Archive for the ‘Baking’ Category

Freshness

I think July has to be one of the best months to live in the NW. You have your pick of fresh foods from cherries loaded on dwarf trees which my littlest can reach to every berry you can imagine to the best veggies nobody can resist.

Loaded Trees

Last week we picked Ranier, Bing and Van cherries and brought home over 50 pounds. Since then, we’ve made 4 cherry pies (don’t worry- we gave all but one away), 3 batches of cherry freezer jam, cherry crisp (not the tastiest recipe, but it worked) and cherry clafoutis (CLA-foo-tea). I didn’t use Alicia’s recipe, but used one from our favorite French cookbook. Chris loves this book and has tried many recipes and *all* of them have been superb.

The Boys' Bounty

This week we hit one farm and came home with marionberries, boysenberries, raspberries, and blueberries. I have enough for at least 5 pies (pre-measured in baggies) and enough for pancakes, muffins, crepes and snacking. These frozen bags of goodness help us get through all those rainy winter months. We also grabbed some snow peas, beets (my favorite), and pole beans. Morning Shade Farm is wonderful because they have it all! I was mad I had just bought a gigantic jar of honey from Costco because the farm had fresh honey too! Chris even gave the kids a quick honeybee lesson because the hives were next to the berries and we all got a chance to sit and watch them work. It was a great day.

I plan on hitting the farm again next week and stocking up on more of the summer’s harvest because before I know it, fall will be here. We’re going to enjoy every bit of our NW’s freshness in the meantime!

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It’s What We Eat

I know that this is mainly a sewing blog, but really I haven’t been doing much of it lately due to my typing work. (The book is almost done. I only have 3 more chapters to type. Woohoo!)

I made my sister Mary 6 cloth grocery bags out of some more IKEA fabric. (You can’t beat their price or durability.) Yes, she now owes me big time, but I’m happy knowing that she’ll be using (and reusing!) my bags instead of adding more plastic to places like this.

I did more sewing yesterday trying to make cloth easter eggs and tried this wonderful idea, but stuffed eggs require hand stitching. I can’t do that to save my soul so that project didn’t make it far. I even tried to enlarge an egg pattern to see if a bigger egg would be easier to stitch. I wanted to make my kids and all the cousins one large egg with their name hand embroidered on them, but the first one I made turned into a mushy, squished, lopsided ball. UGLY. I gave it to Eleni anyway and she’s declared that it’s a ball for her doll. Great.

Did you know that you can’t just keep enlarging a pattern to the size you want even if it’s a simple pattern like an egg? Chris warned me about this when I was making all the kids’ slippers for Christmas, but I figured that it’s just an egg and what could go wrong. It turns out that you can’t simply enlarge and if you do, everything must be to proportion or else it turns out wacky.

So I’ve got another idea for Easter, but since it’s only a couple days away and I’ve still got 57 pages to type before Saturday, it’ll be a simple one. I’ll post it soon…

In the meantime, here’s what we’ve been eating:

Eats

Starting at the top, we have some chocolate shortbread mushrooms, a favorite Uwajimaya treat around here. (Ms O is sticking just to the chocolate and leaves the nubs for me.)

Next, whole wheat waffles with Daddy’s homemade blackberry syrup. This was last night’s dinner- Yummy!

Thirdly, we have the whole wheat artisan bread I promised to report about. What can I say? It was good, nutty and filling, but man, that white bread still rocks!

And lastly, tonight’s bedtime snack- steamed artichokes with your choice of butter or mayo for dipping. These were meant to go with dinner, of course, but since they take forever to steam, they weren’t done until 8pm. Bedtime snack it was and it was GOOD. (Yes, my kids really love these. Augie saw them while grocery shopping today and begged me to get them. I know I was a bad mom at first not allowing him to buy something that was $2 each, but we’re on a budget. So yes, he did have to beg for them! But really I think it’s the fun of scrapping the flesh from the leaves with your teeth. Even though Ms O and Eddie have trouble, they eat up what Daddy can get off for them.)

There you go, our eats so far this week. Tomorrow I’ll be on my own since I can’t stand duck!

Dangerous Bread

I’m sure you all have seen or read the many blogs out there who are baking this bread:

5 Minute Artisan Bread

I got a craving yesterday and so I tried it. Since I don’t have the book, I googled 5 Minute Artisan Bread recipe and went to town.

There’s only 4 ingredients: water, salt, yeast and flour. It was easy throwing everything in one bowl, mixing it with a spoon, covering and letting it sit on the counter overnight. This morning, I pulled off a chunk, shaped it and stuck it in the oven for 20 minutes. I didn’t have a peel or stone or whatever the original recipe called for, but read that Angry Chicken just used cast iron. We always have our 8 inch and 12 inch pans seasoned and ready to go so I floured the 8 inch pan, put in the dough and stuck it in the oven over a rack that had a pan with hot water in it. (On a side note, I sure hope you’re still not using teflon-coated pans! Really, people you MUST STOP.) Anyway, so I made a loaf for us and one for my neighbor. She was so impressed and in fact so was I.

Must Touch

The bread is good. I think I may have to go out and get the book as well as the peel or stone because I think I will be making this alot! (Actually, as I type this I have a new whole wheat batch that I just started sitting on my kitchen counter. I will report back on how it turned out with the whole wheat.)

So if you need a carbo kick on this rainy day, get in the kitchen and whip up a batch.  Yes, it’s that easy and very dangerous because you will want it all the time!

Boys, Bees and Blues

The Boys:

A and E downtown

Yep, they’re actually wearing something I made them!
These were done in the Spring, but neither one has really worn them. At the time, I thought- yay, I can finally use some of that bolt of camo material Chris inherited from his Grandfather for something. I had them pick out the size of their letter, what shirt they wanted to use, and even had them help with the ironing. You would think they’d be into wearing them. Nope. The shirts just sat in their closets. Augie has actually worn his every once in a while, but Eddie doesn’t ever wear long-sleeves. I’ve tried everything with that kid, but now that it’s summer there hasn’t really been an issue. I hope we don’t get into it again this fall.
Anyway, Chris took them downtown all day on Saturday and rode just about every form of mass transportation in Portland. (I was told by one 5 year old that they rode 3 buses, 2 trams, 2 trolly’s, one MAX- phew!) It was cold and rainy that day and suddenly, out of the blue, down the stairs they come, sportin’ their shirts. Here’s to my handsome boys wearing something homemade (even with the funny face!).

The Bees:

Yellowjacket's Nest

It’s actually not a bee’s nest, but a yellowjacket’s. It’s not summer in Portland until you are fighting with these suckers for your dinner. Usually, they form their nest’s underground, but noooo. Not this year. This year, they dared us and built their nest right over our heads. Of course, the first thing Chris says is, “Isn’t it beautiful? I wonder how I’m gonna preserve it”. So off to the MacBook he went to research the “best” way to do it. After a little poison, some trimming of the tree, two garbage bags and a couple days in the chest freezer, the nest is preserved and hanging in a 7th grade Science classroom. Don’t you just wish it was your child’s?

And lastly, the Blues:

10 pounds of Blueberries

I picked about 10 lbs of these last week and we’ve just about eaten them all. Everyone loves a fresh blueberry. These were a little early yet, but they are still as sweet as can be. I’ve made muffins and a pie with them, but want to bake moooore. We’re going to go again tomorrow and try to pick enough to store away. It’ll just be me and the kids again so wish me luck!

Lovo Feast

To all who came to our shindig on Sunday, a big no huge Thank You! We had a wonderful time visiting, celebrating and eating. Although the weather (IT POURED!) was horrible for cooking underground, Chris and Nana managed to pull it off with excellent results.

The Prep:

(click on photos to go to my Flickr for details)

Prepping for the party

Palusami

Main Meats

The Lovo:

Lovo

Lovo

Leaf Layer

Burlap Layer

Cardboard Layer

Dirt Finale

Lovo Cooking

The Feast:

Fijian Spread

I think we had over 60 people crammed into our house or under “Tarp Town” on the deck. Ms O was such a trooper enjoying every minute of all the attention she received for her birthday.

One

Yummy

Presents!

Back to the sewing side of things:
As you can see, I was able to “fix” her dress if you can call it fixed. The neckline on this pattern is terrible. It calls for finishing the neck with bias tape, but the neck so wide, the fit is awful. You think I would remember this even after making this exact dress 3 times and all 3 times the fit was the same. But no, I forgot to add a little to the neck and cut it out before remembering. In the end, I added another inch like a cuff to the neckline and put in elastic to try and match the arms. The dress looks like a moo moo, but she’s so cute, she pulled it off 😉 … with her matching shoes. I also made the shirt I have on which is so comfortable and easy to make- Built by Wendy pattern #3835. This pattern was great because it was simple and fast. I was able to make two in one evening. The first one I made needed a few adjustments, i.e. snug in the bust- yes, everything is tight in that area! And a little too short in the sleeve length. I made the adjustments easily and love the fit now. I made one out of linen (above picture), and one out of Kona cotton. I never know what kind of cotton to get to make clothing since there are so many types- Kona, Egyptian, Quilting, etc.. Any suggestions on your favorite? I picked one based on the color and feel, but I guess that’s all that matters anyway.

So after all that, I’m itching to set up the studio again. Did you see my new badge at the top? Yep, July is “Bag Month” over at Sew Mama Sew so gotto get going on another one maybe something like this with patchwork and more pockets than my others. Have you seen this lady’s bags?- Amazing! They are all so beautiful and creative. I love her style and colors she chooses. I may be visiting my favorite shop soon so I hope to pick something out there for my new bag…

In the meantime, try a Lovo in your backyard!

Still Celebrating

I make a Blueberry pie for Chris just about every year for his birthday, but this year it was a challenge.

It began with a shortage of berries. We’ve had to ration our blueberry stash recently because last season we didn’t pick our usual amount since I had a newborn baby to care for, and Chris can’t manage to pick berries to save his soul. (Must be from the years of berry picking and processing in my background that gives me the advantage- don’t ask, it’s not a fond memory…) So, it took me two days to fit in a trip to the grocery store, but finally managed today after taxes were paid, DEQ was paid and Visa was paid. We spent way too long in the car, but finally arrived home with the berries.

Then I had to tackle the crust. I had made the crust the day before, but didn’t realize what I had in store until I took it out of the fridge at 5pm… it was hard as a rock! If you remember a while back, I mentioned that we had made the switch to whole wheat flour. It hasn’t been a problem with everything else we love to bake: our Dutch Babies, waffles, muffins, pancakes and even Chris’ famous Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies. We’ve breaded & fried with it and the kids haven’t noticed the difference.

But today, I wish I had just 3 cups of the white stuff to make my crust ’cause it must of took me an hour to roll out the dough. All this while Livvie was screaming for more blueberries, Eddie was crying because he skinned yet another knee and Augie was huuuuungry.

I tried to snap some pictures once it was rolled out, but this is what who I kept running into:

Mmmm Who is in the pie? Ms O loves her pie

I had to give up on a good close-up. You can see from the evidence on her face that she had plenty of blueberries before she even got to these!

After nearly two hours of baking and a little burnt crust, Chris finally got blow out candles on his birthday pie. Everyone loved it… warm blueberries, sweet vanilla ice cream and yes, the whole wheat crust that really did not taste different than one the white stuff would of made. It’s all good!

And oh, I didn’t forget, here are Eddie’s Crane shorts:

Eddie's Crane Shorts

Augie is my model since one 3 year old doesn’t “yike dem anymore!”- oh, why do I even try…

I’ve also sewn two other items, but they are going to some little ones in Hawaii so I won’t spoil the surprise. (I’m terrible with birthday’s this year!) BUT my biggest news is that I get to buy a new sewing machine! I can’t wait and am dying to run out and get one. I’ve been researching what kind to get and think I’m going with a Viking Emerald. Any thoughts or advice?

Break for Bread

I’ve never made bread without a bread machine- ever… But with all the rain yesterday and the kids still wanting to go outside, I decided to give them something to do. Forget Eddie’s quilt, the skirts or my wristlet, we decided to give it a try. (Also my sewing area was such a mess, I had to clean it before I lost another needle for Olivia to find!) We made 2 loafs using whole wheat (I’m a white bread lover, but I’m slowly converting…) and it really wasn’t that bad! They weren’t done until about 8:30pm so Augie and Eddie had it for their bedtime snack along with a bowl of peas. Chris couldn’t believe that they wanted peas with their bread since he can’t stand the stuff, but he couldn’t talk them out of it- way to go my boys!

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Today, my work table was clean waiting me to finish start my projects, and my new fabric is washed just calling me to sew…

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-instead, we went to the Zoo. Yes, it was raining and barely 45 outside, but it’s Spring Break and we NEED to get out of the house. Chris couldn’t believe we were still going when the rain really started coming down, but we had a great time. Our trip actually ended with blue skies, and kids that were so tired they’re still sleeping… ah, some quiet time just me and my mac! Olivia- 9 months img_0872.jpg