Thursday, January 24, 2013

Vegetable Soup Memories

It's so interesting the memories that spring to mind when you're making something from your childhood.

I experienced this today when I was making the Veggie Soup my mom and dad would make all the time for my siblings and me. This simple concoction of tomato juice, root vegetables, ground beef, and noodles holds so many images from my childhood. From seeing my brother staring at himself in the shiny stock pot my mom used, to the way my dad would crumble the crackers into the soup and how I would try to imitate him, I love more than just the taste of this soup.

The tomato juice started as the tomatoes from our garden being cooked and put through the Squeezo. Taking turns, my mom, sisters, and I would turn the crank for hours; it seemed to make a years worth of tomato juice in a canning afternoon. With every sip of this soup (even though I make the soup with store bought tomato juice now), I remember my mom in the kitchen with quart jars in stages of tomato juice bustling around in her apron overseeing all of us.

The Autumn days brought the cool weather that made soup perfect for dinner. That's when Mom would brown the ground beef and onion while the tomato juice, carrots, potatoes, celery, and sometimes a turnip would bubble on the back burner. I always got excited when this soup was cooking, I knew I would LOVE dinner. While all the ingredients (all the above plus corn and elbow macaroni) meld together, Mom would make biscuits or rolls and have us set the table with soup bowls and plates with hot pads in place and the saltines by Dad.

This evening when I made the soup for my husband and me, I remembered more. My mom would always put the leftovers in mason jars and use the same funnel to keep the soup from spilling everywhere.  I was so excited the first time I put it away without spilling!

With all these memories flooding back and knowing that more will come every time I make this soup, I think I will have to rename the recipe in my recipe binder to Memory Soup.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Post Holiday Party Beer Bread

If you're like me and my husband, you do not agree with all your friends taste in beer. We don't hold it against them but we tend to drink craft or microbrews rather than a domestic.

After so many holiday parties that our guests have graciously brought their favorite beer, we find our fridge door occupied with beer that doesn't match our taste. Not being allowed to drink beer since I have a little one growing inside me, and my husband still working on a six pack from a month ago, we've realized we won't be getting to the cans our guests left behind any time soon.
I searched to find an easy beer bread recipe to use up what was left and found this recipe. Only change I made was actually referenced on the page, less melted butter. I think a few tablespoons of melted butter over the top would be more than enough, but a treat's a treat and you choose what you eat! 

Quick as anything we are down to only beer we (meaning my husband) will drink and have yummy snack that freezes well or is a great gift to share with others.

PS It also made the house smell great when my husband came home from work!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

T-Shirt Memory Blanket Process

Over the holidays, my mother-in-law asked about the process I use to make my t-shirt memory blankets.

I've seen such a spread in how to assemble and the philosophy of these fun time capsules.

There are people who use a collage motif, others who create windows and frame out each shirt piece. I've seen people value a thrown together, rough assembly while others treat the t-shirts as raw materials in intricate heirloom style quilts.

My philosophy on these quilts/blankets is about creating everyday, every use item. I want to be ok with getting mud on it if we take an early summer picnic. I also want to be proud enough of it to sling it across a living room chair to be ready to cozy up with in the middle of winter.

So here are my steps for a 5' by 6' blanket:

First, assemble the following materials:
15+ clean t-shirts that you want to incorporate. (They don't have to match but you should enjoy them together. I try to group them in time. For example, I have a high school blanket and a college blanket.)
Flannel flat sheet-be sure to pre-wash the sheet (You can also use fleece if you want a heavier blanket or a cotton flat sheet for a lighter blanket. I like using sheets because they already have square corners and are more than enough fabric.)
Yarn to tie the front panel to backing

Second, cut out 13" squares out of the t-shirt fronts and backs centering artwork in the center of the square.

Third, sew squares together in the following manner with 1/2" seam allowance (making a finished 12" squares).
To illustrate the manner of assembly I have the following pictures showing construction paper cut outs:

Sew right sides together of two adjacent squares
Add another square in line

Sew right sides together

Continue adding squares in line until there are 5 sewn together

Make 6 (4 shown) of these rows of 5 
Sew these rows together with right sides together

(Pictures of final assembly in the making)

Fourth, with right sides together, sew front panel (t-shirts) to backing (flannel) with a 1/2" seam allowance allowing a six inch gap.

Fifth, flip blanket right-side out. Press corners flat and fold in raw edges of open gap. Sew top stitch around edge (1/4" to 1/2") around entire blanket and closing up gap.

Sixth, with the blanket entirely flat, take lengths of yarn and at corners of seams and sew one stitch. Tie to secure yarn making the front and back of blanket joined together.

Last, ENJOY!!