Monday, May 4, 2020

Keeping busy, not on purpose

So I started this quilt back in December. My first intention was to use it for a wedding gift for my son, but as I was making it, it was my wedding colors. So I changed my mind on day 3. 

I had these very pretty batiks that were navy blue and teal. I also had a few jelly rolls of batiks that I wanted to use. I had decided on the carpenters star, which I thought was only going to be about 24 inches square.
NOPE, it turned out to be about 54 inches!
CRAZY. So much for my star quilt having multiple stars on it. So I decided to put borders on the carpenter star and put stars in the corners.
I had to decided on which stars to use.
I decided to also tie the stars in by using the same fabric from the carpenter star as the main part of the star in my corners. It's busy, but still pops.  I love the little splashes of yellow and orange that the other batiks brought to the quilt.

I was not sure what to do about the squares being so small.  So I decided to add some sashing.
Which I actually liked much better. Then I added borders and it makes it look like the stars are on top of the border frame, which gave it some great character. 
The quilt came out square, and I was hoping to make it queen size. But it is more like a queen topper which is fine because it is beautiful.

This quilt my hubby is calling my quarantine quilt. But I reminded him I started it way before that started.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

C-19 and comfort

This entire covid-19 stuff is crazy. And my kids are done with it, they want it gone. So our family is joining in the World Wide Good Friday Fast April 10.  To start our fast, we will start after dinner Thursday night, and it will go through until Friday evening.

Going a bit stir crazy, we were so happy to have nice warm weather yesterday and today. We all got a little sun burn, but we got to be outside in our yard. We played, we weeded, we checked trees for winter damage (I think I lost two trees, makes me sad) and we made a yummy dinner.

Comfort food is what is needed right now. And I am so thankful I made some sourdough starter back in February, because we have been using it. I have worked hard to figure out how to make this yummy.
1. Let your sourdough bread dough ferment in the fridge, this helps it to rise slowly, but also helps it to work better.
2. When it is time to put it into the oven, slash your dough! Extremely sharp thin knife or with a razor blade slash the dough about 1/4-inch deep. This helps with oven spring, or letting it rise correctly.
3. Mist your dough with water after slashing, but right before putting into your dutch-oven. Weather your dutch oven is piping hot from the oven or room temperature, mist it before putting into the pan.
4. Cook with the lid on for the first 15 to 20 minutes. Then remove the lid. Again, this helps with oven spring (rising in the oven). The texture of the crust is amazing if you do this too. My little guy prefers the crust this way.

Another comfort food it just food  our family normally eats. We love fresh salad, but unfortunately I am not going to go to the store for a long while, and my garden is not ready to grow anything yet. I love soups, casseroles, smoking fish and other meats, bbq, and just yummy food. Yesterday for dinner I had to make some major comfort food. All the kids were losing it, the youngest feeling like everyone doesn't like him because he can't play with friends. We went for a bike ride, waved to neighbors, and then we made dinner together.

What did we make?  Chicken Coconut Curry and it was AMAZING! Everyone went back for seconds, except the littlest one because he never goes back for seconds so we have learned to give him a large serving and not expect him to eat all of it.

Only one serving left in the crock pot.
This is one of those recipes that you can make as spicy as you like using sriracha sauce. We do not use the cilantro because there is someone that is extremely sensitive to it in our house. But honestly it is wonderful to add during serving, it adds a freshness. I just squeeze the lime into the pot just before serving. Not a lot of the juice, just a little.

We usually serve this over jasmine rice, but because of the run on rice at the store, I had to use what I had at home, which was just long grain rice. It worked. It was delicious. Below you see my second bowl of curry. I only add enough sriracha to give this a little heat, not so it covers up the flavor of the meal. I asked my kids to explain this dish. Tell me how it tastes, and they all just said super yummy and that they didn't know what it was but it just made them feel calm.

This is the real meaning of comfort food. It brought them calm, it made them happy.

Another comfort food I have not had in years, Libby Chicken Noodle Dinner. I used to love that for dinner. But it is no longer available. This to me is also comfort food. I wish it would come back. I can't even find a picture of it on the internet to show you. So sad, that was a yummy meal in a can. Great to have in your food storage.

What else comforts you? For me, it's rocking with my little one in our favorite rocking chair. Getting hugs. Snuggling my dogs. Sitting in the sunshine. Being with my family.

How about you?

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Dinner was ready....

Well in my head anyways. We were supposed to be having guests for dinner, but with all this shelter in place stuff going on, our guests had to cancel. And of course I wasn't told until AFTER I started making dinner because hubby forgot to tell me they weren't coming.
No problem, just put the extras in the freezer right? Except my freezers are FULL. I just got my meat order from the farm, and there isn't any room!
Homemade Buns
First we made buns for our dinner. But after I mixed it, I was confused as to why it didn't smell right.  Then I felt the dough.. Oh crud, I forgot the yeast!  UGH. I had doubled this recipe and my mixer was getting full. So to remedy the problem, I added the yeast for 3 batches, the ingredients to make it a total of a triple batch. This got a little messy. BUT, it worked, and the buns were amazing. So amazing in fact that my hubby requested I make more to live in our freezer. He said they were light, and yummy.  And would be good for sub sandwiches.

While the dough was rising, I ran an errand. When we got back the dough was crawling out of the bowl, I forgot I would need it to rise in a larger bowl because I tripled it. No problem, it was not over proofed, thank goodness. After I got the dough cut and shaped and onto the pans to rise. I made the next ingredient for dinner.

Meatballs!  I really like my meatball recipe. My oldest ate an entire pan himself  once(24 meatballs)!  Glad I made 6 pounds!  Whew, he loved them, but he always has liked my cooking. He is my best eater, always has been.

These are also pretty easy. I will put the recipe at the end. These are tender, and can be made gluten free, and they are dairy free.
 Want to know the best way to doctor up a store bought spaghetti sauce? Add a little pesto. I know it sounds weird, but it works and it just makes it a little bit more special. So after I baked the meatballs, I put them into some hot spaghetti sauce and kept them warm until my buns were cool enough to do assembly.
 What is this? Egg salad? Potato Salad?

NOPE, this is the special cheese mix that makes this dinner creamy goodness! Now my little guy is allergic to dairy, so his is made without the cheese mix in it. BUT he loves this dinner, he scarfed it right down.

Here they are! All assembled. It is like a meatball sandwich. Whenever we are having new missionaries over for dinner, our kids request we make this for them. Sometimes it is with meatballs, and sometimes it is just the meat browned and added to the sauce. Either way it is delicious and I know my kids will eat it. 

This is just for pure temptation. Look at the cheesy goodness, look at the fresh bun, the moist meatballs. Oh my foodgasm!  Sorry couldn't help it. No leftovers tonight. I feel bad we couldn't take any to the missionaries (our guests that couldn't come), their mission president said not to accept any meals. We have to keep them safe and healthy. But hopefully we can serve them soon.

My kids say this meal is comfort food.

I hope you like it too.

Now for recipes. I will share the meatball recipe here. I will to the buns recipe another day.

  • 2 # italian sausage, bulk
  • 1 1/2 # ground turkey 85/15
  • 3 eggs. beaten lightly
  • 2 palmfuls Italian Seasoning
  • 3 pinches kosher salt
  • ground black pepper
  • 1 cup gluten free oatmeal (or quick)*
  • 1 cup gluten free oatmeal soaked in cold water for 3 minutes (or quick), drained *
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine all ingredients with hands in large bowl.
Make 1-inch balls and place on baking sheet or on cast iron pans. Bake 15 - 25 minutes or until done. DO NOT OVER COOK.
*I use gluten free oatmeal, it is usually quick cooking. You can use normal quick cooking oatmeal. Regular oats tend to give a different texture, so we use the quick oats.

We use these meatballs for spaghetti and sandwiches, or plain. They are delicious.

Cheesy Mix  
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar*
  • 1 cup mozzarella *
In a food processor, blitz the cottage cheese until it is about the consistency of ricotta. Stir into the shredded cheese.

Put meatballs into your favorite spaghetti sauce. Open buns, but do not pull apart the halves completely. Slather some cheesy mix onto both sides. Next put a few saucy meatballs into the bun. Place in oven proof dish. When pan is full, cover with foil and bake sandwiches about 20 minutes or until every thing is heated through.
Serve with salad or fruit or both.

Do you have yeast?

I had an entire post written up, but it was too. aarghhh. I am so sick of hearing about the virus, I am tired of hearing people argue if it is or isn't as bad as influenza. Nobody can seem to talk about anything else.

So my question was. Do you have yeast? Um.. what do you mean? I mean, if you can't get bread at the grocery, you have to make it; and you need yeast to make bread. So do you have yeast? What kind?  There's a couple to choose from: commercial yeast (Red Star, Fleichman's, SAF) and sour dough starter.
Commercial Yeast
 Each one gives you the same general result.  A loaf of bread. Usually the commercial yeasts will almost always give you a great rise, fine crumb, and a way to make a sandwich. BUT if it is too old, or has not been stored correctly then it's not so good. Nobody likes ending up with a brick after using 3 to 15 cups of flour, plus sugar, fat, and the precious yeast to find out that it didn't work.

Commercial yeast is finicky. Store it too hot and it dies. Store it in the freezer and it lives. Make your bread with too hot of water or milk, kill your yeast. Use warm to cool water, yeast is happy. Too much salt will retard (prevent yeast from growing), too little and the yeast will over proof (rise) and your bread will be loose and crumbly.
Sour Dough
Sour Dough is what some of us bakers call perpetual yeast. It is easy to make, and you don't have to buy it. Yes you can find sour dough starters on ebay and etsy, craiglist and most likely facebook too. You can also make it yourself.
It can be finicky like commercial yeast, but once you have it going, it is a powerhouse. Again, you have to treat it right.
About day 7
I started this sour dough starter in February. I all of a sudden decided I needed a new challenge. I guess dealing with my second kid getting married and kiddos #4 & #5 saying they are getting married this year too! Dealing with health issues (don't go down the three steps in the garage incorrectly!) and trying to make sure everyone is getting the love and attention they need and want. Plus working on a quilt, and just feeling overwhelmed. So yes, let's start a new challenge!

No pressure. So I follow The Prairie Homesteader, and so I learned from her. I have made starter before, but that was before .. That was before our new normal.  So I needed a refresher course.  I followed her directions and made my starter. As you can see, it came out great.


I forgot to take pictures of each day, but if you look closely at the picture you can see tiny bubbles. It took about 7 days, and I made some yummy sour dough pancakes. I waited until day 14 until I attempted my first sour dough loaf. It .. worked.. but it was pale, and bland, and heavy and tight crumb. Nothing like I was expecting. I wanted big holes, I wanted it to be crispy on the outside and fluffy yummy on the inside. It was not. So I kept feeding my starter and using the discard for muffins and pancakes.
About day 14
I patiently kept feeding it and using the discard, giving discard away to a good friend. And now look at it. Look at those amazing bubbles. I found a recipe for sourdough bread. It is more labor intensive, it is worth it though. I also was educated by about why my first attempt didn't work. I didn't do a float test. You can find this information on the website, and it isalso where I found the recipes I am working with right now to make sour dough bread. I already have a sour dough pancake recipe I like.

 And finding the recipe I liked a lot was on her other page, Little Spoon Farm. 
I tried making her recipe for "Beginner's Sour Dough Bread", and let me tell you.. It is yummy. It was more work than I was expecting, but it is worth it.
This picture of that recipe; it makes two LARGE loaves, and I think if I make that one again I will cut the dough into fourths, not just in half. Because the loaves were so big that it is too wide to cut easily. Yes I can remedy this by cutting across the loaf, and then putting the cut edge down and make half slices, but I didn't want to do that.
These loaves are BEAUTIFUL! And I made them!
 Isn't it pretty? Look how wide it is!  It is 8 inches, or a little more wide! This one I did the classic triple slash with the razor blade.

I will warn you, you need a brand new razor blade, the kind you put in a box knife, to make the slashes in the dough. I tried with a sharp kitchen knife and it just didn't slice through as good as a thin razor blade. I may even try using one of those double edge razors you get for old Gillette razors.
 This one with the weird face, I tried to get fancy with the razor blade, and when it was done baking, it looked a lot different! But wow did scoring the loaves with the razor blade help it rise better. I know it doesn't make sense, but it works. MY little one said the wavy slash was a snake, what you can't see is on the one end of that slash is looks like a little forked tongue coming out.

 Now look at how tall they are! 4 inches!  Holy cow!  And they are a little different in height because I used different size bowls to proof them in. They weighed exactly the same.

This bread is delicious. It does not have a strong sour dough flavor, which is good because two of my kids do not like the taste, but they are getting better with it. I am educating their palates.

I am so thankful for these two ladies who helped me to grow. I love learning, I love cooking, I love baking. I just hate cleaning up (just being honest). I am currently working on another recipe from Little Spoon Farm, her Sourdough Country Loaf Bread. This recipe only makes one loaf, but it was so easy now that I understand what I am doing, and so quick for me. The beginner's loaf seemed hard at first because it was the first time I was making the recipe. But next time I make the beginner's bread recipe I will cut it into four, and give it away along with some starter and the website so they can start this amazing journey.   

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

I had to use these up!

I discovered that the blueberries I bought were about to go bad. What was I going to do? It was too much for me to just eat, I didn't want to freeze them. What should I do?

PIE!!!  In fact one of my favorite pies. "Blueberry Sour Cream Pie".

This pie is amazing!  Depending on my mood will determine which crust I make. I love the shortbread crust, but this time I made a butter crust (the key is to let the butter crust rest in the fridge for a minimum of an hour after you get it into a ball). This time I used a butter pie crust, and rolled it very very thin. This pie was fabulous!

 1 pie crust

3/4 cup sugar
2 TBS flour
1 cup sour cream
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)

3 TBS flour
2 TBS sugar
1 1/2 TBS butter
3 TBS finely chopped pecans

Put crust in pie pan.
Mix sugar and flour together in bowl, and mix well.
Beat in sour cream, egg, vanilla and salt together until smooth.
Fold in blueberries.
Pour into pie crust, and bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. (May need to adjust temperature and time for frozen berries)
Meanwhile, combine topping ingredients.
Remove pie from oven after 25 minutes, and sprinkle on topping.
Return pie to oven and bake 10 minutes more.
Chill before serving.

I will say, I did use a different amount of berries this time. I used 1 1/4 cups fresh blueberries, 3/4 cup frozen blueberries and about 1/3 cup frozen raspberries. The flavor combination was great, and it was nice to get a different bit of flavor.
The crumb topping on this pie is nice and crunchy. The pecans I chopped with a knife and I did a fine chop so you couldn't tell what kind of nuts they were by looking at them. The texture was fantastic with the rest of the pie so that you had the creamy sour cream part, the bursting berries then the crunchy topping.
Here you can see the raspberries and blueberries, and how they did not sink. The dark bits in the topping are the nuts. This pie is not too sweet either, another reason I like it so much. but honestly the mixture of textures is really nice.
This is a pie I could have often and be quite happy. You can use other berries such as currants, raspberries, marionberries or other black berry. Different berries will give you different textures. My favorite berries for this pie are fresh blueberries. Why? Because the fresh berries stay intact while cooking and so when you eat them they burst. The frozen berries have already burst and so don't have the same great texture.

My favorite pie is pie flavored pie. But this one was extremely satisfying. 

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Have you ever..

Ok, so I have been craving soup for a couple of days. And of course the one day I finally have time to do it, I have a bad headache. UGH..

Not to be thwarted, I pressed forward and made the soup, of course with help from my little guy. This soup was everything I wanted, flavorful, satisfying, filling, healthy, delicious.. it was so good hubby went and got a second bowl that was fuller than the first!  I served this with homemade sourdough garlic parmesan bread.

I do make my own bone broth, and that is what I used in this soup. Here is the post for Bone Broth.

Ok, back to this soup. I was a little worried after I tossed in the chopped turnip, it smelled a little bitter. But then I added another herb and that fixed it.

Flower soup

2 crimini mushrooms, peeled, stem and gills removed, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup onion, diced
1 carrot, chopped fine
1/2 rib celery, chopped fine
1 turnip, peeled and chopped
1 head of cauliflower, chopped/diced small
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
1 teaspoon marjoram
1 teaspoon tarragon
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning (herbs)
2 teaspoons parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf
1 quart chicken stock
4 ounces cream cheese or neufchatel cheese*
1 beef kielbasa (12 - 16 oz), diced and browned

Saute' mushroom in butter until golden. Add onion, carrots and celery (mire poix), and saute'/ cook about 5 minutes. Add cauliflower and turmeric and saute another 5 minutes. Add herbs and stir, add bay leaf. Next add stock/broth and garlic. Give a good stir and cover and simmer until veggies are tender. Remove bay leaf, puree soup.  Add cream cheese and let warm, add warm browned kielbasa, stir well. Let rest about 5 minutes over extremely low heat until cream cheese has melted in.

This soup was great! We could not tell it was cauliflower, and my lil guy ate it right up, and he was very happy there were not any potatoes in it.  I can not get over how yummy it was; I had 2 large bowls and wanted more because it tasted so good, but I could not even try it was so filling!

*I made this a second time, but this time instead of using cream cheese I used some leftover rice. So I did this by adding about 1/2 cup cooked rice to the soup when I added the stock. I let this all cook for about an hour, then pulled out the bay leaf and used my immersion blender and blended until smooth. WOW the flavor was still amazing, the texture was silky.  I love using rice in place of dairy in soups to make them cream and smooth.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Snuggly soft and fast to make

I have many kids, and we try to make their birthdays special for them. This year my daughter picked out some fabric and asked  me to make her some pillow cases. These are easy to make, but I got busy.. Busy in my head, busy with stuff.. I finally sat down and got them made. 3 months later!!  I know it's terrible. 
They are so cute. I also made another one for my littlest guy.

This picture shows 6 different pillow cases, two of them have a duplicate underneath it. I did the french seam on these. It just makes for a cleaner pillowcase, and little fingers don't get into strings. This time I made them all with flannel for the main part and edge, but the trim is calico. They are so soft!

All red with a little trim work. This really pops and came out even cuter than I thought it would.

On this one, I decided not to put any trim on it. The main part is the green zigzag and the edge is the frogs.

Again, no trim. The main section is the zig zag and the polka dots are the trim.

I absolutely love the colors in the feathers! Actually I love the teal trim on the feathers with the orangy peach color. My daughter was also drawn to this fabric. I used a sweet blue rosebud calico for the trim.

The calico in this frog and zigzag pillow case is one of my favorites. It matched up perfectly and this is one of my favorites!  It is just so darling!  The frogs are the main part and the zigzag is the edging.

This lovebug pattern is so busy! I mean really loud busy pink! I found in my stash a cute doodle heart pink calico to use as the trim. This is one of my favorites because it is so cute, but I really love the one above it.

These were easy. I used a simple formula a lady mentioned on youtube. Remember this for pillow cases  27, 9, 3   I thought she was giving lotto numbers, but nah.. These are the measurements:
27" x WOF (width of fabric) for body, 9" x WOF (edge of pillow case), and 3" x WOF (trim).

Here is a YouTube video that shows you how, Magic Pillowcase.

I hope you try to make these. They are easy, and the color combos are endless. You can use flannel or calico or novelty prints. Whatever you like.