Saturday, February 25, 2017

Loes Hines V Neck Tunic View B

This one is an experiment that turned out ok. I was looking for a new knit top pattern and found this one among my Loes Hinse collection. With a center front, center back, and 2-piece raglan sleeves, the pattern offers lots of fitting opportunities.

The fabric is an old Emma One Sock stretch velvet that's been in the stash for a time.

In spite of the rolling edges that are typical of stretch velvet, it wasn't hard to sew and turned out well. I used a combination of Medium and Large sizes which is my usual. I'll be making more from this pattern in the future! I think it would adapt to many types of knit fabric.

Like many of the Loes Hinse patterns, this design is a classic that has stood the test of time.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Vogue 7806 Jacket, View C

I've had this on on my to-do list for  quite a while and finally decided to bite the bullet. The fabric is a faux leather and shearling from Fabric Mart and the pattern is OOP Vogue 7806.

View C  of this pattern is designed for faux shearling, but I ended up making several changes from the pattern instructions to give the jacket a more finished look. The pattern calls for a lot of raw edges, which look just that--raw and unfinished. I made shearling binding from extra fabric, which I sewed to the edges, wrapped around to the back side, then stitched in the ditch to fasten the binding on the reverse. Once sewn in place, I trimmed off the excess fabric on the back. Where going around curves, I had to slash the binding since it didn't have any "give" and later hand stitched the raw edges together. This is the finish that you can see around the pockets and around the perimeter of the jacket.

There is also a machine sewn buttonhole on the jacket, thanks to my Bernina 710. It was able to go through 2 layers of the faux shearling with no worries. Here's a detail of the buttonhole, which also provides a nice look at the texture of the faux leather side.

The faux shearling wasn't too difficult to work with although it was heavy and shed fuzzies all over the place. I was also wary about pressing so I catch stitched all the seams in place by hand. Since I'm not much of a hand stitching expert, I relied on my mid-seventies edition of the Vogue Sewing Book for advice:

Those old sewing books do come in handy and this one is a keeper! 

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Instant Pot "Cooking Without Recipes" Soup

I promise you this blog is not going to become an Instant Pot blog! But I am having a lot of fun with it. This soup is based on a sort-of recipe I found on, the web site of Bon Appetit magazine. It's part of their series called "Cooking Without Recipes." I basically used some things I wanted to use up in my fridge and pantry to put this soup together.

2 tablespoons (more or less) of olive oil
1 pound package of turkey breakfast sausage
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon chili flakes
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
1 quart beef broth, store bought
1 28 ounce can of tomatoes
1 pound chopped collard greens (part of a pre-chopped bag I bought for New Year)
1/2 pound dried chick peas, soaked
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
3 bay leaves

Heat oil using the saute function of the Instant Pot. Brown sausage, breaking it into pieces. When it’s cooked through and there’s good caramelization on the pieces, remove the sausage with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl. 

Add the onions and garlic to the Instant Pot and saute for about 8 to 10 minutes until softened and beginning to brown. Then stir in the Worcestershire, fennel seed, and red pepper flakes.
Add the beef broth and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Add tomatoes and juice and stir to combine. Add collard greens, drained chick peas, basil,  oregano, and sausage. If the soup looks too thick, add some water. I think I ended up adding a tomato can's worth. Stir to combine all ingredients, turn off the saute function, and lock down the lid. Set the Instant Pot to manual at high pressure for 20 minutes. Use a natural pressure release (at least 15 minutes) before opening the Instant Pot and having your soup!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Instant Pot Black Eyed Peas

This dish was my New Year's day dinner. Where I grew up in Kentucky, you ate black eyed peas and collard greens for luck in the New Year. I'm a little late in posting this, but black eyed peas are delicious and healthy. You can eat them anytime! I have packaged up and frozen several servings for reheating for workplace lunches.

My version is based on a recipe from a Tabasco sauce brochure I've had since I lived in Mobile, Alabama in the 1980's.

All of the recipes in the brochure were written by the late New Orleans chef Paul Prudhomme. Although it was available for a minimal price, it's a great little cookbook with stories and pictures of Cajun life "back in the day."

Now that I have the Instant Pot, I've been making a lot more dishes with dried legumes. Before,  preparing them was an all day challenge. since Albuquerque is a mile high city, it took forever to cook beans soft enough to eat. It was easier after I acquired a stovetop pressure cooker, but using it still required a lot of watching, and the thing was a pain to clean. With the Instant Pot, it's  faster and easier, so I've been adapting some of my old recipes.

The original recipe includes chicken fried and smothered with black eyed peas and served with rice. It's good, but rich! So I decided to focus on the black eyed peas instead of making the entire recipe, which is quite a production between frying up a chicken and simmering peas on the stove.

Here's my adapted version:

1/4 cup (approximate) olive oil
4-5 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2" pieces
2 - 2 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
1 1/2  - 2 cups finely chopped celery
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 pound dried black eyed peas (soak overnight and drain)
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 quart chicken broth

Using saute function (medium), heat oil in the Instant Pot. Add the bacon and cook until it starts to become crisp, about 3-4 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the onion, celery, bay leaves, and 1 teaspoon of Tabasco; cook until vegetables start to get tender, about 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the peas, garlic powder, sage, onion powder, thyme, pepper, and mustard; stir well. Cook until all the oil and juice is absorbed and the mixture starts sticking, about 2-4 minutes. Add the stock and remaining 1 tablespoon of Tabasco. If needed, add additional water if needed to cover mixture about an inch.

Reset the Instant Pot to Manual and 7 minutes, then lock down the lid to pressure cook the peas. Once  the cycle is complete, natural pressure release for 15 minutes and open. If the mixture is too watery, set the Instant Pot to saute and boil off the excess liquid until the the peas and sauce are the desired thickness. I'd describe the texture as saucy but not soupy. I hope that makes sense.

Serve the peas over hot cooked rice. The original recipe used white rice, but I used brown rice that I had previously made in the Instant Pot using the instructions in the manual.

Yes, it does sound like a lot of spice, but it's flavorful, not spicy-hot. This could easily be made vegetarian by omitting the bacon. You do need the oil in order to saute the onion and celery, so don't skip that.

I found the pressure cooking timetables in Hip Pressure Cooking by Laura D. A. Pazzaglia to be helpful for determining the cooking time for the black eyed peas. She also has a good section about soaking beans. So far, I haven't followed any of her recipes exactly but have used them as guidelines to adapt my own recipes.

I also served the peas and rice with some collard greens. This was not a recipe per se, although I figured out how to make it in the Instant Pot by adapting the recipe "Collard or Dandelion Greens with Slab Bacon, Pecans, and Malt Vinegar" from Pressure Cooker Gourmet by Victoria Wise.

Here's my version:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
1-2 pounds of collard greens, chopped and large ribs removed (mine was pre bagged and chopped)
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup water
Freshly ground black pepper

Using saute function (medium), heat oil in the Instant Pot and saute the garlic. Making sure the collard greens are dry, add them to the Instant Pot and stir. They will wilt down. Combine vinegar and water and add to the greens. Reset the Instant Pot to manual and 5-7 minutes, then lock down the lid to pressure cook the greens. Once the cycle is complete, natural pressure release for 5 minutes and serve.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Back From My Blog Hiatus!

Well, this is embarrassing. "Summer Wrap Up" is my last post and I put it up on September 15.

I guess I could say that I needed a break but in reality, life took a bit of a turn this fall. Work became extremely busy this fall, between a reorganization of our department in May, summer vacations, and the  work partner for one of my clients leaving the company unexpectedly. Lots of overtime and stress to deal with, so that affected my sewing time--actually my personal time in general.

On a lighter note, my workplace switched to a jeans everyday dress code, and that's had an impact on my wardrobe and my sewing. That seems like a good thing, right? However, my wardrobe needs changed quite a bit and it's taken a while to come to terms with that. I'm starting to move forward with sewing again and have decided to focus on shirts, jackets, sweaters, and tops. I can buy jeans that fit and don't have much desire to make them. I've only made a couple of projects since September but I'm looking forward to coming up with some new projects now that I've identified my wardrobe needs.

I'll be working on self-care this year since that's taken a back seat for the last several months. I need to take time for myself and things that are important to me because I'm feeling a bit frayed around the edges, if you know what I mean.

I'm happy that I bought an Instant Pot during Amazon Prime Week! (Thanks, shams!) I've been experimenting with it quite a bit and having creative fun converting recipes and making new ones. I'm even taking lunches to work instead of eating at the cafeteria, definitely a good thing! We bought a new stove too, but I confess that I haven't used it a bit since it was delivered.

DH and I will be starting back with morning walks now that the holidays are over, and I'll also be signing up at the neighborhood gym. I tried going to the gym at the office. It worked for a while, but I think something closer to home would be better. Plus weekends!

Like many of you, I'm glad 2016 is over, and I'm looking forward to a better 2017 in spite of the uncertain times we're in! I'm hoping that some personal re-tooling will go a long way toward that goal!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Summer Wrap Up

I had meant to post pictures of garments on me before now, but between work (busy) and monsoon (afternoon storms), it's been difficult to set up a time. Oh yeah, and my remote gave out and I had to order another one from Amazon.

But I finally got around to it so here's an assortment of summer garments, right in time for the fall. It's still warm, so these will be wearable but I'm starting to lean more towards fall shades. So we'll see if they actually get any wear for a while, even as layering pieces.

If you want to see more details, click on the links.

Cutting Line Designs, Pure and Simple Shell:

Sewing Workshop, Eureka Top:

Butterick 6324, View A:

Cutting Line Designs, Simplify Your Life, View B:

Monday, September 12, 2016

Another Kwik Sew 2565 Quartet

Yes, more of them. But a basic T shirt is pretty versatile and they make great layering pieces. I finished this group up yesterday after a marathon session of coverstitching.

This time, I was able to get some picture of me wearing them, with various levels of success. But then, I never claimed to be a professional model or photographer!

This one was made from a remnant I had left over from another T I made several years ago when I first got the pattern. The original is long gone, but I had just enough for another version. The fabric came from Emma One Sock and is a cotton and lycra blend.

The fabric for this one came from Gorgeous Fabrics and is a very soft rayon. I think this one may end up as a layering piece. Although rayon is nice to work with and very comfortable to wear, it tends to be clingy.

Another fabric from Gorgeous Fabrics. This one is a poly matte jersey. The color in real life is darker, what I'd refer to as an American Beauty Rose shade.

This fabric is from Jo-Ann's. It's a bit thin, so will be another layering piece, but I really loved the print.

I think I've located a current Kwik Sew pattern that's pretty similar to  my TNT 2565. I haven't sewn it yet but it may be worth trying.