Saturday, July 31, 2010

Funnel Cake

Six dollars! Six dollars is what they charge at the carnival for funnel cakes! They are basically deep fried pancake batter for six dollars! Did I mention that they cost six dollars?!

In my hometown, the last weekend of July is the Ski-Hi Stampede. There are rodeos, parades, dances and a big carnival. We took the kids to the carnival this afternoon to ride the rides and of course they wanted food. Food that is so outrageously expensive that we don't buy it. Six dollars for a funnel cake! After a while, it started raining so we decided to go home (and we walk because all of this happens about 1/4 mile from our house) and MAKE some funnel cakes.

I found this site that has a bunch of different recipes for funnel cakes. I made recipe #6, which was a pretty big batch. There were a lot of us, though, so it was about right. I was missing a few key things, like a FUNNEL, but I made do. I put the batter in a gallon size bag and snipped off the corner. And since I didn't have the funnel to measure with, I just kind of eyeballed it until it looked right. Secondly, I didn't have a thermometer or an electric skillet or a fry daddy, so I didn't have any idea how hot the oil was. I just used a deep skillet and did some trial and error. I think the hotter the oil is, the better, because they don't seem to get as oil-logged if they don't have to cook as long. And I had to turn mine over to cook both sides. Some of the recipes say to do that, and some don't. I did.

All in all, they turned out great and my kids think I'm a hero. And I felt better feeding them to my kids because carnival food is just kind of gross. Who knows when the last time they changed their cooking oil was, or washed their hands, or...I think I'll stop there.

Homemade English Muffins

Have I told you about my resolve to feed my family better? In a nutshell, I'm trying to stay away from processed foods as much a possible, so that includes cutting out high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, artifial sweeteners, and as much extra additives as possible. Plus, I recently got a Nutrimill grinder and have been trying out new recipes.

I used this recipe for English muffins and I am pretty impressed with how they turned out. They weren't very holey like store bought muffins are, but it might be because I used fresh ground hard white wheat flour to make them a little more healthy. When I added the amount of flour called for, it made the dough a little more stiff than I think it should've been, so you might want to add a little flour at a time. Even without the holes, they are delicious and I've been eating them for breakfast along with peanut butter and strawberry freezer jam. That combination of complex and simple carbohydrates, plus protein is enough that I really am not hungry again until lunch time. Love it!

Also, if you aren't going to be using these up within a few days, you should store them in the fridge or freezer. Mine started molding after about 5 days and I was annoyed! Then I realized that they aren't preservative laden like store bought and I felt better.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Maternity to Non-Maternity Skirt

I bought this skirt in 2005 when I was almost done being pregnant with my third baby. I didn't really wear it much because I had a hard time getting the waist band to look right. A couple of years later, I got rid of most of my maternity clothes, along with most of my baby stuff, because I was convinced we were not having any more. Hahaha! The best way to ensure a pregnancy is to get rid of your baby stuff!! Long story short, I was pregnant again and I had hung onto this skirt because I thought I might be able to do something with it. I still couldn't get it to look right, so I never wore it during my last pregnancy. I have since gotten rid of my maternity clothes, yet again. Don't worry, though, there WON'T be another pregnancy for me.

So back to this skirt. My baby will be sixteen months old tomorrow, so I've finally decided to cut it up and try taking that waist band off and making it into something I can use.

First thing was to cut the waist band off. I noticed that the skirt was longer in the back, so I just went inside the skirt, used sissors, and cut the seam out that connects the waist band to the skirt. Then I lined up the seam that connects the top tier to the second, which made the front and the back the same length.
The simplest way to do the waistband is to make a casing for elastic. To do so, you turn down the top 1/4" and press it down. This fabric didn't want to press very well, so I did my best with the pressing and then sewed by the fold to get it to hold still. Like so:
Fold the top over again, this time 1-1/8". My elastic was 3/4", so I wanted to make sure that it would fit in the casing after I sewed it. 1-1/8" was just about right. Normally, you'd pin it and press, but since my fabric doesn't press well, I just pinned the heck out of it.
Sew down the top where you've pinned and pressed it. I tried to sew right on top of the stitching I did in the previous step. Leave an opening about 3" so that you can thread the elastic in. Use a big safety pin to help guide your elastic through.
I always pin the two ends of the elastic together and try it on before I sew everything up. It was a bit big, so I cut off a little more elastic and tried it on again. It fit, so I sewed the two ends together, overlapping.

Now just sew the opening shut and you're done.
I wish I would've made it just a tiny bit shorter, but oh well. Now my questions is, what kind of shirt would look good with it?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Freezing Blueberries

Mmmmm...blueberries. I love them. They are so delicious and so good for you all at the same time! But man, are they expensive. That is, unless you can score them during the couple of times of year that they actually go on sale.

I got this giant 5 pound box at City Market last week for $8.88! That's $1.78/lb!

I made blueberry muffins, blueberry pancakes, ate a bunch fresh, and still had a whole bunch left over. That's when I decided to freeze them. The best way is to freeze them in a single layer on a cookie sheet, then put them in a container.

First, wash them and drain them pretty well. Any water leftover on them will just freeze them together and to your pan. Then spread them out in a single layer on any type of pan with sides. Sides are important.

Let them freeze for at least an hour. You want to them freeze individually so that when you put them into a container and put them back in the freezer, you don't end up with a brick of blueberries. You'll probably have to use a spatula to free them from the pan, unless they were completely dry to begin with.

Put them in some type of container. I used a freezer bag, but any kind of container would work just fine.

Now you have them ready for anything! I like to use them frozen in smoothies or thaw them out for pancakes or muffins. And here's my tip for putting them in pancakes. Instead of adding them to the batter, drop them on top right after you've ladled the batter onto the griddle. Delicious!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Chenille Burp Cloths

I have four kids and have used a lot of burp cloths. My boy, Jack, was especially good at spitting up. I think that makes me an authority on the subject and I will say that these really are the best. They're cute, absorbant, and soft. And they don't look like an attempt to disguise a cloth diaper.

Materials needed:

-Cotton print fabric of your choice. The remnant bins are especially good for this.

-White flannel for the middle layer. I've used whatever leftover flannel I've had and it works fine, but it can sometimes show up through your top layer if you have a light print. I like to use the plain white for this purpose.

-Cotton chenille. You can find it with all the other baby soft fabrics, like minkee. It can be pretty spendy, like $12/yd, so try to buy it on sale or with a coupon. I have found it at both Walmart and JoAnn, but prefer the stuff from JoAnn because it is softer.

The rest is super easy. Cut one 11" x 18" rectangle out of each fabric, the cotton print, the flannel, and the chenille. If your print has a pattern with a definite up or down, be sure to pay attention to that.

Lay out your flannel layer first and smooth it out. Then put your chenille down, right side up. Then put your print on top, right side down. This is really important! You want what will be the front and back of the burp cloth facing each other. Smooth everything out and pin the heck out of it to hold it all in place.

Sew with a 1/2" seam allowance. We're going to sew most of the way around, but we need to leave an opening for turning. I start on the short side, a few inches away from the bottom corner. Sew all the way around, turning corners as you go, until you get back to the same short side that you started with. Sew a few inches down that side and then stop, leaving a hole for turning.

I seem to NEVER remember to take pics while I am actually working on the project, so here's a little illustration of how to sew to leave the hole open.

Clip straight across each corner, being careful to not cut any of the stitching. This will help the corner turn easier and look better. I use my seam ripper to gently pull the corners out nice and neat. The last thing is to just top stitch all the way around, which is going to close the hole. Before you start sewing, fold the hole in so that it matches the rest and pin the hole shut. I start sewing at the top of that hole and just work my way all around. Use an 1/8" seam allowance.

If I am giving them as a gift or selling them in my shop, I either use two of the same fabric like in the picture, or I'll use two coordinating fabric. Then I tie them together with a ribbon to make it pretty.