Saturday, November 20, 2010

Making Gingerbread

Last week was a gorgeous week, hitting high sixties Monday through Friday.  Then Saturday morning we woke up to this:

All I could think of was Christmas.  I know, it's a little too early to begin thinking about Christmas - we must wait until after Thanksgiving.  There is just something about that first snowfall - especially when it covers the trees like the above photos - that makes me start dreaming of a white Christmas.

So the snow really made me want to start something crafty and festive.  Unfortunately, I had a wedding to go to that day that took up most of the day.  So my creative thoughts were put on hold - or at least the execution of them.

I began to think of ideas on how to use up my scrap pile.  There's not much to it, but I still hate having my box of "rags" fill up knowing full well that they very likely have no purpose.  But then I had a great idea.  Oven mitts!  It would only need a small amount of fabric and it would use up the small strip of batting that was left over from my baby quilt.

In my my head I pictured an adorable gingerbread man oven mitt, something worthy of an upscale boutique kitchen shop.  Unfortunately, there was a slight disconnect between what I pictured and what I made. 

So at  first, here is what my little oven mitt looked like.
I decided that my gingerbread girl could use a little more help in the looks department.  So to add a little femininity, I gave her some hair!  It really made a big  difference.

Little gingerbread girl with some lovely locks.
My darling husband thinks she needs a partner, a gingerbread boy man.  Unfortunately, there was a gingerbread man, he was my test run and didn't turn out as well.  Perhaps after some TLC from a seam-ripper (is that possible?) and my sewing machine, he will be salvageable.

For now I am happy with my one oven mitt.  It will be used, and I will show her off over the holidays while taking out a fresh cookie sheet filled with ginger people.

If there is an interest, I will provide a tutorial and a pattern for you to create this little lovely.  Just leave a comment to let me know.

How about you wonderful readers, do you have any wonderful projects inspired by the snow and upcoming holidays?  I would love to hear from you.

Live the moment, love life!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Varenyky - Dido Remix

я українка! (I am a Ukrainian girl). For those of you dear readers who do not know me very well, I have some Ukrainian heritage on my mom's side (okay I am half Ukrainian) and proud of it.  I have been so lucky to grow up knowing my loving grandparents (my Baba and Dido) who were more than happy to share their pride from where they are from. One of those wonderful blessings includes Ukrainian cuisine. Today I am specifically referring to Pyrohy or Varenyky. These are a potato dumplings bursting with rich delicious flavor.

As the holidays are drawing near I am reminded of this food, and long to share some of it with you.  Soon I will be preparing a feast of this wonderful cuisine for my family - and just maybe you might want to do the same.

So here it is, Baba's official pyrohy recipe - the Dido remix (as you read on you will see what that is all about)


To Make Dough:
2 cups of flour
1  teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 cup water

To Make Filling:
14 large Idaho potatoes
3 onions
6 sticks of butter (don't be scared, this is a larger recipe . . .)
24 oz of homemade dry cottage cheese (there is no substitute for this, for directions continue reading)
1/4 cup shredded cheese (we use cheddar)
black and white pepper


* Please be aware that there is some strange wording as I chose to use my Baba's exact words because it makes my sister laugh and warms my heart*

Homemade cottage cheese
* This needs to be done ahead of time as it takes 4 days*
Add a quart of buttermilk for 2 gallons of 1% or 2% milk.  Let it sit covered at room temperature for 3 days.  After the 3 days, pour into a large pot and bring to a boil over the stove top.  When it starts to curdle, drain with a cheesecloth.  Wrap up in the cheesecloth and place on a flat surface with a heavy object on top to help squeeze out the moisture.  Leave for about 24 hours.  After the 24 hours, place in a container and store in a refrigerator.  This can also be frozen if it will be used for cooking.

Crack egg and remove the fertilizer (also known as the germinated disk), add water and salt.  Mix together.  Add flour and mix with a spoon.  You may need to add more water.  Kneed dough in the bowl with your hands, later moving to a flat surface (such as a counter top).  The dough should feel firm.  Cover with a plastic bag or towel and set aside.

Finely chop all the onions and saute in butter over medium heat until golden brown.  (Use all of the butter).  Once complete, separate onions from butter using a strainer.  Store in separate containers.

Just gathering the ingredients can be a little overwhelming.  To make sure you are not stressed about the task ahead, it is best to have a shot of Brandy with Dido.

Cooking with Dido is always fun!
Next peal and boil 14 potatoes.  Use a ricer to break down the potatoes.  You can also use a masher and prepare them as mashed potatoes.  Add the sauteed onions, 24 ounces of dry cottage cheese and 1/4 cup of shredded cheese.  Liberally add black and white pepper.  Add a handful of salt.  (Sorry, I know that everyone has a different idea of what a handful is, but these are Baba's directions).  Kneed filling with hands to evenly mix ingredients together.

What, all this work and we haven't even really prepared the meal yet?  Yes, true Ukrainian cuisine is a labor of love.

Kneed dough that was set aside.  Use a rolling pin to flatten out dough about 1/8 - 1/4 inch thick.  Use a Hamm's Beer glass to cut out circles of dough.  (Okay, not everyone has Hamm's Beer glasses, so any drinking glass will do - even a circle cookie cutter).  Place a spoonful of filling in the middle the dough circles.  Fold in half and tightly seal by pinching along the edges.

Baba, we love cooking with you!
Wearing aprons just adds to the festivity.
Yes, this will take a long time.  It's probably appropriate to have another shot of Brandy with Dido.

Dido, not sure how many shots he's had while helping us in the kitchen.
Have a large pot of water boiling on the stove.  Add a handful of salt to the water.  Place groups of the dumplings in the boiling water, once they start to rise to the top, allow them to boil for about 4 more minutes.

Serve and enjoy.

 If you choose to freeze, pour cold water over pyrohy in a colander to cool.  Spread out on a cookie sheet  and place in a freezer.  Once the pyrohy are frozen, place in a zip lock bag or tupperware container and store in freezer.

If you have any question about this process, please feel free to leave a comment.  This is truly a delicious meal and I want you to enjoy too!

Live the moment, love life!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Shabby Apple All That Jazz Dress Guest Giveaway

I recently began following Grosgrain and her oh-so-lovely blog. I adore the projects that she comes up with, and in addition to that she often has fabulous giveaways.

Right now she is sponsoring a giveaway for a dress from Shabby Apple and their "All That Jazz" line. For a chance to win visit the link below.

Shabby Apple All That Jazz Dress Guest Giveaway

Best of luck to all who enter. I know I would love to win this. :)

Live the moment, love life!

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Dress for Me

As my brother-in-law's wedding drew closer, I decided that I couldn't wear the dress that I had worn for the last three weddings.  I just didn't feel like shopping either (my sister is shaking her head and has a look of bewilderment on her face).  Really, I just don't love the mall.  So, what is a girl to do?

With very little sewing experience - see previous two posts for completed projects - I decided that it was a good idea to make a strapless dress to wear to this wedding.  I am pretty sure there were a few family members thinking that I was crazy.  How hard can it be?  Buy the pattern, cut the pieces, follow the instructions and sew a few seams . . .

Okay, although it was a little more involved than I had anticipated, it truly wasn't too difficult.

Here it is in all its glory - and those arms are proof that I don't work out!

 Don't mind the wrinkles, after the reception the dress was rolled into a ball and thrown in my closet, only to be taken out minutes before these glamour photos as taken by hubby.

This is also a great shot to show that the dress is a little ill fitting.  The bunching makes it look to small, but the problem is that there is too much fabric and it is a little large.

A lovely side profile, don't I look stunning? ;)

Now with this last view I must reveal a little secret.  As well made as this dress appears, I had to safety-pin it to my bra to ensure that it did end up around my ankles.  (I of course then prayed that my bra would stay securely around my chest; I can report success!)

I can report that overall I was happy with the way this dress turned out.  Before my next garment, I will take extra care to redo my measurements to make sure I make the most accurate size

Live the moment, love life!