27 December 2010

The Only Tradition

During the years I lived in Seattle, when cash was tight and it was hard to get time off of work,  I developed the habit of going home for Thanksgiving, but not Christmas.  To this day, I'm not interested in celebrating Christmas.  Maybe I'll return to it someday when I can find a way to  have it be peaceful, thoughtful, and actually reflect the best stuff that Jesus taught (tolerance, championing the poor and oppressed).

As it stands, the only childhood Christmas tradition I've stuck by is making blintzes on Christmas morning.  I may have this wrong, but I believe this tradition started sometime in the 1980s, when my Grandma's sister showed up on Christmas morning with a pan full of blintzes. Blueberry and strawberry and raspberry blintzes.  Sour cream and cinnamon sugar for the top. Pure joy.  Ever after, blintzes were the Christmas morning meal.

For as long as I can remember, my parents were in charge of making the blintzes for the whole extended family (15+ people).  My mom, who does not like to cook, but is really good at random tricky kitchen things like b├ęchamel sauces and gravy from scratch, made the crepes.  My dad, a brilliant cook who will not bake, made the filling.  

When I revived this tradition in my own home, I took out my recipe books and looked for blintz recipes.  I couldn't find anything that looked remotely like what I grew up eating.  Even looking on the internet, I kept finding recipes that didn't have the same main ingredients.  Whither the cottage cheese?  The fruit?  

I called home, my mom answered.  The crepes are made following a recipe in a book.  "Just find a crepe recipe in a book. Cook one side, then fill them, cooked-side-in."  

She put my dad on to tell me about the filling, "Cottage cheese, egg yolk, softened butter, vanilla, whatever fruit."    
"Any measurements for these ingredients, Dad?"  
"Two egg yolks. A few pats of butter.  Two big tubs of cottage cheese."  
"How much fruit?"
"However much you like."
"But what do you do?  Roughly the same amount as the cottage cheese?"
"Maybe a little less."
"And you're describing how to make a lot, right?  This is for like 30 blintzes?"
"For the whole family. We have a big family."
"Have you ever been interrogated by the police? You'd make an excellent hostile witness."
"I'll get your mother."
: )

Seriously, you'd think I was asking for pass-codes into their back accounts!  They are usually such a cheerful people.

Anyway, to save YOU having to call them and ask about this apparently-touchy subject, here's my version of the blintz recipe.  This makes about 15 blintzes.  In my experience, two blintzes is a meal.  You can make these the night before (except for the final fry).

Find a crepe recipe in a book. Cook one side.
I use the basic crepe recipe in How To Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food
I cook them one at a time.
I use about 4TBS of batter per crepe and I cook them in a stainless steel fry pan, with canola oil sprayed in the pan for each crepe.

Combine the following.
1.5 cups of cottage cheese (if it comes out of the tub with a lot of liquid, rest it on paper towel or in a colander for a while, you want it rather dry)
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
1 cup frozen blueberries (or raspberries, or chopped strawberries)
0.5 cup raspberry pie filling (or blueberry pie filling or strawberry)  canned stuff is great, or prepare your own.

To finish the job:
Spoon the filling onto the cooked side of the crepe.
Fold the crepe around the filling.  (My parents do a full wrap, like a burrito; I do a roll, like a taco as it allows for more filling per blintz.)
Set frying pan to low/medium-low.
Melt a bit of butter in the pan.
Add blintzes to pan.  The low heat gives you time to heat the filling without burning the crepe.  Cook both sides. (Maybe 5 minutes per side)

Serve with sour cream and cinnamon sugar (a mix of white sugar and cinnamon).


16 December 2010

Humpty be Crackin'

In the end, Humpty got his limbs.

I should explain why I was making a Humpty doll for my little neighbor friend.

It is because of this:

link in case embedded video doesn't work: http://youtu.be/r5idILB-vts

The little guy loves to watch clips on youtube.  He knows you can play them over and over and he knows that the little pictures on the sides are other videos you can watch. So, he has a fair amount of control over what he watches, which he enjoys.   It's nice for the adults, too, because we can ask Kecky questions about the videos before we replay them "What happened to Humpty?"  "Do they fix Humpty?"  You know, the sort of stuff that studies show encourages better comprehension of what they are observing.

Also, as soon as Kecky isn't paying much attention to the videos, its easy to redirect him to more active play.  If we watch Dora the Explorer or other shows, Kecky seems to feel obliged to hang in there until Dora reaches her final destination even though you can see the little guy is itching to get off the couch and run around.  Not a problem he has with books, by the way, which he will listen to for quite long stretches.

One day, after watching the Humpty video, Keckers turned his wee face to me and said "I want to fall.  I want to crack."  Which, on top of being the funniest utterance ever, led to this whole game where I draw a crack on Keck's forehead, Kecky and I sit on something, sing the song from the video, "fall" off of what we're sitting on, and then lay flat on the floor laughing until we get up and find something else to fall off of.

So, Keckers was turning three and I wanted to make him something, what better than a Humpty Dumpty doll?

Humpty is 100% cotton, his body is made from canvas, which had his face and crack painted on with fabric paint.  The canvas seemed likely to fray, so I cut it large enough to incorporate a 1/2-inch seam and I zig-zag stitched the edges before joining the halves.
Humpty's patchwork pants are attached to the canvas base and contain batting.  All three layers of the pants were quilted.

The legs, which were giving me trouble at first, finally looked right when I look Cheryl's advice and made them extra long.  The limbs are basically just tubes of quilter's cotton.  When it came time to sew everything together (following the construction scheme laid out for the cat pattern in Denyse Schmidt Quilts) I went over the bits where the limbs attached a bunch of times.

Which was a good call because when Keckers unwrapped Humpty...


He took a second to look at him, exclaimed, "It's HUMPTY!"  Then Kecky took Humpty by the arm, whipped him to the ground, laughed, and said, "Poor Humpty."  Next, Keckers looked at me and in all seriousness said, "Rossie, Humpty be crackin'!"

Holy crap that kid is funny.

13 December 2010


sometimes clumsiness

has interesting results

09 December 2010

are we there yet?

Lurky has been plugging away on her quilt.
But, when we spread it out on the floor to see how far she'd come, we were both surprised to discover that she was not so very far along.

Oh well, that's a better problem than not liking what you've made so far, right?

I've been wanting to make more bed-sized quilts, which probably means I'll be confronting this more and more. I finished piecing all of the cross quilt blocks that I had cut (earlier post about this quilt here).  I knew I didn't have enough blocks for a twin-sized quilt, but I had guessed that I had half a quilt's worth.  Nope, it's a third of a quilt

The idea with the fabric selection here was to make two piles: one from my stash of text fabrics, the other that ranged from orange-to-teal in a way that sort of embodied the colors of copper as it ages.  It was a somewhat haphazard fabric selection, so I'm surprised to see how well it is working.
Since this is being pieced as a leaders-and-enders quilt, pressing and cutting are really the only times where I feel like I'm working on it. Usually, it is just the byproduct of the other things I'm doing.  Tonight, I'll get some cutting in so I can come out bed-sized.

By the way, I regularly sing the PJ Harvey song, Man-Size with the word man switched out for bed. And then laugh at myself.

This is what I've actually been working on:  a humpty-dumpty stuffyfor my neighbor's soon-to-be-three-year-old.

I can't decide if Humpty needs legs.
The mock-up I made had legs, but I'm kind of digging him limbless.
He is an egg after all.