Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

This year it was just our family. Nobody came over, nobody invited us over.  We live in Utah but most of our family does not—and if they do live here they had other plans. This might sound sad to you—but I actually love it. No pressure. I can make peanut butter sandwiches for all I care. I would never do that—but it’s nice to know it’s an option. I like options.


All my recipe came from America’s Test Kitchen this year. There’s a shocker. If cookbook companies had groupies, I’d be one. I’d go to their concerts and throw pie on the stage. I’m totally mesmerized by cooks. (Once in Chicago I went to Rick Bayless’ restaurant and my eyes went all foggy and my throat dried up when I saw Mr. Bayless himself.) You can have your lame-o movie stars—I stalk chefs. Ok, I don’t stalk them, but I’d love to if it were legal.

First up—Mr. Turkey. He was brined the day before for six hours and then left overnight on a rack to dry out. America’s Test Kitchen says this will give a crackly crisp skin and moist meat. Boy did it ever. I’ve never had better turkey. I even overcooked it a bit (I blame the convection) and still the white meat was jui-cy!


Here’s Mr. Turkey taking a nice salty briney bath on Wednesday. My garage is plenty cold in November but I added plenty o’ ice to the cooler just in case.  Nobody’s getting food poisoning at my house. I did have to double the brine recipe to completely cover my 13 pound turkey.

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Here’s Mr. Turkey resting after 2 hours in the oven. You give him that St. Tropaz tan by starting him on his tummy then flipping him to his back after an hour. Crispy goodness all around. He rested for half an hour after his tan so that I could make the gravy and so that all his juices would redistribute throughout the bird lest he be dry.


Next up: making pie dough on Wednesday afternoon so that Thanksgiving day I can get up early (like a bona fide baker) and cook my Lemon Meringue and Pumpkin pie.

All good desserts start with an inordinate amount butter. Gosh I wish I could eat like this everyday.

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Pie dough ready for a chill in the refrigerator before rolling out.

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Baking done by Thursday morning at 10am. Lemon Meringue Pie, Pumpkin Pie, and Crescent Rolls. Did I mention I only fed 5 people? Mmm, leftovers.


A simple orange cranberry sauce…..


And something new this year: Green Bean Casserole with a homemade mushroom cream sauce. This was my favorite dish this year. I will make it for Christmas too. Holy cow, so good. You won’t even miss the metallic-tasting mushroom canned soup. Smile


Ilene is so happy to be trimming the green beans.


Here’s my son Nathan peeling sweet potatoes. I believe in manual labor before the feast for all involved.


Everybody had a job this year. Thank goodness the kids are old enough to help now. My husband Paul did the grunt work for the turkey but he’s not pictured because he stayed in his pajamas all day. I’m not kidding. You wear pajamas, you don’t make the blog cut.


I’ve broken with my childhood tradition and do not stuff the bird anymore. Just bake the stuffing  dressing on the side. (Sorry Mom.) Sausage, Cranberry and Bread stuffing. Good stuff.



I didn’t burn the crust—it kinda looks that way on the Pumpkin Pie though.



I served most everything on my mother’s fine China that my Dad bought her for a wedding gift in Japan during the Vietnam War. My kids said it shouldn’t be called China if he bought it in Japan. True.

Let the feast begin! The best part? We ate ate all the leftovers for three more days.



Gracious I love Thanksgiving. I can’t think of anything more fun than cooking for two days without needing to do anything else—to me that’s heaven.  God Bless America!


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Pacifico Alphabet

When I came across this font I immediately loved it. I love cursive fonts that are not too fussy. And this one seemed “readable” to younger children who are just learning to read and write in cursive. Here’s how I made it work. (Can be purchased here.)


I knew it would look lovely embroidered on special items. I started out by making a pillow for a birthday party my daughter attended.


Perfect fill stitches. A good candidate to digitize.

I noticed the lowercase ‘k’ didn’t quite look exactly the way I wanted it to (green version). Nothing wrong, I just wanted the “k” to touch in the middle (red version). So I decided to override the computer’s stitching and change it a bit. Also, notice the black arrow pointing to a ‘cloudy’ spot on my new version of the letter k.  This size (3”) of the letter is stitched in satin stitches but larger parts of the letter can be really fragile and snag easily if stitched with such long stitches. So I had the computer take a few ‘fill’ stitches where the black arrow is pointing. You don’t really notice this once it is sewn but the resulting letter will be stronger and less prone to snag and rip on your grandkid’s backpack—or whatever you stitch it on.

pacifico digitizing

Then came the uppercase letter “L”. Sheesh, didn’t love the defaulted version at all. But some might, so I left it as is and created another version of the capital “L”. You choose which you prefer.

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I decided to include another version of the capital “V” and “W” in case some customers didn’t like the tail. The tail is great when spelling words but if you want to stitch the letter “V” all alone, the tail looks silly.

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Lastly, I measured the letters on a sample and noticed they were not exactly as big as the computer said they should be. A bit too short so I included a 4th size (something I rarely do) so that customers could have  several sizes to choose from.

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I liked Pacifico so much I used it on another design released the same day. This idea came from a customer—I’m always willing to listen to ideas from customers, just email me! She is obviously a big Bob Marley fan. (Who isn’t?) “Every Little Thing” can be purchased here.


A few weeks later and that’s how the alphabet Pacifico came to be! Available for purchase here.


Monday, October 28, 2013

How to Embroider a Kitchen Apron

I’m not sure how beneficial this post will be as this is a fairly simple process but I do have a lot of customers who are brand spankin’ new to embroidery, so maybe it will be helpful to one of you.


First, hoop a piece of tear away stabilizer. Spray it with a temporary adhesive spray like 505. I love that stuff.

I am using my Whisky Business design, found here.

To buy this exact apron, click here. They are a great price, come in great colors,  and while I don’t love that they are a polyester/cotton mix, it does keep them from being all wrinkly once washed. (I hate ironing.)

Stick your apron on. You might be wondering why not just hoop the apron and ignore the spray. You definitely can, but I find the seams in the top of the apron and the side are much to thick to fit in the hoop so this is a better option. 90% of the time I prefer to hoop but finished items like this are easier to embroider by just sticking them on to a hooped piece of stabilizer.


I fold my apron in half at the top to get a crease then I line up that crease with the center of my hoop:


Attached hoop, and stitch away! I should have moved my design just a tad down so that it didn’t stitch so close to the top, but see? Even I make mistakes. Plenty of them, actually.


Here she is, all done!


Remove from the hoop and tear off all the paper on the back. I love it when designs look nearly as lovely on the back as they do on the front.




Also cute in orange with my Measure Once, Eat Twice design.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Make Up Brush Holder

I love my make up brushes. They turn a plain girl like me into someone fancy. I’ve been wanting to make me a make up brush holder for some time now. I’m tired of always digging through my make-up brush bag looking for just the right brush. Well, I can say goodbye to that!


I embroidered the gray canvas with my jigsaw border embroidery pattern and paired it with some berry-colored linen. The back is an Amy Butler canvas print in gray. Yum.


I mostly followed this tutorial to make it but I made a few changes. First, I didn’t use batting but instead used some heavy interfacing—the kind for craft projects. And second, I cut my fabrics 10”x19”, an inch bigger all the way around than what was suggested. Maybe my make up brushes (M.A.C.) are taller than hers but a 9” tall roll-up would have been too short for my brushes. I’m glad I added an extra inch on the side too because I wanted to store some of my eye liners in it as well.



I love how this border stitched out……

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…….nearly as pretty on the back as the front

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The embroidery took the longest but sewing the project took about 30-45 minutes. I love it!


Friday, October 04, 2013

Fluffy Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting


I asked Paul what kind of cake he wanted for his old man 42nd birthday. He said he’d like a yellow cake with chocolate frosting. I’ve been eyeing the “Fluffy Yellow Cake” recipe in this book for a while now. Do I dare try a new recipe on someone’s special day? Shouldn’t I practice first? Yup, I dare. I did.


Amazing book. As always from Cooks Illustrated.


I adjusted a tad for high altitude (see recipe for my adjustments) and lo and behold the cake layers didn’t cave in! A miracle for high altitude Utah. (I live at about 4500 feet.) It usually takes a few tries to get a cake to bake up correctly, but not this time!!  Ain’t they fluffy and gorgeous? Fluffy like a box cake but way tastier and without any chemicals or additives. Proud lady. Notice the cake pans in the background with the parchment paper—don’t skip that step. I’ve never had a problem again with cakes sticking once I started using parchment paper. I get it at Costco.


And this is bar far the easiest chocolate frosting recipe ever. You make it in the food processor—pulse, pulse, done. Good heavens  it’s the best thing I’ve ever tasted too.


The only bad part about making it in the food processor is that you can’t exactly lick the blade like you usually lick beaters. Rats.


Dutch cocoa, corn syrup, bittersweet chocolate and butter. I confess I ate a few spoonfuls of just the frosting.


Ain’t she just too purdy? Yea, yea, looks are meaningless. Let’s see how she tastes.


Good gracious. Look at the fluffiness of that cake? Surrounded by chocolate. Mmmm.


This is all that was left the day after the birthday party. Look who’s finishing off this cake. Me. The baker should always polish it off.


Click here for my printout of the recipe

For the original recipe on cooksillustrated.com:  Cake recipe, Frosting recipe Of course I highly suggest the book too.


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