What's on My Food?

Find out what's on your food at: whatsonmyfood.org

Friday, January 15, 2010

BOM or Blocks of the Month and/or First Saturday Blocks

Hi Boys and Girls!

BOM...what in the heck is that? Well, in the quilting world it means Block of the Month. Sometimes, we don't want to fool with choosing our own fabric or we do not want to buy more than we need. Personally, I do not know one quilter who is AFRAID to buy more fabric than he or she needs! Anyway, there could possibly be one of you out there! So, a BOM is for you. Every month you receive or pick up from your LQS (local quilt shop) your block that has all the instructions and all the fabric needed for that block. The object is to finish that block before the next one arrives!! It can happen...

Another neat way to get a quilt is First Saturday Blocks. On the first Saturday of the month you pay for your first block. That too comes with instructions and fabric. It is usually $5. Also at that time, the shop may have you purchase the pattern or the finishing kit. The block is due the next month on the first Saturday at a specific time...usually in the morning. When you show that you have completed the block, you will be given the next block. If you do not miss a Saturday, you can get a quilt finished for $5 and/or the price of the pattern or finishing kit. When you turn in your block there is usually a short demo or the shop owner will have samples of things that are new to the shop. Also, there is a drawing. I won a free pass that can be used any month I am going to be late turning in my block. That is cool.

The First Saturday quilt I am working on now is Pieceful Nights: A Sampler Quilt by From My Heart to Your Hands. It is designed by Lori Smith. Today I finished another block which will be turned in the first Saturday in February.
This quilt will finish at 63 1/2" x 63 1/2" Rhonda at Oak Leaf Quilts has some blocks still available. She is at http://www.oakleafquilts.com/

Any successful block you make starts with precise piecing. It is crucial that you have 1/4" seams throughout your entire quilt. If you start a quilt on one machine, a Feather Weight, for instance, do all the blocks on that machine. I have two FWs that I take to retreats or workshops. I have one in WA state where I visit a lot and one at home. They only weigh 10 pounds. Want to know more about FWs? See http://www.featherweightfanatics.com/
Back to precise piecing. If you do not consistently have 1/4" seams, when you put all the blocks together and the top is finished, it will be wobbly. Your machine may come with a quarter foot attachment. If not, you may have a seam guide on your throat plate. Or you can do this test to learn how to sew an accurate 1/4" seam. http://quilting.about.com/od/machinepiecingyourquilts/ss/seam_allowance.htm

Another sure method to accurate piecing is pinning. I have been called the "Queen of Pinning." Fabric moves. To insure that it does not move, pin. This may seem over-kill to you. However, if you are making a scrappy quilt like this with lots of little pieces, pinning will save you a lot of headache in the long run. Pinning at each seam will help your seams to match. Of course, we do not have "Quilt Police" checking to make sure all our seams match, but you will feel so much better when it all comes together and is so very neat.


After cutting all your pieces, lay them out and check if your placement matches the picture. Check again...check one more time. In fact, I check the directions and picture each time I stitch a few pieces together. I like ironing each set as I go along. The iron is down the hall. That forces me to get up from the machine and get some exercise! I also like to iron the seams open. The general rule is to "iron seams towards dark fabric," but ironing seams open creates a nice smooth block with less bulk. You or your quilter will appreciate this when it comes time for quilting.

Another rule of thumb is to cut off the "dog ears" (sorry all you doggie-lovers out there) before stitching. This also helps reduce bulk.
So, here is the finished block. As you can see (oh I hope so!!) it is a perfect block with all seams that match. It will make a lovely quilt.
Why don't you try a BOM or First Saturday Quilt? You will meet lots of nice quilters and a little stress will be relieved by having all the fabrics you need. Oh, and if you goof  a little, like I have, and cut something a bit off, the shop owner has extra pieces so you can fix your mistake. Good luck and Happy Quilting!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Cooking on a Budget...A Little Goes a Long Way

Hello Boys and Girls!

Young families and the "oldie but goodie" crowd have to watch their pennies. This economy is stretching our imagination to entertain our kids for less money and to eat good meals on a budget. We have to be creative. We use the library more, public parks and $1 movie night to save some money and still have fun. Sometimes the grocery stores help us save money too.

One good way to save some $$ is watching for discounts. I don't mean using coupons. More than not, coupons are for foods you do not normally eat or for fast-food. That may save some money at the moment but in the long run the foods are short on nutrition and long on calories.

I am talking about the foods that may be one day short of expiration. These mark downs are usually snatched up as soon as they are put on display. Meat may be due to expire in one day; veggies may have a few minor bruises but no expiration date. None-the-less, you can save money by being observant and not too picky. We are not talking about dumpster diving (which has lots of good surprises) but quality food savings.

For instance, take a look at these
 vegetables. All of them cost .99 cents! These were in one clear plastic bag so I could inspect them. Also included were mushrooms in their original packaging.
When buying marked down foods, plan to use them the same day. I happened to be in the store just to buy veggies. But when I saw these veggies marked down, I decided to buy a small roast for the crock pot.

This roast was $7.00.  It was a lesser cut of meat so it was perfect for slow cooking in the crock pot. I rubbed it with Mesquite Rub from Costco. http://www.costco.com/ It comes in several flavors. I decided to use Mesquite for, well...we are in Texas!
As you can see, the sliced roast will serve at least 3 meals...maybe sandwiches for lunch. 

I passed up fruit that had been marked down. I really wanted the mangos but they do not taste good if too ripe.

So, here is a way to stretch your food dollar. Use common sense (as in the fruit) and be flexible in your meal planning. My total was less than $10.
Good luck and let me know what great meals you make with discounted foods!

Until next time...eat a meal with family; play a game after dinner; have fresh fruit for dessert....OK, that is going too far...sorry!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Have You Had Your Fish Today?

Hi Boys and Girls!

Now, don't stop reading just because you see fish in the heading! Keep going...have an open mind. I am not talking about something complicated like bouillabaisse http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/bouillabaisse/ or something exotic like Machhi Ka Salan http://www.indianfoodforever.com/non-veg/fish/. How about good 'ole salmon?

It is cold here...really cold...So, I decided on a nice fish soup. I love clam chowder but wanted to try a dish Rev. Helen made one evening at church. http://www.cfpcnb.org/. This salmon chowder comes from the wonderful soup cookbook Soup Superb Ways with a Classic Dish, by Debra Mayahew. (There are 3 used available at http://www.amazon.com/). Note: As of Tuesday, no used copies. That is a good thing in that it tells me people are enjoying my blog and a bad thing that you missed out on a good price for this cookbook. My apologies.

Ths soup is really easy to make and very good for you. It does not have that "fishy taste" that we grew up hating. I made a few changes in the basic recipe but nothing major. The most important thing to me was purchasing fresh salmon. I don't mean any salmon...I mean Wild Salmon. There is a big difference. Wild salmon is just that...the salmon travel thousands of miles eating lots of good fishy stuff until they make it back to where they were born so they can mate. Farm-raised salmon, on the other hand, are not wild and are kept in a restricted area with hundreds of other salmon and are fed the same thing (usually chopped up fish) and can't help but eat each other's deposits. What goes in must come out. OK, enough of that. Wild salmon will cost you more money but is worth it. However, like I said...farm-raised salmon is better than no salmon at all. Omega 3's...that is the key word here. http://www.webmd.com/diet/guide/good-fat-bad-fat-facts-about-omega-3

Salmon Chowder
Serves 4
1 1/2 TBLS butter
1 onion
1 leek, minced
1 small fennel bulb, minced
2 1/2 TBLS flour
1 3/4 quarts fish stock
2 potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 lb boneless, skinless salmon, cut into cubes
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 TBLS chopped fresh dill
salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Melt the butter and add the next 3 ingredients. Cook on medium for 5-8 minutes. Stir in the flour and lower the heat and cook another 3 minutes. Add the fish stock and potatoes. Bring to a boil and lower heat. Cover and simmer 20 minutes. Add the salmon and simmer 3-5 minutes. Stir in the milk, cream and dill. Cook until heated but do not boil.
Note: I added a bit of organic chicken stock and substituted fat-free half & half for the cream. The fish stock is about $1 more than organic chicken stock. I think it would still be good with chicken stock.

Be sure to wash the leeks thoroughly. I usually wash them first, chop them and then rinse again with a strainer.

Chop the fennel, onion and leek in the same size pieces. I used a little food processor but that is not necessary. They are so pretty.

Skinning the fish was difficult for me but only because I have never done it before. All you fishing people out there have done this a thousand times! I did know enough to sharpen my knife. I did find that  I got better results holding down one end of the filet. Chop the salmon into bite-size pieces. It will fall apart in the soup anyway. Do give this soup a try. Let me know how you like it. It makes enough for two meals maybe even a third if I add a salad. We had sourdough bread and a nice red wine  with our soup.

Not much went to waste...even Duke loved the salmon skin!

Don't forget to cover your plants tonight and bring your pets in. It will be freezing most evenings this week. Until next time...cook something...eat a meal with family...take a walk...brrrrrrrr!!!