Monday, May 14, 2012

Weekend Wrap Up

Here are a few of the things I did this past weekend:  
Tested my backyard soil.  Used a basic $3.00 kit from Lowe's. Followed the directions and took my results to my favorite nursery.  
Purchased the amendments that I needed and got to work with the tiller.  Honestly, it was fun. 

Attended the CSULB Department of History Awards Banquet to receive the scholarship I won. Had a great time and was very pleased to visit with the instructor who insisted that I apply.  She is a gem.


Worked on a cake for a guest blogpost coming up this Wednesday at Sew Bittersweet Designs.
 Planted my new "babies" as I like to call them.  Three different tomatoes, four different peppers, zucchini, eggplant and a Big Max pumpkin.  I'll explain it all on the next podcast.
 Got the younger son out in the front yard with me to add a bit more color.  He added the muscle to work on tree roots growing from the big tree to the right.

Saw this and absolutely loved it:  There is a point in the movie where one of the characters describes India as a an "assault on all of the senses" at which point I nodded (to whom?) as I knew exactly what she was talking about. Someday soon I'll post about my experiences in India.  

And I sewed....worked for hours on the bodice for the Evening Empire Dress.  The seam ripper and I had some serious discussions on Sunday as it took me three times to get the bodice sewed together correctly.   All that's left is the zipper and hemming.  


What did you do over the weekend?
Susan

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

T@tT: Zucchine Arrosto

Last night I made Shrimp Linguine with a Sun-dried Tomato Cream sauce and although I had zucchini, squash and red bell peppers on hand for a side, I didn't feel like steaming them.  I had time so I thought I would pop them in the oven to roast for a different taste - boy was that a smart choice.

I used a recipe from The Silver Spoon, a massive 1,200 page cookbook originally published in Italy as il cucchialo d'argento in 1950.  This tome was first translated into English in 2005 which is the edition I have, but has since been through another revision in 2011..... with 400 new photographs I may have to check it out.

Zucchine Arrosto/Roast Zucchini with Red Pepper
adapted from The Silver Spoon 

Going into the oven
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Slice your zucchini/squash/red pepper any way you like - I tried long slices this time. Lay on parchment lined cookie sheet.  Slice up three of four garlic cloves very thin and sprinkle over zucchini/squash/red pepper.  Sprinkle with fresh parsley & basil if you have some (used dried if not) and season with Kosher Salt and pepper. Then drizzle over the olive oil to your liking.  Place in the oven and roast to your liking.
Perfect.  
Dinner is served.  
Try roasting up vegetables next time you are looking for a side dish- a splash of olive oil, slivers of garlic and S&P are all you need to bring out a new taste in your vegetables.

A little late today again due to school but it was for a good cause - last day of one of my classes!
Please visit Debbie at her Tuesday at the Table feature to see what her husband has been working on...it's so cool!
Ciao!
Susan

Sunday, May 6, 2012

History Quilter Podcast Episode 26 Hawaiian Quilts 2.0

Hello everyone,
I recorded and uploaded History Quilter Podcast Episode 26 yesterday and is now available both on Podbean and iTunes.

Hawaiian Quilts received bit more airtime this episode due to Jaye's comment about the German tradition of Scherenschnitte or scissor cuts in which she shared how Scherenschnitte is the big sister of snowflake cutting.  Last time when I spoke about Hawaiian Quilts I explained how they mimicked snowflake cutting as the design appeared to be cut out of one single piece of fabric.

So what do you think?  Do you see the link between Scherenschnitte and Hawaiian Quilts?

Cut-out Design (Scherenschnitte) from International Quilt Study Center &Museum
more info here

Hawaiian Quilt photo from Extreme Craft/Mission Houses Museum in Honolulu, HI
What to see Scherenschnitte demonstrated?  Go visit Cindy of papercutting.blogspot.com and watch her video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7OWhRPWrrB0.

What I read:  The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
                     The Midwife of Venice by Roberta Rich

My end of semester project for myself - time for some garment sewing:
Evening Empire Dress with Turn of Events Voile 
Eight years today...I miss her so.
My niece, myself and my mother - 2/6/04
New topic next time!
Go enjoy your day,
Susan

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Garden Update

I have two garden plots, one that has soil which is as good as gold and one that is not.

My older, tiny plot will grow anything as I've been working the soil for over sixteen years. Right now I've got a San Marzano tomato and an Early Girl tomato growing alongside three different types of lettuce. I love my "back 40" as I like to call it.
San Marzano Tomato

Early Girl tomato and assorted lettuce
Last summer because of how small this plot is, I had my older son dig up a large patch of grass in my backyard grass area so I could a) say goodbye to the garden plot I had at a local community garden b) grow more vegetables in my own backyard.  I had high hopes for this new plot as it was south facing and thought the soil was in pretty good shape because the grass always looked so good.....my mistake.  Nothing is growing here. Cabbage, broccoli, kale, tomatoes, onions, garlic, shallots have all floundered.

I know, so bare!  Someday a cute red barn will be in the corner. 
It could be the lack of sun but since I cannot make the sun change it's course to orbit directly over my house (and avoid the neighbors trees) I'm going to work on the soil.  Mr. UPS man brought me my new garden toy yesterday...yay!

Yes, I have a cultivator/tiller!  Once I till the soil, I will test it to see what amendments I need and try again.  I'm still hoping for canning multiple quarts of tomatoes late this summer...I'm such a dreamer.

I'm off to a much needed yoga class. Hope you all have a great day,
Susan

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

T@tT: Puffy Clouds of Chocolate

When brought out of the oven, Chocolate Pixies are like little puffy clouds of chocolate just waiting for someone to float by and gobble them up.  These come out of the oven a bit underdone to account for the residual cooking time which occurs once out of the heat - a perfect time to slide one off the tray and onto a napkin...gooey and chocolaty before it has time to set.  That was me last night...standing in my kitchen, enjoying the first cookie off the tray and of course...coughing.


Please tell me I'm not the only one who inevitably coughs when eating that first cookie/bar/tiramisu slice which has powdered sugar or cocoa on top? 

That first bites gets me every time.

This was going to be the end of my post but as I get this post ready to link up to Debbie's Tuesday at the Table feature at A Quilter's Table, she has asked for top foodie moments...here are just a few off the top of my head in no particular order: 
  1. First bite of Tiramisu in Venice, Italy.  Walking along the canals and (coughing) eating my piece. 
  2. Lunchtime in New Delhi, India where we would go eat for hours...oh the Naan!  So bloody hot inside the restaurant with the tandoori oven in the center - a wonder for me at eighteen. 
  3. Turkey Parmigiana my mother used to make for my birthday.  The best ever.  
  4. Foie Gras. 
  5. Pizza in Naples, Italy with girlfriends...so silly we were - such a wonderful time.  
  6. Harvesting corn from my garden - standing in the row, husking it and biting into fresh corn...so good. 
  7. Last meal I had with my father on his birthday. 
  8. Sitting on the kitchen counter (I was 4) next to the sink while my father cleaned and cracked Dungenous Crab.  Remember getting full on the crab pieces he was giving me.  
Please visit Debbie at her Tuesday at the Table feature to see what other's are sharing for their top foodie moments.  
Enjoy your Tuesday and eat well!  
Susan

Monday, April 30, 2012

Sewing Five Minutes at a Time

When I sew I prefer to for longer stretches of time, say at the minimum sixty minutes. As my sewing space is also my kitchen table, I have to move my sewing machine and supplies to the floor every time the four of us sit down for a meal together.  It's actually a total pain and the wish for my own sewing space is growing daily.

This past weekend though I kept my sewing machine on the table, ready for action whenever I had the opportunity to sew... which I initially thought would be a lot more than what occurred.  The weekend was beyond busy but I did get a chance to sit down, and I'm not kidding, for five minutes here and there to work on these bags for my boys:

Camo Lined Drawstring Bags
I've made these bags before (Lined Drawstring Bags) and love the pattern by Jeni of In Color Order.  I purchased her pattern so I could a) avoid the math to make different sizes and b) show Jeni that I appreciated her tutorial.  I used a very thick camouflage fabric specifically chosen by my older son - who knew there were like 100 different camouflage patterns?   These are the Project Bag size: Approximately 13" x 8".

The five minutes here and there didn't feel all that gratifying but then I ended up with finished bags which felt great and made the boys very happy.  I'll have to remember that five minutes of anything here and there can make a difference over time.

I was not surprised when the bags went out into "the field" immediately to begin reconnaissance work in my front yard....

Later on I found them in the backyard among my lettuce, keeping the birds away.


I'm linking up with Manic Monday and Sew Modern Monday.

Happy Monday everyone!
Susan

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

T@tT: Lazy Soup

Yesterday afternoon I had no interest in making dinner.  Usually I make myself go into the kitchen at about 5ish to get things moving but yesterday it just wasn't there....but I did have a plan.  I had a new soup recipe with all of the ingredients already purchased and ready...and all I needed to do was pull the trigger.  

Guess I was just being lazy.  

Finally at about 6pm I got motivated and made Spring Minestrone with Chicken Meatballs from the April 2012 issue of Bon Appetit.  Oh my was it good.  This is a light minestrone made with chicken, leeks, pasta, spinach and carrots.  Instead of buying ground chicken, I ground up two chicken breasts in my food processor (just learned to do that a few years ago - how easy!) added in bread crumbs, egg, Parmesan cheese, garlic and S&P.  After forming into little meatballs, I browned them in my stockpot. My 16 yr old remarked more than once how good it smelled in the house.  

I then took the chicken meatballs out, added in leeks and garlic to cook for about 3 minutes, then added in the remainder of the ingredients except for the meatballs. When the pasta was almost done I added back in the meatballs to heat until the pasta was done.  The recipe says to add the spinach into the stockpot but I prefer to individualize my soup portions by placing the spinach in the bottom of the bowl and then ladling in the soup on top.  My boys will not touch the spinach so why waste perfectly good spinach on them?  
My photo: Spring Minestrone with Chicken Meatballs 
I think the leeks added another dimension to this soup which made it a winner in my house.

Why can't my photo look as good as the original? (see below)  I was just drooling over the cameras featured in today's BA Blog - go see their article about "Finding The Best Camera for Food Photos".
Spring Minestrone with Chicken Meatballs - Photograph by Romulo Yanes
I'm a bit late to the Table this week due to school but please go visit Debbie at her wonderful Tuesday at the Table feature.  This week she's talking about Farro.  Don't know what Farro is - all the more reason to go visit and find out.  


Enjoy the rest of your Tuesday, 
Susan

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

WIP Wednesday: Box Kite 2.0

I've done a little bit of sewing this week: Here is my second attempt at the Box Kite block by Angela Pingel from Modern Blocks by Susanne Woods.  A huge thank you to your comments and help last week when my first attempt did not work out so well. I'm very happy with this one!
Box Kite by Angela Pingel  - the 2.0 version
Next up is the April Bee Block called Potager by Yvonne Malone also in Modern Blocks by Susanne Woods.  The Nicey Jane fabric is so cute - too girly for me but fun to work on and send back to its home.

Potager by Yvonne Malone 
Next up on my WIP:
T-Shirt Quilt for Cousin - top done, backing & binding purchased
Camo bags for the boys - camo fabric in house, will use the Lined Drawstring Bag Pattern
Sew Happy Geek QAL - 12 blocks done, no further progress
Mug rugs for family and friends who have been so supportive

Dreaming of working on:
Dresses and skirts - fabrics and patterns are calling out to me to be purchased and made for summer. Yea summer is coming!

Please visit Lee at Freshly Pieced to see what others have in their WIP for this week.  Go see her Going Coastal quilt - I just love it.

Have a great day!
Susan

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

T@tT: Chocolate Oatmeal Bars in Photos

Please don't think I only make desserts around here.  I know I've been showing you a great many lately but only because they are fairly easy, I always have my pantry stocked with baking goods and I don't buy cookies/cakes/etc.  Soon I'll be featuring meals I make for dinner again (The April edition of Bon Appetit has about 50 recipes that must be attempted in my kitchen.) but for today I'll share with you what I made last night; Chocolate Oatmeal Bars.

These have been around a long time with many variations in the name so attempting to credit the original recipe writer is proven (for me) to be rather impossible.  Here is my version of Chocolate Oatmeal Bars.
A batch of Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Dough

Melted: chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk, butter and vanilla

Parchment Paper: One of my tricks in the kitchen

13 x 9 x 2 Pyrex Dish

Line Pyrex dish with Parchment Paper

Load in about two-thirds of Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Dough: press down

Pour over melted chocolate goodness and make sure you lick the spoon

Dollop remainder of dough over melted chocolate

Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes

Let sit for about 30 minutes (if you can), then pull out of Pyrex pan

Enjoy!
Chocolate Oatmeal Bars
1 Batch of your favorite Oatmeal Cookie Dough (homemade or purchased) 
1 Bag  (12 oz) Chocolate Chips
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
2 Tbl Butter
2 tsp Vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a double-boiler or saucepan melt the chocolate chips, condensed milk and butter.  Once melted remove from heat and add vanilla. 
2. Line a 13 x 9 x 2 Pyrex Dish with parchment paper. Take about two-thirds of the Oatmeal Cookie Dough and press into the bottom of your pan. 
3. Pour over all of melted chocolate mixture.
4. Dollop remaining Oatmeal Cookie Dough over the melted chocolate evenly. 
5. Bake about 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Enjoy!

I'm linking up with Debbie at her Tuesday at the Table feature. This week she's got a sweet feature too which shouldn't be missed.  By the way I made her Quiche recipe from last week for a brunch I hosted on Sunday morning and it was absolutely delicious!


Quiche Recipe from Debbie at A Quilter's Table
Hope you all have a productive Tuesday,
Susan 

Monday, April 16, 2012

History Quilter Podcast Episode 25 Hawaiian Quilts

Happy Monday Everyone,

HQ Podcast Episode 25 where I speak (a little) about Hawaiian Quilts is now posted on Podbean and iTunes.  I  did not have a much time to research Hawaiian Quilts this week as I would have liked so my research is a little thin so stay tuned for Ep. 26 where I'll flesh it out a bit more.

Don't forget to join Sandy at Quilting For The Rest of Us for her Two Year Podcastaversary Giveaway Week 3. She's giving away two $50 gift certificates to the Fat Quarter Shop.

The Hawaiian Quilt Research Project has contributed photos and information for approximately 651 quilts to The Quilt Index. Go here to view those quilts. One of the founders of the Hawaiian Quilt Research Project, Elaine Zinn, was interviewed by The Alliance for American Quilts in 2008 where she talks about her her own interest in Hawaiian Quilts but how she and Elizabeth Akana (whom I mentioned in the podcast) began documenting quilts for the above mentioned Hawaiian Quilt Research Project.  Wish it was a podcast, but it is an interesting read - go here to read the interview.

I mentioned a Friendship Quilt that I saw at my local quilt guild meeting this past week (sorry no photo) but the whole idea of a friendship quilt (also known as a Round Robin) intrigues me.  Tami from Denver, a faithful quilting podcast listener to us all, sent me a photo of her own Round Robin quilt and gave me permission to post:
Round Robin Quilt courtesy of Tami in Denver
She shared with me via Twitter Saturday evening that this quilt took a year to finish and although it was a challenge for her group which caused a bit of distention, she is very happy with how it turned out.  Tami, thank you so much for sharing - it is gorgeous!

Podcast Episodes worth a listen:
Taste Matters with Mitchell Davis - Episode 30 with Marion Nestle.  They talk about the "calorie" - worth your 30 minutes for the science behind the calorie and how we can us it to make smart food choices.

The Moth Podcast - Roald Hoffman/Cocoon of Love 4/9/12.  Mr. Hoffman has a wonderful voice but the story is what gripped me and made me go back and listen again.

The History Chicks are back with Season 3 and they are giving us some great topics.  Katherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn and a little mini-cast of the Titanic are all new.

Random photos from the quick Easter weekend vacation: 
Facade of Hearst Castle in San Simeon, CA

Elephant Seals sleeping on the beach San Simeon, CA

Fence rail flowers inside of Mission San Luis Obispo, CA
Food: 

No photo for the Posole: Pork and Hominy Soup but here are the links: Go here for the Carnitas that I described that go into the soup and go here for the Posole. Both recipes come from www.thenoshery.com.


Blueberry-Brown Sugar Plain Cake from Baking: From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan. Go here for the recipe.
Blueberry-Brown Sugar Plain Cake 

One last thing not related to the podcast - my oldest had his Confirmation ceremony yesterday in our church.


Hope you all have a wonderful day,
Susan