Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A week of bundts.

Bundt cakes remind me of fall for some reason.  My daughter says it's the shape--that they look like pumpkins.  Maybe that's it.  I think it's because of the warm spicy flavors and smells I associate with those recipes.  That and the reference to to one of my favorite movies. My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002), where Toula’s mother doesn’t know what a bundt cake is and she “fixes” the hole in the cake with a potted flower."Ohh! It's cake!!"

Every morning for the past few days I've made a different variation of the humble bundt cake. I made a pumpkin, then banana, then apple.  Today I wanted quick, so I pulled out an old recipe that I got from two different friends almost 20 years ago. 
Here's my altered version:

Fruit Cocktail Cake
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbl vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 qt home canned fruit, juice included, (older is better)

Preheat oven to 350, grease and flour your favorite bundt pan. I just ordered this beauty from Amazon!

Cream butter and sugar together until light.  Add eggs one at a time and vanilla, then beat for a few minutes until creamy yellow.
Sift dry ingredients together and set aside. 
Open the fruit and add to the creamed mixture, alternating with flour, carefully beating after each addition.
Pour into prepared pan and bake for 50-60 minutes until skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Turn out onto a cake pedestal and dust with powdered sugar when cool.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Upcycle!! Feed Bag Tutorial

I love upcycling and using what would ordinarily be thrown away toward a good and useful purpose. Plus, chickens and bunnies are cute. So why not tote them with you to the grocery store?
 Start with a 40-50 pound sack of feed.  Feed the critters first and shake out all the extra feed.  Some feeds are sweet and sort of sticky, so you may need to wash out the bag.
 Using a roller cutter and a mat, cut the bottom, closed edge off straight.  
You can also use a box knife to cut it, or draw a line with a pen and use scissors.  A roller cutter will be infinitely easier.
 Then, using a ruler, cut off a 2.5" strip across the bottom of the bag, this will be one handle.
 Now move your ruler and cut another 2.5" strip for the other handle.
Turn the bag over and thinking about where you want the design to be, cut about 2 inches above that line, so you can hem the top of the bag.  I chose to hem right above the words, "Nature Wise" for my bag.
Now, measuring from the top of the bag down about 20 inches, cut across the bottom of the bag at that mark,  
making sure you are cutting at a perpendicular angle so your bag remains square.
 Cut straight across the bottom.
 Take the handle pieces, and cut apart at the inside seam. Cut on both sides of the glued portion and discard that piece.
Set your machine on a wide zig-zag setting. For my machine, it looks like this. width is 5.0, length is 3.0.
 Fold both sides of the handle piece toward the center, overlapping both edges about a half an inch.  Your handle should be about 3/4' wide.
 Stitch right down the center of the handle catching both raw edges under your stitching.
 Stitch down both handles, folding the edges in as you go.
 Two handles done! We'll cut them to length a little bit later.
 Now fold your bag inside out.  It is a giant tube right now.  We are going to sew the bottom closed.
 Fold out the natural tucks/pleats in the sides of the bag, we will make boxed corners in a minute. 
 Set your machine back to a straight stitch, and sew the bottom of the bag using a half-inch seam allowance, backstitching at both ends. Pinning this "material" isn't easy unless you have strong pins, or you can use some clothes pins to hold the bottom edge in place.  Or you can just "wing in" like the chickens do.
 For this step, we are going to do a bit of origami, or think back to those newspaper hats everyone used to make.  Fold the bottom of the bag up against the side fold and press it with your fingers. 
 Flip it over so the seam side is down and notice the folded lines where the bag sides are.
 We are going to connect the ends of those fold lines and mark across them making a triangle.
 Sew along that triangle-marked line. Back stitching at both ends.
 Now move to the other side of the bag and fold the corner again. 
 Paying attention to the direction the bottom seam folds, make it fold one direction. Mine folds to the left.
Now, flip the bag over and mark that line again like you did on the other side. stitch across, back stitching both ends.
 Fold your bag right side out, and gently push the corners out forming a box.
At the top of the bag, fold the edge down about 3/4" and finger press.
 Fold again, to make a double fold.  It should be just under an inch.
 Stitch this down, close to the folded edge.  If you have the option to use a "needle down" position, now is a good time to use it. The bag gets cumbersome.
 You can use clips like this or clothespins to hold the folded edge while you stitch.
Since the bag is so bulky, I usually "tent" the end of my machine with the bag.
Take the bag out of the machine and refold the pleat at the side.
 Now we will attach the handles.  Mark in from the outside edge a comfortable distance, 3-4 inches and make a small circle on the inside hemmed edge of the front and the back of the bag. 
 Repeat on the other side, using the same measurement. I did 4 inches, but I think 3 might be better.
 Cut your handles at about 24 inches,
and using a straight stich, sew the handles to the inside of the bag using a large X.
There you have it! A new tote bag to carry to the feed store, maybe you can bring home a new bunny inside.

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