What's on My Food?

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

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

You Can Do This by Christmas! Part 2

Hi Boys and Girls!

OK, the piecing is finished. All the blocks finished.

I placed the blocks 5 across and 6 down. The placement is not set in stone. The fun begins now when I move and stand back and see where one block will look better in the place of another.

Since these are "busy" quilts...a lot of color and movement...I want to separate each block with sashing.

I will try red, black and possibly green and white. I will put different colors up until I like one.
More on this later.

Right now, there is a give-a-way! The first person that finds my mistake will get a Christmas fat quarter (18"x22").

Good Luck! Until next time, make a pot of soup. Cooler days ahead!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

You Can Do This by Christmas!

Hi Boys and Girls!

You Can Do This by Christmas!

 Yes, you can make a Christmas quilt in time for someone very special on your list.

 This is such an easy pattern that most beginner quilters or sewers will find it manageable.

I am using a pattern called The Disappearing 4-Patch also known as the 4 to 9-Patch. There are variations of this block. You can Google 4-Patch www.google.com and come up with several directions. The following is my version. I have been told that I am a pin fanatic and a bit anal about an accurate 1/4" seam. This is how I was taught and I am sort of a perfectionist when it comes to sewing. Now, cooking is another matter. I will change a recipe on a whim. But this is fabric...a littler harder to "doctor up" when not accurate. With that being said, use these directions and tips that suit you and do your own thing!

This block is great for using up scraps. Only thing, you have to cut each one. Well if you use 5” pre-cut squares, called charm packs you get this made a lot quicker and less stress on your wrist. Local quilt stores http://www.creativesewlutions.com/, or www.oakleafquilts.com often have these on sale or you can  find them on-line at www.fabricdepot.com or www.ebay.com.  

First separate your 5” squares with darks in one pile and the lights in another. Those somewhere in the middle will be used too. This block looks great with high contrast of lights and darks but it also works with medium color value. Just don’t put 4 darks together. Put together sets of 4 that are pleasing to you and set aside as shown above.


At least 30 5” squares (Most charm packs are 42 to a pack). I am using two for this quilt.

Small cutting mat

Rotary cutter

Sharp pins (my favorite are Little House from Japan) http://www.ericas.com/quilting/tools/pinsandneedles.htm

Sewing machine threaded with neutral color thread

Small scissors
Next, make sure you can sew a ¼” seam. I cannot tell you how important this is when making a quilt top. Some machines have a quarter inch foot where you just butt the fabric next to the foot and you automatically achieve a 1/4” seam. Alas, not all machines are equal. For instance, my Bernina has a “fat” quarter inch. That means it is about 1-2 stitches wider than ¼” so all my seams would be too big. My Featherweight as shown in these pictures has a quarter inch foot and sews an accurate seam. So, you need to find out where your quarter inch seam is on your machine. Here is how you can make sure your machine is sewing an accurate seam.

After you have determined where to place your fabric to sew an accurate ¼” seam, place tape or Post-it©Notes on your throat plate to guide your fabric. Once you get to know your machine and know where to place your fabric, you will be guaranteed to have a straight quilt!

Tip: I have several machines. Once I start a quilt on a particular machine, I finish the top using the same machine to insure accuracy.

Now for your first block! These directions are for 5-inch squares and will finish to an 8” block. If you use a “scant” (less than ¼” seam) the block finishes to a 8.5” block.

Place 4 squares with good contrast in colors or shades and tones on your cutting mat.

Make 4 cuts without moving the block or the cut pieces. Use a small mat so you can turn the block without disturbing it.

 Using the center seams as the reference point, measure out 2” from the center seam for each cut.

Next, rotate only the center outside sections 180° as shown in the photo.

Sew the sections together as shown in the next two photos to complete the block.
You see I pin my pieces together. If there is extra fabric, don't worry. It will come out even. Trust me.
Pin each end first and stop sewing just before a pin. When you are at a seam, make sure your needle is down in the fabric before removing the pin.

Place your first sewn row back on the cutting mat. Pick up the next cut piece to add and work your way down.
Do this until you have added all the pieces. You will notice I have a 1/4" foot on my Featherweight. I butt the fabric right next to the guide. This gives an accurate 1/4" seam but the square will not measure 8.5" which is OK with me. All the squares will be the same size with the same seam. That is most important. 

Now take your rows to the iron. Iron each row with the seams going in opposite directions.

With seams going in opposite directions, butt up seams in each row and pin. Sew each row.

You can sew each row one at a time or pin them all then sew each row.

Now take your sewn block to the iron. Iron all the rows in one direction.

There you have your new 9-patch block.

This may seem tedious to you, but after you have made a few, it will go very quickly. I tried to show each step. Once you get going, the top comes together quickly. I plan on 35 blocks. I will post the next step of putting the blocks together as a top. There are several ways of doing this. Since the blocks are all different, I may sash between each row with a solid color of red or green. Look at the example of sashing in this Jinny Beyer quilt. http://rjrfabrics.com/_media/patterns/pdf/Pinwheel_Sunrise.pdf

If you have any questions or suggestions (or find an error) please do not hesitate to comment.

Until next time, play with your fabric! You have my permission to touch it and cuddle it as much as you want.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Want Some Good Italian Food?

Hi Boys and Girls!

Today, two of my friends and I had the great pleasure of eating at the Italian Garden Restaurant in Canyon Lake. This restaurant is very easy to find since it is on the main road, Hwy 306, which leads to Canyon Lake.

The first good sign was the ample parking lot. Not only was there ample parking, there were shade trees too! I was impressed with the outside presentation of the building. It was very clean and neat. If I am not mistaken, I believe the owner was washing the windows as I arrived.

The entry is warm and inviting. A new bar has yet to open where wine and beer will be served and possible wine tastings.

The daily special was in full view before being seated at a table. We were greeted by a friendly hostess that had an extra friendly smile.

The restaurant has been totally remodeled.
This is the original dining room.
We were seated in the new addition to the restaurant. It is airy, bright and classy. Did I mention “clean?” No cracker crumbs on the floor; no sticky table; and, most important, no wobbly table!

Anne Marie, our waitperson greeted us and could see we wanted to visit a while before ordering. She said when she goes out with friends; they all talk and have such a good time. She said she will bring us our drinks and we can order when ready. What a thoughtful person!

Marlene and I ordered the
About 30 minutes later and after reviewing the very extensive menu, we were ready for Anne Marie to take our order. Being Sally’s nemesis (When Harry Met Sally), I had several questions about how a couple of dishes were prepared. Anne Marie was quite knowledgeable about the menu and answered my questions with pleasure.

Gino & Gule Zeneli, settled in Canyon Lake from Macedonia by way of New Jersey. Gule (pronounced Julie) developed the Low Carb, Low Fat Entrees. She also prepares the homemade desserts…more on that later.

I settled on the Grilled Chicken made with spinach, artichoke hearts, garlic, olive oil and pine nuts. Marlene ordered the same thing and Viola ordered Fettuccine Alfredo.
Fettuccine Alfredo

First comes the freshly baked rolls. Oh my…buttery crisp tops! I could not resist. Next came my Greek Salad. Just the right amount of feta cheese and red wine vinaigrette. The red onions were thinly sliced to just give a hint of onion flavor without overpowering the salad. Anne Marie is a budding children’s book author but she is a fantastic server. She waited until I was nearly finished with my salad before bringing out the main course.  After a lot of oohing, we started eating.

The lunch was so delish! But what about an Italian dessert? Being full had nothing to do with not ordering…Gule had not made fresh desserts today so were only offered “store bought” delights. Well, we decided on Tiramisu. It was divine. The liquor softened the lady fingers just to the point where it melted in your mouth! The chocolate was not overwhelming…but just enough to make you want to take another bite! I can only imagine how good Gule’s desserts will be. Sorry no picture...we ate it too fast!

The menu is so extensive there is something to please all ages and palets. Appetizers range from fried Mozzarells sticks to Escargo. Pizza with just about any topping you could wish for is just right for the Friday night game night crowd. What Italian restaurant would not serve subs and calzone? And did I mention they have homemade pasta? Seafood, chicken and veal round out the menu along with traditional pasta dishes. The kid’s menu will please any picky eater.

Everything on the menu is available for take-out. Catering is also available. Open 7 days a week, Italian Garden Restaurant is a real winner. Be sure to ask about the catch of the day for fresh seafood. And, be sure to ask for Anne Marie…you will not be disappointed.

Italian Garden Restaurant

18220 Hwy 306, Canyon Lake, TX 78133

Until next time make that call you have been putting off....and, start your Christmas cards!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Strawberry-Apple Pie

Hi Boys & Girls!

You have got to try this pie recipe! It is delicious and makes enough for a crowd!

2 9" pie rounds
5 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
2 pints fresh strawberries, stems removed, rinsed and cut into halves
5 TBLS cornstarch
2 cups sugar
1 egg yolk
1 TBLS cold water

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Line a buttered pie tin with one 9" pie round.

In a large bowl place the apples, strawberries, cornstarch, and sugar. Mix them together well.

Place the mixture in the pie tin.

Place the remianing 9" pie round on top. Crimp the edges together. Make a decorative pattern around the rim with a fork or your fingers.

Pierce the top crust into a decorative pattern with a small knife or fork (to make steam vents).

In a small bowl place the egg yolk and cold water, and mix them together.

Using a pastry brush gently brush the egg and water mixture on top of the crust.

Place the pie on a cookie sheet, and then put it into the middle of the oven. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees.

Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the juices are bubbling. If the crust begins to get too brown, lay a piece of foil over the top. Serves 6

Courtesy of Santa Fe Recipe

I have been making this for years. Here are the changes I have perfected.
  • Make fresh dough for two pies.
  • Use a lasagna pan or baking dish.
  • Organic strawberries and organic apples
  • Sugar is half Stevia and half regular
  • Mixture sits in bowl about 30 minutes with cinnamon sprinkled on top.
  • Line oven with foil for spills.
  • I serve it with pure vanilla ice cream.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Building of My Quilt Studio

Hi Boys and Girls!

Progressing right along...the weather has not hit 100 degrees today! What a shock...I better get a sweater!

They guys are working on the porch today. It looks really nice. It is only 4 feet wide so just enough room for a rocking chair or two!

I am glad they are screwing down the boards instead on nailing them. I also like the way they inspect each board. The porch should be nice and straight.

The porch could have been elimated. That is four feet which could have been a nice little bathroom and maybe a kitchenette. But this house NEEDED a porch!

The noise did not keep our hummer away.

The metal roof is supposed to go on this weekend. Then I will start my "rain dance!"
I will have a nice suprise waiting for me when I arrive home from my quilt retreat! It will really look like a quilt house!

Until next time...call that new neighbor that moved in or better yet, take some homemade bread.  You may have a new friend for life!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Building of My Quilt Studio

Hi Boys and Girls!

The guys are really moving along. The pier and beams were framed. It took longer than expected. In fact, the crew had to cut their day short. The crew rejected 25 pieces of lumber and the supply company had to bring more out. Each piece of wood was inspected and if it was not straight, it was not used. So, the guys ran out of wood before too long. The next shipment was rejected also. This happened 3 times...I think these guys are proud of their work. They want to do it right.

In the meantime, a moisture barrier was put down. Then pieces of pressed plywood (you will see from the pictures…I am probably using the wrong term…were laid down. A different crew came in and laid insulation on top of that. Today, the framing crew came back and laid the plywood sub-floor. The supply company delivered more lumber and the framing really took off.

The first floor is starting to look like a little house. The door has a window on each side.

The back, under the loft, has 3 windows. Oops…no window on the south side. So, Angel, the crew boss, put a window frame on that side. Double oops…the loft has a stained glass window. Angel looks at the drawing and it is not there.  No problem. Roberto gets the window and Angel measures it and makes room for it in the loft.

This window will be in the loft. I love it!

Trusses go up to support the loft. One huge beam is put to the top by these 4 guys…I mean huge. I know they are young and strong but wow! The weight these guys can lift is mind boggling!

Meanwhile, the temp keeps going up. I supplement their intake of water with more ice, watermelon, apples and cokes. These guys need sugar. It is so cute to see them climbing a ladder eating a hunk of watermelon!

I bet these guys work until dark. Right now they are framing the roof. We will have a tin roof. I will pray for rain once the roof gets put on.

Any suggestions as to skirting around the house? I have seen metal that looks like rock. Roberto wants real rock but that means more $$. What do you think? A lot of the older homes in New Braunfels built on pier and beam has metal skirting but it is really old. If we used metal it would be new and very shiny. Wood? Nope. Attract ants…so, another decision.

Until next time…stay cool and give your pet some quality time…preferably inside the house.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Beading on Fabric or Quilts Cont...

Hi Boys and Girls!

Have you tried beading yet? Did you enjoy my post about beading on my quilt? That should get you interested in beading. This should too: Nomadic Notions! They have a Groupon coupon available on Friday. You pay $10 for the coupon but get to make a $20 pair of earrings. That sounds fantastic to me. And the coupon is good until November so you will have many choices of class dates.
Nomadic Notions has the most beautiful beads in the world! www.nomadicnotions.com

Last time, I promised to post a picture of my quilt. I am calling this Duke...My Lion King. I love looking at this for it really does look like my Duke. It will be at the San Antonio Quilt Guild show in September at the Live Oak Civic Center. You can get more information from the guild's web site.   http://www.sanantonioquilt.org/

So here is Duke. Until next time laugh until it hurts...

The Building of My Quilt Studio

Hi Boys and Girls!

Well, progess is being made, although I did not think it would happen!

The wood was delivered this morning at 7 am. It has taken over our driveway and one garage door.
I guess we will be down to one car for a while.

Look at our dry grass....

Cedar beams for inside and cedar for the front porch.

OK, guys! Let's get started.

Until next time...stay cool and visit a friend!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Encanto Mexican Grill in Schertz, Texas

Hi Boys and Girls!

How is your Sunday going? Are you staying cool? I know a place that is really cool.

Encanto Mexican Grill (www.encantogrill.com) has passed my 2-visit test. I always give restaurants a second chance…well, almost always. Some first visits are too traumatic to visit again. But not Encanto. It was super yummy my first visit so I decided to give it another try. And, by now you know the grueling paces I put restaurants through before I will endorse them.

Today is Roberto’s birthday AND we have a Groupon coupon http://www.groupon.com/san-antonio/ so what other excuse is there? Our visit started off with a margarita.  Kathy, our excellent server, came to take our drink order.  I asked if the bartender would make a margarita with fresh limes. She went to ask. Sure enough, the bartender, Matt was happy to do so. Along comes this beautiful, HUGE margarita made with top shelf tequila.  My first sip told me there was some sort of sweetener in it. Kathy asked Matt. Yes, he put agave juice and possibly triple sec. It was good but I must not have been clear in my request. I like tequila and fresh lime…a little salt…and that’s it. So, what does Matt do? He makes a fresh margarita using top shelf tequila and fresh limes. He brings it to the table himself. This is the best margarita I have had in a long time! Well, next to mine at home, anyway…
It was a little tart for Roberto so he stuck with his usual Merlot. It did not stop him from tasting mine!

Next came the appetizer. Kathy made guacamole at the table. It is a pretty presentation.
Although, excellent, something was flat. It could have been the avocados. Maybe this time of year they are not so flavorful. Maybe not enough jalapeños. Maybe it was the orange juice. Personally, I would have added more lime juice and more cilantro. Restaurants have to please the general public and predominantly, most people do not like really hot guacamole. So, I added some of the green condiment that came with the chips. It must have been sour cream and jalapeños. It was so good. That added a nice kick to the guacamole.

Main course came next. Roberto ordered a chicken stuffed poblano pepper http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poblano along with rice and charro beans. In Spanish, charro almost means "burnt beans." I think the term charro came from the fact that Mexican cowboys (http://my.execpc.com/~ehannan/Caballeros.html cooked outside over an open fire pit. Charro beans are soup-like rather than fried.
Roberto's stuffed poblano. Notice the clean-looking plate and the nice drizzle of sour cream.

I ordered fish tacos. As you can see, the presentation of these dishes is outstanding. Even if they were not delicious, the presentation is a feast for your eyes.
Notice the thick piece of grilled fish and avacado. Fresh thinly-sliced cabbage is exactly what I like with a fish taco. Lettuce would wilt and not add much flavor. The Mexican cheese was a nice suprise.

The charro beans had a nice smoky flavor. I just had to ask the cook how he made these beans. So I did. Julio Sanchez is the sous chef and when I spotted him taking a break, I asked how he made the beans. First the hickory smoked bacon is grilled. Bacon is chopped and added to fresh beans along with tomatoes, chiles, cilantro and onions. I am sure some spices are added. Believe me: YOU WILL LOVE THESE BEANS!
Sous Chef Julio Sanchez
What is a sous chef, you ask? Find out here. http://www.reluctantgourmet.com/sous_chef.htm
As you can see, the kitchen runs as smoothly as the caliber of the sous chef.

The poblano chile was very large and fresh. It was not deep fried. It was stuffed with chopped chicken swimming in a rich jalapenño/tomato/onion sauce. It was not hot…just warm to the back of the tongue. The chile was topped with additional sauce. A very pleasant suprise is finding the chile not smothered in American cheese. The rice looked to be cooked in the traditional Mexican way like I learned as a young bride from Elena's Secrets of Mexican Cooking. http://www.amazon.com/Elenas-Secrets-Mexican-Cooking-Zelayeta/dp/B001G5514S/ref=tmm_other_img_popover?ie=UTF8&qid=1313364399&sr=1-1 As you will see from the prices, this book is highly collectible.

The fish tacos were made with grilled mahi mahi steaks. They were thick and a bit crispy. The corn tortillas were thick so the juices did not fall through. Fresh cabbage and avocado topped the fish taco. I asked for the cheese on the side for I thought it would be a melted queso. No, it was fresh Mexican cheese. So good! Three tacos come with the meal, along with charro beans. I could only eat two tacos. They were good-sized tacos and very flavorful.

The real treat was the special dessert brought to Roberto because it was his birthday. Kathy brought him Tres Leches cake! Tres Leches means "three milks" or really three creams.

The personnel did not sing Los Mañanitas (Happy Birthday). Listen to the song here. http://www.songsforteaching.com/spanish/lasmananitas.htm

Back to the cake! This cake was outstanding. Along with Tres Leches at Paloma Blanca www.palomablanca.net in San Antonio, this cake is number one. It is made in-house by Julio. The cake was moist, springy and not too sweet. It was topped with a caramel sauce. Check out this recipe I found on the web. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/tres-leche-cake-recipe/index.html

You can now see that only a chef with the highest degree of perfectionism will make this dessert each day. If nothing else, visit Encanto Grill for Tres Leches!

This restaurant met all my expectations. I make nopalitos. I make homemade fish tacos. I only use high end tequila and fresh limes for margaritas…You know I expect a lot from a restaurant. Kathy is a new hire and will do well there. She gave very personal service and made sure all our needs were met. Julio and Matt went out of their way to make our meal memorable. Encanto Grill is a keeper in my book. I strongly suggest you give it a try.

Tell me what you think. What did you order? What did you think of the price? Look at our bill!
All that food we had! And we had a Groupon coupon! So, you can see besides excellent food, you get a real bargain at Encanto Mexican Grill. There's more! Kathy gave us 2 for 1 tickets for breakfast...good until the end of August. I can't wait to try their Huevos Rancheros!
Until next time, demand perfection in the foods you eat. Oh, and sing Las mañanitas on someone's birthday!