Wednesday, June 29, 2011

WIP Wednesday: As fast as I can

Another finish for the week :

Anna Maria Horner's Sidewalk Satchel
Seriously just finished this up about 10 minutes ago and now working as fast as I can to post this so I can get to Yoga class at 2pm!  Just as with AMH's Multi-Tasker Tote I made in January, the pattern directions were very clear and fairly easy to follow.  As with food recipes, I just read them over and over again to make sure I understood what was instructed before I proceeded.  
Here's a photo to give you some perspective on how big it is.  

Does the state of this room look familiar to any of you?  I'm not embarrassed...it's not my room!  

Quilts still working on:
Italian Sorbetto
School Yard
Sliced Coins

Please visit Lee at Freshly Pieced to see what other's are working in this week.  

One more thing.......
For those food lovers out there...
Have a great rest of your Wednesday....I know I will.
Ciao,
Susan

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday Morning Snickerdoodle Muffins

I just made these:
Snickerdoodle Muffins
They are still warm and delicious.  Go here to find the recipe.

Ciao,
Susan

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Deici, diez,deset, दस, ten: History Quilter Podcast Episode 10

Bounty from the garden this morning
The sun is out!  

It has been so dreary here all week with the sun making a short peek out of the clouds for maybe an hour in the afternoon.  This past Thursday afternoon while my class was on break for thirty minutes I even went out and sat in the sun (with my hat on) to soak up the Vitamin D and improve my mood.  It helped.

Went to my garden plot this morning and harvested Hungarian Wax Peppers and Jalapeño Peppers.  The Hungarian Wax will go in Paella and the Jalapeños will be used in a Tomatillo Sauce/Salsa I make.  More on the Tomatillo Sauce/Salsa on a future post.  The tomatoes and large onions are from my own home garden - I guess they don't mind the June gloom.  The garlic I grew in my garden plot and have been drying out (thanks to Shelley from The Rebel Homemaker) and now appears to be ready.  Might make a Garlic Aioli tonight with dinner to see how the garlic tastes.

So I've made it to my tenth podcast which has led me to realize that I will be doing this for a long time as it appears to be no end to quilting history I can dig up.  Thanks to access to a college database and an endless supply of curiosity (sometimes a downfall) along with topics that people have suggested to me and the ones that just spring up in my head, the History Quilter Podcast will go on.

Thank you to Rhonda from Quilter in the Gap for her blessing to speak about quilting history in the fascinating area that she lives in.  If you have not listened to her podcast (also called Quilter in the Gap), please do as she is very funny and has a great take on quilting.

Here are links from Episode 10:

Go here for the blogpost I did on the Inside-Out Chocolate Cake.

I talked about Lizzy House and the 1000 Peeps Summer Camp Troupe 2011.  The Pool Toys I spoke about are featured in Week 2 here:
http://lizzyhouse.typepad.com/lizzyhouse/2011/06/1001-peeps-summer-camp-week-2.html

Explore the Appalachian Quilt Trail at:
http://www.vacationaqt.com/

Appalachian Arts and Crafts Center in Clinton, TN:
http://www.appalachianarts.net/

Check out Pillars of the Earth and the follow up World Without End by Ken Follett for a great story about the building of a Cathedral in Kingsbridge, England in the 12th Century.

Ciao~
Susan

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

WIP Wednesday: Flying Geese

I finished a quilt top last night.  

Italian Sorbetto by thehistoryquilter
Italian Sorbetto, a photo by thehistoryquilter on Flickr.

It's been ages since I finished a quilt top so I'm invigorated to keep sewing as much as possible this week.  Supernova here I come!  The above quilt was the Block-A-Palooza Quilt Along from QuiltDad.com which I have named Italian Sorbetto.  When I began this QA I had no idea how many flying geese were involved in these blocks - I now detest flying geese.  Seriously.  


Other WIP's
Supernova - need to finish quilt top blocks
School Yard - needs to be basted, quilted and bound.
Sliced Coins - quilt top done, need to order binding and backing fabric


Please check out what others are working on at Freshly Pieced with Lee for WIP Wednesday #32.  
Ciao~
Susan

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Father's Day Chocolate Cake

Inside-Out Chocolate Cake, March 2000
See that cake?  Do you want to make/serve/taste a cake that makes your friends and family swoon?  Inside-Out Chocolate Cake was on the cover of Gourmet Magazine in March 2000 and whenever I make it for friends and family, they always insist that I make it again...soon.

Well I love it when people enjoy my food but with about six hours of labor that goes into this cake, I do not make it very often.  I've learned over the years to cut the process up into two days by baking the cake layers the day before (then freeze them) and toasting the coconut/pecans for the filling - also the day before.  I began working on this yesterday afternoon so I could bring this cake to my In-Law's to serve in honor of Father's Day (my father-n-law is pretty cool and he loves chocolate).  Just for fun I thought I would share with you some of the steps:


Melted Butter + Chocolate Chips + Corn Syrup 

= Chocolate Glaze...oh so gooooood.  


Condensed Milk after cooking in water bath for 90 minutes.

Cooked Condensed Milk + Toasted Coconut/Pecans

Filling sandwiched between layers of chocolate cake.

I'm getting there...about five hours in at this point.

Enrobing the cake with the Chocolate Glaze. 

Cake is ready for plating.

Crowd devours about half and I leave the rest for the FIL.
This cake is truly spectacular.  The combination of the not to dry/not to moist chocolate cake with a filling that has a lovely soft nut mouth feel (do not be deterred if you dislike coconut...toasting changes the taste) and the luscious chocolate glaze (yea at 10pm I just licked the bowl...oh so good) equal a chocolate bomb worth your time.  Try it!  

My own father was not left out of the Father's Day festivities as my brother Scott and I took him out to dinner and enjoyed a great meal with a lot of laughter.

Father's Day June 19, 2011
Hope you all have a great week.  Next week can't come soon enough.
Susan

Saturday, June 18, 2011

projects to keep my mind occupied for a break...

Yesterday summer officially began in my household and by 11:00 in the morning my oldest called me (while I was on the Southern California Quilter's Run) to say "Mom, it is now eleven hours into my summer and I am officially bored." Cracked me up.  So what did I do?  Took him to yoga class with me in the afternoon.  Yes, I took my fifteen year old teenage son to yoga class to not only give him something to do but to see if he would like it.  Turns out he did like it and he thanked me on the ride home.  Love that boy.
He likes yoga and can hold up the Torre Pendente di Pisa.
So with school out for my boys, a very easy but interesting summer class for me (1/2 way done already) and the routine of making breakfasts/lunches at 7am along with various carpool duties on hold until September...what will I work on to occupying my mind for this break?  At least for this first week or so of summer I am creating a list of what will keep me busy as I transition into summer.

  • Cook/bake three new things this week.  I'm going to try: Moussaka (a Greek style casserole), Creme Brulee and Brioche.  A main course, a dessert and a sweet bread.  I will not be trying these all in the same day.  
  • Move through my current sewing projects.  This afternoon I finished up the last block for the Block-A-Pallooza Quilt Along that I began in late January.  This evening I squared them all up and began cutting the various sashing and cornerstone fabrics I will be using to piece this top together.  I plan to have this quilt top pieced by next Friday.  
    Squaring up my blocks...I had a few wonky ones.
  • Read!  I just spent time cleaning out my bookshelves and decided to donate some to my local library and happily rediscovered some books that I have not read for a very long time.  I have a confession to make: I was a teenage vampire book lover.  Not Twilight, but the original (at least for my generation) - Lestat.  I have all eight books of The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice and decided to read through them all again and then donate them to my local library. 
    To finish for this evening/very early morning by the time I finally publish this post, I give you what I made for dinner:  Steak I quickly cooked in my cast iron pan, cheese ravioli with tomato sauce from my garden, salad and focaccia.
    Steak for the omnivore in the house.


    No steak for me
    Have a great Saturday!
    Susan

    Saturday, June 11, 2011

    History Quilter Podcast Episode #9 Notes

    Hi Everyone,

    The History Quilter Podcast Episode #9 is now available via the link to the right, on Podbean at http://historyquilter.podbean.com/ or on iTunes (search for The History Quilter).  In this week's episode I spoke about the history of hexagons, a few recipes I am working on to discuss in the next podcast and my thoughts of my first quilt guild meeting.  

    Here are the links:

    Quilters by the Sea Quilt Guild.  Check them out at www.quiltersbythesea.com. The lovely Marilyn Pond is the quilt guild president this year - please check out her blog at http://marilynpond.blogspot.com.  Wonderful "rock star" moment when I met Beth of Love Laugh Quilt.  Please check out her wonderful creations at http://lovelaughquilt.blogspot.com/ .

    2011 Southern California Quilter's Run:  Two weekends - June 16 -19, 2011 and June 23 - 26, 2011.  www.quiltersrun.com.

    The Jelly Roll 1,600 Quilt:  Check out this funny YouTube video from Heirloom Creations, a quilt store in Sioux Falls, SD.  What a great way to sew up a quilt top FAST with Jelly Rolls.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EomX7t7to_o&feature=player_embedded .

    A short history of using hexagons in quilting can be read at www.womenfolk.com.  Their Quilt Patterns Through Time section highlights hexagons.  http://www.womenfolk.com/quilt_pattern_history/mosaic.htm

    The Illinois State Museum has a website with a section dedicated to the arts which includes "Keeping us in Stitches: Quilts & Quilters".
    http://www.museum.state.il.us/muslink/art/htmls/ks.html

    In the pieced quilts section, hexagons are illustrated with four different quilts which show the evolution of the hexagon quilt from 1870 - 1945.
    This gorgeous hexagon mosaic quilt caught my eye for it's modernity and symmetry.  Make sure you check out the description of this quilt.
    Albert Small, Ottawa, Illinois  
    Mosaic, 1941-44
    I spoke about an Apricot Sauce or Salsa Di Albiocche that I made from The Silver Spoon, an English language translation of Il Cucchiaio d'argento, the Italian culinary "bible". I had eight ripe/almost too ripe apricots sitting on my counter and needed to use them up so I grabbed this cookbook, found Apricot Sauce in the index and went to work.  The sauce is to die for.  

    Salsa Di Albicocche (Apricot Sauce)
    adapted from The Silver Spoon cookbook

    3/4 cup superfine or granulated sugar
    about 8 apricots (pitted but not skinned, chopped fine)

    In a small sauce-pot, put the sugar and a scant 1 cup water and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until the simple syrup thickens.  Add the chopped apricots to the simple syrup and gently boil about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally (I did use a potato masher to crush the apricots down to my personal preference). Turn the heat off and let the sauce steep for as long as you like.  I poured the sauce into a pint sized glass jar and can't wait to pour it over Vanilla ice cream tonight.  The recipe says it would go well with chocolate desserts and cakes.  

    I did sew up Block 17 of the Block-A-Pallooza yesterday.  I love pinwheels!
    Block 17
    Enjoy your Saturday!
    Susan

    Wednesday, June 8, 2011

    Wednesday WIP and how our fabric enters the United States


    I'm moving right along with the Block-A-Pallooza blocks.  I finished up blocks 13 & 15 on Monday afternoon.  Only  2 1/2 more left and then I need to figure out how to piece the top together.  I originally bought the fat eighth bundle of Sunkissed fabric and because there is a lot left, I am hoping that divine intervention will strike me with creativity on how to use that leftover fabric.  Maybe a trip over the the Flickr group will help.
    Block 13

    Block 15
    My UFO's

    Sliced Coins - top completed.
    Supernova - four blocks to go.
    School Yard - need to baste/binding all ready
    Sidewalk Satchel Bag - fabric cut

    Do you know how our beloved quilting fabrics enter the United States?  

    When our favorite fabrics leave Asia (Moda fabrics are made in Korea, others are made in various other Asian countries), they travel by ship to various ports of call along the West Coast (Seattle, Oakland and Long Beach) and then turn back around toward Asia.  It takes huge container ships roughly a week to cross the Pacific. I live in Long Beach, CA which is one of the biggest ports in the world and this morning I had the opportunity to chaperone 12th grade students on a Port of Long Beach tour by boat.  (Thank goodness we did not go out of the break-wall - I get dreadfully seasick.)  

    Kind of a gloomy day weather wise but the two hour trip was informative and worth the $5 parking ($5? darn you City of Long Beach).  The big container ships that bring us our fabrics dock here in Long Beach and offload their huge containers full of fabrics and other important quilting goodness (and lots of other things that we need, but this is a quilting blog) to rail cars and container trucks that move the fabrics across the Western and Central part of the United States.
    Cosco Container Lines Americas
    This ship was huge!  Click on the photo and look at the size of those containers - the smallest are 20 feet long.  Imagine the quilting goodness coming off that ship right now.  

    A few other notables about the tour:
    Recognize that bridge?  If you saw Inception then you should.

    Commodore Schuyler F. Helms Draw Bridge
    This one surprised me:  This is the Mediterranean Shipping Company which is the only shipping line that travels through the Mediterranean Sea via La Spezia and Naples in Italy and Valencia in Spain before crossing the Atlantic and navigating the Panama Canal.  I'm probably not wrong to assume that my Italian Olive Oil travels from Italy to me via MSC.  
    MSC Laussane  
    Sea Launch is a company that transports satellites out into the ocean somewhere along the equator to launch satellites.  It's just cool.  

    Sea Launch
    Last one:  Sea Lions on a buoy.  

    Go check out what others are working on this week at Lee's Freshly Pieced.  
    Enjoy the rest of your Wednesday,
    Susan

    Monday, June 6, 2011

    First Tomatoes of the Season!

    I had no plan for dinner tonight and so I rummaged around looking for what I could pull together for my boys and then for the husband and I.  The boys had Spicy Sausage Sandwiches and the sweetest Strawberries possible that I bought at our local Farmer's Market yesterday morning.  I love the Sunday Farmer's Market in my town.  Just walking down the rows of fresh locally grown produce is worth the visit and the samples are enough to fill you up for breakfast of lunch, depending upon what time you show up.

    Hmmm, what would we eat?  The usual empty Monday refrigerator (I had fun today instead of going to the store) gave me no clues as to what to eat for our dinner. Then, a shred of a memory went from my unconscious to my conscious brain...the tomatoes might be ready!  I turned toward my thirteen year old who was rattling off all he knew about the China/Japan unit in his 7th grade History class and I told him to follow me out to the backyard to see if my Early Girl tomatoes were ready.  This is what we found:
    Early Girl Tomatoes - June 6th, 2011  6:45pm
    Within about five minutes those ripe tomatoes went from on the vine to this:

    To this:
    Early Girl Tomatoes

    The Early Girl tomatoes were sliced and dressed with Olive Oil, Red Wine Vinegar, Kosher Salt and a touch of Basil.  The husband and I polished off five tomatoes between the two of us...can you blame us?  In case you were wondering we also had Humus and Flatbread and a lovely Risotto made with a recipe from Lynn Rossetto Kasper from The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper cookbook.  

    I'm working on content for Episode #9 of the HQ Podcast that I will be recording Friday morning.  Stay tuned for my results for making the Focaccia recipe I spoke about in Episode #8.  

    Ciao!
    Susan

    Saturday, June 4, 2011

    A block cutting tip and Mac-n-cheese

    You must be wondering what cutting fabric and Mac-n-Cheese have to do with one another....nothing.  I haven't gone off my rocker by incorporating actual food into my quilting (although I do have some food fabrics) but this past Wednesday evening I had two "light bulb" moments where ideas I had gathered from elsewhere synthesized in my brain into time savers for me.  First the quilting tip:

    Back when I began the Supernova QA with Lee from Freshly Pieced, she had suggested in the cutting requirements that we cut all the fabrics from each block and separate them into plastic bags.  I followed those directions and have four sandwich sized bags left that represent the four blocks I have left with that QA top.  An excellent idea by Lee in which this past Wednesday evening I realized that I could do that with my other Works in Progress, like the Block-A-Palooza.  Doh, I thought...of course I could translate that great idea into helping me finish a few other of my WIP's.  So I give you the five remaining blocks of Block-A-Palooza sandwich bag form:
    I know that the ease of just grabbing a bag and spending some time only sewing will help me get through these quicker than my usual routine of ironing and cutting the fabric out before I begin sewing each block.  I am on a mission to finish my WIP's early in the summer so that I can spend time on Christmas projects and creating items for a craft fair that I've been asked to participate in later this year (more on that later).  

    Should not be any surprise to those who know me or have been reading this for a while that I make Mac-n-cheese from scratch.  I am not a food elitist who looks down on packaged foods as a whole but while in my 30's and as the cook/chef in the house, feeding myself and my family healthy and great tasting food became very important to me.  I know that the adjective "healthy" and Mac-n-cheese do not normally go together but when I make Mac-n-cheese from scratch at home with only six ingredients as opposed to the 14 or so listed on the ubiquitous Kraft Mac& Cheese label, I know that I am serving my boys a healthier and much better tasting (to their palates) dish.  We eat everything in this house and I buy nothing diet, low fat or low cal as I want what I eat to taste the best it can, but we do eat in moderation.  Would I like to sit in front of the TV with a pint of Ben&Jerry's Creme Brulee, S'Mores or Peanut Butter Cup and devour the whole thing?  Sure I would...but I don't.  

    So I give you my "whatever cheese is in the fridge" version of Mac-n-cheese:
    "whatever cheese is in the fridge" Mac-n-cheese

    This makes about four servings

    8 oz. pasta - any small pasta will do
    1 cup of milk - heated up 
    1 1/2 tsp flour
    1 1/2 tsp butter  
    assorted cheeses - about 1 1/2 cups grated
    salt

    Boil your pasta in water that has been salted.  It will taste better.  While the pasta is boiling, in a separate pan melt the butter.  With whisk in one hand, pour in the flour and stir the butter and flour together to make a roux.  Keep the heat on to cook this roux for about a minute, but do not let it brown so keep the heat to medium. 

    Again with whisk in hand, slowly pour in the milk into the roux mixture.  It will be very thick at first when you begin pouring the milk, but will relax once you have poured in the entire cup.  Turn up the heat to get this mixture to a slow boil.  Put your whisk away as now you need a spatula or a long handled spoon.  Now you add your cheese or cheeses.  I call this the "whatever cheese is in my fridge" Mac-n-cheese because I like to use up small amounts of cheeses so they don't go to waste.  Last week I used Pepper Jack with Cheddar and it was a hit.  This week it was Cheddar mixed with Mozzarella and Asaigo cheeses.  Once this mixture is thick, pour in your already drained pasta.  Mix this up well and then pour in to a shallow baking dish.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.  Enjoy!  

    I'm off to the beach now to watch my older son play soccer on the sand.  
    Enjoy your Saturday!
    Susan