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Author Archives: quilt32

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I adapted this recipe from one on epicurious.com several years ago and it has become a family favorite.  The shortbread would be great just by itself, but teamed with a layer of apricot and walnut filling plus a light dusting of confectioners’ sugar, it is simply delicious.  It’s easy to make with no mixer required.

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Shortbread and Apricot Bars

  • Servings: 8 to 12 bars
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Shortbread
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
½ cup chilled butter cut into small cubes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a 9×9 inch baking pan, place the flour, sugar and salt, stirring with a fork to mix.  Add the butter and with your finger press the butter into the dry ingredients and then spread the dough in the pan, pressing down to flatten and smooth it out.  Bake for approximately 25 minutes until top is light brown.  Remove from oven and set on rack.

Make Filling
2/3 cup dried apricot halves (about 4 oz.) coarsely chopped  – place in small pan, cover with water and boil until soft – about 4 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

2 large eggs
1 cup light brown sugar
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp vanilla
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup chopped walnuts

In a medium sized bowl, whisk the eggs, whisk in the brown sugar, baking powder, salt and vanilla.  Stir in the flour, walnuts and apricots.  Pour this mixture on top of the baked shortbread.

Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for approximately 35 minutes until top is puffy and dark brown.  Cool on a rack for 10 minutes.  Cut into portions and lift onto a rack that has been placed on top of a baking sheet.  Allow to cool thoroughly.  Note:  I cut mine into 8 portions which turned out to be large servings of a rich dessert.  Cutting the shortbread into 12 squares might be better.

Topping
¼ to ½ cup confectioners’ sugar

After cookies are cool, spoon confectioners’ sugar into a fine strainer and lightly sift over the bars.
Makes 8 large bars or 12 squares 

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fleur-3
I enjoy making baby and toddler clothes for the Lakota/Sioux Children of Pine Ridge in South Dakota.  A group called the  Sacred Shawl Society collects items through Ravelry.com for young mothers and their children who come to a shelter to escape abuse at home.  They can use all kinds of warm knitted items for both mothers and babies.

http://www.ravelry.com/groups/for-the-children-of-pine-ridge

Marianne Mel on Ravelry.com has so many free patterns for baby sets that are relatively easy for an advanced beginner and turn out beautifully even with limited experience.  This little set is in a newborn size using size #6 needles and DK (baby yarn/sports weight) in variegated pastels.  I had a chance to use three vintage buttons (always happy when I can find 3 to match in my huge tin of old buttons).
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The cap is a basic design sized for a newborn.

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My youngest daughter’s 35-year-old rag doll is just the right size to model the sweater, although her head is way too big for the hat.

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Here is the link to the free pattern:  http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/fleur-baby-cardigan-jacket
 

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brdstk-top
I started making these breadsticks in 1992, adapted from a recipe in my favorite bread cookbook, Clayton’s Book of Breads.  Be sure to use a good sharp, full-flavored cheese.

Italian Cheese Breadsticks

  • Servings: One to two dozen, depending on size
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2 Tblsp. Fast acting yeast
2 tsp salt
2 Tblsp. granulated sugar
4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1-1/2 cups water, heated to 130 degrees F
¼ cup canola oil
1-1/2 cups good flavored cheese, grated

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, place yeast, salt, sugar and 2 cups of flour.

Heat water to 130 degrees F, add cheese and stir to melt, reheat mixture to 130 degrees F.

Pour water/cheese mixture into bowl with flour mixture, add oil.  Beat on medium speed with a paddle beater for 3 minutes.  Remove the paddle beater and insert a dough hook.  Continue to beat at medium speed, adding flour gradually for 6-½ minutes.  You may not need all of the flour.

Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Punch down dough and using ¼ cup of dough, form into a cigar-shaped roll 5 inches long.  Place on a greased baking pan 3 inches apart.  Cover and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Bake breadsticks for approximately 12 minutes until they are golden brown.  Remove to a rack to cool.

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My favorite designer is an English lady who offers pages of free patterns, mostly for babies and small children.  She also has some items for teenagers and adults along with a few patterns that are for sale.  She can be found on ravelry.com under the name Marianna Mel.  http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/search#query=marianna%20mel

This little vest is called Baby’s Ribbed Vest Top.  For a 9-months size the pattern calls for DK yarn (baby yarn/sport weight) and #6 needles.  I wanted to make a larger size and used #7 needles with #4 worsted yarn to make a size to fit a 3 to 4-year-old child.

It’s very sturdy and warm, good for the cold North Dakota climate where the Pine Ridge Lakota/Sioux children live.  Information on this charity is also on ravelry.com under the tab “groups”.

While I was knitting the sweater, I thought it should have some yellow elephant buttons, maybe because of the grey yarn.  Now, what are the chances that I could go to JoAnn’s and find reasonably-priced yellow elephant buttons?  But I did and I think they are perfect for this little vest which would be nice for either a boy or girl.

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I also made a matching hat, using Marianna Mel’s Ribster Baby Hat pattern except I used some stockinette stitching along with the ribbing.

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There were enough yellow elephants to put one on top of the hat, too.
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I enjoyed making this set.  All of Marianna’s patterns I’ve used so far have been suitable for an advanced beginner with very happy results.

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At Christmas time, I found  Hershey’s Sea Salt Caramel Chips which were new to me and put them aside while I was baking my standard Christmas favorites.  My daughter and I were going to attend an Appalachian “Ringin’ in the New Year” event and something was needed for potluck dinner.  There never seem to be enough cookies for children at these dinners, so I thought I would try out the new chips.

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There was a recipe on the package which may be very good but it was for a chocolate cookie and I wanted a vanilla cookie that would be easy to pick up, not crumbly and that would not spread out too much.  I adapted the recipe to meet these requirements and thought the cookies were delicious.  My younger daughter is not given to lavish praise and when she rated them “fabulous”, I figured I had a winner.  They went very fast at the dinner.

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Salted Caramel Chip Cookies

  • Servings: Approx. 40 cookies
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½ cup (one stick) butter or margarine, softened
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-2/3 cups (10 oz. pkg.) Sea Salt Caramel Baking Chips (Hershey)

In a large mixer bowl, cream the butter/margarine, brown sugar and granulated sugar.  Beat in the vanilla, soda, salt and egg.

Gradually add and mix in the flour and chips.

Drop by tablespoon onto parchment covered baking sheets and flatten cookies very slightly.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for approximately 9 minutes until cookie is set.  Do not overbake.

Cool slightly, remove to wire rack to cool.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies. 

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goldturban-sbMy younger daughter looks so much better in hats than I do

I follow a Facebook page called Addicted to Knitting which features knitted items that people have made, a lot of question/answer sessions and a very nice group for reading about what others are doing all over the world.  I saw one picture of a turban hat that a lady had made of deep purple yarn with a large purple gemstone in the center and was inspired to look up the free pattern by Bernat on Yarnspirations.comhttp://www.yarnspirations.com/patterns/turban-twist-hat.html

I didn’t have any purple yarn on hand but did have some Lion Brand Heartland yarn in the Yellowstone color which was nice and soft and worked well in this project, using #8 needles

It’s basically a long narrow scarf in an easy Seeded Rib pattern …

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…which is folded and sewn in place to form the turban.  The scarf was easy to make.

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Although the pattern comes with a diagram on how to fold and sew the turban, it was confusing to me and I’m showing how I got it together.  First mark the center of the scarf and then fold into this shape.

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Fold the two ends back to meet in the center and pin in place.

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Starting in the center and using a yarn needle with some scrap yarn of a different color, loosely baste each end in place, leaving 4 inch tails to make it easier to remove the waste yarn.

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Using another piece of waste yarn, stitch the center section where the two ends meet.  Baste as far as where the two pieces cross.

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At this point, put the hat on yourself or some volunteer and pin to close any gaps on top of the hat, basting them in place with waste yarn.

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Baste and try on the hat as many times as necessary to be sure it is the way you want it.  Then, using matching yarn, stitch the turban together, pulling out the waste yarn as you go.

I sewed a big vintage button on the front of my turban.

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1/9/17

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For the past year that I’ve been knitting, I’ve taken advantage of all of the wonderful free patterns available online.  This is one of the few patterns I’ve purchased, simply because I thought it was so cute and looked like something I might be able to do.  The pattern for this pretty piece was purchased from an English designer, Maybe Baby, in September, 2016, through PayPal at the exchange rate in effect at the time for $2.72.  It was an easy instant download and the pattern is very well written.  http://www.maybebabydesigns.co.uk/charityvestpattern.htm

I used Bernat Softee yarn with #7 needles and thought the jacket would fit a baby around 3 months old.

I enjoy knitting baby items the most but feel that the charity where my work goes has more need in the toddler and pre-school sizes.  My first project for 2017 was a remake of the jacket using Red Heart #4 worsted in the color, Corn Meal.  I went to the garter stitch after 7 rows of pattern on each side just to change the appearance a little bit.  I think this top would fit a chubby one-year-old.

Since I don’t crochet well, I omitted the crocheted edging in each case.

I used circular needles – Magic Loop (circular needles with long cables) – and am giving a brief outline of how I did the piece using these needles to do the portion  where the left front begins and across the neck.  I’m not sure this is the way the designer did it, but it worked for me.

After completing the right front, leave the stitches on the cable of the Magic Loop, cut the yarn (leave a 6-inch tail), and just slide the piece down the cable, letting it “hang out” while you complete the left front.

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After the left front is completed, do not break yarn and follow directions in pattern to start the back, casting on 12 stitches across to form the center of the neck and knitting across the stitches from the right front that are hanging from the cable.

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These are the only two places in the pattern that I found a little confusing.

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I think it’s a very cute jacket that could be used with various designs and stitch patterns.

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