Two years ago we attended Kneading West and really enjoyed the whole experience. We had always planned to attend again and last week we were able to do just that. The name of the event was changed to The Grain Gathering but the chance to interact with and learn from farmers, millers, brewers, bakers and grain scientists was the same.
We met at the WSU Mount Vernon extension and research campus. Many of the classes are held outdoors under tents on a lovely lawn between the orchard and the grain fields. Really, there are so many classes offered that it can be hard at times to choose. It isn’t uncommon to see people bouncing between multiple classes during a session trying to soak in as much as possible. Luckily I bring my husband along and we are able to share with each other what we learned.
New this year was the chance to participate in some production baking. Rather than have the bakers make all the delicious breads and desserts in their shops they taught it as classes and everyone got to enjoy sampling what was learned. I spent a morning helping to mix, portion and bake cookies for some of our meals. Here are some stacked trays waiting their turn in the ovens.
And I confess that I am more than a little addicted to these coconut macaroons. They are so crispy and chewy and not too sweet. It was happy times when these showed up at the dessert table after meals.
We also get to geek out on the science of baking. This was from the natural leavening class. We heard from both Andrew Ross a cereal scientist and Debra Wink a microbiologist. They were followed by one of the bread lab bakers sharing some of his insights working with starters and sharing bread made from starters at differing hydrations and made from either white or whole wheat flours.
Pizza with amazing combinations like peaches and bacon or apples and sausage for dinner. And bread, always loaves of bread from different classes. All this in addition to what gets passed around in class or on trays afterwards among the crowds. Followed by an hour of sampling locally made products like crackers and cheeses just before dinner in case we hadn’t had quite enough to eat.
I was able to attend classes on braiding breads, breads and toppings for toast, a grain tasting, lecture and workshops on milling grains and the make up of oats. It was enough to keep my head spinning with information.
I even got to learn about cooking in a tandoor oven and try making a naan. It was really cool how the bread stuck to the side of the oven and then with two long metal skewers we’d peel them off the side once they were cooked.
Out in the field they fired up a thresher and showed us how that worked.
Now to read through my notes and all the recipes collected and decide what to bake next.
- – marcella
Until I downloaded the pictures from my phone I didn’t realize how much I had been cooking lately. Sure, it’s felt like all I’ve been doing is cleaning up the kitchen, but we’ve actually had some good treats that went with all the scrubbing.
For the warm weather some ice cream was necessary. There was a big bunch of mint in the fridge so I tried out the mint ice cream from Jenis Spendid Ice Cream and added in the chips from another recipe in the book and ended up with something pretty darn tasty.
Nearly every week we’ve been buying a big bag of peaches at the farmer’s market. They’ve just been eaten fresh but it seemed like a little baking was in order so I tried this recipe from the latest Bon Appetité magazine.
I did peel the peaches though and tossed in a few fresh raspberries we had in the fridge. The almond paste really adds something special to this cobbler.
Then I got a little panicky about the end of peach season being so close so I bought a really big bag of peaches and dehydrated them all for later snacking.
Then last lazy weekend I saw a magazine article on doughnuts and it sounded good to both of us. I cannot remember the last time we ate doughnuts let alone made them at home. I pulled out this old recipe I’d been meaning to try forever and as luck would have it we had all the ingredients on hand.
These are a cake doughnut. Some of them got dipped in sugar, some in cinnamon sugar and a few were glazed. I had scribbled down the recipe from a cookbook I’d borrowed from the library long ago but I found a close version online here. My notes had much less flour so the dough was quite sticky and also called for less butter. The nice thing about cake doughnuts is you don’t have to wait for them to rise.
This week jam making for the wedding began. I started with a single batch just to see if I could get the commercial one piece lids to work since I’ve never used them before. With that success I planned a jam making afternoon and made an additional 35 jars.
Instead of having a second jam day this week I took a break for apples. Gravensteins are just coming into season and our local CSA was offering them in 10 pound bags so I bought two. I spent the morning peeling and slicing and filling the dehydrator for more winter fruit snacks.
I put the sliced fruit in a big bowl of pineapple juice which keeps the fruit from browning without affecting the flavor as much as lemon juice and water does. The slices get laid out onto trays and I give them a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar before loading them into the dehydrator. Right now my garage smells like apple pie!
And now I realize why it feels like I’ve been mopping the sticky kitchen floor an awful lot. It’s because I have!
- – marcella
I’ve been working on this quilt for a long while and it’s nice to have a finish!
A friend had sent me a stack of 8 fat quarters thinking they would make something nice for my new great nephew. I immediately thought of the Pow Wow pattern that I had purchased but hadn’t yet used. It seemed like a good pattern for a boy.
The top went together really well. I do, however, have a zillion and three leftover half square triangles. The pattern gives suggestions on how to use them, but I think they will be put aside for a way in the future project.
The quilting was simple. I did rows of straight lines in one row of blocks and alternated with a stipple in the other rows. It was fairly quick and looks nice I think. I backed it with a herringbone flannel which has a similar shape to the pieced blocks.
Not being a fan of labels – I know, heresy – I did do a little embroidery on the binding.
When I took over the quilt I did get a big smile from my nephew. I’d like to claim it was because he liked his new quilt, however he’s just really a happy little guy and always has a ready smile.
A bit of a crooked picture, but that’s what I get for giving away the quilt before I check my photos. Oh well, at least you can see all the colors.
So nice to have a finish!
- – marcella
I’ve managed to make it into my sewing room a bit lately. While I had intentions to actually finish the quilt I’ve been working on, that hasn’t actually happened.
I spotted on the Moda Bakeshop blog a row quilt, and the patterns are so cute I couldn’t resist. Instead of finishing something, I started something new. Out came the scrap box and I started cutting away.
I’ve managed to finish row 1
And row 3
Row 2 is cut out and ready to appliqué. Because I want to do this row by hand it will take a while.
Naturally, I have to change something. I can’t seem to do a project without some sort of adjustment. I turned row 2 into 8 blocks with four pieces to appliqué rather than 32 little blocks sewn into 8 blocks. Easier to cut 8 1/2″ squares and place the four pieces then do it in smaller sections I think.
Oh, and I think I’ll do something different for row 4. Sorry, but those look nothing like strawberries. I’m thinking of swapping out this pattern instead, but I’ll have to play with the math a little.
It’s been a fun diversion in my spare minutes. Not too many spare minutes this week as I get ready for scout camp.
Sewing today was scout neckerchiefs…no quilting time for me.
What are you working on?
- – marcella
While I haven’t been doing as much on my “to do” list as I would like, I have been keeping busy with all sorts of random things around here.
Not too much gardening going on this year. The lone strawberry plant in a pot that hadn’t been dug up and eaten by squirrels had lots of baby plants and I’ve had two bowls like this of strawberries to enjoy. Yes, I hogged them all for myself and didn’t share.
Then I actually won something! I read a lot of blogs and every week there are all sorts of contests and giveaways of cookbooks or kitchen gadgets or fabric or quilt patterns or something. I comment and mostly forget about it. On occasion though, I’ll open my e-mail and see that I actually won something. It’s very, very exciting when that happens. Not long ago Sherri from A Quilting Life shared her adventures at spring quilt market and gave away some quilting goodies she had picked up there. I was lucky winner 2 and won some low volume fat quarters to play with.
My husband loves to collect e-book cookbooks. He finds all sorts of interesting ones and they appear on my kindle. Recently he got me a copy of Nathalie Dupree’s “Southern Biscuits” and we decided we had to try a new recipe. We decided to make “Big Nasty Biscuits” because they sounded rich and delicious and unlike the ones we usually make were nestled close in a pan to bake up softer. Even the leftovers were yummy and usually day old biscuits are nothing to get excited about.
It’s county fair week here. A friend and I again sponsored a special quilting award and it’s always fun to get to go see the quilts early and choose the winner. This year the award was for Best Two Color Quilt. There were nearly 30 quilts to choose from and we had a tough time picking a winner after narrowing it down to our top three. We finally decided on this pretty red and white star quilt.
This year I only entered two kinds of jam into the fair. I had made the Blueberry Lime jam from Saving the Season and the Lemon Vanilla Marmalade from Epicurious. Both won 2nd place which was pretty exciting.
While at my sisters house I saw that she had a big pan of plums on her counter. Since she’s still hobbling around on crutches I decided to steal her plums (because she couldn’t catch me) no really it was to be nice and turn them in to jam for her so she wouldn’t try to do it herself.
Super easy and basic recipe. The plums she had were Santa Rosa plums which have a lovely color and make the prettiest jam, I think. Just wash them and chop them up (no peeling required) and measure out 5 1/2 cups of plums. Cook them in a heavy pan with about 3 cups of sugar (these were tart and I ended up using 3 1/2 cups of sugar) and cook about 20 minutes until it all jells. I like to check by temperature and cook the jam to 220 degrees. Two batches and nine bottles of jam later I was done. Too bad the biscuits were all gone. Guess I should make some more.
And yes, I did take her jars of the finished jam to enjoy. I can be a nice sister, sometimes.
I ended the week by going ollalieberry picking. It was not a banner year for berries – they were pretty sparse on the bushes and much smaller than usual. I did manage to fill one box with just over ten pounds of berries that are now in the freezer until the next time I’m in a jam making mood.
- – marcella
When I was a kid I loved to watch Mr. Rogers especially when you got to watch a film of a factory tour. I still remember watching crayons being made and thinking it was the coolest thing. Even now, put a factory tour in front of me and I am ready to go.
Today I got to tour a local bakery with my baking group. We headed over to Alameda to visit this place:
In the lobby was a collection of awards and articles, their original mixer, oven, and bread slicer along with these pretty loaves:
After a brief introduction we all donned very fashionable hair nets and got to go tour the production floor. While they didn’t allow any pictures, they do have this very nice video where you can see some of their delicious baked goods being made.
Honestly, watching those bakers braid that challah was amazing. Their hands were just a blur they moved so quickly.
At the end of the tour we each got a goodie bag. I was very excited to see two of my very favorite things they make in my bag – the seeded baguette and the croutons.
There is also a loaf of challah, a croissant and some biscotti to enjoy. Whomever packed the bags was very clever as they even thought to include napkins in case we couldn’t wait to get home to eat. Tucked in the bottom were two Semifreddi’s tattoos – not sure when I might use those. Maybe if I put one on my bread shaping skills will improve.
- – marcella
All kinds of fun things have been happening around here.
I just got back from a cruise through the Panama Canal. My friend Anita was hired by a quilting tour to teach some classes on board. She was generous enough to invite me along as her room mate, or maybe I should say entourage
We had a great time touring all over and had fun on the ship. We even got these fancy little certificates to show our Panama Canal swimming skills.
Ok, we didn’t really swim _in_ the canal. They had an activity where you could swim across the pool – pushing an inflatable cruise ship no less – while the ship was actually crossing the canal. They even tossed in a bucket of canal water for authenticity. No one got sick so I’m guessing the chemicals in the pool were enough to kill all the creepy stuff in that scary looking bucket of water.
The other unique thing I got to do was attend a Passover Seder dinner. I’d never attended one before. There were about 16 of us and we all got copies of the Haggadah and took turns reading sections. I was able to read my part but had to skip the singing as I didn’t know the tunes and there were no notes in the book to follow. For fun, there was a little song at the end (not part of the service) that I could sing along with since it went to the tune of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame!”
Take me out to the Seder, Take me out with the crowd.
Feed me on matzoh and chicken legs, I don’t care for the hard-boiled eggs.
And it’s root, root, root for Elijah
That he will soon reappear.
And let’s hope, hope, hope that we’ll meet
Once again next year!
The cruise ship provided a nice section of a restaurant to meet in and prepared a really lovely dinner for us as well.
The rest of the time I had a lot of fun running around and participating in tons of activities like the book group (we read The Kitchen House which I quite enjoyed), working on jig saw puzzles, an Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt (alas, my team got second place), trivia games (Anita and I won the Sweet Treat edition) and even some cooking classes.
The cooking class room was pretty fancy. They had overhead cameras and monitors mounted on the walls so we could see what was happening in the pots and pans up on stage. At each demonstration we got copies of the recipes and got to taste a sample of what they were making.
Home last week and quickly back to the reality of laundry and life. Why is it that vacation seems to somehow generate twice as much laundry as staying home?
But all is not work. I was able to attend a rehearsal of the San Francisco Ballet program 8 which was so fun. On Saturday we took a wander through the farmer’s market and spring has really sprung here! We came home with a bit more produce than expected as there were white peaches and cherries and lovely vegetables that we haven’t seen in months.
While I didn’t sew a stitch on the cruise, I have done a bit of work on my spring embroidery project. Here’s one of the patterns:
Hope your spring has started out well too!
- – marcella
Well, this last month hasn’t been what I thought.
I thought I would head off to Las Vegas and visit my family and attend a quilting retreat in Bryce Canyon. Instead of going to the airport I headed off to the hospital and had my appendix removed.
I thought I’d make some progress on some quilts – I had two quilts cut out for the workshops I’d signed up for, and I’d been making good progress on a quilt for my new grand-nephew. Instead I spent a whole lot of time lying about and reading. I did get to watch much more of the Olympics than I’d ever imagined however.
But now I’m feeling much better and spent some time this past weekend in my sewing room.
The spring embroidery club just began. I decided I should really turn each season into a small table runner and so I began plotting designs for my fall and winter hexagons and this upcoming spring project.
In my fabric drawer I found two packets of 2 1/2″ charm squares of Posy that I was given at QuiltCon last year. I started cutting them up for my spring design.
I lucked out being able to center that little rabbit in the diamond. With just a small square of fabric to work with there’s not much room to get picky with pattern placement. The paper diamonds are 1″ on a side. They look like little wrapped candies to me. Now to cut out and baste the rest of them.
I also took some time to sew up a little zippered bag.
I’ve been wanting to make one of these Open Wide zippered pouches for a really long time. I love that typewriter key fabric and was so happy to find some type fabric for the lining to go with it. The bag really went together easily and quickly (even for me!) so if you’re looking for a bag this is a good one to try.
I did add a grommet to one side so I could use the bag for knitting. This way, hopefully, the ball of yarn won’t go racing across the room as I knit. I made the bag in the medium size on the pattern and it seems perfect for a ball of yarn or other sewing things to fit.
Hopefully we will be going back to life as planned around here!
Although you never know. Next weekend I’m headed off to Las Vegas for that delayed visit. I told my husband that his appendix had better behave.
- – marcella
“something that makes you uneasy or unsettles you”
Before Christmas my husband’s office had a little party and gift exchange. They played that game where a person picks from a pile of wrapped gifts and opens it and then the others have the option to steal that gift away. The gift my husband received was one of those sandwich makers just like you see advertised on late night TV, should you watch such a thing.
Because he likes breakfast sandwiches and because it is always amusing to try out silly gadgets he decided to give it a try. After a trip to the grocery store for english muffins and cheese he set to work and turned out this:
The gadget more or less worked. The sandwich was eaten, the gadget packed up and it is now collecting dust in the garage.
However, still sitting on the counter are these:
Apparently as fresh as the day they were bought. Yep, here it is, well into February, at least two months after the sell by date on the tag and these things are sitting on the counter looking just as they did when bought.
They aren’t hard or stale. They don’t have any mold spots that I can find. I shudder to think what odd ingredients are in there keeping them life like for so long. It seems there has to be something wrong about bread that doesn’t get moldy.
Like I said, disconcerting.
- – marcella
Baked up a batch of these yummy cupcakes yesterday using this recipe. Delivered a few to the neighbors and had some for dessert. Wish I could share with you all!
Hope you have a sweet day!
- – marcella