Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sunday Before Thanksgiving

I don't know what got into me...maybe trying to avoid yard work...but I spent a good deal of the day in the kitchen.  I wanted to get something done for Thanksgiving weekend, I went to the farmer's market yesterday, and I had quite a few green cherry tomatoes to do something with...not to mention the two packages of cream cheese that had expired and the two tubes of crescent rolls that we have had since June.  Nothing should go to waste.

I started at 8:30 with these.  Cheddar and Jalapeno Muffins.  I wrote about them here.  I found the recipe on the Joy the Baker website.  I have put them in the freezer for breakfast on Thanksgiving morning or on the day after.  There will be five of us here for breakfast and eighteen for dinner.  Breakfast will get very little attention.

After the muffins I moved on to that huge bunch of kale that I bought yesterday at the farmers' least I think it was kale.  After I got it home I wasn't sure but it is some kind of dark green and it is now in this salad with bacon, sunflower seeds, and parmesan cheese.  Cara sent this recipe to me a few weeks ago.  The original also used brussel sprouts but I think it works just as well without.

I salvaged a few cherry tomatoes on Friday morning before the frost that night.

The ripe ones went into a pasta sauce last night.  The green one became pickles today.  I used the recipe from The Lee Brothers Simple Fresh Southern cookbook.  It is like this one except it has sliced ginger instead of garlic.  They are refrigerator pickles and should keep at least two weeks.

After cleaning up the huge mess I had made I remembered the cream cheese and  crescent rolls in the refrigerator.  I had bought the rolls in June to make this.  For some reason I didn't and we aren't big bread eaters so they were still there.  So this sopapilla cheesecake was made.  It is quite good but will have to go to work with me tomorrow.  I think my coworkers will be happy.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Dolls for My Girls (from their drawings)

I need to write about these dolls.  I had planned them for a very long time and finally finished them this spring.  They now live in Brooklyn and I hope they are well taken care of.  It was truly a labor of love.

They are modeled after drawings that my girls did when they were about 3 1/2 years old.  I saved the drawings...they are in a frame on a shelf in my bedroom.  Some time ago I saw...maybe on Etsy or some blog or somewhere...dolls modeled after children's drawings.  

I had no idea how to I just did.  I enlarged the pictures at home on our printer/copier.  The entire pattern fit an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper.  I used Sulky Sticky Fabri-Sollvy (a self-adhesive, fabric-like, water soluble stabilizer...magic stuff) to transfer the pattern to linen cloth (an old pair of my pants).  I still wasn't sure what to do next.  So I just started.  I did the long-legged guy first.

I used whatever embroidery stitch felt right.  There is a lot of chain stitch.  It made a bolder outline and I love filling in with it.  I hadn't planned on the hair but I love it.  You can't see it well but the drawing does have a tuft of yellow-gold hair.

The back of this doll is made from Dad's old t-shirt....I included Jo's (the artist) initials, the date the picture was drawn, and my initials.

I used chain stitch again on the second doll.  The skirt is made from a scrap of batik that Cara brought back from her study-abroad in Ghana.  The circles are stitched with a running stitch to give it more texture.  My friend, Karen, gave me some pointers on this one as I was making it.  The back of this doll is made from a skirt that I wore to Cara's graduation from Guilford College.

I have plans to do this again.  My mentee, Meosha, drew a snail that I hope to finish some time soon.

Like the dolls, I will just start stitching.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Bat Season

For seven years this was Bat Season at our house...last two weeks in June through the first week in July.  Bats came to our house....just for a few evenings.  But that is quite enough...or should I say too much.  They would usually visit two or three nights in a row...then go away.  Sometimes there were only three or four and one year there were about two dozen.  There may have been more.  Sometimes Bill would not tell me about them.  He became quite good at getting them out of the house.  Either the ceiling fans would knock them down to the floor or he/we would use a broom.  Then with a gloved hand he would escort them out the door.  I have been home alone a few times and had to do it myself.  I don't like it.  Nor do I like him to be out of town during the season.  But he is...right now.

They didn't visit last year.  And they haven't been this year....yet.  We don't know why they were ever here in the first place so we have no idea what happened to them.

But, just in case, I am going to honor Bat Season by sharing pictures of a couple of my favorite bats.

I made this bat pin last fall for a young friend.  Easy and quick to make and a nice Halloween touch.

And on Christmas Eve I found this on my front porch....a gift from a neighbor.  He still hangs on the porch protecting us from his friends...I hope.

Sunday, March 9, 2014


Sometimes I find something on the intertube (my brother's name for it), or try a recipe, or hear music that I want to share but pictures of the food are very unappetizing (although the food was awesome) mostly because I took them in the dark, I won't have time to try that project for months (or years), and it is always a good time for good music.  So, that being said you (if you are listening) should know about these things.

Just in case you missed her, Mayhem, a really cute kid who makes paper dresses with her mom.  It appears that mom is pretty involved in this but cool nonetheless.  2sister_angie on Instagram.

And when I showed this to Cara she dubbed Mayhem the real-life Quinoa, "my imaginary well-dressed toddler daughter."  Check out the Pinterest board here.

This recipe for Sugar Pie.  Pretty delicious!

And this music!  Shovels & Rope.  We heard them in September at Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Happy Valentine Week

We used to make a big deal of Valentine's Day....not in a romantic way at all....but as an excuse to buy treats for the girls.  We decorated a little tree with hearts (wonder what happened to those?) and the Valentine Monster visited with fun things.  Some day I want to revive the Valentine Monster in the form of a softie...why didn't I think of that a few weeks ago?

I have been working on a Valentine project as a way to practice embroidery.  And I have been using this project as a way to stay awake while watching television in the evening.  It is another Wendi Gratz pattern.

You could do a lot with these.  The pattern shows them as a mobile.  You could make them into sachets or brooches too.  For now these will just reside in the Valentine bowl with a couple of knitted, felted hearts that a made a few years ago and a couple of Wild Olive hearts that I made with my mentee, Meosha, 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Elephants and Bears

Actually the title should be Elephant (singular) and Bears.  Hopefully there will be more elephants and there  will definitely be more bears.  We have been accumulating old t-shirts for years.  Both of my girls have quilts made from their t-shirts.  Cara made her own...with a little help from me...and I made Jo's several years later.  I have also made scarves, reusable grocery bags, and aprons from t-shirts.  But one can only gift so many aprons, one only needs so many grocery bags, and I don't think the scarves were much of a hit.  I decided it was time to get a little more creative.

This elephant is made from the same pattern that I used for a red fleece elephant last spring.  The pattern is by Wendi Gratz of Shiny Happy World.  Fleece is definitely easier to sew than t-shirt fabric.  The t-shirt fabric curls and puckers and crawls.  I use a lot of pins.  He is pretty soft and cuddly...sort of marsh mallowy.

The bears are also from one of Wendi's patterns.  The pattern is what I would call baby-size but you could easily enlarge it.  But this size is great for showcasing interesting bear bellys.  I have already found and cut out more bellys for more bears.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Cheddar and Jalapeno Muffins

What is it about January that makes one want to eat mass quantities of cheese?  This couldn't be good for ones digestive system.  But we have found ourselves doing just that.  There was the Vermont Cheddar Cheese Soup a couple of weeks ago.  I love that soup.  And then, the same weekend, there was Ham and Linguine Casserole (made with the leftover Thanksgiving/Christmas ham...yes, it has been in the freezer...taking up way too much space).  Last weekend I noticed that I had all these little nubs of leftover cheese....and two containers of leftover rice (how did that happen?) and leftover quinoa.  Time for rice cakes...oh my.  Just dump the rice/quinoa, grated cheese, chopped onions (or whatever you have) and an egg (or more depending on how much needs to be bound together).  Make little cakes and fry them up in some canola oil.  So good!!!

And today, while watching the Super Bowl, we will indulge in a treat I have only seen eaten in South Hill, VA....Ritz crackers, sharp cheddar, and sweet onions.  I swear it is just delicious.

All this cheese has made me think of Cheddar and Jalapeno Muffins that I made in August to take to a weekend-long family wedding event in Asheville, NC.  There were lots of people staying in three houses and elsewhere.  I took muffins to help feed the masses.  They were so good and cheesy.

So I need an excuse to make these again.  I always need an excuse for baking.  I can't just have this stuff around the house.  We are going to Brooklyn at the end of the month....on the of us.  A six-hour train trip means food and drink and lots of fun.  And these muffins will be perfect with a long tall bloody mary :).

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Vermont Cheddar Cheese Soup

Several years ago I found this recipe for cheddar cheese soup while wasting time reading blogs.  It turned out that I wasn't wasting my time after all.  I love this soup!  And there is a big pot of it on the stove right now.

A few thoughts and tips....You could make it vegetarian by using olive oil  to cook the vegetables, but the flavor of the pancetta is wonderful.  Use good sharp cheddar cheese.  I used half Cabot Creamery Seriously Sharp and half Kraft Cracker Barrel Extra Sharp.  And the method used in the recipe for adding the cheese and flour really does work.

Now I have almost-burned banana bread that I am going to try to salvage by making a bread pudding with it...hope it works.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Black-eyed Peas

You need to make these.  And there is still time to do it today...for good luck in 2014.  I started them about 10:30 this morning and have already had 2 (small) bowls.  I want more.

The recipe is from the cookbook Edible Brooklyn, the Cookbook.  Our friends gave it to us for Christmas.

I think they are the best black-eyed peas I have ever had.  I generally cook them for New Year's Day but only because I think that I am supposed to.  These may be life-changing.  Bill just said that my "assessment was not hyperbolic."  I think his New Year's resolution must be to use more big words.

Black-eyed Peas

1/2 lb. sliced bacon, cut in half crosswise into batons
2 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped 
4 oz. prosciutto, diced
1 16 oz. bag dry black-eyed peas, soaked overnight and drained
2 15 oz. cans black-eyed peas, drained
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup white wine
2 cups chicken stock
1 T. rice wine vinegar, preferably brown
2 cups canned green chiles or toasted, peeled, and seeded fresh New Mexican green hatch chiles
freshly ground black pepper

1.  In a large, heavy pot with a lid cook the bacon over medium-high heat until the edges just begin to brown.  Add the onions and garlic, and saute until translucent.  Add the prosciutto and cook until it just begins to brown, 3-4 minutes.

2.  Add the black-eyed peas and bay leaf, and cover with white wine, stock, and vinegar, adding water if the liquid doesn't cover the contents of the pot.  Cover and cook over medium-high heat, reducing the heat if it starts to boil over, for 15-20 minutes.  REduce the heat slightly and add the green chiles and the salt and pepper to taste.

3.  Continue to simmer uncovered for 15-30 minutes more, tasting from time to time and adding salt and pepper, if needed, until the soaked peas are cooked through and tender.  (The canned peas will be a little mushier, but that's okay.)

Happy New Year!!!