Friday, July 31, 2009

APQ issue #100

This week the October issue of American Patchwork and Quilting arrived in my mailbox.

It is the only quilting magazine I subscribe to now. I used to have several magazines pile up every month or two and I got tired of not having the time to make all the wonderful projects they contained. But my favorite has been APQ. I seem to always find something I want to work on-eventually.

On page 67 of this issue - #100 - I found the most charming antique scrap quilt. I just knew this was something I could make using Aunt Donna scraps.

One of the things I like about APQ projects is that quilt tester Laura Boehnke always gives you other color options. These were more controlled and planned than the original antique version. And it gave me some good ideas.

Having three BIG bags of Aunt Donna Christmas scraps (and that doesn't count the bag of snowmen and snowflakes), I cut a formica template and set out cutting what I figured will be over 800 triangles.

Looks like I'm well on my way to starting a new UFO! That's unfinished object for the unintiated.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

July Bee Block

This is Tammie's bee block. She hand-drew paper pieced patterns and supplied the black & white background fabric. We were to use our brightest green scraps. I like all mine except I'm not sure about that next-to-the-top polka dot. It's a little olivey.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

3 Days or $3

Every summer I love the abundance of vegetables and try to buy enough so I can freeze some for later in the year. Pepper Place is a really neat market that runs Saturday mornings from May to October at the old Dr. Pepper bottling facility downtown and it is only about 3 miles from the house. They have live music and cooking demos and artists vending as well as local produce. And everyone puts out bowls of water for the variety of doggie visitors. That's where I usually shop.

But last Saturday my neighbor and I went to the big farmers' market in my search for a bushel of lady peas. And I found them. But then came the dilemma - to shell or not to shell.

I like shelling peas. Something about it takes me back to my youth. The stand where I found the lady peas offered to shell them for an additional $3. Not a bad deal at all, but I said I like to shell them. They were polite enough to turn away before rolling their eyes. My neighbor bought a pound of them already shelled for $3.50. I was convinced I was getting a better deal.

So I lugged the sack of peas home and set up all the required supplies on the front porch - my yellow Tupperware bowl, a dish towel, a paper sack, and a cool beverage. And my neighbor came down and visited for at least a couple of hours and mentioned periodically that $3 was not a lot of money.

I shelled into the night Saturday and Sunday and last night I finished shelling peas. I think I have about 9 pounds before culling out the bad ones. That comes to about $2.65 per pound. So I did save a little money. But I think next time I'll part with $3 and spend 3 days quilting instead!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

It's the pits!

I just bought one of these because

my neighbor gave me these.

So after I used it on those, I did this with them...

and then this...

and I ended up with this!

Too bad it has to cool.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Freebies, etc.

I discovered that the pink zinnias lasted longer than the yellow or peachy colored ones. They spent their last few days on my desk.

A couple of months ago at bee Norma Gene brought a bunch of things to pass along. I picked up two sets of blocks. Each set has 20 blocks per. They are made out of an assortment of fabrics (not all cotton) with some 40's and 50's prints thrown in. I already have a layout for the fan blocks, but I have to make some repairs to a few of the pinwheel blocks as it looks like something chewed on them or they got caught on something at some point.

I also picked up some grandmother's flower garden blocks from the same era. I may copy something my friend Judy did awhile back, but that's on a back burner for now.

I was sewing last night and went outside with the dog when I noticed this cool shadow on the porch from my Ott light shining through the blinds and then through the tabletop. Maybe it was cooler looking in person than in this picture.

My friend Judy W. did this marvelous portrait of her faithful dog Patches and had it at guild this past Monday. Patches passed away last weekend and one of their dachshunds got bit by a copperhead this week. He's o.k., but it's not been a good week for the puppies at Judy's house.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Another Hint

I've added the BOM blocks, which you can see were paper-pieced leaves. Now I'm going through my stash trying to select an outer border. Even though my year of not buying fabric is officially up, I hope to find something on the shelves.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

What's in your basement?

This is what's in my friend Doris' basement.

We had art quilt group at her house today. She has new bears.

They're from Russia. (The bears, not Doris.)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Next Project

Here's a hint at my next Aunt Donna scrap project - some 9 patches combined with a Block of the Month win from a couple of years ago. You'd think I don't have anything else to work on!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Flower Fairy

This is a recreation of what I saw when I left work today. As I approached my car, I spotted a black bucket perched on my hood.

Upon inspection of said bucket, I discovered a bunch of my most favorite flowers happily sitting in the shade in some water. I wonder who left them. Who knew this was my car? Did they mean to leave them for someone else? Didn't matter. They went home with me!

I love zinnias. Such a happy fun flower. They rank right up there with geraniums and peonies and impatiens and lantana and blue hydrangeas as some of my favorites. But I have never really had much luck growing them.

There are zinnias at work this year. My boss and I walked in together today and were just commenting on how beautiful they were and how we had never seen them grown there before.

But this doesn't explain who the mysterious flower fairy might be. And I suppose I don't really care. Maybe I don't want to know because maybe it will happen again sometime. They are in the middle of my kitchen table now, but I may have to carry them around the house with me so I don't miss a minute of pleasure from these bright blooms.

Zin"ni*a\, n. any plant of the composite genus Zinnia, Mexican herbs with opposite leaves and large gay-colored blossoms, a member of the aster family - so named after Professor Johann Gottfried Zinn, German botanist who died at the young age of 32

And a couple of extras for the kitchen window...

Zucchini Relish

You didn't think I would mention zucchini relish and not give you the recipe, did you? I'm not a big relish person, but years ago my stepmother made this and I haven't had a hot dog without this relish since. In fact, I ran out over a year ago and I had to make some more because I was craving hot dogs. Must have been something about July 4th.

It's not a complicated recipe.

First step is grind up your vegetables. Having been several years since I had made this recipe, I had forgotten how I achieved the proper texture. It is not with the grinder on my Kitchenaid, I can tell you that. And it's not with the grater either as that makes shredded looking pieces. I discovered this only after dirtying up all the mixer parts and messing up half the counter. (Sorry, I don't have a picture of that.) The Cuisinart does the trick, just pulsing until the pieces are small, but still intact. You don't want onion slush for this project.

Once grated, they go into a colander and get sprinkled with salt. Then you leave them overnight to drain in the sink. You can temporarily drain into a large bowl, but put them back over the sink for most of the time. I left mine for over 12 hours to get as much moisture out as possible.

On day two all the spices and dry ingredients get mixed up and cooked with the vinegar. It is best to use an enameled pot as the tumeric will stain stainless steel and I don't know what it would do to aluminum. Add the vegetables, cook it all down for 30 minutes, and then it's time to can it.

Make sure your jars are sterile. I had kept mine in the basement, so they got washed twice - once by hand and once on hi-temp wash in the dishwaser. Also sterilize your lids in a pan of boiling water and dry them before they go on the jars. There are lots of resources online with the specifics for properly canning foods. If you don't want to go to the trouble, just give jars out to family and friends and be sure they put them in the fridge right away.

Of course, the sweet sound of popping lids as the jars cool is music to any cook's ears. All but three of mine popped, so these were the first I gave away at my July 4th gathering.

10 cups ground zucchini (about 5 pounds)
4 cups ground onion
2 bell peppers, ground (I used one green and one red for some color)
2-3 Tablespoons salt
4 cups sugar
2.25 cups white vinegar
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 Tablespoon nutmeg
1 Tablespoon tumeric
1 Tablespoon dry mustard
1 Tablespoon celery seed
0.5 Tablespoon black pepper

Cover vegetables in colander with salt. Drain overnight.
Heat other ingredients. Add vegetables and cook for 30 minutes.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Fourth of July Postscript

I had been considering having friends over for the 4th seeing as how you should never let a major holiday like that go by uncelebrated. And how would I have the big cookout spread without folks to bring pot luck.

But when you invite people to your house who have never been to your house, you are a bit obligated to present it at it's best. This means getting out the vacuum and the dust rag and steam cleaning the kitchen floor and putting away all the clutter, even if that means stashing some of it in the dryer! I think if I never had company I would never have a clean house.

And it was worth it. All totaled there were seven of us, but there was enough food for twice that many. Here's the menu: homemade guacamole, Rotel dip and chips, hot dogs with newly made zucchini relish and all the fixins', ribs, fresh fruit, two kinds of potato salad, oriental slaw, yummy baked beans (with bacon, no less), the best homemade lemonade ever, and mint tea.

It turned out to be such a lovely evening. I pulled out all the red, white, and/or blue table linens I could find and dressed the deck furniture. Three fans kept us cool and bug-free. The neighbors even entertained with a few fireworks.

To cap off the enormous meal Gwen made homemade vanilla ice cream with, not one, but two tablespoons of Mexican vanilla. She couldn't dip it out fast enough for us.

And I made my favorite dessert from my days at camp. I had baked it earlier in the day and the smell immediately took me back 30 years. Just as I had remembered. I could only hope it tasted the same.

At camp this dish was not normally served with embellishments, but because it was the 4th, I had to go with the color theme and dropped a dollop of Cool Whip and some blueberries on top for a red, white, and blue plate. I also tossed on a few toasted pecans.

There are lots of variations on this recipe, one in most every church cookbook, but this is the version we used at Brookhaven Retreat in Hawkins, Texas.

2 cans cherry pie filling
1 yellow cake mix
1 stick butter or oleo, melted

Preheat oven to 400F. Spray 9 x 13 inch pan with regular non-stick cooking spray. Pour out both cans of pie filling and spread on bottom of pan. Sprinkle cake mix all over the top completely covering the cherries. Drizzle melted butter on top. Bake until top is lightly browned and firm or about 25-30 minutes.

And, yes, it tasted exactly as I remembered. It's just as good cold as it is warm.