Cool / New Found things

What is it, you say? I've been meaning to get myself one of these for sometime. I've eyed them from afar online however when I went to the Hamilton Farmer's Market on Saturday I found a pottery maker named Jessica Hofmeyer who had them for sale. I didn't even hesitate to purchase it from her. It's a butter keeper. It will keep my butter spreadable and fresh this summer (and winter!) Just a really cool thing that will get constant use. (And no, even though it looks like it; I didn't have butter for dinner!)

What I did have for dinner was a delicious new recipe from Epicurious. It's Fettucine with Peas,Asparagus and Pancetta. It is yummy and a perfect summer evening dinner.
 And to accompany this lovely dish a newly discovered Sauvignon Blanc called Brampton from South Africa. I am not a big Sauvignon Blanc fan (I'm a Chardonnay girl)  but I am going back to the store to see if I can find more bottles of this for the summer.  It is fruity and at first taste I thought this was sweet but the finish is more on the dry side. I loved it. Incredibly easy to drink and I think one that would be great for company.


Since it is Memorial Day weekend and some time off from teaching I am wallowing in just doing things for fun at home. It's so nice to have the time to open a cookbook and try something new. Well, sort of new. First of all, when I saw this recipe in the Better Homes and Garden cookbook (you know, the red and white plaid one) I thought it looked familiar. I remember this as Cowboy Coffeecake from my Home Economics class way back in High School. Don't know why it's called that, but the recipe in the cookbook is simply Buttermilk Coffeecake. Simple, very moist and delicious. I was thinking, wouldn't this be great with some cut-up rhubarb in it? Perhaps next time.....

Buttermilk Coffeecake
Cut in butter with a pastry cutter until small crumbs ( toss it into the food processor and it
makes quick order of this step)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 cup butter
In a separate bowl, put aside 1/2 cup of the crumb mixture and combine with 1/2 cup nuts
( I use pecans)
Stir into the remaining crumb mixture:
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
In a separate bowl, combine these two ingredients and then add (all at once) to the flour mixture:
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/3 cups buttermilk or sour milk
Pour into a greased 13 x 9 pan. Sprinkle the topping over the batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40
minutes.I like to combine about 1 cup of confectioner's sugar and 2-3 Tbs. Half and half and drizzle
it over the top of the coffeecake when it has cooled slightly.
That was breakfast.


Snow on Mother's Day! Well time to start a wool sweater, I guess.

Already on to my next project. I've made one sweater from Garnstudio and it came out beautifully.  AS soon as I saw this sweater it spoke to me. I'm making this one for my husband, Michael. The yarn, Karisma, is beautiful to work with. this will take some time, but perhaps by Autumn! The pattern is number 85-5. (I think I found an error in the pattern. It says to cast on with size 2 needles. I did and it didn't look right, especially when the rest of the sweater is knit on size 6 needles. I frogged the ribbing and tried again on size 4 and it looks great. Thinking of notifying the company.)  Anyhow, I'll keep you posted to it's progress.

Stash buster and a Diet buster.

My one book I continually refer to is Karen Comb's "Combing Through Your Scraps". To me this is a Five Star book!  I love illusions using color values in quilts and Karen rocks at this.  This simple book is wonderful. I never dispose of scraps and keep boxes of precut strips and squares ready for the making of another scrap quilt.  If I have a few minutes on hand, or need a break from another quilting or sewing project, I'll piece together a 9 patch block. That is how this last quilt was created. I can't even tell you when I started it. I accumulated enough split nine-patch blocks until I had enough to make this quilt called "Off-Set Spiral". I love it. Even the less than lovely fabrics or fabrics you tire off are given new life using this method.
I added a binding without any border and I love how it looks.
I also did meandering quilting using the Bernina BSR. It was my first time experimenting with the BSR and what a great tool. I had the entire quilt "stippled" in no time. This quilt has some of my least favorite and tired out fabrics incorporated into it and they have been transformed into one of my favorite quilts.

The back of the quilt. Thank you Bernina Stitch Regulator!

Last but not least. Another cookie recipe.
Chocolate Mountain Cookies. My mom loves chocolate drop cookies. With Buttercream icing. Really reminiscent of homemade chocolate cake and wonderful with a glass of milk or cup of coffee.
So I just made her a batch. Happy Mother's Day!
(This recipe makes a ton, so you may want to halve the recipe)

1 cup shortening (don't use butter as they won't puff up quite so nicely)
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup milk
3 cups flour
2 tsp. Baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup cocoa
1 recipe Buttercream frosting

Mix shortening, sugar, eggs and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Mix dry ingredients together in another mixing bowl. Mix in flour mixture into the sugar egg mixture alternately with the milk. Mix well, but do not over mix. Measure a round tablespoon for each cookie onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 14-15 minutes or until tested done. Frost with your favorite buttercream frosting.
(I mix 3 cups of confectioner's sugar, 4 Tablespoons butter, 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract and add 2-3 Tbsp. half and half until icing is the right consistency. It makes the ideal amount of icing.)

Recipe notes: I use buttermilk as I like the tender crumb that it creates. If you do, add 1/2 tsp. baking soda with the dry ingredients. Also, I'm not a big vegetable shortening user. However this is the one recipe I do.


Cleaning out the sewing supplies and the freezer

A week of activities. Then last two weeks were spent helpingh with costumes for our School Drama Club's production of "I Remember Mama". I love this show, but this was especially wonderful as the cast was truly amazing.
We had to come up with most of the costumes from what we could salvage in our costume room and scouring the local second hand shops. Along with resewing and fitting and reconstructing costumes, I made 6 nurses caps from a pattern I found on-line. Amazingly so, they were made with things I had on hand; muslin, stabilizers, fusible interfacing, spray starch. In fact it pretty much used up a good deal of my interfacing, as well as other things in my sewing cabinet.  Easy and I made them all within a 2 hour period. Here is the website: http://sewing.about.com/library/nnurse.htm
The pattern was easy and fun. No sense buying a costume!

The weather has been gorgeous. Time spent outdoors is just great and the birds are absolutely deafening on Deep Spring Road. We spotted our first bluebird. The aerial battles between the bluebirds and the swallows are pretty constant. Hope the bluebirds hold down the fort. I managed to catch a friend basking in the sun
Of course, we are preparing the garden beds for another year of growing. Last year we purchased a share of a local CSA to buy our organic vegetables and we are doing the same this year. Since we will be receiving new vegetables with a month or so, I have been spending the last few weeks starting to clean out the freezer of last summers bounty. I had one bag of frozen pumpkin puree left and as unseemingly as it seems for a springtime dessert, I made our favorite recipe for pumpkin bars. I think I liked them just as well now as in the fall. First of all, pumpkin puree made by ourselves is satisfying and tasting pumpkin a few months after the holidays was quite pleasant. Cleaning out the freezer; you do what you have to do!
Anyhow, these are delish. It also makes a ton; plenty to share with a friend or neighbor.

4 eggs
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 (15 ounce) can or 2 cups solid pack pumpkin
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup golden raisins
1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese,
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon milk
1.    In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin. Combine flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt; gradually add to pumpkin mixture and mix well. Pour into an ungreased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Cool completely.
2.    For icing, beat cream cheese, sugar, butter and vanilla in a small mixing bowl. Add enough of the milk to achieve desired spreading consistency. Spread over bars.


Updating with the latest and greatest~ EQ7

Announcing the arrival of EQ7
Well now that I own a new Bernina I am pretty excited to see that Electric Quilt Company is coming out with EQ7. I have had the EQ 5 for several years ~ perhaps 10? In fact I it has lived through 3 computers. Pretty excited to see what this new software holds for me.I have been so happy with EQ5, I never even upgraded to EQ6. However I just upgraded from my Kenmore machine to a Bernina, so it's all about venturing into a new world and delving into the latest technology. The imaging aspect has me absolutely drooling with excitement.There are just so many new features, it will be difficult to resist!  It is coming out in June!