Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Friday, June 11, 2010

Bullet points

Still haven't had a chance to update the look of blog/photograph my quilting adventures...so just some simple updates for now.

-After visiting St. Anne Orthodox Church since February and after some (very!) interesting meetings with Father Stephen, Chase and I will formally be catechumens beginning this Sunday. We are so incredibly excited and feel such peace about this.

-Chase graduated UT with a BA in History and a 3.8 grade point average! Gogo Chase! I love you!

-Check out the new logo for the Knoxville Modern Quilt Guild! by yours truly, of course. You should see our business cards! They're gorgeous! Can't wait to hand them out to all the local shops during our Shop Hop!

That's about it for me! Working, sewing, quilting,, learning what it means to be orthodox and loving my hubby and puppies. yay!

Saturday, January 23, 2010


As it's Chase's last semester in school (YAY!), we took advantage of the opportunity that was quickly slipping away....the chance to buy an Adobe Design suite at like 80% off!! (student rates!) That means we've got Dreamweaver. and that means web design! And that means, this layout will be RIP pretty soon.

Until then, if anyone lives in Knoxville and is interested in Modern Quilting - visit this website and join the Modern Quilt Guild of Knoxville!


Sunday, June 28, 2009

June Daring Bakers - Bakewell Tart!

I'm afraid as there are many changes happening in my life, this will be my last Daring Bakers Challenge until I get settled again. But here it is - without further ado - the Bakewell Tart!

It's a sweet shortcrust pastry, filled with a jam (I used black currant), and then topped with frangipane (an almond cake. Yum! Oddly - this concoction reminded me strongly of a pop tart?

Aaaannd - the recipe:

Bakewell Tart…er…pudding

Makes one 23cm (9” tart)
Prep time: less than 10 minutes (plus time for the individual elements)
Resting time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes
Equipment needed: 23cm (9”) tart pan or pie tin (preferably with ridged edges), rolling pin

One quantity sweet shortcrust pastry (recipe follows)
Bench flour
250ml (1cup (8 US fl. oz)) jam or curd, warmed for spreadability
One quantity frangipane (recipe follows)
One handful blanched, flaked almonds

Assembling the tart
Place the chilled dough disc on a lightly floured surface. If it's overly cold, you will need to let it become acclimatised for about 15 minutes before you roll it out. Flour the rolling pin and roll the pastry to 5mm (1/4”) thickness, by rolling in one direction only (start from the centre and roll away from you), and turning the disc a quarter turn after each roll. When the pastry is to the desired size and thickness, transfer it to the tart pan, press in and trim the excess dough. Patch any holes, fissures or tears with trimmed bits. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 200C/400F.
Remove shell from freezer, spread as even a layer as you can of jam onto the pastry base. Top with frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart. Smooth the top and pop into the oven for 30 minutes. Five minutes before the tart is done, the top will be poofy and brownish. Remove from oven and strew flaked almonds on top and return to the heat for the last five minutes of baking.
The finished tart will have a golden crust and the frangipane will be tanned, poofy and a bit spongy-looking. Remove from the oven and cool on the counter. Serve warm, with crème fraîche, whipped cream or custard sauce if you wish.
When you slice into the tart, the almond paste will be firm, but slightly squidgy and the crust should be crisp but not tough.

Sweet shortcrust pastry
Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Resting time: 30 minutes (minimum)
Equipment needed: bowls, box grater, cling film
225g (8oz) all purpose flour
30g (1oz) sugar
2.5ml (½ tsp) salt
110g (4oz) unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)
2 (2) egg yolks
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract (optional)
15-30ml (1-2 Tbsp) cold water
Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater. Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.
Lightly beat the egg yolks with the almond extract (if using) and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough.
Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes

Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Equipment needed: bowls, hand mixer, rubber spatula
125g (4.5oz) unsalted butter, softened
125g (4.5oz) icing sugar
3 (3) eggs
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract
125g (4.5oz) ground almonds
30g (1oz) all purpose flour
Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is primrose in colour and very fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter may appear to curdle. In the words of Douglas Adams: Don’t panic. Really. It’ll be fine. After all three are in, pour in the almond extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again. With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour. Mix well. The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) and retain its pallid yellow colour.

And as far as updates go on Chase and I - well, I intend to make that a separate post - so it doesn't get lost in the recipe!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Daring Bakers - April Challenge - Cheesecake!

This month has been absolutely unbelievably busy - thanks mostly to Chase's school and work schedule. Yeesh. So after last month's day long challenge of making lasagna absolutely from scratch, I was glad to see that this month's challenge seemed a little less demanding of my time.

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

Wooo! Cheesecake!

I can't say I ever crave cheesecake, but I do enjoy it when it's in front of me. I've had several different types of cheesecake:
New York Style - very dense - and is a little difficult for me to eat because it's so rich
A Creamy type cheesecake (is there a name for this?) - this recipe is just that! Take the concept of "cheesecake". Imagine it's perfected form. Got it? That's this stuff. SO GOOD.
Jell-O Cheesecake - This stuff tastes good(ish) - and is a breeze to throw together - plus, no baking! - but in the end, is it really cheesecake?

To elaborate on this month's cheesecake challenge...the goal was to take a simple recipe and make it a "showstopper". I don't think I succeeded visually, but I'll attribute that to my brain being overrun by the pollen. (My car can attest to the loads and loads of pollen in the air. It once was silver, but now it's - Yellow!!) But the flavor (what little I could taste thanks to my POLLEN reaction (i.e. allergies)) was wonderful!!! My favorite dessert in the world is green tea ice cream with fresh blackberries. So for this challenge, I tried to translate that into a cheesecake.

Here's the recipe I started with:

Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake:

2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs
1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted
2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature
1 cup / 210 g sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)
1 tbsp liqueur, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (Gas Mark 4 = 180C = Moderate heat). Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.

2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too - baker's choice. Set crust aside.

3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy.

4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.

5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done - this can be hard to judge, but you're looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don't want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won't crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.


Recipe Edit # 1

: The Crust

My goal was to make a fresh tasting Green Tea Cheesecake with blackberries. I needed a crust that didn't overwhelm those flavors. So rather than graham crackers, I crushed up some Vanilla Wafers. I figured they'd be just buttery and sweet enough - but still pretty plain so as to not detract from the green tea and blackberries.

Recipe Edit # 2: The Cheesecake

I kept this part of the recipe mostly the same, except I added 2 tbsp. of matcha green tea powder (dissolved in equal parts water) to the filling. It may have been too much (green tea should be subtle - too strong and it just starts to taste bitter), but I can't really tell because my taste buds aren't working properly.

Here it is all baked up:

A couple of air bubbles - but no cracks! (This is thanks to being baked in a water bath.) Cracks in the surface of a cheesecake are a very common but purely superficial blemish.

Recipe Edit # 3: The topping!

Oooo! blackberries!

For the topping, I just took some frozen blackberries, mixed them with sugar, a pinch of cinnamon and some vanilla, and then cooked it all until it broke down.

I entertained the idea of piping whipped cream around the edge, but I suspected it might be overkill. Instead, I served the whipped cream on the side - that way it wasn't a mandatory part of the dessert.

I'm glad I didn't pipe the whipped cream on the cheesecake, because It would have been tooooo much. And it didn't add anything. The cheesecake was absolutely wonderful by itself! The crust was perfect, and the cheesecake was so creamy and sweet - with a wonderful green tea flavor. And the blackberries complimented it so! It was wonderful!

Thanks Jenny, for an awesome challenge, and for giving me a new "go-to" cheesecake recipe!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Wheatfield with Cypresses - Part 1

I visited a friends' house earlier this week. In his house, I saw a painting I painted quite a few years ago. It didn't look half bad! I'm afraid I haven't painted in the past couple of years. I think I just forgot I could?

Anyways. I was inspired and super excited to paint this weekend, and I'd love to share my progress with you!

When I'm a little "rusty" with a skill, I stick with subject matter that is "safe". For me, my fallback is definitely Van Gogh. I absolutely love his strokes and his color. Most of all - I love his composition. There's just something about the way he sets up his paintings that almost makes me want to cry.

I decided to paint this painting:

This painting is called "Wheatfield with Cypresses" - as you can see by the title of this post.

To begin to reproduce a painting like this, the first thing I do is to break up the painting (and my canvas) into sections.

To break up the image of the painting, I just folded the paper with the printed painting on it into 16 sections. I then took my canvas, and divided it up into 16 sections as well:

Now I can sketch the design! It's a lot easier to resize (the print out I had of this painting is not quite 8.5" x 11", but the canvas is 18" x 24") an image and sketch it when you have it divided up into different sections.

Here's the finished sketch:

As you can see, the sketch looks quite a bit like the original painting - at least shape and spacing wise.

Now we're ready to paint!

I must say, I can't really explain how I paint - except that I almost never wash my brush and I just pile the paint on the canvas. I really let the paint do most of the work. It's so darn pretty!

Here's the first section of color I painted - a teal/cerulean sky:

OOoooo!!! Color!!!!

And up close:

EEee!! I love that texture! The only down side is that it takes forever to dry.

Next I added some of the clouds:

I love watching the canvas transform from a blank blah to a dizzying array of colors and shapes!

Here are the completed clouds:

Look at that color! The movement! Now mine is nothing like the master Van Gogh....his has unmatchable movement and color - but mine is still kinda pretty to look at :)

Close up!

The only reason I paint is to see the beautiful colors!!! This is just so exciting!!

Now the mountains need to be painted:

Ah-hah.....everything is starting to come together. The blue mountains ground the sky - and give you a starting point. See those clouds above the horizon of the mountains? Before the mountains were painted, they just kind of disappeared and blended in with the sky. But now they definitely have a strong identity.

Well - that's all I have completed so far.

I'll update with my progress! Hopefully I'll have time to finish this during the week sometime.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Seedlings for Earth Day!

In honor of Earth Day today, I'm going to show you my little seedlings!!

I'm afraid only four varieties of the ten I planted have sprouted, but I think I found the culprit!

Here is how my seedies have been living:

As you can see...the seeds to the right of the red line just aren't getting much light! I only ever see my seeds in the morning and at night - so I was sure they would get enough light at sometime during the day - because the position of the sun would change...but I guess they didn't. The only seeds that have sprouted are the ones on the left side of the rack.

So - I moved the rack!

Happy seedlings all around! I'll keep you informed of their progress.

In the meantime, here are the sprouts that I woke up to this morning...

One little basil sprout (arrow added for emphasis):

One Parsley Sprout reaching for the sun...(there are more getting ready to shoot up though!)

Two Dill Sprouts (plus one unfolding in the center of the pot)

And loads of little sage seedlings!!!

And since we're on the subject of plants, I have to show you my little spider plant baby! I took him from a momma spider plant.

Here's an illustration of a Spider Plant (from Google.com):

As you can see...there's the parent spider plant in the pot. On the long offshoots are the offspring of the plant, which if you remove can then grow roots and become independent plants! Because of the way it reproduces, and it's ease of care, spider plants are super fun to give away.

So here's my spider plant:

Right now, he's in a little dish of water. He needs to grow some roots before I can plant him.

Soon, his roots should show up on this little nub:

I can't wait to plant him!

Also, here's Mr. Spider Plant's next door neighbor....

A real Shamrock! They open during the day, when the sun is out, and they close up at night.

When Chase and I worked at The Lost Savant, before it closed, we made friends with this awesome lady named Edna. She worked at the Fountain City Art and Crafts Center (next to Fountain City Park) and she made this plant holder herself! I think it's beautiful. When Chase and I moved into our first (and only) apartment, she showed up at the Savant with this little plant!

Unfortunately, it has "died" a total of two times - most recently, when we moved into our house. The leaves died and there was no hope. Or was there?

I watered it religiously and eventually, a little shamrock popped up out of the soil! It turns out that Shamrocks grow from a bulb. Lucky for me!