Monday, July 30, 2012

Soup to Nuts

As part of my endeavour to make one new recipe a week, I've been trying a bunch of different things.  While I probably average that, often it's been a one day-three new recipes deal.  It's not quite my goal but it's working.  The bottom line is that I'm cooking more, period, even dragging out old favourites that have long been ignored, and that makes me happy.

I am a sucker for cake, and a fan of things I can eat with my hands, so a good snack cake is always welcome.  In flipping through old cookbooks, I have often come across the old Soup to Nuts Cake recipe which contains, as one of its ingredients, a can of condensed tomato soup.

Yes.  Soup.  When you remember that tomatoes are technically fruit, it seems far less weird.  After all, we throw veggies in cakes all the time. Carrots, zucchini, I've even heard tell of beets!  Perhaps you've heard of these cakes.  I imagine they've come from a long lost soup can label or brand-name recipe book.  The recipe is far older than I am.  As this is the summer of making new things, I decided that what has long intrigued me would be made and tasted.

Oh, the colour!  No amount of late-night, poorly lit, kitchen photography can capture that orangey-red.

The smell when mixing reminded me quite a lot of pumpkin cookies.  The spices would be mostly responsible for that, I'm sure, but even the soup helped to evoke that scent.  The batter was delicious!

Again, the camera let me down here and shows the cake as kinda saffron-y instead of more pumpkin-y hue.  Perfect with a brown sugar frosting but lovely without.  It was moist and delicious, improving in texture the next day but it didn't last much longer than that.  I'm not going to lie, I loves me some cake, people! This one did not disappoint so I'll definitely be making it again - in fact, I have since the original photos were eaten in the two weeks lost in the Great Computer Crash of Twenty Twelve.

The recipe called for walnuts but since we had pecans, I used them instead.  I prefer pecans to walnuts anyway. I skipped the currants.  I have even subbed in craisins.  I baked it in a 8x12 pan! It's a very forgiving recipe. By changing the butter to margarine, you could very easily make this cake vegan, since there are no eggs in it. I double-checked the ingredients on the soup can to be sure, so I was impressed with that, though eating vegan is always more incidental than intentional for me.  I'm little and pale so going meatless will likely never be a viable option for me, (and I believe not-so-secretly that margarine is evil) but it's nice to have recipes when inviting vegan friends for tea or taking to potlucks when you know there'll be people with dietary restrictions. Until such an occasion, I'm using butter.

Mmmmm, butter....

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Which Nine? Decisions, Decisions...

Thanks for all the love for my sister's table toppers!  She absolutely loved them and within hours asked me to do a quilt for her bed, as well.  Of course.  That, I'm sure, will be an ongoing saga.  I have virtual carte blanche, provided cream is involved.  Since Ruby is getting scarce, I'm thinking Vintage by the same designers will be a perfect alternative...  More on that another day!

Having finished all my Swoon blocks, I find myself in the arduous position of deciding which nine will take their place on the front and which two will do to the back.
One & Two
Three & Four
Five & Six
Seven & Eight
Nine & Ten
I think I've figured it out... but I'm open to second, third and fourth opinions. :-)
Yeah, my design wall is berber. With a trace of setting sun. Deal with it. LOL.  I have to. :-)

These two will be heading to the back, I think...

I'm planning to use the trimmings from the flying geese units in the back somehow though not sure yet exactly what they'll look like but they're already sewn together into half-square triangles.  That leaves me with 176 HSTs, 8 each in 22 colours combined with the background fabric.  Any ideas??  This quilt is promised to a church silent auction at so I want it to have broad appeal so that it raises as much as possible. Therefore, I'm a little less sentimental regarding placement and quilting - it won't help to get attached. Lol!

With so sadness on the news right now, it's nice to have a little goodwill project.  I'll save the philosophizing for today and stick with the comfort of fabric beneath my fingers. 

Wishing you well this week, 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Seester's Request

My darling sister has begun the process of redoing her house.  They moved in two years ago and haven't done much to it but now that they have a little space to work, she's grabbed the paint brush and the staple gun and gone to town.  She started in the bedroom, painting, making a tufted headboard, and bought a couple of really cute white nightstands.  The stands have a little recessed area - perfect for keeping a late night cup of tea from tipping due to act of cat, dog or toddler.  And she, with a giant "please, please, please" smile asked me to make a couple of toppers for them.  She loved the pair I made for my parents' nightstands a couple years ago.
The paw on the right is Dash's "stomp" of approval.
After I showed her a Ruby charm pack (which I'd stowed away knowing someday, it would be perfect for her.  It's vintage feel and aqua-red colour scheme screamed Seester!), she oohed approval and out came the sewing machine.

She was a little concerned that she was froofing up the bedroom a bit too much, though.  Her husband, my darling brother-in-law, is a black boot-wearing, Johnny Cash-loving, zombie-killing giant.  So I suggested a compromise. I backed them both in some leftover Riley Blake pirate fabric.  That way, he can have a manly black topper and it can be flipped whenever needed.  Grrrr..... manly! Hahaha!

I made them mirror image and since I only wanted to use one charm pack, I figured out how to make two mini-pinwheels from a pair of 5"square.

I also made a couple of tiny log cabin blocks and then cut and sewed with the rest until I had the right size.  All told, I think I used 29 of the 42 squares, and I still have some crumb-ish scraps.
The binding is not as sloppy as this photo indicates.  Photos lie!
She's due over here tomorrow so I'll be able to show them to her.  I hope she likes them, but she's pretty generous with her affection for my work.  They should match the blue accent wall she painted and I know she loves the fabric. My fingers are crossed. Finished size: 13.75"x 11" (x2!)

And I've also started a Swoon quilt.  I've finally joined the party on that one.  I get around to everything eventually....

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Pulled Pork: Easier Than It Sounds. Now with Coleslaw and Pie!

Where does a week go?  I had started writing a post a couple days ago regarding a cake recipe I'd tried.  Then I went to find my photos and ....???? Apparently, they exist solely in my memory.  Alack and alas.

So, on to something saucier.*  After Mothers' Day's culinary triumph, I had to follow up with something delicious for Dads' Day.  I decided I'd finally try Pulled Pork sandwiches with coleslaw and pie.  I'd skimmed a bunch of recipes online that needed a smoker or involved a number of ingredients I'd never tried or took too long so I said, "Heck with it, I'm just going to the store and I'll make it up when I get there."

After a little wandering down the aisles, I grabbed a tasty sounding jar of salsa (and it was)
and a couple bottles of a barbecue sauce I had never heard of or seen prior to a random mention on a food blog that morning.  And it was on sale. Score!!!
I also grabbed some multigrain kaiser rolls and some shredded broccoli/cabbage slaw mix (lazy, I know) for dinner, and scoped out the fruit aisle.  Apricots and plums sounded like pie to me!**

Pulled Pork:

  • 1 pork butt roast - get a bigger one than you think you'll need, if it turns out to be a little fattier than you planned, you'll still have enough for a number of people. All the better if it yields leftovers!
  • 1 jar salsa - I used PC Smoky Chipotle Salsa (picked both because I love chipotle and I'm a sucker for a beautiful label.  It's a medium hot salsa but you can go hotter than you normally would for just eating since the spice diffuses quite a bit)
  • 1-2 bottles of Sweet Baby Ray's Barbecue Sauce (or your favourite - you have to like it or this will be a terrible meal for you. If you have a large roast, you'll probably use a bottle and a half to two bottles.  Smaller roasts might be fine with one.)

Note: Try your salsa and bbq sauce before committing to throwing them in the slow-cooker.  You want to be sure they work together because they will get to know each other intimately.  Very intimately..

Place roast in a slow cooker and cover with salsa.  Squirt 1/4 cup of bbq sauce over top.  Cover and roast 3-4 hours on High (if you're short of time) or preferably 7-8 hours on Low.  Meat should be tender enough to come apart into nice juicy shreds when pulled with a fork.  Remove pork to a baking pan or rimmed plate and shred, discarding any fatty, grisly bits.

Skim fat off liquid remaining in slow cooker and remove about 1/3 of liquid remaining after that.  Leave as much of the salsa chunks as possible.  Return shredded pork to cooker, add rest of bbq sauce - until thoroughly coated but not quite soupy - and cover.  Cook on Low for 20 minutes to an hour.

Serve on buns with coleslaw.

Carly's Coleslaw Dressing

It's no secret that I despise mayonnaise.  I have often seen creamy coleslaws but have refrained from eating them, knowing I would be disappointed and disgusted at the first bite.  I also knew that these sandwiches needed coleslaw.  So I invented my own, very tangy dressing.  Adjust all of these ingredients to your own taste.  I didn't measure precisely - I used mostly tasting and tweaking.  However, I've made it since and seem to have cracked the proportions. By tablespoon, I mean a well-rounded regular old spoon.  I did not use my trusty measuring spoons.

  • 1 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp dijon mustard

Combine. Taste.  Add to slaw mix of your choice and to the moisture level you prefer. 

Dad was definitely happy.  I'm calling it a huge success!

And yes, I made rosemary potato wedges and more aioli. I'm so deeply in love with aioli that with a dish of raw carrots, I consider it the best late-night snack though garlicky. :-)
*I realize that this recipe is in no way vegan, vegetarian, kosher or halal.  However, the pie, if you skip the butter, could be all of the above.  The coleslaw, if you sub in vegetarian/vegan mayo for the yogurt could be vegan as well.

** I used my basic, sub in random fruit pie recipe.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Finished: Another Sweater for the Little Gentleman

I think I might like knitting clothes for my nephew more than I like knitting clothes for me.  Why?  It takes a lot less time, for starters, so I get the satisfied feeling of accomplishment sooner.  Second, it takes a lot less yarn so I can use the stuff I like.
This is a Debbie Bliss pattern from the latest(?) issue of her magazine.  I also used her yarn - Baby Cashmerino. Because I love it.  It knits well, it washes nicely, and the pattern called for it. And I had the exact right amount in my stash for just such a thing. Serendipity.  It's sweltering right now so he won't need it for a few months but it's big on him right now and should get him through winter,

I know that it's just a matter of time before he's bigger than I am and it takes 30 skeins to make him a sweater instead of 5.  I figure that he'll tower over me by the time he's 13.  And by then he probably won't want auntie sweaters... or live for monster-noise making contests, singing "If you're happy and you know it", or giving baby fist-bumps and diving, sprawling, tackling hugs...

 So I'm enjoying it while it lasts.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sunshine Behind the Clouds

It was a weird June.  I think I may jinxed it just a little bit.  I had been remarking that it hadn't been a terribly bad winter or spring for me.  Normally, spring is brutal. I get climate migraines so while I love rain and snow, they are typically preceded by some degree of discomfort from mild headache to "oh dear sweet Lord, please take me now." I try not to complain about it too much but somedays, I'm less capable of keeping in perspective.  And I smiled about getting through the "danger zone" fairly unscathed this year.

Then June hits.  With rain. Lots and lots of rain. Thunder, lightning, hail.  Not quite biblical but some of the neighbour was googling plans for an ark or two. The wind sheared a branch or two of our big tree, and scattered them around the crescent.
However, the wind also blows little joyful things.  Some windfalls are happy.

Like a beautiful pincushion and sticky notes won from daydreamhouse in the Sew, Mama, Sew giveaway day.  Thanks, Kate!

Or a trio of Lu's lovely quilt patterns at Crafting... Thanks to Heather and Lu! I chose Max, Katie and Googly Eyes...

Or winning a copy of a much desired book.

Signed by one of the artists, who I've read for years now at Tallgrass Prairie Studio.  Thanks, Jacquie!

So there's always something good around.  And, yes, I apparently have horseshoes coming out of my...ahem...ears.

As a huge bonus, I received word that finally, finally, after a couple of months, my transcript issue has been fixed. It's a long story that I won't get into in detail here but a decision made by a number of people ten years ago to have a term abroad appear on my marks as previous study at a foreign university was causing problems with my certification and likely would've complicated any grad school applications in the future. Fixed. Huge sigh of relief.

I've spent far too much of June hiding in the dark and generally ill.  Bring on the sunshine - here's to a more light and productive July!  Happy Canada Day!