1000 words on making (and eating) the artichokes

I make the artichokes about once a year. They’re messy and just for me, so. 

But worth it as an annual treat! And I found a recipe that’s pretty much what Mom did so I just follow that, with a couple very minor changes. 

Do you know about eating stuffed artichokes, people who aren't my brothers? It's a little performance you put on for yourself in sensuous leisure. You pull off the outer leaves and scrape the breadcrumbs and bit of soft interior with your teeth. As you go farther in, there are fewer breadcrumbs, but more interior to scrape and enjoy, and you can squeeze a little lemon juice over them if you wish. When you get to the center, where the purple leaves are, you can eat those, but the ends are slightly prickly. Purpleheart
Then! You have an alien encounter that really quite put me off when I was a child. I wish I'd had the opportunity to eat artichokes with my mom when I was an adult so I could tell her I understand now. Mom had a trick of pulling the purple bit up so the next paragraph tells a slightly different story, but I always just eat that part and make myself deal with what comes next.

You see, you next encounter fur. I expect there's an official name for it, but it's fur. It's just a camouflage, though, because beneath it is all good eating, straight to the bottom of the plate. That's where the heart is, and when you scoop up your first taste with a fork or spoon, you'll understand why it is considered a delicacy. Mom managed to pull up the fur with the purple bit, but I always have to scrape it away. I have put the picture of this in a separate link because it's a little off-putting, and if you have the bizarre problem I have with pictures of holes where it feels, rightly or wrongly, that holes ought not to be, you might not like it. 

Now I’m going to tell you about those recipe changes and give you a couple tips in case you want to make them, too. So this isn't the recipe, okay? You click on the link above or below for that. This is just more chatter and a few not-very-good pictures.

First, I just use two artichokes instead of the three called for in the recipe, but the same amount of filling. This is because I can eat one and save one for the next day. A third would be too extra. 

After I stuff the outer leaves, I put some more filling on the top before drizzling oil over them, because Mom did that, plus the filling is delicious. There’s just a little left over to eat greedily while doing the final cleanup. And so that’s why filling for three works for two, for me. 

Mom used a pressure cooker, but I don’t have one of those. The artichokes do need to be snug in the pan and I used to just bake them in a glass dish, but I like this steaming first method better. So since my pan that fits two really wants three to be snug, I just tuck them to the side and add a placeholder. Panchokes
Then I have to switch to a different pan for the oven, but you might have one you can use which doesn’t have handles that would melt. 

As to the ingredients, you can leave out the lemon zest, but I agree with the recipe that it adds a nice brightness, so maybe don’t. (Do not leave out the rubbing lemon juice over the cut areas step.) However, my microplaner adds so much volume to the cheese, I know 1/3 cup isn’t enough. I really add more like 2/3. So it depends, and that’s why many recipes tell you how many ounces to use instead of volume. But if you’re using preshredded cheese from the deli dept. (Not The Can,) maybe just nudge it to 1/2 cup.

Also, Mom used parsley flakes, but I grow my own parsley so I don’t. Well, you may certainly still use parsley flakes, just use only a couple tablespoons that you crush lightly between your fingers, and if it’s very old, please throw it out and buy more. 

To be honest, I tend not to bother with the stems, but they do make good eating if you would like to bother with them. 

Finally, this is a very messy Thing to Do, so now I’m going to tell you about how to proceed so you can stop and tidy and not become overwhelmed.

Following this good recipe, be sure to get out everything you will need and prepare it for use. Well, first you wash your hands—lava le mani.* You can chop your garlic and parsley while the breadcrumbs are browning if you are sure you can keep an eye on them and stir them. They seem like they won’t brown and then all of a sudden are browning like mad, so watch out. Ingredients
While the breadcrumbs are cooling a bit (so the cheese won't melt when you mix it in,) you can clear the garlic and parsley debris, then trim your artichokes. Then, before you make the stuffing, clean up your artichoke mess and rearrange everything neatly, with your pan and lid ready nearby. 

Set your artichokes on a cutting board or wide plate to catch the filling that falls as you stuff. Use that filling to add to the top. Stuffing
Next, if your olive oil bottle seems like it’ll get away from you for the remaining tablespoon, pour just a little oil into a cup and then drizzle it onto the artichoke tops from the cup. 

Then while the artichokes are coming to a boil, which will happen quickly since there’s only a little (well-salted) water and you have the lid on, finish your cleanup, and if you eat any remaining filling greedily, well, that’s just a teaser of what’s to come.
Stuffedartichoke
 *Yes, random pedant, that's just how Mom said it. 


Italian (American) Easter Cookies

Today I made a small batch of the Easter cookies, and made a couple changes just to experiment, and I like the result, so here you go way down below for the new recipe. My new method uses only butter, at a higher proportion. And I thinned the icing slightly more than usual besides making it egregiously bright, 🌈 so it soaked in a little and made the cookies look like Easter eggs. 

Italian (American) Easter Cookies, original version—this is culled together from an old yellowed piece of notebook paper, and some trials with various internet recipes. It's one of 4 or 5 recipes I should have asked my mother for, that I've been trying to conquer for a long time. 

Yield: 6 dozen. 

cookies:
6 large eggs

1 cup oil (You can use half butter, but the recipe had oil written on it, and I'm certain actual Sicilians would use olive oil.)
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons milk
2 tbs vanilla or 1 tbs anise flavoring (or combine vanilla with almond extract, which is what I prefer.)
6 cups flour
2 tbs baking powder

icing:
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup milk, add a little at a time to the powdered sugar, until it's thin enough to dip cookies in.
1 tablespoon lemon, almond, or anise flavoring (I mean, you should probably use the anise only if you used vanilla in the dough, but maybe you like anise a whole lot. And you could combine some vanilla and anise or vanilla and lemon for the dough; I just particularly like almond.)
A few drops of food coloring can be added to make Easter colors—just be sure to start with only 2-3 drops, then add more, one at a time until you have the color you like. 

procedure:
Cream sugar and oil. Beat eggs until lemon-colored and foamy. Here is the de rigueur egg photo:
20190421_112238
Combine with sugar mixture, milk and extract and beat until light. Sift dry ingredients together. Combine with egg mixture, and knead lightly on a floured surface, until the dough is smooth and easy to handle, then roll dough lightly into 1 inch balls. If you like, you can roll the balls into ropes about five inches long. Tie into loose knots or braid and place cookies one inch apart onto greased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees until lightly browned, about 14 minutes. If you want more browning and don't plan to ice, you can brush the ropes or braids with egg yolk beaten with a wee bit of water.
20190421_112906
20190421_115351
Dip into icing when cool, and let dry on waxed paper. 

My grandma made these at Easter, and we each got a special one which was a braided circle with a colored hard-boiled egg placed in the center of it. She put a cross made of dough over the top, and cooked it in a slower oven. They are not very sweet, especially if you leave off the icing. They are perfect for coffee or tea, and improve the next day. 

Modified Easter Cookie Recipe
:

2 eggs
1/2 cup softened butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon milk
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder

Follow procedure above, and use 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar and @3 tbs milk for the icing. This makes 24 cookie balls. Chill them for a few minutes before baking. 

Today I used only vanilla in the cookies, then made 2 cups of icing with 1/4 cup milk, divided it into 3 custard cups, then added 1/4 tsp anise extract to one, 1/4 tsp lemon extract to one, and about 1/2 tsp almond extract to the third. Then I added 2 drops of gel food coloring to each, but you might want just 1 drop if you don’t want bonkers bright colors. There was extra icing, so next time I make a small batch, I will use 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar and about 3 tbs milk. 

20190421_115035
20190421_120547
20190421_132551


potager de pots: garden update 2

This is the year I turn the yard gardens back over to grass, so I am using two back areas for container gardening, well, same as before, but exclusively in those areas.

Today I spent a lot of time cleaning and organizing the spaces and putting the pots around to be planted over the next four weeks. Here are photos I took; it's not neat or pretty yet, but definitely will be by June. I'll have some tomatoes and peppers, of course, lettuce and chard, onions, a few potatoes, bush beans, and I'm going to try these tiny carrots that can grow in shallower ground. I have flower seed mixes so will see just what comes up, but if I get hold of a little money I'd like to have some dahlias again and a few other interesting flowers. 

Greensnowsurpriselater

Flowersandsuch

Futurebushbeanshome

Tomatoespeppersflowers

Alsosomepotatoes

Tomatobabies


risotto meditations

At some point in the past few years when people were eating a lot of risotto and talking about eating risotto, I decided to find out what the big deal was about making it. 

It’s not a super big deal. It requires time and attention, and a few good ingredients. I learned a simple method that I enjoy the results of from a Better Homes and Gardens recipe, and have modified the process just slightly to suit my taste. 

What you do is cook some onions and/or garlic in a little oil for a couple minutes, then add Arborio rice and stir it around til it starts to brown, then you add broth that is boiling in readiness, one ladle at a time. You watch it cook and maybe adjust the heat if it seems too high, and you stir it as you watch, but you don’t have to stir constantly like with Hollandaise sauce or custard, and in a few minutes you add another ladle of broth and go again.

20190225_131518_HDR
One ladle at a time, this rice cooks, until, if you like, just before the last ladle is poured in, you add some chopped sun-dried tomatoes or dried mushrooms that you plumped when you first set the broth to boiling.

20190225_132612_HDR
At the end, you stir in some good parmesan cheese (you could get a bag or tub pre-shaved or shredded from the grocery deli area or buy a wedge and grate some, but don’t use the shelf-stable paper can one) and add a little freshly cracked pepper. 

You need to use good broth, though it doesn’t have to be homemade. Make sure you’ve tasted and enjoyed it before using it in the rice, and make sure it is just a little salty but not very salty. 

And you need, absolutely, to have everything ready and in place before you begin the cooking. This is the meditative thing; you arrange nice ingredients that will taste good together so that they’re to hand when you need them. And as you add and stir and adjust, you have nothing else you need to think about until it’s ready to serve in nice bowls you have set out for it. You define what nice is your own way. 

For two hearty servings, I use the following:

1/3 cup chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, finely sliced

1 tablespoon olive oil + 1 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup arborio rice

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not oil-packed, but those would be okay*) or dried mushrooms

2 1/2 cups chicken broth (if you do not use dried tomatoes or mushrooms, you need only 2 cups)

3 tablespoons shaved parmesan

black pepper, preferably that you grind yourself

two saucepans, a wooden spoon, and a 1/2 cup sized soup ladle or ladle substitute that won't burn your hand


Make sure your work area is clean and clear. Pour yourself a nice glass of ice water or tea or wine or soda, and set out two bowls you like, or a bowl and a leftover container. Maybe you should play some quiet music if you like to do that while cooking.

Chop the onion and slice the garlic, then heat the oil and butter in a saucepan on medium. While that’s heating, add the broth to the other saucepan, and bring it to a boil. Saute the onion and garlic for a couple minutes, letting it soften but not burn. When your broth comes to a boil, add your sun-dried tomatoes (or mushrooms) if you are using them, to the broth, put a lid on it or mostly on it, and turn it down to simmer at a low boil. 

Add the rice to the pan with the onions and garlic, and stir it around, letting it cook for a few minutes until it starts to brown. Then add a ladleful of broth to the pan; do use enough to cover the surface, but not any more than that. It will sizzle at first. You might need to turn the heat down to medium-low for a gentler boil. Stir it, then watch as the rice begins to soak up the broth. Stir again every minute or so.

In a few minutes, when the liquid is mostly soaked up, add another ladleful of broth and stir again. By now, the dried tomatoes or mushrooms will be softened; strain them from the broth and set them on a cutting board to cool for a few minutes. 

Keep adding ladlefuls of broth, stirring and watching the process, making sure you maintain a low boil. Chop the cooled tomatoes or mushrooms, then when there’s about one ladleful of broth left, and the rice looks soft, stir those in, add the remaining liquid, and wait a little longer til the liquid is finally absorbed. The process slows down as the rice cooks, but you will enjoy being patient and watching it happen, because you are making a simple but groovy dish for yourself. With regular ol’ rice, all you do is put a lid on and set a timer. 

Stir in most of the parmesan cheese, then divide the risotto between the two bowls or bowl and container, and add a little freshly ground pepper on top with the remaining bit of cheese. 

Sit at your dining table if you have one, or a nice spot you like if you don’t, to enjoy this food you created.

20190225_135741_HDRAnd then next time, think of what else you might like to add to it for something new.

*If you use oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drain them well, chop, add at same point. I think they'd be more pungent, though.


If gardening were baseball...

PITCHERS AND CATCHERS REPORT IN ZONE 6B!

This being, for me, some of the greens, spring onions, a few herbs and flowers. Spring training begins in earnest in about two weeks, by which I mean that's when I'll start some tomatoes and peppers, maybe eggplant. 

Everything has to be in containers this year because this is the year I start letting grass reclaim the gardens for when the lease is up in 2020. So I'll have to decide as well in a couple weeks whether to prepare for beans, carrots, and summer squashes. I will still be able to plant as many annual flowers as I like, regardless of the rest. Groomingthefieldpatented seed starting system

Playersearly prospects

Earlylineupmaking the first cut

Firstwarmupsteam room

Lockerroomout of metaphors: lights ready for post-germination; probably around the time I start the second set of seeds.


A tasty fruitcake that is not appalling or anything

First, because this was last Tuesday, I needed one which wanted only a month to cure or less. I wanted one that was less cakey than the cakey ones, but not comprised entirely of fruit. And I wanted to use the combination I already had of organic dried fruit and some good quality glacéed fruit. Boozyfruit
I found Mrs MacKinnon's Christmas Fruitcake. I realized only after getting into making it that it has no nuts. And I think that is actually its virtue. The nuts will draw moisture from the cake, you see, so if you don't eat it within the first week, the cake part just won't be as good. To me. Plus, nuts are so expensive! I got a good deal on pecans and walnuts last month, and I'm saving them to make pecan tarts and Magic Cooky Bars in a couple weeks.

I was short the amount of fruit needed, and had to run up to Dollar General for some raisins. I dislike raisins mixed with other things, but they are actually just fine in this. I used my own combination of fruit; for the amount of golden raisins, I added chopped prunes, and for the amount of currants, a combination of chopped dried figs and apricots. If I make it again next year, I will use more of all those in place of the raisins, but it is really not raisiny at all. Chunkybatter
The bigger change is that I put in bourbon instead of rum. And I was a little generous with the molasses, but not by a lot.

My springform pan is 9.5 inches whereas the recipe calls for 10, and that left me enough batter to make a small tester cake to try. It was so delicious, I ate it in two sittings. Delicioussampler
Delicioussampler
You can eat the cake right away or within a few days. I wrapped mine in bourbon-soaked cheesecloth and then foil, and today I removed the foil and added more bourbon. A fruitcake will last for years if you do that, but I just want to eat it at the end of the year. Readytowrap
Readytowrap


Craving Texture, or something

I’m struggling with something that feels like a silly struggle, but I need to resolve it. A brief history: for years I had a sewing machine I used only for repairs and to recover pillows, basically. I fought with the bobbin case and tension too much to do anything else. In early 2015 I was unwell and spent a lot of time in bed, and decided to make myself a bed bag for my remotes and pens and things. I sewed it by hand, figuring out what turned out to be box corners, then embroidered a little picture on it. I was so pleased with it, I made another for my daughter. Then I remembered I earned a Girl Scout embroidery badge back in 1973, and looked online to see what people do with embroidery. I ran across crazy quilts. I loved the idea, so I got to the store, bought some wild clearance fabric and some iron-on adhesive, set up an ironing station next to the bed, and spent the next few weeks hand-sewing a quilt, embellishing with clearance buttons and ribbons, and learning/relearning embroidery stitches. 

This isn’t the lavish thing you’ll see if you Google crazy quilts. Most of those aren’t useable, though, and I don’t like to make things I can’t use. Screen Shot 2017-09-12 at 9.00.29 AM
 That summer, I received a generous shopping trip for my 50th birthday, so I researched, then bought a new simple but well-rated sewing machine that didn’t need the bottom tension adjusted, and some fabric and accessories. 20170912_092719

I made aprons and bags, and a simple baby quilt, then commenced to a new crazy quilt. I put it all together the same way, but on the machine, then hand-stitched over all the seams. Screen Shot 2017-09-12 at 9.00.40 AM
I was so pleased and satisfied with both, I thought I’d do one a year, but I haven’t gotten far this year. I’ve gotten good at the machine and learned many new skills, and seem have less patience for hand sewing. This makes me sad and frustrated. 

I’ve talked before in the twin to this space about how I feel overwhelmed by choices these days, and disconnected from tangible stuff. I resubscribed to a magazine and a Sunday paper, and I’ve been looking at old TV shows on broadcast TV. To try to find the roots of something. But I have everything at my command that a person on a limited, but comfortable budget could have, and it’s much easier to just skim the surface.

I mean, I don’t listen to records as much as I could as it’s easy to just turn on I Heart Radio. But I love playing records.

It’s all one big ball of complexities I want to straighten out, but on top of the list is that I want to combine my awkward but sweet hand sewing pleasure with the ease of putting things together with the machine, and yet what that requires is sitting in a chair and focusing and using my fumbly fingers as best I can. I’m better, crazily to me, than most people seem to be these days at focusing on a single slow task, but I think maybe there’s some guilt mixed into the picture. Is it okay for me to spend time that way? And also, can I still allow myself the pleasure of imperfect stitching, when I can look online and see the burgeoning movement of needlecraft in which people have far outstripped my humble little borders and simple flowers with tremendous artistic displays?

I never worry about that while painting on canvas, and I never worried about having a very average singing voice that probably only my kids enjoyed. I’m not competitive in the least degree. But something is holding me back. I'm glad for the skills I've learned to do on the machine, and intend to keep learning more. I need to be able to make myself sit and stitch by hand just as diligently, though. I can't say why, it's just one of those things.  


Lasagna: more of an art than a science

This isn’t quite a recipe, just some directions, for putting together lasagna. Basically, you have sauce, into which you might add ground beef or sausage. I always use sausage if I put any in at all. And you have your creamy cheese and your other cheese, and your noodles. But you need to know what to use, so those parts are in bold color. Options are italicized.

I hope this doesn't just seem too hard to understand. I wanted to go through the process as though you're here. And I think if you read it over, then go back to what you need, it will be easy to do.

SAUCE AND SAUCE ACCESSORIES:

Obviously you can use a good jar sauce, or you can make a full-on simmering sauce from top to bottom. Usually I take a middle path. For meat sauce, I use a pound of sausage without the casing/casing removed, cook it on medium in a little olive oil with some onions and peppers if I have those, then I add three or four garlic cloves (depending on size,) which I like to thinly slice, but you can mince, and 2 ounces of tomato paste,* stir it around for a minute, splash in a half cup of wine if I have that, or chicken or beef broth or water if I don’t, and then two large cans of tomatoes, squished by hand. This is enough to do a 9x13 pan. Obviously, you can just do half. Try to get tomatoes grown in Italy if you can. There is a difference.

In these photos, note that I first softened the onions and peppers in olive oil , then let them cook more while browning and attacking the sausage. When the sausage was nearly done, I stirred it together, then made room for the tomato paste. Choppedstuff
Choppedcups
Drygoods
Oliveoil
Sausagewithsoftstuff
Incorporated
Tomatopaste
Addedwine
Squishing
Tomatosauceif you are adding 1/2 cup water instead of wine or broth, put it in the can, swish around, then add.

*The tomato paste makes it all richer. Toasting it before adding liquid makes it nicer.

After you squish in the tomatoes, add a little oregano; crumble a couple of teaspoons with your fingers, or a couple of teaspoons of mixed Italian seasonings, and salt and pepper as you like. You could put in mushrooms once that’s all accomplished; 1/2-1 cup chopped, but not too finely. This makes a plain sauce good for baked pasta. Add a couple of pinches of dried red pepper if you like.

If you are using ground beef instead of sausage, you need to cook it first, seasoning it well with two teaspoons dried seasonings and s and p, drain and remove it, then cook the peppers, onions and garlic (add that after the other two have cooked til softening,) in the same pan with just a little olive oil, then add the meat back in and proceed.

If you are using jar sauce and you don’t want extra peppers and onions, cook your meat, season if it’s ground beef rather than sausage, add in your mushrooms if you wish, splash in a little wine, then add the sauce and simmer it while you do the rest. If you do want extra peppers and onions, follow the first set of instructions, and add the sauce when you’d add the canned tomatoes.

If you want directions for longer-cooking sauce, okay, but otherwise, I will address that on meatballs day.


I think you need three-four cups of sauce for an 8x8 pan, about six-eight for a 9x13. If you included meat, you’ll want more, if not, you’ll want less. We like it to be pretty darned saucy here at our house.


FILLING:

While that is simmering on low (you might need to put on a lid,) cook your lasagna noodles if they are the cooking kind, for two minutes less than done. Make sure the water is pretty salty. And while that is happening, mix your ricotta. Now, no one asks for as much of this as I like, unless they are correct. So for an 8x8 pan, use a 15 ounce container, to which you add an egg, or for 9x13, 30-32 ounces to which you add two eggs, and then add 3/4 or 1.5 cup of parmesan or romano cheese or both if you want.* Sprinkle in a little salt and pepper. Some people also add a tiny bit of nutmeg, like 1/4 teaspoon. It’s nice to do, but don’t add more than that. Add a half cup of fresh chopped parsley, or a couple of tablespoons of dried parsley. You can also do a combination of basil and parsley. Add half as much for 8x8 pan. I'll be honest here; I mix this by hand. I just like to. You can use a spatula, though, and then divide the mixture in the bowl into two or three equal parts, depending on your layers. See below.

If you are going to be using spinach, there are two ways to add it. First, loosely chop a pound (or half) as you like, cook it for a couple minutes in salted boiling water, drain it really well, squeezing out the moisture, then add some pepper and a dash of nutmeg (instead of putting that in the ricotta.) Then you’ll either layer it with the other ingredients, or you can mix it into the ricotta, but I wouldn’t. Just layer it.

Then you want shredded mozzarella, and many Italian-American ladies will use provolone, either instead of or in addition to the mozzarella. I made it yesterday with one pound shredded mozzarella**, and a half pound sliced provolone. For the top you want another half cup of the parmesan or romano. I think it’s four ounces per cup. Cheeses
*I like romano (pecorino) for this better. Somehow I usually end up using some combination. I buy wedges and grate it myself, but for this trial, I bought it pre-shredded. It was on sale.

**If I see whole milk mozzarella at the store, I will buy that instead of shredded, and shred it myself. Sadly, that’s not easy to get around here. If you are not using provolone, use 1.5 lbs of mozzarella for a 9x13 pan.


ASSEMBLY:

How many layers of noodles do we want? Three is easiest. You have a little sauce in the bottom, noodles, stuff, noodles, stuff, noodles, topping. If you are using spinach, stick with that, I think. But you can do four otherwise, which I like to do.

Don’t, for the love of Raphael, rinse your noodles, even though they’ll stick a little.

Put a little sauce on the bottom of the pan, just enough to cover it. Fit a layer of noodles in, overlapping them a little. Spread, if making three layers, 1/2 of ricotta mixture, then 1/3 of the mozzarella with 1/2 of the provolone, then 1/3 of the remaining sauce. If you are adding spinach, put 1/2 of it between the cheese layers. Repeat the process. Put a final layer of noodles on top, the remaining sauce, the remaining mozzarella, a little more parmesan, and then you can add a little crushed oregano over it to look nice. Put it on a flat cookie sheet or pizza pan, or put one beneath it in the oven to catch drippings. Stations
Globsofcheese
Spreadcheese

Mozzarella
Provolone

Sauce
Readytobake
If you are doing four layers of noodles, you’ll divide the ricotta and provolone in thirds, and the mozzarella and sauce in fourths. In the above picture, you can see I used three noodles on my bottom layer, but my pan can handle four. You can decide that for yourself. Setup
In my oven, it cooks for 40 minutes at 375º, covered in foil. Then it takes another 15 minutes to brown. That’s for the 9x13. For an 8x8 pan, figure more like 35 minutes and 10 minutes. Then it must rest for at least half an hour; an hour is better, before cutting.

You’ll have some noodles left if you cooked the whole box. I always do because they can be eaten a day or two later with other food; you can roll things in them or chop them and cook them with leftover food and put eggs on top. Baked


Double wedding ring quilt re-re-revisited

My great-grandmother was making this for me when she died in 1968. At least, that is what my mother told me 15 or so years later. It was kept in an old box all that time, and after she gave it to me, I’d take it out and look at it now and then, then return it to the box. It has survived countless moves, a few attempted repairs by a sweet young daughter, and my own sense of what ought and ought not to be done with it, which changes every year. 20170706_102707

Last year I cut away the most damaged parts on the back, attached a lightweight interfacing, and pinned some muslin to it. And shockingly to those who restore for posterity, I LEFT IT PINNED THAT WAY. 20170706_102851

I know, I do. Horror. I didn’t mean to; my brain flips over sometimes. I was going to attempt hand quilting first, but even at her rather casual eight stitches per inch, my own sewing (though I'm decent at embroidery) looked awful by comparison, plus I have things to do. I tested a bit of machine stitching using invisible thread on top so there’d be a stitch gap, but it still didn’t look right. And then I got busy with baby quilts.

Looking at it today, I thought, this is just enough. Something has to be done, and no, not for heirloom restoration; that is just not me. It needs to be finished and whole, and see how it lays over my bed nicely? It could keep doing that, and I’d just be gentle folding it back at night.

So my daughter’s blue stitching. Why not carry on with that? I can hand stitch all the white sections with blue floss, and run the machine over the patches in off white. 20170706_102742

20170706_102731

It will look cute.

But as to the repairs, that’s a tougher matter. There are several patches to replace; I will find an old piece of clothing to cut up and insert, carefully. 20170706_103740
I will start quilting with the new piece of backing in place, then add an additional layer; no batting. And then that leaves the unfinished scalloped edges. I might turn and stitch them before attempting any binding. Got to still think on that.

I wish I knew her; my dad's grandma. I had just turned three when she died. Screen Shot 2017-07-06 at 10.58.46 AM


perfectly natural

I'm going to do a lot more gardening posts this year, along with just a few sewing and cooking ones, and hopefully an occasional poem.

But for an unofficial official start to the season, I just had to share this. Last Friday I planted some pepper seeds in little starter pods. They were in this plastic container, Pepperboxand today I noticed they were retaining too much moisture in it, so I moved them out.

Look what was left behind! Isn't it just the most? TinypepperbabyIn the first photo, it's along the back wall very slightly left of center.

Here is baby lettuce. Mesclun
I also have baby spring onions and some wee little chardlings. They got late starts, but they'll be just fine.