Sunday, February 26, 2012

National [Apple] Pie Day

Last Monday was National Cherry Pie Day.  But after searching the house for cherries, I was easily  convinced that apple pie would work just as well.  I was so excited to try out this pie crust recipe from MADE.  But I had no eggs in the house.  So I looked on the back of the Crisco package and found this recipe:

2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup well-chilled Crisco. (well, mine wasn't WELL chilled.)
4-8 T ice cold water. (I used only 4 T.)

Mix the flour and salt and then cut the Crisco into the mix until it is well mixed.  They said coarse crumbs with pea sized pieces, but really its until the Crisco is well mixed into the mix.  Then I measured out 8 T of water. (Why don't they just say 1/4- 1/2 cup instead of 4-8 tablespoons?)  I poured it in in little bits and massaged the mix until it stuck together.  It ended up being about 4 tablespoons (or 1/4 cup if you're not a crazy recipe maker.)

Dana of MADE says that overhandling pastry is bad, so very gingerly shape into two balls, flatten them to about 2 inches thick and put them in the fridge.  The recipe said for 30 minutes.  I didn't time it, I just put it in until our apples were ready.

We used Betty Crocker's recipe for the apples mix:

  • 3/4 c sugar (wow!  that's too much for us, I used 1/3 cup and it tasted fine.)
  • 1/4 cup flour (this helps it to solidify, so your pie isn't so runny.)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (If you're a cinnamon lover or even liker this is not going to be enough cinnamon for you.  I just poured cinnamon in until it looked good, or as Kewpie said, "It's brown now.")
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg (I followed this one, and couldn't taste it, so maybe a pinch more would have been good.)
  • Dash of salt (It wasn't enough.  Needed a dash more, I'd say.)
Once that's all mixed together, add the apples.  (about six large ones if you're using fresh or two cans if not.)

Then we grabbed our dough out of the fridge and rolled it out, remembering Dana's warning to not handle it too much.

It should be about two inches larger than your pie tin.  Place the bottom crust in the tin, make sure it fits well and run a knife around the edges to cut them off.

Pour the apples in, and lay the top crust on.

When you cut off the edges on the top piece, give yourself about 1/4 inch overlap.  Fold that under and then you have some dough to make cute little ridges around the pie.

Cutting little bird marks in the pie helps the crust to not puff and bubble weird.  But if you like that puff and bubbling, then don't cut the cute little bird marks.

I also like to sprinkle a little sugar on top.

Some people brush the top with milk or egg to brown it better.  I didn't, and it seemed to brown fine to me.

It helps to cover the edges with tinfoil or one of those fancy-dancy pie crust shields, so the edges don't burn.
Then it goes in the 425 degree oven and you wait.  And wait.  40 to 50 minutes of waiting.

When it's been about 35 minutes, take off the shield or foil so the edges can brown.  When it looks golden and bubbly, then it's DONE!

Waiting worth while.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Simple Fleece Shrug

When I saw this tutorial, from Amber Perry Patterns, I was intrigued by how easy the idea of a simple shrug would be.  I often give my girls a long sleeve undershirt to wear under a short sleeve shirt when it's cold outside, and this looked like another alternative.  So I gave it a try.

Basically you take a rectangle of fleece about the length of your child's arm span and wide enough to go around their arms and sew both sides closed until the arm pits.  Simple and quick.  Well, maybe not so quick for me.
Here's what I learned:

Measuring children is terribly difficult.

The original tutorial says to measure from middle of back to wrist, but I discovered that when Xena bends her arms in, there's more distance from her back middle than when she holds her arms out straight.  The sleeves were a little short for this reason.  Next time, I'll take the longer measurement.

There was also the issue of how close to the armpits to sew the shrug.  The tutorial suggested two inches from the arm pits, but that wasn't long enough for one year old Xena.  I had to sew it, and try it on, and sew it again and try it on until I got the right length.

Next time I'm going to try it with the stretch of the fabric going lengthwise instead of widthwise, to see if that would make it easier to put on.

Both Xena and I love the little head cloth I made with it.  I was going to tie it shut into a hat, but when I tried it on her to see if it fit, I loved the Aunt Jemima look, so I left it the way it was.  It was so cold those next few days, that Xena loved the extra warmth.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Scarf to Cowl

I had an old scarf that I never wore, because it curled too much.  So I used it for an experiment.  I cut it off with my serger, to avoid it unraveling, and then serged one end to the edge of the other, like this.

Then I did the same thing to the other side, and looked like this.

I originally envisioned it to go with the fringe on the shoulders, and Kewpie loved swishing it back and forth.

But eventually, it fell into this position, which worked well too.

I wore it for an afternoon, and discovered how much warmer I felt when my neck was warm.

I would say this took about 15 minutes to make, and it saved a scarf I was going to throw out.  Success!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Crochet Headband

I'm betting someone out there has a similar problem to mine.  I have girl babies with not much hair.  After the first few people tell me what a cute little boy I have DESPITE the fact that she's wearing pink, I try to find something to put on her head to signal that this is no boy.

With Kewpie I gave up after a while because she would grab whatever it was on her head and pull it off and chew on it and then leave it somewhere.

Same story with Xena.

But I might have found an answer.  This head band is made out of baby soft yarn, so it's very comfortable, and in this cold weather, probably a little warming as well.

I made it to fit Xena's head exactly, so that it rests on it, not squeezes it.

And so far, she's allowed it to rest there.  For the most part.  There was some exploring of a new object done, but after that, she's let it be.  Hooray!

(Don't say that too loudly, I might jinx myself.)

I crocheted one line until it was the length I desired (to REST on her head, not squeeze it.)  Then I turned around and single stitched back, looping into the original chain.  Then I did it again.  Three connected lines.  So easy so far.

Then I found a white button and sewed it on one end.  The loops in the crochet make perfect button holes, so it is easy to adjust on the other end.

My mother in law gave me a loom-thingy that you wrap yarn around to make a flower.  I made one out of yarn and one out of ribbon, to match her new dress.

Or you could take a used thread spool and stick pins around the top in a circle about 1/2 inch apart.  Then you weave the warn around the pins until each pin has at least two layers of yarn.  (The fuller, the better, in my mind.)

A yarn sized needle is useful at this point, because you loop the yarn behind each pin to knot that petal of the flower in place.  When each petal is secured, take out the pins, and there's your flower!

The hole in the middle is perfect to fit over my button.

Guess what, world?  She's a girl!