Saturday, October 27, 2012

Ironing Board Cover

Not too long ago I was suddenly aware of how worn, scorched and ugly my ironing board cover was. (It was so ugly in fact that I failed to take a before picture.) Maybe if I washed it I could restore at least a glimmer of it's former "cuteness". I know... a cute ironing board cover? Well, I've always felt that if you have a chore to do that is not exactly a lightning rod of motivation, you might as well do what you can to improve your state of mind while doing it. It always helps me, to adjust my attitude, if cuteness reins. Washing my poor grungy, shabby, timeworn cover didn't do much to lift the ugliness from it so it was time to replace it. I went on a search for a cute cover, one that inspired attitude adjustment. Maybe it's because I live in a small community that my choices were limited, but all I could find were covers aimed at utility... nothing cute or beautiful.
At about the same time, I came across the "Hello Sunshine" collection at Connecting Threads and decided that the "Laundry Day" print would be perfect for a new cover. The "Sunkissed Flowers" in Cashmere Blue came in at a close second. (
The problem was, how? I googlized (is that a word?) how to make an ironing board cover and the Google Search Fairies came up with Eva Garlick's blog Sew Much Good... She has a fantastic tutorial that did not require a pattern, check it out here: This was a super easy project and it only took me maybe, two hours to make (if that).  I could have used my serger to stitch the casing onto the cover but I decided to use the overlock stitch on my regular sewing machine instead. I also decided to use a commercially made bias tape rather than making my own. I found that when I pulled up the elastic to snug the cover over the ironing board it was easier to distribute the tension in the elastic more evenly if I took the cover off a couple of times and distributed the gathers before replacing it on the board...  Anyway, I now find myself looking for things to iron! I can't believe it! I wonder... how long is this going to last?


Friday, October 19, 2012

Pie Tutorial

This year has been an unbelievable year for apples… in fact I think I’ll be referring to 2012 as the year of the apple! My trees are overburdened to the point that a couple of them lost limbs! Needless to say the abundance of produce has translated into an abundance of pie at my house. I was on vacation from work in September and I made a pie EVERY DAY! Pie was the last thing we ate before calling it a day and we had what was left over with tea or coffee for our breakfast every morning. I have to confess that it has also translated into an increase in waistlines for Frizzlecuff (my husband) and me. My two sons, Surly & Virtual, could eat pie all day for months and never see any effect… I’m jealous. Anyway, here is how I go about making a healthy oil based whole wheat pie crust and apple/blackberry pie filling… A note about blackberries; they grow wild here in Oregon and are considered a weed by many. Frizzlecuff has been known to annihilate his fair share of the brambles that grow in hedgerows and over buildings on our property but... he hasn't eliminated all of them! They are rather hearty and tenacious and it’s a good thing that they produce such a flavorful, sweet, juicy fruit or none would be found around our acreage. By the way, it was a bumper crop for blackberries this year too.
I've gathered the ingredients for the filling which I will make before I make the crust. You will need:

Juice of 1 lemon with as much seedless pulp you can manage to get
 1 1/4  cup cold water
5 cups of cored and cubed apples with the peel on (4-5 apples depending on the size)
 Heaping 1/3 cup Minute Tapioca
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/3 cup agave syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups fresh blackberries rinsed and drained

Put the lemon juice with pulp and water in a large sauce pan or Dutch oven. As you core and cube the apples, stir them into the lemon juice mixture so that they don’t turn brown. Once all the apples are in the pot, add and stir in the cinnamon, tapioca and agave syrup. Cook on the stove top until the mixture is bubbly and the tapioca has thickened the juices.

Stir in the vanilla and blackberries and set aside. (Off the heat) I take the time now to pre-heat my oven to 425*F.

Now for the crust… you will need:
1 3/4 cups of whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cold water
1/2 cup extra light olive oil

In a bowl, mix the flour and salt together with a fork. Add simultaneously, the oil and water. Mix together with the fork until all the flour is incorporated.

Form the dough into two balls, one slightly larger than the other. The bigger ball will be the bottom crust and the smaller ball will be the top crust. Now it’s time to roll out the crust and to do this you will need 3 pieces of waxed paper.
Lightly dampen your counter top with a wet rag or sponge and adhere one piece of waxed paper to the counter top by placing it on the moist surface. Once the paper is down, place the larger of the two balls of dough in the center of the paper and slightly flatten into a circle of dough. Place a second piece of waxed paper on top of the dough and roll out into a large circle.

Peel off the top piece of waxed paper and set aside to use again when you roll out the top crust. You can easily pick up the bottom crust with the paper underneath it. Flip the dough over so the paper is on top as you carefully place it in your pie plate trying to get it as centered as you can. You should have a little bit of overhang of dough on your pie plate after you carefully press it all the way down into the plate. Slowly peel off the waxed paper being aware of the fact that the folds and creases along the sides will want to tear. If it does don’t worry, you can press the dough together to heal a small tear without too much trouble.

Repeat the same method for the top crust. Use a fresh piece of waxed paper on the counter surface and use your recycled piece again on top. Once the top piece of waxed paper is removed you can cut your pie vents anyway you choose. I have a “signature” top that I use for all my crusted pies. You can use cookie cutters, a knife, or a fork, whatever inspires your creativity. My Mother-in-Law used to cut a tree design into the top of her pies with a knife and used a fork to seal the edges of the pie. Anyway, once this is done it is time to add the filling to the pie plate, put the top crust on and seal the edges.

In this final picture before the pie goes in the oven, I have sprinkled the top with cinnamon sugar


Bake the pie for 10 minutes at 425*F then reduce the temperature to 350*F and bake for another 30 minutes. I think it is a good idea to place aluminum foil or a cookie sheet on the shelf underneath the shelf your pie is sitting on in the oven. (I've never tried placing it directly underneath the pie on the same shelf because I’m afraid it would change how the pie bakes.) A strategically placed barrier could save you the oven clean-up of potential overflowing filling. (This happens to me all the time!) You can eat your pie hot but be aware that the hotter the pie the more "runny" the filling will be. Tapioca needs to cool before it truly sets up. I find my pies to be the perfect consistency when at room temperature.  

Well, that’s it, that’s how I make pie. Perhaps in future posts I’ll cover different fillings. For now anyway it’s apple/blackberry pie.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

This blog was inspired by a comment that my niece Erin made a while back. She told me that she would love to spend some time with me learning some of the things I know about sewing, cooking, homemaking etc...  It's been a couple of years now since Erin told me this so the idea of blogging has been brewing for some time now. I have to admit I wonder if people really want to hear what I have to say and maybe it doesn't really matter...
How did I decide what to call my blog? There is a creek that runs through my property and depending on what map you're looking at it is called Calico Creek or it is called Muslin Creek. We had some business with the State Water Master a few years ago and learned that it is in fact Muslin Creek. Why name my blog "At Home on Calico Creek"? I guess because I like the sound of it better and I think of calico as being more colorful than muslin, more interesting. Besides, I do live on Calico Creek if you're looking at the right map! Anyway, this is it... the beginning of something new. My next post will be all about making pie.