Saturday, March 23, 2013

Quilted Pancakes and No-Splatter Bacon

What, you've never heard of quilted pancakes?

Okay, they're actually waffles. But think about it, doesn't a round waffle look like a pancake that's been quilted? And doesn't quilting require an iron, just as waffle-making does? Work with me here. How else can I justify talking about this morning's brunch on a quilting blog?

If you think you've ever eaten the lightest, fluffiest, most delicious waffles in the world, then you or the person who cooked for you must have discovered this old Betty Crocker recipe. I will never make a different one again. This waffle is so light and airy I'm surprised it doesn't float right off the waffle iron the second it's opened. For me, it far surpasses any boxed mix and any waffle served at any restaurant chain. And it's so, so easy to make. Here's the recipe. (Stay tuned for the no-splatter--no kidding--bacon, below.)

From Betty Crocker's New Cookbook, copyright 1996, p. 51:


2 large eggs
2 cups all purpose flour (if using self-rising, omit baking powder and salt)
1-3/4 cups milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon granulated or brown sugar (I haven't tried brown)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Heat waffle iron.

2. Beat eggs in a large bowl with hand beater (whisk works great) until fluffy. Beat in remaining ingredients just until smooth. (I always beat the liquid ingredients into the eggs, and stir the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl before beating them into the liquid mixture. I just think this incorporates everything much better without having to do too much beating, which can make waffles tough.)

3. Pour a scant 2/3 cup batter from cup or pitcher onto center of hot waffle iron. (Check manufacturer's directions for recommended amount of batter.) Close lid of waffle iron.

4. Bake about 5 minutes or until steaming stops. Carefully remove waffle. Serve immediately (I pile them onto warm plates in the oven until we're ready to eat). Repeat with remaining batter.

My note: The leftover waffles freeze well and can be lightly toasted or warmed in foil later.

NO-SPLATTER BACON splattering, no spatula, and the bacon comes out nice and flat (great for BLTs). If I'd known about this method years ago, my son would be a worse bacon-junkie than he already is, and our Walmart wouldn't be double-stocking Jimmy Dean cooked sausage. If you and the rest of the world already knew about this method, please excuse my gushing--I'm not yet over the euphoria of eating good bacon without having to clean a greasy stove, floor and walls afterward.

This is adapted from Ina Garten's Maple-Roasted Bacon recipe in the Barefoot Contessa At Home cookbook. I skipped the maple syrup, since my husband and I were having it on our waffles, so the only ingredient here is bacon.

3/4 pound thick-cut smoked bacon (16 slices) (I just used regular-cut bacon--not too thin, though--and filled the rack with however many pieces I could fit.)

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Here comes the magic! Place a roasting/cooling rack on a sheet pan. Arrange the bacon in 1 layer ONLY on the baking rack. Bake (not broil, so shut the door) for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the bacon begins to brown (I started checking it after 14 minutes)Remove the pan carefully from the oven; there will be hot grease in the pan!! Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels (I use brown lunch bags; cheaper and more absorbent) and serve warm.

Yummy--crisp and tender!

And now, it's time to go quilt. See? I knew I'd get that in somewhere.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Moving Ahead before Moving

Beginning to come out of a sinus/bronchial thing that's hijacked my life for a week now, I was determined today to do something besides cough and blow my nose. Even if it did take me twice as long as usual, due to foggy thinking.

The new studio isn't quite ready--no carpet yet, which is a must, due to the plywood floor. Can't stain that floor and make it look good, no way, no how. Just need to order the carpet, which we've already found at Home Depot--a short, dense pile that can in no way hide pins and needles (knock on wood!). Meanwhile, I'm struggling to do something, anything, creative in my little old bedroom space, where movement is now limited at best.

So out of purgatory today came one of my UFOs, a landscape quilt whose working title is Lida Luna. This is the quilt top (minus Lida, the focal point), which as of today is pieced, glued, and for the most part tacked down with mono-poly thread:

The focal point as I mentioned will be Lida (pronounced Leeda), the bird who will perch on the middle branch after the whole top is quilted. Here's Lida, who will get lots more embellishment, including eyes, once she's fused to the quilt:

Lida is 16 inches long and made of pieced cotton, fusible web, and some boa-eyelash type yarn for her feather-tips (you can see a sample of the yarn hanging from the clips on the design board). I knitted about 30 little pieces, each different lengths and made of two rows of knitting before binding off, then hand-sewed each little length of knitted 'feathers' onto the tips of Lida's fabric tail-feathers. And I couldn't resist giving her a boa!

Next up: choosing a backing, sandwiching the quilt, and pin-basting--which may have to be done in the dining room as with all my previous landscapes. But as far as the final quilting, it's looking like Lida Luna may be the first landscape to come out of the new studio! Lida was already kind of special to me (which I'll explain when I post the finished quilt), but that will make her even more so.    

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Bargain Hunting for the Almost Finished Studio

Yesterday my husband suggested we visit the new Habitat Restore in Hikes Point here in Louisville (KY). I'd never been there but had been wanting to visit the older, Floyd Street location, so this sounded like a good idea. I mostly wanted to get a look at things like old windows, fireplace mantels, and other such architectural items. I don't need any of those things, I just love seeing them.

But lo and behold, five minutes into the store, I was confronted with what would have been the most expensive item I needed to buy for the new quilting studio--a sewing (office) chair. All that was 'wrong' with it was a little scuffing on the chair legs, and one glance told me those marks would come off with some window cleaner or soap and water (they did). The upholstery was flawless, the chair amazingly comfortable, and the lever for the height adjustment worked smoothly and perfectly. And it was GREEN--the only hunter-green, armless (which I prefer) chair in a sea of teal-colored chairs with arms. I was thrilled, as this very green is the accent color on the tile in the bathroom adjoining the studio, and the studio walls are a pale green. Even more thrilling was the price. But first, take a look at the chair:

The price was $20.00. That's right, twenty dollars. Later, at home, we looked it up on the internet. The brand is HON (which I'd never heard of, having been away from the corporate work force for 30 years now, but my husband knew it was a good brand.) This particular chair, it turns out, retails for $149.00 and up.

After I had wheeled the chair up to the checkout along with a lovely, sturdy basket I'd picked up for $2.50, I saw that my husband was over checking out recycled, bagged and nicely displayed electrical parts. So I just waited, idly observing the merchandise around me. And that's when this little gem caught my eye, stuck unobtrusively between a wine rack and an entertainment unit:

You can probably tell this is entirely homemade. Someone actually seamed two pieces of thin plywood to make the back. But the shelves are unwarped and plenty sturdy enough to hold fabric--and the thing is GREEN! The same green as the chair! Weird, huh? What can I say...I fell in love with it. Even the glued-on strip of border-wallpaper didn't bother me. After all, it looks a bit like the border on a quilt. And I just noticed how similar it is to the fleece throw on our basement chair in the photo. Hmmm...that throw just might end up in the studio. But I digress. The price on this homemade shelf unit was a little steep, I think--$15.00. But you can't put a price on love. I'm keeping this little guy as is, missing knothole, chipped paint and all. I truly think he was waiting for me to come along and adopt him. And he'll fit right in--literally. Right in the space between my little computer desk and my old card table. I can't wait to get him up there in his new home.
Check out Habitat Restore's website here:
Good hunting!