Wednesday, April 27, 2011

little April showers?

Loved this scene but kinda over the rainy weather and huge storms!  How are they where you live? We've had a ton of rain here.  Just praying we don't have a flood like last year!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

New Hobby!

Ok--really this is just a new focus in my old hobby, but I am currently obsessed w/making stuffed animals!

I made my first--some little bears back in May 2010--and then made oh-so-many variations on that pattern, that I decided to start to branch out and make some other cutesy little things :).  I found an awesome animal pattern database and have gone crazy!

Here are some favorites:

monkeys for the twins

a bunny for a friend's new baby

cherries for my bestest's little one's toy kitchen:

A hippo just because he's friendly:

and because they are also friendly...

a cute little bluebird, another hippo, and a mouse on which i messed up the head: 

And, most special of all...

This little ducky friend

who oh-so-magically reverses...

and becomes a twirly-eared bunny!

I've also made a can of spam with slices and a wedge of cheese but forgot to take pictures of both of them :(. 

These have been such fun projects to do--I used to always make baby blankets but I've noticed that most of my friends w/kids end up with tons of blankets, plus these toys knit up a lot faster, are very original and safe, and they help me use up my massive stockpile of yarn!

If you are a knitter or a crocheter you should definitely look for free pattern databases online--there are so many creative and easy things that you can make!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Can you find the Bulldog in this picture?

 There she is!

Butch has recently taken to making herself little pillow forts in the corner of the couch.  You can locate her quickly by the deep rumblings of her bulldog snores...

she looks about as tired here as i feel today!

Sorry for my lack of any non-TWD blogging as of late.  I know it's really  bad when hubs actually comments on it! 

The truth is that I've spent a lot of the past few months in a semi-melancholy state.  I've been very introspective about stage of life things and loneliness from a lack of friends who are in a similar place.    And the insomnia that I've been dealing with for the last month doesn't help!  Please just pray for my heart to be content where the Lord has me--specifically when it comes to my friendships & relying on Him for the future.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

TWD: A Tourtley Apple Tart

For this week's TWD assignment, Jeannette of The Whimsical Cupcake chose the Tourtely Apple Tart from pages 306-307 of Baking from my Home to Yours.

I was really excited to make this one--it was one that I had actually considered for my choice last week.

This was a bit more involved than I had originally thought when I glanced at it, what with the multiple chilling times, but it was worth it!

I made this between appointments and served it at Bible study tonight and the girls really liked it!  I always enjoy the desserts that aren't too sweet.

Thanks so much to Jeannette for the pick, be sure to check out her blog for the recipe and the TWD LYL post to see who baked along this week!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

TWD: Strawberry-Rhubarb Double Crisp--my pick!

I have been baking with the Tuesdays with Dorie group since shortly after I began blogging in 2009--my first post was on the delicious classic banana bundt cake, and I was immediately hooked!  I have absolutely loved baking along with such an amazing group of people from all over the world and through this group I have greatly improved my own baking confidence and skills.  Thanks so much to Dorie & all my fellow TWD bakers!  I can't believe it's finally time for me to choose the recipe!

When I looked through the recipes to make my choice I immediately was drawn to this strawberry-rhubarb double crisp.  I knew nothing at all about rhubarb until March of 2009 when it was the birthday of one of the doctors at my former office.  I always made birthday desserts for my coworkers but when I found out that his favorite dessert was rhubarb pie I was clueless.  I didn't know how to pick it out at the store, had no idea how it would taste...but I forged ahead anyway!  I made the pies, he loved them, and I have made him rhubarb pies for his birthday since! (the office even ordered some this year from me even though I'm not working there anymore. )  I grew to love them so much that I make them fairly regularly for my family, especially around Easter.

So, I was excited to pick a recipe using this under-appreciated ingredient that is in season this time of year.  Or so I thought...  Apparently rhubarb season differs across the country and has a very small window of time.  Though I bought fresh rhubarb to make the doctor's pies just a few weeks ago on March 24th, now fresh rhubarb is nowhere to be found in my town!  Then I saw on the TWD P&Q page that it is not yet even available in most areas.  Thankfully I found some frozen rhubarb at Kroger so I could make this (how awful would it be to finally choose your recipe and be unable to make it?!?) but I'm sorry to any of you who haven't been able to find the required ingredients!

(I wish I had gotten some lovely natural light pictures but it has been gloomy & rainy all day & of course I procrastinate and don't make it until the last minute ;) )
 frozen thawed rhubarb--it works pretty well & is less messy than fresh!

 making the smushed strawberry filling


I made my crisp(s) as written and baked them in a 11x7 pan & a tiny oval casserole.  I served them to my Bible study girls who very bravely tried this new ingredient, but honestly none of us ate much because we were so stuffed from dinner!  Most of them did like it and I was proud of them for trying :).  I had planned to bake the crisps for my mom over the weekend and will send the rest to her tomorrow because she loves rhubarb (when I told her my choice she said "who is going to eat it?" and I knew that was a hint).

And now, I can't believe it but I finally get to include the recipe!!

Strawberry-Rhubarb Double Crisp
p. 420-421

For the Crisp mix:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of salt
tiny pinch of ground cinnamon
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/4 cup very finely chopped crystallized ginger (*soften in a strainer over simmering water if too hard)
1 stick (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For the Filling:
1 pound (4-5 medium stalks) rhubarb, trimmed and peeled
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup cold water
3 cups (about 12 ounces) strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Getting Ready:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Put a nonreactive 9-inch square baking pan (Dorie likes Pyrex or porcelain)  on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.

To make the crisp mix:
Put the flour, brown sugar, oats, ground ginger, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl and sift the ingredients through your fingers to blend them--be on the loookout for lumps in the brown sugar.  Mix in the nuts and crystallized ginger, then pour over the melted butter.  Using a fork, stir the ingredients until they are thoroughly moistened.
   Spoon half the mixture into the pan and pat it down lightly to form a thick crust; set aside the remainder for the topping.

To Make the Filling:
Slice the rhubarb into 1/2 inch wide pieces and scatter them over the pressed-in base.  Dissolve the cornstarch in the cold water; set aside.
Put the strawberries, sugar and ginger in a medium saucepan and, with a fork, pastry blender, or potato masher, crush the berries (I had trouble with this and gave it a few whirrs with my immersion blender).  Place the pan over medium heat and, stirring occasionally, bring th emixture to a full boil.  Pour the dissolved cornstach into the pan and, striffing with a whisk, bring everything back to a boil.  Keep cooking and stirring until the strawberry filling is thick and no longer cloudy, about 3 minutes.  Pull the pan from the heat, stir in the vanilla and pour the filling over the rhubarb.  Scatter the remaining crisp mix over the filling, breaking it up with your fingers so you can scatter it evenly.

Slide the crisp into the oven and bake for 60 minutes, or until the topping is golden and the strawberry jam is bubbling up all around the edges (in my smaller pan this was 45 minutes).  Transfer the pan to a rack and cool until only just warm or at room temperature.

Thanks to everyone who baked along with me this week!  I hope that you didn't have too much trouble finding the rhubarb if you used it!