31 January, 2012

Meet Georgia, my Singer Featherweight


Say Hello to my girl, Georgia, another one of my Fabulous Vintage Finds.  She is so named because she found me at an estate sale when Mr. T. and I lived on the South Georgia coast on Oak Grove Island. I swear, I heard her calling to me the moment we walked in the door. She was sitting on a table in her case, all snapped up.  I opened the case while trying to still my beating heart...  I took a quick look inside, slammed the case shut, looked all around to see who was going to try to take her from me by force and then carried her away to show her to Mr. T.  He and I usually discuss our estate sale purchases, decide whether it is a "want" or a "have-to-have", but this time I just announced to Mr. T. that we were buying this and he did not even question me.  There must have been something in the look on my face.

I knew that the price of $90.00 was basically a STEAL!!! since these little beauties in good conditin usually go for upwards of $400.00, with ones in pristine condition going for even more.  Georgia has a little decal wear forward of her needle plate, but that just shows that she has been a hard worker over the course of her life and I love her for that. She came with her original case, tons of attachments, bobbins, the original instruction manual and the original oil can.

She gets to do a bit of traveling these days.  I take her to workshops and classes, where she is often the Belle of the Ball. As you can see, she has been gently used and well cared for.  She's looking pretty snappy for 75 years old, don't you think?  Seriously, I hope that I look that good when I am 75.

Oh,... and did I mention that she sews like a dream? She positively purrs....


Georgia has the lovely Egyptian scroll work on her end plate, a beautiful touch by Singer that is prized by collectors. I was able to learn her manufacture date by her serial number. She was born on March 15th, 1937, which makes her a seriously senior Featherweight model, a real Golden Girl!.  These machines were manufactured by Singer from 1934 to 1961. They still function as they were intended to all those years ago.  They are lightweight and portable, but they are also little workhorses. My Georgia is a genuine peach, a real, honest to goodness Georgia Peach!

13 January, 2012

My BEE-SHARP Thread Catcher


As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have been working on the new design and pattern for a Thread Catcher that my Guild-mates and I will make and sell at our Annual Quilt Show in April.  These sewing room necessities are always big sellers for us. I have just finished my prototypes and they turned out pretty nicely, don't you think?  There are three different detachable pincushion designs to choose from and each one has a needle sharpening pad filled with emery. I suppose that I could have called this "The Have It Your Way Thread Catcher", with those three different pincushion options,  but... I'm captivated by bees, hence the name, BEE-SHARP. I hope that my Guild friends have as much fun making these as I did. The fun is in choosing the fabrics that go together in just right way.

Scrappy Strip Version
Color Block Version
Lattice Version

08 January, 2012

Smoked Chicken, Spinach and Bacon Pasta


Years ago, when our family lived in the Sierra Foothills near Auburn, CA, we enjoyed eating at "Original Pete's", a little restaurant on Highway 49 that served delicious Smoked Chicken Pasta.  This is my copy-cat version or that dish. But honestly, mine is even better than the one that I copied. I'm just sayin'...

You can vary the ingredients for the pasta to suit your tastes.  We've tried a number of combinations.  Sometimes we use artichoke hearts, olives and fresh tomatoes.  We have also used roasted red peppers, olives and feta,   You can use any combo of ingredients that suit your tastes, or ingredients that you have on hand.  Remember, it is the smoked chicken that is the BIG STAR here.

It's easy to smoke your own chicken.  I use a Cameron's Stovetop Smoker, available through their website www.cameronscookware.com  or through Amazon.com.  You can choose your own favorite wood chips to use and it's been fun trying different ones. I used hickory chips for this recipe. We have also tried alder, oak and sometimes we add a bit of  mesquite. I find that mesquite is often too intense to use alone, it can taste somewhat bitter, but it's nice to add a few mesquite chips along with another wood chip flavor.

So, as you read this recipe you may think that this is a lot of work.  True,... this is not a quick recipe to make, but the chicken makes it SO worth the time it takes.  I usually make a double batch of the smoked chicken and have the leftovers cold on a salad for lunch.  Delicious!



Smoked Chicken, Bacon and Spinach Pasta  - Serves Four

1 package fresh chicken tenderloins
1/2 cup bottled Italian dressing
3 or 4 cloves garlic
1/2 pound linguine pasta (farfalle is also good)
1/2 pound fresh baby spinach
5 or 6 slices of bacon
3 slices white onion
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1 tbs. olive oil
1 tbs. grated parmesan
a little chicken broth
a little white wine
fresh grated parmesan for garnish
chopped green onion for garnish
4 lime wedges

OK, here we go.  I prepare the chicken early in the day. I wash and pat dry the tenderloins.


Then cut off that little membrane thingie...


And cut out the tendon, or whatever that thing is...



The next step is to marinate the tenderloins in a zip-lock bag with one of the garlic cloves, minced or pressed, and 1/2 cup bottled Italian dressing.  Refrigerate for about 4 hours.

When ready to cook the chicken, I turn on the grill to high heat.  While the grill heats, prepare the smoker by lining the pan with foil.  I also cover the tray with foil.  Clean-up is much easier if you do this step.  Add about 1 cup of wood chips and 1/2 cup of water to the bottom of the pan.


Then place the tray and rack on top of the chips.


Place the smoker on the heat source.  Our grill has a burner on the side and I find that this works perfectly for me.  I know, the smoker is called a stovetop smoker, but trust me, you do not want to use this thing indoors.  I have also used an inexpensive hotplate outdoors when I did not have a burner on the grill.  Turn the heat on high in order to get the wood chips smoking.  Once that happens, turn the heat down to low.  

Now, grill the chicken at high heat, just long enough to make nice grill lines on the meat, usually about two minutes on my grill.  Turn and grill the other side until the meat no longer looks pink.  Don't worry about grill lines here, you just want to make sure that it's not pink.  You want your tenderloins to be a smidge underdone.


                                                                       Looking good!


Next, place the grilled chicken on the tray of the smoker, taking care to leave a bit of space between each piece.  Then close the lid and smoke for about four minutes.  The temptation is to open the lid to see just how much smoke you have going, but try to resist.  After the four minutes are up, turn off the burner and let the meat sit in the smoke without heat for an additional six minutes.  It's still smoking in there, I guarantee it, but by turning off the heat earlier you are less likely to have dry chicken.  But really, folks, smoked chicken is good even when it's on the dry side.  


Remove the chicken from the smoker to a plate.  Cover with foil and set aside.

Now, I get my ingredients together for the pasta part of this recipe.  Boil water for the linguine, add a bit of salt if that's how you like it.  Slice the bacon into small pieces and cook in a large saute pan until lightly browned.  

                         

Drain on paper towels and set aside.  I pour off nearly all of the bacon grease, leaving just a tiny bit in the pan for sauteing the spinach.



 I take the stems off of the spinach leaves and cut the onion into pieces.  My photo does not show it so well, but you need a MOUNTAIN of spinach.  It cooks down to nearly nothing so you need lots.  When you think that you have enough, add more.  


Add 1 tbs. olive oil to the pan and saute the onion for about 1 minute, then add two or three cloves of garlic, pressed.  Next, add the spinach and stir gently while it cooks down.  


Add bacon bits, reserving a few for topping, oregano, thyme and cayenne.  I add a little chicken broth and a little white wine at this point and stir for a minute to reduce.  Sprinkle on the parmesan, stir it in, then remove from heat.  Do not overcook.

Drain the pasta.  I add a few drops of olive oil, then stir it so that the pasta does not stick together.  Put a serving of the linguini on a plate and top with the spinach mixture.  Garnish with a little fresh grated parmesan, chopped green onions and the remaining bacon pieces. I gently warm the smoked chicken in the microwave, heating at 30 second intervals.  Two chicken strips are usually enough for a serving.  We like to squeeze a wedge of fresh lime over the top or of it all.  

Enjoy!   

02 January, 2012

Bunny Quilt



Some people do Spring Cleaning, but I do After the Holidays Cleaning. Yesterday I was tidying up my walk-in closet, otherwise known as the wade-in closet, and came upon a quilt that I had made a few years ago.  I have kept it rolled up on a cardboard tube to keep it pristine until the time comes to give it away to just the right baby girl, hopefully, a future grand-daughter.  I have my fingers crossed.  We still have two children who are sans offspring. (Really, no pressure here, Butterfly and G-Man...)  I made it just because I loved the fabrics and,well,... just because I dream of a grand-daughter one day. And hey, if I don't get a grand-girl, maybe it can be for a great-grand daughter.  By that time it will be VINTAGE!!!



I hand appliqu├ęd the bunnies and carrots and then hand quilted the rest of the quilt.


Detail of the quilted carrots in the border.


I drew out and added the sweet little quilted carrots in the borders.  The only machine work that I did on this quilt was the sewing on of the binding, but I finished the binding by hand.  This quilt won a first place in my class at the local quilt show as well as a first place at the county fair.

The Bunny template is from "Baby Patchwork", by Gianna Valli Berti.

So, to my much wished for future grand-girl, whoever you are, this quilt is waiting for you.  Come claim it for your own.  Grandma loves you...