Thursday, September 22, 2011

A vest from a sweater

The other day I discovered I'd missed by 24 hours a small friend's birthday.


Plus, she has everything.  Fortunately I have a cupboard full of more than everything.  Specifically, this previously-felted sweater:

Prior to the panic it was in one piece.  But it didn't magically burst into segments - I had to snip.

Today we will look at what came of the body part.  First, some blanket stitch:

Pretty pretty blanket stitch, will I ever tire of you?  Especially now that I know to turn in the raw edge and catch it with some of the stitches so you get a nice clean finish?  (had I but disovered this trick before the vest project...)

The blanket stitch is burgundy because nothing else looked better and because I also had these cute flower embellishments in the cupboard:

You may have to trust me on the beads being the exact same shade of burgundy.  Also on the flowers being a rich purple, not at all this weird blue that the camera interpreted.  I sewed on bar pins - more stash cupboard genius - so that Small Friend's Mum can remove them when washing the vest.

This is what they look like on.  Cute?

I deem the vest Cute.

I just hope nobody minds the pink angora fluffs that are gonna be all over whatever she wears it with.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Baking from a foreign cookbook

During the summer, Melissa wrote about cookbooks she likes called Ladies, A Plate.  The title refers to the tactful code at the bottom of a community event notice in New Zealand for attending ladies to bring along some baked goods to share. 

We know where this is going, right?  I had to have these books.  Or at least one of them.  For a start pretty much everything Melissa does or gets interested in is awesome, and also, the custom of catering en masse is traditional to the neighbourhood where I grew up, too.  Bonus: did you click on the Melissa link and look at the covers?  Please. 

Right away when my copy of the original book arrived I spotted the cuteness of the recipe titles - 'bumble bees', 'butterfly cakes', 'coffee cloud cake' - and in particular the presence of 'Nainoma Bars'.  This recipe is immediately recognizable as what is known in my circle as 'Nanaimo Bars', after a town in British Columbia, but also 'You Name It Brownies,' and even 'Johnny No-Name Bars' because they are known under so many different titles.  (graham/coconut/butter/cocoa crust, vanilla pudding-enriched icing for filling, melted chocolate poured over top.)

I love this book and have been making recipes from it, none of them yet keepers but all - and collectively too - fascinating.  Like, who knew you could have so many ginger-based recipes in one book and have them all be different?

And another cool thing: dissolving the baking powder in milk or water so it's part of the liquids added to the dry ingredients.  Where I live, the baking powder gets sifted in with the dry stuff.

Those are 'Friendly Road' buns, named after the depression-era radio show where the recipe was first shared.  By my local standards, they are not a bun but rather a tall satisfying cookie, sweetened noticeably with a little addition of Golden Syrup (sweeter than pure corn syrup and generally one of the most delicious things imaginable: try it on pancakes.)

These are Ginger Kiss halves, served without being sandwiched over icing because who has time? They poured out onto the cookie sheet like cake batter, but puffed up prettily into a soft but firmer-than-cake morsel.  I balked at the amount of ginger the recipe called for and halved it, but of course it came out very delicately-flavoured so another time I would make it as directed.

There are recipes in the book I would never bake, but which serve to point out how incredibly dedicated those New Zealand moms were about treating their families with special tarts and mini eclairs and elaborate cakes.  Actually I could never make any other recipes in the book and it would still have been worth buying it - the pictures are soooooo wonderful! and the introductions to where the recipe came from or how it was adapted by dozens of different bakes!  it's everything I like about social history. 

Try a copy yourself and see what I mean - and if you make something I haven't but should, let me know.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Sewing some snack bags

It occurred to me at the grocery store one day last year that I was buying a lot of plastic baggies for portable snacks, and I wasn't reusing them nearly enough.  I wondered whether I could possibly sew something for the job - and a very brief hunt online told me not only that I could, but that many, many others have done it already.

I decided on the fold-over-top technique advocated at Angry Chicken and started hunting for organic fabric, because I'd read that some fabrics are treated with things to preserve them from damage during transport that you do not want on your food.  Alewives to the rescue:

When this fabric arrived I worried that the half yard I'd bought of each might not be enough, so I stopped at Stitch in Jordan, Ontario during my next Niagara trip and found that Jocelyn stocks organic fabrics as well.  Hers are hand-dyed and hand-painted in India and have a very nice floppy quality that contrasts with Alewives' crispiness:

Don't you love how you can see where the artist adjusted the painting tool?

I bought three fat quarters that sort of coordinated, and dressed up some bags with contrasting fabric until I came to my senses (they are only for snacks, and I do not have unlimited time):

And then I got to work on my half-yards...

Which resulted in 27 bags, including the larger drawstring one, all stitched in double rows and the edges pinked because my old Singer has no zigzag function.

That's a lot of snacks.