Friday, June 20, 2014

Violette Progress, K2 Framed & Madeleines Baked


We've had a wonderfully very cool wet spring, and everything seems to be late this year, even the does seem to be having their fawns later than usual.  Here is one  mom with her newborn fawn -
Brand new Gracewood fawn


Another 'baby', our Chessie, Jasper, is 10 months old and is already firmly embedded as guardian of Gracewood. Here he is 'guarding' the Madeleines cooling on the counter.

 
K2 is framed in a midnight blue distressed frame. 
 
 
I'm making some progress on 'Violette', using Rainbow Gallery Splendor silk floss in shades of violet, pistachio and a bit of gold in the floral centers.
 
 
 
And on these cool wet spring days we often stop for 'elevensies' and you just have to have some little something to go along with that cup of tea or coffee.  I've always wanted to try the definitive French treat called a Madeleine and finally got my confidence up enough to try baking this notoriously difficult cookie/cake. 

The various cooking blogs and forums that mention making Madeleines invariably say they are tricky to bake and certainly difficult to get out of those shell shaped baking molds.  So after lots of reading I decided to begin with the 'classic' recipe and also to use the authentic tin type of Madeleine mold and found a lovely vintage one on ebay.



I'm happy to tell you that this was not only a successful and delicious attempt, but it is so very easy!  With only a few tweaks from my original baking, here is my recipe for some really scrumptious treats to dip in your cuppa.

You can make different flavorings and I made this batch orange.

Orange Madeleines
Makes 24

Ingredients

1 stick of butter, melted (slightly browned adds flavor) and slightly cooled
2/3 Cups Sugar
2 Large Eggs, room temperature
1 Tablespoon Orange Juice
1 Tablespoon Orange Zest
1 Tablespoon Orange Honey
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Flavoring
1 Cup unbleached Flour
Pinch of Salt

Use an electric mixer and beat the eggs until frothy, slowly add sugar, orane juice, zest, honey and vanilla and continue beating at medium speed for about 8 minutes.

Remove bowl from mixer and sift the flour and pinch of salt into the batter and lightly stir until combined.  Add the melted butter and fold in gently until incorporated.  Cover with plastic wrap or put into bowl with lid and refrigerate.

I found that the key to making these successfully is to refrigerate overnight before baking.  I made a few batches and it made a huge difference, not only in how well they baked but how easily they came out of the pan.

Prepare the Pans

If you are using a tin mold this is how you prepare them.  Melt 3 tablespoons of butter and cool slightly then stir 1 tablespoon of flour into it.  With a pastry brush coat the molds with the mixture being sure it is well coated then be sure to freeze the pan for at least an hour but overnight is fine as well.

Baking

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spoon 1 tablespoon of batter into center of each mold, do not spread it, the oven heat will melt it nicely.  Bake 8 minutes, turn pan and then bake approximately 12 - 15 minutes until lightly golden brown.  Remove from oven, cool on rack for just a minute or two and then turn out onto cooling rack.

These can be served with just some powdered sugar sifted over them or you can make a glaze with some powdered sugar, orange juice and if you like some orange honey mixed to a dipping consistency.  Dip each Madeleine in the glaze and let cool. 

Serve immediately or they freeze beautifully.  Place cooled Madeleines in freezer bags and freeze.  They reheat really well in a microwave for a few seconds at a medium power.

Hope you'll give these a try!
 
One more tip about the tins, don't wash them with soap or put in the dishwasher, just a good rinse with hot water and wipe with a sponge and then I pop them back in the still warm oven to dry.  They soon develop their own non-stick type of surface.

Friday, May 30, 2014

2nd Kaleidescope Done & New Nouveau Panel Introduction

Kaleidescopes ~ K2
Yea, Kaleidescopes ~ K2 model is stitched and now up for Sale

It was a fun stitch and I love the effect the jewel tones have with the tumbling feeling of the motif.  It is a small piece, stitch count is 109 x 109, and was a really easy project.

~ ~ ~

I love so many things violet, from the flower and all its shades of purple to its fragrance captured so gloriously in my favorite perfume, Violette Fumee by Mona di' Orio.  Spring is when our wild violets appear in the forest and they inspired the next design, 'Violette', which will be the second in my Nouveau Panel series.

Violette



Considerably larger than K2, Violette is going to take a good bit longer to stitch, but once again I'm facing a summer with a cast on! 
 
Thinking I was done with them after the last two summer's bouts of foot surgery, I was looking forward to actually being able to walk around Gracewood this season.  Then last week I took a step off of the back porch promptly stepped on an uneven area and rolled my ankle completely over and am now sitting here with an air cast on my leg. 
 
So this time it is a badly sprained ankle with a bone chip that is going to give me more stitching time, lol  Oh well, man proposes but God disposes and I'll enjoy working with all the colors in this one.
 
And to think I was once considered graceful :)





Friday, May 9, 2014

K1 Framed, K2 Progress & a Gracewood Spring Video

K1 Framed

I chose a distressed lilac colored frame for K1 and I'm happy that I did, it really pulls the shades of violet to the forefront over the strong blues in the piece.

And I'm making good progress on K2, about a third stitched it's bright jewel tones are making it a joyful design to work with.

K2
The camera is making the red more orange than it really is, but the other shades of Rainbow Gallery Splendor silk floss I'm using are pretty true.

Spring is just now making its presence known here on Gracewood with leaves emerging on everything to just the hint of buds appearing.  Several days ago we had our first good spring storm come through and I taped a few minutes of it from our porch.   I hope you'll enjoy the bit I captured on video.

 
 
Wherever you are I hope you are enjoy the changing season, Spring or Fall if you are down under!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Kaleidescope~K1 Model Finished & K2 New Design Introduced

Kaleidescope~K1 Model
K1's model is stitched and even with a VERY active Chessie puppy vying for my attention, I was able to stitch it in stolen moments in about two weeks.

I'm really pleased with the Splendor silk floss and since it used less than one skein of only four colors the supplies with a 14"x 14" square of antique white Aida cloth came to less than $16.00.

The design is now for sale for $8.00 on my website,  and will soon be available through my publishers - Crative Poppy  and ICG.

Since it was a fast and easy stitch I thought I'd follow with another Kaleidescope pattern and this is "K2" -

K2




Stitch Count - 109 x 109

I wanted to use jewel tones in this design and will be using Rainbow Gallery Splendor silk floss again in vibrant shades of the primary colors, blue, red & yellow.


I also chose these bright colors to remind me it is spring!  We had an inch of heavy snow yesterday morning, rain by noon and bright sunshine by late afternoon - a snapshot of springtime in the Rockies! :)

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Wimsey Framed, K1 Progress & a Recipe for Spring




Wimsey in its new frame from the Frame Guys in their 'Leafy Green' color.

 


Kaleidescopes K1 about 2/3 rd stitched


K1 has been a very fast easy stitch.  Just two weeks into it and with a growing pup and more to do since spring is arriving I'm not having half as much time as I had during the winter.  I'm really happy with how it is looking.
 
Strawberry Muffins cooling on the counter

It is far from strawberry weather here on Gracewood but we made it to a store that finally had some good fresh produce available and stocked up on all the fruit we were hungry for including some nice strawberries!  And one of our favorite ways to use them is to make strawberry muffins.

Fresh Strawberry Muffins

Yield 1 dozen (and I usually double them since they freeze great)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup (1 stick) Butter, softened
3/4 cup Sugar
1 Egg
2 cups All Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 cup Milk
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
1 1/2 cup chopped Strawberries

Streusel Ingredients:

1 cup Flour
1 cup Sugar
1 stick Butter

For Streusel - Pulse flour, sugar and butter in food processor till crumbly, store in jar in freezer.

Heat oven to 400 degrees Farenheit, line 1 dozen muffin tin with paper liners.

Cream butter and sugar in mixing bowl, add egg and beat well.

Sift flour, baking power and salt and add vanilla to milk, alternate adding the dry mixture and the milk mixture to the batter, till incorporated then fold in strawberries.  Spoon into liners and top with a sprinkle of streusel. Bake 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove from pan and let cool on rack.


Hope you'll enjoy this taste of spring!


 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

New Design!

Kaleidescopes - K1

It is time to introduce my newest design, but first I have to give some explanation of its inspiration.  I don't know if people in this digital day and age can understand the charm of looking through a kaleidescope, but they have always held a great deal of charm for me. 
The ever changing patterns and colors of a well made kaleidescope are fascinating and I loved this excerpt on "kaleidescopes" on Wikipedia -

"..A kaleidoscope is a cylinder with mirrors containing loose, colored objects such as beads or pebbles and bits of glass. As the viewer looks into one end, light entering the other creates a colorful pattern, due to the reflection off of the mirrors. Coined in 1817 by Scottish inventor Sir David Brewster "kaleidoscope" is derived from the Ancient Greek   (kalos), "beautiful, beauty", (eidos), "that which is seen: form, shape" and (skopeĊ), "to look to, to examine", hence "observation of beautiful forms."


Beautiful forms they are indeed and I've wanted to create patterns that give the feel of a kaleidescope frozen in its lovely mirrored image.  So I am happy to introduce the first pattern of what I hope will be a series, "Kaleidescopes".
 
K1 Floss Palette ~ Violets & Blues
 
I'll be stitching the model on 20 count antique white aida evenweave fabric, using Rainbow Gallery Splendor silk floss in shades of violet and blue.  Stitch count is 145 x 145 and will measure a little over 8 inches square.
 

What do you think, does it look like a fun stitch?

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Wimsey Model Finished

Yeah! Wimsey's model is stitched.  Even though it was constantly interrupted by a large Chessie puppy head being poked onto my lap, it was a fun stitch and I'm happy with how it looks.  The photo shows it still on the stitching frame but I hope to find just the right frame for it soon.

Wimsey Model

This week, Lord willing, I'll be introducing the next design.  I'm waiting for some floss to arrive in the mail to make final color choices, but I'm really excited by how it came together.  Something I'd been wanting to achieve for awhile :)

Winter continues on Gracewood, this was last week looking out the front door and the snow you see is above the porch!

Looking out the front door at all the snow that has come off the roof and piles up higher than the porch
And looking out to the west porch towards the bird feeders isn't much less snow. However, the thrush and robins have arrived so spring can't be too far away.

Getting to the bird feeders and firewood becomes problematic this late in winter.
I can't help it, I'm already trying to fill my eyes with winter and snow, it will be gone soon and I won't really be content till it is back again in November.  No bugs, no heat, no dryness, no wonder I love it.

Ah well, spring has its pleasures too though I won't have as much stitching time, I'll look forward to open windows with mountain breezes and blossoms from the orchard to the forest.