Monday, August 3, 2015

Making Tomato Sauce

I had an over abundance of tomatoes so I decided to make tomato sauce. I put one onion, two celery stalks and 12 pounds of tomatoes into the crock pot. I cut up the large tomatoes and left the grape tomatoes whole.

I put the pot on high for about an hour and then turned it to low. After about 5 hours, I put it through a food mill to get rid of the peels. No one wants to have to hand peel 12 pounds of tomatoes!

I left it on for another 5 hours, until it got as thick as the caned stuff. Here's how far it cooked down.

It was one small jar full that I made a pasta sauce out of. It served two. It was yummy, but I expected more.

I'm not sure it something worth doing all the time, but it was a great way to use up so many tomatoes.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Joy of making Baguettes

I love making bread. I've been making it since I was very young. It's taken me a long time to make really good baguettes. I always had trouble getting the crusts really, really crunchy and the center soft.

Here's how I finally got it to work. I started with two packages of yeast. I put them in a bowl and added 1/4 cup of very warm (90-100 degrees) water and let it proof. After about 3 minutes, I added a teaspoon of sugar to help the yeast grow. I added 3/4 cup more of the warm water and started adding flour. After about 2 cups of flour, I added 1 teaspoon of salt. I guess you could add more, but I don't like things too salty. Anyway,add another cup of flour and turn the dough onto a board and start kneading. I kneaded the dough for about 20 minutes. Now this may seem like a long time of doing nothing, but I find it peaceful to just be working on the dough. (It could be mixed in a mixer instead.) As you're kneading, only add enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to the board and to your hands. By the way, if the board starts slipping on the counter, put a damp towel under it. Clean the bowl you mixed in and add a little oil to the bowl. Place the dough into the bowl and then turn it over so it has oil on top. Let it rise for an hour or until it's double in size.

Punch the dough down and knead it a couple of time.

Divided the dough into three equal pieces. I rolled each one into a flat kinda rectangle. Then I rolled the rectangles up cigar-like and placed it into this really neat baguette pan I have. They don't have to bee too neat as they straighten out as they rise. Let them rise for 30-45 minutes until they double in size. If you like the bread to have slits in it, cut it at a diagonal now - I generally don't.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Once the baguettes are in the oven, use a clean spray bottle that is only used for food, and spray the dough and the inside of the oven. Don't soak it, just lightly spray it. Set a timer for 5 minutes and spray again. I sprayed like this every 5 minutes until the bread was golden brown and done (about 25 minutes). It will sound hollow when you tap on the crust when it's done.

Here's the best reason to make bread - it tastes awesome. The two in the back weren't cut, but you can see the slits in the one of the bread board.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

My Visit to Flanders

The Flanders area of Belgium, more specifically Bruge (also spelled Brugge and Burges) is where lace making originally started. I was very fortunate to be able to visit Bruge. It's a wonderful city. They have a lace museum. In one room, for several hours on Saturday, women from the city gather in a room to make lace. The older women have been making lace for years. It was nice to see some younger women there learning the craft.

Here's tow of the women creating bobbin lace. The one of the left is over 90 years old and started making lace when she was a little girl. She was super fast. Both these women were working on very complicated lace.

The museum had all these supplies for sale - I could have spent a fortune and I don't even make lace. I bought the bobbins once, but never quite got the hang of it. Also, it takes about an afternoon to make about an inch or so of lace, depending on the width.

All the shop windows were full of either items made with lace or (of course) chocolate. I concentrated on the lace.

The old buildings were amazing.

We took a boat on the canal and it was beautiful. 

The entire city was clean and charming.

Here I am climbing up the latter to the top of a windmill. As you can see it was a long way up and a little scarey

After Burge, was Brussels. This was an amazing site. It's called the Atomarium. It was built for the 1958 worlds fair. It was supposed to be torn down the next year. It's been restored you can walk through the entire structure. There are escalators or stairs in the "arms." There's a restaurant at the top. We were lucky enough be be able to have lunch up there.

This is a view from the top. You can see how high up it is. It's massive.

A trip overseas always include a stop in the UK to visit family. This is one of the colleges in Cambridge. Looks a little like the buildings in Belgium don't you think?

It was the perfect time of year to visit Abbotsbury in southern England because the eggs were hatching and these cute little balls of fluff were just learning to swim.

There are thousands of swans here.

It was also the perfect time of year to visit Exbury Gardens. The rhododendrons were in full bloom. They were amazing - and very large.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Sew and Stitchery Expo in Puyallup

I just got back from the Sewing and Stitchery Expo in Puyallup Washington. Here I am in my booth on Thursday morning right before it started. As usual, it was a great show.

 While in Washington, I stayed with my friend Patti. We've known each other since I was in my 20's. It was so great to spend time visiting with her.


Monday, February 2, 2015

Tomatoes the Size of Peas?

You've heard of cherry tomatoes and grape tomatoes, put pea tomatoes? I don't think so. My tomato plants are still producing fruit, so I'm letting them go even though it's February and I have my new seedlings for this year's crop already started. I figure I'll pull them out sometime in March. I planted some regular sized tomatoes and some grape tomatoes. In the middle of January we had a cold snap (nothing like back east) and several of my grape tomatoes that had started to grow, stopped. When the weather warmed up again, they got ripe, but look how small they are!

 And yes, that's a pea next to it. I ate it - it tasted great. The ones that are growing now are regular size - about the size of a grape.

For those of you in the winter storms - stay warm. Kandi

Friday, January 16, 2015

My Quilt Book

I'm not a quilter, so I never thought I would write a quilting book, but here it is:

I'm so excited about this book because you don't have to know anything about heirloom techniques to make this quilt. You just have to know how change your needle and thread. It's finally in print and starting to ship.

It took a lot of trial and error to digitize all the techniques. After many months of trying, I finally got it right. The quilt on the cover would have taken me about a week to make normally. When I used the embroidery designs, it took a few hours to make the top and another couple of hours to add the backing, binding and quilt it. I stitched in the ditch for the quilting.

This is book number 12 and I'm happy to have it done.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Happy 2015

It's hard to believe the Holidays are over already. All the decorations are down and the house is back to "normal." It looks so bare. I hope your Holiday season was wonderful.I spent much of my holiday time putting on Christmas by Candlelight VIII. We have two dinners of 14 people each time.

Here's the table before anyone sat down (if you look carefully you can see the napkins are folded like little suit jackets):

There were 6 courses. Here's the menu in pictures.

Above is course zero, an amuse bouche. A single bite consisting of celantro, topped with a garlic crouton, stilton cheese infused with a cardomon sead and a bit of celery for crunch.

 The first course, a crepe rolled like an English Christmas cracker hand-rolled & tied Crêpes stuffed with morsels of Shredded Organic Chicken Breast blended with Boursin Cheese, white wine, tarragon & green onions and sauced by the same, then garnished with Pimentos & Chopped Fresh Parsley

The second course was Winter Kale from our garden & Masoor Lentils simmered in light chicken stock with New Orleans spices finished by Home-grown Basil and served with hot, straight from our ovens Home-made Traditional “French” Rolls

Our fish course, the third was a Trio of Roasted Pacific Shrimp lightly dusted with Hungarian Paprika, topped with a Cherry Tomato served with a reduction of Shallots, Red Wine & Tamarind and garnished with Radish Sprouts

Course four was a Unique Sorbet made from an intense reduction of puréed Georgia Peaches softened with a dew drop of Kentucky Bourbon and presented in a Chilled Baby Martini Glass.

Before the main course, the table lights are turned off and we dine solely by candlelight. The empty seats above are the couple in the kitchen helping us bus and serve the next course. We have each couple sign up to help during each course. It wouldn't be possible to serve 14 people without help.

The main course was Spécialité de la Maison “Yule Log” a Butterflied Pork Tenderloin rolled with Caramelized Parsnip Slices and layered with pressed Sage & Onion Stuffing presented with
Potatoes Pave accompanied by Pan-Roasted Brussel Sprouts finished with a Dijon Marsala Sauce.

Course 6, Lemon Bliss, Marbled White Chocolate Cups filled with Zesty Lemon Mousse softened with a touch of Freshly-whipped Cream decorated with Fresh Raspberries and Chocolate Mint Leaves from our garden

 The year ahead bring with it lots of promise - I wish you all a happy one!