• What to do while you are snowed in? Make Potstickers!

    I love potstickers, we always order them when we go to our favorite Chinese restaurant (Hunan Pearl in Lake Oswego – if anyone cares to ask). I had just cooked up the last ones from the previous batch I made and froze and though I have some commercial ones from Costco in the freezer, I have yet to find a brand I like as much as my own. Luckily, I had anticipated making them and had the raw ingredients on hand. My husband doesn’t eat pork so I use ground turkey, it’s a great pretender when trying to replace pork (plain ole ground turkey, not ground turkey breast, it’s too dry and has a very distinctive taste). I also have diabetic issues and try to steer away from white flour so I used a mixture of AP unbleached white with King Arthur Whole Wheat White flour (very finely milled so it’s a pretty good substitute for regular white flour) at a ratio of about 3/4 whole wheat to white. I like to make my own wrappers, I do not like the commercial wonton/dumpling skins and there is an art to making the dough. I found a great tutorial online at Steamy Kitchen Cooking Shortcuts. For the filling I used the ground meat, minced Nappa cabbage, chopped water chestnuts, scallions, grated ginger and a bit of toasted sesame oil and soy sauce, and as an afterthought, threw in a bit of a dried tangerine peel/Szechwan peppercorn salt mix I make up myself. We had some with dinner last night – YUM!!! The rest are in the freezer in zip lock bags.
     
    I just hope that this doesn’t follow a precedent set about ten years ago in another record breaking snowstorm where I had just made five dozen potstickers to freeze the day before we lost our power in the storm. We were without power for 6 days and our generator was not working. Authorities tell you to keep at least several days worth of non-perishable food for emergencies – which we do, but we never touched it. After the first couple of days eating whatever we didn’t want to go bad from the refrigerator food we put outside in the snow (it was colder out there than in the fridge) our daily meals consisted of deciding what had thawed out enough that it needed to be eaten NOW and we had nothing but potstickers for dinner that night. By the second night, they had thawed out – probably perfectly safe but they had congealed into one big mass of dough with little meatballs. It hurt more to throw those away than the expensive roast that had to go into the trash; the roast may have cost more but didn’t take hours to make.
    My partially whole wheat flour potstickers
    My partially whole wheat flour potstickers

  • New Design Class

    I tend to get excited about all my classes, I wouldn’t offer them if I didn’t feel they were something to crow about. Every now and then though, I come up with something refreshingly different from what I have done before and I get particularly enthusiastic about those. My upcoming workshop for Northwest Quilters  in March is one such class. I have taught a couple of classes for my guild over the last few years and because most of the members know me by reputation if not by sight, I have felt it necessary to come up with something completely new whenever I have the honor of offering a class through them. I do have a cadre of ‘followers’ who take many of the classes I teach (sometimes more than once) and I feel an obligation to offer something new that I’ve not offered at the shops when I present a workshop for my guild; after all, many of the members have taken my other classes through shops already and I want to try to fill my workshop as well as possible.

    Though I never completed a degree in Art, I did take some fairly advanced classes in college and had a great professor who taught me some wonderful insights into art and what I was capable of. In his ‘design’ course – Form and Color – he encouraged us to use subject matter for our assignments where the preconceived notion of what your are drawing does not take over the process of developing good balance and composition. I still hear his voice telling us that “the moment you decide to draw a fish, that fish takes over your hand and directs what it should look like…” He showed us a unique way to find abstract designs in nature, he called these ‘Discovery Designs’. Those of you who have studied art will probably already be familiar with this design process but for many it will open your eyes to design possibilities beyond your imagination. The best part is that you don’t need to have good drawing skills to use this method.

    This will be a design class only, students will ‘find’ their discovery and then create working drawings to play with, fine tuning the design and rendering some color layouts using colored pencils. When you are pleased with your design, you will have a design you can enlarge to any size you wish and make a working pattern from which to make your quilt.

    I am anxious to promote this as much as possible through my website and social media, I have shown my quilt in progress over the last couple of months at guild meetings but only put the final binding on the finished quilt a few days ago. I was planning to show it again at the Northwest Quilters’ meeting this morning but the weather had other ideas; not only did our out of state guest speaker have to cancel (I guess the weather where she lives was even worse than here) but last night the word went out that the entire meeting was being cancelled due to treacherous driving conditions. It is my hope that I can reach a sufficient number of students through the newsletter and the internet.

    I have posted a photo of my project below. Bear in mind this is my original design, it is not a pattern that you will be working from to create this quilt, you will search for and discover your own unique design.

    A Discovery design, finding abstract designs from nature 'through the lens'
    A Discovery design, finding abstract designs from nature ‘through the lens’

  • Recycle Those Greeting Cards Into – Gift Tags!

    As much as I love to quilt, it isn’t the only crafty thing I do; Paper craft is my other big love (though it definitely takes a backseat to quilting and embroidery). xmastag1

    Since childhood, I’ve been a born recycler though that term did not exist back then, it’s actually what got me interested in quilting – using up leftover scraps of fabric my mother considered trash from her garment sewing. I love making things out of paper – origami, cut paper, and paper sculpture… I also save interesting printed pieces of paper and recycle bows and ribbons for gift wrapping as long as they are in good shape. One of the other things I started to do years ago is making gift tags from this year’s Christmas cards for next year’s gift wrapping – one less holiday item to buy and it gives a second life to the cards before going into a recycling bin.

    To make these you will need:

    • A cutting mat, rotary cutter and 6” square (or thereabouts) cutting ruler. The cutter blade should be sharp but it xmastag3will probably be useless for fabric after this project so an older blade that needs replacing anyway is a good option.
    • A ‘bone’ paper folding knife or similar tool (I use the blunt backside of a seam ripper)
    • Small craft hole-punch (optional) – Fiskars makes one that makes a ⅛” hole.
    • Craft glue stick (optional); make sure it is a permanent adhesive
    • Holiday Greeting cards

    INSTRUCTIONS

    1. Any card can be turned into a gift tag but I like to select cards with design elements that will fit well into the small xmastag4tag format; in many cases I can get several tags from one card. The tags can be any size or shape you want as long as they are not too large.
    2. If the card is free of personal writing on the backside of the cover, you can simply cut out a square/rectangle that it twice as wide (or tall if using a top fold) as the finished size you want for the image selected. TIP: in some cases you might even be able to cut the tag near enough to the original fold in the card to use it as your fold; otherwise, you will need to score a folding crease. The crease can be horizontal or vertical depending on where you want the fold in relation to the front image (the tag can fold along the left side like a book or along the top edge). Make the crease on the ‘inside’ of the tag using your ruler to measure precisely where it should go and the bone knife or other tool to score a fold line.xmastag6
    3. Fold the tag along the crease line and burnish the fold with the smooth edge of the tool (or your thumbnail) to set the crease. Depending on how accurately you placed the crease line, you may need to trim and neaten the tag edges with the rotary cutter and ruler. The resulting tag can be fixed to the gift with scotch tape or you can punch a hole in the top left-hand corner if you want to attach the tag with a loop of ribbon or string – helpful if you are attaching a tag to an odd shaped object like a gift basket.
    4. if there is writing on the backside of the cover but you like and want to use the image, you can still cut out a square or rectangle with the part of the image you want and glue it to the ‘front’ of a piece of folded cardstock. TIP: I often salvage the blank parts of the cards to make these folded tag blanks and then trim the images to fit on them.xmastag7b
    5. Other tips: In some cases, you might be able to salvage the commercially printed ‘sentiment’ inside the card so your tag might read ‘Season’s Greetings’ or ‘Peace and Joy be with you’ on the tag cover. Cutting the tags from the cards with a rotary cutter is fast and accurate but you can add decorative edges to the tags by cutting with the contoured paper craft scissors available at craft stores. In cases where I remember who sent me the card, I often use a tag made from their card on a gift for the sender the following year (not that I’m certain they might remember it was their card but it’s fun anyway).

    I know some of you will think this is a lot of fussy work (I had one cynical person tell me to ‘get a life’ when I showed xmastag8these to a craft group) but I love the fact that I am giving a second ‘life’ to something that would otherwise go straight into a recycling bin or a landfill if the card material is not recyclable plus I’m not having to buy premade gift tags along with the other wrapping paraphernalia; so save those greeting cards and give them a little more life before discarding (pun intended) them.