Sunday, July 20, 2014

More Summertime Soup


I love trying new soup recipes and thankfully, I have a family and friends who don't mind being guinea pigs when it comes to trying something new.

A few weeks ago, I made this Spicy Watermelon Gazpacho Soup (recipe can be found here), with just a few changes -- I added a bit of chopped up onion and yellow bell pepper, and used a jalapeno pepper instead of a serrano pepper. I used my immersion blender to puree the watermelon, tomatoes, and cucumber, and then added the onions and peppers for a little crunch. I didn't bother with a sieve. And since I like a few chunks in my soups, I added another cup or two of watermelon pieces.

Oh, yes, and a little Sriracha sauce for extra kick...that never hurts.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

More Pink Prettiness


I'm slowly getting into the groove of sewing/quilting again. but right now I only have time for small projects or for projects that I plan to enter in my guild's upcoming exhibit in September.

This pretty pink hexie flower will hopefully be part of a project that I plan to enter in the exhibit. We'll see if my plan works. If it does, I'll show a completed photo at a later date.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Pretty in Pink Soup


When I was growing up (in a household of WWII Russian refugees), one of my vivid memories is having soup as the first course for dinner just about every day. All sorts of soups, mostly Russian recipes by my mother and grandmother. Winters in Russia are quite severe, so of course most Russian soup recipes are for hot, stomach-warming soups. But for the times when the heat of summer discourages Russian cooks from using any kind of stove or oven, there is a traditional cold soup called Okroshka that is perfect for hot summer days.

Okroshka is traditionally made with kvass (a mildly alcoholic beverage made from fermented black or rye bread), but I don't know of anyplace that most of us can buy kvass (unless we live in Eastern Europe). I do remember my grandparents making kvass in our basement occasionally, but it was never something that I developed a taste for. The kvass gives the soup a bit of a tangy flavor, but my recipe just uses vinegar for that. You can read more than you ever wanted to know about kvass here. And about Okroshka here.

The Okroshka that I remember eating in my childhood was always made with beets in addition to the other traditional vegetables in the recipe. Most recipes that I find on the internet don't include the beets, but it's the only way that I make it.

Anyway, I've served this to some of my quilting friends a few times, and everyone seems to like it. I've had requests for the recipe, so I thought I'd just write it up here in a blog post. When you first read the ingredients, it sounds like an awful combination, but the flavors seem to work well together. And the picture is pretty, too.

I suppose you could also call this a version of a cold borscht, but I like to call it Pretty in Pink Soup.

Here you go...and please remember that a lot of the amounts are approximations. I almost never measure for this.

Pretty in Pink Soup


1 large cucumber, peeled and diced (the long ones in the grocery store or you can use the equivalent of smaller home-grown cukes)
2-3 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
4-5 radishes, sliced into small pieces
3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
12 oz sour cream (OK, use the low-fat if you must, but don't even bother with non-fat)
1 24-oz jar borscht with diced beets (found in the kosher section of Wegmans or probably any other larger grocery store with a kosher section)
1 large potato, baked, peeled, cooled, and diced (don't overbake)
1/4 cup vinegar (to start)
1/4 cup sugar (to start)
1 cup water
1-2 Tablespoons fresh dill


In large soup pot, combine cucumber, scallions, radishes, eggs, and sour cream. Add borscht and stir until blended. Add potato, vinegar, sugar, water, and dill. Stir and taste. Add more sugar, vinegar, or water to taste, but don't overdo it -- taste it after it's been refrigerated. The flavor gets a bit more intense when it's ice cold (and don't add too much water or it will be too diluted). Serve ice cold.  Add more sugar or vinegar if you think it needs it. Enjoy!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Still More Good Stitches


As I mentioned in my previous post, I haven't been doing much of my own sewing or quilting, but I have been participating in group outreach projects with other members of my guild. Last week, on our monthly charity quilting day, we put together three fun kids' quilt tops that we'll be using for demos during our county fair in August (I took the picture before we finished the third one). Just simple solid squares and novelty squares, but the tops look great. We'll work on tying them during the fair, with the goal of donating them to our local foster child program.

If I'm not able to do my own sewing, I'm always happy to participate in something like this!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Doing Good Stitches


Although I haven't been working much on my own quilting lately, I am still happy to be helping with some group projects in my guild. In the last few months, we have made several comfort quilts for members who are dealing with some tough health issues...and I've been honored to quilt a couple of them. Nothing fancy, just plain free-motion loops and few hearts. It does the soul good knowing that these quilts may give comfort for some very dear people.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Retail Therapy

Just because I haven't had much time for stitching lately, that doesn't mean that I don't take an opportunity here and there for some retail therapy at a fabric sale. I recently added these to my stash of binding fabrics because I love how bias striped bindings look.


And although the fabric on the left doesn't really look like a stripe, look how cool it looks when folded on the bias...

Monday, June 9, 2014

Fun Street Art

I need to do this on the fence around my garden...perhaps it will keep the varmints away....


You can check out other fun designs like this by clicking here. Looks like a great way to use up fabric! =1