Friday, November 23, 2007

Long Arm Quilting Class

Today I am taking a class on how to use a long arm quilting machine at Howell's Sew & Vac, Auburn. After successful completion of this class they will allow me to rent time on their machine.

By the end of the class my brain was full.

This is an art form that requires development of specific physical skills in addition to artistic interpretation. I was hoping that it would be like using the Gammell machines where you program in the design/pattern and let it ripe. Instead, you do all the movement of the needle and you make the nice even curves.

Don't think I will be using this machine to do much quilting. I don't have the time to develop the level of skill I would expect of myself before finishing a top.

Lessons Learned

Draw First, Quilt Second for Better Freehand Quilting

For freehand free motion quilting, drawing your design first helps train your brain for quilting. The easiest continuous line design you can quilt is your signature because you've practiced writing it over and over. The same logic applies to any other continuous line design. Even stippling is best learned by drawing first. Always practice drawing by filling in a square, rectangle, or other shape you might find our your quilt top. Your quilt has boundaries-so should your drawing area.

Successful Quilting Starts by Looking Down the Road

The best analogy for successful free motion quilting is from Harriet Hargrave. She compares free motion quilting to driving. If you drive by looking at your hood ornament, you're likely to crash often. Looking down the road and anticipating the next curve or stopping point is a much better driving plan. Periodically check your mirrors and blind spot and slow down when you're stopping or parking.

The same philosophy applies to quilting. Don't focus on the needle hitting the fabric, not even when you're quilting a marked line. Look ahead for changes in a curve or towards the next point in your design and quilt towards it. Trust that your peripheral vision will help guide you. Slow down when you have to hit a specific point. Look at the needle hitting the fabric only occasionally.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Trevor's Pulled Pork

This is mainly for Jaya, but I thought that maybe one or more of you would be interested in this recipe as well. It also contains the recipe for Fried Pickles and Cole Slaw, which I did not make. :)


Barbecued Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Homemade BBQ Sauce, Cole Slaw, and Fried Pickles

Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, 2001.

1 boneless pork butt, about 4 pounds
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons Essence, recipe follows
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon cayenne
Wet Mop Basting Sauce [recipe follows]
Barbecue Sauce [recipe follows]
8 Hamburger buns
Kicked Up Cole Slaw [recipe follows]
Fried Pickles [recipe follows]

Place the pork in a baking dish. In a bowl, combine the sugar, Essence, salt, cumin, paprika, pepper, and cayenne. Rub the seasoning evenly over the pork to coat. Cover with plastic and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat an oven or smoker to 225° F.

Bring the pork to room temperature and place in a roasting pan, fat side up. Slow cook in the oven, basting with the wet mop basting sauce every 45 minutes, until tender and the internal temperature reaches 160° F. (The cooking should take about 6 to 7 hours.) Remove from the oven and let rest for 20 to 30 minutes.

With a knife and fork or two forks, pull the meat apart into small slices or chunks. Toss with the barbecue sauce, to taste, and divide among the hamburger buns. Top with the coleslaw. Serve with the fried pickles and additional Barbecue Sauce on the side.

Essence (Emeril's Creole Seasoning):
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.

Yield: about 2/3 cup

Recipe from "New New Orleans Cooking", by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch. Published by William and Morrow, 1993.

Wet Mop Basting Sauce:
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon salt

The night before you cook the pork, combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and whisk well. Refrigerate and let the flavors blend overnight.

Yield: 2 1/4 cups

Barbecue Sauce:
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 tablespoon molasses
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

In a bowl, combine all the ingredients and whisk well to dissolve the sugar. Place in a squeeze bottle and dress the pulled pork sandwiches to taste.

Yield: about 2 cups

Fried Pickles:
1 (16-ounce) jar whole dill pickles
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons hot red pepper sauce
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons Essence, plus more for dusting
4 cups vegetable oil, for frying

Drain the pickles in a colander, then spread on paper towels to drain completely.

Combine the buttermilk and hot sauce in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, and 2 tablespoons of Essence.

Heat the oil in a medium pot to 350° F. Submerge the pickles in batches in the buttermilk, then dip into the flour mixture, tossing to evenly coat. Shake in a strainer to remove any excess batter. Add to the oil in batches, turning, until golden brown and crisp, about 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels, and season with Essence and salt, to taste. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

Serve hot.

Yield: about 6 servings

Cole Slaw:
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons buttermilk
4 teaspoons celery seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
3 cups shredded green cabbage (about 1/2 head cabbage)
3 cups shredded red cabbage (about 1/2 head cabbage)
1 green bell pepper, finely diced
1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
1/2 cup grated yellow onion
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

In a bowl, combine the mayonnaise, mustard, sugar, vinegar, buttermilk, celery seeds, salt, pepper, and cayenne, and whisk well to dissolve the sugar.

In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Toss with the dressing until evenly coated. Adjust seasoning, to taste. Place in the refrigerator, covered, to chill slightly before serving.

Yield: 8 servings

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Cake Pans

I picked up a pair of Chicago Metallic PROFESSIONAL™ 9 inch by 2 inch round non-stick cake pans to make the New German's Chocolate Cake.

The label said to lower the temperature specified in the recipe by 25° F but it didn't say why. I though that it might be an error or an omission in the "before first use" directions. But checking the manufacturer's website I found the following.

Cooking Tips
  • Place pan in upper third of oven
  • Bake at 25° F lower than a recipes recommended setting
  • Dark non-stick color absorbs more heat than lighter pans and bakes the bottoms of food more quickly
  • Ideal for crispier crusts; superior performance in roasting and broiling applications

Friday, November 16, 2007

New German Chocolate Cake

Click to see the real thing. My group at work has a big lunch before Thanksgiving. This year it will be on Tuesday. Here is the email about the event. SQA, Software and Product Support


Thank you all for responding and from the list below I know we'll be having quite a feast. So,

  1. Try to shop early and beat the crowd this weekend
  2. For some of you who are trying out "new" recipe, please taste test your dish and be prepared to execute Plan B
  3. For Brendan who is trying to catch Some Bird out there, please don't get those from the Bay that is soaked in oil
  4. Steve you can bring either Dessert or Drinks or maybe Some Thing
We'll see everyone next Tuesday!!

Side Dish - John (Steamed Veggies), Wendy, Stephen (Stuffing), Paul (Deviled Eggs), Prayrana (Something cool)

Entree - Trevor (Pulled Pork), Brendan (Some Bird), Wayne (Tri Tip), Bart, Mary Ann (Pasta), Andrew (Italian sausage tomato cream pasta)

Salad - Joe

Dessert - Jaya (The"New" German Chocolate Cake), Marie

Drinks - Chris (Coke), Paul (Egg Nog)

Soup - Jason (Potato Leek Soup)


I wanted to try the ATK recipe for German's Chocolate Cake for a few reasons.

  • I have never liked German's Chocolate cakes
  • I don't like things with shredded coconut in it
  • It doesn't taste like chocolate
  • I enjoyed watching the episode, Session 6, on the recipe remodel
  • The changes ATK made to the traditional recipe sound like they are addressing my concerns so maybe I would like their version.
Recipe from American's Test Kitchen.

Jaya's Modifications to the ATK recipe above.

Since I used my new cake pans I lowered the oven temperature 25 ° F as recommended by the manufacturer. The cook time turned out to be 35 minutes, 5 minutes more the ATK said. Most likely it is the altitude of Auburn that lengthened the baking time.

Icing the cake—didn't mix the pecans into the frosting until half the cake was assembled. What I did was spread a quarter of the frosting on the bottom layer and then sprinkled a quarter of the nut on top. Did the same for layer two. Then I mixed the remaining half of the pecans with the remaining icing and completed the cake. So that the top of the cake would look yummy I shorted layer three of icing and put it all on top. Yummm, feed concluded.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Pine Bark Restart


A week or so ago I laid out the cut pieces in the final pattern. Sunday I started sewing them together. It became immediately apparent that I was not going to be able to get this thing together in any way shape or form that I will be happy with. The pieces just don't sew together perfectly.

Sharon calmed me down. She suggested that she do the sewing and I feed her the pieces and do the ironing. That worked out nicely.

However, the blocks are not straight. We decided to just sew them all together and then trim the sides to make them "square". I'm going to keep going to learn from the mistakes. Besides, I need something to quilt at the freehand quilting machine class I'm taking at the end of the month.

I just phoned Cabin Fever to ask about help with this project. I talked to Kathy Sanchez who happens to be one of two employees who have experience with the Japanese Puzzle. Kathy offered to help me out if I would drop by the store this Saturday.

She is also teaching a three day class the first weekend in February 2008.

All-Purpose Gravy

After running around for two days and preparing a big holiday meal I don't seem to have the energy or time to make gravy. I just want to get off my feet and feed. ATK to the rescue with a gravy recipe that you can make ahead of time. No turkey giblets required.

All-Purpose Gravy

This gravy can be served with almost any type of meat or poultry or with mashed potatoes. If you would like to double the recipe, use a Dutch oven to give the vegetables ample space for browning and increase the cooking times by roughly 50 percent.

The finished gravy can be frozen. To thaw either a single or double recipe, place the gravy and 1 tablespoon of water in a saucepan over low heat and bring slowly to a simmer. The gravy may appear broken or curdled as it thaws, but a vigorous whisking will recombine it.

Makes 2 cups

1 small carrot , peeled and chopped into rough 1/2-inch pieces (about 1/2 cup)
1 small rib celery , chopped into rough 1/2-inch pieces (about 1/2 cup)
1 small onion , chopped into rough 1/2-inch pieces (about 3/4 cup)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups low-sodium beef broth
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
5 whole black peppercorns
Table salt and ground black pepper
  1. In food processor, pulse carrot until broken into rough 1/4-inch pieces, about five 1-second pulses. Add celery and onion; pulse until all vegetables are broken into 1/8-inch pieces, about five 1-second pulses.

  2. Heat butter in large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat; when foaming subsides, add vegetables and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and well browned, about 7 minutes. Reduce heat to medium; stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, until thoroughly browned and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Whisking constantly, gradually add broths; bring to boil, skimming off any foam that forms on surface. Reduce heat to medium-low and add bay leaf, thyme, and peppercorns; simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced to 3 cups, 20 to 25 minutes.

  3. Strain gravy through fine-mesh strainer into clean saucepan, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard solids. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Serve hot.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Tooth Care

As part of my personal development a few months ago I improved my dental hygiene routine. Now instead of flossing a couple of times before my dental appointment I am flossing a few times a week.

Years ago I started using a Sonicare electric toothbrush. It is great, it cleans much better than the manual method and improves gum health as well. Not sure why I having been using it but it was last regularly used back in the twentieth century.

On the chance that my reluctance to put this high speed electrical device into my wet mouth might have something to do with that little voice in the back of my head, You should get a new tooth brush every three to four months, I am ordering my first set of replacement brushes.

The only criticism I have for this product is that it is programmed to run for four 30 second intervals, the idea being that each quadrant gets the same treatment. I like this feature very much but you know sometimes you just need to spend a little more time on a particularly gnarly bit of gristle and before you know it it is time to move on. The current model, the Philips Sonicare Elite e9500 Custom Care Power Toothbrush, actually takes this into account by giving the user an optional fifth 30 second set. This is the one to get for the ones you love.