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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Chicken Biryani

This is Chicken Biryani, Dum Style from Mangoes and Curry Leaves, page 102. The chicken is marinated and then layered with half cooked rice and fried onions. It is sealed in an oven proof dish (I used my cast iron dutch oven but a clay cooker would also work). The seal is made from atta flour and because it is sealed the food steams. It was very tasty and there is lots left for this evening. We ate it with Mango Chutney from the same cookbook.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


I just went to the mailbox and found this great prize that I won from Gayle at Sparkle Jars.
The long strips will definitely find their way into a quilt soon. Gayle knows what I love and so included some rickrack. I especially like the ones with gold and silver threads. Now I can't wait to get back into the studio and put some of those lovely fabrics up on my design wall.
Thanks a million Gayle.

Cheese Making

Curds and whey. This happens after you add the rennet. Once it is cut into cubes you heat it and stir it.

These are the curds after they are drained. At this point, when making mozzarella, you immerse the curds into the hot whey and stretch and knead them. Mine didn't get as stretchy as I wanted. According to the troubleshooting guide, either the whey wasn't hot enough or the curds not acidic enough.

Here the cheese is formed into loaves. I used some in a salad and it was quite tasty.
Today I am making French Cream Cheese. It has been sitting overnight and soon I'll drain it. It smells divine!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

New Books

I love books and now I have a few new ones to inspire me. I have been wanting Liberated Quiltmaking II for awhile now. There is no use ordering only one book at a time so I got a couple of art quilt books as well. The Art + Quilt one has a section at the back on critiquing your own work and that of others that may be very helpful. I have only had time to skim through it yet. Both the art books are set up as lessons. Gwen's book is very inspiring of course. I don't know what I'll do first. I guess making my way to the studio would be a good start.

Since I took the cheese making workshop I have been very interested in trying some different cheeses. I doubt if I will try all 200. First I have to organize some sort of aging area that is the right temperature. I may have to invest in a small dorm style refrigerator. In the end this may not be cheaper than buying cheese in the store, but it will certainly be more fun and hopefully taste better. I haven't tried any of the Moosewood recipes but some of them sound delicious. Stay tuned.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Quilting Afternoon

This morning I loaded this one on the frame and this afternoon I quilted most of it. I have it off the frame because I have to turn it to finish the borders. I did a wave design on the border and I can only do that from side to side, hence the turn. I will quilt my label into the thin black border. I'll finish it tomorrow I'm sure.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Finish is in Sight

Yesterday I finished quilting the scrappy quilt and today I sewed on the binding. I got every last inch of the binding from my drawer of leftover ends of binding from other quilts. That means I didn't use any fabric that wasn't in my scrap bins. Even most of the thread was from nearly empty spools and the bobbin thread for the quilting was pre-wound bobbins from the thrift shop. This is one thrifty quilt!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Semolina Cake

I needed a cake to take to our daughter's for her birthday supper. Yes, she made her own birthday meal but she loves cooking so it wasn't a bad thing (Especially for us. She has a way with a roast chicken..). I had run out of eggs, which eliminated most recipes. I found this one, Semolina 1-2-3 Cake, in Home Baking by Alford and Duguid. It had no eggs so I thought I'd give it a try. It turned out to be absolutely delicious. I should know by now that all their recipes are excellent. It is made mainly with coarse semolina and yogurt with lemon flavouring. When it is still hot from the oven you pour some sugar syrup, made while the cake was cooking, over the top. It then has to sit for a couple of hours to let the syrup sink in. It got a two thumbs up from everyone who tasted it.

Monday, March 15, 2010


I have already started using my new batting. This morning I loaded the scrappy quilt on the frame and started quilting it. I didn't get much done yet and we have to go out this afternoon so that's it for today. Tomorrow is thrifting day but I may get back at it in the afternoon. Loading the quilt is the least fun part so it will be nice tomorrow to be able to get right at the quilting.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


I had a bunch of JoAnn's coupons that expired today so we made a quick trip to Grand Forks. I got a roll of batting (15 yards) at half price, these three wonderful fabrics, pins, rotary blade and yet another ruler all for $120. It was very foggy on the way down and most of the way back but well worth the trip even for just the batting.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cheesy Day

Today I went to a cheese making workshop. Here is mozzarella being stretched.

Here are some of the things we made including butter and cheddar shown in the picture. We also made mozzarella, ricotta, cottage cheese and queso blanco. We got to taste some two month old Monterey Jack which might just be the best cheese I ever tasted. It was made from fresh milk from a cow fed on organic grass and unpasteurized. (The milk,not the cow, although when I think of it the cow probably hasn't been in the pasture all winter so maybe the cow is unpasturized too.) I was surprised at how easy it is to make cheese. There will be more fresh cheese around here soon.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The Back

Or is it the new front? I pieced scraps from the parts drawer and from a pile of backing strips trimmed from other quilts. This is the result. I'm not sure how much I like it but I do like the fact that every single bit of this quilt is from scraps. I didn't cut into any yardage at all. I will have to buy batting for it though.

Monday, March 08, 2010


The front is done. It measures about 80x56. I was going to put on a border but it's probably big enough already.

I started piecing the back. The blocks in the middle are from the last quilt I did. The strips on the sides are surplus from the backing of other quilts I have done. It's turning out to be a fun quilt and every single piece is from the scrap box.

Sunday, March 07, 2010


I have to agree with Wendy Mullin when she says, "There's one surefire way to solve a fashion emergency: throw on a dress". I haven't done much dressmaking since I started quilting and retired from the workplace. You'll more often find me in sweats these days. This book tempts me to change my mind though, and make a few summer dresses.
If you are a complete novice at sewing , you might want to purchase Wendy's prevoius book, Sew U before tackling this one. Dresses assumes you know the basics of sewing.
Chapter 1 discusses how to choose the right pattern and fabric for your figure. The second chapter is all about how to make a sloper and a muslin from the basic patterns that are included with the book. I was particilarly interested in the method used to adjust the muslin where it doesn't quite fit. There is a chapter about basic dress construction and different finishing details such as pockets and necklines or collars.
The rest of the book consists of projects based on the three basic patterns which are included in a sealed pocket at the back: the sheath dress, the shift dress and the dirndl dress. From these three basics you can make a Capri Sundress, a Drawstring dress, a Lumberjack dress, a French Sailor dress, a One-shoulder dress and many, many more. Each project also has suggestions for fabric and variations using embellishments or trims.
The instructions are very well illustrated with line drawings and are clearly set out with a separate box for each step. I have many years of garment sewing in my background but even without that, I think I'd have absolutely no problem following the instructions.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to think outside the box pleat, as Wendy says, to make a wardrobe full of fun dresses for all occasions.

Still There are Scraps

I added a few more rows and still the pile of scraps looks just as high. I'll put on two more rows to bring it up to the size I want and then sew them together randomly.

Saturday, March 06, 2010


From this

To this. And there are still lots of scraps left. I also raided the parts drawer for some extra nine patches and other assorted blocks. If they weren't the 8.5 inches that I needed I just added to the sides. I think there are several quilt tops like this in that pile.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Flying Geese

Today I did a bit of playing around with my flying geese ruler. I like the colors but I'm afraid I lost quite a few of my points in the process. One more reason to love wonky quilting. This pieces is about 24x17 inches.
I received this cute little book in the mail yesterday. It would be impossible to read it without smiling. The first half consists of pictures of "little wonders" with a one line poem on the facing page. For example, facing the Double Dove Bowl is "A Brief Blissful Moment".
The second half of the book is a workshop for making each of the whimsical little creatures.
I have not done any felting so the detailed instructions and pictures are very helpful. Probably even more useful would be the page titled First-time Feltmaking SOS.
Among my favorite projects are the Fluffy Kitten and the Whispering Rabbits Ring Holder. The Winking Cat Tea Cozy also caught my eye. I haven't tried any of the projects yet because I don't have any wool rovings but I can see some in my near future.
Toyoko Sugiwaka was born in Japan and now lives in Australia.