Inherited quilt projects

I have a couple quilt tops (the decorative bit that you see which made up of a bunch of different fabric scraps sewn together) from my mom’s mom. The less fancy one has what I’m calling a “dogbone” pattern (I don’t know what the official name is). We don’t know where the quilt top came from originally; my grandma didn’t quilt, so it must’ve been a gift of some sort.

~65″ x70″. Almost square which could be a little awkward.

The fancier top was a wedding present to my mom’s parents in 1952. This one is more finished, with a border and everything.

~75″ x 92″

I put these through the laundry to pre-shrink them, make sure the colors don’t bleed, and find any weak seams, but I was too rough on them… so I’m currently repairing frayed seams. I was hoping to go straight to assembly and quilting.

While resewing seams, I’m thinking ahead to what border and back to add to the dogbone top.

I could also combine borders or do two rows of border. What do you think looks best?

I was thinking a lime green patterned fabric would look really good, but there’s nothing like that in the stash.

Sources of fancy masa

This is a partner post to the bean search. I discovered recently that fancy masa is available. It can be heirloom, direct-trade, single origin, organic, etc, all those normal fancy food options.

I was inspired to search for fancy masa after J and I went to a (vegetarian!) Oaxacan restaurant in Brooklyn that makes their own masa using fancy corn. They use the masa in their food products but they also sell it fresh (I got some). Going to Brooklyn all the time for fresh masa isn’t super convenient, though. Fortunately, the company, Masienda, that supplies the fancy also sells direct to consumers!

Somewhat sad tortillas I made with the fresh masa

While researching them, I came across a couple other fancy masa stores too. These are the options I found!

  • Masienda – dry masa in several colors, as well as several heirloom bean varieties and lots of varieties of heirloom/single origin whole corn. They have supplies for doing your own nixtamalization.
  • Alma Semillera – very similar to Masienda, but with smaller selection. Many if not all products are also organic, so overall a bit more expensive.
  • I Love Mole – even smaller selection of beans, masa harina, and whole corn. This company mostly sells mole mixes and other seasonings.

None of these companies is particularly local to me (in New York). I believe they’re all based in California, although most of the beans and corn are grown in Mexico.

Ladyfingers

These are the cookies used for making tiramisu. Sibling C is going to make it as a birthday cake!

This recipe is from Joy of Cooking (1976).

Recipe

  • 1/3 cup cake flour (sift before measuring)
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar (sift before measuring)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 whole egg, 2 eggs separated
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  1. (Optional) Let ingredients warm to room temperature.
  2. Whip 2 egg whites until stiff. Sift sugar and salt together, and fold into egg whites. Beat mixture until it thickens again.
  3. Beat whole egg, 2 egg yolks, and vanilla until thick. Fold into egg white mixture.
  4. Resift flour a few times and fold into egg white mixture.
  5. With a pastry tube (or spoon), shape dough into strips 3.5-4 inches long by 1.25 inches wide on a cookie sheet. Or pour into greased molds.
  6. Bake at 375°F for 12 min.

Mooncakes for the fall equinox

Friend A who I went to grad school with (also likes cheap/free food, has been climbing with us recently) gave us some mooncakes she made! :’) They were presumably for the Mid-Autumn Festival, which happens around the autumn equinox and is coming up! The days are definitely getting shorter.

The mookcakes are actually the “snow skin” version (recipe that Friend A used), which uses a mochi-esque wrapper. Apparently snow skin mooncakes are easier to make than the traditional baked kind, so a better choice for at-home creation.

The inside is coconut milk , sugar, cheese, and salted egg yolk, the middle layer is coconut milk, sugar, butter, flour, egg, and salted egg yolk, and the outside is rice flour with milk.

Bagel shop (I see many in our future)

Over the weekend, we visited Russ & Daughters, a famous and fairly old (1920, continuously run by the original family and at the original location) Jewish “appetizing store“, meaning that they sell things that go with bagels, along with bagels. We went right before Rosh Hashanah, so the main shop was super busy — 45 min just to go into the store to order! We went around the corner to their café location instead. The café also had more meal-food selection.

The busy original location.

We got blintzes (we’ve made them at home too), latkes, and a bagel with cream cheese, lox, onion, tomato, and capers.

Y’all know I don’t love bagels. This one was about standard. Kinda expensive ($16!!).
The latkes were better than expected. I think I like the soft ones better than the crunchy ones.
Bit too sweet overall, but blueberry jam was really good and tart! Must’ve had a lot of lemon in it.

Garden update!

I got a melon!!! I didn’t even see it until the other day.

Really tiny melon, maybe because the plant is dying (unknown cause). I’m not sure if it’s ripe — we will see!
The sweet potatoes are super vigorous. The bushiness is convenient for keeping wind-blown trash out. Unclear if I’ll be able to leave them in the ground over the winter. The mint, broccoli, and carrots are hanging on. The remaining kajari melon (care info) is doing well, but I’m not sure if it’s set fruit yet. The tatume squash is just starting to send out vines. I hope there’s enough warm weather left for it to make some squash.

I started the garden pretty late this year, so the plants didn’t have a super long growing season and had to deal with hot weather early on in their lives.

The late start might have also made bug threats worse. The radishes mostly succumbed to some small gray bugs. I was able to harvest three bottoms but the leaves had been sucked dry.

The fence needs some shoring up, especially at the curb. Cars aren’t very careful with their doors and the fence isn’t incredibly sturdy…

Cobbler with streusel

Modified from The Joy of Cooking (1973) “quick cherry crunch”. I made this to use up some really tart apricots and old peaches with a bad texture. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of it, but it was really good!

Recipe
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2-2/3 cup sugar (use the smaller amount if fruit is already quite sweet or has added sugar)
  • 1/2 cup melted butter or other liquid oil
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • Some milk (I didn’t measure, maybe 1/3 cup?)
  • (Optional) 1 cup nuts (either soft/oily ones like walnuts and pecans, or thinly sliced if harder, like almonds)
  • 3-4 cups chopped fruit (use the smaller amount if fruit is quite sour)
  1. Mix all ingredients through baking powder. Split in half.
  2. Mix one half with the egg, milk, and nuts. Put in the bottom of baking dish (~9″ x 9″ x 2″).
  3. Add fruit. Top with other half of streusel mixture.
  4. Bake 35 min at 350°F.

The original recipe just put half the streusel below and half above the fruit, no milk, egg, or nuts added.

Arepas

J and I saw several arepa stands at a street fair. They didn’t look amazingly high quality (at least one stand was just heating up pre-packaged arepas), so J took it as inspiration to make our own!

Arepas are Venezuelan and Colombian, mostly. We made the simplest variety, which is a cornmeal pancake cut in half and stuffed with mild cheese. The cornmeal has to be either pre-cooked (masarepa; the traditional way) or nixtamalized (masa harina; will be slightly less fluffy) to form a dough properly. You can’t just use regular old cornmeal, but instant polenta might work.

Recipe
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 2 cups masarepa or masa harina
  • If using masa harina, some baking powder to add fluffiness
  1. Mix everything together. Let rest for 10 min. Dough should be moist and able to form balls without cracking, but not stick to your hands too much.
  2. Form into patties (standard thickness is 1/2 in). Deep fry, OR pan fry ~3 min on each side and then bake for 15 min.

Falafel pitas

Falafel with homemade pitas in the background! I used the normal dough for the pitas, but cooked them in preheated cast iron pans in the oven instead. They almost made pockets.

We were following a recipe for baked tofu pitas and I decided to make it more difficult and more delicious by making falafel instead. Buuuut our only chickpeas are old and don’t cook super well even with soaking and an hour of pressure-cooking, let alone being fried. So I substituted with red lentils instead.

I was trying to figure out what legumes are safe/traditional to cook in this manner. Seems like lentils are fine, as are chickpeas of course, urad dal (used in Indian breads like dosa and idli), mung beans (used in Korean bindae-tteok), cowpeas and black-eyed peas (used in akara), and fava beans (used in another version of falafel).

This recipe is pretty good. The cooking notes are useful and the intro has interesting historical info.

Accompanied by homemade yoghurt, mint, lettuce, tahini sauce with lemon, salt and pepper, garlic, and water to thin, and tomato-cucmber-onion salad with vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper.

Ricotta gnocchi + sauces

To use up some leftover ricotta, I combined the ideas and instructions from Cook’s Illustrated’s spinach gnudi and a revision of their ricotta gnocchi.

Gnocchi

  • 16 oz ricotta
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs (panko preferred)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan or other aged, salty, hard cheese of that sort
  • 1-2 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 egg
  • pepper
  • salt
  • (optional) 2 Tablspoons fresh minced basil or some dry basil
  • (optional) 1 bunch of kale or spinach or other green
  1. Remove liquid from ricotta. Can strain overnight in a mesh strainer or cheesecloth. Fast way: spread in a thin layer on a kitchen towel (smooth weave, not terrycloth) for 10 min.
  2. If using greens, blanch, squeeze very dry, and chop finely.
  3. Mix all ingredients. Let rest for 15 min in the fridge (cool temps makes the dough stiffer, apparently desirable so it doesn’t fall apart when cooked). Dough should be tacky and stick together.
  4. Form into balls (~1 TB each) — scoop and roll method or log and cut method recommended. Boil 2-4 min, until the gnocchi float.
J wanted wheat pasta in addition to the gnocchi. I wasn’t able to convince him that gnocchi is already pasta (especially since my explanation of it was “ravioli without the pasta”).

Sauce ideas:

  • Classic browned butter with sage, shallots, and lemon juice. Brown butter in a pan (should smell nutty). Remove from heat and add other ingredients, lemon last so other items can cook in residual heat.
  • Tomato confit. Cook garlic in butter. Add large-diced tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes, salt, red chili flakes, and a splash of vinegar. Cook until tomatoes are “wilted”. Top with fresh basil and grated parmesan.