Wonky Log Cabin returns

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been pulling out old quilts that I had started.  Here’s an update on another one that I’ve been working towards.  My wonky log cabin has several blocks completed (see here, here, and here).  I’m using the instructions from Quilt Dad – who does some amazing work!  I’m debating whether to use sashing in the finished product or use the blocks as-is.

Here are the blocks I’ve finished in the last week:

Block 18 Block 19 Block 20 Block 21 Block 22 Block 23 Block 24


Maple Brussels Sprouts

Last post about food I made for Thanksgiving this year (I think…).

As we discussed the Thanksgiving menu, my parents and I came to the conclusion that we were missing a vegetable.  So, I volunteered to make something.  After scouring pinterest for awhile, I decided to go with my favorite vegetables (see here, or here) of the past few years: brussels sprouts.

There wasn’t room left on the stove, so I knew I needed to find a recipe that could be done in the oven.  Ultimately, I wrote down three or four recipes and combined them to create a recipe which would work for us.  I like how it turned out, although in the future, I think I would roast them a little longer or do this on the stovetop to caramelize the brussels a little bit more.

maple brussels spruts

Maple Balsalmic Brussels Sprouts

6 slices of bacon
1 lb brussels sprouts, cleaned and quartered
1/4 c maple syrup
1 Tbsp balsalmic vinegar
sea salt

Heat oven to 425.  Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper and put bacon on it.  Bake until the bacon is crisp — 15-20 minutes.  While the bacon is baking, clean and quarter the brussels sprouts.

Remove the bacon from the pan.  Reduce heat to 400 degrees.  Add the brussels to the pan and mix together maple and balsalmic vinegar.  Pour over the brussels.  Sprinkle with sea salt.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the brussels are firm, yet soft.  While they are baking, cut the bacon into small pieces.  When the brussels are done, stir together with the bacon.  Serve warm.

Cornbread Stuffing

Of all the items on the Thanksgiving table, stuffing/dressing is one I could take or leave.  It’s not my favorite.  A few years ago, I made wild rice stuffing for either Thanksgiving or Christmas and I liked that quite a bit, but overall, stuffing is less exciting to me.  And, since we were a small group around the table, my dad decided to make Trader Joe’s Cornbread Stuffing.  He jazzed up the dressing with a few additional ingredients, which really made it taste more homemade rather than made from a box.

cornbread stuffing

Cornbread Dressing

1 box Trader Joe’s Cornbread Stuffing
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1 c dried cranberries

Before making the stuffing according to directions, saute the carrots, celery, and onion.  Set aside.  Make the stuffing according to directions.  At the end, stir in the carrot, celery, and onion mix, and the dried cranberries.  Serve warm.

Nice, easy, and flavorful. Yum!

Prayer Flag Quilt

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been slowly getting back at sewing, making some progress on my Wonky Log Cabin quilt blocks and other things.  Perhaps it’s the cold weather bringing me indoors and wanting to curl up.  Perhaps it’s my wanting to get rid of things in my house and use them up.  No matter what, I’m feeling like I want to gain some closure in general.

That being said, just before Thanksgiving, I sent a text message to my mom asking if she had her sewing machine set up at home.  And, success, she did.  So, I grabbed my prayer flag layer cake and charm pack (I still love this fabric line) and took it to my parents house over Thanksgiving.  I decided to use the Meandering Path quilt pattern from Moda Bake Shop.  This is the same quilt pattern I used to make my Christmas quilt a few years ago, and I remember sewing that together in a snowstorm, so I knew it sews together fairly quickly — not too much cutting with this pattern and a great showcase of the variation of fabrics in the layer cake.

So, on the day after Thanksgiving, rather than getting up at the crack of dawn to go shopping, I woke up and started to cut the fabric for the quilt.  Then, I spread the quilt out and walked away.  Friday night I went to start sewing it together and my mom stepped in to assist me.  How lucky am I that she was willing to do that?

Saturday morning I woke up and finished sewing it together — an experienced quilter could pretty easily put the top together in half a day.  An inexperienced quilter could easily put it together in the course of  a day or two — the pattern takes so little cutting — after the initial cutting of the fabric, you’re done!

This was an excellent return to quilting.  And, I left there with a top that is finished :)

meandering path prayer flag quilt

Vanilla Cardamom Pear Pie

For Thanksgiving, my dad and I decided we were doing the majority of the cooking this year.  Like often happens, my aunt and uncle who live close by came up to my parents house and we had a great time together.  We always end up talking about people in the area and as I’ve gotten older, I appreciate more and more the genealogy aspects we explore, so I appreciate things increasingly.

On Wednesday morning, I realized I’d left the pie crusts at my place, but luckily my parents had anticipated this problem.

Anyhoo, this year we decided to move away from the traditional pumpkin or pecan pies, which, although we love them, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to continue to move through some other favorite pies.  A few years ago I was on a kick with this pie recipe and realized I don’t have it written down anywhere.  The milk, eggs, chocolate blog has a lot of great recipes, and before the blog goes away, I wanted to make sure the recipe was in my list of recipes.  I decided to make vanilla cardamom pear pie.

Remember how I shared that I forgot the pie crusts?  Well, I also forgot the cardamom, and that’s not a spice my parents keep on hand.  I considered going up to the store to get it, but my commute had increased significantly due to heavy snow in my hometown (8 inches throughout the morning) and the mile to the grocery store just didn’t feel worth it.  So, in this situation, I substituted the cardamom with cinnamon.  Both are great.  The original (modified) recipe is below.

I’ve also made a few adjustments in order to accommodate for ingredients I had.  Check out the pie crust recipe over on the milk, eggs, chocolate blog.  While I didn’t use it this time, it has worked quite well in the past.

vanilla cardamom pear pie

Vanilla Cardamom Pear Pie

2 pie crusts
5-6 medium pears, sliced thinly (I try to use a variety of pears, if I have access to them)
1/4 c sugar
1/4 c flour
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp cardamom (or cinnamon)
1 Tbsp vanilla paste (like this one)

Combine pears, sugar, vanilla, cardamom, flour, and vanilla paste in a large bowl.  Toss to blend well and let stand until dry ingredients become moist (about 30 minutes).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place one pie crust in a pie baking dish.  Choose the shapes you’d like for the top of the pie (I used leaf cookie cutters this time) and prep that method.  Fill the first pie crust with filling.  Place the second crust on top.  Bake for 35 minutes and then tent with foil to prevent it from turning too brown.  Continue baking until it is the desired level of brown, about 10 more minutes.

Cool pie on a rack.

Turkey Gravy

gravy 2It’s the day after Thanksgiving, and while we have enough leftovers for a couple of meals, I think by Saturday, we’ll be pretty well knocked out on our leftovers.  Except, perhaps, for the gravy.  And the turkey broth.

I’m going to let out a little secret here: we tend to do our cooking ahead of time as much as possible.  We made our turkey on Wednesday (it helps to prevent the mess of carving the turkey at the table on Thanksgiving itself) and with snow coming down like crazy, my dad also made some turkey stock at my request.  In the delegation of the holiday cooking, I had volunteered to make the gravy.  It’s one of the items that people get most anxious about making on the Thanksgiving table because of recollections of lumpy gravy at one point or another in history.

Last week, I was driving through Colorado and listening to an episode of Science Friday (I had forgotten how much I loved that show) where they were discussing the science of some of the best-loved holiday dishes.  One item they discussed was the gravy.  And adding soy sauce to the gravy.  So, I was on the search for a recipe that included soy sauce.  I ended up finding one over on the Serious Eats web site which looked appealing enough to try out.  I used the turkey stock my dad had made after cooking off the turkey and when I told him I was using soy sauce, he was pretty skeptical.  But, the day ended with him asking me for the recipe, so I think we found ourselves in a good place.  In fact, he wouldn’t admit it, but I think we was waiting to freeze the rest of the stock until he knew it had turned out, but after the first batch was done, I had some strong encouragement to make a second batch (hence the leftover gravy).  I made a couple of modifications based on the suggestions from comments in the recipe.

turkey gravy

Turkey Gravy

1/4 c butter

1/4 c flour

4 c turkey stock

1 tsp soy sauce

1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce

salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a saucepan.  Add flour and whisk together to turn into a roux.  As this cooks up and begins to brown, slowly add the stock, while whisking.  Ensure that this has whisked together and is not lumpy.  Then whisk in the soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Bring the mixture to a boil.  Then reduce heat and reduce to the thickness desired.

Because the house was nervous about the soy sauce and wanted time to fix this if needed, I ended up reducing the gravy for about 2 hours while the rest of the prep for Thanksgiving happened.  Others had suggested the gravy was a little thin, but since we reduced it for a long time, I thought it was of a good consistency.  I’m also pretty sure that in the future, I’ll be asked to make the gravy, which I think is a good sign.

Happy Thanksgiving

This prayer hangs in my dining room and on a week like this one, it feels especially important.  Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

To those who hunger give bread and to those who have bread give the hunger for justice.

To those who hunger give bread and to those who have bread give the hunger for justice.