Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Buttermilk Drop Biscuits

A few weeks ago I had a terrible need for a KFC biscuit. After convincing the family to pick up dinner, KFC had the audacity to be out of biscuits. Seriously! What fried chicken place runs out of biscuits? Well, they did and I was forced to come up with my own. Luckily I had some buttermilk on hand and was able to adjust a recipe to fit my taste.
I like a moist biscuit with a crunchy outside. A strong butter flavor is required absolutely required. These became an instant household favorite. My daughter now requests them often and I will do my best to stock buttermilk so that we're ready at a moments notice.
Oh, and these babies take about 20 minutes from start to finish -- perfect for adding to almost any meal. We like to eat breakfast sandwiches around here with ham, egg and a biscuit. These will work perfectly!
Buttermilk Drop Biscuits

3 cups Flour
1 Tbs sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup cold butter
1 cup buttermilk

1. Preheat your oven to 450°F.
2. Place the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a food processor.
3. Add the butter to the food processor and run until the butter is cut into the flour mixture.
4. Add the buttermilk and blend quickly -- not too much.
5. Place the dough on a cookie sheet in lumps about 1/4 cup in size. Squash them a bit with your fingers into a loose biscuit shape.
6. Brush the tops with melted butter.
7. Bake the biscuits for 12 to 14 minutes, until they're golden brown.

Servings: 12

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas projects finished!

All the Christmas gifts are in the mail. This was my final gift project. After it has been delivered, I'll show the entire quilt. I'm pretty jazzed about this one -- I made up the pattern and finished it all in about 6 weeks. Compared to some people, that's a quilter's lifetime. For me, that's pretty speedy!

Now I'm off to make my kids Christmas pajamas! Yahoo! It's almost here!

Hash Brown Heaven

When you bake it, the food will be taller than this, I like it squashed flat, and forgot that I needed a picture for the blog.
So, here is the squashed serving.

I've been looking for a hearty breakfast recipe that I can prepare ahead of time that meets many requirements: healthy, tasty, filling and yet not too heavy on calories. Also, I need to be able to re-heat it in the microwave and have it taste the same as it did when it came out of the oven.

This baby is the winner. I've pulled together several different recipes and tweaked it so that we had the perfect meal. My husband loves it so much he ate almost 1/2 of a 9x13 pan for dinner this week. Note: It is not low calorie if you eat half the pan.

This will make 8 hearty servings, with about 350 calories per serving.

Hash Brown Heaven

1 medium onion
14 oz turkey kielbasa
2 green peppers
4 cups frozen hash browns, thawed(one bag)
1/2 cup sour cream3 eggs
8 egg whites
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 1/2 cups Mexican cheese

1. Dice green pepper and onion very small.
2. Dice kielbasa very small. Brown and set aside.
3. Combine all ingredients reserving one half of the cheese in a greased 9x13 pan.
4. Top with the remainder of the cheese.
5. Bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes or until set.

Servings: 8

Amount Per Serving Calories 346.04
Calories From Fat (44%) 153.67%
Daily Value Total Fat 17.52g 27%
Saturated Fat 8.7g 44%
Cholesterol 142.63mg 48%

Friday, November 20, 2009

Cooking a turkey

I'm surprised how many people are afraid of cooking a turkey. I've done it for about 10 years now, and it's surprisingly easy and a very economical way to add protein to a menu. I will often cook two turkeys in November while the meat is sold at a discount price and freeze one in small vacuumed sealed packages to use through the winter.

This is going to sound like a made-up story, but I swear it's true. My sister had a friend, who had a brother that worked in a restaurant. His job was to make the turkeys during the holidays. He put together instructions, and gave them to my sister, who in turn gave them to me.

Now, there are probably as many ways to cook a turkey as there are turkeys on the planet, but this method has never failed me. In fact, I now use it for roasting chickens as well.

Kristie's Tasty Turkey
For an 18 lbs. Turkey

  • You will want to use a roasting pan with a rack to raise the turkey and the roasting pan should not be too big. The Turkey should only be 1-2 inches from the sides of the pan. Thaw turkey completely – 3 to 4 days in the fridge
  • Soak turkey(in the packaging) in cold water with 2 cups of salt in the kitchen sink for at least 4 hours or up to overnight -- this is called brining
  • Once completely thawed & brined, rinse turkey, remove everything from inside and pat dry
  • Separate skin from breast and rub a mixture of salt, pepper, garlic pepper and poultry seasoning inside between the skin and the breast meat
  • Rub and dump 3-4 handfuls of salt in the internal cavity
  • Tie back the wings under the breasts
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Cook turkey upside down, uncovered @ 400 degrees for 1/3 of projected cook time (18 lbs. = 50 minutes, or so)
  • Turn Turkey breast side up, drizzle skin with butter and shake salt and pepper on the outside
  • Add 1-2 cups of water to bottom of pan to add to the juices and make basting easier
    Drop temperature to 325 degrees and cover with a tight foil tent
  • Baste every 30 minutes
  • Begin checking the temperature for doneness after a total of 2 hrs of cooking. Reduce temperature if cooking too rapidly.
  • When temperature reaches 165 – 185 degrees with a digital instant read thermometer in both the legs and breasts, remove from oven and baste again, immediately wrap completely in a tight foil blanket and then wrap that in a towel.
  • Allow to rest for up to an hour before carving.

Spaghetti Bake

This recipe is a slight modification of one that my mother-in-law makes. The first time she made it for me was just after I had my son and was completely incapacitated from the surgery. My wonderful mother-in-law came to stay with us for a week and took great care to love and feed us while she was there. This recipe will always remind me of her kindness.

Aside from it's wonderful memories, it's tasty too.

Spaghetti Bake

16 oz package spaghetti
1 pound hamburger
1 green pepper
1 medium onion
1 package pepperoni, chopped into small pieces
1 tablespoon butter
1 jar spaghetti sauce
2 cups mozzarella cheese

Boil noodles, but drain them about two minutes before you would normally remove them. They will continue cooking in the oven.

In a fairly large pan, brown and drain the hamburger.

In the same pan that you cooked the hamburger, saute pepper and onion in butter until tender. Add the chopped pepperoni. Saute for two minute more.

Add the hamburger back to the vegetables and pepperoni. Add the spaghetti sauce and heat until warm.

Place the cooked noodles and the vegetable/sauce combination into a 9x13 baking dish. Mix thoroughly.

Top with cheese and cover with aluminum foil.

Bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil, bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is brown.

Oh Cherry Oh! idea

I've been working with some fun fabrics lately, sadly I haven't figured out how to import fabric to Electric Quilt yet. I'll just suffer through with their sample swatches to make my designs.

The quilt design I'm working on right now uses Oh Cherry Oh! fabrics by Moda's Me and My sister line. I purchased the pre-cut turnovers and have been trying to figure out how best to use them on quilts for an un-named upcoming holiday. I really like how they look on point, and I think that may be my final choice. I don't have any yardage of the fabrics, so I think the end of each row and the borders will be bleached white Kona muslin.

Any thoughts?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

This soup is always a hit! I take it often to people that are sick or need a meal brought in. When taking it to someone, I always pair it up with my hearty white bread.

It freezes VERY well, just remember to heat it slowly because it is cream based. If you reheat it in the microwave, just set it at a medium power setting.

Good luck!

Wild Rice Soup

1 large Onion
2 cups Carrots, diced
3 cups Celery, diced
½ cup Butter
2/3 cups Flour
6 cups Water
2 tablespoons McCormick chicken base (or 4 Bullion Cubes)
2 pkgs Rice-A-Roni Long Grain and Wild Rice
5 Chicken breasts (cooked and cubed)
2 cups Half and Half
½ teaspoon Salt
½ teaspoon Pepper

1. Chop vegetables and place in large soup pot. Melt butter and sauté vegetables until tender.

2. Add flour and stir until vegetables are coated. Let the flour cook for about 2-3 minutes until it has a golden blond color.

3. Slowly add water and stir vigorously until flour dissolves. Prepare Rice-A-Roni as directed on box, then add to the soup.

4. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer on low until well blended, usually about 1 hour.

Servings: 20
Yield: 20 cups

Monday, November 16, 2009

Meal Plan for November 16-22

I'm back to meal planning again after a few months off. It was just too much hassle if I don't plan ahead. Without a plan, I find myself trying to find ways to convince the family that we should eat out instead of cooking. Not really money-saving at all.

A friend recently explained to me that in their family, each person gets to choose one meal during the week, and the mom chooses for the days left over. I thought it was a great idea. We tried it for a bit last week and had very happy results. The picky eater in the family was thrilled that people had to eat what she liked, and she didn't whine as much on the other days. So, my family members have shared the duty again this week, and we put together the following menu:

Monday -- French Dip Sandwiches
Tuesday -- French Peasant Bread with Cream cheese chicken and rice
Wednesday -- Wild rice soup and homemade bread
Thursday -- French toast and bacon
Friday -- Chicken Tacos with Black Bean Salsa
Saturday -- Spaghetti Bake
Sunday -- Crock pot BBQ pork chops with simple roasted potatoes and Alabama white BBQ sauce

I'm getting into the habit of thinking ahead. Next week, on my day we're going to have Tostadas with shredded beef that's already made and waiting in the freezer.

Friday, November 13, 2009

I love Shutterfly!

I love Shutterfly because they give me screaming deals on things I already wanted to buy. You can see some of the things I've put together over here on my share site.

The company gave me the chance to host a party last weekend, and each guest received a free 8x8 photo book and 12 free Christmas cards. Oh, and a really cool pen. Loving the pen! Hoarding the pen.

I worked on my photo book this week, and put together my purchase this morning. All in all I purchased:
  • an 8x8 photo book that was 54 pages
  • 50 -- 4x6 prints
  • 12 -- nice 5x7 foldable Christmas cards
  • 6 -- 5x7 prints for decorating around the house

For all of that I paid a whopping $23. That's it! I saved $91.10 on my order.

Shutterfly lets you save coupon codes and it will apply all the available ones to your order, so I got free shipping, 10% off, a free book, free cards, free prints, etc. I am one loyal customer! And, by using, I was able to earn money back on my purchase as well! What a bargain.

Oh, and if you haven't ordered from Shutterfly before, their printing is the best around, and I'm a picky customer.

By the way, they didn't actually give me money to share my positive opinion -- I love them anyway!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Our Favorite Brownies

I was very tempted recently to try a new recipe on Smitten Kitchen, one of my most favorite foodie websites.

Oh baby! These are the most wonderful brownies I have ever made at home -- and I did it from scratch! I've tried cream cheese brownies before, but sometimes the brownie part leaves something to be desired. By melting chocolate chips with the butter, it makes a better starting point than using cocoa in my mind. Plus, I always have semi-sweet chocolate chips around, but I often run out of cocoa.

I changed the recipe from Smitten Kitchen a bit. I'm pretty cheap, so I use chocolate chips instead of bakers chocolate. Either will probably work, but this is easier for me.
Oh, and did I mention that I whipped these up in less than five minutes, used the same bowl for both batters and had them baked so fast I hadn't even finished licking the bowl clean? My family didn't even bother with plates. They are really that good.
Cheesecake Marbled Brownies

Brownie batter
1 stick butter, cut into pieces
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
pinch of salt
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup all-purpose flour

Cheesecake batter
8 oz cream cheese, well softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan.
3. Melt butter and chocolate chips in the microwave -- about 30-45 seconds was all it took. Combine well.
4. Whisk in sugar, eggs, vanilla, and a pinch of salt until well combined.
5. Whisk in flour until just combined and spread in baking pan.
6. Whisk together cheesecake batter ingredients in a small bowl until smooth. Dollop over brownie batter, then swirl in with a knife or spatula.
7. Sprinkle chocolate chips over cheesecake/brownie batter swirl.
8. Bake until edges are slightly puffed and center is just set, about 35 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: Makes 16 2-inch square, thick brownies

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Bithday Invitations

My daughter's birthday is coming quick! I needed to make invitations today, and I'm pretty happy with how they turned out. I used Photoshop Elements and some clip art to create the following images:
I'll print them on blank 5X7 cards that I had on hand. Woohoo! Free birthday invites!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Pizza Party Night

We recently had a family over for a Friday night pizza party. I made the pizza crusts and did the pre-bake before everyone arrived. The crusts had time to cool before we put all the toppings on -- I think this was one of the key factors to the perfect crust that we enjoyed that night. But, the best part was that I realized as I was assembling all the pizza toppings that they were all salad toppings as well. Everyone was able to make their own salad and their own pizza to fit their personal taste. All the guests were happy, and it was a pretty easy event to make happen! I was very happy! I highly recommend doing this for a family get-together or a dinner party. I think the adults were the most pleased.
The pizza crust I used was from King Arthur, and the toppings I put out were tomatoes, green peppers, onions, olives, mushrooms, pepperoni, Canadian Bacon, pineapple, several different kinds of cheese and lettuce. We had a few salad dressings to choose from and Prego traditional sauce for the pizzas.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Furniture Re-vamp

Do you ever get so excited about a project it starts to consume your every thought? I'll admit it happens to me often. I obsess on an idea or a project and I just can't get it out of my thoughts.

The past month my dining room has been my obsession. I have driven to furniture stores all over the state looking for a black dining room table and hutch. They are outrageous expensive! I just can't spend the money required to get a quality set. So, my mind shifted gears and I started wondering if I could create such a set.

I've spent hours and hours researching how to paint furniture, looking at furniture on Craig's list and talking to the experts at Lowe's and Sherwin Williams.

Last weekend, I dragged my family to a town about 30 miles away to purchase a small hutch on Craigslist. It's now sitting in the garage, just waiting to become a beautiful piece of re-created glory. I have all the supplies, all the tools.

But, my excitement is starting to wane, and I'm terrified I'll screw it up! What if I ruin a cute little piece of $50 furniture and my new vision for my dining room is not going to work??? I know I have to get over this sense of fear and just get out there. I do. I understand that.

Time for the internal pep talk and to change into painting clothes.

Blog Combination

I was feeling too schizophrenic trying to keep up two blogs. Should decorating items go with food or quilting???

It was too complicated to figure out what I wanted to put on each one, so today I combined them back both into the one Lyme Ricky blog. I won't delete the Quilted Patch for a while, but I imported all the posts here -- that's why you may see a bunch of unread posts in your reader account.

Sorry for any confusion or heartache this might have caused all of my regular readers -- I apologize.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Homemade Chicken Things

We made Homemade Chicken Things last night and they were great! I highly recommend them. The entire family ate them and enjoyed it! Now, in this house, that's really saying something!
I changed the original recipe a bit. Here's what I did:
Homemade Chicken “Things”

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons vinegar
5 drops Tabasco sauce

3/4 cup complete (just add water) pancake mix
3/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Oil for frying

1. Trim chicken breasts and cut into desired size nuggets or fingers. I cut mine into 3/4 inch cubes.
2. Soak chicken pieces in milk mixed with vinegar and Tabasco for 3-4 hours.

3. In a large bowl whisk together pancake mix, water, salt & pepper. Add more water to thin if needed. (Note: You want the mix to be a little thinner than you would for making pancakes, but not very much.)

4. Heat oil in a fryer or in a medium-sized pot. Add chicken pieces to the batter and stir to coat completely.

4. When oil is hot, use a fork to transfer chicken from the batter to the oil. Don't put too many pieces in at once or it will lower the oil temperature and they will not cook as well.
5. Cook about 3 - 4 minutes per side, until batter is browned and chicken is completely cooked.

Entertainment Center

I've been going crazy in our house changing things around. It's like a switch went on in my mind, I looked around and said, "I just can't take this!" It's nesting worse than I ever had when I was pregnant, and I'm not pregnant. I just got fed up.
The entertainment center above is a perfect example. It's been a great piece of furniture. My parents gave it to me for my birthday the year we got married. We've used it for ten years. It's really met our needs until lately. The TV has started to go on the fritz, so a flat screen is now imaginable in the future. This entertainment center doesn't fit in our basement, and has been put in a corner where it has caused trouble opening the doors on either side. We really just needed a change.
I finally became motivated enough to get off my duff and find our new option. It's a great piece of furniture at an extremely reasonable price -- and it's not even press-board! It's a wonderful change and we love it!

We love you new 'TV console'.

Pinwheel Progress

I've been working on my quilt this week. I'm finally getting back in to sewing now that school has started. I think it's looking pretty good! I took a Snippets turnover and then cut my own 6" squares and then cut them in half. I've got a bunch of these that I'm going to make into several quilts.
I did notice when putting up this picture that I had put a few orange next to each other. When you look at the quilt straight on, it doesn't seem quite so drastic. I think I'm going to start taking pictures BEFORE I sew the blocks to make sure I have the right balance in the future.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Snippets Pinwheel

I've been working on my Snippets Pinwheel quilt this week. I'm loving how it looks so far. Hopefully my version will end up looking like the one I saw that started my whole adventure:

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Color Transformation

Our painting project is finally finished! It makes such a shocking difference in the room! I can't believe how dark it was with the red.

I will say that going from the dark red to white was a pretty intensive project. We had to use Kills as a primer to cover it. Then we did a coat of each color. When we took the tape off, we learned that the Kills was pulling off at the edges with the tape. What a pain! We had to do about 4 hours worth of touch up painting. But, I can honestly say that the paint job is the best one that my husband and I have ever done.

If you wondered if my husband is happy with the new room -- yep. He is. He can't believe the change and how much brighter it is in there. We spend a large portion of the day in there since my computer office is also my dining room. I love being in there and I really enjoy how classy it looks. I can't wait to pull together the wall decor and really make it shine!

We are victims!

We have been plagued by blight this year. First, we lost the zucchini plant. Then the cucumbers. Now, the tomatoes are starting to succumb. It's so sad! We're going to have to ride it out and see what happens, because once your garden is infected, it's almost impossible to stop.

We've been loosing leaves from the tomato plants for a while, but were uneducated as to how brutal this was going to be. Today, this is how we found several of the tomatoes:
For those of you on the East Coast, you may or not be familiar with blight. It arrived in the area about 10-15 years ago, and has been destroying crops ever since. It is a fungus that develops well in wet, moist conditions. It survives in temperatures up to 95 degrees in the day and as low as 65 degrees in the night -- a perfect New England summer. This is the same disease that destroyed potatoes and caused the great Irish potato famine that resulted in the Irish immigration to America in the 1840s to 1850s. There are no real remedies for blight once it has arrived. Currently, there are no plants that are resistant to the fungus.

Learn more about blight here.
We picked about 8 pounds of tomatoes today, bringing our grand total to 37 pounds. Not bad considering the blight plague. We're hoping to get more, but it's going to be an effort to beat the blight now. I'm afraid it's going to take over.

All in all, our garden has not yet provided enough produce to have paid for it's construction. It cost about $350 to put together, plant and fill with the proper soil. We've probably saved about $150 in produce expenses. Over time, it will pay for itself I guess, but so far we're in the red. Hopefully next year won't be so moist.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Painting Day 1.5

I know it's almost impossible to see the differences in paint color here. And, I had to take the pictures out of focus because the camera couldn't find something to focus on. But, you get the general idea of where we plan to go.
Right now I think we're going to go with 'Hanoki' as the color. Check back. It seems to be changing by the hour.

Painting Day One

Here's what it looks like after one coat of primer. I think we'll do the color next -- that is if we ca decide on which one.

Temporary Hiatus

I've had to put a hold on sewing this week. I've forced my family into accepting a re-model of our dining room. I'm the only one that's really excited about it. My husband is a very reluctant participant. He has really enjoyed the red and isn't sure he wants it to go away. I have to give him credit though -- he's doing the work right along with me and not complaining one bit.
This red is where we started. I can't wait to see where we end up!

Fantastic Voyage Step #7

If you've been following along for the Fantastic Voyage quilt, we've reached step #7 -- putting the top together. I love this step! It always makes me feel like the time and creative energy was worth all the effort.
The trick to getting your top together correctly for this pattern is alternating the orientation for every block. The outside strips should be at 90 degrees from each other. It's easiest to look at the picture and figure it out. Promise!
I liked sewing two blocks together and then two additional blocks and so on. Then it's easy to iron them and stack them and then proceed to sew two to two. The four to four.
The final strips will each have 8 blocks. You should have eight strips of eight blocks each. By the time the entire quilt is assembled, it will be 8 blocks x 8 blocks.
That all came out a bit confusing sounding, but it should be pretty easy to interpret I hope.

All Right Garden!!!

It seems like we have really turned a corner in the garden. I've been able to get about 8 pounds worth of tomatoes over a 48 hour time period this week. I attribute it to three things:
  • Time
  • Not watering -- thanks Wendy!
  • Heat - finally we have had a few sunny, hot days in a row

I did a lot of research on how to turn your green tomatoes into red ones. One of the basic tips was to only water every 2-3 days. I've been watering every single day. I didn't know they only needed water every 2-3 days, even in the heat of summer. So, I stopped watering this week. I haven't given them any water since Saturday, and we seem to be doing much better now. I'll probably throw on a little water today, but not too much.

If you're struggling like I am -- I live in fear of all those 200 tomatoes dying in the soon-to-come frost, there are additional ways to turn your tomatoes if that frost is headed your way. I've gathered a few from the Internet here. Now, I haven't tried these yet myself, but if we get closer to the first frost and I still have bunches on the vine, you can bet I'll start trying different things to save them!

  • The ol' brown paper bag trick -- apparently this works on tomatoes as well as peaches
  • Place them a box, in the dark, with an apple. The apple apparently provides the necessary chemicals in the air to turn them red. Who knew?
  • Pick them and just let them sit on your counter out of direct sunlight until turning red.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Canned Salsa

Last August I canned salsa and have thoroughly enjoyed the fresh taste of summer all year long. I had really hoped to take peppers and tomatoes from our garden to make more this summer. So far, I'm really out of luck! We've only had enough tomatoes for one meal about every other day. UGH! We're just finishing off the final two jars from last year.
But, for those of you that have an abundance of produce and are looking for a good canned salsa recipe, I highly recommend this one! It's got a fresh taste, a little bit of vinegar bite and the yummy background flavor of cilantro.
You do need to cook it until the water disappears -- it will be runny if you don't cook it until it's at 1/2 the original volume. Warning -- it goes fast! We eat several cups worth each time we have nachos.
Canning Salsa

3 qt. tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 qt. onions, coarsely chopped
1 c. green peppers, coarsely chopped
4-6 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped
4-6 cloves garlic
1-2 tsp. salt
1/2 bunch of cilantro
1/2 c. sugar
3/4 c. 5% apple cider vinegar

Cook down to 1/2 volume. Put into sterilized jars; seal and water bath 20 minutes for pints or pressure at 5 pounds for 5 minutes.

Summer Quilt-a-long progress

This quilt has been such a challenge for me! I'm finally making real progress. I tried laying out all my squares on white fabric just to see what it would look like. I'm starting to like it, but it's so different from my usual attempts it's a mental struggle to work on it. I've been distracted with a million projects, but I'm promising to finish this one by the end of September. Pinky promise!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Toy Management

I love our basement! When were looking for a home, a usable basement was a must have! We've put the TV and all the kids toys down there. It makes the rest of the house much easier to keep clean.

Until two weeks ago, the toys were all over the place. I've been dreaming of these toy organizers from IKEA for years. This summer, the dream became reality. YEAH!!!! I love them! The kids are actually playing with the toys and then they clean them up every night before going to bed. It's amazing! My 20-month-old will clean up his own toys and knows that the bin needs to be put away before the job is finished. I'm in Mommy Heaven!
I've been thinking about how I could make the bins even cuter than they are, and here's what I've done -- I designed labels for each of them. There's both pictures and words so that kids of varying ages will know what's available and how to clean it up when they're finished using something.

I have a few bins left to finish, but I've run out of steam for a bit. I'll come back to it in a couple of weeks and finish the rest.

To the Food Growers of America

To the Food Growers of America,

Thank you! Thank you for every ounce of effort you put into feeding my family. Thank you for choosing to support your families in a profession that is getting less and less respect. Thank you for working long hours in the hot sun to bring healthy fruit and vegetables to my table.

Until this year, I did not appreciate your valiant efforts. Now I understand how hard you must be working. I understand the acres of plants you must nurture to have enough crop to make money. I understand the sadness when a plant in your care dies. I now understand the amount of education and experience you must possess to produce enough crops to feed your family.

I thank you. For my garden has not produced enough to sustain us. We have enjoyed its fruits and hope to learn and grow to make it more productive over the years. You, dear farmers, have offered up your wonderful product when ours has failed to meet the demand. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

For those who may doubt the sincerity of my thanks, I offer you the evidence of my gratitude. After 4 months of service, our garden has produced these wonderful vegetables:

I'm grateful for what we have been able to grow, and I hope we continue to see more. But I am also very thankful for the farmers that will take up the challenge and produce the food I cannot seem to grow. Thank you!


This morning, I was missing my beloved EQ5 as I worked on my new computer. For my birthday this past year, I saved all my pennies and bought this great new laptop which I love, love, love! But, it is Vista, and I didn't think that EQ5 would work on Vista.

I tried it out and sure enough it works!
I've spent the morning playing with my long lost software friend. I've been dreaming up ways to use my wonderful Snippets fabric from Moda. It's a take on this quilt -- just a grown-up size using turnovers instead of a charm packet.
I'm off to sew!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Fantastic Voyage Step #6

I love getting to the part where it all starts to come together!

In this step, you're going to add the 1.5 x 8.5 inch strips to the side of each block. Use two strips of the same color for the frame on each block. It helps to give the quilt a small bit of consistency and definition.

Take your block as it is, then add one strip to the left, and one to the right. I did not use chain sewing on this step -- I wanted to make sure I was duplicating the correct color.

As always, iron each block. I have to lay mine out on the floor as I iron so that I can see the effect of the quilt as it starts to emerge. LOVE IT! This part always makes me feel warm and fuzzy!

Fantastic Voyage Step #5

You are going to sew two of your small blocks together in opposite directions. If you look at the picture above, you can see that the large pieces to the side end up on opposite ends from one another. This is what helps to give it such a scrappy look.

For this step, again you need to make sure that all the blocks look the same when you finish sewing them. The easiest way to do this is to set them into a stack, all facing the same way. When you pick up two to sew together, turn one so that it is in the opposite direction and then sew. Again, I used chain sewing to make this go really fast. After sewing the two halves together, iron and lightly starch them. It will make every step after a bit easier.

You should end up with 64 blocks -- our final number!

This step took about an hour.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Fantastic Voyage Step #4

Step #4 -- It's starting to come together! Stack your mini-blocks all together. Turn the stack so that you have it with piece C on the bottom. Place another piece C (2.5 X 4.5) next to the piece you have already sewn. It should look like the block in the picture above. Sew with right sides together. Duplicate for all 128 blocks.

Iron and open.

I'm realizing that I may not have enough pictures for visualization. If someone actually reading this would like more detailed pictures, let me know.

Fantastic Voyage Step #3

Step #3 is also fairly easy. There's only one trick -- sew everything on the same side. Lay out your pieces from step #2. Next to them, place your stack of Piece C fabric. You're going to sew Piece C to the long side of your two pieces with the right sides together. It will make three parallel seams.

If you don't sew all the pieces on the same side, the next step in the quilt will not work properly. So use caution!

Iron open and starch. When finished, you should have 128 building blocks for your quilt that have three strips of fabric in each.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Fantastic Voyage Step #2

Step #2 is easy and fun. All you do is take two Piece A strips -- these are 1.5 x 4.5. Sew them together down the long side. I used the chain piecing method(where you don't cut the thread between each set of strips. That way it only took me about one hour to finish this step.
When you are finished, iron and starch as desired. I like stacking in groups of 10 so that I can be sure all 128 building blocks are there.

Fried Green Tomatoes

Yep. My southern-belle of a grandma is rolling in her grave. Her Yankee grand-daughter just grew a tomato in Connecticut and then made fried green tomatoes with that same tomato and loved it.

I don't know what that traditional southern way of making fried green tomatoes is supposed to be, so I just made up my own way.

This poor little tomato had fallen off the tomato plant. He seemed in perfectly fine shape to me, so I thought I'd fry him up for dinner. Here's what I did:
Fried Green Tomatoes
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Lawry's seasoning salt
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten
Slice the tomatoes fairly thin, about 1/8-1/4 inch thick. I liked the thinner ones the best -- they had a good crunch to them.
Dredge in beaten egg.
Dredge in flour.
Gently place into VERY hot oil -- if it isn't hot, the tomato will get all oily and soggy instead of crispy.
Fry for about 2 minutes on each side. Try not to jostle or flip the tomatoes too roughly or the tasty batter will fall off.
Place on a paper towel to drain.
Serve with dipping sauce. I used Alabama BBQ sauce, but it would taste great with Ranch too.