red flannel pantry

creative pursuits in the kitchen, garden, library and sewing room

Archive for the month “September, 2012”

Kate’s pumpkin bread: 1 + 1 = 3

Yesterday I made pumpkin bread for a friend, and it filled my home with the wonderful fall scents of cinnamon, ginger, cloves and pumpkin.

My friend, Kate, generously shared her recipe for pumpkin bread with me long ago, and I make it often. It is one of those recipes for which I always have the ingredients (no special trips to the store needed), and I appreciate how the amounts for doubling or tripling the recipe are provided–no math required, phew!

I usually double the recipe but then bake it in three 7 3/8 x 3 5/8-inch Mirro loaf pans that I bought at a yard sale in Cedar Rapids, IA many years ago. These pans make Baby Bear–sized loaves: not too big, not too small, but just right.

So by doubling the recipe, I end up with three loaves–my kind of equation!

The outcome makes sharing painless: one loaf for our family and two loaves to gift.

fabric nosherie

I was in Webster Groves, Missouri last week and thought I’d stock up on some modern solids at Fabric Nosherie. Of course, there was collateral damage–I am a fabric hoarder.

I couldn’t resist this squirrel & nuts fabric from David Walker’s Get Together collection–I love their comma tails. I bought a couple of fat quarters of it.

Given my family’s embrace of all things amphibian, I had to get a chunk of turtle fabric from Aneela Hoey’s Little Apples collection too.

Fabric Nosherie carries a great selection of fabrics including Laura Gunn, Amy Butler and a variety of prints from Japan–talk about eye candy. It is hard to resist. You can also find cool buttons, patterns, books, quilting tools, ribbon, and embroidery floss.

Shannon, the store’s owner, is welcoming and knowledgeable, and she offers sewing classes for the beginner to the not-so-beginner. The store just celebrated its first birthday this past weekend. I enjoy shopping local stores–Fabric Nosherie allows me to feed my fabric habit and feel good while doing it!

Yesterday a friend told me about a store that just happens to also be in Webster Groves,  Red Lead Paperworks, where I can find Diamond Glaze for a project I am working on. It is located down the street from Fabric Nosherie (how convenient!) and carries scrapbook supplies and other crafty items.

I feel another trip to Webster Groves coming on . . .

a gift begets a gift

Yesterday my neighbor gave me a jar of honey made from her beehives as a thank you for a favor. Her bees are over in my gardens all spring and summer visiting my vegetable and flower gardens–I am appreciative of all of their hard work. To receive a jar containing the fruit of their labors (as well as Kathy and Bill’s) is special.

So to thank her for her sweet gift, I decided to use some of her honey and make challah for her. Today is Rosh Hashanah, so challah is a timely gift for my Jewish neighbors. I made it in the traditional circular form for the New Year. Its round shape symbolizes the yearly cycle and hope for a new year free of sorrow and full of blessings. It is also the easiest way to shape challah–lucky for me!

Although my family is not Jewish, challah is our favorite bread–I make it every week, usually in a four-strand braid shape. I make this shape for a couple of reasons: (1) I find it is easier to divide dough in half and in half again to then make into four bread “ropes” than to try to divide it evenly in three (I am revealing my obsessive tendencies) and (2) when sliced, it is the perfect size and shape for sandwiches, toast and French toast. If you want to learn how to braid a four-strand challah, here are great step-by-step instructions with photos. There are countless recipes for challah, but our favorite appears in the Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook by Beth Hensperger.

monarch caterpillars on milkweed

While mowing the lawn yesterday, Daughter #2 made an exciting discovery: eight monarch caterpillars munching away on the swamp milkweed!

We watched them for a long time, marveling at their ability to eat while suspended upside down and admiring their vivid tiger stripes.

When my kids were younger, we would sometimes put a monarch caterpillar along with a short stick and some milkweed leaves in a mason jar with holes punched in the lid. We would watch the caterpillar form its chrysalis, which looked like a little green jewel case. After about two weeks, the chrysalis would begin to darken and we knew to unscrew the lid–the butterfly was about to emerge.

This time though we are leaving them be, but we’ll watch for their chrysalises around the milkweed.

groovy granola

I have been making and eating this granola for years, and although I tried to get my kids to eat it, they all preferred Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

Until this summer.

Son #1 became a convert, eating bowls of it as a late-night snack. Suddenly, I had to up my production, which wasn’t a problem because it is so easy to make.

Son #1 left for college this week, and his parting request was that I please send him granola–better than his asking for money.

You can find the recipe here. I store it on the pantry shelf in an airtight container. It is delicious with a couple of scoops of Greek yogurt and fresh fruit.

The challenge to convince Daughters #1 and #2 continues!

corgi confetti

When I received this corgi fabric from Spoonflower, I knew I would have to incorporate it in the quilt rather than hiding it on the back as originally planned. I decided to make a confetti or snippets quilt. Examples can be seen here and in this book, and I found this tutorial helpful.

I framed various bits of fabric with strips of white and then assembled them into panels, adding extra strips to fill in. Being free to play with the layout and not having to match seams made the process fun.

For the back, I pieced a couple of strips of scraps and inserted them between the rows of corgis. (I was careful not to decapitate them, but amputation was unavoidable!) I straightline-quilted in a grid pattern with white thread. The wall hanging ended up being 18″ x 36 “.

cool quilting tool

When you want to get a general sense of color and composition and you are tired of closing one eye and squinting like a pirate, looking through a door peephole is the way to go. You can find a door peephole (aka fire door viewer) on Amazon or at a hardware store for under $10.

It provides an extended fisheye view of your project and allows you to visually stand back and get a general lay of the land. I am currently working on a collage-y quilt, and looking through the peephole as I rearrange pieces helps me quickly make design decisions.

 Beyond quilting, I could see a peephole being helpful to artists who work in all sorts of visual media.

Although it does eliminate squinting, you do still need to close one eye–I guess the pirate look is unavoidable!

hummingbird showdown

The hummingbirds are in combat mode around here, dive bombing one another to protect their turf.

This little female ruby-throated hummingbird took a break from her high-speed pursuits to feed.

Another female quickly let her know that she needed to retreat!

Where’d You Go, Bernadette

If you are looking for an entertaining book this fall, you will want to check out Where’d You Go, Bernadette, a novel by Maria Semple. I couldn’t put it down and I laughed out loud–my top two criteria for a rollicking good read.

Using an epistolary construct, Maria Semple tells Bernadette’s story, and into this tale she weaves a TED talk, Microsoft corporate culture, bitchy PTA mothers and neighbors, Antarctica, acronym overuse, green architecture, Seattle (oh, she has lots to say about Seattle!), Russian mafia, seasickness, over-hyphenated names, robotics, psychiatrists, motherhood, police reports, and dysfunctional families. This book is utterly delightful, wicked, clever and fun.

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