x 13 pan and bake for 25 - 30 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

Peanut Butter Frosting
3 c powdered sugar
1/2 c peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
Enough milk to make spreadable frosting

Beat all ingredients together, frost cooled cake.

I hope you try this and I hope you like it!
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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

My little harvest

I did get a late start on my garden this year, but I'm just grateful the weather cooperated and I even have one instead of the scientific experiment in fungi and disease as was last years garden.
Its enough for lunch and a start on the peppers I freeze for winter spaghettis, chilis and quiches.
Hopefully, this is just a small taste of what's to come!
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Monday, July 12, 2010

Shrimp Garam

When you diet, you want flavor, you NEED flavor since you're eating smaller appropriate portions, every bite counts so every bite must have flavor!
So I came upon this shrimp garam masala recipe. Oh my, its wonderful! So easy and relatively fast, serve over steamed long grain rice, or splurge and make jasmine rice! I froze the leftovers in portions and they thawed and reheated beautifully.

This is a simple, mild and basic garam masala recipe. Its seems to be one of those recipes where every family has their own. Adjust the components to your own taste. As always, fresh spices are best and fresh and freshly ground spices even better.
In the shrimp recipe, I didn't have garlic ginger paste, so I used equal parts fresh ginger root and garlic clove, mashed to a paste.

Garam masala

1 tbsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tbsp ground red chile
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 ground cloves
1/2 ground nutmeg

Shrimp Garam

1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp garlic ginger paste
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp tumeric
1 tomato, finely chopped
2 lbs med shrimp, shelled and cleaned
1/4 c water
1 tsp garam masala
1 tbsp finely chopped cilantro

Saute onion and add ginger garlic paste, salt, tumeric, tomato. When onion is soft, add shrimp. When shrimp is pink, add water and garam masala, cook until thickened, stirring constantly but don't over cook shrimp. Serve over rice, garnish with cilantro. If you would like this dish spicier, add more red chili or even cayenne to suit your tastes. There is a lot of leeway in the spice area.
(Of course, since I am Asian, I added a dash of soy sauce)
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Friday, June 25, 2010

Jalapeno Jelly

5 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
1 medium green peppers, chopped
1-1/2 cups cider vinegar
6-1/2 cups sugar​​
2 pouches (3 ounces each) liquid fruit pectin
​About 2 drops green food coloring, optional
​Cream cheese and crackers, optional
1. Chop peppers fine, leave in jalapeno seeds if more heat is desired.
Add the sugar, peppers and vinegar to pan. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly.
2. Quickly stir in pectin. Return to a rolling boil; boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. ​ Remove from the heat; skim off foam. Add food coloring if desired.
3. Carefully ladle hot mixture into hot half-pint jars, leaving 1/4-in. headspace. Remove air bubbles; wipe rims and adjust lids. ​
4. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner. Serve over cream cheese with crackers if desired. Yield: 7 half-pints.
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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Herbal Tea Jellies

Another experiment in jelly making was tea jelly. This was easy and rewarding and plus used up those herb tea bags I seem to collect.

The first tea was a Davidsons Chamomile. I steeped 12 tea bags in about 2 cups of water, set it in the sun for about 2 1/2 hours. Combined with lemon juice this jelly was tasty! I was a bit surprised, I didn't think it would be so yummy and it turned a deep orange. The second tea was a Crabtree and Evelyn. Orchard herb tea, I know it contained rosehips, but not sure what else. This turned a deep plum color and was delicious also.

I think I might try this with some of those limited edition seasonal teas from Celestial Seasonings, what a fun holiday gift!

Herb Tea Jelly

2 c hot water
12 tea bags
1/4 c fresh lemon juice
3 c sugar
3 oz liquid pectin

Steep tea bags in 2 c water for about 2 1/2 hours, in the sun if possible.
Take out bags and combine tea with juice and sugar. Bring to rolling boil and boil for 2 minutes. Take off heat and stir in pectin. Bring back to boil and boil for 1 minute. Take off heat, skim foam and pour into jars. Seal and process for 20 minutes.

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Lemon Thyme Moscato Jelly

You know its a good day when your jellies jell and your jars seal.

I wanted to make wine jelly, and I wanted to make an herb jelly. So I decided to just make an herbal wine jelly. I had a bottle of Moscato and lots of lemon thyme in my garden, it seemed like a good match and it was. I warmed the wine in the microwave and steeped about 2 cups of fresh thyme, for about 2 hours. I strained the mixture and added lemon juice. This turned out a golden green jelly that tasted like liquid honey sunshine. So glad I have another bottle of Moscato as I will definitely be making this again.

Lemon Thyme Moscato Wine Jelly

3 cups of white wine or moscato
2 cups loosely packed lemon thyme
3 TBsp fresh lemon juice
4 cups sugar
3 oz liquid pectin

Warm wine in microwave and steep thyme for about 2 hours. Strain out herbs.
Combine wine, lemon juice and sugar in deep sauce pan. Bring to rolling boil, boil for 2 minutes. Take off heat, stir in pectin. Bring back to rolling boil and boil for 1 minute. Take off heat, skim foam and pour into jars. Place a sprig of thyme into each jar if desired. Seal jars and water process for 10 minutes. Allow to cool. This will not jell hard, and will firm up more as it cools completely.

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Sunday, June 20, 2010


What a weekend so far! I picked up some lovely raspberries at the Coop this week and decide to make some jam. The berries were riper than I realized, and this jam is very soft set, its a little set, but I'm afraid if I re-batch it, it will be gummy or hard. Personally I like a soft spread, so I'm not gonna mess with it. I did test it on my bagel and I am pleased with the flavor.
The very Merry berry came about because I had a cup each of blueberries, strawberries, mulberries, blackberries and raspberries, and I didn't want to waste them, so I combined them and made this all berry jam. Now it did not set, so I re-batched it, its fine now. Tested that on my bagel today, its good. All the berry flavors mellowed into one flavorful jam!
I used green and yellow bell, a red pimento, and red pepper flakes for the hot pepper jelly, its very good! I may make that one again. The jalapeno contains jalapeno and green bell, its mild but does have that nice green chile flavor. I wanted to use only one drop of green color, but two drops slipped out so its greener than I anticipated, but its mellowed now that it jelled. The recipe called for two packs of pectin, so it is not a soft spread at all!
I tested the pepper jellies with cream cheese and crackers, I must say, very very tasty, it was hard to stop eating them!
I usually give these away to family and friends, I hope they like them!
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Monday, June 14, 2010

Garden, life update

I am loving this summer, and having much more fun than I have had the past two years. I've decided to do those things that hadn't felt well enough to do that last few years. Farmers markets, sun tea, and just generally being more active.
I feel better, my garden is doing great, plenty of rain and warm weather, found a fix for mildew on my squash and cucumbers and have gotten ahead of the weeds, for now.
I always have a project or more accurately, an obsession, this time its rediscovering my Asian roots. I have been eating more Japanese-philippino food, and I really like using my Chopsticks, I eat slower and get less indigestion. I feel close to my mom and that's a big part of this too. When I use her Asian bowls etc. I remember the meals she made for us, the summer mornings when it was just the two of us, sometimes I cry, but mostly thank God she was my mother and praise that I was lucky enough to be her daughter. She taught me so much.

Bought a bento tray for home and bento box for away from home. I have been cooking bao and shumai, and making onigiri and sushi, and having an awesome time prowling through the local Asian stores, seeing lots of foods and home stuff from my childhood.

I am enjoying going meatless too and feel better now that I have given up red meat, and I don't miss fried food, well, except when I have PMS, then you deep fry my house shoe and I would salt and eat it! Mark is on board with the new healthy eating too, which makes life a lot easier.

I've decided to get back to stitching too, and to quilt whenever my carpel tunnel and arthritis are too painful for stitching, and to read when its to painful to do anything else.

I am loving my friends, both near and far, and appreciating them more everyday, I do truly have treasures in Belinda and Mary.

I also have reconnected with my cousins, they were my best friends from childhood, a time when life was happy and full of new adventures, when family was always there and you could count on lots of hugs, good food and family stories.

I am a lucky lucky lady.
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Meaghan's Quilt

Finally finished, this was a fun quilt to make. She is attending northern Illinois this fall and so I tried to make the quilt using those colors.
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Saturday, June 5, 2010

Something green and fishy on my grill

If this is what being on a heart healthy diet is about, I'm a lucky lady.

Went to the farmers market today and picked up some asparagus, so that led to grilling. I had some fresh brussel sprouts, green beans and vidalia onions, and tilapia in the freezer.
I treated everything to basically the seasoning, except the tilapia.

I shish kabobbed the onion and brussel sprouts, and tried tying the green beans together with a sprig of green onion to make a bundle, but they rebelled.
So I seasoned everything with olive oil, minced garlic and sea salt. The tilapia I used olive oil and Sylvia's Soulful Seasoning and a grinder blend of my own.

Tossed all on the grill and cooked until the fish was opaque and the veggies were caramelized.

Oh my goodness, only a few sprouts and a filet were left, hmmmm, that's my lunch for tomorrow!

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Salad Combos

Eating salad everyday can be well, monotonous. So tonight, I am putting in my salad a turkey cutlet that I simmered in chicken broth, cut up with an apple, still thinking about whatelse to add....

Last night, I had imitation crab, tossed with an olive bruschetta topping, 1 tbsp low fat Mayo, a tomato and a green onion.

I have also made a guacamole with half an avocado, 1 tomato, and 1 green onion. Tossed my salad with 1 tbsp of the olive bruschetta topping and mixed in the guacamole. Turn this into a taco salad with pinto beans and and fat free cheese.

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Turkey Cutlet Casserole

So I have to be creative in this journey of heart healthy living, and have discovered that when you are hungry, everything tastes good!

I also discovered that when you cut out added sugar and avoid products with high frictose corn syrup, everything tastes sweeter too.
I came up with this little casserole to use up a package of turkey cutlets, chicken could also be used.

1 package turkey cutlets

1 can low fat or fat free mushroom soup

2 cups chicken broth

1 tsp minced garlic

1 1/2 c uncooked rice

Sylvia's Soulful Seasoning

In a 7 x 11 casserole, mix soup and broth and garlic, mix in rice.
Lay cutlets on top, sprinkle with Sylvia's and cover. Bake for 1 hour at 350. Uncover and bake 10 minutes more.
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Friday, May 14, 2010

Better Eating

So while I achieved my goal of lowering my trigs and blood sugar, I also succeeded in raising my cholesterol and my ldl's.
I did some more reading about lowering cholesterol, and eating the right foods, and this time it clicked. This isn't the first time I've embarked on this journey, but for some reason the information clicked this time.
Instead of cutting out all fats, I eat every day, the good fats. A handful of almonds - about a quarter cup, 1/3 of an avocado, and I use olive oil in place of butter and as my salad dressing. I have dramatically decreased my red meat consumption, increased my fish portions per week, and eat oatmeal or a high fiber cereal with a banana every day.
What's interesting, I have been eating a salad for supper every day, I just change what I call the goodie on it each night. Some nights I will have a piece of steamed salmon, tonight I had avocado and pinto beans, oh that was good! Tomorrow I will try some "pretend" crabmeat in my salad, hmm, that might be good with avocado too!
We have stopped eating out, and put that money toward buying healthier food. Its funny but I look forward to meal time, salads are way easy to make, and low cholesterol cooking keeps your kitchen pretty clean!
Oh, and I have lost 4 lbs, that's pretty good incentive :)
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Thursday, May 13, 2010


One thing I have learned, having lived on both coasts, is that there are many lumpia recipes, as there are hundreds of pancit and adobo, its all about how your family makes them. My mothers recipe is different from mine, she uses a cooked filling with carrots and a little cabbage. I make them similar to my Aunt Terry, except mine are small like my moms. See? Mine is even different from my family's!
My husband asked me to make some lumpia to take to work. Since I make my own wrappers, it can be a labor intensive project, but its worth it as they ate every single one!

The filling is very basic, you can add grated garlic, ginger and maybe even a little patis (fish sauce). Or add grated carrots and cabbage like my mom. Just make sure its not a dripping wet filling or one that gives out too much moisture.

The filling I use is:

1 lb ground beef,
1 small bunch green onions, chopped
Soy sauce
Pinch salt

Mix the above together, add enough soy to moisten, or more or less to taste.

The wrapper: the easiest thing is to use wonton wrappers, or if you want, make your own.

1 c flour
1 c water
Pinch salt

Mix together very well until very smooth. Heat a nonstick skillet on medium, wipe with oiled paper towel.

Technique: you can pour a small amount of batter in pan, spread thin with back of spoon, about 4 inches, cook until edges curl, lift off and place on cornstarch dusted wax paper.
Or, using a wide pastry brush, brush a square about 4 x 4 or so, cook until edges curl, do not brown. Don't pile on top of each other as they will stick. I layer them on wax paper dusted with cornstarch.

Rolling: place about scant teasoon of filling in about 1 1/2 - 2 inch long log along one edge, fold sides in, then roll, moisten edge with water, then complete roll.

You can freeze these uncooked, just layer rolls between wax paper.

Fry in hot peanut oil until browned.

Serve with sweet and sour dipping sauce.

I would have posted a picture, but they are all gone!
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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Kale Soup

I realize I take crappy photos, so luckily for me this soup tasted way better than this photo.

I needed to use up some items in the freezer, and this soup is the result. Amounts aren't important, use what you have!

5 patties homemade breakfast sausage (or polish sausage, etc)

chopped, blanched kale

Chopped leeks, green and white parts

Chopped redwing onions

4 cups homemade chicken broth

1 can great northern beans

Brown sausage, cutting into chunks.
Add onions and cook until soft, then add leeks, cooking until soft. Add kale, sauteeing until limp. Add chicken stock, bring to simmer, add beans, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and simmer until kale is cooked to your liking.

Make this recipe your own, using whatever seasonings you like, a pinch of red pepper flake, chopped garlic, thyme etc. Make a pan of cornbread and pour yourself an iced tea and enjoy!

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Christy's Quilt

I finally finished my good friends quilt, for some reason it took a long time!

I just used fat quarter shuffle pattern with batiks, and quilted it on my machine with a variegated cotton thread. I loved the colors, and I knew my friend would too. Its going in the mail hopefully tomorrow and into Christys hands.

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Hooded Bath Towel

These were super easy to make!

You will need:

1 yard of terry cloth

1 fat quarter same terry cloth

1 fat quarter coordinates flannel fabric

1/3 yard super flannel. Super flannel is stretchy, easier to bind with.

Cut a 9 inch triangle, same size as corner of towel from fat quarter of flannel and fat quarter of terry.

Layer flannel triangle right side up, then corner of towel, then triangle of terry cloth. Using a saucer, or jar lid or other circular object, round off corners with marking pencil or pen. Using rotary cutter, round off corner. Layer the three other corners together and round off the same way.

Lining up edges carefully, sew together the flannel and terry cloths. Turn right side out so that the flannel is on the top of hood and terry cloth is inside.

Cut the super flannel into 1.5 inch strips, press in half, long sides together, and sew along edges of towel to bind. Pull the folded edge over and sew down binding. I used a slanted blanket stitch from my machine with a variegated thread. Sew carefully around the hood, as this is the most visible part. Clip thread and you are done!

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Ribbon Blanket

I made this using a variation from Moda Bake Shop http://www.modabakeshop.com/2009/09/ribbon-blanket-and-block.html

You will need:

8 - 5 inch charm squares, I used Love U, from Moda.

1 - 5 inch charm cut from minkee dots. (the minkee fabric with the raised dots)

15 x15 inch piece of minkee dots

15 x 15 inch piece of batting
24 - 6 inch pieces of ribbon, both grosgrain and satin.

Arrange charm squares, in three rows, three charms in each, with the minkee charm in the center. Piece together and press. Press the minkee gently or you may press out the dots!

Fold ribbon pieces in half. Pin onto pieced top, matching raw edges of ribbon to the raw edge of pieced top. Your loops should ontop of pieced top, so that when you turn it, they will stick out like a tag.
I basted my ribbons onto the pieced top.

minkee backing and pieced top - right sides together. Be sure ribbon loops are laying flat.
Lay batting on top of this.

Sew this sandwich together, leaving yourself an opening to turn. Turn right side out, pushing out corners. Turn raw edges of your opening in and top stitch around whole blanket.

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Stacked Coins Baby Quilt

I made this quilt using Funny Babies from Moda. It measures about 50 x 55 or so depending on sashing and border sizes.

It goes together quickly and quilts easily and quickly too.

You will need:

1 charm pack, cut in half into 2.5 x 5 inch rectangles, you will need 80 rectangles

Sashing, cut into 2.5 inch strips, length of fabric, 4 strips

Border, cut into 5 inch strips, you may have to piece to achieve correct length.

Binding, 2.25 inch, enough to bind entire quilt.

Piece 2.5 x 5 inch rectangles, long sides together, into 5 columns, using 1/4 inch seams, press.

Sew 2.5 inch sashing pieces between columns, press.

Sew top 5 inch border, press, then sew side borders, press.

Layer quilt top with cotton batting and backing fabric, baste in place, then quilt as desired. I quilted 1/4 inch on both sides of each sashing and column. Then quilted a box inside each column, 1/4 inch from neighboring quilted lines.

Down each sashing I used my machines wavy line stitch, and also used that in the border.


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