Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Bob Dylan Quilt Series: Batting & Border

Batting Part Two!!

I had to take a hiatus from the quilt for a couple weeks to deliberate about the batting I bought.  It just didn't seem right to me and I had to consult with the "client" (HI LORI!) about it.  I had chosen polyester fusible batting, but it didn't lay flat, it was too thick, and just wasn't right.  After some consideration, I decided to head back to Joann's and pick up some (as thin as possible) cotton batting.  This is supposed to be a light blanket, and I didn't want it to be overwhelmingly warm, but can I tell you?  It is REALLY hard to find the super thin stuff.  I know there is batting even thinner than the replacement batting I bought, but I couldn't find any.  I went ahead and prewashed the cotton batting (it will shrink) by soaking it in hot water for 20 minutes, then air drying it on low heat.  I then replaced the old batting with the new, cotton batting.  Aaand we're ready to go again.

To construct the border, I made my own bias tape from the same gray fabric as the back and front panels.  I wanted to have a finished bias tape of ½”, so I cut the fabric into strips 2 inches wide at a 45 degree angle (on the bias).  Folding and ironing the two sides into the middle, and then folding it again in half, you have a finished product that looks like this:

You can also buy factory-made bias tape for this process (but then it may be a different color!)  For more detailed instructions on how to construct bias tape, please visit my previous post on bias tape from my Bib Series.

Next it's time to attach the bias tape around the border.  Start by opening the bias tape up and pinning it around the top of the quilt with right sides together.  You'll want to fold the beginning of the bias tape down to make a little triangle.  OF COURSE I forgot to take a picture of it, so I lovingly recreated it for you:

Keep pinning around the quilt.  At the corners, bring the bias tape all the way to the edge, fold it, and continue pinning on the other edge.  It looks like this:

Here's a closer look.  You'll have a little triangle of fabric.

When you get back to the beginning, pin over the other bias tape reserving a couple extra inches of bias tape.

Now it’s time to sew!  Generally, you’ll want to sew on the ½” fold from the raw edge.  However, since we’re working with homemade bias tape and not factory made, here’s a little extra detail.  Fun Fact:  Factory made bias tape has a short fold and a long fold.  The short fold is sewed on first, and the long fold covers the whole thing.  Now MY bias tape is completely equal on both sides.  Therefore, in order for the bias tape to cover the thread I’m sewing on first, I’m going to sew juuuust inside the ½” fold.  See?

Here's a pic of it without the annotations:

To deal with the corners, remember how we had a little triangle of fabric just dangling there in space?  The rule of thumb here is DON'T SEW THAT.  We want that triangle to keep on danglin'.  So when sewing, just go riiiiight up to where the triangle of fabric sticks up, like this:

Then stop, back stitch, cut the thread, and start again on the other side of the triangle.  Understand?

See here's me squishing the dangly triangle down, with the sewn part underneath it.

Here's a pic of the real thing:  (You can kinda see it)

Continue sewing until you go all around the quilt.

After sewing all the way around the border, now what we do is fold the bias tape into it's original shape, which covers the edge of the quilt.  Pin all the way around the quilt, making sure that the thread from the line you just sewed is covered.  Here's a few pictures that demonstrate this process.

This is the edge of the bias tape where we put that little triangle fold at the very beginning.  By pinning down that fabric in the shape we did, we get this attractive little seam where the two edges of the bias tape meet.

Now all we have to do is attach the other side of the border.  There are two ways of doing this. 1) You could top stitch the bias tape all around the border or 2) hand-sew the other edge of the bias tape on without bring the needle to the front of the quilt.  I am opting for #2, because I like how you can't see the seam looks without the top-stitching, and I find it's more precise and neat.  Begin by bringing the needle through the back of the bias tape so you can hide the beginning of the thread.

Sew by bringing the needle through ONLY the back layer of fabric, and through the edge of the bias tape.

Now continue doing this until you get the entire way around!  So I'm gonna go do this now, it's going to take a while! :)  If I get this done next week, I'll be beginning on the last step: QUILTING.  We are so close, I can taste it! 

Make sure to check back weekly on Wednesdays, I'll be posting updates about this project!  If you are unsure of anything I'm doing here, please let me know and I'll clarify.  And as always, Thanks so much for visiting. I really appreciate everyone who reads and comments. If you like what you've seen here, please follow me on Facebook and Pinterest to receive updates.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Oliver Friday: Window Cat.

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Baking Thursday: Lemon Meringue Pie

Do any of you watch Masterchef?  It's this show on Fox where home cooks compete to be the best amateur cook in America.  Being an amateur cook/baker myself, I find it quite interesting with what these random people are able to come up with.  Some of the competition revolves around coming up with their own dishes, but during something called elimination "pressure tests", the cooks must duplicate a specific item (or two or three) for the judges.  A couple weeks ago, the cooks had to execute a lemon meringue pie.

This episode sparked my interest in trying this pie for a number of reasons:

1) Lemon Meringue Pie used to be my favorite pie (Before Banana Cream Pie took over that title)
2) I've never actually made this pie before, which is a travesty
3) Although I've made pie and lemon curd before, I've never made meringue.  Considering my previous failures with things involving egg whites (AHEM MACAROONS), I considered it a challenge.

A couple weeks ago, I had a couple lemons on hand, and was about to attempt this pie.  SURPRISE, the lemon filling needs corn starch.  So instead of making a traditional filling for this pie, I made a corn-starch-less lemon curd, typically reserved for lemon bars, etc.  I also attempted the meringue, which wasn't THAT bad, but I was surprised on how difficult it was to wrangle when in meringue form.  This is the result:


I'm not even going to show a high quality version of this picture because your eyes might be scarred for life.  Ok, number one, I didn't have a LOT of crust, so it's kind of hidden.  And I tried piping the meringue to achieve the "peaks".  Then when I transported it to it's eating destination across town, the meringue was sliding all over the place on top of the curd and ended up looking terrible.  Upon eating it was TAAAART.  So tart.  Like, I thought I put enough sugar in it to cut the tartness of the lemon, but it sure didn't taste like it!!  I was like, "so this tastes good...maybe?"

I knew that I needed to give this another try, with the correct ingredients, AND a special helper:  MOM!  I knew she'd be helpful, even though she claimed the first time she made this pie, she was 15 and all the neighbor kids were swarming around the kitchen and it ended up in the garden it was so bad.  "The crust had holes in it, so the lemon sank through, and then the meringue was like floating in clumps!"  Good for her, she claims that she has made successful lemon meringue pies since then.

I found a recipe in a cookbook of mine, The All American Dessert Book, which I bought like 3 years ago and have not made one recipe out of it until now!  With expert guidance, the right ingredients, and intense determination, here is the second pie:

Looks better, no?  I did not pipe the meringue this time, and just used a spoon to make the little peaks.  It may have overbrowned just a tad.  And the taste?  MUUUUCH better this time.  The lemon was smooth, sweet, and not overtart.  Just perfect!

The only things to improve on:  The crust needs to be more uniform and maybe not fluted, so the meringue would have less of a chance to separate from the crust.  (It's supposed to be touching)  I THINK the consistency of the meringue is ok, but sometimes it's hard to tell!  It wouldn't cut perfectly like the picture in the book, but it's not too bad.

Have you ever made any meringue pies before?  Any tips or fellow horror stories?  Let me know in the comments!!

Lemon Meringue Pie

courtesy of The All American Dessert Book by
yield: 1 pie
[printable recipe]


For Crust: (or you can use pre-made dough)
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup cold butter (or half butter and half shortening)
4-5 tbsp ice cold water

For Filling:
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar (plus more if needed)
6 tablespoons cornstarch
pinch of salt
1 2/3 cups cold water
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into bits
7 large egg yolks
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (plus more if needed)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons (or more) grated lemon zest

For Meringue:
5 large egg whites, completely free of yolk and at room temperature
generous 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
pinch of salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pastry:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
1. Mix flour & salt together.  Cut in butter with pastry cutter until pea sized.  Sprinkle 1 tbsp of water over the flour mixture & gently toss with fork.  Push moistened dough to the side of the bowl.  Repeat with 1 tbsp of water at a time until all the flour mixture is moistened.  Form dough into a ball.
2. Roll out dough and place into pie pan.  Trim edges at 3/4".  Fold the overhang under to form an edge that rests on the lip of the plate.  Finish by fluting the edges or pressing into the edge with the tines of a fork.
3. Prick the pastry all over with a fork.
4. Spray one side of foil with non stick spray.  Insert oiled side with onto the pie shell, smoothing foil over bottom and sides and folding it out over the rim to cover the pastry.  Fill the foil with dried beans, spreading them so they extend up the plate sides.  Bake for 25 minutes on the bottom rack of the oven.  (this prevents the crust from bubbling up when baking)
5. When finished, transfer pie to wire rack to cool.

Filling:  Reduce heat of oven to 350 degrees F.
1. In heavy saucepan before heating, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, & salt.  Whisk in the water until completely smooth.  Turn on the heat to medium high heat.  Whisk constantly as you bring mixture to a boil.  Lower the heat slightly, and whisk constantly until very thick, smooth, & translucent, about 2 minutes.
2. Remove pan from heat.  Whisk in butter until melted.
3. In deep medium bowl, whisk egg yolks until blended.  Slowly pour about 1/2 cup of the hot cornstarch mixture unto the yolks, whisking constantly and vigorously (you don't want the eggs to cook & scramble).  Whisking vigorously, slowly add the yolk mixture back to the main saucepan cornstarch mixture until well blended.
4. Return the saucepan to medium-high heat and bring to a boil, whisking vigorously and scraping pan bottom, until mixture boils for a full 2 minutes.  Don't undercook, as the filling may thin out later.
5. Remove from heat and whisk in the lemon juice and vanilla.
6. If you have any cooked egg chunks in your mixture, strain filling through fine sieve.
7. Whisk in lemon juice.  Taste.  If it needs more sugar or lemon juice, add now.  Cover & set aside.

1. In a completely grease and moisture free large bowl, combine the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt.
2. Using a mixture (with whisk attachment) on low speed, mix until frothy.  Raise speed to medium and continue beating until mixture is smooth, fluffy, & opaque, but still too soft to hold peaks. (check by stopping and lifting the beater)
3. Immediately add the powder sugar 2 tablespoons at a time, beating for about 20 seconds after each addition.
4. Add the vanilla.
5. Raise speed to medium-high and beat for 2 1/2 minutes, scraping sides of bowl as needed.  Raise speed to high and beat for 1 minute longer, until meringue if fluffy and stand in firm but not dry peaks.

Construct & Bake Pie:
1. If lemon filling is too cool, warm over medium heat until hot again.  Turn out filling into the pie shell, spreading to even surface.
2. Spread about half of the meringue over the filling, making sure the meringue touches the pastry shell all the way around.  Add the remaining meringue, mounding it slightly in the middle.  Attractively swirl the meringue with the back of a large spoon.
3. Bake for 12 to 17 minutes on middle rack in oven, or until the meringue is cooked through and evenly tinged with brown all over.
4. Let cool for at least 2 hours and then refrigerate until completely cold before covering, this will reduce the beating and weeping of the meringue.
5. The pie will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for 3 or 4 days.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Bob Dylan Quilt Series: Batting

Now that I'm off vacation, it's time to resume the Bob Dylan quilt series! When we last left off, we had finished assembling the front of the quilt, and cutting the back.  Now it's time to put them together with batting.  I put the front and back together without batting just to cut any edges that are off so the front and back are perfectly the same size.

Now here's my batting.  Soooo, I ended up buying fusible batting, which I kind of regret.  It's all stiff and the wrinkles were hard to remove.  I ended up having to steam and stretch it the best I could with my iron (without touching the iron to it!!!)

Here's the batting after doing the best I could to get the wrinkles out.

Now put the batting between the front and back pieces.  Make sure to pin it so the front and back are as lined back up as possible.

Now trim the batting.  And Voila!!  We are ready for the next step!

Coming up  next week, I will assemble the bias tape and attack the border!

Make sure to check back weekly on Wednesdays, I'll be posting updates about this project!  And as always, Thanks so much for visiting. I really appreciate everyone who reads and comments. If you like what you've seen here, please follow me on Facebook and Pinterest to receive updates.

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Monday, July 8, 2013

Miscellaneous Monday: Lunch in Berkeley, CA

If you've been following me at all over the past week, you may already know that I'm on Vacation.  Currently I am staying in Berkeley, CA.  Over the past week I've been touring the area:  San Francisco, Napa Valley, Berkeley, and many other really interesting places!  Today we're taking it easy, as tomorrow we have a full day of traveling ahead of us.  I thought I'd do a little mini restaurant review of a little lunch spot Andy and I found in Downtown Berkeley, called Slow.

The first thing I loved about the little sandwich show was the decor and general ambiance.  The yellow color was eye catching and the vintage inspired furniture was quaint.  Decorating the walls were pictures of vegetables and fruits that were so adorable, I might want to make a copy-cat version for my house!  And, the tables had these cute little flowers for decoration:

So cute!!  In addition, they boasted a rose garden patio in the back for patrons to sit.

Aside from decor, I was pleased with the overall theme of the restaurant.  From their website:  "[We] create gourmet food using fresh local ingredients, serve it in a modest setting, and charge reasonable prices so everyone can enjoy slow food".  I just LOVE it!

Now, on to the food.  We went for lunch and ordered two sandwiches to share:  The Caprese, (Organic Heirloom Tomato, Fresh Mozzarella, Baby Arugula, and Truffle Aioli on Croissant) and the Niman Ranch Braised Beef (Pickled Pepper and Onion, Smoked Gouda Cheese, Baby Arugula, and Aioli on ACME Batard).  The ingredients were put together well, all the flavors were amazing, and the breads were great even on their own!  I could have eaten that croissant all by itself.

All in all, it was a perfect lunch for a balmy day in Berkeley, and it really hit the spot.  Now all I need to do is go home to Chicago and try to copy the recipes so I can enjoy it again!  I was a satisfied customer.

Give me more sandwiches please!

If you live in the Bay area or are thinking of visiting, here's the info for Slow:

Slow Restaurant
1966 University Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94704

Thanks so much for visiting Quinnstitch. I really appreciate everyone who reads and comments. If you like what you've seen here, please follow me on Facebook and Pinterest to receive updates.

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Friday, July 5, 2013

Oliver Friday: The "Spot" of Relaxation

Get it?  Because of the spot on his stomach?

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Thursday, July 4, 2013

Baking Thursday: Key Lime Pie Bars

So, I'm on vacation this week, so this post will again be short and sweet, JUST LIKE THESE KEY LIME PIE BARS!!  Haaa hahaha.  OK.  But seriously, these things were so delicious, I got many complements on them.  Perfect for a summer day or a 4th of July party!

Key Lime Pie Bars

Adapted from Martha Stewart
yield: about 2 dozen
[printable recipe] 


For the crust:
1 3/4 cup finely ground graham cracker crumbs
3/4 cup butter, melted
2/3 cup sugar

For the filling
4 large egg yolks
5 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
1 and 1/2 (14 oz) cans of sweetened condensed milk (about 21 ounces total)
1 cup fresh key lime juice (or regular lime juice from fresh limes)

For the garnish
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
2-3 limes, thinly sliced into half-moons

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter together until combined well. Press evenly into bottom of 9 x 11 baking pan. Use the bottom of a glass to flatten. Bake until dry and golden brown, about 10-13 minutes. Let cool completely on wire rack.
3. To make filling: Put egg yolks and lime zest into bowl of electric mixer with whisk attachment. Mix on high speed until very thick, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add condensed milk in a slow steady stream, mixing constantly. Raise speed to high and mix until thick, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low & add lime juice. Mix until just combined.
4. Spread filling evenly over crust. Bake, rotating halfway through, until filling is just set, about 15 minutes. Let cool completely on wire rack. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
5. Cut into 1 1/2 to 2 inch squares. Keep refrigerated until use.
6. To make garnish: Put cream and confectioner's sugar into clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Garnish bars by piping the whipped cream, and topping with a slice of lime.
7. Ungarnished bars can be kept refrigerated for up to 3 days.

If you'd like to see something baked next week for Baking Thursday, please let me know in the comments! If you like what you've seen here, please follow me on Facebook and Pinterest to receive updates.

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