Wednesday, December 20, 2006

useful bags and cranberry torte

I have been making gift bags for about 15 years. I donate them to my kids schools craft fairs where they have become popular items. The methods have changed a bit over the years, and the current version I find very efficient.
I had an open house at where I teach quilting at the Portage Park Center for the Arts last night and we had about a dozen people drop in and make these bags. My cranberry torte was popular and I include the recipe.

Useful bags
Designed by Lynn Dykstra
Portage Park Center for the Arts

This simple bag is just the size to carry a pair of shoes in winter, diaper supplies, a child’s change of clothes, or as a reusable gift bag and storage bag for ornaments.

Supplies to make two bags:
½ yard of fabric
1 ½ yards coordinating rattail cut in half
(actually, I leave it whole, cutting to size after stringing the bags--my frugal side.)
Coordinating sewing thread
Fra-check to seal ends of rattail

Cut in fabric in half and square off to measure 18” by about 21”.

Press in 18” sides ¼ inch.

Press in 21” top ¼ inch.

Press down 21” top another 1 inch to form a casing.

Top stitch along bottom edge of 1 inch casing.

Fold bag in half, right sides together. Sew along side from just above previous stitching, down the side, pivot, sew along the bottom.

Trim bottom with pinking shears.

Turn right side out.

With safety pin as a “needle”, thread the rattail through the casing. Knot the rattail. Dab edges of rattail with Fra-check.


Hazelnut Cranberry Torte

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put parchment paper in the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan. Butter the paper and the sides of the pan.

2 cups cranberries (you can chop these or leave them whole—the cake slices better if you chop them.)
1/2-3/4 cut chopped hazelnuts (I’ve also used walnuts, pecans, or almonds)
½ cup sugar

Mix together and put in bottom of the pan.

For the Batter
Cream together:
12 Tablespoons butter, melted (1 ½ sticks) Do NOT use margarine!
1 cup sugar
Beat in: 2 large eggs
1 cup flour
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp. almond extract (I have also used vanilla, lemon, or hazelnut extracts)

Mix batter until smooth—it will be thick like a biscuit batter. Spoon over the cranberries and nuts and spread carefully.

Bake from 40-55 minutes. It will take a little over an hour if the cranberries are frozen and left whole. Make sure the center of the batter is done!

Loosen from sides of springform and remove sides. Invert onto a serving plate right away and remove the pan and parchment.

Serve warm or cold. Can dust with powdered sugar or serve with whipped cream.
It slices easier if it is a day old.

I buy about 6 bags of cranberries, several pound of butter, and a few bags of nuts at the start of the holiday potluck season and make this for nearly every one we go to.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

dragon teeth workshop

A few weeks ago I had a Dragon Teeth workshop at the Portage Park Center for the Arts. My samples are in the first and last photo, and my students' work is in the middle photograph. I enjoyed this workshop, and love at the variety of quilts they made. I am having an open house at the arts center on Tuesday, December 19th in the evening. If any of you Chicago types want to come, just email me for details.
I have had several questions on this pattern--I adapted it from Karla Alexander's second book, Stack a New Deck--I believe she called it Lizard Lounge, or something like that. I worked in sizing changes, setting options, and a few other quirks. I also like my title better! This book is great, better than the first in this series. I like her way of looking at freedom in block making.

photos again!

I finally broke down and bought a new camera/computer cord. This means I will find the lost cord this week, as usually happens in this house (see battery charger incident last year).
This Saturday some women of my church decorated our tree in the chapel. I made the tree skirt, one year later than I was asked, but I finally got it done. It is a church with a German history, so I planned to use a loden boiled wool, until I priced it. I switched to a loden fake suede with a gold embroidery. I made it into an octagon, added an ivory corded trim, and am pleased with it, except it seems a bit flat, even when draped--my mind still wants that boiled wool thickness. Maybe I can poof it up with some tissue paper.
This tree is decorated with fruit and pine cones. Very pretty. I made the parament in the background for Advent about 10 years ago.