Wednesday, July 29, 2009

quilting for hire

just before leaving for oklahoma i finished up this gorgeous orange and blue quilt aryn made for adrionna's birthday. aryn pieced the top together - and it's stunning - and then handed it off to me to assemble and quilt.

i have to admit it took me a while to get around to it, and we had to move all the furniture out of the living room in order to spread it out entirely, but once it got pinned together it went very fast. i love the piecing aryn did with the backing - it adds a great dimension to the back and then comes across to the front on the binding, which i really like. i'm definitely steeling that idea for my next quilt.

once i got the quilt sandwich assembled and pinned together, i quilted long, wavy lines from top to bottom throughout the quilt. this was all on aryn's suggestion, and i have to admit i started out skeptical that wavy lines would look good on a horizontal and vertical striped surface, but it turned out looking fantastic. i chose a goldenrod-colored thread that blends nicely into the oranges and stands out a bit on the blue.

i tried aryn's method of binding, which uses the extra backing of the quilt to fold over to the top and machine stitch it all the way around. i usually cut a bias strip of binding and stitch it by hand to the front, so this method was much quicker. i didn't do a perfect job of it, but i think i'm the only one who's sweating my misstakes, so i let them slide.

the quilt looks quite nice put together.

and it was received with great enthusiasm.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

pesto goes on everything.

basil season is in full swing here in the bay area, and we've been getting bunches of fragrant basil bouquets in our farm box, and at the farmers market. which means it's absolutely time to break out the blender, suck it up and shell out some dough for pinenuts - those little buggers are pricey. as you see from the photo, according to the korean market down the street these are "finenuts." indeed, they are.

i found in my recipe box - and by "recipe box" i mean recipe folder on my computer - a recipe called the pesto manifesto. i can't rightly recall where i got this, so my apologies to whomever i'm plagiarizing by posting it here.

The Pesto Manifesto
Here it is, the ultimate in pesto recipes, the world expert's final word in pesto making! PESTO, THE RECIPE
Place 2 large cloves of garlic in the bottom of a blender or food processor. Add 3 cups very firmly packed fresh basil leaves, 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, and 1 cup olive oil.
Grind for 10 seconds. Add ½ cup pine nuts. Grind for 8 to 10 seconds longer. The sauce should contain small pieces of leaves, and the nuts should be just broken up, not pulverized. Remember that pesto was traditionally made by hand, and you don't want modern appliances to give it a baby-food consistency.

tips i have about the process:

one - use a food processor. because i have a hard time committing to relying on just one recipe at a time, i consulted several other pesto recipes. one i found at epicurious suggested that "using a blender rather than a food processor produces a smoother puree," and though this flies in the face of what the pesto manifesto thinks is legitimate pesto consistency, i took their advice. let me save you the trouble and say what it really does is burn out the motor on your blender and make your kitchen smell like an auto shop. and let me tell you, my kitchen already smells enough like an auto shop on the regular.

two - storage is key. you're making fresh pesto here, so don't expect to have a jar in your fridge for weeks and dip into it for every meal - which is precisely what i'm doing right now, but that means the top layer of my pesto is a yucky brown color, so do as i say not as i do. i say make it within the day that you're going to use it for some yummy purpose, and freeze the rest. pesto freezes really well, and my recommendation is filling up an ice cube tray - which makes perfect one serving cubes of the stuff for later.

three - suggested use. since i have been dipping into that jar for several weeks now, i've discovered that pesto goes with pretty much everything i want to eat. pizza, omlettes, sandwiches, pasta, garlic bread, fish, polenta, pretty much everything that's ever tasted good tastes better with pesto on it. until you get sick of pesto and/or it turns yucky brown because you haven't put it in the freezer.