The third and last "Tote Bag" of the week.

I started making tote bags almost three years ago when I was laid off.  I had a closet full of samples and fabrics from over the years.  I always said I would resume sewing when I retired and that I would buy a new sewing machine when I retired. 

Well,  my children bought me a new sewing machine and sewing seems like a good thing to do for this week anyway. 

I am going to give the three that I have made to my three nieces who either have small children and babies or who are expecting.

This last one is out of a buttery yellow twill and I lined it with a heirloom fabric. Actually is is probably a 50's fabric intended as a bright summer cotton tablecloth or beach wear.

Anyway I liked the size, scale, and theme but it was too, too bright for my taste. But as the lining and a quilt guide it made a quite attractive concept. So again I was off.

Yesterday my quilting was to merely channel stitch the blocks through their centers. But today I was doing the entire outline of the sun, beach balls, and hats. I was glad I had chosen a thin 100% cotton batting that was easy to stitch through. 

In my quest for handle materials I was short on a yellow gross grain ribbon but pleased when I found a woven flat cording of red, blue, and yellow, the primary colors of the lining. It made handles just a little shorter that I would have liked but there was enough for it to work. 

So now it is all done and I am going to go upstairs and make a batch of chocolate cut out cookies and a batch of regular cut out cookies to set to chill in the refrigerator until this evening or in the morning whichever it turns out to be that I get them rolled and baked. I cheated and took out a large bowl of chili from the freezer so I wouldn't have to worry about supper tonight.  I am so glad.


When you are Sad Bake Bread and Sew!!

Last night I stayed up with Suzie the boxer we have had for over 13 years. It was our last night together. She died this morning but she had such a great life and was such a terrific dog I am really trying to just be glad that we got to be the ones who were Blessed with her.

We got her when Emily our first Granddaughter was just a little thing, maybe 18-24 months old something like that and they just played when they were little!! In fact it was Emily who named her. Her first choice for a name was Grandma but I asked her what her dolls names were and she said Susie. She said all her dolls were named Susie and we could call the puppy that too. So we did.

My best friend Diane found her for me at the Evansville Animal Rescue clear across town. Someone had dumped her by the Vet Supply store. I took off work and went and sat a couple of hours to be the first one in line to get her because my husband wanted to get a boxer. We had never had one. She was a prize if ever there was one!!

When Katie was born, our second granddaughter she had been afraid of other dogs but she never feared Suzie. Katie was a tiny little thing and I can still see her marching in our front door with her hand out to Susie.

Well anyway when the twins come they will look for her too so it is all of us who have to move on.

So what did I do last night with Susie? I helped her get up the stairs and up on the couch and I couldn't sleep so I baked bread. The same sourdough I posted the recipe for on Feb. 17. It is really good and it is time consuming so it has kept me busy.

Today I am still sewing and just finished the second tote bag which really turned out fine. I had used the last quilted sample I had so I had to quilt a piece myself to make the bag so it took a bit longer. I am happy with all of it so that is a good thing. At least I know how to do these things so it keeps me busy.

That is important when you have to get past things in life. This was the last picture of Susie. I noticed her the background of a picture I took of my husband modeling his new BBQ Apron last night when he first got home from work. She was always a good girl.

Sewing this week.

Monday I spent in preparation, selecting combinations of fabrics for my projects. I am not finished yet but have made a good start. Planing is the hardest for me. Seems like I have to go through a process of thinking and rethinking things to get where i want to go with them. 

So Tuesday all day I sewed.

My first tote bag turned out to look cute and cheery. I found a wide gross grain ribbon in one of my stashes of goodies that looked really nice with the last piece of quilted bed cover sample that I had saved. It went fine except it was quite overstuffed which means I have to cut a lot of batting out of the inside of the piece and it was a sample with a curved corner which makes for a longer narrower bag because I have to cut the curve off. 

I need to make another tote for another niece and I am still working it in my head as I will have to use another fabric type but I almost have it thought out.

Then I had decided to make my only brother Gary a "MAN BIB" or apron as it is otherwise known. He is quite a cook. Quite possibly a better cook than I am actually!! He is having a birthday next week.

I decided on denim for wear and tear and "manliness"!! Then I remembered I had some trim that is quite "male" almost looks like a woven guitar strap. Of course midway I decided I have to make one for my husband too as he is quite the BBQ master. So now I have made two and I really like both of them. I made a pattern, straightened the fabrics and off I went. Not bad for a days work,

Sadly our dog of over 13 years a boxer named Suzie is failing. Her days are numbered. 

I am sad.


The Best Cheesecake I have EVER made!!

While Katie was here earlier in the week she told me her favorite desert was cheesecake and I know everyone else in the family likes it too so I set about to make one for Sunday diner. I have made them many times and have several recipes but I thought I would look at Ina Garden's recipes and try a new one. I have always had them crack in the center and was in hopes I could find one that didn't.
So I have adapted this recipe form the Barefoot Contessa's Raspberry Cheesecake.

Ingredients for the crust:

1 1/2 C. graham cracker crumbs
1 T. sugar
6 T. melted butter
For the filling:
5, 8 Oz. packages cream cheese at room temperature
1 1/2 C. sugar
6 large eggs at room temperature
2 large egg yolks at room temperature
1/4 C. sour cream
grated lemon zest of 2 lemons
1 1/2 t. Tahitian vanilla or other good pure vanilla extract*
For the topping:
1 1/2 pts. fresh strawberries and raspberries, red and black
3 T. sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

To make the crust combine the graham crackers, sugar, and butter until moistened. Pour into a 9" spring form pan. Using your hands, press the crust into the bottom of the pan and about 1" up the sides. Bake for 8 minutes. Cool to room temperature. 

Raise the oven temperature to 450 degrees F. 

To make the filling, cream the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Reduce the speed of the mixer to medium and add the eggs and yolks, 2 at a time, mixing well. Scrape down the bowl and beater as necessary.

With the mixer on low add the sour cream, lemon zest, and vanilla. Mix thoroughly and pour into the cooled crust. 

Bake for 15 minutes. Turn the oven temperature down to 225 degrees F. and bake for another 1 hour and 15 minutes. Turn the oven off and open the door wide. The cake will not be completely done in the center. Allow the cake to sit undisturbed in the oven with the door open for 30 minutes. Take the cake out of the oven and allow it to sit at room temperature for another 3 hours, until completely cooled. Wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Remove the cake from the spring form by carefully running a hot knife around the outside of the cake. Leave the cake on the bottom of the spring form for serving.
Top each serving with the sweetened berries.

This cake did not crack across the center and was delicious. *NOTE: If you love vanilla I strongly urge you to try the Tahitian Vanilla. I order mine from King Arthur and it is unbelievably fragrant, and the flavor is nothing less than sublime. This was really a delicious cheesecake.


Egg Rolls

We started making egg rolls years ago when the boys were little. This was a great project as this was before we all had food processors and things did not come pre cut in plastic bags at the grocery store.

There was a ton of chopping for three boys to do!!

This time was more a need to find a use for a three pound bag of shredded cabbage languishing in my refrigerator before it spoiled. Egg rolls was a sure fire way as the cabbage cooks way down and I thought I might be successful at freezing them prior to frying for later use. There was a bit of shredded carrot in the cabbage so really I thought if I added onion and a bit of meat and seasoning I had a plan.

They turned out great and we happily had them for dinner last night instead of going out or ordering carry out as we sometimes do on Friday night. It was a cold, rainy, miserable evening so it was good to snuggle down in our recliners in front of the TV and munch away.

Here were my ingredients:

1 t. cornstarch
1/4 lb. ground pork
1/4 lb fresh peeled and deveined shrimp, chopped with tails removed
Canola oil
1 onion chopped
1-1 lb. package Egg Roll Wrappers
2-2 1/2 lb. shredded cabbage with carrots
1 T. soy sauce
3 T. grated fresh ginger
1/2 t. black pepper
1 T. smooth peanut butter
1 egg beaten

Heat a wok or heavy flat bottomed pan over high heat and add 2 T. oil. Break the pork into the hot oil and stir fry 2-3 minutes, add shrimp and cook another minute. Remove from pan. Add the vegetables and seasonings and continue to stir fry until the cabbage has wilted down. Reduce the heat in the wok. Sprinkle with the cornstarch and stir well. Add the meat and the peanut butter. Stir until well combined. 

Remove the mixture to a colander placed inside a larger bowl and allow to drain and cool at least 30 minutes.

Place one egg roll wrapper with one corner facing you. Keep the wrappers you are not using aside covered with a clean towel so they don't dry out. 

Place 2 T. filling about 2 " from the corner of the wrapper. Brush the top two edges furthest from you with the beaten egg in a 1/2" strip. Fold the bottom corner over the filling. Firmly roll the wrapper half way up. Fold the two sides over the filled roll and roll the rest of the way up. Press the edges to seal. Repeat for each egg roll placing them on a clean dish towel. 

When the egg rolls are filled proceed to the frying step or wrap and freeze for use within one month or refrigerate and fry within 24 hours. Thaw frozen egg rolls completely between paper towels before frying in hot oil.

To fry egg rolls, pour oil into wok of dutch oven to a depth of 2-3". Heat oil to 375 degrees F. Fry egg rolls 2-3 at a time in hot oil until golden brown turning once, about 3-4 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Serve with soy sauce, Chinese hot mustard , and sweet and sour sauce for dipping.

Egg rolls can be kept in a 250 degree oven until all are fried. Yield about 20 egg rolls.


Sundried Tomato with Havarty, Ham, Turkey, & Asparagus Grilled Wrap

I am new to the making of "WRAPS" but the first one has been a hit ! ! !

It is not uncommon for me to keep blanched vegetables on hand and today I have asparagus, one of my favorites. At the grocery I had picked up some sundried tomato flat tortilla like wraps thinking it was time for something new. At Rivertown Butcher shop I purchased Boars Head Tavern Ham, Roasted Turkey, and hot pepper Havarty Cheese.

My wrap began with a slathering of spicy honey mustard on the wrap. Then I placed a layer of turkey then ham followed by slices of the cheese. Next I positioned 4 stalks of the asparagus evenly across to top and rolled it tightly.

Meanwhile I had a heavy cast iron griddle preheating. After a sprinkle of olive oil I placed the roll on the heat and weighted it down with a cast iron grill press. After a few minutes of sizzeling I turned the wrap and let it crisp on the other side too.

After slicing it in half it made a delicious lunch. One I will certainly repeat for family and friends.


Katie's Peanut Butter Cookies

My granddaughter Katie who is 10 is visiting a few days and we made one of her favorite cookies today. Peanut Butter Chris Crosses. Here is what you need:

1/2 C. butter at room temperature
1/2 C. peanut butter
1/2 C. brown sugar packed
1/2 C. white sugar
1 egg beaten
1 1/4 C. flour
3/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. and place silpat or parchment on cookie sheets.

Combine the butter, peanut butter, sugars, and egg and beat well and set aside. Combine in a separate bowl the flour, soda, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the fat and sugars and beat well.

Refrigerate the dough for about 30-40 minutes. Then form into teaspoon sized balls and cross with a sugar dipped fork.
Bake 10 minutes and remove from oven, cool 5 minutes and remove to rack to finish cooling. Yield 3 dozen cookies.


Roy the Rooster

Silly as I may seem I have always had a "bug" to write children's books. One title I have often though about is a story about, Sneaky Snake the Garden Snake, and I have a topic that I would like to develop about where food come from in story book fashion.

All this aside while I was away I noticed that one grandson was a "morning person" and the other a "night owl" and it set me to thinking about the roosters and their song to wake the work each morning.
One morning I sat down and out streamed a story about Roy the Rooster so I wrote it out, found pictures online and printed everything and placed the pages in plastic sleeves and all of the sudden I had done it......Written a little children's book and placed it in a three ring binder.

So Roy the Rooster now lives and will be added to the little library at my oldest sons house.

Wow I've come home to spring!!

It has been a colder, snowier, longer winter than those I have grown used to here on the southern border of Indiana. In the past 30 years that I have lived here many have had not a lot more than a mere dusting of snow or an occasional inch or two. Once every few years 4 to 6 inches all at once and little the rest of the winter. Many many times we have cooked out on the grill until well after Christmas. Hampered mostly by dampness and the cold grey clammy evenings that discourages outdoor cooking.
But this year snow has been a constant. Records have been tied and set buy consecutive days with snow or days with snow on the ground.
But when I returned from the colder bleaker climate north of Indianapolis in Hamilton County, much to my surprise!! Spring had sprung and I found crocus and daffodil blooming in my yard!!
So I have walked my garden plot and am thinking of the many things I would love to plant. I can't wait for our next trip up north in hopes of stopping at Wickman's Nursery north of Washington, In. on the return trip. They have the best selection of tomato starts I have ever seen anywhere. Oh, the things daydreams are made of......


Light Rye Bread made in my new Breadmaker

I had a lovely Panasonic bread maker that served me well for many years but finally gave up the ghost.

For my birthday last week I received a new one, the Zoijrushi machine and I like it a lot.

I find the best things about bread machines to be it frees up the oven for other things on busy days and it makes great "dough" if you don't intend to bake it in the machine but want the convenience of using it to make a traditional recipe. Then baking it in a loaf pan or on a stone strewn with a bit of cornmeal.

Tonight I made a batch of the light rye and in the morning I will put on a batch of white as we are having a family dinner tomorrow at 1 o'clock. I have pulled a Boston butt previously smoked and frozen and mixed up a batch of "secret sauce" as we call it and it is all slowly simmering on low in the crock pot. 

Tomorrow I am also making a broccoli and chicken casserole for those not inclined to want BBQ pork for lunch. Thinking of a batch of brownies made special with chunks of Carmel mixed in and a tossed salad. We shall see what transpires as these are my current thoughts to be followed with pictures and recipes!! 


These have been no posts as I was visiting my youngest grandchildren and oldest son north of Indianapolis last week.

These recipes are adapted from the Zojirushi recipes for model: BB-CEC20.

Here is the recipe for the light rye bread using the bread maker:

1 1/2 C. water
4 1/2 C. bread flour
2/3 C. rye flour
2 T. sugar
1 1/2 t. salt
2 T. butter
1 T. caraway seed
3 t. rapid rise yeast

Place all of the ingredients in the pan starting with the liquids and ending by making a trench in the top of the dry ingredients and placing the yeast in the trench but making sure it remains dry. Bake as the mfg. directs. Remove from the pan and cool before slicing. Yield 2 pounds.

Basic white bread using the bread maker:

1 1/2 C. water
4 1/2 C. bread flour
4 T. sugar
2 T. dry milk
2 t. salt
2 1/2 T. butter
1 T. rapid rise yeast

Place all of the ingredients in the pan starting with the liquid and ending by making a trench in the top of the dry ingredients and placing the yeast in the trench but making sure the yeast remains dry. Bake as the mfg. directs. Remove from the pan and cool before slicing. Yield 2 pounds. 

BBQ Pork is a big favorite and I had a whole smoked butt in the freezer that I thawed and pulled on Saturday for Sunday dinner. My special sauce is 3 C. favorite BBQ sauce (Sweet Baby Ray's) plus 1/4 C. hot sauce and 1 C. apple juice. Whisk all together and pour over the pulled pork in a crock pot slow cooker turned to low and leave overnight. The aroma will drive the neighborhood nuts if your windows and doors are open!!!

I made Chicken Broccoli casserole because I have broccoli I need to use up and because my two daughter-in-laws would probably be happier with this than the BBQ. It can act either as a side dish or a second entree. The recipe is adapted from the Lazarus restaurant cookbook. I omitted 2 C. of sliced fresh mushrooms from the recipe and used red bell pepper instead of green.

Back in the day the ladies of Evansville would purchase this from the restaurant by the bucket to serve at bridge games and afternoon events. It really is quite good.

Chicken Broccoli Casserole:

1 lb, fresh broccoli florets, blanched or steamed to tender crisp in 1/2 " pieces
1/4 lb. butter
2 C. celery diced
1 C. onion diced
1 medium red bell pepper diced
1 T. salt
1 t. pepper
1/4 t. garlic powder
1 1/4 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast cooked and diced
16 oz. cream cheese softened
1 C. shredded cheddar or Swiss cheese (can be mixed)

Saute in a large heavy bottomed pan in the butter all of the vegetables until they are tender crisp.
Add the chicken and seasonings.

Over low heat blend in the cream cheese stirring until it is melted. 

Pour the mixture into a buttered 9 x13" casserole dish and sprinkle with the shredded cheese. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes until hot and boiling up around the edges. Yield 6 servings.


Kendle Case, Recorder Case, Rice Bag, and mending.

Yesterday I rooted through all of my assorted sewing stuff to dig out what I would need today. That is what I refer to as the grunt work. Getting everything together be it purchased of found. It is the no fun part of sewing.

There was selecting fabric and lining for a case for Emily's Kendle and doing the same for the case for Katies' recorder. Someone called and ordered a nutmeg scented rice bag and is the first one I have ever sold! I also had a sweater and pair of pants to mend and it is all done!! Boy does that ever feel good!!

I used some mid-weight denim with glittering hearts for a drawstring bag lined in baby blue for Kates' horn. Since the one end flares out and the other is shaped like a regular horn mouthpiece it seemed the best solution I could come up with.

Emily traced me a outline of the Kendle so I am hoping it will be just right. I found a heavy cotton that looked like tie-dye in pink, orange, and purple and lined it with bright tangerine. Thought it looked hip myself. We will see what the girls think. I am hoping I don't see disappointment in their faces.

Now for my rice bag. I used red and white cotton pillow ticking and grated 2 whole nutmegs in with the rice as the lady had requested it be scented with nutmeg. Smells very nice actually.

Then I mended Emily's sweater and her Mothers Pants that had gotten snagged on a chair and had a small tear right at a pocket.


Toasted Coconut Macaroons

This is adapted from a Barefoot Contessa program starring Ina Garten whose recipes I have tried are always good. There are many I do not try as we don't have all that seafood here in the Midwest. But her baking is stellar. After tasting these I wondered how in the world I could have lived to be over 60 years old and had never made these???

My husband, sisters, Mother, and two of my sons all are crazy about coconut so these should get a lot of traction around here. They are wonderful. I used the Tahitian Vanilla which pushed them the rest of the way over the flavor edge!!

Here is what you need:

14 Oz. sweetened shredded coconut
14 Oz. sweetened condensed milk
1 t. vanilla (I used the Tahitian vanilla)
2 extra large egg whites at room temperature
1/4 t. kosher salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. and line pans with parchment paper. Yield 24 macaroons.

Combine the coconut, condensed milk, and vanilla in a large bowl stirring well. Whip the salt and egg whites together with an electric mixer on high speed until medium-firm peaks form. 

Carefully fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture. 

Drop the batter by 1/3/4" scoop or 2 teaspoons onto the parchment leaving space between them. Bake 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Cool on the parchment then remove and serve.

No Brainer Dessert "JELLO"

Gosh I was cleaning out my kitchen cabinet, the one with all the boxes of pudding, jello, and other easy stuff. I have some really interesting recipes that call for a half of a box of red jello and the like. In an effort to use up some partial packages I combined a couple and used leftover pineapple juice as the liquid. I guessed on the amounts hoping to go short rather than long on the liquid.
I just stuck it in the refrigerator and forgot about it until almost suppertime. At that point I remembered there were 3 spears of fresh pineapple in a zip lock bag in the vegetable drawer along with a partial tray of fresh blueberries. Remembering the ex-large wine glasses I seldom use I set about to "throw together" dessert.
First a slug of the fruit jello and then diced pineapple and a tossing of blueberries followed by more jello and back to the refrigerator shelf.
After enjoying the most wonderful diner of French Onion soup I topped the parfait with real whipped cream and called it a day.


Septieme Hard Rolls

Love those crusty on the outside and soft and fragrant on the inside rolls? That is the promise of these diner rolls. Featured on Martha Stewart this week and originating with a recipe from Seattle chef Kurt Timmermeister. WOW!!!!!

I am hooked. These are without a doubt the best yeast product I have ever made or had. I love the fact you make them one day and refrigerate overnight. I like the results of long slow rises!! Popping crisp crust but not tough, tender and yeasty on the inside.

Here are the ingredients:

3 C. warm water 110 degrees F.
1 T. sugar
1 T. active yeast
8 C. bread flour ( I use King Arthur) plus more for work surface
3 T. whole wheat flour
3 T. coarse salt

Place the water and sugar and yeast in the large mixer stand bowl and stir to dissolve. Leave this alone for 10-15 minutes to "proof" and bubble up. Meanwhile in another large bowl stir together the bread flour, whole wheat flour, and salt.

Attach the dough hook to the mixer and add about half the flour and start the mixer at it's lowest speed. Let the mixer go a few minutes and then add the additional flour slowly as it gathers the dough together. You may have up to a half cup of the flour left depending on climatic circumstances in your area. The goal is to have a tight smooth dough collect around the hook with none clinging to the bowl, then knead for 15 minutes when that all comes together. If it starts to stick back on the bowl add any additional flour you have left.
At the end of the machine kneading place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and hand knead a couple of minutes then place in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place for about an hour. After an hour place in the refrigerator overnight.

Lightly flour 2 baking sheets and set aside. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide into 16 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, using just enough flour to keep from sticking. Place them equally on the 2 baking sheets leaving space between each ball of dough. I used parchment paper and floured it lightly. Let stand at room temperature for about 5 hours until they have doubled in size. Cover them with a clean tea towel while they rise.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly dust the dough with flour. I baked the pans one at a time on the center rack of the oven for 30 minutes.. The directions stated you could bake one pan on the top rack and rotate the racks halfway through and turning the pans front to back. Cool in the pans on a rack. Reheat in a 400 degree oven just before serving to crisp and warm through.


These are outstanding, easy to make, and delicious.

French Onion Soup

Nothing comes to mind that is any sweeter and aromatic than a sumptuous kettle of French Onion Soup slowly bubbling away on the stove. Curiously I don't think of it as a winter soup. Not heavy and hearty, rather a sweet spring my mind anyway.
As it happens I am all about not being wasteful so when I found there were lots of sliced raw onions left from the birthday bash the Saturday before last I set out to find a worthy use for them. They have been lingering in a large flat Tupperware dish in the bottom of my extra refrigerator. When I peeked today they were as perfect as the day I sliced them.
After a quick trip to the grocery for Swiss cheese I'll be ready to set about making my brew.
Two weeks ago I had made three sourdough baguettes and frozen two. We had grilled slices for Sunday dinner and I held back 6-7 slices and thought they would do nicely if I were to dry them in the oven to top my onion soup. So before I ran to the store I placed them on a tray in the oven at 200 degrees to finish drying.
Ingredients for the soup:

1-1/2 pounds onions sliced 1/8 " thick
1-1/2 quarts beef stock ( I used frozen homemade but store bought works fine too)
2-3 oz. dry vermouth
2 T. butter
2 T. olive oil
1 t. salt
1 t. sugar
1/2 t. black pepper
Combine the oil and butter in a large heavy bottomed kettle and add the onions, salt, pepper, and sugar. Cook over medium heat stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes until the onions are soft and slightly golden but not brown. Add the vermouth to deg laze the pan and stir. Add the beef stock and return to a simmer. It can sit at simmer for a while or be served anytime at this point
To serve ladle the hot soup into large flat oven proof bowls and top with the slices of the breads you have toasted or dried. Atop the floating barges place shreds or slices of Swiss cheese and place under the hot broiler until bubbly and crusty. Serve immediately and be prepared to make seconds!!