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Archive for May, 2013

Cucumber Salad


Yield

4 Servings

Preparation Time

10 Minutes Tops

Introduction

Mmmm. Mom’s cucumbers. Any kind of cucumber will do, but I use the so-called seedless. The measure is half sugar, half white vinegar; doesn’t matter how much you’re making.

Special Tools

Hand Peeler

Ingredients

1 Seedless Cucumber

1 Cup Granulated Sugar

1 Cup White Vinegar

1 Large Onion, sliced into rings, if desired

Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions

  1. In a one-quart Ball jar or similar container, put the sugar and vinegar. Put lid on and shake until sugar is dissolved to make “juice”.
  2. Peel the cucumber. I show mine with alternate “stripes”. Makes them pretty. You could skip the peeling and just score them with a fork to put stripes down the side.
  3. Slice the cucumber in desired thickness and place in the jar of juice.
  4. Add salt and pepper, if desired, and let chill a couple of hours before serving.

Once you have eaten these, DO NOT DISPOSE OF THE JUICE. Simply load in some more cucumber slices.


Woven Patriotic BOTM

Use 5 fabrics:

  • Fabric 1: Neutral
  • Fabric 2: Patriotic blue
  • Fabric 3: Patriotic red
  • Fabric 4: Patriotic red
  • Fabric 5 Patriotic blue

Cut as follows:

  • Fabric 1: Four 3½” squares
  • Fabric 2, 3, 4, and 5: One 3½” square and one 3½” x 6½” rectangle.


For each quadrant:

  • Sew the two 3½” squares together; press seam AWAY from the neutral
  • Sew that piece to the 3½” x 6½” rectangle; press seam AWAY from the neutral

Finally:

  • Sew 2 quadrants together, pressing TOWARD the rectangle. Be sure you sew the correct two quadrants together to get the woven look.
  • Sew the 2 halves together. Press in either direction.

Once completed, square your block off to measure 12½” x 12½” for submission.


Magic 9-Patch BOTM

You will make two 9-patch blocks. This requires the use of two fabrics. They should contrast light and dark or color/print, or some other easily visible contrast. We refer to them as light and dark.

Submit two 6-inch (finished size) 9-patch blocks.

1. Begin with two fabric squares. Cut them to be 1½” larger than the desired finished block size. For instance, if you need 6-inch 9-patch blocks, cut these squares to 7½”. If you are not restricted to a specific size, you may want to choose a size that is easily divisible by three. (See Step 3.)

2. Place the right sides together. Using ¼” seam allowance, sew down each side of the squares. If you are making many blocks at once, continue sewing down one side of all the blocks. Do not take them apart. Sew down the other side of all of them, and them snip them all apart at once.

3. Cut the sewn blocks in strips that are 1/3rd the width of the block. Your 7½” squares (for 6″ finished blocks) would be cut into three 2½” blocks.

    

4. As shown previously, you will now have two strips with seams, and two loose strips. Sew the dark loose strip to the outer side of one of the sewn strips, and sew the light loose strip to the other so that you now have two blocks, one is dark-light-dark and the other is light-dark-light.

Press the seams always to the dark side of the fabrics.

    

5. Lay the strip blocks right-sides together, and sew in the same fashion as Step 2.

    

6. Then cut in the same fashion as Step 3.

7. And sew in the same fashion as Step 4, sewing opposite strips so that you have opposing blocks.


Twisted 9-Patch BOTM

You need nine 5-inch squares of fabric. Use 5 dark or medium, and 4 light. Use as many different fabrics as you can. You will also need four 7-inch squares of fabric.

Colors: yellows, oranges, reds

  1. Row 1: Sew together a row of three—dark, light, dark—pressing all the seams in one direction. (The pictures do not really depict the alternating dark and light squares we’re hoping for, but are for instruction only.)
  2. Row 2: Sew another row of three—light, dark, light—pressing all the seams in one direction.
  3. Row 3: Sew another row the same as row 1.
  4. Sew Row 1 to Row 2, along the long side, with your pressed seams in opposite directions so the seams “lock” together.
  5. Sew Row 3 to the other side of Row 2.

  1. Take this block, which should now measure 14″ square, and cut it down the middle.
  2. Turn your ruler or your cutting mat, and cut again the opposite direction.

  1. If necessary, please square off your blocks to 7-inch square.

Now, your submission should be 4 pieced blocks (as shown in pic above) and 4 solid (not pieced) 7-inch squares. For the drawing, submit your name once for each set of 8 blocks. The winner will be able to alternate these pieced blocks with the unpieced blocks and make a treasure.


Crazy Maker BOTM

Take a piece of copy paper and cut to 8½ inches square by cutting 2½ inches off the top.

Draw 4 lines on the paper: Two of the lines vertically, and two horizontally, with no concern for aligning with your paper, as shown:

Using paper piecing methods, put a very bold and bright solid color in the center.

Use a 2nd very bold and bright solid color for the outside pieces. Continue adding pieces 3, 4, and 5, until all pieces are added.

(Not all sewing steps are shown, and the images do not depict your sewing lines.)

Square your block off to 8½” x 8½” square for submission. Fun!


Lazy Log Cabin Quilt Pattern

Introduction

This pattern describes only how to make the pieced top. Each finished block is 8½” square, and finish in the quilt top at 8″ square.

Here it is—the photo was taken outside, so the colors are very true-to-life; it’s called “Seaside” because the fabrics are all colors of the ocean, sea, ponds, and beach. It was ultimately completed and shipped to a dear friend in Turkey. More quilts made using this pattern can be found at the end of this post.


Read all instructions before you begin.

Traditional log cabins are really beautiful. Here’s a small view of one square:


The center is called the chimney. The strips are called logs. There are many ways to lay out the individual squares to come up with various overall designs.

Layouts

Here’s just a few layouts you can create with your squares. You can decide your layout when all of your squares have been completed; just lay them out on the floor to see which look you like most. Make sure you have an even number of squares for the third layout design, both vertically and horizontally.


Fabrics

Buy only fat and skinny quarter yards of fabric. It doesn’t matter which.

However many different fat quarters you choose is half the number of blocks you’ll make. A very generous queen-size top that hangs over about 10 inches on the left, right and bottom requires about 120 8-inch blocks (10 blocks wide by 12 blocks long). You’d need 60 quarter yards for that. Sixty quarters is the perfect number for a very scrappy look. Make half of them dark and half of them light for a good contrast.

You’ll need a chimney fabric. You can count on 16 chimneys per 2½” length of fabric, so a half-yard will yield you just over 100 chimneys. Better get ¾ of a yard for a queen-size. If you want a border made of the chimney fabric, which is a really nice finish, buy more. My instructions do NOT cover border fabrics. Any decent quilt shop can help you calculate how much you need.

It doesn’t hurt to have more yardage of several of the fabrics to make matching pillows, pillowcases, dresser scarves, and for borders. I found that pillowcases are extremely easy to make with some white-on-white fabric. Just measure some of your existing pillowcases for fabric size, make cases, then add a colored fabric border to them. A little ribbon and lace really helps too.

The colors in the photo below are not nearly as pretty as in real life:


Tips on choosing fabrics

Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb with a few really wild ones; they make your quilt really “live”.

Try to avoid “medium” fabrics—choosing lights and darks that are really lighter/darker than each other. It’s difficult to place “mediums” into either category, but it’s okay to have a few.

Solids don’t make your quilt “live”. If you like solids, use all solids; otherwise, just one or two at the most. I never use any, except for perhaps the chimney.

Use the brightest fabric, or the fabric that has the most contrast, as the chimney. Often, reds or yellows are used as the chimney. Consider using the same fabric for a border around the completed top.

Preparing and Cutting

Take 13 plastic food storage bags (the cheap ones!) and number them 1 through 13.

Iron and fold each fat quarter in half, and then in half again, the opposite way, and iron flat. If you have skinny quarters, fold in half the long way, and then in half again the same way. All your quarters should measure ABOUT the same size when folded: 8″ by 10″ or so. I do not pre-wash my fabrics, but I do wash my quilts in hot water before I give them away. That way, I make sure the colors won’t run on the quilt’s owner. I have never had a problem and I regularly use hand-dyed and batiks.

Tips on cutting

  • If I don’t have a cutting mat and rotary cutter, stop right now and go buy one, borrow one, or steal one. I would not even think about trying this without them.
  • If more than one person is cutting, it is imperative that you both use the same method of lining up the ruler. If half the quilt is cut one way, and half the other way, you can run into trouble during sewing.

Cutting Lights

Take the first light-colored fabric and place on your cutting mat. Trim 3 rough edges off so that you now have 4 layers measuring 10″ by whatever the width is that remains.

Cut three 1½” strips—10″ long—through the 4 layers. Set the remaining fabric aside for your next project. Offset the 3 strips (all 4 layers) by one inch on your cutting mat. Then cut so that the smallest piece you create is 1½” by 2½”. Begin making piles of each size you’ve cut. You’ll have six piles when you begin. Each pile corresponds to a bag number from the 13 bags you prepared.


Cut all the other lights in the same manner.

Cutting Darks

Cut 4 strips 1½” wide, set any remaining fabric aside. Offset the strips by one inch, and cut as shown in the graphic above. Set aside the 1½” and 2½” pieces for another project. Begin new piles for dark strips. You’ll have 6 for darks as well, with a total of 12 piles altogether, and a 13th for your chimneys.


Place all your strips and chimneys into the 13 bags as follows:

Bag Number

Size in inches

Color

1 (Chimney)

2½ x 2½

Brightest

2

1½ x 2½

Light

3

1½ x 3½

Light

4

1½ x 3½

Dark

5

1½ x 4½

Dark

6

1½ x 4½

Light

7

1½ x 5½

Light

8

1½ x 5½

Dark

9

1½ x 6½

Dark

10

1½ x 6½

Light

11

1½ x 7½

Light

12

1½ x 7½

Dark

13

1½ x 8½

Dark

 

Here, again, is a graphic of the log cabin block, so you can see the way they are sewn together from the bags of fabric.


Sewing

Because you’ve done all this preparation, the sewing is truly a breeze.

Starting with the chimney and piece #2 as a set, sew one set together. Don’t remove it from your machine. Stop sewing just before or at the end of the fabric on the first set. Grab another set and sew them together. Sew all sets together without cutting them apart until you’re done sewing all of them. When all your chimneys are sewn to all your #2 logs, take them out of the machine, and snip them apart. Press the seams away from the chimney on this and every log you sew on….always iron away from the chimney.

Now take your 2-piece set and begin sewing log #3 onto them. Watch the numbered order of sewing in the diagram above and sew each log on until you have all blocks completed. Remember that you’ll have twice as many blocks as you had quarter yards of fabric.

Tips on sewing

  • While sewing, do not align the first end of the log with the piece onto which you are sewing like it might seem natural to do. Instead, center lengthwise the two pieces that you’re sewing together. In this way, if you have a log or a side that is slightly longer or shorter, the *mistake* part is buried into BOTH sides of the length, lessening the error by half, which usually ends up burying the error altogether.
  • If your two pieces are more than about 1/16th inch off, then something is wrong. Find out which one measures incorrectly, and correct it, even if it means ripping seams out. You’ll be much happier with your finished product if you take caution.
  • Use a perfect ¼” seam allowance. How? Tape masking tape to your sewing machine at exactly the ¼” seam mark. Tape it again and again at exactly the same place to make a slight ridge with the tape. This really helps to align your fabric for a perfect seam allowance every time. Instead of masking tape, you can use mounting tape.

More quilts made using this pattern…



 


 


Greatest Banana Cupcakes

Preheat Oven

350° F

Yield

42 Cupcakes

Preparation Time

15 Minutes

Special Tools

None

Ingredients

1 Cup Butter, softened or melted

2 Cups Granulated Sugar

2 Cups Mashed Ripe Bananas (about 5 large)

2 Eggs

3 Cups Flour

2 Teaspoons Baking Soda

½ Teaspoon Salt

2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract

Optional Ingredients

Golden Raisins, Craisins, Walnuts, Chocolate Chips

Directions

  1. Cream butter and sugar, then add eggs and banana and beat well for 2 minutes.
  2. Add flour, baking soda, salt and vanilla, and beat another 2 minutes. The batter is thick.
  3. Fill cupcake liners about half full with batter.
  4. Bake at 350° F for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
  5. Remove from oven, and remove from cupcake pans as soon as you can for cooling.
  6. Ice, if desired, with Chocolate Frosting or Buttercream Frosting. They are great with no icing at all.


Chicken Pasta Salad

Yield

About 6 large servings

Preparation Time

30 Minutes

Introduction

I’ll eat something at some restaurant or other and, when I like it, I’ll try to duplicate it. Sometimes, it’s really easy, like this one. All of the measurements are approximate. Note: for the onions and celery, Wegman’s sells a bag of pre-chopped for about $2.50. Worth it!

Special Tools

I like to have plastic throw-away gloves for picking chicken off the bone.

Ingredients

1 Rotisserie Chicken from the grocery store. Wegman’s are cheapest right now.

1 to 2 cups mayonnaise. I insist on Hellman’s. You could replace a third of the mayonnaise with low-fat sour cream, if desired.

½ cup of finely chopped onion

½ cup of finely chopped celery

1 cup of matchstick or grated carrots

Salt & Pepper to taste

1 Box frozen sweet peas (you only need a handful)

1 Pound of pasta, cooked, then run cold water over it to cool. I like Farfalle.

Directions

  1. Set your pasta water to boil to begin making the pasta as package directs. You may want to cut one minute off the cooking time if you will be storing your salad overnight. Continue cooking the pasta while you follow the rest of the steps.
  2. Chop the onions and celery, and grate the carrots, throw in an oversize bowl. That’s so you can easily stir it later.
  3. Add one big handful of the peas.
  4. Add the mayonnaise and stir real well.
  5. Pick the chicken off the bone, cut into bite-size pieces, and place in the bowl.
  6. When the pasta is done cooking, be sure to run cold water over it to take the heat out of it. Add the cooked pasta to the big bowl.
  7. Stir gently to coat all the chicken and all the pasta.