Things My Grandmother Knew: Quilting

Oh man!  This is one thing I wish I had learned.

I have quilts made by my great-grandmother. Quilts made by my grandmother and quilt tops and quilt blocks made by my grandmother just WAITING for me to figure out how to do it.

I almost got started shortly after moving out here.  I decided what quilt top I was going to finish, bought the batting, the coordinating trip and backing and then just never got things off the ground.  I almost feel ashamed when I think of how many my grandmother and great grandmother completed during their lives.

They made some simple block quilts, crazy quilts, log cabin quilts, and others.  BUT, my favorite was the double wedding ring style.  It’s tiny blocks and delicate stiching with my favorite shape (the circle) all intertwined together made it a remarkable piece of art to me.  I have one in particular that I treasure and watch over like a hawk.

SO…now, I face a dilemma.  Since both my great-grandmother and grandmother have passed away, WHO is going to be patient enough to teach me.  I’ve tried reading books about it…but it is such a big undertaking to start all alone.  I really don’t want to take a “class” at some craft store. That seems so impersonal.  AND, I’m not sure I want to join a quilting group where I don’t know anyone.  SO, I don’t know where to go from here.  BUT, this is one thing my grandmother knew, that I wish I would have learned.

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Things My Grandmother Knew: Fresh Herbs

My grandmother always had a garden.  I remember her putting up quart after quart of beans, pickles, pickled beets and watermelon rinds and much more.  I don’t remember her having herbs in the garden but I think she must have at least had dill to use for her pickles.  I have been TRYING to have a window sill herb garden since the early days of my marriage.  Sometimes, I was successful and sometimes I wasn’t.  This year however, I’m determined will be a successful year because there is nothing better than cooking with fresh herbs.

I don’t start my herb plants from seed for lots of reasons.  They are too temperamental for me and my light green thumb and our growing season is VERY short.  In fact, you can see from this picture below, that my herbs for this year are still in movable pots so that I can bring them inside at night.  Why?  Our frost free date is not until June 10th so until then, I keep them in my sunroom.  (That’s our sweet dog Oscar…looking on!)

Herbs seem to be a bit more “fussy” about how much water and sun with which they thrive.  So, for me, it’s taken a bit of trial and error and I have developed my favorites that don’t seem to be as difficult to grow:  rosemary, tarragon, mint, lavender, majoram, thyme, oregano, parsley, dill, parsley…to name a few.

One of my favorite recipes using Rosemary is below. (Chicken Salad with Rosemary)

Chicken Salad with Rosemary

3 celery ribs

3 cups cubed cooked chicken

1/2 cup fat-free mayonnaise

1/2 cup fat-free sour cream

1 tbsp fresh rosemary

Thinly slice the celery and combine it in a bowl with the chicken.

Blend together the mayonnaise, sour cream and rosemary.

Pour the dressing over teh chicken and celery, stirring until the ingredeitns are thoroughly mixed.

Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

I also love throwing some rosemary into fresh biscuits in the morning.  YUM!

Enjoy!

Faith and Courage,

Lori

***The inspiration for this series came from my reading, How to Sew a Button:  And Other Nifty Things Your Grandmother Knew

Things My Grandmother Knew: Baking Bread

I can’t really remember my grandmother making bread, but I do remember my mom teaching me how to make bread and using Aunt Velda’s Refrigerator Roll recipe.  I even baked bread for some of my favorite teachers in high school. So, I guess you could say this is an area that my grandmother knew and that I learned along the way.  To me it is one of the most relaxing things to do and has been so much easier than when I first started due to the wonderful mixers and bread makers available to us.

Now, I do want to let you know that I’m NOT a fan of bread makers.  I saved and saved for one years ago and was so disappointed by the product it produced, I ended up putting it in a garage sale and going back to the old fashioned way.  To me, there was just a distinct difference in the texture of the bread.  However, I did save the recipe book that came with the bread maker and still use it to bake bread in the oven.

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Just this morning, I made five loaves of bread using recipes found in the bread maker recipe book.  It seems almost as quick and easy for me to use my Kitchen Aide mixer with its dough hook then it did to use the bread maker and I like this texture much better.  Just like when you use a bread maker, I dump all of the ingredients into the bowl of the mixer all at once, then I turn the mixer on low and let it mix and knead the bread.  When it is finished, I put it in a greased bowl and let it rise until double.  Then, I punch it down, form it into a loaf or circle (depending on the style of bread I’m making) and let it rise again.  Then, in the oven it goes at 400 for the first 10 minutes and the at 350 until an inserted knife comes out clean.

Now, I live at 9400 feet above sea level so once I moved here, I had some issues with some of my old bread recipes working at this altitude.  I’ve over come this by doing a few things differently.

1.  My best bread is made in circle shape and baked on a pizza stone.

2.  I always add gluten to the recipe OR

3.  I add an extra teaspoon or two of yeast. (regular not rapid-rise)

Just those simple things seem to make the bread come out perfectly almost every time.  Even when I use a regular loaf pan, adding the gluten or the yeast, really helps with consistency of the bread.

I’ve also experimented with breads using freshly ground wheat and grain and I LOVE the taste, but I HATE the mess of grinding so I don’t do that very often.  However, using the method above, I’ve baked bread three times in the past week.  It’s that easy and cleanup is a snap.

Here are the two recipes I used this morning.

Raisin Bread (for a 2lb loaf)

1 1/2 cups water

4 cups white bread flour

2 tbsp. dry milk (I substitute regular milk when I am out of dry milk and have no problems)

2 tbsp. sugar

2 tsp. salt

2 tbsp. butter

1 tsp. cinnamon

4 tsp. active dry yeast (at high altitude I used 2 1/2 tbsp)

Mix and knead with mixer.  Let dough rise in greased bowl until double.  Punch down, form into desired shape and let rise until double.  Bake at 400 for 10 minutes and then at 350 until an inserted knife comes out clean and bread is golden brown.

French Bread (for a 2 lb loaf)

1 1/2 cups plus 2 tbsp water

4 cups white bread flour

2 tbsp sugar

2 tsp. salt

3 tsp. active dry yeast (at high altitude I used 3 tbsp. active dry yeast)

Mix and knead with mixer.  Let dough rise in greased bowl until double.  Punch down, form into desired shape and let rise until double.  Bake at 400 for 10 minutes and then at 350 until an inserted knife comes out clean and bread is golden brown.

Still sound like too much work.  I assure you the smell of freshly baked bread and your family’s reaction to it will be well worth the effort.

Faith and Courage,

Lori

***This post series has been inspired by my reading the book:  How to Sew A Button and Other Nifty Things Your Grandmother Knew

New Series: Things My Grandmother Knew

I’ve been thinking alot about my grandmother lately.  It’s been two years since she passed away and I miss her terribly. She knew so much about so many things…about things that most of us don’t even think of teaching our own children and perhaps, things that our own generation doesn’t know.  I ran across a book recently that talks about just that….How to Sew A Button: And Other Things Your Grandmother Knew by Erin Bried.  Reading through it, even casually, has reminded me of so many things my grandmother taught me and other things I wish I would have been more attentive about.

So…over the next few posts…for however long this topic holds my interest, I’m going to go through some of those topics…those that I have already learned and those things that I still need to learn or wish I could learn.  I hope you will join me on this journey!  Should be pretty interesting!