Cooking, Sewing, Working, Traveling, Gardening and Pondering

Continuous effort - not strength or intelligence - is the key to unlocking our potential.

~Winston Churchill~

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Life from 30,000 Feet

In flight wifi. Nice to be able to blog while in transit for a change. Unfortunately, it also means you have access to work and emails and the outside world. Outside of this tube in the sky anyway. It is late and dark on the plane. I'm in the second row in economy. I have the 2 seat row to myself and I can people watch from where I am. The guy in the first row is working hard getting a buzz on with cocktails. the couple with the baby in the middle of my row finally got their child to sleep. The guy in front of me keeps looking back as I type - it either annoys him or he's too cheap to pay for his own internet access.

Work in Atlanta this week was rough, my moral is low and I am tired. I want to always help and fix and improve and move forward. When I come to the office here, I get more work, more confused, more challenges and more enlightenment all at the same time. It's emotionally draining. I'm ready to be home with my dogs and my husband.

Just before boarding, my hubs texted me saying he'd be working all night...a car hit a pole and he's working. I wont get to see him until tomorrow afternoon when I get home. It's a downer after the last few days.

The best part of the week is going to be walking around my yard looking over the things I've planted and seeing how much they've grown this week. It always amazes me to see this after I've been gone for a few days.

Maybe this weekend, I can plan something wonderful for the hubs birthday...crawfish boil anyone?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Apricot Fried Pies

Debbie posted on her blog a few weeks ago about needing a fried pie recipe - one like your Mamaw would have made. Well in seven years or so that I've lived with my husband, he has coach, advised and coerced me into making fried pies like his Ninie (Thelma). So for Debbie, this is my tutorial. If you're looking for something healthy, you may as well stop reading.

I will make 9 pies with this recipe (it's only me and the hubs, more would go be wasteful). Multiple up if you want to make more. I also made all 16oz of the apricots, because half of the filling, I will put in the freezer for the next time. Total time to make these is 2 hours start to finish.

I start with dehydrated apricots. If I can get fresh they work too, you just have to adjust the cooking time to less as they will break down faster.

I put the apricots as they come in a pot with 1 cup of water on medium heat.

I let them start to stew. Once they start to take on some of the water I add in 1/4 cup brown sugar - I like it's flavor best but you can substitute honey, white sugar, etc. Then I let it stew some more. (15-20 minutes)

Here is when I add in about one shot of dark rum,

a squeeze lemon juice,

1 Tablespoon Cinnamon and a teaspoon of vanilla.

and a pinch of salt

Then let they stew some more.

I start making the crust, and to be honest I use the BH&G recipe for double crust.

2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cups butter/butter flavor criso
6-7 Tablespoons ice cold water.

mix the first 3 ingredients,

then gradually add the water, 1 Tablespoon at a time until it starts to ball up.

I place it in plastic or zip lock and put it in the refrigerator until well chilled - about 20-30 minutes.

Time for a break because the apricots are stewing and the crust is chilling.

Note: watch the apricots, if they start to dry up - add 1 cup of water at time keep them moist - when you pull a spoon back you should see thick juice start to pool in the bottom Be sure to check them and do this as many times as you need. In total, I added 3 cups of water. Also, I cover them for about 1/2 the cooking time - when I want to speed this up.

Continue to stew them until they start to break apart when you mush them with a wooden spoon. When done, remove from heat and let cool.

I have tiled counter tops, years ago I found this pastry board that I use for rolling out crusts.

Trust me that pastry cloth is clean, just stained from many uses over the years and I can't find pastry cloth large enough to make a new cover.

The cloth slips over the edges of the two pieces of wood and then it flattens out.

I rub the cloth down with flour to keep everything moving smoothly.

Then I rub my rolling pin down with flour too.

Now I take the crust out of the fridge and take off a fist size piece and roll it out.

I use a rice bowl as my size guide - about 5" in diameter.

Time to start the oil. I use Crisco (1 cup to 2 cups depending on the size of your skillet) in a cast iron skillet at medium heat. You want the grease hot other wise the pies will get soggy. Probably around 350 degrees, but I don't use a thermometer just feel the heat coming off. Not very technical.

See how deep it is?

just enough to go up 1/2 way of the pies.

Prepare an egg wash for sealing the pies - 1 egg with about 1 tablespoon of cold water beaten well.

Place 1-2 Tablespoons of the apricot filling on the cut circle of crust and brush the edges with the egg wash.

Seal the pie by crimping with a fork on both sides. Flip the Pie over and crimp from the back side too.

Now place in the hot grease (use caution for splattering and spills overs). Fry until under side is golden brown.

Then use tongs to flip it over and fry the other side. Use care so as to not puncture or break the crust.

Place completely fried pie on a plate lined with paper towels to blot any extra grease.

I make mine one at a time, but if you are making a lot of these you can prep them all at one time and then fry all at one time - if you know what I mean.

Eventually, they are all fried and they look like this.

What to avoid - over filling the pie crust so you get a blow out. It makes your grease dirty faster and it's just messy and not pretty.

You're kitchen will get messy but good things come from the hard work.

I hope you enjoy them as much as my husband does.

Good Luck, and let me know if you have any questions or if I missed anything.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The table runner Saga continues

Tonight during the Friday night craft-in I finished the tops of the runners for the spare room. For the backing, I am going to tea stain some muslin. I still have no idea how I'm going to bind it, but I have time to figure that out because I still have to quilt this in the quilt sandwich.

Do you think it looks ok? My fabric patterns aren't too out there are they?

oh and I got another pair of Toms :O

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Ever have one of those heated discussion

about something is so small in the scope of life? Something that just shouldn't be used to waste time. That one topic that just gets a person so out of sorts they sputter and shake on this one topic that makes no sense.

Yeah, I've been there. Apparently, I am unable to keep a refrigerator cleaned out. I am totally and utterly incapable of this. My hubs insists I am a refrigerator moron. A complete derelict of past due born on dates.

I don't get how this is such a topic of discussion and angst. My mind is on the tragedy in Japan, on how what I do at Junior League could help my community be better, how I can pick up trash when I'm out walking my dogs so it's not in my neighborhood blowing around. My mind is not on how retched I am for not checking born on dates for freshness.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Learning more about Quilting

My darling husband put in a sewing order a while back. He uses our guest room for his clothes, archery stuff, motorcycle stuff, etc. He gets up way to early to be waking me up turning on the light to find his work clothes so this works out real well. Well this lead to him wanting a couple of table runners for the guest room dresser and night stand. I've been mulling it over the way I do and finally found a pattern that looked challenging enough yet something I could still do. I found this pattern over at The Fat Quarter Shop and it was a free download! I added one additional square to the pattern to lengthen it.

Then my friend Karen told me about a fabric sale not too far away at Home Fabrics and Rugs.

So off I went and I wound up like this. Did I mention I'm kinda short and had a hard time seeing over the cart?

Then this is what went home with me.

The red with white stars will make a great patriotic table cloth don't you think? Did I mention this was all $3/yard? The camo fabrics and the brown velour stripes will be for another hubs project - something to do with a gun quilt or something...boys!

So here is where I am so far on this table runner project. After a test run on the dresser, I was instructed to add another quilt square to the dresser and that the night stand needs to be 2 quilt squares. This means I need to cut out more fabric and do three more quilt squares. But overall I'm liking the look. Not sure how I will actually quilt it. Maybe by hand this time.

PS to Debbie if you are out there - I haven't forgotten the recipe, I figured I'd make a tutorial and will do it this weekend and post for you!

Monday, March 21, 2011

What I learned this weekend

That dogs are part monkey. They can actually climb trees. They must also be part cat because they can kill birds too.

Who knew they could be so agile? Between the squirrel she had cornered or all the avocados I bet within a week she'll be up a level trying to get higher.

We're now worried about her falling so we need to figure that out.

Friday, March 18, 2011

I ordered them

Yes, I ordered the Tom's wedges today. I needed some retail therapy. With work being hectic, my husband out of town visiting his very sick elderly uncle, a dentist appointment that gave me two nerve blocks and a totally numb face have all caused this need for new shoes.

Besides I really needed them and the upside is Tom's donate a pair to a child in need every time someone buys a pair of their shoes. It's a win win situation.

Monday, March 14, 2011

It was a long week...

So last week started off running. I had a lot to do on Monday to get ready for Tuesday and Wednesday. At work I had a Managing Strategic Accounts workshop I organized and attended on Tuesday and Wednesday. Then on Thursday, we had a CRM trainer come in to give us a refresher course on using Siebel software. For Saturday, I had 8 women from the Kids in the Kitchen committee at my house prepping for the 6th annual Kids in the Kitchen event here in Long beach - for 6 hours. The event was Sunday and we started set up at 7am! The event seemed to be a big success. It's hard for me to measure as I hadn't attend one in the past. We did have a lot of kids come through and the local Councilman Dee Andrews attended. The focus of the event was to help teach kids about eating healthy and staying active. There were four healthy snacks for them to try and lots of fun and active games like cabbage bowling and the Long Beach Junior Beach Runner's had a fabulous obstacle course. There was so much that for the kids to do and see at one place.

The down side to all of this was that I had a bad case of bronchitis. On Wednesday, I actually left the training to go to the doctor and get a prescription cough medicine and boy am I glad I did. I'm certain that was what go me through the week. I'm still coughing but not nearly as severe. The doctor said it would last for up to 6 weeks. That's just maddening.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Something Special to Share

On Friday night when I got home at 10pm from a Junior League meeting I found this envelope on the counter for me. It was from my friend Regena. You see she had this giveaway on her blog and I won! Don't you just love this Hello Kitty Hobo bag?

I'm gonna take it with me on my Vespa to the farmers market this morning. She also sent along a Hello Kitty Pez dispenser! I'm going to put it next to the one my friend Kimmie gave me and the Santa one my hubs gave me!

Then late last night after dinner, I started to play with some polymer clay. I had ordered a book off Amazon on "Create Anything with clay" and it came with a selection of clays to play with.

Here is what I baked up last night after dinner - I made 2 of each.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

How Does a Seed Become Something Beautiful?

I soaked up some sweet peas last weekend and got them in a planter on Monday morning before heading to the office.

I know they are a vine, I know they can get big. But this planter is on our front porch, where things tend to get baked and fried in the hot sun on the hot bricks.

I thought sweet peas might just be hardy enough to survive without being a cactus.

Here they are after a week of sunshine in their pot.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Shoe Porn

I'm in love with these. May have to have a pair or two from Tom's. These wedges are especially on my mind to own.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Chicken Lovin' Hot Mama's Apron Swap

Well, today I got my apron from Kathy. It is so nice. My entire swap box was just so incredibly well put together. Kathy sent me wonderful vintage buttons and a cross stitch doilly- I just adore them. She included some beautiful tatted ribbon and log cabin chicken pin cushion! Oh my goodness that chicken has stolen my heart!

Wait it's gonna get better - she made me a chicken MUG RUG! with a beautiful chicken mug!

I'm holding back here a little because you see Kathy understands what it is like to own Dachshunds! She and her husband have had doxies and me and my husband have doxies! I don't have children so my two puppies are my kiddos. Given all that, Kathy sent me this beautiful dachshund pin and some wonderful dachshund earrings!

I know you're all jealous now right! Or your wanting to know about the apron. I always like to save the best for last, so here is the great apron Kathy made me! I love the big pockets with the gingham trim. It reverses too, so I get two looks out of one apron - the reverse side is some great egg fabric! It just cracks me up!

Thank you so very much Kathy. You made this swap extra special for me and I really appreciate you kindness and talent.

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