Monday, April 8, 2013

2013 Finish-a-Long!

My goals for this year are to free motion quilt a finished top each quarter, finishing 4 quilts this year, plus 1 to be hand quilted. So far I have finished a Forest Fairies quilt for my granddaughter Delaney which I gave to her for her fourth birthday. Here are some detail shots of it:


Next in the free motion line-up was a Southwestern themed table topper, which I put it lot more quilting into, it was much smaller. I like the way it came out! It is obvious that my skill improves with practice. 
First Block
The Finished Tablecloth in time for Easter!
Alternate Block
 Next up I plan to join the 2013 Finish-a-Long sponsored by Leanne of She Can Quilt, and this is what I plan to finish next: 
It is another Southwestern Style quilt, this one a Sampler which I believe may have been a Block of the Month program I joined at some point, I really don't remember. I made all three of the quilts tops around 1997 or 98, and put them aside to work on something else, figuring I would get around to quilting them someday, and that someday is 2013! This top is pin basted, layered with a Warm and Natural quilt batting, and backed with a fun jalapeno peppers print. I plan to stabilize the layers with long lines of quilting diagonally through the blue chain, then stabilize each block by stitching in the ditch with invisible thread, then having a go at some fun quilting designs in the negative space. Wish me luck! 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Easy Street Top Done!

Along with a lot of other quilters I know, I made the Mystery Quilt by Bonnie Hunter called Easy Street this year. The instructions told us to find a black and white fabric and a gray fabric for the first "Clue", so I chose this crazy black and white print that has been in my stash for years because I didn't know what to do with it. Since I had no idea what the pattern would be like, I decided to go with it! Since it was such a crazy print, I paired it with the most sedate gray fabric I owned, an old Jinny Beyer print. What  fun to see what would happen when the "wild and crazy guy" fabric married the understated elegant fabric!

My Black and White with my Gray


And this is what the finished 4-patches looked like:
Then we were told to choose some more black and whites, some turquiose, some purples, and some LIME GREEN scraps, and I knew I would love this quilt because I am in love with lime right now. Here are some of the fabrics I pulled out to use.
My Focus Fabrics
I had a great time making the "flying geese" units and some units someone labeled "fat turkeys", even though I fell a little behind on the clues at Christmas time. I threw in a few fun novelty prints for interest, here you can see a friendly dinosaur -
Friendly Dinosaur!

And here we see a dolphin swimming by waiting to give a ride to Savannah Marquis!
Dolphin Swimming By

Once all the blocks were made I worked like a whirlwind putting the top together, every now and then standing back to see the mad whirl of color against the black and white, and here is the completed top -

Finished Easy Street Top

 I have named my Easy Street quilt "Margaritas with Salt... AND Pepper!" I won't be adding a border, it is quite large enough already thank you, and I plan to bind it with a black fabric, possibly with white stripes if I can find one.  I am hoping to learn machine quilting well enough to quilt this by the end of the year.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

April Breads

I made both of the two breads for the HBin5 group this session. The first one was Carrot Bread, made with whole wheat flour, shredded carrots, coconut, walnuts, and dried cranberries. I really liked this one. I used sweetened coconut so this made a lovely toasting bread for breakfast.

Here is a closeup showing the cranberries, freshly sliced and ready for butter! I would be happy having this bread for breakfast every day. Maybe I would alternate this one with the apple bread, both make great breakfast breads.

The second recipe this time was for Olive Bread. This bread was made with spelt flour, plain yogurt, and lots of sliced marinated green olives. I bought the big deli olives, pitted but not pimento-stuffed. We served it with spaghetti and a nice green and orange salad (baby greens, orange sweet peppers and baby carrots). It was very good.

I found this bread to be moist, salty and slightly sourdough in flavor. I probably won't make it again because my family is not really made up of olive lovers, even though I love them. Perhaps I would try it with garlic cloves.

Would you like a slice?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I want to share some of the projects I have finished over the course of the winter. I made a scarf from the pattern "Shaken Not Stirred" by Wendy Gaal to wear with my winter coat. The kit, which included the pattern, fingering weight yarn in the color "Margarita with Salt", beads, and a cute martini stitch marker, was part of a knit-a-long/contest, of which I was a winner! I won a skein of hand dyed sock yarn in the colorway of my choice. Here is the scarf:

I let my daughter Jessica choose the colorway of the yarn I won and promised to make her a pair of socks for Christmas with it. She chose the color "Seabreeze" and I knitted a pattern from the book Toe Up! by Chrissy Gardiner called Gull Wings. She likes them.

I knitted a pair of Entrelac socks from a skein of Scheafer "Anne" yarn, a blend of merino and mohair which is just luscious to work with. However, it is a very fine yarn which I had to work on a size 00 needle. I chose this colorway because it was called Boop, and so I call them my Betty Boop socks. They are super cozy!

I knitted a pair of pretty pink socks from Cascade Heritage sock yarn, using the pattern "Kristi" by Cookie A in the book Sock Innovation. I love working the intricate patterns from this book, they really hold my interest. I am not a knitter who can finish the "mindless" projects with miles of stockinette or garter stitch, I am always looking for a challenge.
I also joined a Mystery Sock knit-a-long where we knitted a mosaic two-color sock designed by Star Athena. At the time, I was listening to an audio book on my iPod by Dan Brown called The Lost Symbol. I think it is a little bit obvious from my color choices, don't you?

This was the first pair I knitted with the 9" circular needle in the photo above. I don't care to work with double points, I am always poking myself or losing one. I do like the 9" needle, but my hands got a little sore because you have to hold them differently. Here are the finished socks, which I gave to myself and wore for the first time on Christmas day.

Just recently while my husband Gary and I were driving to Florida and back on vacation, I worked on a pair of socks made from Schoppel-Wolle Zauberball wool. I love the color changes in this yarn! It is so bright and vibrant. I used the pattern "Changeling" by Janel Laidman from the book The Enchanted Sole. I will share more projects with you very soon! I am trying to get back into blogging more often. I must say I miss it.

See you next time!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Guacamole Bread

This week we made guacamole bread in the Healthy Bread in 5 minutes a day group. The dough called for chopped garlic, chopped tomato, and a whole mashed avocado. In bread? Sounded odd to me, but it was actually very good! It was nice and moist with a slight garlic flavor, and the loaf rose nicely in the oven. Both my husband and son liked the bread, even though neither of them cares for avocado.

With the leftover dough, I made a batch of crusty rolls to serve with our favorite soup, Cheese Vegetable Chowder. It is always a big hit!
I never got around to making the second recipe this time because I came down with a terrible cold, but still want to make the Pesto Bread next. I will post about it later, see you then!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Assignment 4 for HB in 5!

Already on the fourth assignment for HB in 5! How time flies! Well, truth be told I baked these breads early because I didn't want to miss out while I was on vacation. When the March 1 bread braid falls due I will be vacationing in Florida and I can't wait!! I SO need a break from the frigid north.

It is actually Valentine's Day as I write this post, and I wanted to share my delicious lunch with you. I defrosted one of my Soft Whole Wheat Hamburger buns, split it, spread it thickly with fig jam, added ham and swiss cheese and grilled it panini style in my Foreman grill. Oh my gosh was it good... and thanks to Rachel Ray magazine for the idea.

Well this week, we began with a full recipe of 100% Whole Wheat with Olive Oil dough. I had a little trouble getting the olive oil in incororate into the dough. During the initial rise the oil seemed to settle on the edges leaving a greasy crust.

I let it proof overnight in the refrigerator and the next day baked this loaf of bread. The dough was still on the greasy side when I shaped the loaf, but the bread came out okay. Here is a picture:

Gary used it for sandwiches and didn't say much about it, so I guess it was okay. I preferred the Soft Whole Wheat recipe.

The next recipe was Aloo Paratha, which is an Indian style calzone stuffed with curried potatoes and peas. I was really looking forward to this recipe because I love curry, but it wasn't as good as I had hoped. I used Yukon gold potatoes and frozen peas. I am afraid I overmashed the potatoes, they were pretty mushy. I made 2 large ones, and sliced them to go with supper.

Fresh from the oven: And sliced, ready to eat: I felt these could have used a lot more curry powder. When I told Gary they were stuffed with curry he was surprised. He hadn't even tasted the curry. It pretty much tasted like bread with mashed potatoes and peas inside. Just bland. Next time I would stuff it with cheese and tomato sauce.

The third recipe was my favorite this time. It was Southwestern Focaccia Bread with Roasted Corn and Goat Cheese. Doesn't that sound great? However, finding the ingredients locally proved to be a major challenge. I lucked out with the fresh cilantro and even the goat cheese, but finding a fresh poblano pepper in the frozen tundra of Maine in January is impossible. The closest I could come was an Anaheim pepper. No fresh corn either, I had to use frozen. The authors said you could use frozen, but didn't tell you how to go about roasting it. I put some in a pan and stuck it in the oven while it preheated to 450.

I rolled the dough into a circle on parchment so I could slide it onto the stone without fuss. Parchment has become my new best friend in baking! I added the sauce and corn and dabs of goat cheese:

then I baked it. When it came out of the oven I sprinkled the fresh chopped cilantro on top.

And I ate two healthy slices for lunch!

It was really good.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Assignment 3 For HB in 5!

This week the HBin5 group made some recipes in honor of Valentine's Day.
First, we made Red Beet Buns. I started with 3 fresh beets which needed to be shredded. I got out my food processor (which I rarely use), couldn't find the manual, so I reasoned if I wanted the shreds to fall out of the side chute into a bowl I would use the pain plastic disc beneath the shredding disc to prevent the shreds from falling into the bowl. WRONG! All of the beet shreds wedged themselves firmly between the two discs until the whole thing came to a noisy halt. The only thing that came through the side chute was 3 blood red drops of beet juice. I have no idea how to work this darn thing.

After cleaning up that mess and wondering why on earth THIS recipe is in a book claiming to take 5 minutes a day, I added the shreds to the other ingredients and stirred them up in my Kitchen Aid mixer. With all the confusion of figuring out how to use the food processor, I mistakenly mixed up a whole recipe of the beet dough rather than a half recipe the assignment called for.
The dough seriously looked like bright pink frosting!
But as pretty and pink as it was, this dough was not at all sweet. I made a batch of beet buns to have with corn chowder for dinner. I thought Kaylee would be excited by the pink buns, but she took one look and announced she was NOT eating those.
I made another batch the next day to put in the freezer, then still had enough to make a loaf of red beet bread. Gary has been taking pink tuna sandwiches to work this week, the guys at the Home Depot got a kick out of that! Here is a beet bun buttered and hot from the oven.
The taste? Well, I would have to call it strange. I am a beet lover, so much so that I make pickled beets on a regular basis, (using the lazy fool method, dumping canned beets into leftover pickle juice and letting them refrigerate a week) but these buns were, well, strange... When I served them I felt all Jessica Seinfeld-ish. (Here kids, you'll never notice the beets I hid in your buns... NOT!)
Anyway I have had enough beet bread for a while. So has Gary.
The second recipe this time turned out much better! We were to make a half recipe of the Whole Wheat Chocolate Espresso dough and make Chocolate Tangerine Bars. The dough contained bittersweet chocolate chunks (I used Ghiradelli), cocoa (I used Hershey's Special Dark) and espresso coffee along with the usual ingredients.
For the Tangerine bars, I added the zest of a tangerine, more bittersweet chocolate and dried cranberries. Then I baked them in a square pan as if they were brownies.
It only took half the dough, so I put the rest
into 6 muffin cups, sprinkled them with raw sugar, and baked them into what I call "Wake Up! Muffins".
Although they appear to be fudgy like brownies, the bars are actually breadlike in crumb and absolutely delicious. Not very sweet, but rich, moist and chocolatey! (Not at all dry Josie!)
My breakfast:
A rich Chocolate Tangerine Bar with the tangerine segments, hot espresso and a good book on the Kindle!
This is my favorite recipe from the book so far. Apparently I have a pretty strong sweet tooth, who knew?