Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

creative assignment: egg

creative assignment: egg

So on Monday, I gave out an assignment. I admit it was a little silly, but sometimes silly things can be good. I wasn’t sure if anyone would do it. But you did! And it was awesome:

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gluten free holiday treats that don’t suck

10 gluten free holiday treats (that don't suck)

I have been gluten free for almost two years now. In that time I have discovered that there are a lot of sawdust tastin’ turds out there disguised as gluten free cookies. Those are not the treats you are going to make this year.  You are going to make buttery, sugary, chocoately deliciousness. You can tell people they are gluten free, but they aren’t going to care. They’ll be too busy asking for more.

Many of the recipes I’ve love are naturally gluten free. They don’t call for xantham gum or lecithin–things I feel weird about buying.  They are old recipes based on nuts or egg whites or cooked sugar. Some you might have made for Christmases past, some you might have never heard of. I ordered this list from most familiar to least, but all of them are delicious.

english toffee recipe

1. ENGLISH TOFFEE: It simply would not be Christmas without a batch of english toffee. It is quick, simple, and everyone loves it. You cannot go wrong with the old favorites. And look I happen to have a recipe for english toffee right here.

candy cane marshmallows

2. MARSHMALLOWS: We are making peppermint marshmallows for my kids’ classmates this year. Making marshmallows is strangely magical. You start with a little sugar and gelatin and end up with fluffy sweet pillows. The image above is from a Martha Stewart recipe for peppermint marshmallows, but they can be flavored in a thousand different ways: toasted coconut, dulce de leche, coffee, anything!

caramels on elsie marley

3. CARAMELS: Every Christmas I make an absurd number of caramels and give them to my friends and family (and mailman and yoga instructor and neighbors and anyone else I know). The Martha Stewart recipes have not failed me yet. The gingerbread caramels are my favorite, but the chocolate ones are lovely, and the golden caramels are even better flecked with crunch salt.

mascarpone and boysenberry macarons

4. FRENCH MACARONS: This is the hardest recipe to make on the list, but well worth the effort. Last year I made peppermint, chocolate, and lemon ones for Christmas. The ones pictured above are my favorite to date: vanilla macarons filled with mascarpone cheese and boysenberry jam. Whatever flavor you make, do yourself a favor and follow the recipe and tutorial on the Not So Humble Pie blog. It is excellent.

sugar plums on elsie marley

5. SUGAR PLUMS: We go from the hardest recipe to the easiest. Dead easy.  I don’t know if these are what sugar plums actually are–does anyone know?–but they are delicious. Almonds and orange zest, cinnamon and nutmeg, apricots and dates. They taste like Christmas. They are gluten free, no bake, and vegan to boot.

Basler Brunsli

6. BASLER BRUNSLI: These swiss cookies are simple and sophisticated. It is an almond based cookie held together with egg whites and melted chocolate, and flavored with cinnamon and cloves. They don’t spread at all when baked, making them perfect for your cookie cutter collection. This beautiful photo of basler brunsli is from a lovely greek blog.

cinnamon stars on elsie marley

7. CINNAMON STARS: Even though these German cookies have many of the same ingredients as Basler Brunsli, they are somehow completely different. Nut based and flavored with lemon zest and cinnamon, they are brushed with a meringue before they are baked. When you bite into one you get a little crunch from the meringue, but then it gives way to the chewy, cinnamon-y cookie below.

hazelnut dacquoise cookies

8. DACQUOISE: Dacquoise is just a word for a nut based meringue. You can have hazelnut, almond, pistachio, or pecan dacquoise–any nut will do. Usually you make a dacquoise cake layered with pastry cream and chocolate. Dacquoise is incredibly versatile and quite simple. I think it’s strange it’s not more well known. These little hazelnut dacquoise cookies sandwiched together with chocolate ganache are just right for Christmas.

dutch cream truffles (slagroomtruffels)

9. DUTCH CREAM TRUFFLES: I haven’t made these yet, but they are on my list this year. Dutch cream truffles are made by whipping butter, then adding a mixture of cream, vanilla, and sugar that has been warmed until sugar dissolves and then cooled. This sweet cream cloud is then shaped, frozen, dipped in chocolate, and rolled in cocoa. I mean seriously.

I found the recipe in the book Sugar and Spice by Gaitri Pagrach-Chandra. The book is absolutely amazing. Chock full of sweets from around the world and half–if not more–are naturally gluten free. If you love making desserts of all kinds, you must check this book out.

calissons

10. CALISSONS: I have never tasted a calisson, but the recipe intrigues me. Traditionally it is made by grinding almonds, candied melon, and adding orange flower water to make a paste. Then it’s rolled out, cut into shapes, and frosted with royal icing. Doesn’t it sound amazing? And there are many variations, like orange and ginger calissons pictured above in an amazing photograph from the French blog, Carnets Parisiens.

That’s it! Well really there are so many more, but it’s a start. Are any of these new to you? Do you have any naturally gluten free treats on your Christmas cookie list this year? Have I made you hungry?

kcw fall dates announced!

I’m super excited to announce the dates for this fall’s Kid’s Clothes Week! Hop on over to the KCW blog for more…

kid's clothes week fall 2013

the sun has set on google reader

the sun sets on google reader

If you are like me, you’ve waited until the last possible moment to say good bye to google reader. Like so many other crafty blogs you can follow my blog with Bloglovin. I hear Feedly is another option that is easy on the eyes and easy to use. But my favorite reader has to be the Old Google Reader. It looks like, you guessed it, the old google reader. They built it for those of us who can’t deal with change, even when change is thrust upon us. Where are you reading your blogs now that google reader is gone?

coastal cargos

coastal cargos

I can be kind of a tightwad. I can’t help it–it’s in my midwestern blood to pinch pennies. But maybe you already knew that, seeing as I make my kids’ clothes (and toys and sheets). And I learned to make all those thing from free tutorials on the internet.

coastal cargos

This little red flag pops up in my head when I see a price tag on a pattern or tutorial and my stubborn, Midwestern self thinks, “Well, I could do that.” So I won’t buy the pattern, but instead try to make the garment using what I already know and maybe a poorly lit you tube video or two.

lined pockets

Results vary. Sometimes I’m wildly successful: the garment fits, the details are just right, only a few mistakes are visible. A success like that produces a sewer’s high. I am a genius! I will never buy clothes again! I am completely self sufficient!

zipper fly, closed

Other times, it all goes to hell.  I don’t think I need to elaborate.

zipper fly, open

It has taken me a long time to realize that patterns are there to guide you through the entire process. Maybe I should revise that statement: well written patterns guide you through the entire process.

cargo pocket

Some of the commercial pattern makers out there tend to throw you to the wolves.  But all the indie pattern designers that have been popping up lately genuinely want to teach you how to make the lovely garment they designed.

costal cargos

It’s taken me a year, but when I see an awesome pattern for sale I don’t immediately think, “pshaw, I could do that.” Instead I try to think, “Give the lady a little money, she just wants to show you how to sew better.”

costal cargos

So who taught me to make these awesome pants?  Complete with lined pockets, tuxedo stripe, button tabs, cargo pockets, functioning zipper fly –let me say that a little louder, Functioning Zipper Fly!   Melissa from Melly Sews and Blank Slate Patterns, that’s who.

costal cargos

She and three other designers have come together to give you a group of spring patterns called The Sun & Surf Collection.  All the patterns are adorable and perfect for spring sewing. The collection is only for sale until March 24!

coastal cargos

So give the nice ladies your money, because they just want to teach you how to make awesome clothes!

Sun & Surf at Sew a Straight Line | Sun & Surf at It’s Always Autumn | Sun & Surf at Elsie Marley | Sun & Surf at A Girl and a Glue Gun | Sun & Surf at Mama Says Sew | Sun & Surf at Girl, Inspired | Sun & Surf at Groovybaby and Mama | Sun & Surf at The Cottage Home | Sun & Surf at Craftiness is Not Optional | Sun & Surf at Skirtastop | Sun & Surf at Straight Grain | Sun & Surf at Me Sew Crazy | Sun & Surf at Delia Creates | Sun & Surf at Max California