Thursday, September 22, 2011

Grandma Lavelle's Dresden Plate Quilt

My grandmother, Lavelle Pyper Wallace, was renowned for her thrifty Scottish nature and her impressive baking and homemaking skills (I've talked about her before, here). When Grandma Wallace passed away, my mother inherited a "day old" bread bag filled with dresden plate quilt squares my grandmother was in the process of making.
For almost fifty years, my mother has kept these treasured quilt squares tucked away, still in the old bread bag, until she could finish the quilt her mother-in-law started.
My grandmother had sewn some of the dresden plates onto squares of muslin, but not all, so my mother carefully unattached them, sewed all the plates onto new cotton, and finished the quilt top. She just had the top machine quilted and will soon finish the binding.
All the dresden plates are different, and were made with whatever scraps of fabric my grandmother had on hand. Remnants from other projects, scraps from old clothing, or fabrics that she found at a discount or that were given to her were turned into something beautiful and useful.

I think it's amazing, Mom! Thank you for preserving and finishing what will be a new family treasure!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Our family LOVES this recipe for whole wheat pancakes. {I} especially likes his with chocolate chips baked inside with peanut butter and maple syrup on top. Decadent, I know, but a growing boy needs something to stick to his ribs! {G} likes hers with peanut butter as well. {K}? He likes his with butter. The Mr. likes his with raspberry jam and syrup.

I like my pancakes with fresh fruit. The peaches have come on late this year, so I'm enjoying a taste of summer even as the leaves begin to turn and autumn is arriving.
Make up a double batch and freeze the extras. Pop them in the toaster for a fast, easy and nutritious breakfast!

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Pancakes

2 cups sour milk (I never have sour milk, so I squeeze half a lemon into the milk and let it curdle for a few minutes)
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
2 Tbsp. melted butter
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Sift the flour, baking soda and powder, and salt together. Add to the sour milk and mix gently. Next add eggs and mix. Fold in melted butter.

Ladle pancake batter onto hot, buttered griddle. Sprinkle chocolate chips onto batter, then cover chocolate chips with a little bit more batter. Flip to other side when pancake starts to bubble. Cook until golden brown. Store warm pancakes in a tortilla warmer, or sandwiched between a clean kitchen towel.

Makes 10-12 pancakes.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Peanut Butter Cookies with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

Of all the cookies that I make for friends and family, THIS cookie recipe is the one I get the most requests for. The combination of a soft and chewy peanut butter cookie topped with a decadent Reese's Peanut Butter Cup is just about the perfect combination.

I can only make these if I plan on giving most of them away, because if they are left in my house I've been known to polish off a whole batch by myself! I know, very naughty!

Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup natural peanut butter (NO substitutions - only peanuts & salt, my friends)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 375º F.

In a large mixing bowl, thoroughly mix butter and peanut butter. Add sugars, and beat until mixture lightens in color. Mix in eggs and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and mix until cookie dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Using a medium-large ice cream scoop (or using a 1/4 measuring cup, roll cookies into large balls) drop 8 cookies onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies are slightly brown.

Remove cookie sheet from the oven to the top of your oven range (or other heat-proof surface). Immediately press a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup onto the top of each cookie, coming quickly back a second time to press the candy level with the top of the cookie.

Allow the chocolate to melt, then smooth the top of the peanut butter cup with an offset spatula, or back of a spoon.

Transfer cookies to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. If you plan on stacking the cookies, cool in the refrigerator (to harden the chocolate).

Makes 24 large cookies. You might want to make an extra batch, because they'll disappear quickly!

 Peanut Butter Cookies with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

Monday, September 12, 2011

Craft Crush

I have a crush.

Like, a total heart beating, sweat inducing, cheeks flushed, butterflies in the stomach crush.

COMPLETELY craft crushing on Emma Lamb and Dottie Angel. Can these two gals seriously be any more inspiring?!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

From Heart to Hand: African American Quilts Exhibit at the BYU MOA

This last weekend I had the opportunity to visit the Brigham Young University Museum of Art with dear friends. On exhibit until November 15, 2011 is a collection of African-American quilts made by women from the Alabama region from 1945 to the present. It was so interesting to see these quilts and think about the women who made them and the many hours they spent stitching and quilting them together.

This first quilt by Mary Lee Bendolf made me think of a well loved bookshelf, full of interesting books. I liked the strong architectural quality of the piece, as well as the play of light and dark.
Strings, Mary Lee Bendolf, 2003-2004
I really loved this crib quilt made ca. 1945. All of the vintage floral fabrics made my heart flutter! And I thought of the love stitched into this quilt, pieced together with fabrics on hand, and made for a new little one.
Crib Quilt, Unknown, ca. 1945
Close up of Crib Quilt
This next quilt grabbed my attention because I have a large pile of thrashed jeans at home waiting to be made into a outdoor park quilt! I loved Catherine Somerville's geometric design and the faded and shadowed spots where the pockets had been removed from the fabric. I really loved this quilt because it also reminded me of my Grandma Lavelle Pyper Wallace, who was a master at thrift and industry and who would have turned a pile of used work clothes into something beautiful and useful too.
Log Cabin/Checkerboard, Catherine Somerville, 1950-1960
This quilt, I think, was my very favorite. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it! The bold geometric design, the brilliant use of red and white, the whimsical ticking stripe on the binding. I love everything about this one!
Pig Pen Quilt, Unknown, late 20th Century
This Lone Star/Star of Bethlehem quilt was magnificent! The quilter had an amazingly deft hand at color selection and the background colors evoke a sense of the star rising. Truly amazing.
Lone Star, attributed to Mary Duncan, ca. 1950
Close up of Lone Star
This exhibit also has on display a section of 10 of Yvonne Wells quilts. This next quilt of Ms. Wells was my favorite, partly because of the design and color (loving the metallic!) and partly because of the message. Taken from Ephesians 6:10-18 this quilt brings into vivid focus the fight we all fight against our own demons. A triumphant fight made possible by the atonement of Jesus Christ.
The Whole Armor of God, Yvonne Wells, 1996
"Take that, demon!"  Close up of The Whole Armor of God.
The best part of visiting the exhibit was being able to share it with amazing friends! Let's do this again girls!
Me, Ruth, and Andrea

Coconut Cake

Okay. Sometimes you see a recipe for something and you just know in your gut that it is going to be good. I had that feeling when I saw the recipe for this cake. I had to make it and *BONUS* I had all the ingredients in my pantry! It was fate. And fate, my friends, tasted really, really good this last week. TWICE.

Coconut Cake

4 large eggs, separated, room temperature
1 c. butter, room temperature
1 3/4 c. white sugar
1 c. unsweetened coconut milk
2 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. buttermilk, room temperature
1 tsp. coconut extract

Preheat oven to 300º F.

Butter two 9 inch cake pans. Line pans with parchment paper circles and butter parchment. Coat pans with all purpose flour, shaking off excess. Set aside.

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Combine buttermilk and coconut extract. Set aside.

In a clean bowl, beat egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff. Set aside. 

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter. Add sugar, 1/4 c. at a time, until butter is pale yellow. Add coconut milk and egg yolks and mix until fluffy. Alternately add dry ingredients and buttermilk/extract with your mixer on low speed. Gently fold egg whites into the cake batter. Pour batter into two 9 inch pans and bake in oven for 75 minutes. After 60 minutes, check cake with toothpick. Cake is done when your toothpick comes out clean.

When cakes are done, remove from oven and carefully loosen from sides of pan. Flip cakes out of pans onto a cooling rack. (OPTIONAL: While cakes are still warm, poke small holes in cakes, without poking all the way through. Reserving 2 Tbsp. of coconut milk for your frosting, drizzle remaining coconut milk on the tops of cakes) When cakes are cool, wrap in plastic and freeze several hours or overnight.

1/2 c. butter, room temperature
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1 to 2 Tbsp. coconut milk
1 tsp. coconut extract
1 to 1 1/2 lbs. powdered sugar

Toasted Coconut
Spread about 3 cups of sweetened coconut in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place in a 325º F oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Watch closely! Coconut is done when some, but not all, of the coconut is golden brown. Cool and mix the toasted coconut together.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add 1 Tbsp. coconut milk and coconut extract. Add 1 lb of powdered sugar and mix well. Continue adding up to 1/2 lb. additional powdered sugar for a stiffer frosting. Add more coconut milk if it gets too stiff.

Remove coconut cakes from freezer and frost cakes immediately, using a generous amount of frosting between layers. Press toasted coconut all over cake. Allow cake to come to room temperature before serving.
* I used unsweetened coconut milk instead of cream of coconut called for in the original recipe to cut down the sweetness a was perfect. The cake was very moist, but firm (this would be a great cake for a wedding!). You can use cream of coconut (like Coco Lopez) instead of the unsweetened coconut if you want more sweet. Usually I want more sweet, but I thought the coconut milk was marvelous.
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