Friday, May 29, 2009

Blessings Friday: Respite Time

Today I’m meeting a friend for lunch and then a whole weekend of nothing scheduled is ahead, definitely a novelty for me.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved (Taken at Tucson Botanical Gardens on Memorial Day)

The main drain to my time and, therefore, my energy is my tendency to schedule every hour. I’m my own calendar-enemy. Realizing all the free time ahead, I instinctively started making a list of things to do.

But sometimes you’ve got to just stop—be open to the gift given you. This came home to me yesterday when I fell asleep for an unscheduled 3-hour nap. My exhaustion level has obviously reached its max.

This weekend’s free time is an unscheduled blessing and I’m grateful for this respite. I hope your weekend is restful, too.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Daring Bakers May Challenge: Apple Strudel

Here we are with another Daring Bakers challenge (separate from the Daring Cooks challenges). The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

If you enjoy challenges and improving your baking/cooking skills, you can learn how to join the Daring Kitchen exploits

Apple Strudel

Preparation Time

Total: 2 hours, 15 minutes–3 hours, 30 minutes

  • 15–20 min to make dough
  • 30–90 min to let dough rest/to prepare the filling
  • 20–30 min to roll out and stretch dough
  • 10 min to fill and roll dough
  • 30 min to bake30 min to cool

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) golden rum
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) raisins
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (80 g) sugar
  • ½ cup (1 stick/115 g) unsalted butter, melted, divided
  • 1½ cups (350 ml) fresh bread crumbs
Strudel Dough (recipe below)

  • ½ cup (120 ml, about 60 g) coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 2 pounds (900 g) tart cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into ¼-inch thick slices (use apples that hold their shape during baking)
1. Mix the rum and raisins in a bowl. Mix the cinnamon and sugar in another bowl.

2. Heat 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the breadcrumbs and cook whilst stirring until golden and toasted. This will take about 3 minutes. Let it cool completely.

3. Put the rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a large baking sheet with baking paper (parchment paper). Make the strudel dough as described below. Spread about 3 tablespoons of the remaining melted butter over the dough using your hands (a bristle brush could tear the dough, you could use a special feather pastry brush instead of your hands). Sprinkle the buttered dough with the bread crumbs. Spread the walnuts about 3 inches (8 cm) from the short edge of the dough in a 6-inch-(15cm)-wide strip. Mix the apples with the raisins (including the rum), and the cinnamon sugar. Spread the mixture over the walnuts

4. Fold the short end of the dough onto the filling. Lift the tablecloth at the short end of the dough so that the strudel rolls onto itself. Transfer the strudel to the prepared baking sheet by lifting it. Curve it into a horseshoe to fit. Tuck the ends under the strudel. Brush the top with the remaining melted butter.

5. Bake the strudel for about 30 minutes or until it is deep golden brown. Cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Use a serrated knife and serve either warm or at room temperature. It is best on the day it is baked.

Strudel Dough

  • 1 1/3 cups (200 g) unbleached flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 7 tablespoons (105 ml) water, plus more if needed
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough
  • ½ teaspoon cider vinegar

1. Combine the flour and salt in a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix the water, oil and vinegar in a measuring cup. Add the water/oil mixture to the flour with the mixer on low speed. You will get a soft dough. Make sure it is not too dry, add a little more water if necessary. Take the dough out of the mixer. Change to the dough hook. Put the dough ball back in the mixer. Let the dough knead on medium until you get a soft dough ball with a somewhat rough surface.

2. Take the dough out of the mixer and continue kneading by hand on an un-floured work surface. Knead for about 2 minutes. Pick up the dough and throw it down hard onto your working surface occasionally. Shape the dough into a ball and transfer it to a plate. Oil the top of the dough ball lightly. Cover the ball tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to stand for 30–90 minutes (longer is better).

3. It would be best if you have a work area that you can walk around on all sides like a 36-inch (90 cm) round table or a work surface of 23x38 inches (60x100 cm). Cover your working area with table cloth, dust it with flour and rub it into the fabric. Put your dough ball in the middle and roll it out as much as you can. Pick the dough up by holding it by an edge. This way the weight of the dough and gravity can help stretching it as it hangs. Using the back of your hands to gently stretch and pull the dough. You can use your forearms to support it.

4. The dough will become too large to hold. Put it on your work surface. Leave the thicker edge of the dough to hang over the edge of the table. Place your hands underneath the dough and stretch and pull the dough thinner using the backs of your hands. Stretch and pull the dough until it's about 2 feet (60 cm) wide and 3 feet (90 cm) long, it will be tissue-thin by this time. Cut away the thick dough around the edges with scissors. The dough is now ready to be filled.

The wonderful world of YouTube has a helpful strudel-making video.

Supper First, Then Dessert

We decided a German meal before scoffing down the apple strudel would be nice. Our menu: schweineschnitzel (pork schnitzel), bratkartoffein (German fried potatoes), gurkensalat (cucumber salad), and brötchen (dinner rolls). As for the strudel, my husband liked it, but I was too pooped to lift the fork to my mouth—and I forgot to peel the apples.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Charming Key Ring

The anklet bracelet I made last week was surprisingly easy to make, so I’ve moved on to making key rings.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

Since my blog is pretty much a record of some of the ways I celebrate life, a charm stating such seemed perfect to me. I added a glass deco circle and a little heart charm. Everything needed was found at Michael’s. Now all I have to add are my house and car keys.

I used Cathy Filian’s
tutorial which was featured on One Pretty Thing this month.

Reminder: don’t forget about my Sewn Blog Launch Party Giveaway. You have until midnight (PST) on June 7 to enter.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Craft:Along May 2009 Project: Memorial Day

My project for May’s Craft:Along hosted by Africankelli and Finnyknits is done. We were challenged to use the Embellished Tank (created by The Farm Chicks) tutorial featured on Craftzine.

I opted for a white polo shirt. Using Memorial Day as my theme, I appliquéd the shirt’s back with a layered star and wore it to the Memorial Day concert last night. One star was cut out of navy/white star-themed fabric. Adding ¼-inch to the size, I cut another star out of a tiny red/white gingham print.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

The concert is held each year at Tucson’s DeMeester Outdoor Performance Center. We go early and find a good place to enjoy a picnic dinner before the actual concert. The Tucson Pops Symphony performance commemorates those men and women who’ve sacrificed their lives for America.

When soldiers enter U.S. military service, they take a very specific oath:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

In a Memorial Day observance speech entitled “The Soldier’s Oath”, Johnny Q. Gogue III says: “As we see our fellow citizens arrive back from a foreign land, we should not forget those words that each and every soldier spoke upon enlistment. Because when we look upon a returning soldier from conflict, a disabled veteran, or a grave marker – those words should ring in your conscience.”

My simple little star is my way of paying respect to all those who take that oath—past, present, and future. God bless them and their families.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Sewn Blog Launch Party Giveaway

UPDATE June 8 at 4:13 a.m.: entry to the drawing is now closed. Thank you to everyone who's commented.

A new blog for sewers has evolved called Sewn. Actually, it’s still evolving and makes its official inaugural debut June 8, but you can register right now to win cool stuff or join the Blog Launch Giveaway like I’ve done.


Sewn’s creators promise lots of excitement: forums, online advice from industry experts, conversion charts, color wheels, free patterns, class listings, interviews, tutorials, podcasts, an online Fabricmatcher tool, and more. I’m one of the registered blogs hosting a giveaway to honor the new blog’s launch.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

I’m offering a quilt kit from Timeless Treasures entitled “Solar Flare”. Included are the instructions and Tonga Batiks fabrics to make a 70-inch square, as well as a wonderful drawstring bag that holds everything.

Leave a comment on my blog between now and midnight of June 7 (PST)—your name will be entered into the drawing each time you comment (hopefully saying something nice to make my day lovely).

On June 8, magic shall be performed and the winning name drawn, henceforth to be announced that same day.

Uh … one more thing … if, perhaps, your name is “Anonymous”, it just won’t do at all. As the Caterpillar asked Alice in Lewis Carroll’s story, “Who... are... you?”

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Friendship + Love + Joy = An Excellent Life

Last night was craft night at Kristie's house. Both of us were in the mood for crafty companionship and some good Chinese food her husband kindly provided. Gotta love a man who feeds you and then lets you get on with your creative endeavors!

I’ve been busier than an ant at a picnic the last few weeks and needed a quiet night with a good friend, chatting, and creating something not involving fussy details. I chose an uncomplicated project—ankle bracelets as featured recently on One Pretty Thing and Whip-Up.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

I’m a novice at making jewelry; these simple bracelets were fun and relatively easy to do. I added a simple little circle charm at the end of each one by the clasp to echo the circular sentiment statement. Kristie is a pro at creating beautiful jewelry and provided much-needed remedial instruction to help me here and there. Ankle bracelets are perfect for summer, don’t you think?

Along with an excellent friend, love and joy go a long way to making life outstanding.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Gift of Orange and a Tutorial

Today’s project is my brother Bill’s Christmas gift. Man gifts are difficult for me. Bill’s idea of pampering differs radically from our sisters’ ideas. He said:

Men do not pamper themselves. We do not need perfumes, bubble bath, scented soap or soft things with which to cuddle. We like to be uncomfortable because we are real men. An assortment of exotic beers....perhaps a gift card from Best Buys...or some BBQ ribs for the grill w/BBQ sauce?”

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

The wood tray was painted with Valspar Island Orange (2010-2) and Valspar Cabin Plank (2011-10) (per Chez La Vie blog) and finished with a glossy sealant. In retrospect, I should have painted the inside of the handles Cabin Plank, too. Besides serving as the base of gift baskets, trays can be used on a dresser top or bathroom counter to hold stuff.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

Bill wears the rattiest robe on the planet. I can’t stand it. So, a new kimono robe was made using the pattern from Amy Butler's In Stitches: More Than 25 Simple and Stylish Sewing Projects. Based on advice from my husband for whom I’ve made this robe before, the pattern was lengthened by 12 inches. It took me forever to fold it as I wished, so it’s not getting unfolded for a photo.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

Leftover fabric was used to make bags for the exotic beers Bill suggested. The actual bottles will be purchased at the last minute and each inserted into a bag and boxed separately before shipping at Christmas.

Beer Bottle Bag Tutorial

Sized to fit most beer bottles (specialty or generic); adjust if needed.

Step 1: (to make one bag) Cut 2 pieces of main fabric 7x10½ inches.

Step 2: Cut 2 pieces of contrast fabric 7x2½ inches.

Step 3: Cut 2 pieces of flannel 7x12½ inches

Step 4: Place one piece of fabric right-side up on table—short sides at top and bottom. Place the contrast fabric on top, matching raw edges along the top short side. Pin in place and sew a ¼-inch seam. Repeat for the other half of the bag. Press seams toward bottom of bag.

Step 5: Place one piece of flannel on table—short sides at top and bottom. Place the 2 pieces of fabric panels (right-sides together) on top of that. Then lay the other flannel piece on top of that. Pin in place.

Step 6: Sew a 3/8-inch seam around three sides, leaving the top (with the contrast fabric) short end of your bag open. Trim corners and then trim the three sewn sides to about ¼-inch.

Step 7: Turn right-side out. Moving around the top of the bag, turn under ¼ inch and press. Turn again another ¼ inch, press and pin in place. Top-stitch 1/8 inch around the bag’s top.

Step 8: Insert your specialty beer bottle and tie a ribbon around the bag (bottle neck area).

For a printable PDF version, click here

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

A little something from Hermès is included as I really do have a thing about respecting the inspirational origin of my project. I added a small journal and a new natural-bristle, wood-handled toothbrush—I don’t know why the latter, maybe because we always need new toothbrushes and men don’t think about such things. Since Bill likes reading, I’ll tuck in whatever latest book comes out near Christmas in his favored science fiction genre and add a Best Buy gift card for purchasing a DVD of his choice.

This concludes my series of pampering gift projects as I’m completely out of siblings. I’ll have to work on my in-law’s gifts when my budget recovers.

No matter the simplest gift, you can find a unique way to present it. Whether it’s Barney the Purple Dinosaur, a simple bottle of beer, or Louis Vuitton—make it special for your recipient. That’s love to me.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Gift of Black

Earlier in the year, I posed the question to my sisters and brother—if you won the lottery, what would you do with the money? Their answers involved establishing a charitable foundation and general good deeds.

I said our mythical lottery rules require their shopping for something special for themselves. And that’s how I learned my sisters' secret interest in designer stores. Neither of my sisters would normally spend money on themselves without the dream lottery winnings—which is pretty much my point in doing these extravagant gift sets.

Today I’m sharing the gift for my sister Carolyn. She’s Chanel while Connie is Tiffany’s—very much in line with their individual personalities.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

This project echoes yesterday’s Tiffany & Co. theme. I started with the gift basket base, a simple wood tray. Sand and then paint a wood tray (from Jo-Ann’s or Michaels) black and trim it in white. Seal with a clear gloss.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

Carolyn also gets a large bath powder puff, bath mitt, and a framed monogram. The Minky for the powder puff was purchased via Etsy at The Sproutz Store. The black-and-white print fabric came from Jo-Ann’s. It’s perfect in my opinion as the flourishes in the design look somewhat like the Chanel “C” logo initials. Speaking of initials, I also made a framed monogram for Carolyn.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

Here’s the therapeutic neck wrap. The ribbon used is black with white “stitches” along both edges—unifies the overall effect.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

“C” is for Chanel. I used Naturally Caron Spa silky soft bamboo blend yarn in the color Naturally (#0007) to knit the drawstring bag to hold the reusable eye make-up remover pads I made.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

A few Chanel items were added to the gift set such as eye makeup remover and Chanel No. 5 soap. I need to add stuff like that to Connie’s. Otherwise, what’s the point in having items like a bath powder puff if you haven’t any powder to fluff about? The red Chanel tissue paper in the shopping bag adds a nice color contrast to the starkness of the black and white.

Tomorrow’s gift project will be different from Connie and Carolyn’s. My brother has radically different ideas regarding pampering.


Monday, May 18, 2009

A Gift of Blue

The greatest gift is a portion of thyself.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

It’s one thing to give a gift; it’s quite another to present it in a special way. That’s what I’m trying to do with a series of gifts I’m giving my siblings this year for Christmas. And this year I want to do something over the top. The purpose is to remind them to take time out for a bit of self-pampering—my sisters and brother work so very hard and think of themselves last.

Today I’m sharing a Tiffany-themed gift basket set slated to be under my sister Connie’s tree in December. And most every item stems from a tutorial I found online (see Resources at the end of this post).

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

First, I created the base of the gift basket. In this case, it’s simply a wood tray (you can find them at Jo-Ann’s or Michaels). Begin by sanding the tray, painting, and then sealing with a clear gloss. The paint is Eddie Bauer Sea Breeze EB8-2 for the Tiffany color and simple white for the trim, both purchased at Lowe’s. My inspiration was found at Chez La Vie blog.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

The large bath powder puff is made using Minky fabric on one side. The idea and instructions come from The Natural Beauty Workshop. A tutorial written by Joanna Armour for Michael Miller’s blog Making it Fun was used to make a bath mitt. The fabric is exactly the right shade of blue for my project (found at Jo-Ann’s).

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

I made a therapeutic neck wrap using the fabulous fabric I found, flax seeds, and an inner bag made of white muslin. The outer bag can be removed for washing. This project also came from Making It Fun.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

"T" is for Tiffany. I knit a small lace bag using Naturally Caron Spa silky soft bamboo blend yarn found at Jo-Ann’s. The color is Ocean Spray (#0005) and matches perfectly. The pattern is a free offering from Tina Hilton at Craft Stylish. I laced the top to make it a drawstring bag to hold the reusable eye make-up remover pads I made using a Sproutz tutorial.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

A fun way to tag the gift basket is making a small 2 ½ by 3 ½-inch framed monogram. No tutorial was used for this, I simply created the monogram on my computer and printed it on glossy presentation paper before cutting out and framing it.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

Here is everything together. I mentioned my planned trip to Tiffany’s on Saturday. Connie and I did indeed drool over all the wonders to be found and I got an idea of something she’d love to have. While she ventured into another store, I quick bought it to include in her gift basket. I may be utilizing Tiffany’s as my theme, but I really feel I should at least buy something from the store to thank them for their inspiration.

At Christmas, I’ll bag the whole gift using cellophane and tie it with a wide piece of ribbon found at Jo-Ann’s in the Tiffany color that matches the set. I’m not ready to seal it yet as I may add a bit here and there over the year. Sometimes I don’t know when to stop.

Amazing what a series of tutorials can look like if we find a way to give it a special cohesiveness. Tomorrow I’ll share my gift for my sister Carolyn. No worries, neither of them read my blog.


  • Bath Mitt
  • Bath Powder Puff
  • Gift Ideas may be found at One Pretty Thing blog
  • Gift Ideas may also be found at Whip Up
  • Lace Sachet Bag
  • Reusable Make-up Remover Pads
  • Therapeautic Neck Wrap
  • Wood tray inspiration from Chez La Vie blog

Friday, May 15, 2009

Blessings Friday

A lot of secret sewing, knitting, and other crafty endeavors are underway at my house and have been for the past two weeks. I’m working on a few Christmas projects I hope to share with you next week. So stay tuned for a series of over-the-top gift ideas.

In other fun, my friend over at The Book of Shenry blog posted a limerick challenge the other day. Here’s the bit of silliness I came up with:

There once was a girl with a kazoo
whose platypus on it did chew,
the mouthpiece was cracked,
the platypus got whacked,
now the music she plays sounds like poo

Not exactly a piece of erudite literature, but it was fun to give limericks a try. There's a whole series of "rules" about limericks involving the number of lines, which lines must rhyme, and even how many syllables are involved. Who knew?

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

This picture makes me smile. It’s a prickly pear found in Saguaro National Park East recently when my husband and I were wandering about photographing everything in sight. We visit this park a lot since it’s only a few miles from our house. The desert is an amazing place and this little cactus seems to be watching us—or else, it’s an alien in disguise.

The weekend is here, it’s hotter than blue blazes in Tucson, and the water in our pool is warm enough for swimming. I’m jumping in after my flute lesson today.

Life is good.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Daring Cooks May Challenge: Ricotta Gnocchi

I’ve shared the Daring Bakers’ monthly challenges, now we have a monthly Daring Cooks challenge. Today is our first reveal—Ricotta Gnocchi from Judy Rodgers’ The Zuni Cafe Cookbook: A Compendium of Recipes and Cooking Lessons from San Francisco's Beloved Restaurant.

May’s challenge is courtesy of Ivonne of Creampuffs in
Venice and Lisa of La Mia Cucina—originators of the entire Daring Kitchen concept.

The point of this experience is learning to form and handle gnocchi. What we do with the recipe, in terms of variations, is up to our interpretation. We’ve never had gnocchi at our house, so I had to do a bit of research to understand the concept and then come up with a plan on what to serve with it.

My decision was to make Chicken Gnocchi Veronese (using the gnocchi challenge recipe supplemented by chicken and sauce recipes from the Olive Garden restaurant).

Zuni Ricotta Gnocchi

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

Yield: Makes 40 to 48 gnocchi (serves 4 to 6)
Prep time: Step 1 will take 24 hours. Steps 2 through 4 will take approximately 1 hour.

For the gnocchi:

  • 1 pound (454 grams/16 ounces) fresh ricotta (2 cups)
  • 2 large cold eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) unsalted butter
  • 2 or 3 fresh sage leaves, or a few pinches of freshly grated nutmeg, or a few pinches of chopped lemon zest (all optional)
  • ½ ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated (about ¼ cup very lightly packed)
  • about ¼ teaspoon salt (a little more if using kosher salt)
  • all-purpose flour for forming the gnocchi
Step 1: Preparing the ricotta (the day before you make the gnocchi)

If the ricotta is too wet, your gnocchi will not form properly. In her cookbook, Judy Rodgers recommends checking the ricotta’s wetness. To test the ricotta, take a teaspoon or so and place it on a paper towel. If you notice a very large ring of dampness forming around the ricotta after a minute or so, then the ricotta is too wet. To remove some of the moisture, line a sieve with cheesecloth or paper towels and place the ricotta in the sieve. Cover it and let it drain for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours in the refrigerator. Alternatively, you can wrap the ricotta carefully in cheesecloth (2 layers) and suspend it in your refrigerator for 8 to 24 hours with a bowl underneath to catch the water that’s released. Either way, it’s recommended that you do this step the day before you plan on making the gnocchi.

Step 2: Making the gnocchi dough (the day you plan on eating the gnocchi)

To make great gnocchi, the ricotta has to be fairly smooth. Place the drained ricotta in a large bowl and mash it as best as you can with a rubber spatula or a large spoon (it’s best to use a utensil with some flexibility here). As you mash the ricotta, if you notice you can still see curds, press the ricotta through a strainer to smooth it out as much as possible.

Add the lightly beaten eggs to the mashed ricotta.

Melt the tablespoon of butter. As it melts, add in the sage if you’re using it. If not, just melt the butter and add it to the ricotta mixture.

Add in any flavoring you’re using (i.e., nutmeg, lemon zest, etc.). If you’re not using any particular flavoring, that’s fine.

Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano and salt.

Beat all the ingredients together very well. You should end up with a soft and fluffy batter with no streaks (everything should be mixed in very well).

Step 3: Forming the gnocchi

Fill a small pot with water and bring to a boil. When it boils, salt the water generously and keep it at a simmer. You will use this water to test the first gnocchi that you make to ensure that it holds together and that your gnocchi batter isn’t too damp.

In a large, shallow baking dish or on a sheet pan, make a bed of all-purpose flour that’s ½-inch deep.

With a spatula, scrape the ricotta mixture away from the sides of the bowl and form a large mass in the centre of your bowl.

Using a tablespoon, scoop up about 2 to 3 teaspoons of batter and then holding the spoon at an angle, use your finger tip to gently push the ball of dough from the spoon into the bed of flour.

At this point you can either shake the dish or pan gently to ensure that the flour covers the gnocchi or use your fingers to very gently dust the gnocchi with flour. Gently pick up the gnocchi and cradle it in your hand rolling it to form it in an oval as best as you can, at no point should you squeeze it. What you’re looking for is an oval lump of sorts that’s dusted in flour and plump.

Gently place your gnocchi in the simmering water. It will sink and then bob to the top. From the time that it bobs to the surface, you want to cook the gnocchi until it’s just firm. This could take 3 to 5 minutes.

If your gnocchi begins to fall apart, this means that the ricotta cheese was probably still too wet. You can remedy this by beating a teaspoon of egg white into your gnocchi batter. If your gnocchi batter was fluffy but the sample comes out heavy, add a teaspoon of beaten egg to the batter and beat that in. Test a second gnocchi to ensure success.

Form the rest of your gnocchi. You can put 4 to 6 gnocchi in the bed of flour at a time. But don’t overcrowd your bed of flour or you may damage your gnocchi as you coat them.

Have a sheet pan ready to rest the formed gnocchi on. Line the sheet pan with wax or parchment paper and dust it with flour.

You can cook the gnocchi right away, however, Judy Rodgers recommends storing them in the refrigerator for an hour prior to cooking to allow them to firm up.

Step 4: Cooking the gnocchi

Have a large skillet ready to go. Place the butter and water for the sauce in the skillet and set aside (I opted to use an Olive Garden recipe for the sauce).

In the largest pan or pot that you have (make sure it’s wide), bring at least 2 quarts of water to a boil (you can use as much as 3 quarts of water if your pot permits). You need a wide pot or pan so that your gnocchi won’t bump into each other and damage each other.

Once the water is boiling, salt it generously.

Drop the gnocchi into the water one by one. Once they float to the top, cook them for 3 to 5 minutes (as in the case with the test gnocchi).

When the gnocchi float to the top, you can start your sauce while you wait for them to finish cooking.

The rest of my dinner was courtesy of the Olive Garden’s chicken and sauce recipes.

The Results

My husband pronounced the chicken and sauce delicious, but said he’s unsure about the gnocchi part and suggests I make this dish with pasta next time.

Thank you, Ivonne and Lisa, but whew! I’m plumb worn out and my kitchen looks like a dinosaur stumbled through it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Flamingos for Connie

Just as I love all things mermaid, my sister Connie has a thing about flamingos. Since my siblings and I like to give each other “I love you” gifts, I made Connie a set of flamingo car seatbelt sleeves this morning (the tutorial is in my sidebar).

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

We’re meeting Saturday morning for breakfast and shopping at La Encantada and I’ll take her my little love gift. While Connie wants something or other at Coldwater Creek, I want to visit Williams-Sonoma and then cruise into Tiffany & Co. for a bit of drooling on their counters.

Hey, maybe Tiffany & Co. will give me something just to make me go away so they can clean their counters again. A girl can always dream.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Go: Life and Death

My list of resolutions posted in January are never far from my mind. Setting up anything with the word “resolutions” in it is fraught with potential failure as it implies a problem will be completely resolved. My list really should be called “intentions” as not everything can come to a closure—such as learning to play my flute or improving my golf game. Some things are just ongoing in life.

Source: The Vintage Workshop, text added by me (I've cropped the picture, too)

Learning to play the ancient game of Go has nicely been marked off the list, although it is also a continuous learning process. It’s a thinking game requiring skills in tactics, strategy, and observation, necessitating a great deal of patience.

An extremely brief and simplistic explanation of the game is that black and white stones are used. The point is to capture space—space captured is then considered dead, hence this is a game of life and death. The stones themselves are living until they, too, are captured. Essentially, Go is a game of war, conquering a geographical area means you win.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

According to Wikipedia, “Legends trace the origin of the game to Chinese emperor Yao (2337–2258 BC), who had his counselor Shun design it for his son, Danzhu—supposedly an unruly sort—to teach him discipline, concentration and balance. Other theories suggest that the game was derived from Chinese tribal warlords and generals, who used pieces of stone to map out attacking positions. Go was considered one of the four cultivated arts of the Chinese scholar gentleman, along with calligraphy, painting and playing the musical instrument guqin”.

It’s not an easy game to learn on your own. I put out feelers on the Internet and managed to connect with a Go group at the University of Arizona. One of the members kindly arranged to teach me how to play. My dad taught all of us to play chess; Go reminds me of that game. I’m enjoying my new Go adventures and, hopefully, I’ll enjoy more life in future games and much less death.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Organizing Crafting Paperwork

When I find a new tutorial to try, I immediately print it out or save it to my external hard drive for future use. My paper stack of projects was growing, making it hard to find or even remember what it is I want to make.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

A bit of time organizing the printed copies into categories (e.g., knitting, sewing, etc.) and a judicious purging of those projects I’m really not going to do make a much more manageable stack. But it’s still a stack—and the new projects I’ve discovered lately are what I plan to deal with today.

© June Scroggin, All Rights Reserved

Inexpensive 3-ring binders found at Walgreen’s works fine for organizing my “wanna-do” projects. I have more of these binders as all the paper I’ve collected does not fit in just one category’s binder. So, there’s a Sewing 2, Knitting 2, and so on notebooks, too.

Projects that come with actual patterns you cut out are inserted in plastic pattern bags that zip-lock closed (found on eBay). I also use these bags for projects from such books as Amy Butler’s In Stitches to hold the paper patterns I’ve made from her instructions to keep from measuring over and over again when repeating a project.

How do you organize your crafting paperwork?