Thursday, November 28, 2013

Truly Thankful

Happy Thanksgiving!

 May your pumpkin pie be abundant and may you never run out of whipped cream. May you enjoy the pleasures of home and family and may you remember to be truly thankful.

Until next time,

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Vegetarian Thanksgiving!

It doesn't even seem possible does it? That's what we have here on Dogwood Lane, an all vegetarian Thanksgiving. My son's family -  wife, kids and mother-in-law are all lacto/ovo vegetarians which means that they eat dairy and eggs but nothing with a face. That's the easiest way to explain it and so for this holiday the focus for Chris and me shifts from turkey to what usually takes a back seat - the side dishes. We go out of our way to get the best fruits and vegetables we can find and prepare them to bring out their best qualities. We splurge on fine wine and fancy cheeses and most of all really enjoy each others company. And don't forget the pie. Every kind of pie!

Vegetarian Butternut  Squash Soup

One of the things I'll be serving is this scrumptious butternut squash soup. In the photo I garnished it with bacon because I was serving it for Chris and me as a weeknight meal with garlic bread and we are most decidedly not vegetarian but a garnish of Parmesan cheese or toasted bread crumbs would be yummy too.

Vegetarian Version Butternut Squash Soup 
serves 4-6

1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, sliced
1 small potato, peeled & diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 leaves fresh sage, minced or 
1/2 tsp dry sage
1/2 butternut squash - peeled, seeded,
and cut into 1-inch cubes about 4 or 5 cups
4 cups vegetable stock
1 pinch ground cumin
1 pinch ground ginger
1 pinch of cayenne pepper
salt and ground black pepper to taste

1. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat; cook the onion, garlic, and sage in the hot butter until the onion has softened, about 5 minutes. Add the squash, potato and vegetable stock; bring to a simmer and cook until the squash and potato are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Season with cumin, ginger, salt, and pepper; remove from heat.
2. Use and immersion blender and puree the soup in the pot off the heat or your regular blender and smooth the soup out. Be very careful if using a regular blender and do this in small batches so you don't burn yourself. 

   I don't use flour to thicken my soups that's what the potato is for. If you like a thinner soup you can leave the potato out.  If you don't have an immersion blender go get one. Seriously, you'll be glad you did.
Obviously you can use chicken stock in place of vegetable stock and change up the spices to change the flavor. Squash is pretty much a blank canvas here. How about curry hot or sweet. Be careful with the sweet because butternut squash is a sweetish vegetable by itself and needs some heat for balance.

Until next time,

Monday, November 25, 2013

River City Quilt Show - Part 1

I have a treat for you this Design Wall Monday - a trip to the River City Quilt Show put on by the River City Quilter's Guild. Last weekend was cold and rainy here on Dogwood Lane. The rain was a welcome sight but still it meant that we were indoors with time on our hands and my darling husband suggested that we go to the quilt show. That's right, HE suggested the quilt show. That's why I keep him around, that and a million other reasons. Mind you Sacramento, the River City, is well over an hour and change drive away but what else did we have to do on a rainy Sunday? He dropped me off and then he scooted to REI to check out camping and hiking gear and read in the warm car while gazed at quilts. It was a win/win.

River City Quitl Show

Isn't this the cutest house quilt? Love the unusual background choice. I took a lot of pictures of beautiful quilts and I could have taken a lot more. This show was truly outstanding and diverse. I'm a lousy reporter when it comes to quilt shows because I can never keep track of who made what and so I can't give credit where credit is due. Let me just say up front that I admire the workmanship and creativity of each and every quilt in this show and wish they were all mine. 

River City Quitl Show

We've all seen this braid quilt done by now but I thought this color combination was unusual and striking. The border fabric ties it all together, I wonder which came first?

River City Quitl Show

Be still my heart! Just look at this gorgeous applique quilt  that bursts with life. There are so many shades of red and they all sing together.

River City Quitl Show

A close-up of the applique work but especially notice the sashing. Awesome!

River City Quitl Show

Another, more traditional applique quilt. I don't applique myself but I certainly appreciate the artistry that goes into such a piece and love the detail in this Christmas quilt. This was needle turn and tiny pieces.

River City Quitl Show

Look at this close-up of tiny details, how precise.

River City Quitl Show

A gingerbread house that's good enough to eat! You can see why this lady has won a lot of ribbons for her work.

Look, I got a close-up of the label! Good for me and good grief, her first hand applique piece!

River City Quitl Show

Something more my speed - beautiful piecing and scrappy fabrics. Love this one's simple setting and soothing colors.

River City Quitl Show

Have you ever seen a cuter basket quilt? The stripe handles just knock me out. When you look at it the basket shapes are very simple but those handles make it look very sophisticated and elevate it from primitive to modern. I want this one in my house.

That's all for today. I'll have part two of the quilt show next time including a log cabin quilt from the show's featured quilter that will knock your sock's off.

Until next time,

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Apples & Issues

You may remember that Chris and I went to Apple Hill and bought apples last month and you may have been wondering what if anything I did with all those apples. Apples do keep a long time in cold storage but they're all gone because I turned them into delicious, delectable things. One of those delicious things is Apple Crisp. If you print out this recipe or bookmark this page or commit this to memory this is the last apple crisp recipe you ever need to have in your collection. Hands down. The best. Trust me on this one.

This is a double recipe. You don't have to make one this big - I was going to a party.
First you have to peel some apples. There are lots of ways to peel apples and you no doubt have tried most of them.

How are your knife skills? Mine leave something to be desired. I feel like I leave a lot of apple behind when I peel this way and besides I'm a sucker for a good kitchen gadget. So...

I broke out the handy, dandy all in one apple peeler corer! Besides it makes the prettiest apple peel ribbons and the cutest apple stacks. Why be in the kitchen if we can't have some fun?

After you're done playing peeling you need to end up with 10 cups of chopped apples and you're good to go.

Mix those up with some sugar and cinnamon and 1 tablespoon of flour, dump it all into a pan and top with your crumble topping.

Bake for 45 minute to an hour and prepare to be amazed. Easy and delicious.

 So delicious in fact, that  I didn't get a picture of the finished product. Everyone ate it too fast and I didn't have a video camera to catch the action shot! Crunchy on top, silky and sweet beneath. Serve it with a dollop of whipped cream and prepare to swoon.

Apple Crisp


10 cups apples, peeled,
cored and sliced
1 cup sugar or to taste ( I don't like things too sweet so I use less sugar)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup water ( don't forget the water the water it makes the crisp just a little juicy and silky)

1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter, melted
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees 
2. Place the sliced apples in a buttered 9x13 inch pan. Mix the sugar, 1 tablespoon flour and cinnamon together, and sprinkle over apples. Pour water evenly over all.
3. In a separate bowl combine the oats, 1 cup flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and melted butter together. Crumble evenly over the apple mixture.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes to 1 hour until golden brown and the apples are bubbly.
adapted from several recipes from

And now for the issues. For the last 8 months or so I have had some pretty annoying bordering on serious issues with my eyesight. I've been visiting doctors trying to figure out what the problem is and seeking relief from discomfort, blurred vision and swelling of the eyes and eyelids. All of these things has made reading, sewing and of course blogging a chore rather than a delight and of course I've been more than a little worried about my sight. The good news, well it turns out that it's all good news is that my eyes are basically healthy and I have a really common condition called chronic dry eye. Sounds fairly simple doesn't it? It's been masquerading as allergy and all sorts of other things for months and I'm relieved to have a diagnoses that we can treat and no real harm done. But - there's always a but - I must spend shorter stretches of time doing the things I love like reading and sewing or my eyes literally swell shut. It goes without saying that means shorter amounts of time on the computer. Now you know why I may not be posting as often as I might like. All is well, it's just about adapting.
 Until next time,

Monday, November 18, 2013

Braid Table Runner

On the design wall this fine Monday is a braid table runner to match the place mats from a couple of weeks ago. I'm using the scraps from that project plus some yardage and it's turning out so pretty.

Strips are cut 2 1/2" X 7 1/2".  If you want to make one like this which is approximately 30" finished you'll need at least 21 pieces this size.  You'll also need about 1/4 yard WOF for a border cut at 2 1/2". Once you have your strips cut it's super easy to sew them together and fast.

I arranged mine in three piles to the left of my machine and picked from each pile in turn. In order to keep things scrappy and not get the colors next to each other because these are all from the same fabric collection, I used a marker on my piles. As I pull from a pile I move my marker so I don't get confused or as confused.

See my little Angry Bird eraser? He took quite a trip around the sewing table. My grandson left him here the last time he visited and now he helps me sew, I'm not sure how he feels about it though. Probably not best pleased.

You can make this as long as you want by adding more and more strips. I stopped here because I ran out of fabric. I forgot to take a picture of squaring this off, drat! Basically you line up your ruler 1/4" inside the notch from the outside edge and trim. This is about 28" and ready for a 2 1/2" border strip. Be very careful not to pull or press too vigorously as this is all on the bias. I'm using my even feed foot to sew on the border strips and that works great. You may want to try your walking foot if you don't have an even feed feature on your machine. Just go slow and let the machine do the work, just like driving in 4 wheel drive!

Here we go with the border and this is the backing fabric I've chosen. I love this cheerful fabric line so much. It's Honey Honey by Kate Spain for Moda and because it's from the summer season it's on sale all over the web right now if you want to pick some up. 

I'm putting this table runner together with the placemats from the same fabric line I made last month as Christmas gift for my Needle Nellie exchange so I can't show you the whole finished set just yet.  Once they've been gifted I'll post the pictures.

That's my Design Wall Monday what's yours? Check out everyone else here.

Until next time,

Friday, November 15, 2013

Hill & Dale Supper Club

Chris and I have a group of friends which meets about every six weeks or so. This usually involves a hike or perhaps a play or movie, maybe a book we've all read and want to discuss but always good food.  Last week the date for our Hill & Dale Supper Club dinner fell on the first night of Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights. This is the link to the Wikipedia page explaining the holiday. Since Shobhana was our hostess this time around it was a perfect excuse to help her celebrate her most important holiday and sample all her wonderful Indian dishes. 

We all contribute to the meal whenever we get together so there's no shortage of good things to eat as you can see. But we left the specialty dishes to Shobhana. Oh ,the deliciousness!

There's always plenty of help in the kitchen whether it's needed or not.

I wish this blog had smell-o-vision - I mean it!

We turned on every light in the house, inside and out and I do mean every light including the closets. We strung extras just to be sure to welcome good fortune for the coming year.

May your coming year contain nothing but light and good fortune as well!

Until next time,

Thursday, November 14, 2013

My Obsession

Once a year! Only once a year is this elixir stocked at Trader Joe's. I dream about it all year and as you can see I stock up when I get the chance.

Now, I don't own stock in this company and they're not paying me to tell you this but you should run out and get yourself some of this deliciousness right away before it's all gone.  If I really like you I might give you a can along with a nice mug and a mug rug in a cute little basket. It does make a thoughtful gift in my opinion. My kids all get a can in their Christmas stocking 'cuz I do like them, a lot. But at least two or three of these babies stay with me.

I parcel it out all winter long and try to make it last as long as possible because as the song says, "It's a long, long time from May to December." Come share my obsession.

Until next time,

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Autumn Garden/Part 2

The shadows are long and the days are much shorter in the autumn garden. 

All the summer produce is long gone once the nights turn cold. Our nights have been in the low 40's but we haven't hit the 30's yet so things are still relatively green and still making an effort to grow. we even still have leaves on most of the trees which should have dropped by now.

 The cabbage that I planted the first of October from seedlings is doing really well. I've never tried to grow cabbage before so this makes me truly happy. On the right in this picture you can see rhubarb leaves still green and growing! Time for that to go to sleep already.

It's still possible to enjoy a good book while relaxing in the garden whatever the season.

Until next time,

Monday, November 11, 2013

Autumn Garden

It would seem that garden chores are over once a cold snap hits and for the most part that's true. Certainly the weeds have about decided to take a nap and if we would only have a few rain showers I could even stop watering. But there are still a few jobs that must be done to put the garden to bed for the winter.

This is what the asparagus bed looks like by the end of October. The plants are mostly dried out and have fallen over from their own weight. This is about a 20 foot bed planted in Martha Washington and and Purple Giant varieties. 

I don't think you can tell from this photo but some of these stalks have reached as tall as 5 feet over the growing season. I was able to harvest many pounds of asparagus the entire month of May and half of June, then I let the plants grow to nourish the roots for the next year. Once it turns cold at night the plants dry out and it's time to cut them down to ground level and mulch the bed.

When first planting asparagus roots we're told to plant only male plants so that the plants will not waste energy producing seed and for a season or two this seems to work out but in my experience Mother Nature always finds a way to reproduce and those male plants suddenly pop up with a female plant or two and this is what you get - bright red seeds. I don't fight it. As I'm cutting back I just shake those seeds loose and let them fall where they may, next spring I may get some baby asparagus seedlings.

An hours work and the asparagus patch is ready for winter. The chickens were in heaven when I threw the stalks into their yard! They had an entire day's fun scratching around for seeds I'd missed and eating green bits. The next day I raked up what was left and onto the compost pile it went. Nothing wasted around Dogwood Lane Farm if we can help it.

More about the fall garden next time,

Monday, November 4, 2013

Some Quilty Inspiration

Last week the Nellies had our bi-monthly meeting and I managed to remember to bring my camera. Pat on the back for me as that is not always the case. Although these lovely creations are not on my design wall they are design wall inspiration for sure so I'm sharing them with all of you.

This cute little number is from Helen. She's working on a whole series of different fall designs in this small size.

I can't for the life of me remember which of my girls created this darling quilt. As soon as she sees this maybe she'll clue me in.

*Correction Diana Marie (she got the pattern from Diana, I knew I had seen it somewhere) does the most intricate hand work. Isn't this cute? Really captures that Halloween spirit.

This beauty is from Suzanne. She's been working on it for quite a while between other projects and it was well worth the wait. Look at all that applique. Believe me when I tell you those stitches are tiny.

That's all I have to show you today. Check out Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times for more quilty inspiration.

Until next times,