Lockdown foods–the waffling edition

Waffled Leftover Mac & Cheese

The Skillet section of Lifehacker.com has a regular ‘waffling’ feature, where different foods are put in the waffle iron. The waffled mac & cheese got my attention. My first attempt turned out like this.  Some of the edges get crispy. It can almost be a hand-held snack, but I recommend eating it over a plate, as some of the noodles will probably come loose.

Mac & Cheese

The instructionshttps://skillet.lifehacker.com/you-should-waffle-leftover-mac-and-cheese-1842567738

The recipe: I tried waffling two different mac and cheese recipes; both from allrecipes.com.  One was this stovetop recipe, and the other was this baked version.  The Lifehacker article recommends baked mac & cheese for waffling.  However, for flavor I preferred the stovetop version. 

Then for something different, I tried this recipe that adds pesto and dried tomatoes. It was also tasty and waffled well. https://www.foodiecrush.com/stovetop-pesto-macaroni-and-cheese-with-corn-and-sun-dried-tomatoes/ The pictures below are of this recipe.

The waffling process was simple:  Put a scoop of cold mac & cheese on the preheated waffle iron; smash the lid closed and let the sizzling begin.  Three (3) minutes in the waffler produced the best result for me. On removal, the mac and cheese doesn’t stick to the waffle iron, but I did have to gently coax it out; same as with a regular waffle.



There’s been another top notch lockdown music release! This one’s for Moody Blues fans.

DIY Ironing board cover

My ironing board cover was already in bad shape before I had to press pleats in hundreds of cotton face masks.  Yet, I pressed on.  Eventually the situation got ridiculous.

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My ironing board is a vintage wood model; and slightly smaller than today’s standard store-bought ironing board, so a store-bought cover is too big.  Using a 50% off coupon, I purchased 1/2 yard of ironing board cover fabric.

I removed what was left of the old cover, flattened it out, and traced the shape onto the new fabric.

Ironing board cover -- old

The drawstring in the old cover was actually still good and strong, so I removed it for use in the new cover.

To avoid a bulky drawstring casing, I zig-zagged around the edge of the cover with the drawstring in the middle of the zig-zag stitching.

The finished zig-zag drawstring edge looks like this close up.

Zig-zag casing

For the padding under the cover, I used a piece of left-over cotton quilt batting.  The uneven edge you see is not erratic cutting; it’s where I stretched it.  After seeing this picture, I went back and re-situated it, although it was probably fine. 🙂

Ironing Board underneath

The cover is already looking used, … because it’s getting a lot of use.

Ironing Board cover

The new cover was a quick make, and is so much better to iron on than the old one, that I never should have put off making it.


Not covers.  Scotland has been putting out some nice lockdown music.

The lovely Vera has been called up for active duty.

She is 75 years old and still dependable.  ‘Vera’ is my Singer 127 treadle sewing machine, manufactured in the early 1940s and originally purchased in Indiana in February 1945.  Some of the masks I’m making require several colors of thread.  It’s a total drag to rethread the machine multiple times for one mask batch.  So, I’ve called upon my older machines.  For now, Vera is handling the ecru thread color.

Vera has the rare black ‘crinkle’ finish, and blackside metal plates.  The lamp isn’t sitting on the cabinet for decoration; it’s a necessity.  There’s no light on the machine since it isn’t electrified.

Vera the Machine

Here’s a closer view of her crinkle finish and black metal plates.  The plainness of the finish and lack of embellishments says ‘wartime’ to me. Vera closeup

Vera crinkle finish

In the cabinet there’s a well-stocked drawer of presser feet, an old metal seam gauge, needle threaders, and a good supply of bobbins.  (It is a ‘vibrating shuttle’ machine, which uses long, narrow bobbins.)

Vera equipment drawer

Another drawer holds the original purchase receipt, and user manual.  Her original purchase price was $105.75.

Vera paperwork drawer--redact

The handwritten note on back of the receipt says:

  • 5 year guarantee
  • 5 year free service
  • Free sewing courseVera warranty

In another drawer is the all-important sharp pointed tool for piercing a new treadle belt.  It serves as a bodkin, too. Belt tool

Sewing with a treadle machine is like patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time.  Your feet work the pedal, while the right hand is on the hand wheel, to be the starter, speed controller, and ’emergency brake’.  That leaves only the left hand to maneuver the fabric.  When it all gets going, the sound and feel is mesmerizing.

More about the Singer 127: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singer_Model_27_and_127

A blog post about the crinkle finish and blackside metal.  https://www.singersewinginfo.co.uk/blackside/

And I’ll be darned, look who else was channeling Vera this week.

The Instant Pot Wine recipe really works.

If you have an Instant Pot, you can start this wine now, and it will be ready to drink in 2-4 weeks, aka when stay-at-home rules are starting to be relaxed and we’re allowed to share a drink with a few good friends on an outdoor patio. 

Recipe and tutorial here:  https://foodnservice.com/instant-pot-wine/    Huge high-five and thank-you to this food blogger!

There are only three ingredients: grape juice, sugar, and this Lalvin Bourgovin RC 212 wine yeast.

IMG_20200425_183316268awSugar awLalvin Bourgovin RC 212 Wine Yeast, 5 grams - 5-Pack

If your stay-at-home order gets extended, that’s fine.  Stay in and stay safe.  I mean it.  The wine will taste that much better after the wait.

Back when I first saw the Instant Pot wine tutorial going around, I made a batch and pronounced it ‘not undrinkable’.  So I then made a double-batch (aka a gallon), and added the following to the process:

  • Gave it a full month to ferment;
  • Strained the wine three times through coffee filters; and
  • Discarded the sediment in the bottom of the bottle.

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The resulting wine was absolutely drinkable.  In fact it was so drinkable that I’ve got another batch brewing for when our stay-at-home order is lifted.

Instant Pot Wine

I’m looking forward to gathering with a handful of friends, and although we’ll still be wearing masks and standing apart in a well-ventilated space, we can reach our glasses out and click them together.

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Making Fitted Masks

The mask-making frenzy is less of a frenzy now, but masks are still needed, and will be needed for months to come.  I’m making a few masks each day, and trying out some of the other designs available on the internet.  I had been making the pleated masks, but I now also love making the shaped mask version that doesn’t have pleats.

For the shaped masks, I’ve used the fitted mask pattern by Tina Elmore-Wright, downloaded from the Joann mask-making page.

[Pattern download link here:  https://staging.joann.com/on/demandware.static/-/Library-Sites-LibraryJoAnnShared/default/dw4148ae36/static/landingpage/assets/Combined-Wright-Patterns.pdf]

The pattern has four different sizes, from infant to men’s/large.  My brother the transit driver gave a thumbs-up to the men’s mask.  The second largest size is for women/teens.  That one fits me well.

Shown below are all but the infant size.

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It makes it fun to do sets of family masks. IMG_20200421_155500704aw

It’s fun to use with prints. IMG_20200425_185640442awIMG_20200424_164547590aw

A word of caution:  The pieces need to be cut in mirror images. IMG_20200425_185708066w

Otherwise, you’ll end up with two right or two left pieces, which can make for some er, unplanned combinations. IMG_20200425_185626632aw

There is still a need for the masks in the health care and care home sectors.  Then as businesses prepare to reopen in the coming weeks, they will need masks for staff, customers and visitors.


Thank you to health care workers, care home workers, and front line workers everywhere.  You are keeping us going.

 

 

While you’re staying home, consider making this Southwest flavored bread.

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This savory yeast bread is something to make when you are going to be home all day.  Seriously, it takes awhile.  In the 1990s, it was a winner of the Pillsbury Bake-Off challenge.  I clipped the recipe from a magazine back then, and am still making it to this day.

The bread has quite a variety of ingredients, and requires several steps in addition to the full yeast bread making process.  It’s totally worth it.

This bread, is the reason I …

  • Roast, skin, and chop fresh Poblano peppers from the little grocery store around the corner.
  • Grow a tomato plant each summer, and harvest, chop and dehydrate the tomatoes;
  • Keep two bricks of Monterrey Jack cheese and two cans of black beans on hand.  The recipe only calls for one of each, but I want extra on hand.
  • Keep frozen 1/2-cup portions of plain yogurt on hand.

(You can buy sun-dried tomatoes and canned chopped green chili peppers, which is actually what the recipe calls for.)

Here is a store-bought fresh Poblano (next to my pitiful attempt at home-grown), and after roasting for 15 minutes in the air fryer.

Home-grown, dehydrated chopped tomatoes

Jarred tomatoes

Now, about making the bread.

Here is the list of ingredients:

½ cup sun-dried tomato, without oil, chopped
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained
½ cup nonfat plain yogurt
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1 garlic clove, minced, or 1 teaspoon garlic powder

5 ½ to 6 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 packages fast-acting dry yeast
1 cup water
½ cup canola oil or other vegetable oil
1 egg
1 (4 ½ -ounce) can chopped green chili, drained, or 2 T. finely chopped jalapeño pepper

2 cups (8 oz.) Monterey Jack cheese, cut into ½ -inch cubes

The Southwest flavor steps in pictures:

Measure the spices and add to the food processor with the beans (drained) and yogurt.IMG_20200416_072655469aIMG_20200416_073325350a

Process until well-blendedIMG_20200416_090508329a

Stir in the chopped pepper and dried tomato.

[Add the bean/spice, tomato and pepper mixture to your yeast sponge, then stir in the rest of the flour, knead, and set the dough up for its first rise.]

After the first rise, punch the dough down and shape into loaves.  With a knife, slice into the dough loaves, and push the cheese cubes into the cuts. 

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Pinch the dough shut around the cheese.IMG_20200416_113004676a

Let rise until double in size.  If some of the cheese becomes exposed, it’s okay.  (If you do want to pinch it back into the dough, be very gentle about it so as not to deflate that part of the loaf. ) 

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Bake 30-40 minutes, depending on loaf size.

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After cooling, here is the first slice (on my gorgeous cutting board made by my brother).IMG_20200416_134244144a

Here shown in better light is another batch, made in three smaller loaf pans.

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I serve the bread warm with butter.

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You can find the recipe online here.  http://www.dvo.com/recipe_pages/bake-off/Southwestern_Pockets_of_Cheese_Bread.php

Or download my PDF version here: SOUTHWESTERN POCKETS OF CHEESE BREAD

Shout out to fellow mask makers

From this view I’d say there are a lot of us.

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Creating fun compositions for family and friends has given me a chance to indulge my creativity.

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I’ve given them to neighbors up and down my street, and across the back yard.  When a neighborhood diner gave out free drive-through breakfasts, I reciprocated by giving them some masks.  Initially, I expected most people to say ‘no thank you’ when I offered masks.  Turns out no one has declined.  Everyone wants a mask.  Everyone.

I’ve made a few batches of masks for care home and hospital staff.  It bewilders me that it is individual nurses and aids who are desperately seeking these simple protections to keep their patients, coworkers and themselves and families safe.  Where are their employers in all of this?

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This mask, that can cover an N95 mask, is what I started out making.  But it turns out N95 masks are like unicorns.  No one I’m giving masks to has one, or knows where to find one.  (Awesome tutorial here: https://www.instructables.com/id/AB-Mask-for-a-Nurse-by-a-Nurse)

So, I’ve switched to the simple flat pleated design based on two 9″x6″ rectangles.  It’s much faster to construct and requires less fabric.  Another huge bonus is that it fits in a regular #10 envelope, and costs only a 1st class postage stamp to mail.  This has enabled me to get them to out-of-town friends and family quickly and economically.  Mine are substantially based on the pattern from the Turban Project. https://turbanproject.com/face-masks-pdfs

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One of my biggest frustrations is about the friends and family who want to learn, or relearn to sew, to help fulfill the huge need for masks right now.  I want badly to invite them over and have them sew with me, but I can’t because of the need for social distancing.

Earth Hug GIF by MarchForOurLives

Carry on, mask warriors. You are doing important work.


A heartfelt virtual hug to those in isolation or quarantine, or who have loved ones out of reach.  My wheelchair-bound mom is in a locked down care home.  The most I’ve been able to do for her is send her a mask, and send masks to the staff, and text her ‘Happy Easter’.

Orla oh la la

Back in January, I purchased this Tilly and the Buttons ‘Orla’ top pattern.  It’s now September, and finally I’ve made an Orla top.   The pattern was a joy to use.  Orla sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

I wanted to make a top with print sleeves and a solid colored torso.  This cotton upholstery fabric in my stash seemed right for the torso.  It was salvaged from sofa cushion covers I’d made years ago.  There were worn spots on the fabric, but there were enough good areas to carve out the body of a blouse from it.

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This Paris print cotton was something I simply liked when I saw it in the store, so I bought 1/2 yard for the sleeves.  My plan was to make a muslin shell to test the pattern, and if things turned out well, it would be a wearable muslin.

Paris print b RSR

Voila! A wearable muslin! 

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Where I deviated from the pattern:

  • Adjusted the sleeve length to a 3/4 sleeve.
  • Used a stand up/rolled collar instead of the pattern options.
  • Added a few gathers to the top of the sleeve rather than the pleat in the pattern.
  • The pattern suggests using lightweight drapey fabrics, but I used the heavy cotton, and I like the result.

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For bicycling and night activities, I incorporated some reflective elements.  I used reflective fabric for ‘hem tape’ on the sleeves.  At night, the hem can be flipped out for visibility.  There’s also a reflective covered button for the back closure.

A few more comments on the Orla pattern:  (I’ll definitely make more ‘Orlas’.)

  • The pattern size measurements ran true-to-large.  I’m so used to pattern measurements not working out, that I decided to make a larger size than the pattern info indicated.  Well, the pattern measurements were right on this time.  On the first fitting, the blouse was way too roomy.  I ended up taking it in two whole sizes, and could have gone down a third size.
  • The front curved darts are a pretty feature, and were easy to sew.  But they became a challenge when I had to downsize the garment.

(Ghastly lighting in this new selfie spot! Yikes!)

disgust when you get that text GIF by Barstool Sports

This picture was my inspiration.  I saw it in a Liberty of London ad last year.  Obviously, I didn’t stick close to the image.  I still want to make a top similar to this.  Maybe for Spring.

Lace top print sleeves from Liberty 

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