Tuesday, 6 August 2013

More justification of the pinterest addiction - Food!

Its been a while now since my last post like this but I am still making a conscious effort to not just browse for hours but actually use stuff I find so here's's a few more pinterest reviews. This time the focus is squarely on food.

Raw walnut brownies

Raw walnut brownies by The Wannabe Chef
This one ticks all the right boxes - dairy, egg and refined sugar free, lots of good oils from the nuts. Such a simple idea, super healthy and surprisingly really yummy.

I just processed all the ingredients together (minus the water - it wasn't necessary), rolled the mix into bite-sized balls and popped them in the fridge. I was a bit skeptical because the mix looks really crumbly but I found that as long as they are rolled/shaped firmly there is no problem with the balls holding together, especially after they've been in the fridge for a little while.

Next time I make these I might substitute half the walnuts for almonds or maybe add a smidge of vanilla just to slightly lessen that distinct bitter walnut smell that we got hit with each time we opened the sealed container I had stored them in - the walnut taste was really not that strong but the aroma could be a little bit off-putting if you are not a big walnut fan.

These are a great healthy alternative to chocolate, cake or biscuits when you have that late-afternoon or after dinner sugar craving. Because there is absolutely nothing unhealthy in these it was great not having to be constantly saying no whenever the monster asked for "just another chocolate".

Healthy Gummy Bears

These are the absolute best things ever!! I could eat these all day long.

I've made these a few times now and have tried banana, vanilla-raspberry and mixed berry flavored varieties. Sadly I don't have a mini bear shape cutter so I've had to make do with little cubes cut with a knife but I don't think that affects the taste too much :)

Its so simple
  • 1 Cup  Fruit Juice 
  • 2 Cups Fresh or frozen fruit 
  • 5 Tbsp Unflavored gelatin 
  • 1  Tbsp honey. 
Simmer the fruit and juice together in a pot until soft, let it cool a bit, add honey, puree until smooth. Add gelatin, blend/puree some more and pour into a tray.

Refrigerate until firmly set (I usually just leave overnight), cut into pieces with a sharp knife and transfer pieces to an airtight container. Store in the fridge.

Only a couple of little, but important notes with this one:
  • If you use fruit with lots of little seeds eg strawberries or raspberries remember to strain the cooked fruit before adding the gelatin or your gummy things will be a bit crunchy. 
  • Don't expect these to taste or feel like your traditional artificial store bought gummy bears - they can definitely get "gummy" but its not the same as a gummy bear, and the flavour is that of real fruit, not lollies. They can be as sweet as you make them, but I prefer them a bit tangy so I don't usually add a whole heap of honey to sweeten.

Herb & Citrus Chicken -  Pinned Version

Herb and Citrus Oven Roasted Chicken

I made this with skinless chicken lovely legs; other than that it was made exactly as per the recipe.

I thought it was really yummy - juicy, citrus and fresh tasting but the rest of the family didn't enjoy it as much so unfortunately this one won't become a family dinner regular.

Definitely one that is worth a try if your family isn't as fussy as mine.

Slowcooker Apple & cinnamon porridge (oatmeal)

Apple and cinnamon porridge
You remember my aversion to eating in the morning right?  I thought I'd try this recipe in my efforts to make breakfast time less stressful. The idea and the ingredients sound great but sadly this one just didn't cut it.

I set it all in the slowcooker before going to bed and woke in the morning to a heavenly cinnamon smell wafting through the house.

Perhaps I used the wrong variety of apples (I used granny smiths), or maybe the extended cooking time is just not suited to apples because despite the lovely smell this just ended up completely bland and goopy and was a nightmare to clean out of the slowcooker bowl. Great idea, not so great in practice.

Well that's it from me for now. But if you're looking for more food inspiration make sure you head over and check out my favourite new food blog "Baking with Gab" created by my gorgeous cousin Gabby. She makes me hungry just reading her posts and her photography of her delicious delights (and Norman the dog)  is infinitely better than any of the poor quality phone pics that I tend to post here.

Have fun


Monday, 5 August 2013

Show quilt results

After yesterdays' mega-post I decided a shorter, separate post is in order for the results....

It got shown!

I'm probably silly to get excited about that because it is likely that everything submitted gets shown but nonetheless I was excited to see it hanging up on display.

Marble Man hanging under plastic at the show
(Blogger is not letting me post the rotated image grr!
Tilt your head to the right to see quilt as it was hanging)

No prizes (I wasn't expecting any) but when I picked the quilt up attached to it were the judges comments. Having never done this craft/quilt show thing before I didn't realise that I'd get this sort of feedback.

Contrary to my expectations there are some really encouraging comments from the judges. Pretty good for only my second ever quilt I think.

Judges comments - Marble Man 2013
Basically I think it means the judges really liked the design concept but I need to improve on my technique. Some of the things the judges criticised or offered feedback on are things that I was already aware of like the tension balance (probably made more noticeable because I used different coloured top and bottom threads for the quilting) and others are things that I didn't know were required for a show entry (lap quilts must be hand-bound with invisible slip hem stitching??). In most cases the comments give suggestions on things that I can definitely work on for future quilts.

Overall I'm exceptionally happy with how things turned out, so much so that I'm already throwing around ideas for my next one.


Sunday, 4 August 2013

Show quilt

After the weeks of procrastinating pondering and the thousands of ideas and possibilities I  ended up with just a single entry for the local show - the lap quilt. It was only just finished in time but it got done and was submitted by the deadline.

So what did I enter? Do you remember the original concepts from this post? I ended up going for one of the simplest designs, the one I was calling "Marble Run" at the time.
"Marble Run"
My concept design for the quilt
(Drawn using Inkscape)
The design was heavily influenced by a similar quilt by Cynthia of Ahhh...Quilting that I had seen during a Pinterest session.
Inspiration - "Zigzag Ball Maze Quilt"
by Cynthia of Ahhh...Quilting
I wanted to stick with solids for the front of this quilt and use more negative space to keep the overall look simple with clear lines and bold colours. The green, grey and orange fabrics from my stash worked really well with the design.

The green bars were simple, just slash a strip of each shade and stitch them together with the grey, but the circles were another matter. Who would have thought that circles could be so tricky!

Have you ever watched someone intensely playing a computer or arcade game and laughed as they moved their whole body in an attempt to get their on-screen character or vehicle to move how they want them to, avoid an obstacle or jump just that little bit higher? I'm sure I was doing just the same in front of my sewing machine attaching the circles. I ended up sort of appliqueing the circles to the quilt top using an invisible (clear) top thread and for the most part I think they turned out OK, only one of them really puckered but I was able to unstitch it (thanks for the help Jack) and redo without too much drama.

Selected backing fabric.
Once the circles were attached the quilt front was essentially done. The next step was to decide what to do with the back. I originally had ideas of a pieced back with stars or more circles or something, but in the end I opted for a single piece. I think that a single piece gives more freedom in quilting options for the front.  I selected a dark green fabric with tiny darker green polka dots for the quilt back that I think it ties nicely with the greens on the front.

The next big decision was how to quilt it. I wanted to try my hand at free motion quilting (FMQ) so initially I was going to pebble or meander the entire grey background but after trying it on a coaster sized scrap I realised that it would take me more time than I had available and there was a huge chance that it would just end up looking messy. So in the end the majority of the quilt is done with simple straight line quilting (or as straight as I can sew anyway) - diagonal at about 1.5 inch spacing across the background, and closer lines along the length of the green bars.

Da Vinci's "Vitruvian Man"
Although the colour and layout of the quilt was pretty striking, I wanted something that would add a bit of depth or interest or quirkiness - something that made it more than just a few lines and circles...enter Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man!  Vitruvian Man is much too detailed for my beginner FMQ skills to replicate, but he definitely inspired the embellishment of the quilt.

Each of the orange circles was quilted with silver thread and contains a figure in a star pose. Each figure is on a different angle to give the impression of tumbling down a marble run. Although the figures were inspired by Vitruvian man, they ended up more like wonky clip art silhouettes rolling down a hill in those silly zorb ball things!

Attaching the binding and a label were the final things to do before the quilt was ready to be submitted. Both were pretty simple - the label was just a rectangle of white fabric hand stitched to the back of the quilt with clothes labeling pen for the text and the binding was machine attached. I used a bright orange polka dot material from the same fabric line as the backing for the binding and the machine binding method explained so well by Rita at Red Pepper Quilts.

And thus the quilt was finished! With all the little men tumbling down the quilt I decided to rename it "Marble Man".
"Marble Man"
All that was left was to actually work up the courage to submit it for the show.

Stay tuned for submission and the results....