Sunday, May 29, 2022

Cooking. . .Ottolenghli style

Back cover of "SIMPLE"
During my London stay, one of the activities my daughter had scheduled with some friends was an Ottolenghi day. These friends make a recipe or more from an Ottolenghi cookbook and then gather together to enjoy the dishes.

During the pandemic, my daughter purchased a Master cooking class that featured Yotan Ottolenghi. In the series, Ottolenghi cooks a variety of dishes. There was a 56 page pdf file of recipes that accompanied the class. 

My daughter has five of his six cookbooks. On the back of his "SIMPLE" cookbook is what each of the letters in Simple represent. I was impressed with this cookbook because the recipes contain ten or less ingredients. I also liked that the recipes are easy. 

Hummus with Confit Garlic and Tahini
Easy means the techniques are not difficult. Items need to marinate or roast or cool or be peeled. Sometimes, you need to make a condiment. Again, the process isn't hard; but planning is important! I marked several pages in that book for consideration. 

Meanwhile, we watched the segments and she suggested that we make a few recipes from the pdf file as a test. We did. The recipes we made for the dinner came from the pdf file.

Watching Ottolenghi create his dishes was fun. He provides background about the dishes and describes what is happening during the cooking process. I found the segments helpful. I also found that while a dish might appear in another cookbook, the recipe was a bit different. These slight differences made sense to me because as a chef, he is tweaking recipes as well as using what is available "in the moment."

We had to postpone the get together because one participant tested positive for COVID. We rescheduled and someone else had a conflict. We rescheduled a third time. We giggled that the third time was the charm. 

Pea Spread with Smoky Feta
Unfortunately, the night before we were scheduled to meet, one person came down with a nasty cold. Because we all had made our preparations, we decided to meet. We didn't get to taste what the person who couldn't attend made; but, we shared photos.

Every one of our test recipes is one I would make again and in most cases we already have made the recipe again! The dinner was amazing! Good friends and good food is the best combination! 

Roasted Eggplant Salad with Pickled Chilies
For the dinner, I made hummus. It contains a tahini dressing and garlic confit oil in addition to the hummus. I love how smooth it is. I appreciated Ottolenghi's tips for plating the dish.

I also made Muhummara which contains roasted garlic, red peppers, onions and tomatoes. There are roasted walnuts, pomegranate seeds, pomegranate molasses and garlic confit oil. It is beautiful as well as delicious! I had my doubts in reading this recipe; but I'm glad I tried it. We've made it a couple of times. Peeling the skin off of the peppers is challenging.

My daughter made Pea Spread with Smoky Feta. She used a bag of peas from the freezer along with fresh mint, dill, confit garlic oil and smoked feta confit. It is a beautiful dish. We've remade the recipe at least three times.
Smashed Cucumber Salad

These three dishes made the perfect mezza. Mezza is a Middle Eastern term for finger foods eaten communaly. Mezza could also mean appetizers.  
She made an eggplant salad. In London, eggplants are called aubergines. She roasted the eggplant. Once it was cool she added the garlic dressing and pickled hot peppers. Again the dish contained fresh herbs and a quick lemon paste. We've made this dish twice as well. The pickled peppers sure add interest both in color and in the taste to the salad.

She prepared a smashed cucumber salad. This recipe contained lemon juice and parsley oil dressing with toasted caraway seeds. The red onions are pickled with sumac. It is simple and quick to make. It would be delicious eaten on a hot summer day. My daughter liked the simplicity of this dish so much that she has made it about four times!

For the most part, we made this dishes the day before and assembled the dishes before dinner. I liked that it was possible for the dishes to sit for a few hours as it made the day of preparation such less chaotic! I loved the tips Ottolenghi gave about plating the dishes. I believe we did well! 

Roasted Salmon

We invited another couple for dinner so my daughter also roasted a pieced of salmon. She is masterful at cooking salmon. She uses a seasoning from the States. This is not an Ottolenghi dish

Summer Courgettes with Tomatoes
and Ricotta
Her friend made a ricotta and zucchini salad. She stir fried the zucchini and added tomato sals. It was a colorful dish. This recipe as well as the recipe for the second dish she brought came from the "Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Shelf Love" cookbook. 

Rice Koofteh in Spiced Tomato Sauce
Her friend also made Rice Koofteh. These were rice balls stuffed with minced beef that were on a bed of sauted tomatoes, onions, garlic and apricots! The apricots were an unexpected surprise!
The table just before we began sampling the dishes

We had plenty of delicious food. It was a special time to spend together.

We've made other recipes which I will save for another post.  Gertie, my inner squirrel, had planned to pen this post; but, she found another activity to be of greater interest to her. Today, that activity is playing with my two and a half month old granddaughter. 

This is goal number six on my May list.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022


Finished quilt after blocking
Our book club read "Tales of the Yukon" by Robert Service. It is a book of poetry. I'm not excited about reading poetry. I've tried several times to enjoy poetry. . .it is not for me! The person who lead the discussions for this book also tasked us to write a poem. For me, writing poetry ranks even less on the scale than reading it does! Sigh. . .

Belonging to the group and participating in the activities has pushed me outside of my comfortable "box" more times than I can recount. In the end, there was one poem in the book that inspired me. It was a poem about the landscape which made me think of stars in the sky against a backdrop of snow. I've considered stars as bits of gold and those thoughts were the inspiration behind this project.

Auditioning the "coverage" strip
I did write a poem:

White snow glows

on a moonlight night.


The entire project came from scraps. The design was from "Little Lone Star Quilts" by Lorraine Olson. The star was paper pieced. The diamond border, which is also paper pieced, took forever!

I quilted a grid design in the background fabric. The piece
was a little wonky so I soaked it to block it. The red fabric that I used as the star points bled on the background. I tried a variety of methods to remove the bleeding. While the bleeding was less definite, it was still evident.

Finished front
I considered my options and decided I could put a sashing around the star. I auditioned a variety of fabrics; but, went with a gold fabric. While I would have preferred no strip or a narrower strip, the wider strip covered the majority of the bleeding evidence.

To secure the strip, I hand sewed it in place. I liked how the yellow added to the effect of the star actually glowing. Additionally, the yellow/gold colored strip went well with the gold theme in the book. It was a fix that worked! 

It still was a little wonky; but, I decided a little wonky was better than any more bleeding! The piece measures 13 inches by 13 inches. I finished it in March of 2015. 

I'd always thought that I would make another miniature quilt; but, I haven't! Miniature projects, while taking less fabric than larger projects, still take a lot of time! Accuracy of cutting strips, sewing seam allowances becomes even more important as the pieces become smaller.

I did enter this piece is several quilt shows. It won a blue ribbon (first place) at one show. I share this information because in none of the judges' comments was there a mention of the fabric bleeding. 

Hanging at a show
The judges' did comment that the yellow strip while unexpected added to the overall appearance of the piece. The comments included that the edges should be straight. There was a couple comments that there should have been more space between the gold strip and the diamond border and there were a couple comments that the spacing was good. 

There were no comments about fabric bleeding. It all worked out! 

This is my fourth post this month documenting past book club quilts. If you missed a post you can click the links and read the posts: Old Sames; Reflections; More Than Black and White. Documenting four posts was goal number two in my May list.

Because this project is all from scraps, I'm linking to Cynthia's blog at Oh Scrap/Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

More Fabric Bowls--Gertie Writes

More fabric bowls
Hi I'm Gertie. I'm Terry's inner squirrel. I'm posting for Terry today since she is out of town. 

Before Terry left to visit her daughter, I convinced her to make four more fabric bowls. She took photos of all but one of the six that she created. (She gave one of the bowls away after a being in London a couple of days.) She could have made more bowls before she left but she ran out of time.

Terry planned to gift these bowls to friends of her daughter that she has met on previous trips as well as friends she meets during her stay. 

Home for one bowl

One of her daughter's friends inherited her mom's stash a couple years ago. Her mom's fabrics are not her style and she isn't a quilter. Terry thought that this friend might get a kick out of making fabric bowls with some of her mom's stash. Then, she thought perhaps, other people would like a fabric bowl so that was the initial inspiration behind making the bowls. I had to work REALLY hard to convince her to sew more bowls!

For the friend, Terry packed printed directions and enough stabilizer for the friend to make two fabric bowls. I hope that she will have fun with the project and will make even more fabric bowls. I also hope that she will share photos of her creations. She is a creative person and I wouldn't be surprised if she created her own directions for the bowls.

What the bowl holds
Terry made some bowls low and squatting. She made some bowls deeper with a petal kind of edge. They traveled well in the suitcase. The first person that she gifted a bowl liked that the bowl was reversible. This person is a bicyclist and liked the print. She commented that the colors in the bowl (blue and yellow) would fit in well with her redecorating scheme. I call that a win/win!

Terry has gifted all but one of the bowls. So far they have been a hit. (I told her so!) I wish that she would have photographed the recipients with their bowls; but, I forgot to remind Terry to do it. Honestly, I don't know where she would be without me!

Terry used about half a yard of fabric from her stash which brings the total used from her stash to 37 and one half yards for the year.

I'm linking this post to Cynthia at Oh Scrap/Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework. I agree with Terry when she talks about Cynthia's link up, "Have a cuppa and be inspired with all the projects people are creating from scraps!"

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Old Sames--

Hand embroidery

Our Thread Tales book club read the book, "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" by Lisa See. The book is about the lives of two girls who are friends throughout their lifetime. In the book, they are "old sames" and that was how I selected the title of my project. 

One girl begins life with little affluence but ends up affluent at the end of the book. The other girl begins life with affluence but ends up without it.

Broiderie perse on the shoes

The girls learn the needle arts: Sewing, embroidery and weaving. They make their own shoes.  They had bound feet and one of the girls achieved the perfect size foot. . . .three inches! I made a "shoe" that was three inches to applique on my quilt.


The girls communicate with one another writing on the folds of a fan. I designed my own fan pattern and I made a sample which became my label. 


All of my fabrics are leftover from other quilts that I made. This is a technique piece. This project contains a bit of trapunto, hand embroidery, paper piecing, broiderie perse, free motion quilting and more techniques than I can remember.


Since the fan was a central feature of the book, I used a stencil to mark a quilting pattern as well as a batik fabric that was printed with fans.

I was fortunate to have visited China and was impressed with the massive gates that were in front of places of reverence. I made my own sort of gate with the medium blue fabric. This fabric also represented a fabric that the girls could have woven.


I made this project in 2007. It was the second project and second book of our Thread Tales group. My London daughter has this quilt.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Saturday Workshop #3--Applied Edge Appliqué

Applique shapes
Our instructor, Lorraine, has produced amazing applique quilts. It was great to see her demonstrate the technique she uses at a Saturday workshop at the end of January. Years ago, Lorraine had taken a class with Pearl Pereira to learn her method which uses freezer paper. 

I've played with making templates in a Karen Kay Buckley class. For this class, we used freezer to make our own templates. Lorraine provided a pdf that included a variety of shapes. 

My goal was to make one of each shape. We started with the heart shape. I followed her directions of making the freezer paper template. I used the grocery store freezer paper as I didn't have the other brand that she suggested. 

We used Mary Ellen's Best Press with a stipple brush to apply the starch alternative to the edge of the fabric. We worked in small sections and we used an iron to dry the fabric. After I had turned all the edges on a template, I let it cool. Once the template cooled, I removed the freezer paper. The applique shape retained its shape and I was able to reuse it!

I used a bit of glue to anchor the shapes and then applique all but the tree shape on my piece of scrap fabric. I finished the little sample in class. I haven't completed the sample because I'm panning to figure out how to incorporate the tree. At least, that is what Gertie, my inner squirrel, is telling me!

It was a fun class. I look forward to playing again with the technique. Since only scraps were used in this project, I'm linking to Cynthia at Oh Scrap/Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework

Posting about this workshop was goal number four in May list.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

More Than Black and White

 Our book club read, "The Help" by Katheryn Stockett. At the time we read this book, I was participating in a free motion quilting challenge each month through sewcalgal's blog. (Darlene has stopped writing that blog. Her current blog is "Creative Latitude.")  Cindy Needham was the featured instructor for June. Cindy shared a swirl or blob shape that she encouraged those participating in the challenge to quilt a variety of fills in the spaces.

Cindy talked about dividing and conquering the spaces. I had a little piece of a white on white fabric in my scrap bin. I layered it with a scrap of muslin for the back and a scrap of two battings. One batting was 80/20 and the other was 1/2 layer of wool. I used this sandwich as my place to play with the design. 

Because the fabric was light and I wanted my thread work to have a high contrast, I quilted with black thread. When I finished quilting the blob and background, I wanted to do more. Cindy's fill stitches inspired me to make a tiny quilt repeating one fill stitch. I decided the tiny quilt should be added to the project.

I added another chunk of fabric to the backing and to the top of the piece using the quilt as you go method. Fortunately, the batting extended so I didn't have to add more batting! I made this section the invisible sleeve. Then I added my tiny quilt to the center of the top. 

What was serendipitous about adding the tiny quilt was that I now had a place to add my label.

In the bobbin, I used cotton thread. In the needle I used a variety of thread and thread weights. I used polyester, cotton and metallic threads. I used the metallic thread to match stick quilt the top of the piece. I matched the color of the threads in the needle to the color of the bobbin thread. To make a darker and thicker line, I stitched over the area multiple times.


Reading the book, I knew I wanted to focus on the two colors: black and white. This little project then became my book quilt. The premise of the book was about life in terms of being privileged white or being black who served the white community. I named the piece "More Than Black and White." Too often we think of situations in black and white or right and wrong. In reality, life is full of a lot of shades of gray!

When I looked at the front, I felt it was too plain. As I have written previously, my grandmother taught me how to sew. To honor her, I try to use something from her sewing basket in each of my projects. Usually, it is the thread that I stitch around the outer edge of the project.

In this case, I used the black buttons that were in her button box. I added a few beads. Tom Russell inspired me to add the buttons and the beads. Tom died in 2015. I enjoyed reading his blog posts and watching the segment that he filmed with Sharon Schamber on The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims. 

Again, my granddaughter liked this piece. When I photographed it recently, she wanted me to photograph her finger with the quilt to show the scale of the fills. I finished the piece in 2012.  It is small--9 1/2 inches wide by 15 3/4 inches high.

Sunday, May 8, 2022

2022 Temperature Quilt--Post 3

February and March

I believe that Gertie was correct in wanting me to add more background fabrics. As my inner squirrel, she sure makes me think multiple times about fabrics, techniques and projects!

While I'm still not sold on a different background every month, I am warming to the idea of adding one or two more fabrics to the purple than I'm currently using. Gertie is still working on me to reconsider!

I took a photo of February and March rows together. The original background I planned to use would have been fine. The three boxes on the left are the spacer blocks that I use when a month has less than 31 days.

February-March view

Adding the purple, however, contributes to the overall eye impact of the project. When I return home, I'll determine if I add one more fabric, two more fabrics or none!

As I create more rows, I am enjoying al the English Paper Pieced blocks! My plan for stitching the rows together for now, although Gertie may convince me to take another tact, is to wait until the end of next month before stitching the rows together. I'm concerned with how heavy and bulky the piece will become. I think adding rows to each side will make it easier for my body to handle the added bulk and weight. 

Let's see!

Closer view of February-March
Since I'm using scraps from last year's temperature quilt, I'm linking to Cynthia and Oh Scrap/Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework.

Happy Mother's Day to all you moms! I arrived in London on Mother's Day in the UK (March 27). My daughter and I both agree that two Mother's Days are definitely an improvement over one celebration. Yesterday my daughter treated me to a manicure/pedicure. I haven't had a manicure since March 2020 before the pandemic. I haven't had a pedicure since April 2021! It was heaven. 

She received a manicure and pedicure too. Miss A went along with us to the West Lane Salon. One of us started with the pedicure while the other of us started with the manicure. With that arrangement, one of us would always be available to jiggle and hold Miss A. Miss A, now eight weeks old slept most of the time we were there. Honestly, holding a sleeping baby is wonderful!

Three generations on Mother's Day
The business owner, Melissa, brews a wonderful cup of Vietnamese coffee and she is a baby whisperer. Miss A was asleep after about five minutes in Melissa's arms. Melissa smiled proudly then exclaimed. . ."it's really the white noise from the hair dryers that does it." White noise or not, Melissa knows exactly what her customers' needs are---no matter their ages !

Wednesday, May 4, 2022



Our Thread Tales book club read "The Glass Blower of Murano" by Marina Fiorato. In the opening pages of the book, the author describes the scene of the lights playing across the water at night. The description made me think of molten glass. The molten glass made me think of marbled fabric.

A number of years prior to reading this book, I had purchased a few small pieces of marbled fabric at the Stash Bazaar. I had intended to border the fabrics and place the pieces together. That idea never felt "right" to me so I continued to enjoy the fabric hanging on my design wall. After reading that description, I pulled one of the fabrics and decided to make it my project for the book.

Finished front
To make the project larger, I added a couple of borders to the marbled fabric. Using bamboo batting and sulky thread, I quilted the lines that were printed into the fabric. I finished the edges using Vicki Pignatelli's facing technique. There is something freeing about cutting an organic line which becomes the edge of the facing. This piece is small--12 3/8 inches wide by 11 1/2 inches high. I finished the piece in 2011. 

I enjoyed the finished piece so much that for years it hung in my studio where I could easily see it as I stitched.  I took it down when we were on the list to evacuate because of huge fire that occurred in our area in the summer of 2020. I packed it along with all my other finished quilts. 

Now, it lives with my group of "small" quilts from which I select one or two each month to display around the house.

Sunday, May 1, 2022

April Recap and May Goals

Mom and daughter when I arrived
My goals for April were:

✔1. Piece all the days of February together for the 2022 Temperature quilt. ✔Maybe, I'll get a bunch of the March blocks together too! I'd like to be caught up with this project by May. Although, I may not have enough of one of the fabrics to stay caught up. Time will tell! This was my one monthly goal. Check out others' goals at Elm Street Quilts One Monthly Goal April Link-up

✔2. Write four posts that feature book club quilts from the past.

✔3. Write a post about the virtual Saturday Workshop classes that I've taken since January. 
I listened to the following books:
Audio: 1. Kingdom of the Blind/Louise Penny 4.5; 2. A Better Man/Louise Penny 4.5; 3. All the Devils Are Here/Louise Penny 4.5; 4. The Madness of Crowds/Louise Penny 4.5; 5. And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer/Fredrik Backman 4; 

Granddaughter one month after my arrival
It's been a great month. I've walked many times to Borough Market. I've had a cup of coffee at favorite coffee shops. My daughter introduced me to a pain au raisin at one of her favorite places that has become a favorite for me too. I like shopping on Saturday at Spa Terminus market. We've taken Miss A, the youngest granddaughter to the Tate Modern and to the Textile museums. She slept through some of each visit.

I've eaten Spanish Tapas at Bravas Tapas located at Saint Katherines Dock. (I plan to enjoy other food there on a week day when it isn't so busy.) I'm slowly working my way through the bread, biscuits and loaves the German Whole Grain Baker offers through a little stall available Fridays near my daughter's flat.  I've enjoyed take out from Nando's and Dishoom.

Fabrics for April 30 in temperature quilt
I've had fun cooking Ottolenghi recipes with my daughter. So far, every item that I've made, I would definitely make again. Gertie wants to write posts about the dishes we've created.

Best of all, I've enjoyed watching my granddaughter grow! She's rolled herself over from back to front a handful of times and at seven weeks old she weighs eight and half pounds. 

My goals for May are:
1. Continue piecing blocks for the 2022 Temperature quilt. I am as caught up as I can be. I've a little system in place, I piece one block a day and I'm keeping up! On day last month, we had six inches of snow fall at home. I didn't pack any snow fabric because I can't remember the last time there was measurable snow fall in April! When I return home, I'll add that piece of the cube and I'll finish April. This will be my One Monthly Goal. For more inspiration, please visit: Elm Street Quilts One Monthly Goal May Link-up
Possible cross stitch projects

2. Write four more posts that feature book club quilts from the past. The books will be: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See; The Glassblower of Murano by Marina Fiorato; Tales of the Yukon by Robert Fortune and The Help by Katheryn Stockett.

3. Work on my book club quilt for the June reveal. Last month I created my plan and drew it on a piece of fabric which I then layered and basted. I plan to complete the majority of the piece with hand stitches.

Another small cross stitch kit
4. Write a post about the third virtual Saturday Workshop that I took earlier this year. That workshop was about an appliqué technique.

5. Work on a cross stitch or beading project. I worked on 
one project last month.

6. Gertie has twisted my arm and is planning to write a cooking post. What dishes will she feature? Hm m m m. . . 

Finally, Happy May Day. When I was a kid, we use to make little arrangements and leave the arrangements on our neighbors doorstep. I lived in an area where you knocked on doors. . .there weren't doorbells. After we had knocked, we'd run to where we had stowed our bikes. We'd ride our bikes to the next house and repeat the process. We always thought we were so smart in not getting caught. . . well, I'm sure the occupants figured out who left the bedraggled flower bits because our garden had flowers that bloomed before others in our area.