Friday, July 31, 2009

Sour Cherry Cake

My original plan was to make a peach cobbler, but Mr. Hunting Creek brought home a basket of sour cherries. They were so pretty, like little rubies. They looked just like fairy tale cherries, in twin stems and almost glowing in their sour redness. We each ate one. No lie, they are sour. But sour in a nice way, and super juicy. I decide to adapt a recipe I noticed for cranberries.

First I had to pit the cherries, so Mr. Hunting Creek set up Pandora for The Red Hot Chili Peppers and friends and I sat down for the pitting with my trusty Italian cherry pitter. I pitted them over a bowl because they were so juicy. It is sticky work; your fingers and your hands will be sticky, but amazingly, not red. The juice was palest pink. See how pretty they are in the baking dish? Of course I used my favorite Bennington pie plate. Things somehow taste better in a pretty baking dish.
It only took about six songs to pit them all. Then I poured the juice in the bowl through a strainer and got the few tablespoons of juice into the baking dish from the pitting. I felt so frugal saving it.
The recipe I used is adapted from Laurie Colwin's Nantucket Cranberry Pie
from her wonderful book, More Home Cooking. Adapted of course, for Sour Cherries and my own preferences.

Mount Vernon Sour Cherry Cake (inspired by Laurie Colwin's Nantucket Cranberry Pie)

Pit about 2 cups of cherries. In the bottom of a 10 inch pie pan or springform pan, place the cherries, and 3/4 cup of sugar. (Mine were very sour, so I used 3/4 cup of sugar. Peaches would only need 1/2 cup, I think.)
In a bowl, mix 2 eggs, 3/4 cup melted butter (that's a stick and a half) 1 cup sugar, 1 cup flour, and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Stir til smooth. Pour over cherries and bake for 40 minutes at 350. Eat with ice cream.

This may be the easiest summer fruit recipe you will ever see, and no one thought to convert it to a summer recipe until I happened to think, "hey, that would be good with cherries". This is another reason why reading cookbooks in bed is such a valuable bad habit.

In sewing news, I have been working on and off on that baby quilt, and when I have some visible progress I'll show you a picture.
Auntie Allyn, you won the Amy Butler Velma Bag drawing, so send your address via email and I'll mail it to you. My address is a post or two down.
Have a great weekend and bake a summer fruit cake. You'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Timtex Experiments

What can you make with Timtex?
Hat brims, boxes, place mats, baggage tags, art quilt projects, gift cards, bowls, purses and much more.
Here are some baggage tags that I made last Christmas.

There was a project in Stitched in Time that used Timtex to make placemats, using printable fabric, that gave me ideas.
What if I made placemats with family pictures on them for a gift? Place cards for a holiday dinner? A printed recipe card with a picture as a gift card for a food gift? I think I'll try the placemat idea after I finish the baby quilt.
What else can you think of to do with Timtex?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I feel a quilt coming on...

There's a new baby on the way in my daughter's boyfriend's family. My daughter has asked me to make a simple baby quilt. (She does not sew...yet. Give her time. She is already tracing Burda patterns.) I've made many a baby quilt in my day; they are the crack cocaine of quilting. You make one, it's small, you finish quickly and you think, "I can so handle this quilting stuff! Piece of cake! Next project King Size bed quilt!", which of course, takes seven years to finish if ever. Almost every sewista I know has unfinished bed quilt pieces hidden away somewhere that they inherited from their grandmother/aunt/mom. There might be more unfinished quilts in the world than finished ones.

I only have three unfinished quilts in various stages of unfinishedness. No wait - four. Two need only the binding, and one needs the final quilting. The last is in quilt top only phase. I am at peace with this situation; UFOs no longer haunt my sleepless nights. I have limited sewing time, and it's the law of the jungle in here.

So starting a new quilt might seem like folly, right? If you were OCD, you'd say - NO - STOP! finish those other quilts first! But then there would be no baby quilts ever, if we finished all of our other work first.
So this weekend, Ms. Hunting Creek will bring me the fabrics she has selected. It seems to be a requirement when persons other than myself desire baby quilts that they are pink and blue and Winnie the Pooh. I have given up on suggesting that science shows that babies prefer bright colors and high contrast. No one listens.

The top quilt shown is a wall hanging called Batik Cabin, made and quilted by me when I was in my batik period (like Picasso's Blue Period, but not as remunerative). It is finished. I took it out recently from storage and it has fold marks, so I will dampen it and hang them out. Also pressing helps too.
The second one down is Some Blue Thing, a raw applique bullseye quilt, that needs final squaring and then binding. I think I'll do a raw edge binding too. I like the frayed edges. The last is a Halloween quilt, Witchy Woman, done just to be silly. The black spider web fabric glows in the dark! This one just needs the binding finished. These are shown draped over the couch; when they are hung up officially, they look much nicer of course. But I knew you wouldn't mind.
Are you interested in my lazy, slacker quick and dirty, speedy baby quilt construction methods? Stay tuned, I'll ask Ms. Hunting Creek to be photojournalist.

p.s. don't forget to sign up as a follower and comment if you want to be in the drawing for the Amy Butler Velma bag pattern, seen yesterday.
Happy sewing!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Pattern Drawing winner

Venus de Hilo ( I love that name!), please send me your address and we will mail your pattern to you. Our email is the name of our blog then little symbol gmail dot com. This Friday we will draw for Amy Butler's Velma Bag. Make sure you comment by Friday at 5p ET.
Good Luck!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Burda Tracing Time

Today I have a rare couple hours to myself, so I'm am tracing a couple patterns that I need to make from Burda's latest issues. The dress on the cover of the latest caught my eye. I am tracing it as a top, as I don't need the long sleeve top option in Virginia in the summer. It must be cooler in Germany than here. They show lots of long sleeved options for summer. (I'd faint from heat stroke if I wore some of their ideas: sequined pants and long sleeved silk high necked tops? In the summer? Really, Burda? It must be a cultural thing.)
Then I have to do an FBA, using my trusty copy of Fit For Real People, adjusting dolman sleeves. It looks pretty voluminous in the picture, so it may not need much at all. Although, on the other hand, that model is a wisp of a thing, whereas I am considerably more voluminous than she is. I'll lay a pattern piece on top of of the traced pattern of a similar top that I have already adjusted and see where I need more room.
The blue fake wrap skirt from last month's issue caught my daughter's eye, (as well as about every other thing in that issue. If you want your daughter to get interested in sewing, show her that issue. Lindsay T says the same. She made a dress for her daughter that is awesome.) My daughter has begged me to make it for her. So I will trace that too. Plus from this month's issue she likes the shirtwaist dress, the two high waist buttoned skirts and another dress. I hope I have enough tracing paper.
The other choices for me are this blue dress
and the red one.

I can't decide which I like better. Mr. Hunting Creek likes the blue one but also expressed appreciation for the red one. (I would also like the lace bedspread, and the diamond necklace in the box but that's not an option. What story are they telling here? Are they lying on the bed contemplating unwrapping that dress because of the fancy diamond necklace?) Their photographers and stylists have an interesting sense of humor. Maybe if I were German I'd get more of their visual jokes.

Don't forget that tonight we will do a drawing for the purse pattern featured earlier this week. Drop a comment on that post if you'd like to be in and sign up as a follower of the blog to be eligible for this drawing and the following ones later this month.
Happy Sewing!

Monday, July 6, 2009

July Pattern Drawings

Once a week - every Friday this month- starting this Friday July 10th - we will give away a fabric pack, or a purse pattern, or a quilt pattern. Just sign up as a follower of the blog and leave a comment before Friday and we'll do a random drawing. My son will officiate, as he has no interest in blogs or sewing and he is truly objective.
This Friday we'll give away a cute purse pattern from Mary Hiney's Silk Adaptations line.
These patterns turn into beautiful purses, whether made in silks or in other fabrics.
Happy sewing!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Star Studded Tart

The whole tribe at Little Hunting Creek had a happy 4th Of July, and we hope you did too. We spent the day happily reading the newspaper, hanging out, doing nothing, then making our traditional favorites for our feast: baked beans, potato salad, Virginia Barbecue Pork sandwiches, and cole slaw. In past Independence Day celebrations, I had made a Flag Cake, and as anyone with small children could tell you, once you make a Flag Cake for small children, you will be making Flag Cake every 4th for the next ten years.
But this year, with the small children at age 18 and 24, I felt that the time was ripe to break free from the Flag Cake hegemony and think outside the patriotic dessert box. I decided to invent a Berry Star Tart instead.
For the crust, I used this recipe from Fine Cooking magazine. I added some lemon zest and a tablespoon more sugar. I prebaked according to instructions, then while it cooled, I made the filling. For the filling I used 4 oz cream cheese mixed with 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, a couple tablespoons of powered sugar, the juice and zest from half a lemon. I added two tablespoons of instant Clearjel powder from King Arthur Flour Bakers Catalogue. (Which is magic stuff for pies and tarts and lots more. If you like to bake you need some. Not affiliated, of course, just a happy addict.) Taste and see if this is sweet enough for you. I tend to think most desserts are too sweet, so I use less sugar than other chefs in my desserts. I made a glaze for the top with 1 cup pureed strawberries, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water (or use your favorite juice) and three tablespoons cornstarch. Heat this until it boils and is glaze-y. The cornstarch will thicken it, so keep whisking until smooth and use right away or it gets too thick to pour and then you'll have to warm it up again. I added a little lemonade to thin it, because by that time I had used up all of the lemon juice. It was delicious enough to eat by itself. You could also use warmed jelly or jam with a little liqueur added.
Ms. Hunting Creek happily arranged blueberries and strawberries in a festive star burst pattern, and then we applied the glaze to the star and around the edges. We have lots of leftover glaze available for warming and using to top other tarts or ice cream and berries later this week.
This tart was admired by all last night, and leftovers were eaten for breakfast this morning with coffee. My tart looked so pretty in the Bennington dish, handmade in Vermont and bought one July several years ago. To paraphrase Brillat-Savarin, the invention of a new fruit tart adds more to human happiness than the discovery of a new star.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Eat your clothes?

To counteract the cholesterol from the Bacon Dress, here is the Lettuce Dress, and of course a Vegetable Dress
Berry Dresses are just Berry colored, so they don't count.
I know that they did this on Project Runway, but I still don't feel comfortable with it.
Having been brought up by a family that considered wasting food to be just short of stomping on baby chicks or pushing old ladies into traffic, I find that even the idea of clothing made from perfectly good food to be a sign of the Decline of Civilization As We Know It.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Two Isabelles

Speaking of wedding dresses, don't miss the fabulous paper wedding dress and other magnificent creations from Isabelle de Borchgrave
When you are done admiring those, take a tour with Isabel Toledo
I like how Isabel Toledo actually sews. So many new "designers" seem to think that sewing skill isn't necessary.
You may find all this creativity intimidating or inspiring. I find it inspiring. I've been inspired to do some designing and then, when I can't sleep, doing mental sewing to try and figure out the best way to make my designs. Mental sewing is an excellent way to figure out easier, better or more efficient ways to sew a project. I review all of the steps required and then see if I can figure out a better way to do them. Much better than counting sheep and more useful too.I think next week when I have some vacation I'll play around a little and see what happens.
Do you do mental sewing? If yes, what is your process? Have you ever designed anything?