Embroidered Snowflakes


Materials:
  • fabric
  • small embroidery hoop (I have sewn with and without hoops, with and with out interfacing. I have found that when starting out it is best to work on a light weight, not thin, material and hoops)
  • embroidery needle(again the needle you pick is a personal preference. tapestry needles have larger eyes, but the shank of the needle is thicker, milliner needles are uniform in thickness but it can be difficult to find ones with larger eyes)
  • skein of white embroidery floss
  • silver embroidery floss
  • beads
  • pull thread from the back and insert about an inch away
  • insert the thread again from the back and repeat as before first in thirds
  • repeat with the three new stitches in between the others. Now you have a total of six stitches
  • create a fly stitch between each of the inch “spokes” (bring needle through the top of one of the spokes. insert at the top of the adjacent spoke. take a “bite” of the fabric half-way between the two spokes and slightly lower than the top of the stitches. pull tight, and fasten the thread to the fabric.)
  • repeat this five times
  •  at each vertex create a detached chain stitch. (bring needle from back. insert again in the same hole but don’t pull all the way back through. you should have about a 1/2 inch loop. come from the back and secure the loop with a small stitch.)
  •  at the top of the longer chain stitches, sew another chain stitch, but this time, split and secure the sides to create a diamond. above the smaller chain stitches, sew a fly stitch.
  •  Above is what the finished white snow flake will look like.

  • to embellish, sew two fly stitches over the long chain stitches and one fly stitch over the shorter ones. do this in a contrasting color- the above is in silver.
  • for fun, plastic imitation pearl beads were used to hide the center.
  • get creative and add your own embellishments!

Although this may seem complicated at first, once you understand the basic stitches, the snowflake becomes one of the quickest and prettiest embellishments for winter themed projects.
I hope that you have fun sewing snowflakes!

 The above is a similar concept using only fly stitches. The silver embellishment is wrapped around the “spokes”

 This snowflake is a little bit more complicated. The scroll stitch was used for the smaller spokes and the v-shape on the taller spokes. The taller spokes are created with the detached chain stitch. The silver embellishments include the fly stitch on the taller spokes, and the detached chain stitch with the two extra darts (shown in the tutorial) as the border of the scroll stitches. Wouldn’t it be pretty with beads in the center to cover up the nasty middle?

This one is very simple. It involves detached chain stitches for the spokes and a french knot in the center.

***If my instructions for the detached chain stitch or the fly stitch were confusing, there are many wonderful videos on YouTube which are very clear and simple to follow.***
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Christmas Kringle

The other day one of our wonderful friends stopped by for a visit. She brought us the most delicious Kringle. She was given the recipe many years ago by a German family who brought it to America when they immigrated, and it has become an iconic Christmas pastry to all those who know our friend. I hope that you enjoy today’s yummy treat!

 
 
Christmas KRINGLE

Bottom Layer:
1 cup flour
½ cup butter or margarine
2 Tbs ice water (may need a small amount more)
 
Cut butter or margarine into flour (same as pie crust) until pea sized. 
Add ice water and form into two balls.  May need to add a bit more water.
Pat out each portion on a baked cookie sheet 3” wide by 12” long.

Top:

1   cup water
½  cup margarine or butter

Bring to boil in medium saucepan.  Remove from heat

Add

1 cup flour, stir until smooth
3  eggs, Stir in one at a time, with heavy spoon or rubber scraper until smooth and mixture is consistent throughout.

Add

½  tsp Almond extract, mix well
Divide mixture in half and spread over bottom layer.

Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes

Frosting can either be put on while still warm as a glaze or wait until pastry is cool and frost.

Frosting:

1 cup powdered sugar                                         

½  tsp almond extract
2 Tbs. butter or margarine
    Small amount of Milk to thin for spreadable consistency

Optional:

Sprinkle sliced almonds over frosting, and decorate with colored sugar

Cut each pastry in half lengthwise, then in 1 – 2 inch diagonal strips width wise.

From the Kitchen of Brenda Werrett

 

 

Stuffing or Dressing?

Is if Stuffing or Dressing?
There is much confusion about this breaded side dish that is a staple of holiday menus.
If they both have the same ingredients, then what’s diffference?
The difference in the name is only a matter of where is cooked.
Put simply, stuffing goes in the bird, dressing goes beside it.
The recipe being shared today is an easy and delicious comfort food.
(we are going to cook it dressing style)

 Ingredients:

16oz Bread Crumbs
1c celery        1c onion
1c pecan        1c apple
1c mushroom 1c carrot
 
8TB butter          2 1/2c broth
1 1/2 TB sage  1/2 tsp marjoram
1tsp thyme        3TB parsley
1tsp basil
salt and pepper
 
*the recipe calls for 1c of each veggie/ fruit…
we did a bit more than that to feed a family of six, plus leftovers…
 

in a large pot, over medium heat, start melting the butter. Add the celery, carrots, apples, mushrooms, spices and broth. stir until butter is melted and everything is well mixed. Add the bread crumbs and pecans and mix until the bread crumbs are well saturated and all is evenly incorporated.

disperse the dressing in a glass baking pan and bake at 350F until the top has a golden crust
(around 45min- 1hr)
 serve hot
 
From the kitchen of: Kimberly Leinbach

Pumpkin Cake

Today’s recipe is from the kitchen of Eliza Jeanfreau!

She is an amazing baker and wanted to share this yummy seasonal favorite.

Pumpkin Cake 

Super tasty! Like pumpkin pie, but with a yummy topping.

Mix together:

1 box yellow cake mix

½ C. butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
Save one cup of this mixture and press the ret in bottom of buttered cake pan ( 9X13 or 10X15)

Filling:
1-29 oz. Can pumpkin
1 ½ cups sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
½ tsp. ground cloves
1 can evaporated milk

Mix and pour over crust.

Topping:

1 cup of the saved crust mixture
½ cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ cup soft butter

 

Mix topping and sprinkle on top.  (Mine usually isn’t crumbly, so I make little pancakes of the topping and drop it on top.)  Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes or until knife test proves done.
 
Enjoy!
 
 

The Lost Art of Baking Bread

Who doesn’t love the smell of baking bread? It’s warm and makes you just feel good.
When freshly baked bread comes out of the oven and is set to cool on the counter of a nicely clean kitchen, everything seems right with the world. Nothing really matters except waiting for it to cool so it can be eaten with butter. All politics, drama, worry, disappears when a hot loaf of bread is sitting right in front of you. Doesn’t it?

Many people are afraid of baking bread. Yeasty breads take a lot of attention; they have to be proofed, mixed just right, kneaded to perfection, and formed. This might seem like a daunting task, but if you start off slow, it can be really easy, and even really fun!

Now, when I just said it would be easy and fun, a thousand images of ruined attempts and baking bread probably just flashed through your mind. Attempts where the bread machine broke, the loaf comes out disformed, the yeast didn’t proof, the dough turned to paste, flour is everywhere, your counter is covered in who knows what, flat unrisen dough is all over your clothes, gooey bread that didn’t cook all the way through is stuck to the pan; and the worst memory yet, after all of your diligent preperation, after hours of waiting for the first rise, punching it down and letting it rise again overnight, getting your hopes up that you have finally made the perfect loaf of bread, are decimated when you get called away from the oven, the dough is cooked a little too long, you are left with rocks.

SO.

Here is what you need to do. STOP! Stop worrying. Stop fretting. Stop being afraid. Just Breathe. 

Making bread from scratch is not really as difficult as it sounds. Even with yeast bread, the only thing that is truly difficult is not getting stressed if something doesn’t go picture perfect. That just means you might need to get creative.

Without further ado, let’s learn how to make a basic bread dough.  

Well you can’t exactly just start baking unless you have a recipe…This is one of our favorites. It makes fabulous dough in about 20min and rolls in about 30 min

note: If you decide to use the dough for loaves, for pizza or what have you, the cooking time will change.

30min Rolls:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Bake for 10-12min

1 1/4c Warm Water(make sure it is warm not hot or boiling)

1/3 c Oil (most oils work well for this dough. although, I wouldn’t recomend any that are solid at room temperature…such as coconut oil…I generally use generic olive or canola oils the difference in taste between them is minor)
2TB instant yeast (we could proof the regular yeast, but that can get messy and sometimes makes the bread making process stressful if one is unsure of what they are doing.It is also roughly the same cost as regular yeast and doesn’t require the 15 min proofing time.)

1/4 c Honey or Sugar (honey stickier, but I prefer to use it to sugar. Sugar is quicker, but honey has more nutritive values, and I think it tastes better…)

1/2 tsp salt

1 egg

3 1/2- 4 c Flour (I generally use All-Purpose white flour, but when we truly make bread entirely from scratch, we grind about a 50/50 blend of hard-red and soft-white wheat.)

Now. You have the recipe, so tie your apron strings and let’s start with the basics.

When baking most anything (especially yeast breads), you want to remember to mix you dry ingredients seperately from you wet ingredients, then combine them wet to dry (unless instructed differently by the recipe). This ensures that the yeast will activate before it is combined with the flour.

An easy way to remember how to start this recipe is by remembering “First Four First”.

In a medium bowl, combine the first for ingredients (water, oil, yeast, and sugar/ honey).
Mix it all thoroughly.

Then add the egg and salt. Break the egg and again mix it thoroughly.

In a larger bowl (preferably a large metal one), put the flour. Make an indentation in the middle of  the flour mound.
Slowly pour the now wet ingredients in the center of flour. It will look slightly like a large flour volcanoe is spewing frothy egg.

With a spatula or spoon, mix the ingredients until a dough forms. You may need to add flour or water until the dough is a good consitancy. It needs to be wet enough to be able to form it, but dry enough to work with it and not stick to your hands/ spoon.

Now you have a beautiful dough. The next step is to knead it.

Remember that if you don’t knead it enough, it will not have the right consistancy, but if you over knead it, the dough will become really tough. Don’t fear!

Keep the dough in the metal bowl and start to knead the dough with the spoon/spatula.

If it starts to get difficult with the spoon, start using a pastry scraper or your hand. remember to keep your hand relatively flat when working with the dough.
If you plunge your fingers into it, you will make a mess, and your hand could get stuck.

While you are working with the dough in the bowl, you may still need to add some water or flour (depending on your particular dough).

Now for the fun part!

Sprinkle flour on a flat surface (a counter, bread board, pan, wax paper, etc). Slide the dough out of the bowl and onto your floured surface (the flour helps it not to stick to the counter). Knead the bread with your palms away from you. Pick up the dough from underneath to move it. Use your hands like paddles when rearanging your dough. Knead it until you see it “tear” slightly when you push it away from you.

When you feel that it is ready, you can decide to make it into rolls or use it for other purposes.

For Rolls:

On your floured surface, form the dough into a loaf shape. Round the top so that it is smooth. Using your pastry scraper, or a sharp knife, cut the dough into even sizes. For 1 dozen rolls, it gets cut in half, reformed into two loaves. Those loaves are cut into thirds, reformed and each third is cut in half.

Form the smaller pieces of dough into a roll shape. Make sure that each roll is smooth on the top. The bottom does not need to be as smooth, but each roll needs to look uniform from the top.  Place formed rolls on a greased cookie sheet.

 
Bake for 10 -12 minutes, or until the rolls are golden brown.
Be careful because they might be moist on the inside and golden on the outside.
A good way to check is to pull the rolls slightly out of the oven and gently nudge one. If it is slightly firm to the touch, it is done. If it still feels doughy, keep it cooking a little longer.
Let it cool. Doesnt’ that smell wonderful?

See? Bread isn’t that hard! It just takes practice. The more you practice, the easier it gets. Don’t be afraid, just try it!

If you have questions, need advice, have any tips/ recipes, or just want to chat, feel free to email or leave a comment!

Lemon-Berry Cupcakes

Lemon Cupcakes:

3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 Tbsp. lemon zest
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 325° degrees.
2. Line cupcake pan with baking cups

3. In a large bowl cream 
butter and sugar, with an electric mixer, until pale and fluffy-about 4-5 minutes.

4. Add eggs, one at a time until mixture becomes creamy,
5. In a separate bowl whisk to combine flour, baking soda and salt.
6. Alternate adding dry ingredients and milk to butter mixture, in 3-4 batches. Mix each addition just until ingredients incorporate—do not over mix.
7. Add lemon zest and lemon juice. Mix batter for an additional minute. Batter should be light and fluffy.

8. Divide the batter among the cupcake liners and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until cake tester/toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Place pan on wire rack and cool completely before removing from pan.
Once cooled, frost cupcakes.
Buttercream Frosting:

1/2 cup shortening

1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened


     

 1.Cream butter and shortening with electric mixer. Add vanilla.

 2. Gradually add sugar,
1 cup at a time. Blend well.

Blackberry Buttercream Frosting:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup shortening
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup blackberry puree (or as much as needed to add minimal flavor)

1. Cream butter and shortening with electric mixer. Add vanilla.
2. Gradually add sugar, 1 cup at a time. Blend well.
3. Add Blackberry puree and beat until light and fluffy.
 (if frosting is dry, add 1 TB milk)

These cupcakes were served as dessert at a Church function. We brought about three dozen, and within the about 45min, there were six left.

Have a blessed day!

Cottage Pie? Don’t you mean Shepherds’ Pie?

A Brief History
So before we get into the food tutorial, let’s have a history lesson.
What Americans refer today as “Shepherds’ Pie” is actually called “Cottage Pie”.  
Both dishes have meat, mashed potatoes, and vegetables. So what’s the big deal?
Cottage Pie originated in Britain/ Ireland around 1791.  During this time, the people were experiencing financial hardships.  Then came the discovery of the tuber. Yes, they realized the many different uses of the potato.  A poor family could eat potatoes mashed, boiled, scalloped, baked, etc. As an added bonus, they were relatively inexpensive to grow or buy at the market.  Potatoes changed the diet of every low income family during this time.  So mothers and wives started to get creative, and they invented this wonderful thing called Cottage Pie.  They could take the meat and other vegetables they prepared during the week and have a new meal with what was leftover.
So why isn’t it just called Shepherds’ Pie?
Shepherds’ Pie was not actually created until 1877.  Shepherds pie has mutton or lamb not beef.
Put simply:
Cottage Pie = Poor Man’s Pie (poor people lived in cottages)= beef
Shepherds’ Pie= Sheep Pie (shepherds herd sheep)= lamb or mutton
That’s about the only difference…
Okay. So we are done with the history lesson. Let’s get Cookin’!
Ingredients for Cottage Pie: 
  1. 2 pints(1 quart or 32oz) of ground beef browned with onion
  2. 1 quart (32oz) of cooked/ skinned tomatoes
  3. 3c. instant potato pearls + enough Hot water to reconstitute potatoes
  4. 4c. mix of corn and halved green beans
  5. about 1/2 c. dried Carrots
  6. about 1/2 c. dried Celery
  7. 1/2c. dried onion
  8. salt and pepper for preferred flavor
  9. parsley
  10. brown rice flour 

Oh…and if you are curious, yes this is all food storage…

(shhh it’s a secret)
Okay so now what?
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 192 degrees Celsius.
In a skillet, add tomatoes and cut to bite-sized pieces.
Add celery, carrots, parsley, salt and pepper to smell.
 
Let tomatoes cook down slightly then add meat and onion to taste.
Let cook down further. Salt and pepper to taste

If the meat and tomatoes are too runny for your taste, put about a half cup of fluid in a bowl and thicken slightly with flour. Add the impromptu gravy back into the skillet and mix with the rest of the dish. We used about two table spoons of brown rice flour to keep the recipe gluten free. Because wheat flour has gluten and brown rice flour doesn’t, you will use less wheat flour than rice flour when thickening your meal.
Next, grease a casserole dish and add the meat and tomatoes from the skillet to the pan.  There should be plenty to get a good layer on the bottom.  On top of the meat, layer the corn and beans. 

Cover the entire dish with the mashed potatoes.  Spread it out evenly across the top (it’s similar to frosting a cake).

Bake at 350 F for 30min. or until the crust barely browned.
If you want fluffy potatoes, guard the top with tin foil…either entirely covered, or as you would with a traditional pie.

If you notice the upper right hand corner or the picture, the juice from the meat and tomatoes boiled a slightly to the top. When the potatoes are barely golden and it is boiling, that means it’s done.
It’s easy, it’s cheap, and it tastes good.
We hope that you enjoy your Cottage Pie!