29 July 2008

Catching Up With Cake

My draft of this post says "last weekend," but that was two weeks ago! I really need to do a round-up entry or something. I have been cooking many delicious things, but not writing about them and that's bad (as the crookneck squash and tomato fiasco has proven1).

Anyway ... cake!
Two weeks ago, The Husband announced a craving for cake. Who was I to refuse him? Marriages have been torn asunder for less. Too impatient to wait for butter to soften, I turned to my old standby, The Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book (my mother gave it to me when I was seventeen and it hasn’t failed me yet). I flipped through, looking for cakes which did not need softened butter or shortening (I do not own shortening), and found a recipe for hot milk sponge cake. Lo, there was much rejoicing.

And deservedly so. This cake turned out pretty darned well. It took no time to throw together, baked up perfectly, and tasted quite yummy. It would, I think, would make an excellent “emergency” cake (for unexpected company, work events, tummy cravings, etc).

I followed the cake recipe pretty much exactly as written, but did stir the zest of one lime in with the milk and melted butter. The lime zest gave the cake a little summer lift and I imagine orange or lemon zest would work equally well. This cake baked up very light and had an excellent fluffy crumb. We’ve eaten it with ice cream as well as with berries and whipped cream and it has been delicious either way.

You can see the recipe here or (if you’re worried about what is and is not fair use) you can find it in many editions (and variations) of the Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book.

This recipe is found on page :
  • 165 of the 12th edition (as well as the pink-and-white checked Limited Edition)
  • 141 of the 11th edition
  • 257 of the Better Homes & Gardens New Baking Book


1 All last summer, I made a delicious dish of summer squash, onions, and tomatoes. I made the dish so often that I never wrote the recipe down -- presuming I would remember it the following summer. Well, I didn't. Didn't remember it. Didn't have it bookmarked. Didn't del.icio.us it. Didn't blog it.


Took me two weeks of looking to find the recipe at Twice Bloomed Wisteria. Two weeks. And that was using all my librarian foo.


Anyway, Mrs. Turner's Squash Skillet is the right recipe. Huzzah and pass the squash.

27 July 2008

Or I Could Just Burn My House Down

It is taking longer than I thought -- this adjusting to a new kitchen. It is quite a pretty kitchen, but not as functional as one would expect. Really, it feels like a kitchen designed by someone who liked the idea of cooking, but who did not actually cook. Or, at least, not the way I cook.

Also, I worry about the cleanliness of my kitchen. On the surface, everything looked good when we moved in and I just gave all the surfaces a good wash with Biokleen Spray & Wipe All Purpose Cleaner and figured I was good to go.

And then I discovered something untenable growing in the dishwasher ...

Mold. Thick, tarry, mold. I was horrified and repelled. Didn't want to go near it. Wanted to throw up. Wanted to close my eyes and pretend it wasn't there.

Instead, I scraped off as much of it as I could. Sprayed it with Biokleen Spray & Wipe All Purpose Cleaner and scrubbed at it with a toothbrush. Then, I admit, I may have gone a little mental. I dumped baking soda, vinegar, and bleach into the dishwasher, set it on "hot" "pots and pans" and let it go.

The dishwasher came out cleaner, but not Clean. I scrubbed at it a bit more with the toothbrush then chucked in the last of the baking soda and vinegar and ran the machine again.

It's better -- looks almost clean -- but I doubt its inherent cleanliness. Somewhere I cannot reach, I am sure mold is growing.

Because I am now a freaked out that my kitchen is going to poison someone, I am going to do what I ought to have done a month ago. I am taking all my things out of the kitchen and will scrub until there is no doubt in my mind that the kitchen clean.

First, I need to buy baking soda, white vinegar, bleach, and toothbrushes. Many toothbrushes.

24 July 2008

More Ascot Valances

I promise you that someday soon I will find something new to obsess over and stop bothering you about curtains. Right now, however, I have many naked windows and much fabric. You will just have to bear with me a little while longer.

"Countryside Cottage" Ascot Valances

By "little while" I mean the next few months, of course.

20 July 2008

Cheep Housing Ascot Valances of Adorableness

Bought a Sony 17 in 1 multi-card reader/writer thingamabob to plug my camera's memory card into so that I may upload pictures to my computer without waiting for that thrice damned F-Spot Photo Importer to resume its former functionality. Or be less broke. Whichever.

"Cheep Housing" Ascot Valances

Anyway, you may now see two of my lovely ascot valances and know why I've been whittering away about bird fabric for weeks now.

14 July 2008

A Whiter Shade of Pale

Remember how I wrote that fabric.com had sent me four yards of the white background bird print rather than the ivory and that they were sending me four more yards of the stuff I wanted? Well, it's not the stuff I wanted.

I want this:

but keep getting this:


Happily, it looks like Quilter Studio at Appleberry Fabrics has ivory in stock and I have ordered three yards to make the last two or three ascot valances needed to go over the thrice cursed sliding door.

I am getting to be quite an expert valance maker. My order with Country Treasures came in much faster than I had expected (thank you, mary jane) and I had just enough to make three more valances. I did the rough sewing (all the bits you can't see when they're turned rightside out), but then gave them to my mother to do the top-stitching. Everyone can see the top stitching, you know, and my top stitching just isn't good enough yet. I also made two valances in the same pattern, but using a blue and yellow floral The Husband picked out, for one of the bathrooms and they came out really well.

Unfortunately, my camera, my computer, and my photo importer are not talking to each other and I cannot show you what it is I keep whittering away about post after post.

Just trust me when I say they're all dead purty.

09 July 2008

Happy as a Jay

So, remember when I wrote that my mother had snapped up four yards of Diane Knott's "Cheep Housing" birds and morning glories on ivory (10153-2) print for me at a little quilt show in upstate New York? Well, it turns out it wasn't a little quilt show in New York, but a little quilt store in Vermont.

She bought the fabric from Country Treasures of Chester, Vermont. The day of the fabric.com snafu, I e-mailed them to know if they had any more of the ivory print and not only did they have 2+ yards left, but they let me buy it over the phone and are mailing it to me. Huzzah.

This means I will have over six yards of the lovely stuff.

My house will be swathed in it.

Can't wait.

08 July 2008

Holsom Herbes

I’ve been making lots of yummy salads for lunch these past few weeks. It’s easy, this time of year, to get my full daily value of fruits and vegetables as everything is much nicer and, if not exactly locally in season, then close to.

By September, this salad binge will have given way to cravings for roasted vegetables and heavy meaty things. I will eat my daily fruits out of nutritional necessity rather than desire and much of that fruit may show up in the shape of a pie, anyway.

I like pie.

Some of the salads I have made:

  • Olivia's Organics Spring Mix w/ cold flaked baked salmon fillet, cucumbers, carrots, blueberries, and red onion.

  • Olivia's Organics Spring Mix w/ flaked canned albacore tuna, cucumbers, carrots, red onion, and diced pickled beets.

  • Olivia's Organics Spring Mix w/ cold diced lemon tenders (American Heart Association Low-Salt Cookbook, 3rd Edition), cucumbers, carrots, red onion, and the last of Mom’s Ramen-Broccoli Slaw (Cook’s Country, August/September 2008).

  • Olivia's Organics Herb Salad Greens w/ diced portabello mushroom caps, cucumbers, carrots, red onion, blueberries, and crumbled lemon stilton.

  • Olivia's Organics Herb Salad Greens w/ diced portabello mushroom caps, cucumbers, carrots, red onion, dried cranberries, and chopped hard cooked egg.

  • Yes, I'm pretty partial to Olivia's Organics salad mixes. They taste great and I never have any waste. None of those brownish or slimy things that I tend to find in other commercially packaged salad blends. It's lovely stuff. The Herb Salad is my favorite, hands down, and I'm pleased to once again be living in a civilized area where grocery stores actually stock it.
    Tango, Lolla Rosa, Red and Green Romaine,
    Red and Green Oak, Red and Green Chard,
    Spinach, Mizuna, Radicchio, Frisse, Beet Greens,
    Arugula, Tat Soi, Red Mustard, Dill, Parsley

    06 July 2008

    The Birds! The Birds!

    About five months ago, I was on Clothworks's website looking at Diana Knott's fabric collections and fell headfirst in love with "Cheep Housing." As soon as I heard it was being released, I marshalled my forces (my mother and the internets) and set forth to acquire as much yardage as I could. My mother hunted "Cheep Housing" from Pennsylvania to New Hampshire before finally snapping up four yards of the bird print on ivory (10153-2), plus half yards of the tonals, for me in a little quilt show in upstate New York. Then I found another five yards of the ivory bird print on fabric.com last week and there has been much rejoicing.¹

    Too often, in my early days as a quilter, I erred on the side of economy and bought dribs and drabs of fabric I really liked -- only to regret I had not bought more. Now, if I see something I really love, I buy as much of it as I can. If I later decide I have more than I need, I can swap with my mother. But, if I don't have enough, there's not a lot I can do to get more. The magic of the internets only goes so far.

    What I need is a quilt stash modeled along the libraries of the Discworld. Instead of all library's everywhere connected by the magic of L-Space, I would have a stash connected to all stashes everywhere through Q-Space.

    And, probably, I would never sew anything because I would always be away on expedition looking for that perfect accent fabric. Better, perhaps, to make do with what I have ...

    So. Nine yards of the ivory bird print, plus two and a half yards of assorted tonals (10157-1 et al). What was I going to do with all that fabric? Why valances and place mats and runners and a twee little wall hanging and ...

    Mine was going to be the Crazy Bird Lady House.

    And it still may be:

  • Last weekend I cut out, using an old McCall pattern, the pieces for four lined (ivory colored cotton from Joann's) ascot valances. I pinned them, my mother stitched them, and I hung them up in my kitchen and den yesterday. They are wonderful. I just need to make five or six (depending on how full I want them to look) to go over the den slider and half my ground floor will be birded.

  • The kitchen has two glass fronted cabinets which the previous owner had tacked fabric over. My mother and I have measured and pondered and we do think we could do better. We will piece together little quilts using bird housed from the panel (10151-1) and strips of the tonals to cover the glass panels.

  • For my sewing room windows, I plan on making two simple gathered rectangular valances from the bird print trimmed with a pieced strip of the tonals.

  • After that, I will probably be heartily sick of twee birdies and go back to batiks (which is good, because they must be dealt with soon as they are taking over my stash).


    ¹ I must write a little bit more about my fabric.com shopping experience. While I had ordered four yards of the ivory background bird print, I received four of the white. As soon as I realized the error, I sent fabric.com a slightly panicky email about how I really needed the ivory background print. This morning, I received an email saying that not only are they sending me four yards of the right fabric, but I could keep the yards they sent me in error. Is this not awesome customer service?

    I think I will use the extra fabric to make some quilts for Project Linus, Quilts for Kids, or Quilts of Valor.