Posts Tagged ‘food holidays’

Chocolate Ice Cream Day and Creativity

June 7, 2017

According to my made-up food holiday calendar, today is Chocolate Ice Cream Day. As it happens, my favorite ice cream is spumoni, which is a combination of chocolate, pistachio and cherry – a most creative combination.

I mention all this because my creativity has been missing lately. Aside from a few cross-stitch projects, I haven’t been able to get past the (relatively) clean cutting board syndrome, also known as blank page jitters. “Self,” I said, “just go in and cut a strip of fabric. Inspiration will come.” I went into the sewing room, stared at the stacks, and left.

“Self,” I said, “perhaps you are overwhelmed with deadlines. Do something about that, and inspiration will come.” I trotted out my favorite time-management scheme – making lists – and got to work. Most of my deadlines were met, so I went into the sewing room, stared at the stacks, and left.

That’s when I noticed my food holiday calendar, and had a minor epiphany. Yes, beginning a new project always gives me the jitters, yes, I’ve volunteered for another group and I have more deadlines, but my biggest problem was my attitude. I had become obsessed with being efficient, and wasn’t factoring in time to savor relaxation. Even the reading time I allowed myself was tense, because book club night is coming up and I’m not finished with this month’s assignment.

I decided to relish the celebration of Chocolate Ice Cream Day. I will scoop the spumoni into a bowl with the chocolate part on top. I might even add some hot fudge sauce. Then I will stand in front of a decorative magnet I bought long ago, and hope I remember its wisdom. After that, when I am well and truly relaxed, I’ll hit the sewing room again.


Luck and wisdom!

Spumoni Day

August 21, 2013

On my calendar of made-up food holidays, today is Spumoni Day.

 

My lunch!

My lunch!

 

Currently, this is my favorite ice cream. It’s a combination of chocolate, cherry and pistachio so really, what’s not to love? There were years when I preferred mint chip, and before that butter pecan. I have no idea why my ice cream tastes change, but there it is.

 

Spumoni features prominently in my latest novel (with Ann Anastasio), When Chenille Is Not Enough.

 

WHEN CHENILLE IS NOT ENOUGH - 2000

 

Authors are told to write what we know – or love – and we were already writing about quilting so Ann and I included ice cream. We have our space aliens adore ice cream. Our quilting heroines bond with them over the special flavor of their clan, which happens to be butter pecan. Then one of the quilters brings out spumoni, only to discover it is the flavor of the emperors. That gets the quilters invited to the alien planet, where one of them is crowned ruler and they sort of start a war.

 

As you might guess, I am using Spumoni Day to treat myself on many levels, including not starting the next project in the sewing room. Now it is time for lunch. Yes, I’m going to have dessert first.

 

Pecan Pie and Where It Took Me

July 11, 2012

July 12 is Pecan Pie Day. As made-up holidays go, this is a good one. I gathered the ingredients for the crust (more on that later), then remembered my collection of warm, buttery, nutty embellishments:

A quick search of the cutting table unearthed an orphaned block and scraps from a civil war reproduction line:

I added a few more fabrics (some from the piles on the table, some from the brown drawer, all fat quarters or less), made more blocks, turned them into half-square triangles, and came up with a classic four patch configuration:

Then I put it on point:

My husband wandered close enough to the studio for me to grab him and show off this latest creation. He said it was very nice but since it wasn’t round he couldn’t quite see the pie. Eureka! Instead of making another wall hanging that would sit in another pile, I decided to make a round quilt to decorate the table:

This let me use a fat quarter that I believe was slipped in my bag at The Cotton Cupboard as a surprise bonus (thank you, thank you!), as well as the orphaned block and various scraps. In addition, I will use some packaged bias binding that I inherited and I will probably use more of my beads than I originally expected as I plan to put a beaded fringe around the edge.

Now for the rest of the story on the pie crust. I was visiting family in the Austin area (which is why I went to The Cotton Cupboard – quilt stores top my list of any must-see sights when I’m traveling) and on the flight home I gave my pie crust recipe to a woman sitting in my row. As I was listing the ingredients I remembered a variation I had made substituting coconut oil for butter. My recipe also uses vinegar and I remembered I have a killer vanilla-infused balsamic. Naturally, when I decided to make something for Pecan Pie Day, this is what I started with:

And this is what I ended with:

In case you want to experiment, here is my pie crust recipe – with variations:

The recipe as it was given to me:

2 cups flour

1 cup butter

1 egg, beaten

2 teaspoons vinegar

4 teaspoons cold water

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

Sift dry ingredients together, then cut in the butter. Gradually add the egg, vinegar, and water. Pour water over dough and mix.

My standard variation:

2 cups flour

1 cup butter

1 egg, beaten with 3 teaspoons vinegar (straight or flavored balsamic is fabulous)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

Put the butter and flour into a food processor and pulse until mixture resembles corn flour. Add baking powder and salt; pulse a couple of times. Add egg/vinegar mixture. Blend until smooth. You will need to heavily flour the board and pin when rolling out the dough.

Variation with coconut oil:

2 – 3 cups flour

1 cup coconut oil

1 egg, beaten with 3 teaspoons vinegar (cider for a sweet pie, white wine for a savory pie)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

Put the oil (which is a solid at room temperature) and 2 cups of flour into a food processor and pulse until mixture resembles corn flour. Add baking powder and salt; pulse a couple of times. Add egg/vinegar mixture. Blend until smooth, adding more flour as necessary to firm up the dough. Form into a smooth ball and refrigerate for 10 minutes. Check consistency, adding more flour if necessary (or a little water if the dough is too dry).