A Blissful "Black Friday"

Spent Black Friday finishing up projects: Making two soups from the leftover Thanksgiving Day foods and finished a sweater that has been waiting in the wings for a few weeks. It turned out wonderfully in the end.
It's a Nora Gaughan design from Interweave Knits. I changed the neckline to accommodate the wearer (my daughter.) 
Also, I've been making quilted purses. They are fun and and a great way to use up scraps.



Thanksgiving Day 2009
A great day for cooking and feasting. It is still one of my favorite dinners to make, despite all of it's cliche's.

One of my favorite sides is my cranberry chutney. It's a wonderful change from the traditional cranberry sauce (although I make both). Along with being a great accompaniment to turkey, it's also  fantastic wIth cream cheese or brie.
Cranberry Chutney
2/3 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/3 cup fresh cranberries
4 tsp. vinegar
2 tsp. brown sugar
1/3 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 tsp. powdered ginger
1/2 tsp. chopped garlic
In saucepan, combine water and sugar. Stir over medium heat to dissolve sugar. Bring to boil without stirring and add the remaining ingredients.  Boil slowly, stirring occasionally until fairly thick (7-10 minutes). Allow to cool and then cover and refrigerate. Can also be frozen. Delicious on cream cheese or heated over Brie. 


Sourdough Bread Obsession

It's working! The sourdough starter, through trial and error is now working and it's full steam ahead. 
I found a better recipe online for an excellent sourdough bread. Also,  I found better directions for making the starter and how to maintain it from Allrecipes.com
Here's my adjusted version of the bread. It was amazing with dinner tonight and I can't wait to make it again.

San Francisco Sourdough Bread.
4 3/4 cups bread flour
3 tablespoons white sugar or honey
2 teaspoons salt
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 cup warm milk
2 tablespoons margarine, softened
1 1/2 cups sourdough starter
1 extra large egg
1 tablespoon water

In a large bowl, combine 1 cup flour, sugar, salt, and dry yeast. (If using honey, add it with the liquid ingredients.) Add milk and softened butter or margarine. Stir in starter. Mix in up to 3 3/4 cups flour gradually, you may need more depending on your climate.
Turn dough out onto a floured surface, and knead for 8 to 10 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turn once to oil surface, and cover. Allow to rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in volume.
Punch down, and let rest 15 minutes. Shape into loaves. Place on a greased baking pan. Allow to rise for 1 hour, or until doubled.
Brush egg wash over tops of loaves.
Bake at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes, or till done.

Mostly work and a little play

Finished an elementary musical yesterday with 2nd graders. It was called "The Share Bears" and it was a perfect theme for the time of the year.  They sounded beautiful and did a great job. It's the beginning of performance season so it seems like one show after another these days. Late nights and and long hours do not leave much time for play. Finished a pair of mittens that are perfect for driving. Lightweight and not bulky. Used a handpainted yarn called "Artyarns". 

The weather has been unseasonably warm for this time of year. How many times have we gone through November in New York State without any snow? Our hikes through our hills cease today as it is the beginning of deer hunting season. We have statelands behind our house so it's "fair game" for the hunters and dangerous for the rest of us. Mike and I took our last long hike last weekend. The temps were near 70 and we found many little discoveries, like this minute 'cute' baby snake that was no bigger than a piece of chunky weight yarn ~ hey, it's what I know. 

We also located this year's Christmas tree. 
That's always something to look forward to.


Halloween memories

Just got this from my son.  We travelled to Maine to see the grandaughter. Thank goodness that I managed to get a "Cruella DeVille" costume, compliments of a retired Kindergarten teacher at school. I tried not to look too evil. There was a large "under 4 crowd" in the neighborhood. I didn't want to scare them.

Quilting and sewing days are here

Been busy making quilts for gifts.  The hard part is finding the time but it's worth it. I've always thought it was pretty wonderful to get something from someone which is handmade. After all, their hands have touched every part of the gift AND it's truly one of a kind....even if it is made from a pre-made design.
Here is one of my snowmen on my Christmas garland I have made. Absolutely a blast to make. 
Here are some of the things I have been creating lately. The Christmas decorations are my own design and creation. 

And here is one that I made last year to show you what it looks like as a garland.

A Brown Bear, Brown Bear quilt I made for my grandaughter for her 3rd birthday. 
On the back of the quilt I wrote:
Brown Bear, Brown Bear 
What do I see
I see Claire is turning 3!


The Seasons of Soups, Sewing and Singing

For the first time ever I've delved into making my first sourdough bread. I don't know why. I've always been curious to the process. I'm always making homemade bread basically because we can't stand most breads in the store. After research and a bit of confusion as to which way was the best, I just ordered the sourdough culture and the canister from King Arthur Flour
It is interesting and it had me a little put off by throwing out half of the starter each time it is fermenting. I mean, throwing out flour! Well, after the initial process I see it won't be a regular routine, just goes against the grain (excuse the pun).

Every Saturday from the beginning of June to this very day in November my husband and I pick up our vegetable share from our local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture - Alambria Farms)We have an abundance of fresh locally grown organic produce that will either overwhelm a carnivore or inspire the vegetarian that lies within you. With the beginning of the school year I make a Saturday soup with the ingredients. I get to enjoy this all week long for my school lunch.  The inspiration brought on by this bounty have brought dozens of new recipes to my already bursting recipe file. The soup today was Tomato Vegetable Lentil.

Tomato Vegetable Lentil Soup
I serve this with parmesan cheese and fresh homemade bread

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion
1 rib celery
Salt to taste
5 cups vegetable or chicken stock
3/4 cup dried lentils, rinsed and picked over
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 large all-purpose potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 " dice
2 cups of coarsely chopped kale (4-5 leaves, cut up)
1-15 oz can stewed tomatoes

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot. Add the onion & celery. Cover and sweat over medium low heat until the vegetables are soft, 8-10 minutes.
Add the stock, lentils, carrot, bay leaf, herbs and season with pepper. Bring to a boil, cover partially and reduce the heat. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the potatoes, kale and tomatoes. Add salt to taste.
Makes 6-8 servings.