Wednesday, August 19, 2015


Where is the summer going? I realized the other day that there was only a month left til the boy begins school again, in Grade 4. Wait, what? It's been a wierd couple of weeks.

 The weather has been more west coasty - cloud, rain, and then sun, sometimes in the same day or same hour but after weeks and weeks of sunshine, it is taking some adjustment. We've still had days at the beach with waves to jump around in and if we stay for supper, glorious sunsets.

 And just because it is summer, doesn't mean that life is all summery. There was some sad news for our school community a few weeks ago and my heart breaks for a family in mourning. And our group of friends are gearing up to say adieu to a family moving away for a couple of years. But on the plus side, we are looking forward to a family reunion at the end of the month and the boy is anxious to play with his cousins.

Amongst the sad news at the end of July, came the good news of a new addition in our extended family which prompted a crafting fever by myself. Out of the craft cupboard came the felt and fabric, cutting mats and cutters and projects that have been sitting in waiting for ages are coming to fruition.
an oops cake - delicious but a bit messy after the layers slipped around in the heat

quilt for a new addition
Of course, my sewing machine has mutinied and is off at the shop being repaired, so I dug a serger out that I got at a huge sale eons ago and never managed to learn how to use, and have been using it. Teaching this old mummy dinosaur new tricks!

 I made a couple of felt friends, altering a pattern to make a lion (finally as I'd been thinking about it for ages) and which I find slightly ironic given the media storm around this story. We had a stuffie lion, with a fabulous mane, when we were children, so stuffie lions have always had a place in my heart. Here's the one I made:

I also made a sheep:

Cooking seems to be (pardon the pun) on the back burner during these summer days but one staple has been these easy summer potatoes.

Easy Summer Roasties
1 lb small new potatoes (halve the bigger ones)
dash of olive oil
sprinkling of onion salt
salt and pepper

Place the potatoes in a baking dish and microwave for 5-7 minutes. Once done, add the oil, onion salt and some salt and pepper and make sure all the potatoes are covered. Roast in the oven for about 15 minutes at 375 deg F.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

soft pretzels

orgami tigers
The heat has come back to the PNW which is not the perfect time for me to be on a baking streak. None the less, I have been making dough, in between fixing my KitchenAid mixer, as the head had come completely off the pin so was thunking around while kneading the dough, most alarming. However, we managed to get the pin back where it should be and the mixer head is back in place. Phew.
a goat spied on a local beach...
Also, in the midst of sewing some curtains for our newly painted laundry room (and sewing/craft/cat bedroom) my sewing machine began to sound severly asthmatic, slowed down and finally stopped completely, so it is off being repaired. Of course, I have been struck with quilting fever and want to be making and sewing a couple of projects, once the curtains are finished. Hopefully my old faithful Bernina can be repaired with a bit of TLC and possibly some oil.

In between mornings at drop in soccer camp and afternoons at the park or playing with friends or visiting lemonade stands, I made a couple of batches of these pretzels. The first batch I halved the dough and froze one half and made up the other half. The second batch went into the fridge after raising and was stickier than the first so I recommend based on my experience that if you don't want to make the pretzels right away, freeze the dough and then let it thaw when you want to make them.

I've seen many recipes for pretzels but they always seemed so complicated, what with food safe lye and the twisting etc. But recently I read this post from Things we make and it seemed I should try them. Hot cinnamon sugar baked dough sounded irristible. So I made them.

Hot Soft Pretzels (from Things we Made)
2 1/4 tsp bread yeast
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
4 cups flour
1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
4 tbsps butter, melted

Place the yeast, sugar, salt and flour in the bowl of a mixer, keeping the salt away from the yeast. Mix with the dough hook. Mix the melted butter into the milk and add slowly into the flour mix, until a dough forms. Knead for 8-10 minutes, until the dough is soft. Cover the bowl with the dough with plastic film and leave it for 1-2 hours to double in size.
Preheat the oven to 400 deg F. Take the risen dough and divide into 16 pieces. Roll each piece into a long sausage, not using flour so the dough will be easier to roll.
 Roll each dough sausage out evenly until over 12" long or longer. Take the ends of the roll and form a U with the dough. Twist the ends over twice and then pull them towards the bottom of the U and push them into the dough to form the pretzel. Continue with all the dough.
To Dip: Dissolve 2 tbsp baking soda into 2 c hot water in a largish bowl. With a slotted spoon, slip each of the pretzels into the water, lift out and place on a cooling rack to drain slightly. Once all the pretzels are dipped, place them on parchment lined baking sheets. Bake for 4-5 minutes, turn the sheets and bake for another 4-5 minutes until brown.

Melt 2 tbsp butter. Once the pretzels are out of the oven, brush each with melted butter. Dip into a sugar cinnamon mixture (I've tried savory as well - chive and cheese is lovely). Eat.