Pizza by David
Aug 30th, 2014 by Wendy

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It all starts with the crust. This one is a whole wheat blend, with herbs, and just the right amount of salt, to make a good thick crust, crunchy on the bottom and cooked all the way through.

Maybe it starts with the ceramic pizza stone, preheated in the oven. Or possibly the ingredients: whole milk fresh mozzarella and a mix of grated parmigiano reggiano and Monterey Jack or Provolone. The precooked pepperoni is great too: julienne slice the pepperoni, sprinkle it on paper towels on a plate, and microwave to cook off the fat. Add other favorites: precooked Italian sausage, pineapple, bell pepper- don’t stop!

David’s mountain of a pizza did cook down as he promised. And it was really really really good!

Chicken in Salt Crust
Jun 22nd, 2014 by Wendy

First, I have to urge you to get your hands on the Planet Barbecue cookbook by Steven Raichlen. It boasts 309 recipes from 60 countries (an “Electrifying Journey Around The World’s Barbecue Trail”) plus “Techniques, Tips & 600 Photographs”).

Then, if you are like me, you will begin with the Salt-Roasted Chicken recipe, with Garlic Parsley sauce, from Garzon, Uraguay. It’s been a long wait to try this technique- since my Early Twenties. But now now that I’ve done it, I wish I had made it an annual event decades ago. Don’t you wait another day!

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So Colleen and I prepared the chicken with lemon, garlic and herbs. Then we made our “salt snow” with a mere 9 pounds of Kosher salt and about 2 cups of water*. As instructed we packed the salt under and around the entire chicken…but we forgot to install the thermometer first. We remembered after it had been cooking, which is entirely too late to try to figure out where the thigh is to stab the thermometer. So we just cooked it the suggested 1 and 1/2 hours.

Meanwhile, we started filling the dinner table with roasted Padron peppers, parsley garlic sauce for the chicken, Orzo Pasta (with feta, Kalamata olives, fresh summer vinaigrette packed with shallot, garlic, basil, parsley, chives, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, and olive oil), fresh fruit, pickled cucumbers, roasted cauliflower** and possibly more. Whew!

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Although the recipe says you have to really whack the baked salt crust, we didn’t expect it to be salt cement! It took brute force, a cleaver and a mallet to break up the crust. An instant read thermometer revealed temps showing the chicken overcooked, and indeed, the meat fell off the bone when we tried to carve it. However, it was still delicious, especially with the parsley garlic sauce, which really enhanced the flavors of the chicken. Oh yum yum yum!

And it was another fun cooking adventure with Colleen!!!

* If you wonder why the salt doesn’t just melt into a watery-salty-brew, remember that liquids reach a saturation point, where the thing melting into it can’t melt anymore. Two cups of water is not enough for 9 pounds of salt to melt entirely; in fact, 2 cups of water is enough to turn the 9 lbs of salt into the consistency of wet snow, which packs and molds around the chicken.

** A trip to the Farmers Market in Bend resulted in fresh picked herbs, cauliflower, Padron peppers, cucumbers, and a whole lot more. YUM. Just Picked really does taste good!

Quilt Show Week is Coming!
May 24th, 2014 by Wendy

At this time of year, in Central Oregon, there is a definite buzz in the air as “Quilt Show Week” approaches. Of course, it’s more like “Quilt Show Month” these days. I’m speaking, of course, of the Around the Block Fiber Art Stroll (July 6), Quilters Affair (workshops July 7-11), the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show (July 12), Save it for Sunday (July 13); Wish Upon a Card (fiber art postcard fundraiser for Wendy Huntley and her Wendy’s Wish Foundation) and special exhibits (month of July).

Thank you, Jean Wells, for starting this event with a small outdoor quilt show almost two decades ago. Of course, there are paid employees and tons of volunteers who make all this possible and are too numerous to name here. Check it out: http://sistersoutdoorquiltshow.org/

Pat and I can be found at the Sisters Library on July 6th with our special exhibit “A Natural Affinity…” (first shown at the Pacific International Quilt Festival in October 2013 in Santa Clara, California).  We are teaching a two day workshop on July 10th and 11th. We’ll be at the largest outdoor quilt show in the world on Saturday, with some more time spent at our exhibit. But enough of shameless self-promotion…

Pat and I have made some commitments which we will have to keep under wraps for awhile. I hope to post some blogs on a more regular basis, but they will probably show desserts, dinners, excursions, cat antics, and that kind of stuff. Hang in there, all will be revealed soon enough.

Here is a trip through time: Pat and Wendy on the floor basting a monster quilt (Pat said “never again”); Pat and Wendy in Medford; Wendy at the Stitching Post; Norwegian ring-cookie cakes; Wendy accosting strange dog in Ashland; Cooper and Izzy the last time they were cute; my in-laws in Palo Alto in their backyard; an unfinished quilt that might stay that way; and  that’s me (with a bad perm and hair cut) with my husband-to-be, David,  in 1982.

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The Holly Blocks
May 24th, 2014 by Wendy

In the early 1990′s, I encouraged a friend of mine to make a quilt. She had a great mind for geometry and the “engineering” of quilts. Of course, she fell in love with the log cabin block. If stranded on a dessert island, with only one kind of piecing, I think many quilters would choose working with strips. I know I would.

I stepped forward to finish her quilt 22 years after she started. In the box shipped to me, I found 64 partially finished blocks, lots of cut strips, yards of backing fabric, and a receipt from Hart’s Fabric Store dated 1992.

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At first, I thought I’d make one quilt, as Holly intended, but who would it go to? I decided to make 2 quilts and  a pillow, so her mother, son and daughter would each have something from these blocks.

 

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I added another round of logs. Of course, the 64 blocks were all “scrappy” within this color scheme and placement.

Meanwhile, I went shopping for more fabric. I wanted to make the quilt Holly imagined while also making the blocks shine. Plus, to make 3 things from the blocks, I had to add fabrics to make the blocks “go farther”. My friend Pat found a red dotty fabric. I found the blue and tan fabrics.

 

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For the daughter, I put the blocks on point, with the tan fabric for the half & quarter triangles, and the red dotty fabric for the sashing, border and binding. I made the quilt reversible, with a kid-print on the back, for the daughter’s new baby.

 

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For the son, who is a tall kid, I added a round of the dark blue logs. I made big blocks by putting the Holly blocks on point, and added half-square triangles with the tan fabric. The red dotty fabric looks great for the sashing and border. I made his quilt reversible too, with the original Holly fabric and the green colorway of the dotty fabric. For the binding, I used the green dotty fabric.

 

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With the leftover big blocks for the front and the original Holly fabric for the back, I made a 24″ pillow for Holly’s mother. She says it’s perfect for reading in bed!

 

When I went around to fabric stores looking for companions to the pinks and blues, people loved the Holly blocks. One young woman had a quilt on her bed, made by her grandmother in 1992, with the very same fabrics. This is a reminder about the power of quilts to transport us to another place or time through the colors, visual textures, and love that goes into quilts. If strangers reacted this way to the Holly blocks, we can only imagine the effect on Holly’s mother, daughter and son. It makes all the hours (and investment in fabrics) worth it.

Always remember the power of your creative energy! You may never know how much your quilts mean to your friends and family, but you must never under estimate your gift by making quilts.

Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show Wish Upon a Card
Mar 28th, 2014 by Wendy

Thank you Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show and High Desert Frameworks for the 8th Annual Wish Upon a Card fundraiser for Wendy’s Wish* of St. Charles Foundation (in honor of Wendy S. Huntley who died from cancer).

W: working for early detection; I: increasing cancer awareness; S: supporting each personal journey; H: helping improve the quality of life for others. The money goes towards helping cancer patients and their families with non-medical expenses. It’s a GREAT cause!

The Wish Upon a Card fundraisers have raised over $70,000 in the first 7 years!!!  You can help raise more money by donating or purchasing hand made fiber art postcards (see http://www.sistersoutdoorquiltshow.org/ for more information). The postcards are 4″ by 6″ and generally CAN be mailed with first class postage.

NOTE: My postcards really are 4″ by 6″, without distorted sides. I just can’t take good photos. 

I’ve donated postcards just about every year. This year, as a Quilter’s Affair instructor, I’m donating my “Yellow Fever” postcard for the teacher auction.

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I also made a card with for the Michael Miller Fabric Challenge. I used both colorways of the challenge fabric.

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I’m also donating a few extra cards. I upcycled some leftovers to make the Rainbow card. And I still have a limited supply of the Hoffman flower fabric, so I cut a few more rabbits. Notice how the placement creates the face, ears and body. I love these cards!

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I am making Chinese New Year cards with all 12 animals. I must have given away my Year of the Rabbit- or it went missing on its own. So here is my replacement Year of the Rabbit card, using Echino fabric for the background.

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All “W” All The Time
Mar 24th, 2014 by Wendy

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After (continually) admiring my niece Ericka’s dramatic display of various forms of the letter “E”, she gave me my first two “W”‘s: the slanty big metal “W” (that weighs a half ton) and the hand painted large wooden “W” (extremely light).

Ages ago now, my friend Pat surprised me with a stop at an interior design store, while we were doing errands. She came out with a bag: the round “W”. Recently we went to Pomegranate, a little shop in Bend (http://pomegranate-home.com/) that has all sorts of surprise items, where I bought the little silver “W”.

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Last week, we went to the Blue Bird Coffee Company (Franklin Crossing Building, Bend, Oregon) to celebrate. Little did we know that they also have quite the eclectic assortment of cool stuff. I had to have the “W” cube, especially after seeing the werewolf and waffles to illustrate the letter. Oh, and our Chai Tea and Cafe Latte were delicious too!

Okay, my niece Ericka must have 100 “E”‘s., maybe 500 or 1000 and I only have 4. But this is how a collection and an obsession starts, one “W” at a time.

Let It Snow…
Feb 23rd, 2014 by Wendy

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When people ask me why I live here, I usually say “I like having 4 different seasons.” Some might argue we have winter, winter, winter, 2 days of spring and a week of summer, but you can tell the difference!

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Ask any cat: winter is a good time for a nap.

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But cats do wake up and wish for a tree to climb: The Tree House! I cleared out a shelf (that was the Black Hole of Storage). David built the artificial “tree”. Cooper and Izzy figured out the rest.

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While the cats play, I make a chai tea latte with my Capresso Froth Pro and tea concentrate. Yum!

 

 

Not Chocolate, But Dinner This Month
Feb 6th, 2014 by Wendy

Decadent chocolate desserts are great but I do eat other things. Tonight I made my first recipe from a book I received for Christmas. It’s Jerusalem, A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, published by Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, California c. 2013. There are 120 recipes from their diverse cross-cultual perspectives. Each man was born in the same year but on opposite sides of the city: one on the Arab east side and the other on the Jewish west side of the city.

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It’s a beautiful book with stories and photographs of the city and the food. The cover is soft and is bound in a way that allows it to open and lay flat. Here is my three course meal for tonight.

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I made Chicken Sofrito, described as a kind of comfort food. Sofrito comes from the Spanish word “sofreir” meaning to fry. This dish combines browned chicken, quartered onion, fried Yukon potatoes and garlic- all  in a Dutch oven, left to cook slowly over a lot of time.

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Start by browning the chicken in the Dutch oven, then stir in the paprika, tumeric, pinch of sugar, and lemon juice to coat the chicken pieces. While the chicken braises in its own juices, fry the Yukon potatoes and garlic. Lots of garlic: 25 cloves, still in their skin. I chose organic baby Yukon potatoes, cut in half. Drain. After 30-60 minutes, add the garlic and potatoes to the Dutch oven, placing the chicken on top. By now the onion is falling apart. Let it. Continue braising until the potatoes and garlic are creamy soft and the chicken falls off the bone. YUM.

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Look again at this plate of comfort food. Everything is cooke perfectly (without much bother) and has a caramelized hint of lemon flavor.  It doesn’t get much better than this.

Unless there is a chocolate dessert hiding somewhere.

 

Show Off!
Jan 27th, 2014 by Wendy

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I have always been a “a place for everything and everything in its place” kind of obsessive organizer, but lately, I want to see the stuff I like.

Also, if I can see it, I’m more likely to get out of my purse and clothing rut, and grab a tote and a scarf on my way out the door.

The tote bags hang from hooks on the closet door. From left to right, you can see my small round purse (Echino), large snap tote (fabric from IKEA), owl tote with zippers (grocery type bag), small “Perfect Pouch” by Christine Drumright in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and 3 bags from SaraBella (sarabella.com) by Sara Weiner.

For the scarves, I wrapped a strip of muslin around the slick pole of the floor lamp. This gives something for the scarves to grip.

The mix of colors and textures makes my sewing room a bit crowded, but helps make this room a creative sanctuary.

Rehabbing a Quilt, Part 3
Jan 27th, 2014 by Wendy

 

 

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Above is a detail photo that shows the quilting lines (in purple) and the water-soluble thread lines (white). I quilted each of the four sections with Sulky 30 wt. solid color thread (purple-top; blue-bobbin).

Also, here are detail shots of 2 of the many patches on this quilt. Most of the wear & tear occurred along the outside edges, but some patches were needed in the middle too.

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I put the sections in the wash, two at at time. I needed to melt the water-soluble thread, but I also wanted to get out the “grubbiness” of a lap/couch quilt used for 12-13 years. I started with a dish soap soak for 20-30 minutes, followed by a laundry detergent long wash with plenty of agitation. After the washer came to a stop, I started all over again with a cup of vinegar and a long wash with agitation.  It worked. The fabrics seemed to sparkle with that ground-in-gray washed out.

It did shrink. The new wool batting plus the new quilting plus the washing and drying all adds up to shrinkage. The finished quilt is about 84″-85″ square now (it started at 91″-92″).

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So, the four sections must be reunited. I’m using sashing this time, so the bulky seam allowance fills up the space inside the sashing. (An alternative method- sewing the seams RST and covering up the seam with fabric seam covers would not work- just too bulky.) Follow the steps: line up the sections (with the help of a cat); place the front sashing RST with the front (cut 2″- 1/2″ seam allowance, plus 1″ finished width); place the back sashing RST (cut 3 1/4″ to fold in half <<1 1/2 times 2>> plus 1/4″ to allow for bulk); the folded edge of the sashing pinned in place; in progress shot showing covering up the seam allowances.

I had to hand blindstitch the sashing in place, because it was too thick to stitch by machine, at least, by my little Bernina 155. It looks nicer and really didn’t take all that long. My thumbs, hands, and wrists are worn out though- it is a heavy quilt and pinching a needle is tough.

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Follow the photos to see the finished quilt top. As a reminder, when I cut this quilt into four sections, the blocks no longer lined up in neat columns and rows. Instead, these lines wiggled, as the original blocks had stretched over 12-13 years of use and cleaning. I chose to cut along the seam lines instead of cutting across the original blocks just to create straight lines. This meant the sashing couldn’t be perfectly straight either, but the blocks are intact.

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The original outside edge also wiggles, and the original binding had frayed against the topstiching. Instead of cutting off the old binding, I added the new binding over it. Why? It was a 50-50 decision, so I went one way when I could have just as easily gone the other direction.

Final Thoughts: For some reason, I managed to break 3 sewing machine needles in a row. I think I was yanking on the quilt and bent the needle. After I paid attention, I stopped breaking needles.

I know there is a “rule” about not using sheets for the backing. I think it’s because high thread count sheets are impossible to hand quilt and I’ve heard are also tough to machine quilt. If you have to rip out a line of stitching, it will leave holes that won’t close up. These “luxurious” flannel sheets worked out great. For $25 I have 2 pillowcases to add to my eclectic collection, and there was plenty of fabric for the back, the sashing, the patches, and the binding.

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