Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spring is Here!

I took this photo while I was in Austin. It's a tree on a balcony of the Texas Association of Counties building on the fourth floor. I KNOW what this is - I planted one here in northeast Texas but our soil is too acidic for this. But I can't drag the name out of my grey matter. Sigh...
However, I can tell you that my CAMELLIA bush is absolutely gorgeous! 

Yippee! My foot is better, so I don't have to keep it elevated all the time. I can quilt now! 

It didn't take but a couple of hours to finish the double pass it took to complete a row of the "rose" blocks that were set on point.  

I am not quilting around the block motifs. I will do that after I get all the cross-hatching done and get the quilt out of the frame. It will be easier to maneuver the quilt in my large lap hoop.

I put this in the frame two years ago and cannot remember if there's four or five rows. So sad! I'm pretty certain that there are five rows. Time and a lot of quilting will tell.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day

I have a wee bit o' the Irish in me - Fields from my mother's side and Griffith from my dad's side. 

I use my cast iron chicken fryer with its cast iron lid to bake
Irish Soda Bread

It does a smashing job of it!

Before church I put carrots, potatoes, onions, and corned beef in the slow cooker. 

I also made shortbread.  

Everything I read online stated that REAL Irish Soda Bread has just four ingredients. When you start adding sugar, raisins, orange rind, etc. it becomes cake.

I got my recipe from The Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread.

White Soda Bread
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1 teaspoon salt
14 ounces of buttermilk

The way I did it:
Put your cast iron skillet or Dutch oven with its lid into the oven. 
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Sift flour, baking soda, and salt together.
Stir in buttermilk.
Place dough on floured surface and knead just a bit. Not too much!
Shape into a ball.
Cross cut the top.
Remove skillet from oven and pour in just a bit of vegetable oil to lightly grease the skillet.
Put the formed loaf into the skillet.
Put the skillet in the oven and cover with the lid.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Remove lid and bake an additional 15 minutes.
Loaf sounds hollow when tapped on bottom.

Remove from oven. You must then immediately slice off a bit and slather with butter. Quality Control is a job...but sigh...somebody's got to do it. ;-)

My shortbread recipe was found in an old cookbook called The Highlanders Cookbook. Once again REAL shortbread has only three ingredients.

1 pound butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar 
4 cups sifted flour

Beat butter and sugar until just combined. Gradually add flour.
Dust counter with a combination of flour and powdered sugar. You can form two circles 3/4" thick or one large rectangle 3/4" thick.
Place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Using your thumb, indent around the edge. Then prick all over with a fork.
Bake at 375 degrees for 5 minutes.
Lower temperature to 300 degrees and bake about 45 minutes. These should not brown much at all.
Remove from oven and immediately slice into desired shapes. Triangle for your circles or squares for shortbread baked in a rectangle.