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Sunday, April 17, 2011


I made pot roast! I have always had a love of pot roast. But my experiences eating it have remained mostly those of childhood. I just didn't know very many people who considered it a part of their diet. Most people have heard of it, but have never tasted it even. Almost as if it was an ethnic food. Maybe...

Directions making it are difficult to understand. Here, the meat is cooked three quarters of the way. That is when you begin to add the vegetables. Here I have added the onions and carrots. I am not going to add the potatoes just yet because i don't want them to get too mushy.

Here it is at the end. The whole things has coked for almost four hours. I have to say that for most of that time I worried that the roast was not going to end up falling apart. I really thought it was going to remain had and too chewy. It just felt that way. But I kept it going. It wasn't till after I put in the vegetables that it all turned around.

this is the simmering meat. I had put in a white onion right from the beginning to give it that wonderful flavor that only an onion can give, that sweet richness of caramelization. But at this point it was still a tight roast and showed no sign of the fall apart meat that I remember from my youth. But I kept on going.

In the end, when the potatoes were done and I took it off the fire, I was so excited that I put a bit in the bowl above and sat to savor the tastes. Oh my god! It was wonderful. My teeth were not doing so well and I thought I would not be able to finish the dish. I ended up taking them out and was going to end the meal until I discovered I didn't need them, the meat was so tender.

I am calling my dentist tomorrow for him to set in my teeth permanently. It is time.

Pot roast. I can now cook pot roast. I am so happy.

Friday, April 15, 2011


These Bohin needles are from France. They are an inch and a quarter long. For me, that is very short. My typical needle is almost 1&3/4 " long. Milliners needles. But this quilt has me getting used to new tools.

This needle is 5/8's of an inch longs. It glides through the fabric as though I was sewing tow sticks of butter together. .Some getting used to but I am growing to love them.

There is such a variety of needles out there. I am loving the Clover Black/Gold needles which have finally arrived at the store. I am patiently waiting for them to be unpacked and ready to be purchased so I can work with them. My fingers are unaccustomed but eager to learn.

The Quilt

So it comes to pass that I have been using my cutting mat, rotary blade and ruler the wrong way ever since I have been introduced to them. I don't know how long. I don't remember using these tools in New Hampshire. Just here in Oregon. I have always used the lines of my cutting mat to determine the straight of my fabric and the cutting increments.

I used my rulers of course for measurements when I was cutting long strips of bias bindings. I used my rulers for a lot of things, but basically, my mats were my primary measuring tools. I mean, look at all of those lines. What are they there for? Well, apparently they go bad after a time and become unstable. As I began cutting 672 2 & 1/2" X 1 & 1/2" pieces and 1344 1 & 1/2" X 1 & 1/2" pieces, it attracted all of the quilters in the Fabric Depot neighborhood eager to give me sage advice. And the first advice I received was to always depend on a good ruler. Of course, everyone has their favorite. And I had mine which was the favorite of most of the quilters. Depend on the ruler. So now, on everything I do, that is what I do.

These quilters are also quite experienced and can cut up to eight layers at a time. I found I was only comfortable with four and at that, I felt a little unstable. I had to learn how to spider crawl along the ruler as I cut so that the ruler would not shift as I cut. I did waste a couple of cuts, but that was it and I was able to re-cut because I had a little extra fabric.

Some of the cuttings.

I love the fabrics that we chose. Nancy Tubbs helped me choose the fabrics. She knows the store really well. I don't at all. I am not in the store that much. Nancy knows the store well because she works there part time and she also buys hundreds of dollars worth of fabric a month there. I really depend on the girls a lot when I am looking for something. And they get really proud when I give them credit for their choices. I basically live in my sewing room when I am at the store. We chose mostly Civil War type fabrics in browns and off whites.

Very peaceful. My first set of flying geese, when I brought it in to show the Friday night quilters (there are two groups that meet in the classroom on Friday evenings) I was advised that, although they looked good, my stitches could be a little smaller.

So this is another set, my fourth, with the stitches all being less than an eighth of an inch longs. I do agree that it looks much better. I have to make 56 of these Flying Geese Sashing Strips. i can make one a night. Or I could make one sashing strip a night if I didn't have anything else to do. You know how that is. Who do you know is that single minded that they only ever have one thing to do, one thing going at a time??!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

St Patrick's Day Dinner

I don't think I have ever celebrated St Patrick's day. Maybe with my husband as a day to have friends over for dinner and not really to cook Irish. But just to gather for food. So having Denise and Caroline for dinner the following Sunday was different and as usual, most enjoyable. They are extremely great company. Denise prepared dinner in her pressure cooker, Caroline made the Irish soda bread, I, as I have done for decades, made dessert, and also the appetizer.

This appetizer was not what I had originally planned. What was I thinking? I was going for Italian. I gave my list of ingredients to Denise as this was a last minute thought. So it was little surprise when D- arrived, she had something totally different to present.

Irish Cheese Bites with Chutney

Ricotta, Parmesan, and Goat cheese all mixed together spooned onto rounds of pre-cooked puff pastry. I didn't have a little pastry cutter. Back in New Hampshire I would have had a dozen to choose from. Then Caroline points to this lovely little hand made ceramic dish that my sister Suzanne sent me that was perfect for the job. I lifted this lovely little orange round cup and twisted it in the pastry dough and it cut like butter. So sweet - a work of art. Twice baked, this little pastry, then topped with a chutney and served immediately. It was so delicate. I could eat this every day.
So beautiful a presentation. I think there were 18. I ate two. Hmmm. Who ate the rest? There was a small discussion on who had the most.

Denise loves cooking with a pressure cooker. A lot of our meals were cooked in this fashion when we were children. I never cooked this way as I was rarely a meat eater. D- was working on a new recipe. The pressure cooker was making it all easy I think. At least I didn't see her slaving away in the kitchen. That was the point on this Sunday. No one was to slave away in the kitchen.

Just look at that corned beef. The color was remarkable. This was to be the first time I ate meat in front of other people. I am still very self conscious about my new teeth.

This is the cabbage, the potatoes and carrots. Caroline brought two loaves of soda bread straight from her oven. It does not get any fresher. I was in heaven. Each taste was perfect. The corned beef just melted in my mouth. I was weepy from culinary ecstasy. I was given the left overs and was able to enjoy the delights of the corned beef all week. In my little sewing room at work I just moaned. I could only hope no one heard me because I can't imagine what they would have thought. I have not eaten meat since before Thanksgiving. Almost four months. Eggs, oatmeal, pasta, mashed root vegetables, rice and soup. So you can just imagine what an impact corned beef and cabbage can have.

Ah dessert. I made a lemon poppy seed cake. I made a lemon infusion using four lemons, cooking down the peels, juice, and wedges, into sugar on the stove until it was very concentrated, very intense. From this infusion I made this cake and an ice cream.

Lemon basil. I have gotten to the point where my ice cream is very creamy. So much that it lingers in your mouth like a good cream should. When I take it out of the freezer I microwave it for a few seconds to take away the freeze.

We didn't want a big desert. So I cut slices of the cake 3/8ths of an inch thick and, not having and ice cream scoop, I used a tiny measuring scoop heated in water that yielded a scoop of cream just a tiny bit larger than an inch. This desert may look big, but it is served in a very tiny bowl. Just a taste. The perfect taste after a big dinner. An intense taste with all its components.

I am really loving making ice creams.

I next made a cream from Ceylon Cinnamon. I cooked the cinnamon in milk for about 15 minutes to completely infuse the cinnamon into the cream. Julie Olds, my great inspiration at the store, requested the cream and even provided the cinnamon. I used almost the entire jar and still, she said it could have even been a little stronger. Imagine. But everyone in the office loved it of course, not knowing cinnamon ice cream like Julie apparently knows it. She got the cinnamon from Penzey's. I will have to get more and make it again, make it better.

Everything can be made better.

At My Age?

I first thought it was just going to be a small thing until it turned into not being a small thing. And then you know how it goes. You can't leave it alone. Then someone comes over like a niece with a camera who wants to photo everything and then sends you groupings of photos and in that particular email there is the top photo which mortified me. What in god's name is that? Is it some extreme closeup of the very tip of the iceberg? Could it be possible for someone to get that close?

So I opened Caroline's second email and saw that this is the raw cheese that I was preparing for the appetizer before dinner. It never ceases to amaze me what my mind will do to me prior to investigation.

So I got this pimple. And a couple of other minor nuisances because of my new facial cleanse. I rather expected that. When a skin is not used to chemicals, it should rebel to a certain extent. It is like having a new boss. One must adjust.

I would like a face lift though~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~