Happy Halloween!

     This being my favorite holiday, I thought I’d whip up a quick post to show you something I made this week. I tend to go to a lot of Spanish food stores and I have found some interesting desserts and candies. By far one of the oddest is this pistachio gelatin:

Gelatina

     It’s not the flavor so much as the preparation. You add milk to it instead of water. I wouldn’t say it tastes like pistachios, but it has a pleasant candy flavor and it’s not too sweet.

 Pistachio Gelatin Zombie Brains

  • 1 Package of pistachio gelatin
  • 4 Cups of whole milk
  • 1 fun mold

     According to the Instructions you just boil the milk, add milk, and let it sit in the fridge until it sets. I brush the mold with a little bit of oil to make the gelatin come out easier. It comes out perfect every time.

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The Summer Dress

When I decided to try my hand at sewing a few months ago, I wasn’t sure if it was something that I would stick with. My main motivation was to add affordable vintage pieces to my wardrobe. My favorites are the silhouettes of the 1950’s and 1960’s. It’s not always easy to find vintage/reproduction pieces that fit my budget or my proportions. Since I am petite with a larger bust, sizing is an issue for me. Making my own clothes seemed like a step in the right direction.

I bought what is basically a toy sewing machine and I made the worst dress ever out of an old, drab sheet. I chose the smallest size and it came out comically huge.  I’m still not sure why the sizing was so off. The pattern is from the 90’s, so maybe it has something to do with the aesthetic of the time. Or maybe I made some error in my stitching. But honestly, even the most prudish church mouse wouldn’t wear such an unflattering sack. On top of all of this the “fabric” had a terrible drape, which made the fit even more awkward. Alright, so that does not sound like a roaring endorsement of sewing, but I was still hooked! I couldn’t believe that all the pattern pieces fit together. Or that I could makes sense of the facings. My mother was sufficiently impressed with my efforts that she gave me her Brother.

The pattern that started it all…

…and the resulting dress.

Armed with my awesome new machine and some basic skills, I tackled Butterick 5748. It’s a reproduction pattern from the 50’s. I admire the simplicity of the design. It’s a clean, classic look that ended up being a perfect intro to various techniques. The two most challenging aspects of this pattern were putting in the zipper and hemming the circle skirt. I thought the hemming would never end. And the tension in my machine must have been wrong for the light fabric, because my hem kept bunching up, making it extremely frustrating to sew. Overall, I’m very pleased with the fit and drape. I have plans to sew this one up again for my sister. When that time comes, I’ll post  a more detailed tutorial for this dress.

B5748

Front view. Much improved from dress #1, yes?

Back view, bow detail

Continue reading

Hooked

     A friend of mine taught me how to knit about 2 years ago.  I started off with a very simple project: a small scarf in stockinette stitch using a heather colored yarn. It took me months to complete it. I was amazed to find out that other people could knit whole scarves in mere hours.

     Needless to say, I’m not a very prolific knitter. I finished that scarf and started a shawl from a craftsy* class, but unraveled it when I found a better shawl pattern (and after I had to keep undoing the same mistake over and over). That’s it for my knitting portfolio.

     About three months ago, I learned to crochet using this book. To my surprise, it was all very straight forward. I made the flower first and felt confident starting some gloves. Soon enough, a cowl followed and then a beautiful collar.

The Deets

  • Yarn: 2 skeins of Wintuk from Thomas Hodgson & Sons, Inc.
  • Color: 5165 (medium gold)
  • Hook size: 4.25 mm
  • Projects completed: a collarcowl, and fingerless gloves

My first crotcheted collar!

My first crotcheted cowl

My first crotcheted gloves!

     I finished all these projects in just three weeks! Considering the unprecedented pace at which I crochet, I’ve become obsessed with all things crochet. Call me crazy, but I love feeling like I’m good at something. I have since tackled a more complicated pattern for fingerless gloves, and I made some mistakes that I’m going to make into a crochet trouble-shooting post very soon. To help me with figuring out new stitches, I used Youtube videos and the Lion Brand Crochet PDF. The latter is one of the best free resources out there. They also have a knitting version. I highly recommend it for any beginner.

     While my next couple of projects are going to be crocheted, I haven’t given up on knitting. The echo flower shawl is high up on my ravelry queue. If only I could manage to be a less clumsy knitter…

*I have several classes in craftsy classroom. Once I get through them, I’ll start posting reviews!

Guava Apple Crumble Pie

     On a little island in the Caribbean there is a quaint little cement house with my name inscribed in the concrete of the back porch. My grandfather wrote it there many years ago, perhaps thinking that I would live there someday, or at least visit often. Well, I no longer live in the balmy Caribbean and most of my close family has settled in the US. The house has largely become a distant, dreamy memory.

     What does all this nostalgia have to do with this blog? Well, the back porch that I mentioned is surrounded by fruit trees and other tropical plants. Guavas, acerola cherries, sugar cane, plantains, limes, oranges, avocados; you name it, it grows there. Those are the flavors I grew up with, even though I spent most of my life in the US.

     I like to think that by working on these recipes I’m melding two culinary traditions that are important to me; something in between what I would have eaten at the little cement house and what I learned when I first started baking in college…and it tastes a little something like this:

Not the best picture, granted, but by far the recipe I'm the most proud of.

Not the best picture, granted, but by far the recipe I’m the most proud of.

Guava-Apple Crumble Pie

An American classic with a streusel topping and  a tropical twist.

Crust:

     My go-to recipe is from the Joy of Baking website (cut in half because we only need the bottom crust). It never fails, but you must have the technique down. I’ve finally gotten it down after about two years of self-taught baking. I’ve gone through the trial and error so you don’t have to! It’s not difficult, it just takes practice. I’ll write a post later with tips for the perfect, flaky crust. I’ve adjusted the salt to my taste.

  • 1 1/4 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 Cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled, and cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces
  • 1/4 to 1/2 Cup ice water

Filling:

  • 2 Large baking apples
  • 3-4 Guavas
  • 1/2 Cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2-1 Tablespoon lemon juice

Streusel Topping:

  • 1 1/4 Cup flour
  • 1/2 Cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 Cup butter, melted

Instructions:

     Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. Mix all the dry ingredients for the pie crust. Incorporate the butter chunks by hand (my preferred method), or using a food processor. The consistency should resemble corn meal. Add some cold water until the dough sticks together in a nice ball. Using a generous amount of flour, roll out the dough and place on the pie dish. Shape the edges, prick the bottom with a fork and leave in the freezer for 30 minutes.

     For the filling, mix the dry ingredients and set aside. Cut the apples and guavas into thin slices. Mix with the dry ingredients throughly and then add the vanilla and lemon juice.

     Mix the dry ingredients for the Streusel and pour in the melted butter until the mixture is well incorporated.

     Pour filling into the pie crust, and place streusel on top. Cover pie loosely with foil. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 375 and continue baking for an additional 35 minutes.

Guava Apple Crumble 2

Up Next: Passionfruit Meringue Pie