Friday, December 25, 2015

merry christmas everyone

This year for Christmas I felt like getting out the tub of decorations I hung on to when we moved.  Sister Suzy mentioned this is the first time in a while I have shown any interest in Christmas or that she has had any desire either.  We discussed the toll stress has on one's enthusiasm for life.

I rummaged around in the back of a closet and found my monster tree (all two feet of it).  Sister Suzy mentioned the tree would look a whole lot better if it had lights on it.  I agreed.  So, I did a little research on how long a string I would need.  The experts on the tube say 50 lights per foot of tree!  I do not want to catch the tree on fire! Nor do I want to be blinded by the light!  Well, Michael’s and Hobby Lobby were both advertising short strings for craft projects.  We went for a look-see and I found a 35-light string that was nine-n-half feet long.  That ought to be plenty.  And, it was.  Sure makes the tree look a lot nicer!
I dug out my Greek-cookbook I picked up way back in the dark ages to do some Christmas baking.  Once a year the Greek Orthodox Churches in Wichita have a fundraiser where they make Greek pastries and such.  Dad worked with a gentleman out at the Air Patch who was Greek Orthodox.  He mentioned the bake sale to Dad, Dad mentioned it to Mom, so off we went to the bake sale.  We were hooked.  One year they had cookbooks for sale.  This cookbook is one of those collections where a plea is sent out to the parents and congregation for recipes.  The Book is called Hellenic Cuisine.  It was copyrighted in 1957 and my book is the 36th printing in 1986.  The cookbook even has a recipe for Communion bread called Prosphoron in it.  The symbols that should be stamped on it, the meanings of the symbols and how it is to be portioned.

One of my favorite recipes out of the book is Almond Roll.  I had forgot how wonderful these were!  These taste better the second day, if they last that long!  I never make a full recipe.  I can get four rolls and 28 to 32 servings with this half recipe.

Almond Rolls

1/2 pound of filo/phyllo pastry

1 pound of almonds

3/4 pound of UN-salted butter, melted

3 eggs, separated

1 cup sugar

2 oz whiskey/rum


1 cup honey

Juice of half a lemon

The recipe calls for blanched almonds.  I do not bother.  Grind your almond fairly fine, a few chunks are okay in your food processor.

Beat egg whites stiff.  In a separate bowl beat egg yolks and sugar until light and creamy and the sugar is dissolved.  Alternating, fold in, the almonds and the egg whites until blended.  Then add the liquor.  I prefer rum to whiskey and I think if you had some Amaretto that would be good too.

Lay a filo/phyllo pastry sheet down and use a pastry brush to butter the sheet.  Repeat the buttering of each sheet until you have about a quarter of the stack of pastry sheets buttered and stacked on top of each other.  Should be four to five sheets.  Pour a quarter of the batter at one end of the stack and spread it towards the middle.  The batter will cover about 1/4 to a 1/3 of the stack.  Roll up jell-roll style; turn under the ends and place in a buttered jellyroll pan, seam-side down.

Repeat with the rest of the sheets and mixture.  While working with one roll be sure and cover the rest of the pastry sheets with a damp cloth or paper towels to keep the pastry sheets from drying out.  Otherwise, you will have a disappointing mess on your hands.

The directions say pour the leftover butter from brushing your pastry sheets over the rolls.  I do not, because I am pretty liberal as I am brushing the pastry sheets.  The butter will bake out and then be reabsorbed towards the end of the baking.

Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  I usually bake until golden brown and in my oven that is an extra 10 minutes.

While the almond rolls are baking put your honey and lemon juice in a saucepan and heat to boiling, stirring to keep from scorching.  Once it comes to a boil, turn off the heat and set aside.  Drizzle about half of the honey syrup over the hot pastry rolls.  The instruction say to cut immediately but I have better luck waiting until the pastry rolls cool and then cut.  I turn the slices on their sides and drizzle the rest of the honey syrup over the cut slices to soak in.  I get 7 to 8 slices per roll.  I store them in the refrigerator.

For the other half pound of filo/phyllo pastry, I make Baklava.  I use a combination of walnuts and almonds with cinnamon and cloves and the same honey syrup.  But, that will be for another day!

I hope everyone has a lovely Christmas!


Sunday, December 20, 2015

belle's wedding quilt

I finished Belle's quilt right before Sister Suzy and I left for a trip back to Kansas after she finished her first quarter of school.  I started this quilt over a year ago.  It spent several months setting after I started it because I just didn't feel like finishing it.  It was one of three; I started and lost interest in over the last year.
This is a tossed nine-patch, believe-it-or-not.  When I saw it out on the web in this size I was surprised at how different it looked from the one I had seen on a quiltinaday you-tube video and made for Sister Suzy one Christmas.
I just realized I made one for both Belle and Sister Suzy!  Kewl! The connection between Belle and Sister Suzy is they have been friends since third grade.  Sister Suzy was the Maid of Honor for Belle in October when Sister Suzy flew back to Kansas for the wedding.

Side Note: Flying in and out of Mesa to Wichita is a lot easier than Sky Harbor to KCI or Ok City.  Mesa and Wichita are smaller airports with only one building and you can get direct flights at a reasonable price.  Then getting from KC, MO or OK City to Wichita is an additional hassle.

I used the Crazy Short-cut Quilt-as-you-go Method to set the quilt together with.
I know I keep talking about this method of setting a quilt together. beats the hell out of wresting a king-size quilt's worth of materials in a home sewing machine!  And you end up with a nice looking quilt.

I spent a lot of time thinking, as I quilt and set it together, on what kind of border I was going to use.  The plans for this quilt is on my computer with the dead motherboard and I couldn't for-the-life-of-me remember what I had decided for a border.  So, this is what I decided on.
Belle was using fall colors for her wedding and I just happen to have some fabric that fit the bill.  Yeah, for a closet of fabric!  I decided to offset the borders instead of using cornerstones or the standard horizontal set of the border.  I think it gave the quilt the right pizzazz.  I chose a solid green for the binding and outside frame.

On the back, I used solids for the backing, setting the blocks with gingham.  Yeah, more gingham out of the stash!
I really like how the back turned out.  As you can see, I played around with different ways to quilt each block.  I was trying to hold boredom at bay.  It helped.

The quilt ended up being 96-inches square, with each block being 14-inches square.  I did not make a nine patch and then cut it.  I just built each block using a 10-inch square, 2 - 10x5 rectangles and a 5-inch square.  Most of the fabric was previous cut strips leftover from other projects.

Well the label is on.
So it it time for me to wish all of you a good day!


Monday, December 7, 2015

the state of my mind

No, I have not abandon my blog, just went through a very dry spell of nothing done creatively and a prolonged spell of melancholy.  I have come up for air again and hopefully I can reestablish some enjoyable routines again, like building quilts, knitting, cooking, and other pursuits.

My beast of burden  (the 2005 Focus) died.  Finally got an estimate on the check engine light that had been on for two years.  It was the front catalytic convert at 2,000 bucks.  Since the car was only worth $300 to $1,000 with 260,000 miles, it is not worth the repairs but it ran, and ran well.  The final blow was the car acted like something was wrong with the battery/alternator/starter and the mechanic could not find anything wrong, but all the gauges on the dash would quit and the car would die.  The car died on Sister Suzy at Christown Mall after a movie and would not restart after letting set overnight.  Called the junkyard and had them come pick it up.  Did not realize how much stress I was under about the car until the tow-truck pulled out of the parking lot and I cried from relief.

Anniversary of Hubby's death plus the financial bombshells and repercussions that have been occurring the last year did not help any either.  Things are better but it is still going to be a while before everything is taken care of.  Of course, the vultures/bill collectors do not believe there are no assets as 95-97% of all Americans have some kind of assets.  There was nine dollars and 41 cents in our checking account the day he died.  No life insurance, no IRAs, no stocks, bonds, property, real or personal that were unencumbered, zilch, nada, nothing.  So, basically, I am waiting them out by ignoring the phone, taking all the collection notices and putting them in a file and when I get his ashes interred, I will address the collection notices.  The phone ringing is stressful.  It reminds me of the financial mess that is setting in the file cabinet that I do not have the money for a lawyer to resolve.  In the meantime, the needs of the living come first, not some bill collector, in my world.

I have been stressing over Sister Suzy's first quarter of graduate school.  Will she pull it off or not?  17 hours of graduate level class in 10 weeks instead of the standard of 9-12 hours over 16 weeks.  The last couple of weeks were touch-n-go, but she pulled out A-minuses across the board.  So, this quarter is starting out a lot calmer.  She is still behind the 8-ball on books, 2 of the 4 are going to be late coming in, but she has a workable plan for those.

My sister went through a cancer scare this spring/summer.  The doctors say it looks like they got it all, so now it is in the wait-n-watch phase.  She is now dealing with the side effects of Chemo and Radiation, hair growing back, deep bone pain, weakened muscles and neuropathy.

And, for the icing on my cake of woe-is-me, my knees hurt like hell and my weight is ballooning.  Cortisol levels are way up, asthma is bothering me, and blood sugars are being stupid.  I.e. the stress of being me is getting to me.  But all is not lost, I have started mediating, again, and doing EFT to bring down the stress/cortisol levels which is helping the asthma and blood sugars.  Which in turn is helping the weight so if I can get some weight off maybe the knees will lighten up a bit.  Which would help my mental health by not being in such pain, which means I will feel like doing something.  Which...

Okay, I have bent your ears enough.  Back later with some pictures of a quilt I actually finished.  I hope everyone is having an enjoyable day.