Back to the Basics

Posted April 29th, 2014 by Ellen and filed in Family, Personal, Recipes

Biscotti Done

For over 15 years, my husband has enjoyed cooking dinner……every dinner.  Breakfast and lunch (more often, blunch) are catch as catch can.  As a result, I’ve found I no longer know how to cook!  When I found myself having to check a cookbook for how long to boil potatoes, I decided to do something about that.  I’m in the process of once more teaching myself to cook.

My Mother was an excellent cook;  my aunts were too, my three sisters and I were all in 4-H, and my older sister is a home-economist.  All the ladies at the Grange excelled at baking and making Swedish coffee, in a big white porcelain coffee pot.  An egg is mixed in with the grounds, resulting in a coffee which is clear and delicious.  I was never successful at brewing it that way.  Back in the day, everything was made from scratch.  Our neighbor, Agnes Lindgren, at the next farm down the road, was from Denmark.  Her pastries were unbelievable.

It’s not as if I never learned to cook.  But it requires a certain familiarity with ingredients to turn out a good product.  The knack of knowing when a pie crust is just right, knowing from “how it feels” whether or not to add more flour to bread dough.  One has to stay in practice.  My goal is to build a library of “go-to” recipes. Real food, not just baking (which really is my specialty and love).  After all, we’re redoing our kitchen beginning May 12.  I need to be ready!

Parmesan Chicken was Sunday night dinner.  I’m a huge fan of Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa, and used her recipe.  http://barefootcontessa.com/recipes.aspx?RecipeID=371&S=0   It was divine!  I especially liked the lemon viniagrette dressed salad served atop the warm chicken.  DH preferred his on the side.  Last night’s dish was macaroni and cheese, made with noodles (we were out of macaroni).  I used a mixture of sharp cheddar and parmesan cheese.  To me,  a midwesterner, macaroni and cheese is an entree’.  To my southern husband, it is a “side.”

Next attempt?  The Peach Bellini   Will I need little paper umbrellas?

On the Street Where We Live

Posted April 25th, 2014 by Ellen and filed in Garden, My Photography

We are so fortunate to have the Kings Drive Farmers Market at the bottom of our street, just seven houses away.  An overcast morning today  provided perfect light.

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Plants and cut flowers are just an addition to fresh fruits and vegetables, baked goods, jams, jellies, several varieties of honey, free range chicken eggs, and tiny quail eggs, considered a delicacy by many.  Oh, the delights of having a farm stand in midtown Charlotte.  Note:  Photos are too large to be clickable.  I hope to remedy this soon.  My apologies.

Spring Garden

Posted April 9th, 2014 by Ellen and filed in Garden, My Photography, Personal

Fern Fronds

Azalea 1

VA Bluebells

Azalea 2

In North Carolina, spring has arrived.  I was treated to a second showing of Yoshino cherry blossoms while in Greensboro over the weekend.  Just a hundred miles north of Charlotte, blossoms are only beginning.

I photographed azaleas just opening, ferns unfurling and Virginia bluebells in our garden this evening…………at the golden hour, my favorite time to shoot.  Hope it’s spring where you are!

Photos copyright Ellen Guerrant

Snow Dyeing – What Fun!

Posted March 2nd, 2014 by Ellen and filed in Dyeing Tips, My Photography, My Work, Tutorials

Snow Yellow GreenSummer Garden

Snow Purple Blue DetSummer Sky

Note:  Fabrics have  been pressed.  Some may show a fold line.

Snow Dye Storm Sky Stormy Sky

Snow sunsetSunset

Snow Dye Rust BlueCrab Chowder

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Fabric “batching” on an elevated screen.  Nearly all the snow has melted after 36 hours.

Here are more of the fabrics I snow-dyed recently.  Hard to believe we had 10″ of snow a couple of weeks ago.  Today was sunny and warm, and the daffodils are in bloom

Here’s my method for snow dyeing:    Be sure to wear a mask, preferably a respirator, and gloves when working with dyes.  Make sure utensils and containers are for dyeing only!  Do not grab something from the kitchen to use.   Mix a solution of nine (9) T. soda ash to one (1) gallon warm to hot water.   Let soak at least 30 minutes.  Wring out fabric and use wet, or let dry to use later. Manipulate fabric as desired by folding, pleating, scrunching, twirling and twisting.  Lay fabric on an old screen suspended over containers to catch dye run-off.  Cover with snow.  Using Proxion Fiber Reactive dyes, available from www.prochemicalanddye.com  in solution or in powder form, pour or sprinkle desired colors on top of snow.  Try to remember where your fabrics are placed for more accurate color planning.  I chose blue, golden yellow and pagoda red.  I regretted using pagoda red, as it has a lot of orange in it, causing a rust or brown effect when it mixes with blue.  I’ll use care next time to choose a true red.

I let my fabrics “batch” until the snow had completely melted.  Then they were rinsed many times prior to a machine wash with 2 T. Synthrapol (available from ProChem or Mary Jo’s Cloth Store near Charlotte) and hottest water.  Toss a Color Catcher in with the final rinse to ensure excess dye has been removed.  Damp dry fabrics and then press with a hot iron.  Enjoy!

The folks at ProChem have an excellent website which includes instructions for many types of dyeing.  For those on the west coast, check https://www.dharmatrading.com/ -  another very good source.

If you try this type of dyeing, follow safety precautions and have fun!  I stashed several gallons of snow in our freezer and will have another “snow day” soon.

Appearing Near You

Posted February 14th, 2014 by Ellen and filed in Exhibitions, My Work, News, Quilt Events, Teaching, Uncategorized

I’ll be presenting a lecture/trunk show Monday for the York County (SC) Quilters.  I’d love to see you If you’re in the Charlotte area.

YORK COUNTY QUILTERS

Grace Lutheran Church, 426 Oakland Avenue

Rock Hill, South Carolina

LECTURE:  Journey of a Quiltmaker

February 17, 2014 – 7 p.m.

SWTaffyDet2