Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Historical Sew Fortnightly '14: 24- All that Glitters

The Challenge: #24: All that Glitters – due Thur 1 January. Celebrate your completion of HSF ’14, and the New Year, with a glittery, glitzy, sparkly, shiny, something.

Fabric: Embroidered cotton velvet and silk

Pattern: My own!

Year: Late 16th Century

Notions: Thread

How historically accurate is it? The pattern of the silver is close but not quite right. I machine sewed the seams that wouldn't show and hand sewed the top seam as well as the eyelets to hold the sleeves to the bodice/doublet

Hours to complete: 1 hour

First worn: Hopefully Jan 24th

Total cost: The cotton velvet was scraps from a Surcote I did a couple of years back. The silk was $8 for a little less than a yard.

For this challenge, I figured I'd make something I've wanted to make for a while. I had *just* enough scraps leftover from my Spanish Surcote a few years ago to make a pair of simple sleeves. I love being able to change out the sleeves for my later period outfits and really wanted a "fancy" pair to go with some of the velvet and silk kirtles. However, I kept putting off making the sleeves because they weren't absolutely necessary. Now, I can dress up some of my other outfits with a pair of very sparkly sleeves!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Stuff I made for Christmas

Okay, Mom's knit dresses first.  They pretty basic.  She really wanted a dress for Saint Kitts.  Something simple but easy to dress up or down.  She loves blues so I went with both an aqua knit and a purply blue knit.  The pattern is one of my favorite patterns for my work dresses - I think it's a McCalls.  I've used it at least 7 or 8 times now.  For her, I edited it and made it a petite size.

Da nephews!  I made them the ultimate medieval dress up trunk.  I knitted "dirty" chainmail, a new "chainmail" coif, and sewed up a silk tunic as well as a linen parti colored tunic.  The Jester outfit (blue and gold linen) is H/A for the 14th Century - although it is machine sewn and not handsewn.  The silk tunic is made in the same style.  I also made a leather "crown" so they could play king.  

For my SIL, I knitted a chunky green scarf and a pair of fingerless mittens.  Unfortunately, no pictures of those.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Historical Food Fortnightly:15. Sacred or Profane

The Challenge: 
In this challenge, be as divine or as devious as you like! It could be a food with connections to a religion, a dish served for sacred celebrations, or a concoction with a not-so-polite name. Whatever your choice, show us how naughty and/or nice you can be!

The Recipe: (where did you find it, link to it if possible)
This is one I've done before

The Date/Year and Region:
15th Century, Italian

How Did You Make It: (a brief synopsis of the process of creation)
This time, I used 1 cup flour, 1 cup vanilla almond milk, 1 1/2 teaspoon sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and a pinch of saffron for the batter.  I dumped some cheap olive oil in a pan and fried up apple slices - cut the horizontal, not vertical.  I then sprinkled them with powdered sugar.

Time to Complete:
Maybe 1/2 hour?

Total Cost:
It was all stuff I had on hand.  The apples were one I froze a couple of months ago.

How Successful Was It?: (How did it taste? How did it look? Did it turn out like you thought it would?)  There is a reason I keep doing this recipe again and again...:-)  It is absolutely delicious.

How Accurate Is It?: (fess up to your modifications and make-dos here)

The original recipe calls for currants - but I'm not sure if I can eat those or not due to allergies.  Since the currants are supposed to make the batter sweet, I added sugar (still period) to it instead.  I also added cinnamon because I love cinnamon and what is better than cinnamon and apples?  The Almond milk is store bought and had vanilla.

As for the scared/profane, this recipe is called Apple Fritters for Lent.  Lent is about 40 days from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday where Catholics are called on to give up certain things.  In the medieval and renaissance church, you couldn't eat any animal products except fish.  There were certain fasting days (Wednesday and Friday with sometimes Saturday) where you could only have one full meal a day.  

There were a lot of reasons for this.  Basically, it was to give people a religious reason to conserve the food they had. You couldn't run out to the grocery store and expect imported foods to be there and be fresh.  You also needed to give the animals a rest and let them recoup their numbers a bit while allowing the mama animals to be able to nurse their newborn babes.  Remember, this is spring so all the lambs, cows, and a lot of other animals would be being born during this time.  (Not that animals aren't born all the time, just that it tends to be more common in the spring)  This way, the milk went to the baby animals and not towards butter, cheese, and other common food.  

Because we can run out to the grocery store now, we no longer are required to give up animal products during Lent.  Rather, you are expected to not eat meat on Fridays and do something that will help you to increase your faith in God - typically it's giving up something like chocolate which I never do since Hot Chocolate was okayed as a Lenten drink in the very early 17th Century.  :-)

As you can see, the idea of giving up sweets really wasn't part of the medieval mindset - the idea of desert really didn't even exist as we know it.   Rather, you ate what you had.  If you had sugary stuffs, great!   Apple fritters would be served along side a fish dish and probably a rice dish or just some bread and herbs as well.  

 I kept eating the fritters which is why there are only two in the picture.  They are very very yummy.
Cooking up the fritters.  You can tell I didn't quite get the batter on one apple slice correctly.  Eh, it tasted fine.  

Monday, December 15, 2014

Medieval Pie!

I was debating all yesterday to do the medieval meatballs or a medieval pie for the historical food fortnightly challenge. The meatballs one won. However, I forgot I left the frozen apple slices out (whoops!) and realized I either had to cook those or throw them out. So, I had pie for breakfast. It was good!

I got the recipe from Medieval Cookery but changed it up a bit to more follow the original recipe from From of Cury.

Source [Forme of Cury, S. Pegge (ed.)]: XXIII. For To Make Tartys In Applis. Tak gode Applys and gode Spycis and Figys and reysons and Perys and wan they are wel ybrayed colourd wyth Safroun wel and do yt in a cofyn and do yt forth to bake wel.

The modern version of the recipe didn't call for the apples, figs, raisins, and pears to be turned into a sauce.  So, I went with the original 15th C recipe.  See?

Yeah, I know, not exactly appetizing looking in the photo.  I used saffron, powder douce, and a bit of sugar (just a couple of tablespoons) in the fruity mix. The pastry shell is vegan - I used olive oil rather than butter. This is also period correct.

So the reason baking a pie might be terrifying? The powder douce. I hadn't used it before and I can really only get it once a year at Pennsic. It isn't super expensive but the fact I can only get it once a year is prohibitive in itself.

And yes, it made for an excellent breakfast. ;-)

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Best Apple Cider Soda Evah

I've been playing around with various forms of Sekanjabin for syrups to flavor seltzer water since I got a sodastream. Most have been quite good. However, the one I made this morning? Outstanding. It tastes almost *exactly* like my favorite apple cider.

  • 3/4 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup of Balsamic Red Apple Vinegar 
  • 2 Cups Sugar
  • 2 Cups water that apples have been boiled in

This morning I made a pie that I'll post later. (I actually have pictures of that!) Since it had apples and pears in it, I had to boil those before putting the fruits in the pie. I remember a medieval recipe calling for water that apples had been boiled in (which I can't find now, grr) and thought that it might help to flavor the sekanjabin. I saved the water and started on the syrup.

The syrup is simple. You put the sugar, vinegars, and 1 cup of the water together. Stir it up, bring it to a boil. While it is boiling, stir it for a couple of minutes, then reduce heat and leave it for another 10. I then took the other cup of apple water and put that into the container I have for syrups. Some of the syrups I've made are about one step away from being a taffy so I've had to mix them with water to make them into a good flavoring for sodas. I've found one cup of water works well.

Once the sekanjabin was ready, I poured that into the container with the rest of the apple water and shook it all up. I then let it refrigerate until I wanted a soda. Because the flavoring is a bit more watery, I filled the glass about 1/3 of the way with the flavoring. I then filled the rest of the glass with the seltzer water. It is so good! I love apple cider and this is going to be a repeat syrup. :-)

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Historical Food Fortnightly: Fear Factor

The Challenge:14. Fear Factor November 30 - December 13
What foods have you always wanted to attempt, but were afraid to attempt to make - or afraid to eat? Choose a dish that is either tricky to create or nerve-wracking to eat, and get adventurous! It’s historical Fear Factor!

The Recipe: (where did you find it, link to it if possible)Pumpes

The Date/Year and Region: 15th C England

How Did You Make It: (a brief synopsis of the process of creation) I followed the recipe given in the link pretty much. The only things different are that I didn't have cubebes so I added a bit more black pepper, I used raisins instead of currants, and I added the wine to the meatballs, not to the broth.

Time to Complete: 45 min, maybe? My stove top refused to heat up!

Total Cost: The Sangria was $6.99. The ground beef was maybe $4?

How Successful Was It?: (How did it taste? How did it look? Did it turn out like you thought it would?)

Amazingly, it sort of tastes like Ikea's Swedish meatballs but much better. It is a sweet dish but not overpowering like it says in the link.

How Accurate Is It?: (fess up to your modifications and make-dos here) I used store bought almond milk rather than making my own - I was lazy, I know.

(Ignore the deconstructed meatballs. I was hungry and mashed them up before realizing I should probably take a picture to prove I made something)

Okay, so you might wonder what the fear factor is in this one since it's ground beef meatballs with cinnamon and egg yolks - ie, not really that far out there even for a 15th C recipe. It was the wine. I tried a new wine that I hadn't tried before. This was a Sangria I got at the store.

Because of my food allergies, changing up anything is terrifying. The wrong ingredient can, very much, kill me. Now, it's doubtful that Sangria will have buckwheat in it but you get the idea. My other food allergies tend not to be quite as bad at the buckwheat or tomato ones. Those are the just dial 911 and tell them we'll meet them on the way allergies. However, the berry one can be quite scary in itself.

One day, I was picking blueberries with my cousins. My face swelled up so bad that my eyes swelled shut. That was from just picking blueberries - not eating them. Strawberries are not a berry. They are actually part of the rose family and I'll happily eat them. Every single other berry to include cherries? Yeah, not so much.

Many people know that some wines have berries in them. What many people do not know is that wines are not required to have ingredient labels. Sure, they have that "if you are pregnant and you are drinking this, you deserve a Darwin Award" label on the side but nothing to indicate what might be in the wine other than grapes. And grapes are fine. I ate a bunch of grapes the other day in fact.

The label showed lemons, oranges, and grapes - all of which are fine. The label said wine and citrus - which might be okay, might not. It completely depends on the type of citrus.

Since I wasn't using much wine and it would be cooked into the meatballs, I figured that even if I was allergic, the reaction would probably be mild. So far, no allergic reactions to the wine in the meatballs.

Basically, every time I try something new, there is a "fear factor" to it. The way our ingredients are labeled in the USA is completely ridiculous. For instance, I tried to contact "I can't believe it's not butter" the other day about their new improved product. I wanted to know what the "natural flavors" actually meant and if that meant it had corn. I received a rather rude email back stating that it was trade secret and that if my allergy was so severe then I should have my doctor contact them about it and they'd tell my doctor. Er, what? Doctor Patient privilege anyone? Not that I'm exactly secretive about my food allergies. But the point is that ingredients don't have to be listed. The food companies can use "cover terms" for a lot of different ingredients. And, if it's an alcohol as in the case this evening, they don't have to list a thing.


Sunday, December 7, 2014

A New Shoulder Shawl

I knitted this shawl out of some hideous late 1970's early 1980's yarn I got at the Thrift store. Navajo ombre was the color name. My Mom thought that was an insult to Navajos. My brother said the same thing I did - it was the exactly color of the couch we had when we were little (1980's) that Mom and Dad apparently got as a wedding gift (1977). So, that gives you an idea of how bad the colors were as just yarn.

However, as a knitted work? Not nearly as horrible. The yarn itself was easy to work with. It was less than a $1 at the thrift store. The pattern was one I made up. The finished work is quite warm and I was wearing it around the house with my pink and grey striped sweater - I clashed like nothing else.

The Pattern:

R1: Using size 10 knitting needles, cast on one.
R2: Knit that one back and front to have two loops.
r3: Knit those two.
R4: K1, Increase 1, K1.
R5 and all odd number rows, knit.
r6: k1, Increase 1, k1, Increase 1, K1.
r8: K1, increase 1, k3, Increase 1, k1.
r10: K1, increase 1, k5, Increase 1, k1.
r12: K1, increase 1, k3, P1, k3, Increase 1, k1.
r14: K1, increase 1, k3, P3, k3, Increase 1, k1.
r 16 and all even rows - the pattern is simple, each edge is done in a garter stitch with a k1, increase 1, k3, x amount of Purl, k3, increase 1, k1. Basically, you look for the last four of the row you are on, switch from purl to knit, and then knit 3, do an increase of one, and knit the last stitch.

Once it gets to the length you want, bind it off loosely. I would double knit each stitch and then bind it off to give it a bit more give.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Company Christmas Party Dress

The inspiration dress. I saw the dress above on etsy and completely and totally fell in love with it. I love every detail of it but, for my dress, I had to change a few things because I simply didn't have enough time or fabric.

Originally, I tried to create the sides as they were on the extant dress but I quickly learned the extant dress wasn't pleated like I have here.  It was actually cut and then sewn back together...which would involve more shaping that I had time for.

Above is just a close up of the sad state of the pleats before I gave up and took it apart.   I then just measured out a couple of 1/4 circles from the remaining fabric and ended up with.....

This! What you don't see is the gold stain lining and the gold net attached petticoat beneath the dress. I still need to add the zipper and hem the dress but it is in dress form. The fabric is some silk brocade I got at the thrift store for $5.90. The lining and net were from Wally world (walmart) for a little over $15. I think the entire dress - the zipper is one I also got from the thrift store for 20¢. If that, really. So a total of about $22 for a new party dress? Not bad.

EDIT: I lied. It's now $23 because I used some trim I bought a decade ago from Wally World as hem facing tape. I bought about 13 yards for $1 (rather than $1 a yard) and used maybe 4 yards? So it closer to $23 now.

And I LOVE the dress. It's so the perfect party dress. I can't wait to wear it tonight.

EDIT Again:  I wore it and I loved it.  It really is a fabulous dress and I got a ton of compliments on it.  It's just logn enough to still be quite lady like but puffy and fun enough to work as a cocktail dress.

Monday, December 1, 2014

My makeshift Knitty Noddy

I have a bumblebee spinning wheel and I love it.  I bought it a couple of years ago.  I wanted a spinning wheel that was all wood but not ridiculously expensive.  Mine is a slightly different style from what they are currently selling - the feet are connected to the wheel just with leather straps, not wood and leather.  

I've found that the spinning wheel is ridiculously quicker than the hand spindle - what took me two hours with the hand spindle I can do in a few minutes with the wheel but I'm slow at spinning.

Today, I finished another skien of yarn.  I overtwisted it, of course, but I'm pretty happy with it overall.  It's just natural wool roving that is now spun and drying.  However, once it was spun, I realized I had a slight problem - how to wrap it and wash it.   I didn't have a knitty noddy anymore as what I was using broke.

So, I took a swimming noodle, cut it with a box cutter, and added two notches on either end.  Yes, the noodle does bend while I'm wrapping the wool but it works for wrapping it, washing it, and letting it dry on the noodle.  The noodle is also cheap.  I bought this one at the dollar store over the summer for another project that never got finished.  Once the wool is dry, I'll wrap it up into a ball.  

Friday, November 28, 2014

Sweet Potato Pudding

I made some sweet potato pudding for thanksgiving and it was one of the few dishes that did not contribute to the leftovers pile.  Everyone ate the entire thing.  It was funny to see my sister in law's sisters making each other try the sweet potatoes (I was told it tasted like cake!).

  • 2 apples, peeled and cored
  • 1/4 cup Earth Balance Soy Free Buttery Stick
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Vanilla Flavored Almond Milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • dash ground ginger
  • 4 medium sweet potatoes (I used purple ones that were one sale for an extra kick but regular orange sweet potatoes work just as well)
  • 1 bag of small Dandies marshmellows (corn free marshmellows)
  • 2 spoonfuls of Ricemellow Cream

First, boil the sweet potatoes until the skin starts to peel off on it's own. This makes them so easy to peel and easy to mash. Once they've been boiled, just put the potatoes to the side and boil the apple slices until they are cooked.

When the potatoes are cool enough to touch, peel off the skin and throw the potatoes in a bowl. Smash 'em.

Put the apple slices in a blender.

In a big bowl, mix together the buttery stick and the sugar first. Then add the almond milk, apples, and spices. Add the mashed up potatoes. The last ingredient is the Ricemellow cream. Just add a couple of spoonfuls. When it's all blended together well, put this evenly into a cake pan (13" x 9") and cook for 40 minutes at 350F. When you take it out and it's still hot, put the marshmellows evenly on top of the sweet potatoes. Right before you serve it, heat it up slightly just so the marshmellow melt a bit.

This was a huge hit.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Historical Food Fortnightly #13: Ethnic Foodways

The Challenge: 13. Ethnic Foodways November 16 - November 29
Foodways and cuisine are at the heart of every ethnic group around the world and throughout time. Choose one ethnic group, research their traditional dishes or food, and prepare one as it is traditionally made.

The Recipe: (where did you find it, link to it if possible) The Old Foodie posted about 18th and 19th Century Pumpkin pie and the differences between American and English pumpkin pies. This got me to thinking - the American pumpkin pie recipe from 1852 is different from the modern pumpkin pie but still fairly recognizable. Pumpkin pie itself is still completely necessary to any American Thanksgiving meal - making it a very traditional American dish.

The Date/Year and Region: Mid 19th C - American with some English elements added

How Did You Make It:

The original recipe:
Pumpkin Pie (American).—Take out the seeds, and pare the pumpkin or squash ; but in taking out the seeds do not scrape the inside of the pumpkin ; the part nearest the seed is the sweetest; then stew the pumpkin, and strain it through a sieve or cullender. To a quart of milk, for a family pie, 3 eggs are sufficient. Stir in the stewed pumpkin with your milk and beaten-up eggs, till it is as thick as you can stir round rapidly and easily. If the pie is wanted richer make it thinner, and add sweet cream or another egg or two; but even 1 egg co a quart of milk makes " very decent pies." Sweeten with molasses or sugar; add 2 tea-spoonsful of salt, 2 table-spoonsful of sifted cinnamon, and 1 of powdered ginger; but allspice may be used, or any other spiec that may be preferred. The peel of a lemon grated in gives it a pleasant flavor. The more eggs, says an American authority, the better the pie. Some put 1 egg to a gill of milk. Bake about an hour in deep plates, or shallow dishes, without an upper crust, in a hot oven.

Based on the Old Foodie's post, just 12 years earlier, there was still talk of English pumpkin pies being made with apples and pumpkin.

I know that going back to at least WWI, that apples are a common replacement for eggs. I use them due to my nephew's egg allergy. Rather than milk in the American recipe, I used Almond milk. I can easily trace that back - through each century- back to the 13th Century as a very common replacement for cow's milk. So, based on that, here's my recipe:

Pie crust:
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, with another cup on the side
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup of coconut spread, cut into thin slices
  • enough water to make dough

First the dough. I dumped everything in a bowl and mixed it until it got into a cohesive sticky lump. I then threw it down on some tin foil - for easy clean up- with more flour on the tin foil that I worked into the dough. Once I had a good dough, I rolled it out and had enough to line two tin foil pie pans. I put these in the fridge for 30 minutes. (I used coconut spread because I'm allergic to dairy)

Pie Filling:
  • 2 cans of Libby's Pumpkin Pie
  • 1 Box of Almond Dream Pumpkin Spice Almond Milk
  • 1 1/2 cups of sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons of Cinnamon
  • 3 Apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon Ginger
  • 2 teaspoons of salt

Since I'm not completely crazy, I just used the canned pumpkin that everyone uses for modern pumpkin pie. I had to use about 4 cups of almond milk - which ended up being nearly the entire box. Rather than eggs, I used apples - which is similar to the English pumpkin pie. I boiled the apples, put them in the blender, and made...applesauce! I added this to the bowl filled with mushed up pumpkin and almond milk. Once I mixed this together, I added the salt, sugar, cinnamon, and ginger. It became sort of like a watery pudding which looked correct to me. I then poured this into the pie shells I made earlier and cooked the pies for an hour at 350F.

Time to Complete: 2 hours if you include the time it was in the oven
It ended up being in the oven for 2 hours and 40 minutes before the pie finally set.  Amazingly, the crust didn't burn!  I read online that a lot of other people had issues with Libby's pumpkin not cooking - one individual said it always takes them nearly 3 hours.  So...I'm not too worried. 

Total Cost: Maybe $10? I think. I wasn't paying much attention. The canned pumpkin was on sale and I had a coupon so I know that wasn't more than a couple of bucks. The almond milk was $2.19. Most of the rest I had in the pantry.

How Successful Was It?: We'll see tomorrow!!!! It looks and smells good. So, I could have cooked it a bit longer. I also probably should have cut out some of the cinnamon - I think one tablespoon would have been enough. It wasn't bad but I do need to experiment some more.

How Accurate Is It?: (fess up to your modifications and make-dos here) Since almond milk is period correct and apples were common in the English version, I'm going with pretty decent. The pie crust is another story. I had to use the coconut though because of the dairy allergy. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Cream of Potato Soup

No pictures - I sort of gobbled this one up.  :-)  With the super cold temperatures (it's November, right?  Not February?) this week, I really wanted soup for dinner.  However, unlike most people, I can't simply pop a can of Campbell's in a pot and reheat it.  Almost all soups - Progresso, Campbell's, even a lot of the allergy friendly brand Annie's- have either dairy or corn in them.  Since I really wanted cream of potato, that always has both.

I stumbled across this recipe for cream of potato and really wanted to try it.  Here is my redaction for the ingredients I had on hand and the ingredients I can eat.

  • 2 potatoes - I used redskin
  • water
  • half of a small chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons Earth Balance Soy Free Buttery Sticks
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups almond milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • A pinch of pepper
  • Paprika
The original recipe calls for two medium potatoes.  I used one large potato - not peeled, just chopped up- and one small potato, also not peeled but chopped up.  I threw the pieces into a pot with the water and waited for them to soften up.

I then chopped up half of a smallish sweet onion to use for this recipe.  Once the potatoes were done, I set them aside in a bowl (drained, of course), and put the onions in the pot.  It's a bit odd to cook onions in a pot but it works for this recipe.   I also added the Earth Balance Buttery Stick slices.

Once the onions were cooked, I added the flour, stirred it together and just dumped in the almond milk on top of all of that.  I stirred it together and waited.   It will be a while before it a)boils and b)the almond milk starts to double in volume due to the boiling.  You need the latter to happen for it to be a decently thick soup.   Once it rose, I stirred the soup for two minutes and added the potatoes with the salt, pepper, and a dash of paprika.

I waited another couple of minutes before dishing out the soup.  I added more paprika to the top of the soup and added some more salt.   The soup is somewhat sweet - it tasted like cream of blooming onion with potatoes, which was fine by me.   It's a good cold winter day soup and would work for anyone with a dairy or corn allergy.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

So Delicious Egg Nog versus Silk Egg Nog

Last year, I found So Delicious Egg Nog and loved it. This year, I found not just So Delicious but Silk has a dairy free egg nog! Nom! As I can't have about 90% of the holiday treats I used to have without some modification, I was overjoyed to find not one but two egg nogs. I've missed having that spicy creamy holiday drink and I'm so glad to be able to have a choice in which one I might partake in. Both are non-alcoholic but that's easy to change. ;-)

In trying to figure out which one I like better, I first compared the ingredients. Silk scores in having fewer calories, less fat, lower sodium, and even a trace of iron in comparison to So Delicious. Granted, it's all by very small amounts. Neither are "good" for you unlike, say, a celery stick. But who wants a celery stick?

In terms of color, the So Delicious looked more like traditional egg nog. The Silk egg nog was a brighter yellower color that doesn't come out quite in the pictures. Silk is on the right and So delicious is on the left.

The Silk basically tastes like spicy milk - it's by no means bad but the texture is more watery than creamy. There is a bit of a chalky after taste but it's not horrible.

The So Delicious does have a coconut taste to it due to it being with coconut milk but it's not overpowering. It's far better in terms of texture - much creamier and almost to the consistency of real egg nog. The spice in it is pretty good and, overall, it tastes like a decent egg nog.

Of the two I much prefer the So Delicious but I wouldn't pass up the Silk either.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Historical Sew Fortnightly #21: Re do!

The Challenge: #21: Re-do – due Sat 15 November. Pick any previous challenge and re-do it (or do it for the first time). It could be one that you didn’t finish, one that you wish you’d had more time for, or any time for, or one where you loved the theme so much you want to do it again. So, I choose to do #11: The Politics of Fashion for this challenge. The gowns of the Regency era were designed to look nothing like the gowns associated with the French court and based off of the Greek statues as a way to embrace democracy.  You can read a bit more here.

Fabric: Polished cotton

Pattern: My own!

Year: 1820s

Notions: 7 +yards of silver lace and 6+ yards of sari zardosi trim

How historically accurate is it? It's not too bad. It's machine sewn but silver lace and cotton are period.

Hours to complete: 9 or 10, I think

First worn: Today!

Total cost: I can't even remember how much I paid for the green cotton it's been so long. Maybe $5? The silver lace on the bodice was $1.50 a yard and the zardosi trim was maybe $10 for the whole thing.

So, the inspiration:

The above dress is one of the many in the Met's collection.  When I told Mom she needed a new Regency dress if she was going to come to the tea, she choose the above as an example of the dress she wanted.  Okay.

I went through the stash pile and Mom liked the green polished cotton best of the fabrics I presented to her.  She wanted silver trim - which luckily I had- and I started on a new pattern for her.

I tried to carefully mark up the bodice with multiple chalk lines to act as lace placement.  The original gown actually has tucks with netting between the tucks.  However, I have no idea how to do that without do that to the fabric first and then cutting out the bodice - which would waste fabric and take too long.   So, I just applied lace to the front.

Mom ended up loving her dress so much she bought me a new hat!   Yay!   The back picture looks a little funny because I had her in 1790's stays and covered the straps with her 1820's petticoat straps.  I need to make her new short stays.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Ginger Ale!

I have made ginger ale! With the now not so new sodastream, I've been trying to create various soda flavors. My latest attempt has been to make ginger ale.


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/3 cup ginger juice (about $3.99 at my local Mom's Organic Market.  I used half the bottle)

Like some other recipes I have tried, I mixed all the ingredients together and brought it to a boil. I then stirred the mixture for 2 minutes and dropped the temp down to a simmer for another 10 minutes. I then removed the pot from the heat to let it cool and get syrupy.

About two tablespoons of this syrup works for a pretty rich ginger ale. If you don't like real ginger, you won't like this. However, if you are like me and happily eat the crystallized ginger raw, this is completely delicious.    This should make enough to last for about 30 or 40 glasses of ginger ale.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Costume Roulette: Natural Form

First, the hair:
The image above is from 1875 - a bit before the Natural Form but I realized I might actually be able to do the style on the bottom left without too much difficulty.  It's a braid around the head and a bun with a drape of curls.  I've done one or two of these as part of my normal hair routine but never all three together.

First, I divided the hair from above the ears - moving the sides of the hair (and bangs although they are almost to my chin now) to the front and leaving the rest back.  I french braids the bangs and incorporated a slight braid into the sides of the hair - this is part of what I do normally and it looks like this:

photo 2(1)

...Once I take the braids back and put my hair into it's normal bun.

However, this time, I needed a thick braid as well as a bun and a cascade of curls. To accomplish this, I split the hair in the back of the head in half - the top part being the part that would be the bun and the bottom being the part that would be the braid. I took the slightly braided sides and incorporated them into the bottom/braid part. I only braided the sides far enough to reach the back of the head so you don't see a braid within a braid. Once I braided my hair, I tied it off and curled the ends (and plastered them with hairspray).


The braid had to be loose to give it that "big hair" look.

Next, I took the top part of the hair and split it to make some curls about half way down the length of my hair. Again, plastered with hairspray.


I then did the bun first, having the ends tucked under the bun so the cascade falls correctly. I then wrapped the braid around my head and bobby pinned everything into place.

Yes, my corset is Strawberry Shortcake print with red bias tape. It works.  Sorry for the bad iphone pic.

The dress:

 Before I put the sleeves on but you can see the train and the back of the jacket detail.
Once it was mostly completed. I think I still did some stitching to the skirt after this.

The dress is out of cotton velvet, lavender silk I originally made a dress for a Poe event out of (but I made the sleeves too small so it went into the UFO pile because I only ecked a dress out of the fabric and didn't have enough to redo the sleeves), and gray linen.  The linen is the base of the skirt.  Oh, and white silk for the lining of the train.

For my first attempt at Natural Form, I think it came out alright.  It fit, which was a big plus.  :-)   I used Wearing History's  1879 Bodice e-Pattern and only had to make a few slight changed.  The collar was odd - the original seams to end at the shoulder seams.  I made a back piece so the collar would go all the way around.   The sleeves are a LOT longer than they look on the pattern's picture.  I ended up not using the cuffs because they just weren't needed.

I used black netting to fill in the neckline.  There is a photo from the same era showing a similar bodice design but with a scarf to fill in the neckline - which is where I got the idea:

Since I've had the cotton velvet since the early 2000's (I think 2002.  I wanted to make Queen Amidala's Gray Kimono outfit at one point and never got around to it) and the lavender silk since 2008 or so, this outfit was very cheap to make.  It was mostly stash (the only thing I had to buy, I think, was the bed sheet to make the petticoat and the hoop skirt).   Even the buttons were stash.

I might get more photos later of me actually in the outfit - I know several were taken.  We'll see!

I'm wearing it in this video:

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Historical Sew Fortnightly: Alternative Universe

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away....


It is a dark time for the Rebellion. Although the Death Star has been destroyed, Imperial troops have driven the Rebel forces from their hidden base and pursued them across the galaxy.
Evading the dreaded Imperial Starfleet, a few remaining Jedi knights, led by Luke Skywalker, have established a new secret base on the forest moon of Endor.
The evil lord Darth Vader, obsessed with finding young Skywalker, is attempting to lure the young Jedi in with promises of candy....


So from left to right, Luke Skywalker, Obi Wan, and a very confused Yoda. :-)

For the Alternative Universe, I went with an alternative Galaxy and made my nephews their Halloween outfits. Oldest nephew wanted to be Luke Skywalker. Middle Child wanted to be "the guy with the blue lightsaber!" Youngest nephew didn't really get a choice. He's two and his Mom and I decided that if the other two were going as Star Wars, so was he. ...and that he had to be Yoda. Because.

The Challenge: Alternative Universe

Fabric:Knits and Fleece

Pattern: A very modified New Look children's pattern as the base

Year: A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.... (Since that was written first in 1977, my guess is that a long time ago is before WWII)

Notions: Thread, belts, lightsaber...

How historically accurate is it? Since I didn't follow the exact lines or fabrics of the movie, it's not. I used fleece for Luke Skywalker's Tunic, Obi Wan's robe, and Yoda's "head" and robe. The reason for this is I remember being little and having to put on a winter coat over my Halloween outfit. What was the point in that? No one could see if I was Dorthy or a Witch with my coat on. So, instead, I make my nephews' outfits out of fleece so they will be warm but don't have to wear their winter coats.

Hours to complete: 3 I think. I was worried about Yoda but it ended up being easy. After cutting out the base of the robe and the hood (basic coif style), I cut out sort of teardrop shaped pieces of green fleece with the bottom round bit of the teardrop cut off. I then pleated the teardrops to look like the inside of an ear, cut slits in the the hood, and added the ears about where I thought they should go.

First worn: Halloween.

Total cost: $23.70 for the fabric - I got a lot of it on sale

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Natural Form Dress 2: The Underthings

For the Natural Form dress, I decided to make hoops and a petticoat.   I want the dress to have the correct look - even if the underthings are a bit off.

For the hoops, I based them off of loosely off of other natural form era hoops. Originally, I was going to do the whole belt thing - with suspenders hanging down to hold up the hoops around the hem- but it just didn't look right. So I took a rectangle of fabric and added that to get a full hoop skirt.

It still doesn't look quite right but it works. The petticoat will hide the fact it's a bit more crazy with the odd looking hoops. However, the hoops will help keep the skirt out and give it the shape it needs.

For the petticoat, I pieced together what fabric I had left over and then added some lace that I really didn't have a use for to the back of the petticoat.  It's not super pretty but it is functional.
The waist to the petticoat is just a drawstring.  If I have enough time, I might switch it to a waistband.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies!


  • 1 cup olivio coconut spread (you can use Earth Balance coconut spread but I've found olivio is typically softer)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 apples, peeled and cored
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (Enjoy life has the dairy free allergy friendly kind)


Preheat oven to 350F.

In a pot, boil the apple slices until they are mushy. Drain them and then mash them up into a sauce. Leave to the side for now.

Mix in a large bowl the coconut spread, the white sugar, and the brown sugar until it's blended. Add in the the applesauce, the baking soda, and the vanilla extract. Then add in the salt, chocolate chips, and flour. Once this is mixed together, put small spoonfuls of the dough on an ungreased cookie sheet. Cook for about 15 minutes (check them at 12).

These cookies are perfect for anyone with dairy or egg allergies. You could probably sub the flour for rice flour to make them gluten free as well. I think these make about 4 dozen cookies - I was eating them as I was baking so I have no idea. :-)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

MOR APPLES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!

25 pounds of apples this year!   This photo was taken after I had already frozen about half of the apples I picked this year.  Some of you might recall that last year I picked roughly 20 pounds of apples at Butler's Orchard.  This year, Butler's was picked clean early so my Mom and I headed up the road from her house to Homestead farm in Poolesville Maryland.

The amount of apples at Homestead was unreal.  This year, I picked Fuji apples - mainly because they are a known apple to me and there were TONS of them.   Fuji apple trees don't look like what I would consider normal apples trees.


The trees look more like a cross between a bush and a vine.  The branches were supported by posts and wire - like you would do for a grape vine.  The main trunk looks more like one of those young stick trees you buy from a planter company when you want to plant a new tree in your yard.  The difference is that the stick has ten or so branches, each overloaded with apples.

After picking 47 pounds total - between myself and Mom, we also went to pick up a couple of pumpkins and then went back to the farm's market to get potatoes, onions, and apple cider.  I won't need apples or potatoes for a very long time.

Anyway, I did what I did last year to freeze the apples.   I peeled them, cut and cored them, and then bathed them in a mix of lemon juice and water to prevent the apple slices from browning.
After the lemon bath, I threw them into a plastic bag.  I'm keeping with the four apples to a bag since that worked really well last year. It seems to be the perfect amount for a decent apple pie.
The big difference this year is only that I have one bag where I cut the apples into donut slices rather than the chunks like you see above.  I LOVE medieval apple fritters however you have to cut the apples in the way of the host - ie, like the Eucharist bread.  So to help keep the slices separated during the freezing process, I put pieces of wax paper between each slice.  We'll see if that works.

I have been eating some of the apples this year already.  They are so good!   I had one as a snack when I went into work last week.   Another ended up being a snack with peanut butter today when I was in a mad sewing session.  (Had to finish up all the nephew's Halloween outfits)

Since my oldest nephew's egg allergy has gotten much worse, I'll be using some of the apples to make apple sauce - a substitute for eggs in many recipes.  It tastes great in cakes and cookies and the starch works well as a nice, natural egg replacement.  Much better than bananas - which can also be used if you mash them up.  However bananas only taste good in chocolate cake because they dramatically change the flavor profile.