Tuesday, June 25, 2013

All set

...or not. Couldn't quite decide whether i ought to add pectin to today's batch of black raspberry jam. The mixed berry jam that i do a little later in the season is usually fine sans pectin, since the berries have enough of their own, but the black raspberries are always a little... unpredictable. So i figured i could set it on the stove for a while, and if it didn't look like it was starting to gel, i could always add a bit of pectin.

Of course, it was well into the 90s today, so with a pot of proto-jam on one burner and a massive boiling water canner on the next, i got impatient and went with the pectin - not the full amount, but a bit. Only i discovered (belatedly, as i was ladling jam into jars) that i hadn't mixed it in all that well, so it looks like i've got two jars that are set, one that's sort of halfway, and four that are on the syrupy side.

Still, i know from past experience that syrupy black raspberry goop has its uses: among other attempts at salvaging un-set jam, i've made a killer black raspberry chocolate chip ice cream, and a lovely, summery lemon cake filled with black raspberry syrup and frosted with lemon buttercream. Not too shabby.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Neo-gothic brunch gear

Sometimes, you find things that you simply didn't realize were missing from your life. For me, at the flea market this weekend, it was this waffle iron - now, i should say that i'm primarily a pancake girl, though i like me a nice fluffy Belgian waffle on occasion - but this was not just any waffle iron.

Fleur-de-lys and elaborate little crosses to hold all the butter and syrup (or fruit compote and whipped cream, if you go that way...)? This takes decadent brunching to a new level.

It's not marked except for the size, but i've found a couple examples with the same design that seem to be linked to a Philadelphia manufacturer, and my knee-jerk guess is that this one is probably on the order of a hundred years old. Obviously, it's desperately in need of some care and feeding, but there's nothing badly wrong that a bit of elbow grease and a lot of time, heat, and oil won't fix.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

A rare bird

Yes, it's a finished project! Actually, it was finished months ago, while i was visiting my sister and didn't have a camera handy... it's that play mat i made for my friend's kiddo, although it's the little sister of said kiddo who's actually sacked out on it here:

Apparently, it's quite popular all around, and when it's not occupied by one or the other of the kids, the cats are trying to stake their claim to it. The front (except for the border) is made entirely from a batch of receiving blankets i nabbed at a thrift store, and the "batting" is an old wool blanket. Probably the most expensive part was the backing, which i made out of a denim with tiny olive green pinstripes - i knew i wanted something tough, with a nice, tight twill weave, so the bottom would brush off easily. Everything that went into the project was picked out specifically to be highly washable and breathable...

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Fast and loose with the terminology

Indulge me in a small textile rant, here. I just got an e-mail from the local quilt shop (i don't, for the most part, quilt, but it's the only place this side of G Street Fabrics that carries the thread i like...), and one of the new fabric lines they're flogging is called "Quilter's Linen Tussah" by Robert Kaufman, and which, the shop e-mail points out to reassure the quilters, is 100% cotton.

Now, Kaufman generally makes quality fabrics, and they should know better than this: a cotton fabric, called "linen" and "tussah," which is a term used to describe silks produced from wild rather than cultivated silkworms. They want "linen" to describe the texture of the weave, i'm sure, but linen is a fiber, and not a particular weave, and there are other ways - you know, accurate ones - to describe a weave and its texture, perhaps in this instance, something like "homespun." And tussah? That's really reaching. Next thing you know, they'll want to describe it as worsted, too. Puts one in mind of the line from Voltaire about the Holy Roman Empire. Thank you, rant over.