Friday, December 25, 2015

Seasons Greetings

Wishing you all the best this holiday season from all of us here on Dogwood Lane. May your days be merry and bright and may you count your blessings large and small. I'm counting all of you as some of mine.

Until next time,

Monday, December 21, 2015

Countdown to Christmas


Only four days left until Christmas and if you're anything like me (way behind in preparation) you could use some help around the house. Our eldest son and his family arrived from Southern California last night and the house instantly brightened up! Full of laughing, noisy children! It's slushy raining outside this morning threatening to snow so to keep the kids occupied we'll be baking cookies and continuously peeking out the windows praying for snow.
On days like this I like to start up the crock pot and have dinner all ready no matter what happens the rest of the day. I'll be baking with the kids, we may have snow and that means lots of outside fun and not much time to think about a meal for a crowd. I'm making Corn Chowder with sausage and garlic bread. It will be ready whenever we are and smells so delicious.


Patrica’s  Slow Cooker Corn Chowder
Serves 8-12

1 yellow onion, diced
1 cup diced carrots – 2 med
1 red bell pepper, diced
4 cups diced potatoes – about 6 small
2 15 oz cans cream corn
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 lb ready to eat smoked sausage, cut in half lengthwise and sliced into bite size pieces.  (I use turkey kielbasa; you could leave this out for vegetarian chowder)
2 tsp dried Italian herbs
1 bay leaf
1 qt chicken broth
¼ tsp liquid smoke
1 cup half and half

NOTE: Do not add any salt as the sausage has plenty of salt.

Use a 6 qt slow cooker. Put everything but half and half and liquid smoke in cooker, cover and cook on low for 8 to 9 hours, or on high for 4 to 5 hours. Use a potato masher and gently break up potatoes, this also helps to thicken soup. Taste and add liquid smoke if it needs more smoky flavor. Add half and half before serving to add richness.

This is a great pot luck take along especially if you have one of those locking lid slow cookers which my DIL does and which I borrow from her all the time.

Hearty & Delicious!
Have a great countdown to Christmas!

Until next time,

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Stockings Are Hung Etc.

Not a lot of sewing/quilting or baking going on here on Dogwood Lane this week but as you can see the decorating has been fierce! My nutcracker collection has made it's annual appearance and my beloved family Christmas stockings have been hung on the mantle. It's just not holiday time at our house until these go up. It has given such a thrill to this evidence of our family's growth through the years, adding a new stocking with each new member to the clan.
The nut crackers began to appear more than 40 years ago. No new ones have joined the collection this year which is probably a good thing since I seem to be running out of room on the HUGE mantle. This pink and glittery guy with all his sparkle was acquired last year and never fails to make me smile whenever I glance his way. I call him Kinky Boots for obvious reasons.
The Needle Nellies held our annual Christmas party and gift exchange last week and just look at the wonderful little quilt/wallhanging my exchange partner gifted me! As you can see I lost no time hanging it in my living room and making it part of the festive decor.
It features hand embroidery, you all know I heart any kind of embroidery, and tiny crystals. The leaves and flowers are felt. The white background fabric has some sparkle too which I couldn't seem to get a decent picture of.
This provides a bright spot in our winter living space. Thank you so much Kathy I truly love my gift.

Today we'll be picking up a grandson from the train station welcoming him home for Christmas and Sunday our eldest son and his family will arrive. I'd better start that baking I keep talking about.

Until next time,

Monday, December 14, 2015

Christmas Tradition



You all know if I've been absent from this blog for any length of time it's because I've been busy with family. This time we were in Southern California to attend our family's traditional Christmas party held every year on the first weekend in December. My husband's next younger brother has held the party since the passing of his parents keeping up a tradition which has lasted for at least 70 years. Family and close friends travel from near and far to trim the Christmas tree, say hello to Santa Claus and catch up with aunts, uncles and cousins. It's a wonderful time to meet new and prospective members of the growing clan and to kiss those babies. There are always babies! This year we had a niece and her new husband and baby daughter travel from their home in Peru, his parents from Australia; a niece and her family from Bend, Oregon; and of course all the far flung California Dowells were well represented.
Chris and I even got dressed up for the occasion in our party clothes. A far cry from my last photo dressed for the 5K in freezing weather.
I tried to get some of the grands to hold still for a picture but you know what they say about hitting a moving target - try three!
Liam and Owen are goof balls!
My little snowflake Claire on her way to ballet class. At least she knows how to strike a pose for Mimi.

Now we're home and madly decorating because all these munchkins will be here next week for the holidays. Such a wonderful, family filled time of year.

Until next time,

Monday, November 30, 2015

Trying a Change of Pace

Just like most of my American friends I've spent the majority of my time in the kitchen this past week. While I love to cook and try new recipes I've been itching to get back to the sewing room and try out some ideas that have been swirling around for a while.
I'm putting the imaginary bakery project on hold for now and doing a little brain palette cleansing by tackling some quilting on this bed runner. Some of you will remember from earlier in the year when I decided to abandon a long ago UFO and use some it's parts in projects I could be more enthusiastic about. I wrote about letting go of a bad project in this post and the outcome in this post.
Here's quilting inspiration for you. EARLY morning leaves on Thanksgiving morning. My whole Georgetown family including me! participated in a 5K run/walk to feed the hungry. Obviously I was the one walking.
My family Thanksgiving morning in 30 degree temps getting ready to race. My two eldest grandsons home for the holiday and ready to rumble with the folks.
This is what I look like with five layers of clothing. I'm no beauty in the AM believe me!
A Divide 5K is cross country all the way with water hazards and mud slides. Did I mention cold?
Anyway, those frosty leaves got me thinking about quilting patterns and my bed runner just waiting for some quilted goodness. Funny how that happens.
I'm going to continue my experiment with using my embroidery machine to quilt. As soon as the Thanksgiving dinner was cleaned up I was upstairs in my sewing room looking over my machine embroidery patterns and look what I found. Perfect!  I sewed out the ones I liked on stabilizer to act as my templates for spacing the designs. I'm not concerned about trying to connect these in a continuous border, I just like the way the design will fill the space.
here's a leaf motif I can twist any way I like to fill in. Since this is kind of a found project I feel freed up to experiment so I'm going for it here.
Choosing threads, the very best part of machine quilting. I finished the straight line quilting yesterday and I'm ready to move on to the embroidery machine. Keeping my fingers crossed and plowing ahead. I'll be leaving in a couple of days for a family visit to So. Cal which will put a screeching halt to all sewing and then it will be all Christmas all the time so I don't expect a lot of progress on any of my projects until the new year but we all have to have things to dream about, right?
If you want to see how my last experiment in machine embroidery quilting went you can check out this post. 

It's Design Wall Monday y'all.

Until next time,

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Dilly Casserole Bread

This is the time of year that really inspires me to spend time in the kitchen. It's chilly outside. Who am I kidding? It's down right cold out there. The kitchen has a nice fire in the wood stove 24/7, a tea kettle on at all times, it's the most inviting room in the house during the winter. In my book once the outside temps dip below 40 degrees it's winter no matter what the calendar has to say!
 Thanksgiving Day has come and gone and even though the majority of our Georgetown family are vegetarians I did roast a five pound turkey breast just so Chris and I could have turkey sandwiches with our left over mashed potatoes and gravy. It just seems unamerican not to. 
If you're going to have turkey sandwiches you need a really good bread to make said sandwich. Dilly Bread is the one we like. It has an added kick of dill and onion to bring that turkey sandwich to the next level and tastes terrific toasted.
Dill seeds are a must, no substitutions here.
The dough will be sticky, almost a batter consistency.
Turn your micro wave into a proofing box by heating a mug of water and then adding your bowl of dough. Close the door and let the dough rise. The interior is warm, moist and draft free.
Here it is out of my micro wave proofing box, double in size and ready to go into the baking pan.
In this case I used a 9x5 loaf pan and as you can see, as soon as I took it out of the oven my perfect loaf fell a little. Perfect no more. It really does do better in a 2 qt. casserole dish


Dilly Casserole Bread
Adapted from a recipe in America's Best Recipes 1991
Delicious toasted, used for turkey sandwiches or served with soup.

1 Package Dry Yeast
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1/4 Cup Warm Water, 105* to 110*
1 Cup Cottage Cheese
1 Egg, beaten
1 1/2 Tablespoons Butter
1 Tablespoon Sugar
2 Teaspoons dried Minced Onion (this is about the only recipe I use dried onion for)
2 Teaspoons Dill seeds
1 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda
2 1/2 Cups All-purpose Flour
Melted Butter
Additional Salt

1.    Dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in warm water; let stand 5 minutes. Combine cottage cheese and next 7 ingredients in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until butter melts, stirring occasionally. (Let cool to 105* to 110*. Warm to the touch like baby bath.) You can use the micro wave for this step just don't over heat the ingredients, you don't want to scramble the egg.

2.    Combine cottage cheese mixture, yeast mixture, and flour; stir well (dough will be sticky). Scrape down and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in warm place free from drafts, about 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.

3.    Stir and turn into a well-greased 2-quart casserole dish or 9x5 loaf pan. Cover lightly and let rise in a warm draft free place about 40 minutes or until it rises above pan about 1/8 inch.

4.    Bake at 350* for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Brush with melted butter, and sprinkle with salt. Remove from pan; let cool on wire rack.

Just remember looks aren't everything! In spite of it's wonky appearance the bread still smells and tastes wonderful. Who can resist fresh baked bread slathered with butter? Obviously not me!
 Bring on that sliced turkey! Gobble, gobble...

Until next time,

Monday, November 23, 2015

Bev's Nantucket Cranberry Pie

Here's a reason to buy extra cranberries this Thanksgiving. As if we needed another reason. I always buy lots of fresh cranberries this time of year and put them in the freezer so that I have them on hand for bread and muffins year round but this pie provides extra incentive for cranberry hoarding. It's super easy, really delicious and different from the usual fruit pie on the Thanksgiving groaning board.

My dear friend Bev always brings this pie to our Needle Nellies holiday party and it's always a BIG hit. Bev was absent from the party this past week. She and her husband have made the leap and moved to Oregon to be closer to their family. She was so missed by all of us but her pie made an appearance to remind us of her sweet self. Isn't it wonderful how a recipe can go straight to the heart and keep special people close to us? I'm sharing her recipe with you so I can spread the love and PIE!

NANTUCKET CRANBERRY PIE

Ingredients:
1 ½ C Sugar
½ C Chopped Walnuts
1 pkg. Fresh Cranberries
3/4C MELTED  shortening or margarine (I NEVER use this I'm a straight up butter girl)
2 Beaten egg
1C Flour
1 tsp. Almond extract


Directions:
1.      * In the bottom of a greased 9”X10” pie dish, evenly spread the washed fresh cranberries
2.       Sprinkle 1/2C sugar and 1/2C chopped walnuts evenly over the berries
3.       Cream 1C sugar with 3/4C MELTED margarine or butter
4.       Add 2 beaten eggs, flour, and almond extract to creamed mixture
5.       Pour batter over berry mixture
6.       Bake at 325 Degrees for 60 minutes until center is done and not giggly (this is a technical term) and edges are nice and golden.

NOTE:  No baking powder or soda in this recipe
               Splenda does not work in this recipe
*The size of the dish seems to be important in the success of this recipe. If the dish is too deep it will turn out more cake like, still good but not pie.

Serves 8

Hope you have a wonderful holiday with people you love and be sure to get them to share their recipes with you. You never know when time and distance will intervene. Food memories keep our dear ones close ever when we are miles apart.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and especially to Bev and Al.

Until next time,

Monday, November 16, 2015

What's In A Name?

Apparently a lot because I've been hung up on what to name my pretend bakery for a week now. Let me back up a bit and revisit where I was a week ago with this wallhanging.
Trying to decide between two different but equally nice stripes for an accent fabric. So... while I pondered that momentous decision I had a brain storm. Since this was starting to look like a bakery display case to me what if I added some lettering across the top of this piece with the name of my fantasy bake shop? I sewed and I pondered and that's as far as I got.

The stripe looks great! Now I need a name for my bakery. What would you name your make believe patisserie? Some titles I've come up with: Sweet Spot, Sugar Momma's, Just Desserts, Patty Cakes. Feel free to chime in and give me some suggestions. I can't move forward until I have something to put at the top now that I have this idea stuck in my head.
In other quilting news the 18 corners have been rounded and finished off and I'm happy to report that my hexagon twirl table toppers are completed. I'm super pleased with this finish ahead of schedule and turning out exactly as I envisioned it. I certainly hope my Christmas exchange partner likes these as much as I do.

Don't forget to leave a bakery title in your comment I really need help on this one. 

It's Design Wall Monday so I'm linking up.

Until next time,

Monday, November 9, 2015

DWM/Just Desserts

Between hand stitching all that binding for the swirl tablerunners I'm contemplating the next step on the my just for fun dessert themed wall hanging. When I left off it looked like this: 
 
I'm thinking that's a bit on the blah side. It certainly needs something to make it more interesting. Back to the stash I go to search for a little zing. How about some stripes?
Here are the two I found that might work. The stripe on the left is a variegated red and pink and the one on the right is a multicolored pastel. Which one would you go with?
Yep, me too! This multicolored pastel is perfect. It picks up all the different frosting colors from the cakes and other goodies. What a lucky find from the stash! I'm going to add a very narrow inner border and then see where to go from there. I have about two yards of this stripe that I purchased a while ago from Connecting Threads when they were having a promotion/sale thinking it would make great bias binding. It's always good to stock up when you can get a great price don't you think? Their fabrics have never disappointed me and the price cannot be beat. 
Speaking of mail order fabric. Because of where I live - the back of beyond, I buy a lot of my fabric by mail and I have a few places that I use pretty regularly. Connecting Threads is a mainstay as is E Quilter and Hancock's of Paducah. These three are the ones I use the most and I have never had any difficulties with any of them. (No affiliation I just like their stuff.)  Do you ever buy fabric online and if so which vendors do you prefer? I'd really like to know what others are doing in this area.
This gorgeous hunk of awesome just arrived from Hancock's and the color and hand of this takes my breath away. This is probably the most expensive fabric I have ever purchased and I really searched around for the best deal. In the end I still paid $11/yd. Yikes, an all time high for me! I really, really wanted this exact yardage. I have a VERY ambitious project in mind for this but I will need to screw up my courage first and clear the decks before I tackle it.

Posting my cakes on Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times and hopping over for some design inspiration. How about you? What's on your design wall?

Until next time,