30 November 2021

2021 Tuesday To-Do #40: Pumpkin Cheesecake With Salted Chocolate Caramel Top

How was everyone's Thanksgiving?

You know you've not been in the sewing room enough
when your calendar is a couple weeks behind...oh well.
Due to the holiday, I don't have much quilty stuff to
share for today's Tuesday To-Do Link-Up so after I
talk a little quilting, I'm going to share the recipe for
our Turkey Day Grand Finale.
(If you're not into the chocolate-pumpkin combo hey,
I'm not much either so trust me on this one.  It's nom.)
I might start including a favorite recipe in all of my
TTD posts but we'll just see how that all plays out.

Thankfully, I wrote most of this post ahead of time
so now, after learning my son's truck was stolen, and
I'm finally sitting down to do some editing, I'm grumpy
and not in the mood.  Well, this ain't our first rodeo;
it's not even that son's first rodeo [aka vehicle stolen],
the poor kid.  And I'll leave it at that.  Wait--no I won't.
Do you know how hard it's going to be to replace it
in this current car market?!?
Okay, now I'll leave it at that and then try to focus
on the fact that no one was hurt.

But we have some things to fix.  Ugh.
And we'll be switching back to full-coverage.  Today.
(What a scare!)
And I'm tired of editing and a little emotional so just
lemme know if you see any major typos--LOL.

Back to normal things...
Over the holiday I was busy getting ready, then busy
serving it up and then busy doing a lot of nothing with
my fam.  I finally hit a couple LQS's and now have most of
the fabric needed for my grandson's quilt--no small feat.

A review of my obstacles/complications:
* Needs to match his sister's quilt if at all possible,
or at the very least just not clash with it. 
*I should to be subtracting fabric, not adding!
*My daughter likes modern--I have very little
*It's really hard to find boys' fabric that's not
just flat out silly or overly-cutesy/juvenile.
(I'd prefer he didn't outgrow it in a year!)

Knowing all the above issues, I'm pretty happy with what
I have so far.  There might be some finger-crossing going
on but that usually works out alright for me. 
(ie: stretching that peachy-orange into a manly orange
and drawing out the gray that's barely there.)

I have a couple fabrics in the stash I'll probably add
and I did order up a couple more:  one is a larger print
of the construction vehicles for a border; the other is
another gold--the exact fabric that is in his sister's
quilt so that should help pull things together a bit.

As for his sister's quilt, it still needs the binding.  With my
shoulder screaming at me daily, I kinda keep putting it off.

Next week's to-do's:
1)  Bind and label G's quilt
2) Cut out J's quilt
3) Quilt Hudson Valley Palisades

That's a hefty list considering the million other things I
have going on but I'm still going to attempt it.
Now, for that recipe:
I'm a pumpkin purist.  Don't even talk to me about
the can.  It's just not that hard to make the pureé and
the difference is night and day.  Directions are all over
the Internet but I'll sum it up for us quilters:
Cut pumpkin in half and clean out inside, saving seeds
to bake later for warm and healthy quilting snack.

[Or, if you have chickens, they're a natural de-wormer.
The rest of you probably did not want to know that, right?]

Pop halves into the oven face-down on foil-lined pan
at something like 325'.  Set the timer for, I dunno, like
an hour and go sew.  Whenever it gets fairly soft, you're
done--pull it out and go back to sewing while it cools.
Whenever you need a break from sewing, remove peel
with a paring knife and pureé the meat.  Refrigerate or
freeze to have available whenever you want.
(It keeps 5-6 days in the fridge.)
Go sew.
And never use that canned gook again.
Especially with the following recipe:

A note about baking cheesecake:
You know how you always bake it in a water bath?   I'm
here to tell you:  forget wrapping that springform pan in foil.
After having this leak just once--resulting in a very soggy
crust <cringe!!>--I always double-foiled...until one fine
day I stumbled across the idea of using a crockpot liner.
Cue the angelic choirs and sing along:  Hallelujah!
A much, much more trustworthy method!  I haven't
used foil for years--and I make a LOT of cheesecake.
(Just kinda roll the excess of the liner down a little bit so it
doesn't get too close to the oven's upper heating element.)

*I didn't know I was going to post this so
these are the only pics I have

 Pumpkin Chocolate Cheesecake
(Adapted from Martha Stewart Living Nov '21)

6 oz chocolate wafer cookies
4 T butter, melted
2 T sugar
Pinch of salt
In a food processor, grind cookies till fine (1 1/2 c).  Add
sugar and salt and pulse a few times to mix in. Add
Add butter and pulse until evenly moistened.  Press evenly
into bottom and about an inch up the sides of pan.
Refrigerate for 10 mins.  Preheat oven to 350'.  Bake till
firm, about 12 mins.  Reduce oven to 325'.

3 pkgs (8oz ea) cream cheese soft/room temp
1 c sugar
2 T flour
3/4 c fresh pumpkin pureé
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t ground ginger
2 t vanilla
1/2 t salt
3 large eggs, room temp
Beat cream cheese and sugar on low until smooth,
scraping sides and bottom so no lumps remain.  Add in
flour, beating to combine.  Add pumpkin, spices, vanilla
and salt.  Add in eggs, one at a time, beating to combine
well after each addition (again scraping sides and bottom).
Pour into prepared crust.  Place pan inside a crockpot
liner; then place the liner/pan combo in a larger pan.
Fill larger pan about halfway up with hot water. 

Bake till just a tiny bit wobbly in center, 70-75 mins.
Cool 2 hours.  Place in fridge, uncovered; after 1-2 hours,
cover tightly and chill 8 hours, up to 2 days.

Salted Chocolate Caramel
1/2 c sugar
3/4 c heavy cream
generous pinch kosher salt
3 oz Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips

Run a knife around outside of cake; release sides of
pan and remove from cake.  Cook sugar and 2T water
in a small saucepan over med-high heat, stirring until
sugar has dissolved.  Stop stirring and cook, swirling pan
occasionally, until amber (3-5 mins).  Remove from heat
and whisk in cream and salt (it will bubble).  Return to
heat and whisk to dissolve any hardened particles.  Stir
in chocolate.  Cool 20 minutes, then pour over cake.
Refrigerate till set, at least 30 mins up to overnight.
Garnish with a pinch of flake sea salt in center.

You know what is so great about cheesecake?
I mean besides the obvious.
They are better after chilled a good day or two which
makes them PERFECT time-savers for any formal meal
when you want to focus on other things on the day of!
This is really the main reason I make them all the time!

Happy holiday baking and quilting!

23 November 2021

2021 TTD #39: Thanksgiving Edition

As busy as things have been, I thought I'd miss most
of the fall around here but it is almost December and
the colors are just now starting to dull and blow away.
I'm convinced this has been the prettiest and the most
drawn-out fall we've had in a long time.  And at the risk
of being a wee bit mushy, I know that when we're all
sitting around that Thanksgiving dinner table here in
a couple days, the blessings I'll be thinking of will be as
colorful and numerous as all the leaves we've enjoyed
these last months.  Many of them have kept us hopping
but I wouldn't change a thing.

I have some basic holiday cleaning done and a simple
but classic menu planned.  I haven't done anything
special in the table decor department--yet?  Right now,
it doesn't seem to matter much.  A cozy and welcoming
home with everyone in it is enough.
Anything else is just a bonus.
(Does anyone else out there need to hear this?)

Before I check out for the rest of the week to enjoy
this holiday, I'm joining the others over at the
to share just one bit of progress:

Hudson Valley Palisades top is finally completed.
It's loaded and ready to be quilted (and it'll probably
stay that way till after the holiday) but I think it
measures something like 71x71?

As for the rest of my list...well, clearly I'm in a
no-pressure kind of mood so it's all showing
up again on next week's list.

*Choose J's quilt fabrics--visit LQS
*Bind and label G's quilt
*Quilt Hudson Valley Palisades

In other news, one son will be home late this evening
and the cadet will be home tomorrow night.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family
and happy thankful, colorful quilting!

08 November 2021

2021 TTD #38: Holiday Feels Are Creeping Up!

How is everyone's fall sewing going?
Chipping away at that Christmas list?
I don't have much left to make for Christmas but I
do have plenty I want to get done before Christmas
--actually, before Thanksgiving--
so let's check in on last week's to-do's and get
things rolling...

Last week's to-do's
Finish G's quilt
The puzzle has been solved:  the shaft in the base of
my longarm had slid slightly out of place. 
It is back home and up and running.

I don't have an updated pic but this is finally quilted.
Because of the issues, there are a few rows of
not-so-great tension on the back but we'll just keep
an eye on it and if anything goes amuk while in use,
Grandma is always available for fixes.

Choose J's fabrics
After a quick look in the stash, I think I need to make
a run to the LQS, which seems like a horrible idea due
to the fact that I'm so far up/positive [45 yds!] on my
fabric tracking for the year but it is what it is.   

Finish "Set Aside" top
I pulled this back out so that temporary name is
gone; it is now officially Hudson Valley Palisades.

The drive from Newark Airport to West Point puts
us on the Palisade Parkway.  In the fall, this drive,
thickly-lined with trees. comes alive in all the beautiful
fall colors.  For me personally, it's a great building up of
excitement for the entire trip:  seeing our cadet, West Point,
football, all the fall scenery awaiting in the valley, etc.
The highway was named after the Hudson Valley Palisades
that line the west side of the river.  The off-set patches in the
quilt could be these cliffs spotted with vibrant fall trees.
The black sashing could indicate the highway.  I realize
a highway isn't very poetic but to me it will always have
happy feelings and memories.   It also kind of reminds
me of the railway that follows the Hudson on both sides.
(The east side seems to be a passenger line and it is 
kind of on my bucket list to ride this once.  Silly?
Well, I think it would be fun in the fall!)
The churns also carry the leaf colors but they also
remind me of the Bear Mountain Bridge Circle,
the large roundabout where we turn off toward
Highland Falls/West Point.

Along with finally naming it, I also pieced the
strips of the remaining border (more palisades).
Not much longer now!

I sold another quilt this week so again I am lamenting
my lack of time to get more made.  However, the holidays
always fly by and soon enough I'll find myself in 2 months
of nothing else to do BUT quilt.  For now I am going to
shoot for getting Hudson Valley Palisades listed
before Thanksgiving.  Lofty goals, especially when I'm
sneaking off to play golf later today.  Just how many
more nice days can there be?  A girl needs her
outdoor fall time!

What a girl doesn't need is more fabric when she already
has too much but sometimes she just buys it anyway,
especially when some of it is Pam Buda (top right)
and all of it was only $5/yd.

With 2 yds of each, ten yards have now been
added to the fabric tracking system.  Sigh.
What a girl needs is a blizzard that lasts all of
January to keep her shut up in the sewing room!

Next week's To-Do's:
*Finish Hudson Valley Palisades top and choose backing
*Choose J's quilt fabrics--visit LQS
*Bind and label G's quilt

Happy fall quilting!

02 November 2021

2021 Tuesday To-Do #37: Back From West Point, Crossing the Finish and Screeching to a Halt

We're back (again!) and this time, we crossed the finish line.
The 2-month wild ride of travel and events is over
and it's time to settle in and stop missing these
Tuesday To-Do posts.

It has been two years since we last visited West Point
so I'm going to share some pics, especially for any
new followers out there.

I hate to write the too-often-used phrase but I just canNOT
say enough about the US Military Academy.  

If you are ever in the area, get a pass and tour the post!
(These are your tax dollars at work you know!)
With over 200 years of history, incredible--and
intimidating!--stone buildings and gorgeous scenery,
after now five visits, I still view it with awe.
Due to covid, we were not granted access past the 
above point.  (Access inside the buildings is rarely
given even in normal circumstances.)
(More pics here and here.)

Someday, I want to schedule into a visit a whole
afternoon just to sit and take it all in. 
(Vacations are always too rushed, right?)

Ranked as one of the best game-day experiences,
taking in a football game is a must--along with timing
the visit in the fall when for some gorgeous leaf views.
We were just a bit early but by the time we left, they
were just starting to peak so we got a taste of it.

The jumps team always puts on a nice show before the game.

If you follow me on IG, you got to see them practicing the day
before out in the center of campus in front of the main hall.
Note no civilians are allowed on that field.  Cadets only!
My father-in-law had so much fun seeing MANY jumps,
all followed by the helicopter picking them back up...
and off they'd go again.  And again and again...

SO that when game time comes, they can hit their mark.
RIGHT in the center of the field.

Oh I do love game day!
One of my favorite moments is just before kick-off
of the game, when the cadets all go through their
pregame hype--it certainly ranks #1 on my
game-day experiences!

We wanted to share this experience with my husband's
parents so this time we gifted them the visit.  How fun
it was to see them gaping out the windows as we
drove through for their first views.  For the record,
I still do this myself--can't get enough of it.

Neither of my in-laws has gotten a chance to visit the
Statue of Liberty so we were happy to help them get
that crossed off the bucket list.

Now, after all of that travelling, did I get anything done?
I had to skip a week posting for sure!  As for my
those, like our return flights (ahem), are not without
a major glitch.  Here we go:

*Finish "Gwynnie's Goldenrod" top--Done

When we got back, I had just 4 days to finish this in order
to gift it to my granddaughter at her birthday party.   My
longarm was tuned and ready for me when we got back
(along with my car and its new windshield--yay!)
so this was doable. 

 I settled in and did some major marathon sewing
(see my Instagram) and had that top completed, 
backing pieced and everything loaded by Friday!
Saturday's quilting session was going well right up
until my machine locked up and I went into panic mode.
With my back, lifting the long arm is not a good idea
but hubs was not home.  To make it more difficult, I had
to keep my quilt loaded but if there is one thing I am,
it is extremely determined (stubborn?) and with a lot
of work, I got that puppy off and back into the shop
where he did his best to get me up and running.

The short story is:  I got it back home, made a row
or two, endured a couple thread-breaks, some
blood-curdling screeching and...yep,
it locked up again.
I waved the white flag, went shopping for other things
for my granddaughter.  (See how close I got?).
I'm off to go pick up my long arm AGAIN here in a bit, THIS
time with the issue fixed.  I hope.  Frankly, I had taken on
too much trying to get both quilts done for birthdays so,
while I'm very disappointed, I am also kind of relieved.
I knew something had to give; I'm so behind on so much!
The last couple months have really started catching
up to me.  I have been joking that I'm likely the only
person who's looking forward to the holidays
because things will actually slow down for me!

As for my other to-do:

*Choose Jonah's pattern and fabrics--partly
I have a pattern in mind.  Still need to choose fabrics.

I also got one quilt officially listed; the other is just
waiting on a good preview before I pull the trigger.

Next week's to-do's:

Finish G's quilt
Choose J's fabrics
Finish "Set Aside" top

In other parts of my world, I've given the chicken coop its
semi-annual thorough cleaning and they're ready for winter.
I've planted garlic and picked a billion peppers that now
need attention.  I have herbs to bring in to enjoy over the
cold months, winter garden prep to complete and holiday
planning & cleaning to get started on not to mention the
window cleaning that needs to happen, etc. etc. 

Deep breath.  It'll all get done--eventually.

And with that rushed post, I'm off to pick up my longarm.

Happy quilting!

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