Thursday, December 29, 2011

Only Around 750 More of These to Make-lol

I finished up with the quilt top except to add the border. I need 4 inch square pieces to go in the corners, and was hoping to find some Green Bay Packer fabric for those this morning, when I go into town. Wal mart added back in a very small fabric area so hoping they might have a piece.
I have been working on cutting the 1 1/2" fabric strips to make that double nine patch pattern I posted awhile back. I have all my scraps cut up now, hoping I have enough, and just had to sew a couple strips together to see how it all works I have never done this before, but the newer sewing method is to sew the strips together and then cut into pieces the size one needs-in my case 1 1/2" when I sew three of these together I will have 9 little squares that will make up into a 9" block. Now when my mom made this same quilt in august when the pattern came out, she cut each of these little squares seperately and sewed it all together that way.
I have a problem with total accuracy on something that small, but she loves making quilts with lots of little pieces.
This is my first attempt though at working with blocks this small. Aren't they cute? I had to show Larry these little guys, and he says you know you just love the simple stuff-yeh that's me lol
I will need to work on sewing these up a few hours a day to accomplish the task though, as I need alot of these pieces, over 750. I need over five hundred put together this way and then around 200 or so with two lights on the outside and a strip of dark material in the middle.
I just hope I have enough fabric strips, if not I will be going thru my fabric stash to cut up more.
Wow we will be the 60s today and tommrow-how cool is that for the end of december?? I love it
Catch ya all later

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Little more on the Pileated Woodpecker

Wow !! we got a special treat this morning. Larry was sitting in the bedroom having a cup of coffee, watching the squirels. All of a sudden 4 pileated woodpeckers flew in. Two for sure were males as they were both claiming the same tree. I am so hoping we have a pair that nests close to the house this spring.
I found this site just for the pileated here check the top of this page for more links-the gallery is nice too, and there is also an audio link too.
here is amap of their range, and live in forests
from here
Photo: A pileated woodpecker on a tree from here
This link is for kids-but it has good information and photos too. here

Found some videos too:

This video I could not embed but it is a wonderful video of the baby birds here
and here is technical pdf of their courtship here
and this link has photos to tell the difference between the male and female here now I know for the next time what to look for.

These are such awesome birds, that I wanted to share more information about them with you.

from here

from here

Friday, December 23, 2011

Yes You can Make Gluten Free Cut Out Cookies with Success

I followed the recipe from my 1948 Betty Crocker cookie cookbook for my cut outs this year. I always loved this one because it uses honey for most of the sugar. I decided to use my gluten free flour mix and also added in one teaspoon baking powder and 1 1/2 teaspoons xanthia gum to the recipe.
These are a little tricky to roll out but they worked out pretty well. You must keep the dough very cold, so I would pinch off a small amount roll out, and the left over dough went back into the frig. til I had all the main dough cut out. Instead of flour to roll out, I always now use powdered sugar-it keeps the dough from getting tough. Some years I frost them, and I just frost over the powdered sugar, and this year I am just sprinkling a little more sugar over them-helps to keep them moist as well. For gluten free, I rolled the dough out just a little thicker than the 1/4" and I also rolled on parchment paper.
Merry Christmas Cookies the light dough
mix together thoroughly: 1/3 cup soft shortening-I used butter
1/3 cup white sugar-(you could use a sugar substitue here as well)
1 egg
2/3 cup honey
sift together and stir in: 2 3/4 cup sifted gold medal flour (I used my own gluten flour baking mix with 1 1/2 tsp xanthia gum, and 1 tsp baking powder and I did not sift)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt I omit
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
chill dough. roll out 1/4" thick cut into desired shapes place 1" apart on lightly greased baking sheet. bake until when touched lightly with finger, no imprint remains. (this is a good test) when cool; ice and decorate as desired.
to change this to gingerbread dough use 1/3 cup brown sugar and 2/3 cups molasses ( I always use an organic dark ulsuphured molasses) to replace the sugars. and replace the vanilla with 2 teaspoons cinnamon and 1 teaspoon ginger. I also like to add slivers of candied ginger (a tip I learned from Sea Nymph).

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Pileated Woodpecker was in the Yard Again

If you look close on the tree that is straight to the right and just below center-you will find him climbing the tree. The photo should enlarge-just click on it.
we are really hoping he goes to nest this spring in our viewing area here looking out the window where the computer is

Chocolate Popcorn out of the Oven

If you ever thought of making something like this-the link -turned out excellent. Because of the method of adding corn syrup and butter to the chocolate and then baking in the oven for 45 minutes-this turned out crunchy and not soggy like some recipes I have tried. I decided not to add nuts to this batch-the very dark chocolate ---so yummy! Next up my cut out cookies.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Divinity

Very pleased with this-turned out awesome. This is a recipe I have had in my files for a very long time, (dated 1983) and just never got around to making it-after making all of my regulars each Christmas.
I decided to add just a few drops of green food dye along with mixed candied fruits Recipe:

Basic Divinity
2 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp salt--I omited this as I saw salt added to the corn syrup
2 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup candied fruits or dried fruits chopped optional
1/2 cup chopped nuts optional
Just a note-I whipped up the egg whites first so they would be ready when the candy syrup came off the stove.
In a heavy 2 quart saucepan stir together the sugar, corn syrup, water, salt. clip candy thermometer to side of pan cook and stir over medium high heat til sugar dissolves. avoid splashing the syrup on sides of pan.
Cook without stirring to 260 degrees f or hard ball stage. remove from heat. immediatly beat egg whites at high speed til stiff peaks form
remove the thermometer and gradually pour hot syrup in a thin stream over egg whites beating at high speed. add syrup slowly to ensure proper blending
add vanilla and a few drops food coloring if desired, beat at high speed for 4 to 5 minutes til candy holds its shape when beaters are lifted-mixture falls in a ribbon but mounds on itself.
if candy is beaten enough mixture will stay mounded in a soft shape when a spoonful is dropped onto waxed paper. if mixture flattens out, beat 1/2 to a minute more. the mixture is overbeaten if it is stiff to spoon and surface is rough. if mixture is too stiff, beat in hot water a few drops at a time until the candy is a softer consistency
when the candy holds its shape stir in fruits and nuts if desired. quickly drop candy by teaspoonfuls onto waxed paper. cool store tightly covered. makes 40 pieces.

I may have under beaten mine just a tiny bit as the candy flattened out a little, but I didn't want to over beat it.
It tastes heavenly

Peanut Brittle-Turned out Perfect

This second photo shows the brittle almost done-waiting for it to hit 300 degrees or just the right color which sometimes is just a bit before. Top photo completed. (recipe should be in my tags, check for recipes candy

Better grab a piece before it's all put away lol Next up is Christmas divinity-this is something I have never made before but always wanted to-

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Canning Potatoes

I have always thought about canning potatoes, but I really have never had an abundance of potatoes around, and I wasn't sure if I would like them. When I saw that Sea Nymph had canned a big batch of them I am thinking yes I must try this.
I really have no storage area here at all for cold storage of veggies, so I only keep around what will fit in the frig, and in a couple of crocks.
We ended up with 40 pounds of potatoes this past week, and 20 pounds of it was all sprouting soooo today was the day to can potatoes.
Sea's method that she posted was a raw or cold pack method, but when I did more reading in my Ball canning book and online they all said to blanch the potatoes. I did find one blog that posted the cold pack method. Most sites said to bring to a boil for 10 minutes-I am thinking they will be over cooked if I do that. I found one that said to bring to a boil for 2 minutes.
So I compromised-I had two very large pots full of quartered potatoes and it's just me working this up so I brought both just to a boil and took the lid off of one pot, and worked to can up the second pot. These were a combination of russetts and yukon golds.
Another thing was all over the place for information online was leaving the skins on or not to. I saw alot of blog posts where they canned with the skins on, but I had read that this was a major no no as the skins carry alot of diseases. So here I went with peeling them and soaking in lemon juice water.
I can 1get 6 pints per canner, so I loaded one canner, and started on the second-I think I ended up with at least 8 to 10 pints more in the second canner.
I will post a photo when they all come out of the canner-pretty cool!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Wow It's the Weekend Already? lol

This week seems to have just flown by for me. I think it's because I am sewing several hours every day on the binding of this quilt-and I am still not finished. I now have one long side left and part of another-so should be able to get done this weekend and in the mail on monday.

This morning I finished up making a few handmade cards. Some of you are on my list. Perhaps this spring we'll do another handmade card swap-these really are so much fun to create.

I need to get a couple things off in the mail monday too, and I have a soap order I will be making on monday on tuesday.

I really don't have much to do for the holidays, but I always do seem to be busy too. and that's ok-I love have things to do.

I am wanting to bake us up some holiday goodies for us, and just a few to giveaway this year. I always take up a big tray to our little post office here-they are like family to us thru out the year. Peanut brittle is a must as long as I get a sunny day next week, and I want to make a steamed plum pudding this year for something different.

Well, I better find me something to eat, and start back on the sewing-later

Song Saturday (winter and sleigh rides)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Lots of Christmas Candy Recipes

I love this site Joy of Baking, wanted to share a link to their Christmas candy section-and for some reason the system is not letting me post a link soooo here it is lol Alot of the recipes also include a how to video.
Peanut Brittle Recipe
Peanut Butter Cups Recipe
Toffee Recipe

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Pomegranate--need ideas

I haven't purchased one of this in long time, but I do remember I always enjoyed them. Around Thanksgiving I had seen a recipe by Bobby Flay using fresh brussel sprouts, pomegrantes and pomegranate molasses I think it was. I never found nice brussel sprouts so I didn't make the dish, and I knew I wouldn't be able to find the molasses, but I figured I could improvise for that ingredient.

So anyways, I cut it open this morning and was going to add it to the fruit salad I was making. But after tasting some of the little red pearls I had forgotton that there were also little hard seeds inside too. Sooo now I don't want to add them to the salad-a little too crunchy for Larry's liking.

I am looking for ideas now on what to make with this. Have any of you made vinegar with these or possibly infuse the pomegranate with honey? thanks all

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Chicken on a Tuesday--Holiday Appetizers

recipe here the coating is made from any non sugar whole grain cereal-so for gluten free-choose a gf cereal to make this
Buffalo-Style Chicken Bites
From Betty Crocker-I thought this looked quick to make, and sounded tasty too Buffaloe Style Chicken Bites with Blue Cheese recipe here
Sesame Chicken Bites Recipe
From Taste of Home Sesame Chicken Bites recipe here, this one can also easily be converted to gluten free
And lastly from Paula Deen Sweet Chicken Bacon Wraps recipe and video here

Monday, December 12, 2011

Healthy Mondays Holiday Appetizers

Oven-Fried Zucchini Sticks Recipe
Oven Fried Zucchini Sticks recipe here
Tomato-Basil Skewers Recipe
Tomato Basil Skewers recipe here
More recipes from same site here
5 Holiday recipes here for appetizers
Goat Cheese Crostini Recipe
Goat Cheese Crostini recipe here for gluten free-just use gf breads
Picture of Eggplant Ricotta Bites Recipe
Eggplant Ricotta Bites recipe here this one also can be converted to gluten free

I also found some delicious looking vegetarian appetizer recipes: here and here and I loved these too from Care2 here

I hope these links give you some fresh ideas for healthier appetizers for the holidays

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Art Sunday Christmas Ornaments

I decided to go off topic a bit and share photos of Christmas ornaments. Years past alot of these were hand blown, so some are a form of art as well. and remember all those handmade ornaments we made as children?
from here with information on vintage as well

from here

from here

from here

from here

from here

from here

from here
from here

from here

Friday, December 9, 2011

Song Saturday How Much is that Doggie in the Window

I am taking a trip down memory lane. My grandpa on my father's side sang in a quartet, and this is one of the songs he sang to us kids when we visited him. This song just popped in my head this morning.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Hump Day Handmade Part 2

Cool! I just got this in from Cloth Paper Scissors
Easy Printing Without a Press

tree collograph printmaking
Collagraph print made from bubble wrap,
felt, and hemp.
Recently someone asked me: what's a collagraph? A collagraph (also spelled collograph) combines two of my favorite forms of art: collage and printmaking.

Collagraphs are easy to make with tools you most certainly have around the house.

Collagraph prints can be made with or without a printing press, which is great for the artist who only prints occasionally or doesn't have access to a printing studio.

They are usually done as a one-off monoprint, but I highly recommend making additional ghost monoprints, or even re-inking the plate with different colors and printing again to see what happens.

A piece of acrylic or thin board will give you a more durable plate. But since you're probably not making too many prints, stiff cardboard or foam core will work just fine. You might want to put a thin coat of acrylic paint or gesso down on the plate and let it dry first, to make it stand up to use better, but it's not necessary.

You'll also need glue, printing inks or acrylic paints, a brayer or two, and papers, sturdy found objects, and recyclable materials.

Decide on the size of your final image and find a suitable plate or cut one to size. Gather an assortment of found objects or recyclables. They should all be about the same thickness, but you can vary the materials. Milk bottle caps, foam shapes (purchased or cut from washed grocery trays), yarn or string, craft flowers, and abandoned swatches of knitting or crochet all make interesting collagraph materials. But you can also just use cardstock, textured paper, wallpaper, or fabric. I'm sure you can think of others.

When designing your collograph plate, keep in mind that you will be printing a mirror image. So any words or directional imagery should be glued down in reverse. Once you have your design, lift and glue each piece to the plate. Or, take a digital photo, remove all the materials, and use the photo as a guide.
collograph printmaking
Collagraph plate, left, and the print at right.
When the glue has dried, it's time to print. Working on a protected surface, spread some waterbased ink or acrylic paint on a palette and roll your brayer through it. Apply the paint/ink to the tops of the objects on the plate or to the whole plate, depending on your choice.

I applied the paint with a brayer on the abstract shapes plate. For the tree, I decided to apply the paint with a foam brush, which I thought gave me more control.

Turn the plate over onto your printing substrate: paper, fabric, canvas, etc. It can be interesting to print onto found papers such as old maps or even a collage of old receipts, letters, sheet music, etc. Experiment.

Impress the ink or paint onto the substrate by evenly pressing your hands over the back of the plate or rolling a clean brayer over it. Then lift your plate up and see what you've got. It's a very good idea to have another printing surface or several waiting in the wings so you can make a ghost print with any ink left over on the plate. I find sometimes I like my ghost prints better than the originals.

In these collagraphs, I experimented with bubble wrap, lace and fabric trims, shapes cut from a foam vegetable tray and stiff craft felt, and hemp twine. I used corrugated cardboard as a plate for the tree and foam core for the abstract. In both cases I printed on scrapbook papers with acrylic paint.

Collagraphs can be used to make a printed picture or a background for collage or a focal point. You can cut out the printed shapes for mixed-media art and the plate itself can often become the artwork.

Hump Day Handmade-Christmas from Recycled

The last few years I have made all my cards that I send out thru the year, a wonderful creativity activity and I felt good mailing them out.
This year at the resale shop; I ran into a box of vintage made in the USA Hallmark Christmas cards-that I decided to mail out this year. They were very pretty, there was a dozen in the box. I need to make up a few more to mail out though.
I use what I have around to make cards, a nice way to be creative and be greener at the same time-I love recycling and repurposing into something new. Find scraps of card stock or cardboard from cereal boxes etc, find scraps of ribbons, fabrics, make stamps-the sky is the limit for making a card.
great ideas here cards, little boxes, garland etc
Christmas card ideas here
craft ideas from Tipnut for Christmas here
from Planet Green here
lots of Christmas crafts here
We always made a few handmade items when I was growing up. Either candles to give as gifts, food goodies, or ornaments for the tree and around the house. I still enjoy creating something from found materials for the holidays.
Have some fun creating!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Gluten Free Fried Chicken

I have stepped up my gluten free baking and cooking this month. I have read my two new books from cover to cover now (check my reviews) and instead of doing with out I am adventuring into tackling more gluten free baking especially am ready to try some breads-not using mixes. I had gotton myself into relying on bread and cake gf mixes this past year, and I want to get away from that. I can make the end products healthier for us, and it is also so much cheaper to bake gluten free from scratch.
So today for some reason I decided to explore gluten free fried chicken. I am not one to do much of anything fried, but thought perhaps once in awhile it might be fun.
Making Gluten Free Fried Chicken
I found a recipe with lots of photos here, that I like the sound of .
and I found this baked version using potato flakes-I love that idea-here I wish there was a photo for this one-I just bought some Bob's Red Mill potato flakes for mixing into my gf bread baking mix, so I have that on hand already.
Just a note if you are new to buying all the flours and starches needed for gluten free baking-most health food stores unless they sell bulk, are just too expensive. If you can find a good one that sells bulk and Bob's Red Mill-that's a great find! Otherwise, alot of better grocery stores have an organic health food aisle if you live in a larger city, if so ask them if they can bring in Bob's Red Mill products if they don't have them already. My Super Wal Mart here now has a gluten free section, so I am able to buy a few items like the sorghum flour there. I also recently discovered that Amazon groceries online can be an excellent source-expecially if it qualitfys for free shipping after the $25.00 spent. compare prices there. Amazon has been a great source for me since I live out here in the woods, not close to any better grocery stores.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Civil War Christmas

I have been doing a series of civil war posts this year, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the war.

from here

from here I also found this blog post with more on this painting, and foods and hardships in the south during the war here
More history here in pdf form-very intersting reading on customs during this time period that we now still celebrate
I found these recipes here for Christmas foods during the civil war, below is the Christmas goose:
Dr. Kitchiner's Goose
When a goose is well picked [feathers removed], singed [pin feathers burned off by holding the bird over a small flame, usually gas], and cleaned [internal organs, feet, wingtips and head/neck removed], make the stuffing with about two ounces of onion*, and half as much green sage, chop them very fine, adding four ounces, i.e. about a large breakfast-cupful of stale bread-crumbs, a bit of butter about as big as a walnut, and a very little pepper and salt (to this some cooks add half the liver, parboiling it first), the yelk of an egg or two, and incorporating the whole well together, stuff the goose; do not quite fill it, but leave a little room for the stuffing to swell; spit it, tie it on the spit at both ends, to prevent its swinging round, and to keep the stuffing from coming out. From an hour and a half to an hour and three-quarters, will roast a fine full-grown goose. Send up gravy and apple sauce with it.

*If you think the flavour of raw onions too strong, cut them in slices, and lay them in cold water for a couple of hours, or add as much apple or potato as you have of onion.

silk christmas card 1860
ornaments in the 1800's here and a little more history here
a christmas bauble in production since 1847

from here

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Herbs Ginger

I love ginger, especially this time of year. I find it in my holiday baking, and I often drink cups of ginger tea (along with a slice of candied ginger at the bottom of my cup) for a cold coming on or stomach troubles. It's found in all types of dishes and baking.
It is also an herb with many qualties. Information here and here too
As always if you choose to take ginger as a medicine consult your health practioner first, especially if taking medications. I found this article about cautions here
There are many recipes on line using ginger frome homemade ginger ale, to stir frys, to baking. I decided to share this link to Eating Well's article on healthy ginger recipes and cooking tips here This includes a full range of recipes. I liked the looks of this cookie recipe:
Blueberry & White Chocolate Chunk Ginger Cookies Recipe
Blueberry and White Chocolate Chunk Ginger Cookie recipe here

And here is a Ginger Ale recipe from Alton Brown
Picture of Ginger Ale Recipe

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bird Watching

I put bird seed out this week, since we are down in the 20s now at night. I have moved alot of the feeders over in front of the bay window in our bedroom. My quilt frame is there and when we only want to feed one woodstove I work in that room, and enjoy watching all the bird visitors.

We have all of our lovely normal visitors but we have been pleasantly surprised by a visit twice this week so far, from my favorite Missouri bird the pileated woodpecker. We have many of the woodpeckers here in our woods-little ones up to this larger one of the species.

These guys are very large and just so cool to watch, they hear the bugs in the trees and so peck away to find them.

My camera was out of battery this morning so this is not my photo.

and here ia map where they reside.


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