Ancient History in The Quilting Department

While I was looking for the stamps that I bought last year for Christmas letters (they may, in fact, not exist, we may have used them over the year), (I ran out of gumption on the letters and not everybody got one), I did discover a pile of pictures of projects from the pre-digital-camera age.

Of course that means the colors are quite funky in some of these, but you can get the idea.

This is the cross stitch quilt for my oldest niece, this close up turned out well but the picture of the whole quilt is really dark. I hand quilted this one.

Sorry for the quality there but you can see what the whole thing looks like.

This is my oldest niece’s pieced quilt – this is made from the same colors and fabrics as the quilt I made for her parents as their wedding quilt. (I have not found the pictures of that yet.) I tied this one, not being skilled at quilting yet.

I think this is my oldest niece’s crocheted blanket – it might be the 2nd oldest’s instead, I didn’t label these well, and this was 11 years ago now, I don’t remember. Pink center w/white edging, you can’t see the color very well in this one.

This one shows the color a little more.

Pieced quilt for my 2nd oldest niece. I was learning a little more, moving into triangles.

I machine quilted this one, and used a cotton batt so it would shrink up and look more old fashioned.

Again, not a very good pic, this one is a little better.

I think I hand quilted this one too. Obviously we need to get pics of these again (we don’t live very close to these nieces) with the digital camera.

Tentacles and Nautili and Enchilada Casserole

I realized sometime last week that I had two weekends in which to get my project for color class done AND get the house ready for my Mom to visit (hopefully) in the first week in February, as I will be on business travel one of the remaining weekends in January.

So I got busy on Saturday and bought some more fabric, needed some blue-green and some red-orange. February’s project is an analgous quilt – a run of colors that are next to each other on the color wheel, but only including ONE primary color. My color run is red-orange, orange, yellow-orange, yellow, yellow-green, green, blue-green. I am using one of the designs I developed in the Quick Design class I took last week, but with different colors.

For some reason I could not get motivated to actually get to cutting things out on Saturday, but I got all my fabrics organized, and then cut pieces and got them ready to fuse/applique. Various parts of the wall hanging went through several iterations as I went along.

I am going to email it to my teacher and see if she has any suggestions on the binding. So next weekend I just have to get it all fused down (the small things are fused down to the larger pieces already) and quilt it.

This is the first piece that I have come up with in my own head and designed on my own. I am not sure it is art but I like it.

I was gone a few nights this last week for work so I made one of Ken’s favorites: Enchilada Casserole. This may rightfully be called Burrito Casserole, but I made this up at least 15 years ago and that is what we have always called it.

It gets a little spattery in the oven.

Enchilada Casserole

1 lb ground beef
1 packet taco seasoning
½ c. water
1 can enchilada sauce
1 can refried beans
5-6 tortillas (soft taco size works well but if you have bigger ones, you can rip them up)
As much shredded cheese as you think won’t give you a heart attack (between 1 cup (4 oz) shredded and 2 cups (8oz) shredded

Brown the ground beef. Drain the fat. Add the taco seasoning and the water, re-heat until most of the water has boiled off. In a straight sided casserole dish (or wing it, whatever) start layering like lasagna: meat, tortilla, beans, ench. Sauce, tortilla, meat, cheese, until you run out of ingredients. Make sure you have some sauce for the very top. Save some cheese to put on after it has mostly baked to melt on top.

Bake 45 minutes at 350°. Put more cheese on top, put back in oven until cheese melts. Let sit a few minutes before serving, as the refried beans are like molten lava.

Serve w/tortilla chips if desired.

You can use as hot as enchilada sauce as you want, or add shrimp to the meat, or add jalapenos. Ken likes it like this. It is even better as leftovers.

BBQ Yak on a Bun and Robot Pancakes

You only think that jobs requiring a great deal of travel are exotic and exciting until you have one. Then you realize that, regardless of the destination, you spend the majority of time in airports and hotel rooms, conference rooms, meetings and trade shows, and very rarely get to appreciate your surroundings. Sometimes you are able to get out and explore and enjoy the area you have traveled to, but not often.

Most likely, if you are traveling more than 30 days a year for business, things like this will happen to you:

You will check into a room and then reject it and request a different room. Maybe because it is dirty. Or maybe because the bathroom sink has been torn off the wall and is in the bathtub.

You will be given the key card to a room, you will enter the room, and it will already be occupied. Or, someone will be given a key to your room and will enter it. This is why you always put the security lock on.

You will be awakened in the middle of the night by a drunk pounding on the door, possibly saying (or yelling) something like “Ethel, forgive me.” Very rarely is it a drunk woman. Women apparently take out their drunken frustrations in other ways.

You will pay a hotel bill with your personal debit card accidentally, which will cause you to write “personal” across your debit card in black Sharpie. Immediately after you do that, you will receive a new business credit card which looks nothing like your debit card.

Security will call you (wrong number) at 3:00 a.m., to ask you about the fight with the woman in your room. They will not apologize when you tell them that was not your room. They will just hang up.

Someone will pull the fire alarm in the middle of the night. Pray this happens in California or Florida, not Chicago or Grand Forks in the winter.

You will stay at a hotel which requires to to leave your ID at the front desk to obtain an iron and ironing board.

Usually in the Dakotas or Nebraska: The “list of dos and do-nots” in your room will include instructions about not cleaning your fish, pheasants, or other deceased game animals in the room. Despite this instruction, their is evidence that previous occupants have done so.

You only order water to drink on airplanes because it is less sticky when you or someone else dumps it on your lap.

You will lose your cell phone or some other object which is important to you on the plane.

You will grab a carton of milk at the breakfast buffet and take a big swig before you discover it is past its prime.

You will call your boss “Dad” in front of two board members, mortifying him and amusing the board members to no end.

You will almost miss your flight and will have to run through the airport like OJ Simpson in his commercial days, and will be the last one on the plane. This only happens on flights where there are witnesses, such as your board members or co-workers.

The more boring and bland a destination, the more often you will travel there.

My job involves going out for meetings in the country, often in farm fields or outbuildings. Sometimes those days start out really early and end really late. Sometimes you don’t see an indoor bathroom for hours (not a problem for the men, but I don’t enjoy “going behind a pickup.”)  Sometimes it is 110 degrees and you are out in the sun for several hours at a time. Sometimes you eat BBQ beef on a bun for 4 out of 6 possible lunches/dinners in 3 days. I don’t mind bBBQ beef on a bun, but sometimes a little more variety is nice. BBQ yak on a bun doesn’t count as “variety.”

Now, admittedly, not all business travel is stressful. Sometimes you get to travel with someone you are really compatible with, and you go in early and tour the sights, and eat amazing food. Sometimes you get to see friends and family you haven’t seen in years in conjunction with a business trip. Those are the ones that make it all worth while. And the other ones give you good stories to share with your friends who are in the same traveling boat.

And sometimes you see random things that just make your day, such as the Pancake Making Machine at my Holiday Inn Express this morning, which I found totally amusing. And yes, I did use my fancy work camera to take pictures. My board member wasn’t even embarrassed. He has traveled with me before.

Look, it is like a desktop printer for pancakes!

Waiting for my miraculous pancake.

Oooooh, here it comes! Plate positioning error, must move closer.

One pancake is not enough. Especially when a robot is making them for you!

Now, these weren’t the best pancakes in the world, but they were certainly fresh. And weren’t we all convinced this was the way we were going to be eating by 2010 – punch the instructions into the machine, and it would produce the desired food item? Well, this one only produces pancakes, but it is a start.

And Why Wouldn’t it Have Tentacles?

How about some knitting content? It has been a while. I have the next pair of socks started:

They are not really this red, they are brownish. This is the “Elongated Rib” pattern from Sensational Knitted Socks.

And now for some mittens. Not a recent project, but one of my favorites.

I am quite fond of the Selbuvotter mitten patterns.

This was the first pair I knit. I took a class at Knit Knack, my local yarn store.They were too small for me and so my sister-in-law April got them.

This was the second pair I knit. These are Mine.

These are the third pair, they were for my friend Cyndi

If you want to know details about what yarn and what number pattern, comment and I will email you my Ravelry “handle.” If you don’t know what Ravelry is, it is a website where knitters hang out together and plot to take over the world.

And, what I learned in my quick design class on last Saturday:

My next quilt is going to have tentacles.

Another design from class. This one is so boring compared to the one with tentacles.

And I am off on another work trip. One night gone, two nights home, one night gone, I am not sure which direction I am going.

Speedy Roll Dough – Updated

I made Holland Rolls this weekend with my Mom’s speedy roll dough, and I was previously unable to find any Holland Rolls pictures that looked like hers so I thought I would make some and take pictures. I made one pan for us, one pan for our neighbors who babysit the cats, one one pan for the neighbor who helped dig me out of the snowbank.

Holland rolls are nice, because you don’t have to cut the bread, they just divide along the separations in the dough.

Recipe at bottom of post.

Pinch off a ball of dough about the size of a tennis ball. This one is a little small.

Roll it out so it is slightly oblong.

Make oblongs until you fill your pan. It took 6 to fill my pans. If I had been sensible and weighed my dough on the kitchen scale, I would have had 3 uniform pans of rolls. Shall we take bets on whether I did that?

Let’s just say I did not. The size difference is not that obvious here, but it will be later.

See, the middle one is kind of a runt.That’s ok, that is the one we will keep for ourselves.

Handy baking hint: I turn the oven on warm for a few minutes, and then turn it off, and put the rolls in to raise. If you leave it on warm , and then put the dough in, and you have a tea towel on top of it, there is always the possibility the tea towel will touch the heating element and catch on fire and that is how you start to get a reputation.  Pay no attention to the baking soda on the bottom of the oven.

And viola! They got a little more done than I might have liked, but they were fine.

Speedy Roll Dough

Measure 6 1/2 cups flour.

Combine 2 cups warm water, 1/3 cup sugar, and 2 Pkg Dry yeast (4 1/2 tsp). Stir until dissolved. Add 3 tsp salt and 2 c. of the flour. Beat 2 minutes with electric mixer (or stand mixer). Add 2 eggs and 1/3 cup shortening. Beat 1 minute. Work in remaining flour (by hand or with dough hook). Do not add all flour if it gets too stiff, or add more if it is too sticky. Cover and let rest in bowl 20 minutes. Shape and let rise 40-45 minutes, until approximately doubled in size. Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. Makes two 9 x 13 pans cinnamon rolls, 1 cookie sheet ranch rolls (shape into golf ball size rolls), or 3 loaf pans Holland rolls. (Mom also calls these side-by-side rolls, you make a cylinder of dough about as long as your hand is wide, and about an inch in diameter, when you pop them out of the loaf pan, they separate nicely.) Could be made into any other shape you desire, for that matter.

Why We Can’t Have Nice Things.

Leo about killed us the other night. I was already restless and not feeling like I was settled down enough to sleep. Ken had already put down his book and was starting to doze off. And that was when Leo decided he needed to go up to the dresser to go to bed. This involves jumping up on Ken’s bedside stand, which isn’t extremely sturdy. And Leo weighs about 16 pounds, so when he jumps up on the stand, it WHOMPS into the wall, which is more than enough to startle you out of a sound sleep. Then he added in a new feature, he must have had a bit of a hairball, and he let out a tremendous HORK as he sat on the ledge around the room before heading to the dresser. It sounded just like someone had stepped on a duck. I couldn’t recreate that sound if I tried, and trust, me, Ken and I have both tried over that last several days. Well, both of us totally cracked up, but I was the one who then continually got the giggles for about 20 minutes. HORK!

And, with that, further evidence of Why We Can’t Have Nice Things:

This is the strap of my purse. Admittedly, I needed to replace this purse already. However, now I really HAVE to replace it because it looks like mice have been at it.

See these? They look like scratches in a wall?

Look at that! They ARE scratches in a wall! Clear into the drywall! That is what happens when you try to jump through the blinds AND the closed window at 3:00 a.m. to get at the black and white cat who is walking through the flowerbed outside. See also: giving us a heart attack.

This is the carpet by our door in the bedroom. When we go on vacation, we close the door so Leo can’t hide under the bed (or IN the box spring, another thing which the cats have worked over). Neither one of them likes this. So they try to dig their way under. Sigh.

We know that cats scratch and we aren’t surprised by damage to furniture, etc., but on these things they really seem to have gone above and beyond the call of duty.

It’s a good thing they are so cute. Look, Leo used to fit under the couch.

Simon does not approve.

MaryAnne was even cute in her cone (after she got spayed.)

It didn’t slow down her playing much. (That is the remains of a toy spider, the spider part is gone, just the pipe-cleaner legs remain.)

It also didn’t slow down her getting in trouble, here on top of the clothes drying rack.

Christmas Presents

Thought I would finally get around to saying something about our Christmas presents! I got some handmade things this year, and I always love that!

Ken got me the All-Butter, Cream-Filled, Sugar-Packed Baking Book, Little Old Lady Recipes, and a very cool necklace. Little Old Lady Recipes has recipes but also pictures and hilarious quotes, my mom and I had fun reading that. For example: “If someone asks you if you need any help, take off your apron, hand it to them, and go in the living room and have a drink.”

I haven’t looked through the other cookbook in detail yet.

This is my tentacle necklace, which I loved, and which has already bit the dust. You can’t really see in the picture, but the glass tentacle is tied on with cord. Let’s just say that cord doesn’t stay tied onto glass real well, and the tentacle hit the floor in Safeway the 2nd time I wore it. It was my favorite present and now I am sad….I think I am going to write to the maker and suggest there could be a better way to hook the tentacles on.

My parents got us a Best Buy gift card (new DVD player? since ours like to play some DVDs but not others) and a new Hamilton Beach Slow Cooker. This one has a metal insert so you can take it out and sear meat on the stove top if you want. Tried it out yesterday but I had to leave for a work trip so I don’t know how the roast turned out, will have to hear from Ken.

My friend Cyndi made me this beautiful Christmas table-topper. She also gave me a crown jewelry holder (she knows I have a thing for crowns) and a lava lamp night light (she knows I have a thing for lava lamps…), you can see those in the first picture. Have I mentioned how much I like handmade gifts?

My Aunt Connie made me this orange and blue woven table topper (she had no idea it was Broncos colors, she just knew I liked bright things) and a bookmark for winning a contest on her blog, and my Uncle Norman made me this wonderful cherrywood hand-carved spoon. Aunt Connie and Uncle Norman do a lot of re-enacting and education for kids and adults about the frontier/pioneer living and handicrafts. They are both very talented, as you can see.

Here is a close up of the weaving on the bookmark, how intricate!

Ken’s folks gave us cash, which is always appreciated, and went toward our new bedding ensemble. Ken really didn’t rake it in as far as amount of gifts, I got him an Otterbox for his phone and I am still trying to find him a scarf he will like. Hopefully will find him some make-up gifts in January. He really wants a fancy new camera, maybe when we win the lottery…..:  ).



Pork: I am Inspired and Some Advice about Thermometers

Are you ready for some more recipes? So far I have only published the successful ones. Well, the “Halloween Fire Chicken” doesn’t count. But that was more of a method problem than a recipe problem. Except maybe the recipe should say “don’t leave the hot grease alone for a second!” When I have some disasters, I will let you know. They happen on a regular basis. Recipe disasters, not kitchen disasters. Well, actually, both, I guess.

I LOVE the old church cookbooks I get at auctions and yard sales that have notations next to the recipes. “Not good” in some grandmotherly hand. “Better with pineapple.” So I have started making sure to write notes on mine, including the dates that I make them, so then I can tell when we haven’t had something for a long time.

So the new motto for the National Pork Checkoff is “Pork, Be Inspired,” and let me tell you, pork inspires me. BACON really inspires me. But pork loin, pork chops, pork shoulder, they all inspire me too.

Rubbed and Grilled Pork Loin

Recipe Here

Please note the very nice table topper, you will get to see the whole thing when I do an entry about my Christmas presents.

I did not make any changes to it, so I don’t feel right writing the recipe out here, like I made it up. I will say that this works with one of the small pork loins too, except that you end up with a lot of rub left over and you don’t cook it for so long. I did it on our gas grill, and its idea of LOW is not very low, so when I browned the one side for 10 minutes it got a little crispy, but that was the fatty side, so I just scraped some of it off. There is a kitchen technique it is important to learn from your mother – scraping off the burned stuff. My total cooking time was MAYBE 70 minutes for 4 pound loin.

AND I cooked it to the new temperature rules, which specify a 145° internal temperature and resting for 3 minutes. My cooking of meat has improved noticeably since I acquired a good meat thermometer. (PS, those thermometers that have a long cord that goes inside the oven with a probe and keep the temp on roasts, etc? You can’t use those on the grill. In the directions, it says “do not expose to flame.” You should also read the directions. I have still not learned this after mumble mumble mumble years.) (There, that was a disaster. I destroyed kitchen equipment. A rather NEW piece of kitchen equipment, grrrrrr.)

Anyway, the first time I made this, I used a small pork loin, and second and third times, I used about a 4-pound one. (If I have made a recipe 4 times, that means it is good, AND Ken likes it.) I wrote a note on the recipe “large better” but I think that just means more appropriate for the amount of rub. And it lasted longer. I froze about half of it.

Savory Rice
(this recipe is from a cookbook “The Illustrated Encyclopedia of American Cooking” by Editors of Favorite Recipes Press) acquired during a very brief stint of my employment with a company that sold books door to door. “Sales” – not really high on my skills or enjoyment list.

1 med. onion, chopped (chopped up really fine if you have a picky husband)
1 med. green pepper, chopped (leave out if you have a picky husband)
1/2 cup margarine (ha ha ha, I use butter)
1 c. rice
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can beef broth

Saute onion and pepper in butter; stir in all remaining ingredients and 1 soup can water. Pour into casserole (I used an 8 by 8 cake pan.) Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour. (I am at high altitude and I had to bake a little longer.) Let stand for several minutes before serving. Yield: 8 servings.

I LOVED this, Ken says it was OK. He disapproves of the minute mushrooms in the cream of mushroom soup.

If you aren’t looking for recipes that include cream of mushroom soup, you are reading the wrong blog. Just wait until I post my “Beanie Weenie Cup” recipe, that is Haute Cuisine there.

Mandatory cat pictures:

Even then, he had big paws.

MaryAnne as a kitten:

And her little stubby bulldog legs.

They were having a big fight outside the bathroom door this morning as I was getting ready for work. I kept hearing something thumping against the door, it sounded like someone was trying to get in. No, it was just them wrestling.

The First Glenderella Blog Contest

The first person to point out the mistake in the quilt (which I didn’t even notice until someone pointed it out at class Tuesday.) wins a pair of Glenderella trademark crocheted heavy duty indestructable handmade potholders. I would make it part of the design, but it might interfere with the design when I make the quilt a little bigger. Maybe some of you noticed it already and were too polite to point it out? :  ) This is something that anyone can notice, not just a quilter.

It is so refreshing to go to a class and talk about art and color – I encourage anyone who is a crafter or artist in any sense to take a class and learn something different. It is really helpful to use a different part of your brain. I always feel rejuvenated after class. I feel the same way after Knit Knight. Sometimes doing an artistic activity WITH other people is very different than doing it alone. The interaction informs your choices differently.

This weekend’s cooking adventures

While I wanted to work almost full-time on the quilt, I also wanted to make some meals so we would have leftovers for lunches for the week.

This is one of those recipes that I am kind of surprised Ken likes. I don’t think he grew up eating anything like this. This is from Quilters in the Kitchen, published by the Colorado Quilting Council, in 2001.

Shoyu Chicken by Helen Paul, Rye, Colo. With modifications by Glenderella

3 large chicken breasts, cut in chunks
½ cup water
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup soy sauce
¼ tsp ground ginger
2 cloves garlic, crushed (G. uses the garlic press, and doesn’t stop with 2 cloves)

(I usually double the sauce recipe, because we like lots of sauce with our rice)

Stir sauce ingredients together in deep pot, I use a dutch oven. Add chicken breast chunks. (You could use thighs or bone in pieces as well). Cook on medium. Stir occasionally, cook until chicken is tender. If you use breast chunks, this will be 20 minutes or so. Look out, this loves to boil over and it makes a big mess on your stove. Serve over rice. Makes about 6 servings, depending on the size of your chicken pieces.

This does have a lot of sugar, but it is really good. My dad would not eat this with a 10 foot pole, but I still think I will submit it to my aunt for the family cookbook. Other people in the family might be adventurous.

I make my rice in a rice cooker. I don’t usually believe in one-purpose appliances, but rice is harder to cook here in the high altitudes of Colorado, and rice cookers do it SO WELL. Plus, I got Roger Ebert’s cookbook (link) and it gives instructions for cooking other stuff besides rice. It also does the Lipton and Rice-a-Roni boxed rice side dishes quite well.

The following recipe changes a bit every time I make it. I very rarely make a recipe the same way twice, but I will try to do my best for the sake of sharing the recipe.

 Easy Stuffed Shells

1 jar pasta sauce, whatever kind you like (or you can make some homemade if you have time, or use some if you have some frozen)
As many garlic cloves as your family will stand
4 oz Italian sausage (sweet if you are in my family, hot if you like that) (can also use more meat if you want, but it is nice to have a bit just for flavoring)
16 oz small curd cottage cheese
15 oz ricotta cheese (lowfat OK)
16 oz mozzarella cheese, divided in half and shredded
1 egg, beaten
1 T. dry parsley
1 T. dry basil
12 oz package jumbo shells

Cook the shells as instructed on package, but subtract about 2 minutes from the cooking time because they will continue to cook in the oven and you don’t want them to get too mushy. Brown the Italian sausage, crush the garlic (I use a garlic press) and add with about 30 seconds to go. Stir in the pasta sauce and remove from heat. Drain the cooked shells and let them cook a bit.

While they are cooling, mix together the cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, and 8 oz shredded mozzarella. Add the beaten egg, parsley, and basil. If you have someone who is really fussy, you can leave out the parsley and basil. Some people in my family view green things in their food with great suspicion.

When the shells have cooled, stuff each one with a HEAPING tablespoon of the cheese mixture. I pretty much put in as much as will fit. When I was done, I had about 9 shells left over. If that is a big deal to you, put less in each shell. Lay these out in a 9 by 13 baking pan or whatever casserole you have that works. Spread the sauce mixture over the top of the shells. Bake in a 350 oven for 45 minutes, add remaining mozzarella cheese to the top and bake until it starts to brown, about 15 more minutes.

Not for the lactose intolerant. Or the cholesterol-impaired, but oh is it good. Also makes excellent leftovers. I think I have even frozen these and had them turn out fine. You can go “light” on one of the cheese, using a skim milk or low fat version, but going light or no-fat on all of them is just asking for trouble.

And now for the promised Christmas recipe. We grew up with this at most family gatherings, it was what Aunt Connie traditionally brought. When we started talking about it the day before Christmas Eve, I knew we would have to make it, it was nostalgia, it was tradition, and I like it.

Aunt Connie’s Scalloped Corn (for bigger crowds, double, triple or quadruple- a double recipe served 15 people at Christmas Eve pretty well)

1 can creamed corn
1 egg
½ cup milk
1 cup finely crushed cracker crumbs (we use saltines)
¼ cup onions, chopped very finely (use less if you want my dad to eat this)
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all together and bake 1 hour at 350 degrees or put in crock pot (the small roaster ones work best, with the metal removable cooking pan), about 3 hours. If cooking in slow cooker/crock pot, take lid off for a while so steam escapes.

Add to jazz it up if you aren’t feeding picky people: more onion, celery, paprika, pimento, green pepper, Worcestershire sauce, shredded cheese. (Probably not all of these at once….) Sorry, no picture of this one. Maybe later!

And because SOMEONE says “more cat pictures.”. . .  These pictures are from 2008, when we still had Simon and Misty (both deceased now) but we had Leo too. We had a new toy, that attaches to the door and runs on batteries. We don’t get this out too often but it does keep them busy for a while when we do get it out. MaryAnne will play with it, Leo will watch it like a TV.

Approach with caution.

Show it who is boss. Break it if possible.

Show some vague interest.

Let Simon do it first and see if he gets killed.

I just set it up and MaryAnne is giving it heck.