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Monday, January 31, 2011

A GOOD Gluten-Free Cook Book

I've been GF for less than three months - but long enough to miss some basics, like a good loaf of bread and warm-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies!  My sister recommended this book.  She's been GF for 6 years.  The caption on the cover is compelling by itself - if Gourmet likes your chocolate chip cookies you know they gotta be good!

The book advises against using dark, nonstick pans.  Being a smarty-pants, I thought I knew better, and lowered the oven temperature to account for the pans.  I apparently lowered it too far and that's how I ended up with the deflated loaf a few posts back.  It looked funky, but it tasted fine.  Since then, I purchased Wilton bread pans (at Joann's fabrics BTW) and am baking everything exactly as directed in the recipe.  Yesterday's loaf is the Multigrain Sandwich Bread. 

The book includes recipes for an all purpose flour replacer for cakes and cookies.  And there are two recipes for GF Bread Baking Flour Mixes.  Mix A is primarily brown rice flour.  Mix B is primarily sorghum flour.  I found the sorghum flour at Whole Foods.  I'm looking forward to making Buttermilk Bread with Mix A, and trying the Basic Sandwich Bread with Mix B. 

As soon as I got the book (at Barnes & Noble) and located the ingredients, I HAD to make the chocolate chip cookies.  Had intended to get a picture...but they were gobbled up too quickly!  I recently made the Banana Nut Muffins (I made loaves).  Its nice to have something sweet now and then, so the banana bread really hit the spot!   

As I was driving home today I had this incredible craving for a nice hot A&W chili dog.  I could almost taste it!  Of course the hot dog, chili and bun are all off limits.  I don't imagine I'll find a cook book that would emulate those flavors, but if I can have some good bakery here and there, I'll probably survive.  :)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Jeans Quilt Border Audition

Half square border.  Yes? No? Maybe?
Since I was whining about baking GF bread the other day, I thought I should share that today's efforts were successful.  This recipe is made with brown rice flour, teff flour, potato starch and tapioca flour.   It's sprinkled with corn meal, and has sunflower, flax and sesame seeds in it so its quite flavorful.  I'm saving the bread crumbs so I can put buttered crumbs on some white fish later this week.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

My Sewing Table Runneth Over

Here's my work area as I sewed the final seam.  Man, this quilt top is heavy!
Here are the results.
I had this idea I'd put the pieces together randomly.  Now I can see why Judy Martin puts about 100 different fabrics in a quilt.  You have to have that sort of selection if you want a random scrappy effect.  I eventually "scrapped" that idea, but still didn't distribute the squares and rectangles evenly, so I have ten rectangles left.  It currently measures 56 x 68".
I could tack on an upper and lower border - but that just looks like an afterthought (probably because it is!) Will have to think on this a bit...  :) 

Friday, January 28, 2011

Jeans Quilt in Progress

Hey!  Its starting to look like a quilt!  Some of these squares were left over, so I took inventory, then spent the morning cutting, the afternoon joining sub-units, and finally putting the beginnings of a quilt together. 

Janome Horizon users, the dual feed system is ideal for working with heavy denim.  I'm even considering diagonal quilting rather than tying.  Might even try it with a double needle. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Jeans Quilt Auditions

All my past jeans quilts were cut using a 6 1/2" square.  I had about 20 squares left over from previous quilts - so when I got down to cutting up jeans, I decided to cut some rectangles.  I scrapped the idea of making a rag-style jeans quilt.  I don't want to deal with all that bulk.  I'll do that with cotton at some time in the future.  This project will likely evolve, but I have decided one thing for sure:  I'm going to make this one up as I go!  :) 


There's only one good thing I can say about this deflated excuse for a loaf of bread.  It prompted me to take a break from gluten free baking.  Paid $7.29 a loaf for two loaves from a local bakery.  The homemade breads taste far better, but I got tired of wasting my time.  GF baking has been a challenge!  But, being liberated from kitchen detail, I began combing through bags of jeans waiting to be recycled into quilts, bags or what-have-you.  In doing so, I came across another challenge.

These two dragons are in my jeans collection.  Both were worn by DS2 until they completely disintegrated.  He wants me to "save" the dragons and work them into some sort of quilty project.  I can't make a full sized quilt out of just two I either have to make a small quilt or find more dragons.  Will have to put that on the back burner as I'm fresh out of ideas! :)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Reflections on Collections

This is my sewing room, crammed with my boys' books and collections, my sewing stuff and a few Christmas boxes.  Its been quite the project to dig out.

But perserverance pays off.  See those paper boxes in the foreground?  I now have 14 such boxes filled with cool rocks, sea shells, books, school projects, Dungeons & Dragon figures painstakingly assembled and painted in minute detail, miniature ship collections.  You name it - we probably got it!  Ultimately I got it packed up, then organized my own collection of fabrics and other important sewing-type stuff.  Ta da!
This gave me time to what point does a collection become a hoard?  I recently visited The House on the Rock - an southern Wisconsin tourist attraction.  It was all decked out for the holidays with over 4000 Santas ranging  from trinkets to figures over 6 feet tall.   Thankfully, I can safely say neither I or my offspring have 4000 of anything!

If you visit the House on the Rock, wear good walking shoes.  For more info, see:

Coyote Sighting

I've been wondering all winter why I'm seeing so little activity at the bird feeder?  Today I saw the chickadees at the feeder, and saw the male and female cardinal approaching - when all of a sudden the crows start going crazy!  The smaller birds flew away, and then I saw it.  A great big coyote just beyond my fence.  He seemed to know where he was going.  Head down, tail down - trying not to be noticed.   But I couldn't have missed him. 

I've seen coyotes before, but not in this neighborhood and never with a full winter coat against the snow.  Impressive!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Little Progress

Woo-Hoo!  I've finally made some progress in organizing my sewing area.  Target had these storage bins on sale for $0.99.  They looked perfect for storing fat quarters, so I grabbed a bunch.  Am gonna try to get a few more - as I still have quite a bit of fabric to deal with. 

True confession: I'm tickled to have somewhere to put my quilting books and magazines.  They were taking up space in my clothes closet.  Now I can put actual clothes where they belong. 

Soon (I hope) I can get this project under control and start sewing again - have been in quilting withdrawal for weeks! :)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Adventures in Gluten Free Living-Quinoa

Mother Nature continues to interfere with quilting.  Too much time spent doing snow removal!  Meanwhile, a girl HAS to my GF adventures continue.  Pictured above is quinoa - pronounced keen-wah.  I've tasted quinoa noodles, but had never tried cooking the grain itself.  The dish on the left is raw, the right is cooked.  The first step in preparing quinoa is to rinse it several times in cold water.  Herein laid the problem: the grains are smaller than my finest sieve!  Here they are next to my quilting ruler. 

They are so small that two of them actually fit beneath the ruler - which is elevated by the plastic grip pads.  After much experimentation (and a considerable amount of quinoa down the drain) I realized I could use my anti-splatter lid as a sieve.  So I cooked the quinoa up and tasted it.  Since I never tasted it before I didn't season it with anything but a little salt.  Tastes somewhat like brown rice in that it has a mild, nutty flavor.  Like brown rice, it needed a little salt or something to enhance the flavor.  It would be good if cooked with chicken broth, instead of plain water. Thinking of Mexican Rice, I stirred in some corn and the flavor combination was excellent with no further seasonings. 

Now I have a whole bunch of cooked quinoa to use up.  Tomorrow I'll saute some onions, celery, garlic and mushrooms for a pilaf.   Should be yummy!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Jeans Quilters - Please Advise

Whew - the holidays threw my quilting plans for a loop!  But here's my next project:  

This is the "before" picture.  Don't know what the "after" picture will look like.  It'll be big enough for a twin bed.  Other than that, I'm gonna make it up as I go.  

I've made jeans quilts in the past.  (Type "jeans" in the search bar at the top of my blog to  see them.)  Most had a denim patchwork top, low loft batting and fleece backing - tied together with yarn.  These have been very heavy, warm quilts. 

This time I want to do a rag style quilt, but am stumped how to proceed.  If I use flannel in place of batting, it'll reduce the bulk somewhat.  Still, every seam will a have total of 6 layers of fabric.  Yikes - I can't imagine how I'd join the rows and sew through all that bulk.  Maybe I could use flannel batting and backing?  I have a lot of recycled shirting that might work as backing squares.  It would be three times as much cutting...but no quilting or tying.  Will have to experiment.  I know there are special scissors needed for fraying the edges.  Anybody know what they're called?

If you've ever made a jeans quilt, please drop me a line.  I'd love to hear about it!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

One UFO Done for 2011

Made some barnyard Christmas placemats, but they looked like they needed a little something more.  Came across an easy tutorial and got started on napkin holders.

This provided a great opportunity to familarize myself with the button hole function on my machine.  I think I'm easily amused, as I thoroughly enjoyed watching the button holes magically appear in the right place and at the right size.  :)

And here they are:

Now  I have all of 2011 to decide if I'll keep these placemats for myself, give them as a gift or donate to a pre-holiday fundraiser.  The completion of this task means I can begin sifting, sorting and reorganizing my sewing space.  Then you can expect even bigger and better things!  :)