Saturday, February 28, 2009

Daring Bakers: Chocolate Valentino Cake and Vanilla Ice Cream

Lots of new recipes have been tried at my house during the month of February. My husband is begging I cease and desist as he’s being “loved” to death. Part of my kitchen activities are a result of having joined the Daring Bakers.

The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE's blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef. We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm, and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge. The Daring Bakers had to keep the project secret until today although I made and served this delightful dessert on Valentine’s Day.

I followed Dharm’s recipe for the ice cream, opting to use a vanilla bean as opposed to extract. This part of the project was made two days before Valentine’s Day using my Cuisinart ice cream maker. Vanilla ice cream is a great complement to the richness of the cake.

Making a flourless cake was new to me but surprisingly easy. The choice of what chocolate to use was left up to each baker; I chose Ghirardelli semi-sweet. Instead of baking one big cake, I put the batter in individual-sized, heart-shaped ceramic molds.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

Chocolate Valentino
Preparation Time: 20 minutes

  • 16 ounces (1 pound) (454 grams) of semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons (146 grams total) of unsalted butter
  • 5 large eggs separated
  1. Put chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) and melt, stirring often.

  2. While your chocolate butter mixture is cooling, butter your pan and line with a parchment circle, then butter the parchment.

  3. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and put into two medium/large bowls.

  4. Whip the egg whites in a medium/large grease free bowl until stiff peaks are formed (do not over-whip or the cake will be dry).

  5. With the same beater beat the egg yolks together.

  6. Add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate.

  7. Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and follow with remaining 2/3rds. Fold until no white remains without deflating the batter.

  8. Pour batter into prepared pan, the batter should fill the pan 3/4 of the way full, and bake at 375F/190C.

  9. Bake for 25 minutes or until an instant read thermometer reads 140F/60C. Note: If you do not have an instant read thermometer, the top of the cake will look similar to a brownie and a cake tester will appear wet.

  10. Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes, then unmold.

Dharm's Ice Cream Recipe: Classic Vanilla Ice Cream
Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Recipe comes from the Ice Cream Book by Joanna Farrow and Sara Lewis (tested modifications and notes in parentheses by Dharm)

  • 1 Vanilla Pod (or substitute with vanilla extract)
  • 300ml / ½ pint / 1 ¼ cups Semi Skimmed Milk – in the U.S. this is 2% fat (or use fresh full fat milk that is pasteurized and homogenized {as opposed to canned or powdered}). Dharm used whole milk.
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 75g / 3oz / 6 tbsp caster sugar {superfine sugar can be achieved in a food processor or use regular granulated sugar}
  • 5ml / 1 tsp corn flour {cornstarch}
  • 300ml / ½ pint / 1 ¼ cups Double Cream (48% butter fat) {in the U.S. heavy cream is 37% fat). You can easily increase your cream's fat content by heating 1/4 cup of heavy cream with 3 Tbs of butter until melted, cool to room temperature and add to the heavy cream as soon as whisk marks appear in the cream, in a slow steady stream, with the mixer on low speed. Raise speed and continue whipping the cream or use heavy cream the difference will be in the creaminess of the ice cream.
  1. Using a small knife slit the vanilla pod lengthways. Pour the milk into a heavy based saucepan, add the vanilla pod and bring to the boil. Remove from heat and leave for 15 minutes to allow the flavors to infuse.

  2. Lift the vanilla pod up. Holding it over the pan, scrape the black seeds out of the pod with a small knife so that they fall back into the milk. SET the vanilla pod aside and bring the milk back to the boil.

  3. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and corn-flour in a bowl until the mixture is thick and foamy.
    Gradually pour in the hot milk, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the pan and cook over a gentle hear, stirring all the time.

  4. When the custard thickens and is smooth, pour it back into the bowl. Cool it then chill.

  5. By Hand: Whip the cream until it has thickened but still falls from a spoon. Fold it into the custard and pour into a plastic tub or similar freeze-proof container. Freeze for 6 hours or until firm enough to scoop, beating it twice (during the freezing process, to get smoother ice cream or else the ice cream will be icy and coarse). Using Ice Cream Maker: Stir the cream into the custard and churn the mixture until thick (follow instructions on your ice cream maker)

Friday, February 27, 2009

Blessings Friday: Comforting Cathy Shawl

A little over a year ago, I joined a group of knitters to create a shawl for Cathy of Tightly Wound, Loosely Stitched blog, a sister knitter fighting cancer. We wanted to let her know we care—and most of us have never even met her. I find that astonishingly touching.

Source: Amanda Cathleen (Mistress Stash Enhancer), used with her very kind permission

This mission was inspired by super-hearted Amanda Cathleen of Mistress Stash Enhancer blog. The project traveled throughout the U.S. and Canada, with participation also from Germany and the U.K., to caring knitters who added their own yarn and prayers to create this gift of love. And through the entire year, it remained a closely-guarded secret.

Source: Amanda Cathleen (Mistress Stash Enhancer), used with her very kind permission

Before sending it on to the next knitter on the list, each person added words of encouragement and love for Cathy by writing on a ribbon we attached to our section of rows. She now has possession of our gift of love.

I hope this weekend brings you as much love and care as was knit into this beautiful gift for Cathy.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Golf Towel Sewing Tutorial

Need a gift for a man? Something in pretty fabric a female golfer would like?

If you have a need, you can find a solution. That’s what I told myself when I decided my husband’s old, raggedy golf towel could no longer accompany him to the golf course. It’s embarrassing me too much. Something has to be done.

My brain went into action making decisions as to what would be useful. One side should be for cleaning (terrycloth or chenille) and the other side cotton or linen for wiping/drying. A corner pocket would be nice—you could stick in your club head or golf ball and give it a good scrub. A grommet in one corner would facilitate hanging on the golf bag for easy access.

Outside of the golf towel. © June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved.

I decided to make two towels, one for my husband and one for my son, simple “I love you” gifts. They would also be great for birthdays, Father’s Day, Christmas, or other occasions. If you leave off the pocket detail, the towel would work for bowling, too.

Inside/pocket side of the golf towel. © June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved.

In the design process, a tutorial emerged as written below. For a PDF version, click here or in my sidebar under Junie Moon’s Tutorials. Please do not use my tutorial to make any for commercial sale.

Junie Moon’s Golf Towel Sewing Tutorial


  • 1 piece of 100% cotton or linen fabric, cut 17”-wide by 19”-long
  • 1 piece of 100% cotton terrycloth or chenille fabric, cut 17”-wide by 19”-long
  • Thread to match
  • Dritz Grommet Kit, 7/16-inch (I chose brass)
  • Metal golf towel (or shower) hanger (again, I chose brass)

Step 1: Place your two fabric pieces right-sides together and sew ¼-inch around all 4 sides, leaving a 4-inch opening for turning.

Step 2: Turn right-side out and press.

Step 3: Slip-stitch the 4-inch opening closed.

Step 4: Top-stitch ¼-inch around all four sides.

Step 5: Place towel so shorter sides are at top and bottom. Find the center of your towel length and mark with straight pins. Fold over the right-hand corner to match the center. Pin in place.

Illustration of Step 5. © June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved.

Step 6: From bottom of towel, sew up one side of the pocket, extending about ¼-inch into the terrycloth/chenille to keep from tearing during use. I also stitched across to the left into my chenille from my seam to secure it even further. Leave the other side (top) of the pocket open; otherwise, you won’t have a pocket. NOTE: If you wish to add your label, do so before sewing the pocket side as illustrated below.

Illustration of Step 6 incorporating label. © June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved.

Step 7: Looking at the back of your towel (pocket side), you’re going to want to put your grommet in the top left corner. Follow the instructions on the grommet kit.

Step 8: Insert a hanging hook through the grommet and you’re done.

I hope you enjoy my easy tutorial. Now I’m working on a girlie golf towel for me.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sewing/Crafts Blog List and Color Guides

I was delighted to discover the other day that my blog is on the Big List of Sewing Blogs—an aggregate listing of active craft and sewing blogs created by Suzical based on Techorati ratings.

My blog is about living my life creatively and happily. There are tons of things I do besides just sewing or crafting. As such, I’m honored to be included on Suzical’s list.

Speaking of sewing and crafting, I’ve found a way to match/coordinate colors when shopping for fabric, apparel, dishes, and so on. Pantone® makes a shopping color guide you can just slip in your purse.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

One time I took a dinner plate to the store so I could find just the right fabric to sew matching placemats and napkins. Now I can just take my color guide. In the photo above, I’m trying out fabric combinations for a quilt project using the Pantone® system.


  • Suzical blog
  • Big List of Sewing Blogs
  • Pantone®’s Shopping Color Guide

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Working on My Golf Game

At the beginning of the year, I listed improving my golf game as one of my 2009 goals. Whether I play a good round of golf or have an abysmal game, the bottom line is that only I am responsible.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

To improve, I’ve got to figure out what I’m doing wrong as well as those things I’m doing right and that means tracking my progress or lack thereof. The SporteeGal Golf Journal I ordered at the beginning of the year is helping me do just that.

This helpful journal has thoughtfully-structured sections providing a means to record all details of my game, plan for improvement, and note my growth. And it’s not limited to just those functions, there’s so much more packed into this journal that you can’t help but get better.

If you play golf or need a gift for a golfing friend, Susan is offering her journal for 20% off right now; $1 from the sale of each journal is donated to Newborns in Need.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

I made new golf club covers in 2007 as my old covers were falling apart. Since I’ve replaced my woods with Callaway Big Berthas, I’ll need to make a new head cover for my driver as it’s huge and the old cover doesn’t fit. As I’m working on getting new irons, too, I may have to make a whole new set of club covers.

Isn't it wonderful that no matter what our hobbies are, there’s something creative we can do to enhance the experience? I have a tee time early Friday morning, my journal is going right along with me.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Extension Cord Keeper

Just like duct tape, my husband seems to have a thing about extension cords. I think we could hook up every house in the city of Tucson with all the cords we have.

Extension cords are indeed handy things, but how to organize the tangled mess of cords taking up space all over the house and garage?

The answer came to me via a featured craft project link on One Pretty Thing last week created by Apartment Therapy Unplggd about recycling toilet paper rolls to make extension cord keepers.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved.

I used leftover scrapbook paper from my Rolodex address card project. Now each cord is nice and neat and only took about 10 minutes to do Sunday afternoon.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Blessings Friday: Wear Red Day

Although February 6 was National Wear Red Day in support of women with heart disease, I missed it. So, I’m wearing red today in honor of all those who suffer or die from heart disease. This horror runs rampant in my family and one of my sisters is having serious cardiac issues right now.

The symptoms of cardiac disease in women are sometimes overlooked. Often, the warning signs are dismissed as something else because women don't recognize them or are too busy to think they might indeed have a problem.

When my sister first experienced heart pain and other associated symptoms, the first cardiologist she consulted informed her that women don't have heart disease. A week later, she had to have emergency surgery to insert a stent in her heart (by a different cardiologist).

Source: American Heart

I ordered these pins for my sisters and I to wear as all three of us have mitral valve problems. The funds raised by the pins and other products at the web site directly support the Go Red For Women movement and the fight against heart disease.

Each and every day is a special blessing we don’t take for granted. We want to live.

  • American Heart Association
  • Go Red for Women
  • Heart Attack, Stroke and Cardiac Arrest Warning Signs
  • Red About You, a new blog with inspiring survival and coping stories

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Make a Blanket Day

Each year, groups around the country work together to make blankets for children in need and spread the word about Project Linus. Saturday, Feb. 21 is dedicated to Make a Blanket Day (MABD).

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

I made my offering yesterday—a simple blanket using Timeless Treasures fabrics, cotton on one side and flannel on the other. I’ll add it to a Project Linus collection box Saturday morning on my way to Tai Chi class.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

No Knead Bread

Every now and then I feel like baking bread, sometimes by hand and once in a while using my bread machine. I don’t know why, but there’s something inherently magical about the act of making bread.

After reading about No Knead Bread adventures at Africankelli, Finnyknits, and Sassy-Priscilla, I succumbed to the lure and tried the recipe.

Making the bread is actually quite easy. Be forewarned, however, that you have to do some logistical planning. It took me two days to get to the actual baking point on this project.

The result? Add some Marionberry jam my friend Maggie brought me from Oregon and all I can say is mmmmm-mmmmm good.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Butterfly Photography

Since both my husband and I enjoy photography, we celebrated Valentine’s by registering for a special after-hours photography session at Tucson Botanical Gardens.

This event allowed only five photographers admission to the tropical Butterfly Magic exhibit with all our equipment—cameras, lights, tripods, and so on. It was a wonderful opportunity for us to take our time without bothering other people with our gear or, to be honest, worrying about other visitors getting in our way.

The following are just a few of the hundreds of photos I took.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved
Tiger Longwing (Heliconius hecale). Range: Mexico to the Peruvian Amazon.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved
Ruby-spotted Swallowtail (Papilio anchisiades). Range: south Texas south to Argentina.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved
Julia Longwing (Dryas Julia). Range: southern areas of the U.S.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved
Zebra Longwing (Heliconius charithonia). Range: extreme southern portions of the United States southward through Mexico, Central America and the West Indies to South America.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved
Atlas (Attacus atlas). Range: Southeast Asia.

This Atlas moth was a unique visitor to the exhibit. According to the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Atlas belongs to the giant silk moths family, Saturniidae. Wikipedia cites a moth as “an insect closely related to the butterfly, both being of the order Lepidoptera”.

We’re still enjoying viewing each other’s photos and working together to identify each butterfly found. What a perfect Valentine gift for us.

Monday, February 16, 2009

One Word Project: Patterns

Photography is both a pleasure and a puzzle—trying to meld the two to improve my skills is an on-going learning process. That’s why I enjoy challenges like The One Word Project, a monthly community photography project hosted by Shutter Sisters. Such opportunities offer a means to focus more than just my camera lens.

OWP badge

The word patterns is my choice for February's focal point.

I was entranced by the play of light through the beams of one of the ramadas at Tucson Botanical Gardens. It gave me the submission photo I felt best exemplified patterns.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Blessings Friday: Bandage Brigade

The Junie Moon Bandage Brigade is coming to an end. I’m grateful for this opportunity to help leprosy patients in Viet Nam.

The cotton yarn we used last year was too thick for the climate in which the leprosy patients live. This year we were instructed to use a tiny crochet cotton yarn for our effort. My arthritic hands made the knitting process feel as though I was working with gossamer spider web and it was slow going for me.

I have a collection of bandages using the old thicker cotton that was meant for this year’s bandage brigade. I’m now looking for another organization that can use the thicker-yarn cotton bandages.

The change in yarn impacted this year’s project greatly. I was feeling terrible about managing only one bandage this year using the new yarn mandate. Then I reminded myself that even one bandage is an act of love as well as a gift of time and effort.

Look at the cute tag Weeks of Craft Nectar blog made for her bandage.

I’ve received emails letting me know your bandages are in the mail either to me or directly to Linda at Touching Others With Leprosy. Thank you to all the participants of my 2009 effort to help others. Your generosity is wonderful and a blessing to those suffering in the world.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Sew a Fabric Bowl

My February project for Finny and Donk's 2009 Craft:along is done.

You wrap fabric around clothesline and sew the resulting cord together to make a bowl. I used all but two feet of a 50-foot length of clothesline and about ½ yard of Charisma by Chez Moi for Moda fabric. The tutorial for this project was written by Linda Permann of CraftStylish and featured on Craftzine in January.

As I worked on the project, I contemplated what practical purpose this bowl could serve. It might hold sewing supplies, bags of sachets, keys, or other assorted items. And then I remembered a beautiful backgammon set my husband found in a small shop dedicated to backgammon in Athens, Greece a couple of years ago.

Although the traditional pieces that came with the game set are quite nice, we play with gem-like minerals bought at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. And that is what my new basket is going to hold—chunks of amethysts and citron quartz we use as backgammon pieces.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Knit a Cashmere Cuff

A little warmth around your neck makes a cold day much more tolerable. And if it's made from cashmere, all the better for wrapping yourself in luxury.

Finnyknits offers a free knitting pattern for a cashmere cuff and I gave it a go. She used Lana Grossa Pashmina yarn and I followed suit, finding mine on eBay because I'm cheap and have sworn not to pay retail prices for anything this year. This yarn is a worsted-weight cashmere and extra-fine merino blend. The color I chose is Smoke (013).

If you're interested in my eBay yarn source, her eBay store is called Handknits. She has more Lana Grossa Pashmina listed on clearance for $10.95 (free shipping). You only need one skein for this project.

This little neck-warmer works up quite quickly. I love the stitch design and the button detail. It was the perfect accessory yesterday on my way to bridge class as we're actually experiencing winter weather here in Tucson.

In other news around my house, FedEx is bringing back my beloved laptop today. A little tweaking with my programs, re-building my favorites list, and I should be good to go again in the next day or so.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tucson Letterboxers Gathering

Sunday started off cold and rainy but that didn't deter 38 resolute letterboxers from attending the 5th Annual Tucson Letterboxers Gathering at a local Tucson park.

What fun to meet the folks behind the boxes they've planted or their stamp entries in journals in boxes I've found. Mysterious trail names like AZRoadie, The Pink Ladies, Baqash, and so on seem more real now that I've met the actual folks.

My own trail name June S. is awfully boring, so I guess I'll work out something with a bit more interest. It has to relate to mermaids since a mermaid tail is my signature stamp (my stamp and carving tutorial is located here). You can see the bag I made for my letterboxing kit here.

We now have a letterboxing patch for the Southwest. Last week we considered and voted on which of 10 design submissions would represent our region. The winning design is shown in the photo above.

Sunday was a wonderful day of new and old friends sharing great food while regaling each other with tales of letterboxing adventures and then going off to discover new boxes hidden in the park.


Monday, February 9, 2009

2009—International Year of Astronomy

As a little girl, I yearned to know what invisible worlds existed beyond what my human eyes could see. Are Martians really green like those on TV or do they look just like me but have super powers? While I've still no answers, telescopes offer the ability to see a bit more than my own limited vision. We have Galileo to thank for this.

This year we celebrate 2009: International Year of Astronomy—a commemoration of Galileo’s use of a telescope to study the skies 400 years ago, the birth of modern astronomy. This is a global endeavor sponsored by The International Astronomical Union (IAU) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

Source: IAU

The purpose and vision of the International Year of Astronomy is “to help people rediscover their place in the Universe through the sky, and thereby engage a personal sense of wonder and discovery. Everyone should realise the impact of astronomy and other fundamental sciences on our daily lives, and understand how scientific knowledge can contribute to a more equitable and peaceful society" (UNESCO).

If there is an observatory or university near you, there may be programs slated to honor astronomy you could attend. A list of observatories around the world may be found here.

At our house, we have a computerized
Meade telescope that brings the wonders in the sky a bit closer for us to see.

Each month you can download a free map of the evening sky and calendar so you don’t miss any celestial happenings. Visit Skymaps to find the applicable free map for your hemisphere, be it northern or southern.

The International Year of Astronomy’s official slogan is "The Universe, Yours to Discover". And so it is.