Friday, October 25, 2013

Low-FODMAP desserts?

Hello ladies!!

We are hosting some friends for dinner on Sunday and one of the guests is on a low-FODMAP diet (, I have come up with plenty of ideas for the main course, but am struggling with a good dessert idea. I am somewhat limited by the availability of certain items here, so seasonal is better, and while I have a large array of different gluten-free flours, they come in very small (and expensive) bags, so I'd prefer the only be used in small (<1-2 cup) amounts. Simple is good, but complex is still doable!

Does anyone have any advice?


Friday, October 4, 2013

Apples Galore

It’s been a while since I’ve made any sort of preserved item, so I figured, gol dang it all, I’m going to can something this year! I wanted to try beets, but then I got paranoid about botulism risks in low acidic foods, and since I didn’t have a pressure canner I nixed that idea. (Alana has since quelled my fears by pointing out the fact that *pickled* beets should be just fine in a hot water bath, so I’ll try again next year).

Next on the docket was…apples! I had only apple butter in mind, but that quickly got out of hand when I visited the place where I purchased my apples….

On my way back home from a work trip in southern Alberta, I took advantage of my rented wheels and decided to pick up ~12-15 lbs of apples from a U-pick. I found a site on kijiji that was advertising apples for 50 cents a pound (um, can we say CHEAP?). I pulled into the driveway of the place (located south of Ellerslie road on the outskirts of Edmonton). No one was at the house, so I poked around the garage. Inside was Mario—a man in his 80’s with a thick Italian accent—and he was surrounded by boxes upon boxes of apples. I told him I needed around 12 pounds for apple butter and he gestured towards the apples and told me to have at ‘er. “But first,” he said, “come with me; I’m going to make some apple juice for a neighbor.” 

We walked around to the side of the house, where he had a make-shift operation set up to press any sort of fruit for juice, cider, the makings of wine, you name it. He first needed to empty out the press, which was full of cherries destined for a wine bottle or two. Then he took one of the boxes of apples and tossed them into what I can only describe as an….apple chipper? I’m sure there are new, fancy, commercial varieties of these chippers but this thing was old school. I had to take a few steps back to avoid being pelted by unruly apple bits.

Mario scooped bucketfuls of apple pieces into the press (which he had made by hand) and turned the crank. Out flowed amber-colored deliciousness. He handed me a plastic cup and told me to try some. So I put it right underneath the spout and filled it up. I don’t think I’ve had fresh-pressed apple juice since my kindergarten class took a trip to an apple orchard in 1990. I still remember the orchard-worker telling us that it “took four strong daddies to work the press.” Mario grabbed a cleaned-out 2-liter Pepsi bottle and filled it with apple juice. “Here you go,” he said. “Make sure you keep it in a cold place otherwise it will ferment.” 

Fresh pressed juice pour moi? Yes please!

He had to fill up the rest of the bottles for his neighbor, so I went back to the apples and decided I’d leave with more than I came for. I picked out roughly 25-30 lbs worth. Mario took one glance and suggested….

“7 dollars?”


Mario: “Oh, is that too much?”

I told him that was not nearly enough but he wouldn’t take a penny over $10. So there I was with 30 lbs of apples and 2 liters of fresh apple juice, all for $10. Awesome. Mario was such a great guy with amazing stories—I will definitely be back there next year for cherries and saskatoons.

On to the cooking...

I don’t even remember the recipes I used, but I ended up canning apple butter as planned, spiced apple rings, apple jelly, and regular apples. 

Apple butter The butter was by far the easiest and cleanest canning experience of the whole lot. The recipe was easy to prepare (just wash and roughly chop the apples, cook them, put them through a chinois sieve or food mill, cook some more w/ sugar and other stuff) and it was super easy to can.

Spiced rings I began the apple rings by coring the apples with a knife. I got through two that way and then said eeeefff that. The next day I bought an apple corer and that was the best decision I made all week.

When cooking the apples, I realized I sliced them too thin for my taste. This experience was a bit messy when transferring the apples to the jars. Lots of sticky, sugary, apple syrup got…well, everywhere.

Regular apples I cooked these guys a little too long. They taste fine, but are softer than I’d like them to be. Again, lots of sticky syrup to clean up!

Jelly The jelly was a bit annoying to transfer to the jars because it started setting immediately after I removed it from heat; I think I cooked it too long. (Note to self: stop cooking your apples too long!) Also, next time I make apple jelly I’ll be sure to use tart apples. My jelly tastes good, but is quite sweet and I like tart jellies. I knew this going into it, but wanted to try it out anyway.

In all, though, it was a success! I had a few burns to contend with, lots of syrup to clean up on 
everything, and some timing issues with cooking apples vs. sterilizing jars, but I ended up with lots of canned apples.


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Easy, tasty, healthy Sweet Potato Salad

Hello from the North! Surprised to hear from me? I know, I’m not much of a contributor. But I’ve got a new challenge in a life and a great recipe to go along with it, so I figured it was time to share.

At the beginning of the summer, I was diagnosed with Celiac disease. This is after a year and a bit of major digestive issues, during which time I pushed my doctor for more than just a diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (because that’s essentially a non-diagnosis and you are stuck doing elimination diets on your own) and leaned heavily on Mara as my go-to friend for discussions about topics (like poop) that aren’t typically on a phone call with your girlfriend (Thanks Mara!). In retrospect, I’ve been gradually developing celiac symptoms for about 10 years, but never realized that the issues I was having were related (iron deficiency, arthritis, lactose intolerance, fatigue, etc). So I was really relieved to have a clear diagnosis and treatment (a strict gluten-free diet for life – no wheat, barley, rye, and oats are a questionable one so it’s out for the first year at least).

However, once I started reading labels, I was amazed at how many things contain gluten. I had to give away my entire fridge door shelf of Asian cooking sauces! And I even have to be careful of lotions with gluten, which I thought was weird since I’m not eating the lotion, but the reality is that anything you put on your body is absorbed into your system (a good reason to buy organic). Luckily for me, the gluten-free thing is pretty popular these days, and at home it’s very manageable as we were already healthy cooks and it’s easy to adapt most things (with a few new kitchen supplies, some gentle reminders to avoid contamination, and a larger grocery budget since GF food is significantly more expensive).
With the abundance of gluten free blogs and books, there are lots of recipe ideas and ingredients available, even up here in northern AB. The specialty liquor store in town even stocks 16 types of GF beer (expensive, but on a sunny Friday after work sometimes you just gotta have a beer!). The hardest part is going to other people’s houses, events, potlucks…. a common summertime activity. Resisting moist chocolate cupcakes at a wedding and greasy sausages and pancakes the morning after (especially when hungover) requires serious mental toughness!!
This weekend was a going-away party for a couple co-workers. Typical backyard BBQ fare, burgers/hotdogs/creamy coleslaw, with a few home-made (delicious-looking but definitely not permitted) desserts thrown in the mix. I decided to make a salad that I knew I could eat, and I wanted it to be hearty and filling because it sucks to be hungry at a bbq (or anytime, really). I know lots of people don’t like trying new recipes for an event, but I figure it’s the best time because if I don’t like it, I’m not stuck with a giant bowlful for leftovers that week. I googled potato salad… then switched to sweet potato salad (more nutrients), and ended up with a great recipe that was really easy and quick, and I already had all the spices in my cupboard (which is a real plus… one thing I’m finding with the new GF life is there are so many new ingredients/flours/baking gums to buy- which can be fun, but also a little overwhelming. Sometimes you just want something quick and simple, right?).

Overall, this Moroccan Sweet Potato salad was a total success! My finished product looked exactly like the photo on the recipe, which to me is always a good sign. And lots of people asked for the recipe. So I figured I should share it with the SSS group too. I wouldn’t say it was the most WOW thing I’ve ever made, but that’s probably because I like things spicier, but didn’t want to increase the heat for a group setting. These spice proportions in the recipe were good for potluck, and even the kids ate it.  I used the white sweet potatoes but would also try it with the yellow yams, because I think they have a bit more flavor, although they might get mushier – these cubes held up nicely. It only took 15 minutes for them in the oven, on parchment paper. So the whole process was literally about 30 minutes, a definite plus for a weekday dinner side dish.

I made 1.5 times the recipe and it was all eaten up at the potluck (Tyler was disappointed I didn't leave him a little bowlful for when he got home late from work!).  
The directions say to serve it at room temperature; I did a taste-test while it was still warm and thought it was really good. So room temperature or warmer is my recommendation.
The close-up photo to show how much it looks like the one on the website (hers is more orange cause she used yams).

Here’s the blog I got it from, I haven’t looked at her site much but based on the ease of this recipe, I’ll have to see what else she has.
I will definitely make this salad again, but with a few modifications (yams, up the spice quotient, add more nuts and seeds to increase protein). I think it's a good potluck dish, for any season. Or make a big portion on the weekend and have leftovers for weekday lunchs.
If anyone else is doing GF diet these days, let me know and we can compare thoughts on cookbooks, blogs, recipes. I'm in the learning stage about celiac disease... and there is a lot of learning to do. I made some good GF/DF scones last weekend, but frankly nothing compares to scones made with regular flour and butter! Over time I'm sure my taste buds will adapt and I'll get used to it. Tyler (the real baker in our family) has promised me not to worry,  he will figure out ways to make delicious Christmas baking so I will still gain those 5 holiday pounds that he "gives" to me every year!  
Cheers- mb

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Cooking challenge #???

Oh hi everyone....remember me!?!

So, I've got about 4 posts brewing in my head (garden, travel, crafts, travel+crafts), but I wandered over to the draft section of the blog, and realized I also had 4 partially started posts on the go and figured it's time to finish one up!'s my post on pastry I started a long long time ago, and seems appropriate given the bounty of delicious fruits coming into season that are begging to be sugared (or honeyed!) and served up in a hot and crispy hug of butter and flour. YUM!

Wild huckleberries (Vaccinium membranaceum) just came into season. Imagine my face when presented with a perfect cup of coffee - it looks the same the whole time I'm picking wild face hurts from glee.

There. I've thrown down a challenge that has been festering in the back of my mind for far too long. I love baking, and to me there's nothing so satisfying as filling those you care about full of fat and sugar to let them know just how you feel :)

Between sweet pies, and savoury dishes (having chickens = quiche as a staple go to), pie crust has been, and continues to be one of those things that I'm always trying to master, and yet I feel I always come up short. The sad truth is that I've never been totally in love with my pastry recipe. Rebars' whole wheat pastry has been my most common crust for many years (i figure whole wheat flour neutralizes calories from butter. Basically a scientific least in my mind), but sometimes you want to hang up your birkenstocks and just make the best gosh darn crust you can!

Over Christmas I tried a new recipe that had egg and vinegar in the pastry. Craziness. I've never used anything other than flour, butter and cold water... So this just started the wheels turning.. What else is out there that I've missed?!?

Then I consulted with one of my favorite chefs, d.raab to see what his mum's go to pastry was made of. Get ready for this.... It has vodka in it! I decided to give this a try. I wanted to make our neighbors a thank you pie for taking care of our house over  the holidays... What better time to work on my pastry skills! So I decided to meet my challenge (which never got posted until now) head on! Here's the picture diary of what went down, along with a little shout out to my new pie plate courtesy of the mom-in-law.

Delish it was! But I want some variety...some experimentation...some....shall we say....culinary challenge to push my pie making skills to the next level. What's your recipe? What's your secret for perfect crust? Don't handle it too much? Fondle it fearlessly? Just butter? or a little of that oh so nasty crisco!? Food processor, stand mixer or only the sweet and tender crushing into submission from your own muscles?

I'm going to hope that some of the gents over at science shoots etc. feel comfortable enough to pitch in - I know there's a couple of stupendous pie-makers over there:)

Happy August my friends.


Friday, June 7, 2013

Weekly links

I'm back!  After a 1.5 month break I have returned to Sweden with a new title, a renewed appreciation for microbrews in Colorado, a heartbreaking realization that I'm terrible at Jeopardy, a dumbfounded awareness of how much cheese one can eat in a day, a near-tragic encounter with a rattlesnake, and a handful of amazing "must-eat" restaurants added to the list (Toro in San Fran, Rioja in Denver, Chantecler in Toronto).

And now, back to real life...if you consider an ability to blog once a week "real life".



Links for this week:

Have you read this comic? My dog: The paradox.

HIV infection - cured!

An incredibly cute joke, told by the animator's tipsy wife.

I think many of us scientists can relate.

A Matter of Taste - a documentary I just watched that follows a passionate chef's journey since 2002. It's a pretty nice story. 

Dog meme.

Neat idea to raise money.

Will one of you please write one of these if I ever have short term memory loss?

A very interesting book I just read, written in a unique first-person style.  I recommend it.

Sunday, June 2, 2013


I know I just recently posted, but I couldn't wait on sharing this one because it is so darn yummy.
In discovering new recipes that are Specific Carbohydrate Diet friendly, I found these little gems from one of my SCD cookbooks. I altered the recipe because I didn’t have cashews, but it turned out ammmmaaaaaazing! Plus I just got a new immersion blender (thanks, Save-on-More points!) and wanted to use it for pancake batter. Perhaps not necessary but it was fun.

For context, here's what is in the original recipe.
  •  organic cashews, eggs, yogurt, baking soda, honey, cinnamon, vanilla extract, salt
Now before I continue, something to keep in mind is the quantity of these you make/eat—they’re not a low-cal food. I'm not sure I completely agree with the description of this recipe: “Imagine pancakes that are actually good for you and taste better than the white flour kind!....Drizzle them with melted butter and honey before serving.”
  • What does “good for you” mean? Because ¼ cup of almond flour has 170 calories and I used three of those…..not to mention nuts aren’t exactly low in fat, even if it IS the “good” fat. Cashews wouldn't be any different.
  •  Drizzle with melted butter and honey? Again, more fat, more sugar, not really necessary. I actually really like these plain in order to best enjoy the cinnamon and added banana. It is great with a dollop of yogurt, though. Dollop. What a fun word.
  • I do have to say they taste better than the white flour kind. Hands down. 

Below is what I did to make about 4, 4" diameter pancakes (probably would have been more if I didn't eat the batter). Don’t forget to take gratuitous photographs of each step of the process. 

  • ¾ cup almond flour (the first time I made these I ground my own almonds, which made for a bit of a crunch in the final product because it wasn’t as finely ground as the store-bought flour—it was lovely and I actually prefer that to the almond flour)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (this wouldn’t be necessary with cashews because they are naturally so oily, but it helped with the almond substitution)
  • 1 egg (the first time I think I used 2 eggs, 1 was fine)
  • A good chunk of banana (to make up for fewer eggs)
  • 2 tbsp homemade yogurt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • A good punch of cinnamon (I always go crazy with cinnamon. 1 tsp is not enough)
  • ½  tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • Butter for the pan

Confession: the above photo is actually a complete lie, since I forgot to show the vanilla and the butter, and I ended up using a completely different type of honey. 
Blend everything together really well. 

Really all you need is a spoon or fork. Or your hands.

Oh my gosh, the batter is so good. I literally licked it off my blender….after unplugging it of course. Try to save some for the pan, though. Drop some butter in that pan and let er' bubble. Don't forget to take a picture of your chef-self enjoying an iced americano from The Duchess while you accidentally let that butter burn. 

Me. Drinking coffee. Not paying attention to the stove.

Butter in a pan.

I had to experiment with size of batter plop and length of heat-time… was a bit more difficult than traditional pancakes because the bottom browned up before the top had time to set, even at different temps. Made for some interesting pancake shapes! But medium heat on an electric stove worked okay, with 1.5-2 minutes for the first side, and ~45 seconds for the second one.

Top with whateva the pancake fairy has given you. Here's a great way to use up the rest of that banana.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Better luck next time

I’m going to cut to the chase and say this post might be a bit of a disappointment, since the dish I made wasn’t the greatest. But with changes I think it has promise, so I’m giving it a chance. (Plus, I took photos and didn’t want them to go to waste).

I started a new “diet” last week. I hate using that word even though I suppose that’s what it is. After years of relying on—and doing (mostly) well—on medication for my ulcerative colitis, I stumbled on an old book I purchased when I was first diagnosed about the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. SCD is a way of eating targeted specifically for people with inflammatory disorders (UC, Crohns, IBS, celiac, etc.) It’s very similar to a paleo-style diet, except a bit less strict as some legumes are allowed whereas in Paleo they’re not. SCD is basically a grain-free, refined sugar-free, lactose-free lifestyle. The cons: no grains of ANY kind (even couscous and quinoa), no refined sugars (i.e. chocolate, booo!!!), and no lactose. But that still leaves a lot: pretty much all fruits and veggies, meats, seafoods, non- or very low-lactose cheese (which are in abundance, I’ve discovered!). I actually CAN have dairy if I make my own yogurt (because it needs to be fermented for 24 hours) and use that yogurt to make other items like ice cream, cream cheese, etc. I decided that if this diet can reduce my dependence on medication in any way, it's worth a try.

Consequently, I’ve been combing through cookbooks, pinterest boards, and recipe websites to find both basic recipes (how do I make pancakes?????) as well as more interesting meals. Tonight was a combination of Google + what I had in the cupboard. I decided to do a version of this guy since I already had beef, sundried tomatoes, and fresh basil. I nixed the pasta, but did have a homemade sour cream that I was planning on substituting for the cream cheese. I also figured I could use beef broth instead of the wine. Incidentally, I CAN consume dry wines, but just didn’t have any in the house.

I pan-fried the beef, deglazed the pan with the beef broth, brought to a simmer and added the sundried tomatoes, reduced heat and stirred in a good dollop of sour cream and the basil.  I served with a side of kale massaged with olive oil and garlic. And topped with goat cheese, because…well….why not?

 ^ Preparing the kale for its massage............The finished product ^

The verdict? It looked significantly better than it tasted. Unless you think it looks like shit. Then maybe it’s on par. Here is my analysis:
1) the beef I had was really stewing beef….so not the best quality. 2) I thought the beef broth would have been a decent alternative to the wine. Nope. Should have used chicken broth in that case. The beef broth tasted really “fake.” It reminded me of Campbells Beef N’ Barley soup, which is good.....if you’re 12. 3) The sundried tomatoes tasted great on their own, but this particular recipe would have been better with dried sun-dried tomatoes—not those in oil like I used. There was a bit of a flavor fight going on there.

The goat cheese was awesome. I’d eat anything with goat cheese on it.

So there you have it; not my best moment. I will have to post a recipe for the cinnamon-almond pancakes I made this week though. Now that was a success!

Saturday, April 27, 2013


just a couple snaps to show you all what is in the works,...

... my cousin is having a girl in July! I thought it was a perfect opportunity to get away from my usual blue/green/cream combo and try out this warm and spicy pink/purple/orange pallet. The quilt is a 'disappearing nines' pattern and will be about 3'x4'.... will post more when it's completed!

I hope spring has found you all! It has made its way to south eastern New Brunswick, finally... Now that the winter hibernation is over, I'm itching to get plants in the ground and kitchen cabinets painted and curtains made,... If you find yourselves at loose ends, help from abroad is always welcome ;)

much love,

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Wedding Attire

Wow. This post is late. Also, Wow. I haven't been on the blog in a loooong time. Maria, those quilts were beautiful! I'm a sucker for blue. Kim, delicious looking food as usual. Why are you in science again? Because, Chef Extraordinaire would suit you just fine as well. Mara, I love those nails....? HA! The hat is really adorable.

The last sewing I did was all the way back in January. I made Cora a dress for my sister's wedding. Beau got a sweet little matching bow tie. Now that I have started typing this, I don't remember the name of the dress. It was a Sis Boom pattern, I think? If anyone actually cares, I'll find it at that point. I know where it is, I am just too lazy to get it. I had bought this fabric when I was pregnant with Beau. I loved this particular FMF print, so I scooped it up when Denyse Schmidt re-released the line.

The construction of the dress had a steep learning curve. I have never made anything with a liner. The bodice was lined, but the skirt was not. I decided to line both. I also wanted the skirt to have more volume and be way above the knee. Think Shirley Temple style. It baffles me that there aren't more dresses like this on the market for little girls. It is all about current trends, but I'd like to keep Cora little as long as possible. The cummerbund piece was only a detail on the front of the dress. I thought it looked a little odd that way, so I extended it all the way around. I also made ruffled butt bloomers in the same pink accent fabric since the skirt was going to be super short. In the last year, Cora has grown a ton, but hasn't gained any weight. Because of this, I had to add darts in the back to pull the bodice in a bit. I also had the bright idea to use black thread to sew the thing. Basically, I was too lazy to go to the store and buy thread that would blend in. As a result, I have dark contrast stitching, and it looks like shit since I can't sew straight for the life of me. Overall, I love the dress. Cora looked super cute. The bow tie for Beau was one of the easiest things I have ever made. He looked so cute with it. I highly recommend bow ties for any boys in one's life. Freaking adorable.

Alas, I have terrible photos of the creations. Of course, I didn't take any photos at the wedding. I thought the photographer would get one of our whole family, but it didn't happen. So, we're left with crappy iPhotos and one I stole off of facebook that Cora just happened to be in.

Mid construction
Finished project

blurry side view. The waist band didn't line up perfect. Oh well. There was a zipper on the other side that looked terrible. I hate zippers. I will never figure them out.

Seriously. A flowery bow tie to match his sister. So freaking cute.

The closest we got to a family photo. Lee's iPhone taken while I was getting ready. I have to give him props. He got the kids ready all by himself. The only problem was Cora's dress was on backwards. I was impressed it was on at all.
The only full length shot of Cora. Ruffled socks, mary jane's, and a short skirt. She looked so sweet. I really don't think I was being overly biased either. :)

That is all the crafting/sewing I have done in 2013. I really need to start and finish Beau's quilt. I've been getting the sewing itch this week. Maybe I'll have it started by Monday. :) On a side note, we've been enjoying the incredibly nice weather, house hunting, fishing, birds, and all things spring. As most of your know, we lost our dog, Reggie, about a month ago. He was 15 years old and about a day shy of ancient. It really sucked. Pretty much every major event of Lee's life and a good chunk of mine, Reggie was there. Reg was there when Lee turned 16 and in the passenger seat when he took his first solo spin in his Blazer. He was there for Lee's high school graduation. He was there for both of our college graduations, wedding day, birth of both kids, moves to and from Canada, pretty much everything. 80% of our vacations we drove so he could tag along. He used to wait outside with his tennis ball while I took my summer classes in Wyoming. He was one of those dogs. I'd be lying if I said we didn't still choke up when thinking about him. And then Subaru puts commercials like this on during March Madness and Lee and I are bawling our eyes out.

 And with that, I am signing off. Miss you all tons. However, see some of you soon. May 9-12, I'm in Edmonton for some socialization! Just me. No kids. No husband. YES!!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

My next craft project

We should all do this. And then probably send the results to regretsy.

I'm partial to the chick tips, myself.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

one stitch at a time..

Lovely ladies!

I FINALLY have something to share with you all. 4 years in the making, I have finished a quilt - 2 quilts, actually! Not the quilts I set out to make when I purchased the fabric in Edmonton, but quilts all the same.

I had initially bought the Timber line to make a big quilt for Tyson and myself, 2009.

...Then I scaled that back to a 'curling up on the couch' quilt for me,.... in 2011. In 2012, I cut a bunch of the fabric for said quilt, and in 2013, I finally decided that I NEEDED TO FINISH A PROJECT and scaled it down to a baby quilt for a friend and put the darn thing together....

BUT FIRST, a week before I finished that quilt, I managed to assemble another one, for yet another friend (Miranda), who (shocker) is having another baby.  This has been the story of my life lately: Friend gets preggo, Maria plans celebratory quilt! Maria cuts fabric for quilt. Maria becomes indecisive about entire quilt-making process and puts fabric away, Maria decides she hates sewing, Friend delivers happy healthy baby, Maria is over joyed for friend, but sends sleepers/receiving blankets/onesies because quilt unfinished in pile under bed.

This repetitive cycle had to stop. For a myriad of reasons (many of which we should discuss 'in person' with tea), I needed to finish a gift for a friend and her baby.

Nothing motivates me like a hard deadline. And I don't mean a due date. I mean a baby shower. One where you have to show up with a gift or fear intense ridicule from friend and friend's mother/mother-in-law. So I set to work on this:

Which became this: 

I was really happy with the outcome and I think Miranda was too.  The fabrics I used were all from my stash and included some of the timber line, some Amy Butler, some Joel Dewberry I think, and some leftovers from table runners and purses that I made a million years ago.  I was stumped when it came time to quilt the thing, and time was running out (at this point, I had 2 days until the shower), so I asked Linnea.  She came to my rescue and suggested the wavy line quilting, and I'm sooooo glad she did. It was perfect! Easy, quick, and complemented the subtle 'nature' theme (birds, leaves, flowers,.. waves!).  The back was just a cream flannel - nothing fancy, but the quilting looked great on it.  I didn't have any fabric that I wanted to use for the binding, so I ended up just using some pretty blue bias tape.

I hand-stitched the binding on during a February blizzard, cats curled up next to me, Downton Abby on the tv, fire in the wood stove, cup of tea on the coffee table. It was sensory heaven.

Which brings me to quilt number 2, the Timber quilt. After finishing Miranda's quilt in record time, I felt like this came together pretty quickly! I wanted this quilt to be random and linear:

And I think it turned out great :)

Again, for convenience and speed, I quilted in random wavy lines and used a cream flannel on the back.  I have a friend in mind for this quilt, but for now, I'm keeping it on display so I can enjoy it for a little longer.

After a challenging Fall, completing these quilts has been so therapeutic for me. It took me a while to get to a place where I wanted to be creative, but having surmounted that obstacle, the reward of crafting has been tremendous. There is a great deal of peace that can come from making something from nothing - the order of measuring and cutting, the visual pleasure of piecing together beautiful textiles, the hum of the sewing machine, the repetitive rhythm of hand-stitching. I'm glad I found my way back to something that makes me so happy.

Much love from the east coast,


Monday, February 25, 2013

Tomato pesto galette

I've been following a number of beautiful Swedish blogs (via the magic of Google Translate) and one of the lovely blogs, Matgeek, is having a contest to whip up a dish featuring tomatoes (well, that's what I hope it says...Google translate doesn't always get it right...). 

The first thing that came to mind was a tomato galette I had made ages ago, possibly even for a girls' night?  I can't remember. Either way, I really loved the dish and wanted to make it again.

The actual use of tomatoes is really simple, but they really shine in this recipe since they are used whole and I love the way cherry tomatoes explode. Also, some guests from the Netherlands just brought us a a whole whackload of amazing cheeses (they clearly know us very well, it seems), and one of the cheeses was a goat cheese infused with herbs (sorry, no name or identification) that were basically made to be part of this dish.

The actual dish is quite fast to put together, which is absolutely a necessity during these long days of thesis writing. 

Here is the rough recipe:


Basil and black pepper cornmeal galette crust

100 g    white flour
50 g      whole wheat flour
50 g      coarse cornmeal
chopped basil
lots of black pepper
salt (amount dependent on the saltiness of your butter)

85 g      chilled butter
50-75 g ice water

Mix your dry ingredients.
Cut butter into dry ingredients until olive-sized.
Drizzle in cold water, bringing dough together until just forms a shaggy ball (I like to keep my butter chunks still intact, so I don't really work the dough much at this point, almost like puff pastry).

Chill for an hour or so.

Tomato pesto filling

Cherry tomatoes (pierced...just in case they explode)
Pesto (I did a basic basil, garlic, parmesan, toasted pine nut, olive oil with a little lemon zest)
Cheese (anything goes...I've done this with sharp cheddar and soft goat cheeses as well)
Cooked crispy Bacon

Roll out the dough into a thin circle-like shape.
Spread bacon along the bottom.
Mix together tomatoes, pesto, cheese.
Pile in the middle of the dough, then wrap the edges up, brush with milk

Bake in oven at 175C until golden brown, serve with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar to add a touch of sweetness.



Sunday, February 17, 2013

Elephants on Parade

This project came about through laziness. I began to crochet a baby blanket for my girlfriend in Idaho who is due with her first little one anytime now. I quickly realized it would take me waaaaaay longer than I wanted it to, so began the hunt for a new project. Hats are generally pretty quick (especially for newborns!) so I found this little cutie on Ravelry.

Once I finished the first row of elephants, I decided to finish off with stripes instead of doing the second elephant row in the pattern, a) because the hat was knitting up a bit tight due to my inexperience with fair isle knitting and b) I needed to get this thing DONE!

All in all, it was a quick project, knitting up in fewer than 3 hours....a nice alternative to the never ending baby blanket.  I lined it in fleece, which I also discovered I need a lot more practice doing. But I think it will do the trick to keep a new little head warm and super stylish. :-)

I'm hoping to go visit my friend sometime in early April to help her out with the baby.  I'm also hoping to take Lara along...........updates to follow!

Weekly Links

I love old photos.

This is my uncle, mom, and I, taken by my dad in 1988. My dad enjoyed photography when he was younger, and passed on his amazing tripods to me (which I try to use diligently, but I am too lazy to get it out most of the time, even though I KNOW pictures are wayyyyy better with them!). I never was into photography when I was younger, but now I wish I had learnt how to develop film (there was a class offered in my high school), or kept all those photography books my dad had in our old house. 

Taking a basic photograph course has so far been the best thing I've done for my own photography knowledge, but I know I could be taking a ton more photos and, more importantly, sitting down and taking the time to sort through them, analyzing and figuring out exactly what settings/styles/colours/etc, etc, etc, I love. As of right now I like maybe 1 out of every 500 photos I shoot...and I often think...gee...if I had just taken this shot from a slightly different angle, or slightly more exposed, or just taken 2 more seconds to compose the shot, it would've been awesome!

Anyways. All that to say: I love this photo.  Brilliant job, dad.

Onto the links for this week:


Evolution gets it right most of the time.  And sometimes, it fails horribly. (Find the pelican. It's my fave.)

I would spend a lot of time at any bar that had this. A lot of time. (Mara - unicorn cameo!).

Speaking of unicorns: turn a beloved child into one. Sadly, US shipping only.

Another costume (for me).

Everyone should see this. No wonder we have unrealistic expectations about our bodies.

A viewing of the pink freshwater Amazon dolphin has always been on my bucket list - now add this guy, as well.

This form is so practical. And smart. And practical. Why don't I do this already?

Lots of love from Uppsala,