Monday, December 3, 2012

Pear-Cranberry Frangipane Tart

Take a 1/4 cup dried cranberries and soak them in some brandy (or, if you spent the summer making cordials, dig out the winter spice cordial you made with brandy, fresh ferries, vanilla, and a cinnamon stick, and soak them in that -- dang, it's tasty!). Just enough to cover them. Make the frangipane: (thank you to Foodie in Berlin's blog) 115g almond paste or marzipan, crumbled 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar 1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour 1/8 teaspoon almond extract 6 tablespoons (90g) unsalted butter, at room temperature 1 large egg, at room temperature 1 teaspoon rum, Kirsch or Calvados (optional) Place the almond paste, sugar, flour and almond extract in the bowl of a food processor or electric mixer. Mix until the almond paste is in fine, uniform pieces. Add the butter and mix until very well-blended, then add the egg and the liqueur, if using. Mix until the frangipane is smooth (there may be a few tiny unmixed pieces of almond paste, and that’s fine–they’ll disappear during baking). Use the liquid you soaked the cranberries in for the Kirsch!!! So. Good. You can make the frangipane up to 2 days before and refrigerate it. Remember, unless you're buying unpasturized eggs right from the farmer, keeping it refrigerated will be just fine. I was making a half-recipe, so I just used an egg white. Prepare your crust of choice. Puff pastry, shortbread crust in a tart pan, or free-form "rustic" made from pie crust dough all work well in this recipe. You will not need to blind-bake the puff pastry or pie crust. Assemble it in the pan. Spread the frangipane over your crust evenly. Quarter your pears (about 2), and slice them thinly so you can fan them out. (if you are going rustic, don't be fancy.) Lay them on top of your frangipane. Arrange the soaked cranberries on top. Scatter a few tablespoons of sugar over the whole thing. Bake at 375° F for 45 minutes to an hour. Use the same logic as pie here, folks. You want the fruit to be cooked through, and you want the pastry to be crisp, not soggy. Juices may run over. Embrace this, but place a baking sheet under the pan in the oven. :)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Bad Blogger: holiday edition!

I've been neglectful of this crafting blog, but I assure you I'm still out there! Since I last posted, my little sister got married, I've been working hard at teaching, become the sponsor of a second club at school, went to Canada for a 4-day vacay, and embarked on a couple of new health challenges (6wk goal setting type challenges), and taken the students to two different Latin club events (that's the first club I'm sponsor of), and went to Arkansas for thanksgiving. Ok, whew! I can't post my most time consuming craft project that I've been working on during this time, because it's my sister's holiday present, and she might read this. But, I do have pics, and they will be posted! With it being American thanksgiving weekend, and having had a couple days off, I've tried to get myself a bit more organized. Ordered some things towards the holidays. Oddly shaping up to be a very bibliophilic christmas. After I raked the leaves this afternoon, I set about to make all the drop cookies I had in mind, since they can be frozen, put into a ziploc and baked on demand when needed. Made 42 butter pecan, 42 oatmeal-dark choc-cranberry, and 29 gingersnap cookies: dough, unbaked, frozen, & bagged. BRING IT ON, HOLIDAYS. My friends (completely justifiably!!) make fun of me for my devotion to King Arthur Flour and their recipes/products, but they've never steered me wrong. The butter pecan and the gingersnaps come from their site, and the oatmeal is my own variation based off the Joy of Cooking. I recommend them, if'n you need cookies!

Friday, September 7, 2012


Well, it's been about a month since I last posted, which is not so good, but I have been handling mundane things like explaining subjunctive verbs and being handy for a family wedding.

But today, I'd like to post about my fledgling Hoopla Wall. What's a Hoopla?
Any kind of fiber art framed in an embroidery hoop. The hoop becomes the method of presentation as much as completion!

I just got finished with Ongoing Hoopla Swap found on Craftster (An excellent site not only for craft swaps, but all things craft). I'd already received one hoop in an earlier Doctor Who swap and loved the KYSMIK (old Norse for "kiss me"/Viking) I got in this one. It inspired me to finish the Labyrinth hoop that had been languishing in my crafts basket.

My Hoopla Wall

If you want to see some truly awesome hoopla that are being made, check out this link! Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Latest crafty endeavors!

Hiho, my few and faithful readers. Here's what I've been up to lately: work. My school system goes back to school ridiculously early, so since the last time I've posted, I've been back to the school twice before teacher InService started, and then participated in the week of InService itself. The less said about that, the better.

I've also been participating in craft swaps. is a great and fun site for those of us who need another outlet for outer crafty-foo, particularly if our friends and family do not want another scarf!

Here's what I received from my swap partner:
Lammas/Lugh swap!

It's a big retro apron (&reversible!) and a picture locket necklace!

Lammas/Lugh swap

Also, here's a pretend action shot of the blogs on Betsy, my mannequin, before I sent to my partner:

Lammas/Lugh swap

I also sent her bundles of dried herbs from the garden: Tuscan rosemary, Greek mountain oregano, Za'atar marjoram, and dwarf savory. (Blended, it's super good on grilled pork!) Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Tonight's Dinner!

Spoon tomatoes & baby zucchini over wild rice with mozzarella & garlic! Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Grouting the Mosaic

After an epic cookout* at my friend Natasha's house, I awoke to another heat advisory here. And Thursday is also when the lawn care company comes to take care of the complex. (I wonder, do they get any hazard pay for working on code orange days?). Faced with this double-whammy, I decided it was time to grout the mosaic!

Here are my supplies. Teacher Marilyn's instructions are there in the corner, and look, a use for those weekly junk mail inserts!
Grouting the Mosaic
After grouting and scraping and looking for little holes:Grouting the Mosaic

It's rested and I've buffed once now. I'm using a timer, and I can't say enough about having the spray bottle on hand. (Doubles as a cat deter-er, too!) Super fun & easy! Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, July 2, 2012

Who knew mosaics took so much time?!

So, I went away for a week to folks, and below is what I accomplished. Our class was taught by Marilyn George and she really could not have been more lovely!

I drew a sketch of a view from the window of our lodgings (the school owns several houses that they have converted to individual accommodations). Then I added some flowers in the foreground, which honestly had not initially occurred to me. I can only blame sleep deprivation (which went away as soon as we got some sleep)!

Mosaic in Progress

Mosaic nearly done

Mosaic all done, with my starting sketches, too! Postedusing BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Roasted veggies & Egg on whole wheat ciabatta

Roasted veggies & Egg on whole wheat ciabatta

I used zucchini, bell peppers, onions, and string beans (I did the carrots on the side), but all with olive oil spray and Penzey's Forward spice blend.

I'm thinking a frittata with the leftover veggies might be in order for lunch tomorrow!

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Baked zucchini chips!

Mmm, picture's a little out of focus, but they were very tasty!
Baked Zucchini chips (with a little cold rotisserie chicken & apple)
-Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, June 15, 2012

Cordially Yours: Vodka gimlets, ahoy!

Key Lime Cordial

I'm not entirely sure where I saw it, but I read a wonderful article about making cordials, and decided to put up some of my own. It probably helped that my local produce store was selling large bags of key limes for 99¢! (See the spots? That's why they were cheap, but there's nothing wrong with them.)

I put 2 cups of sugar in a clean, washed canning jar, added the zest of about a dozen, and the peel of one (I wanted just a touch of the bitterness the pith will give), a few tablespoons of chopped crystallized ginger, and the juice of about 1.5 lbs of key limes (about 15-18 "regular" limes, depending on size. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved in the juice.

For the unleaded, you then add 1/4 teaspoon citric acid & distilled water to just about 1 inch from the rim. Secure the lid tightly and put it in the refrigerator. Steep it for 24-36 hours, strain through a sieve or chinois into a clean, non-reactive container (glass is best). Store in the fridge, too. The Internet says it will last about a month.

For the leaded (yay!), you then add a good, but not expensive, vodka to just about 1 inch from the rim. Secure the lid tightly and put it in the pantry. Visit it once a day, and shake it to make sure the sugar is staying dissolved. After about a month, strain through a sieve or chinois into a clean, non-reactive container (glass is best). The Internet says to continue to store it in the pantry and that it will only get better with time.

The collective wisdom suggest that an alcoholic cordial put up now would be best around the winter holidays. Nom, nom!

Key Lime Cordial (I put a half cup less sugar in my leaded version, because I like a more sour taste.)

I also put up some Peach Cordial- one leaded, one unleaded. I used 1.5 C sugar, lemon zest, juice of half a lemon, and diced local peaches. The remaining process was the same.

-Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Mo Ionar

This is the progress of my ionar, a piece of outerwear from the 7th-9th cen CE in Ireland. I'm trying to construct a full ensemble for my SCA persona, a 850-900 CE Irish woman living outside the Viking colonized areas. Some of the information that follows may be overkill; it's a rough draft for documentation when/if I submit this for a SCA arts & sciences event.

I have had this fabric for a while, and knew I wanted to do something dramatic and fairly extravagant with it. It's woven, wool & silk, and has great color, but the weave is lightweight enough to suit Gleann Abhann's weather. I believe I either got it from or

[background rough documentation ensues, feel free to skip ahead: The evidence for the ionar is sparse at best, but it is mentioned in both of the best-regarded sources for early period Irish clothing research. When also compared with the Kentish woman's overdress (in cloth and Clothing of Anglo-Saxon England), the open-fronted overdress of Anglo-Saxon women (as mentioned in Early Dress of Anglo-Saxon England), and the portrait of Mary in the Book of Kells, it seemed appropriate to make the Ionar na Mná (woman's ionar) as an open-fronted overdress. This also seemed ideal when considering the fabric chosen, as it the materials and colors would have been a display of visible wealth, and therefore reserved for occasions for display.]

After reading Finnacan Dub's guide, I also consulted the SCA-Garb list, as to whether I should include all the gores used in constructing t-tunics the "period way." Given their advice, I initially constructed it with just the side gores. That proved not to give me the (for lack of a better word) "swing" needed to go over the full skirts of the leine. So, after I looked at the construction pictures of Rebecca Mörk's Viking coat (site not in English), I decided that a back center gore was in order.
Mo Ionar

So, I narrowed the side gores, and, using the "waste not, want not" principal of period fabric use, decided to use that reclaimed fabric as my center gore. While frustrating, I think this was a great "in-period" exercise, because garments must have been altered and repaired in similar fashion.
Mo Ionar

Here it is after the main construction. I machine basted everything, but all of the exterior is finished by hand. The bottom hem is currently unfinished, as are the sleeves. I actually plan to narrow the sleeves once I try it on over my other garb to see how wide they need to be. There will be edging embroidery and an appliqué band.
Mo Ionar

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Spicy Black Bean Burgers

Using this recipe (, which I doubled, I made 8 lovely burgers which are currently resting in the freezer.
Spicy Black Bean Burgers

And after, at lunch!
Spicy Black Bean Burgers

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Friday, June 8, 2012

Ubi, o ubi...

Where have I been since the epic cake of epicness?

Teaching a summer class, I'm afraid. But not to worry, homemade black bean burgers and spicy mayo are happening tonight! Pictures will be taken!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Birthday Cake

Bittersweet chocolate cake with Montmorency cherry filling & chocolate buttercream frosting - Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Today's Harvest

Cherokee Trail-of-Tears Beans

This year's plants are the first generation from last year, so I think that means they've got all that great genetic information from the "survivors" of last year. In any event, they are producing twice as much as last year. I'm quite excited. They are mild, and taste great as snap beans or dried.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, May 28, 2012

Happy Memorial Day!

Peach & Cherry upside-down Cake

I made this yesterday for a meal with my parents and one of my colleagues (which we all agreed was long overdue). I baked the cake in a Pyrex pie dish, which I have found to be the best for any upside-down style cake, or self-saucing cakes that are turned out after you bake them.

I used this recipe, which is skinny! I am all for lightened-up recipes, but they have to use all real ingredients for me to use them. No faux stuff here!

But what if you can't lay hands on buttermilk? No problem! Take a tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice in a liquid measuring cup. Pour in enough milk to bring the liquid up to the one-cup line. Wait five minutes. Then, use whatever your recipe calls for.

Enjoy the holiday if you have it!
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Montmorency Cherry Filling (for cake)

Cherry Filling 1 pound Montmorency cherries, pitted and halved* 1/2 cup kirsch liquor 1/3 cup sugar Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Continue to cook for about 15 minutes, until the cherries have softened and the liquid is slightly thickened. Skim any foam off the top of the mixture as it cooks. Let it cool completely. *if you cannot get Montmorency cherries, substitute another tart cherry, or sweet cherries and Montmorency concentrate, such as Cherry Bay Orchards, replacing half the liquor with concentrate.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Simple shouldn't be Boring!

Simple shouldn't be boring!

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Bread is really very easy to put together, but I think that it seems unapproachable. My sister and I had the good fortune of a mom who had learned to make her own, so we never took to store-bought bread. I make my own now, too, and I promise, it's not hard. I do own a bread machine, but that's really so I can make bread during the school year when my workday starts at 7:15am.

You don't need a bread machine, you don't need a mixer with a dough hook, none of it. Try this one for a start:

You can even leave that one in the fridge for several days (!) before baking. Love it.

Here's my weekly loaf:

1.5 c warm water
1 heaping tb sugar or honey
2 tb oil or melted butter
1.5 tsp yeast (I love SAF brand)
0.3 c powdered buttermilk (you could sub nonfat dry milk)
2 c white whole wheat
1.5 c white flour
0.5 cup rolled oats
2 tsp salt

It's modified from King Arthur flour basic bread, and I cannot recommend that site enough if you want to play around with baking,

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The are American biscuits, not sweet biccies or anything like. I made some white chili last night, and biscuits (and cheese) seemed like they would be a good accompaniment. This is my go-to recipe. As the Joy of Cooking notes, they are remarkably good right out of the over, and I, for one, enjoy the craggy tops. Plus, they are VERY easy to put together.

Joy of Cooking quick drop biscuits - I use wheat flour, smart balance oil, and powdered buttermilk (adding water to the recipe).

Useful tip:
Yeast breads can be frozen after the first rise, but before the second, then just thawed, allowed to rise, and baked on demand! Biscuits and drop cookies can be frozen from the dough stage and baked that way-- they only need a few extra minutes. And pancakes! Cook as usual, then place any extra flat on a cookie sheet and pop in the freezer. Then store in a freezer bag until needed. Pop in the toaster, 5 minutes and viola! Noms!
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It shouldn't be a chore to sleep so thoroughly!

I've always loved those vintage (and retro) Days of the Week Chores towels. So, I got curious and looked for the original poem. And while there was a version commonly used in the 50s and 60s, there were variations going back well over a hundred years! I especially liked those older versions, where Thursday was for brewing. :D

So, what's it to be in the modern era? Funnily enough, I still like to leave washing for Monday. That leaves me free to go visit my family for Sunday dinner, without any rushing home. It's also a great time to change all the linens out.

This week, anyway, we're going to try out this routine and see what happens:
Monday: Wash Day
Tuesday: Cleaning & Grocery Day
Wednesday: Baking Day
Thursday: Sewing Day
Friday: Lazy Day
Saturday: ?????? Day
Sunday: Foodie Day (& Mixology!)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Let's try this again, shall we?

This started out as a blog to document hobby endeavors, and I got distracted along the way, as you do, and it...died off like an ignored plant. So, let's try a reboot. :) Including, but not limited to the following: foodies, mixology, gardening, herbs, painting, sewing, embroidery, and baking. What won't be here: personal stuff. That'll be on my personal journal, to which this is cross-posted. Rock on.