Sunday, September 29, 2013

I'm a Castaway!

You may have already seen this, but as I'm on holiday in Italy, I've only just now realized: I'm a castaway on Scruffy Badger's Desert Island.

(Hope this works, as I'm trying to post from an i*Pad for the first time.)

Kisses from Italy!

Monday, September 23, 2013

This Week

Now that the job appication business is over and done with, I'm spending a bit more time with my parents and sister. My boyfriend, B., was hired to direct an opera here next spring and had a meeting here last weekend, and my parents want to take me to Lake Garda over the national holiday next week, so I have some time in between. This is what we did: 
 1. Making some more Buchteln, with apricots this time. Yum!
2. Taking the ferry between Meersburg and Konstanz over the Bodensee. This is a RTW outfit except for the vest I'm wearing underneath, but my sister gave me that cute pair of shorts. She helped a friend of hers sort through a bag of second hand clothing she'd gotten from another friend, saw the shorts (they have two cute, sailor style button plackets) and asked if she could have them for me. Best sis, ever! *kisses*
3. Making Mint Juleps to go with watching Sean Connery (*sigh*) in 007 - Goldfinger.
 4. harvesting the potatoes that my mum has planted on her balcony...
 ... and making them into potato salad. Yum!
5. I didn't take any sewing, but I have some knitting with me. Another pair of spring pool socks (for me, this time?) made from Drops Fabel yarn. It's got Alpaca in it. :D Also: coffee.
6. On a totally unrelated side: Sarah from Rhinestones&Telephones is starting her fall sewing with a bang this year by hosting another Fall-Essentials Sew-Along! Anyone remember the last one of these, which I had the pleasure of co-hosting? :D Fun times... I haven't taken part in a sew-along in ages, but with the lose structure and two-month timeline of this one, I totally will! It'll take some planning... :D

How's the beginning of fall treating you?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

July Dresses and a Birthday Present

It feels like forever since the last time I actually sewed something, even though I've had parts of two dresses cut out for weeks. I guess my sewing mojo has been a bit sleepy while the rest of my life was busy doing other things. I still have two unblogged summer garments to show you, though. One even fits the stashbusting challenge! Oh my. 
It's a self-drafted babydoll top of the type that I really like wearing on hot summer days, either with a pair of leggings or a pair of shorts. The fabric is from last year's Girlcharlee order, a cotton jersey with next to no recovery but a cute polka-dot-and-flowers print.

The midriff band and "skirt" part are actually modified from my TNT self-drafted jersey dress pattern. The bodice part, I draped somewhat amateurishly on myself in front of the mirror. There are two versions, one with an overlap (as seen above) and one with either a middle seam or cut on fold (depending on how much fabric there is, as the dress below was refashioned from a - admittedly very big - tunic dress). 
The edges of the top are bound with self fabric, and boy was I glad about the birthday gift I got from my family, as it made the binding (and the whole of the construction of this top) so much easier and faster!
Do you want to guess what it is?
can't believe I haven't taken a picture of it, yet
You probably guessed right, it's an overlocker! The brand is called Wertarbeit (which translates into "valuable work" *lol*) and it's supposed to be a sub-brand of Janome. For now, I'm very happy with it, I managed to thread it (there's even a little picture in the machine, showing how to do it) and I've used the normal, 4-threaded seam, which works well and the tension is good. I haven't yet fiddled with any of the dials or tried any of the stitch types
- maybe soon. :)
I also finally got up the nerve to use a twin needle. My first machine didn't have the room for two spools (or at least, I never found out where to place the second), which made twin-needling a twisty and hazardous business. My great-grandma's machine does it very well, though. :D
So, I guess after those last vestiges of summer sewing, it's time to plan for autumn. Do you have any plans yet?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Plum Buchteln

So, since a few of you asked for my plum bread/Buchteln recipe, here it is. :)

Buchteln are a traditional Austrian and Southern German pastry. My great-grandma made the very best ones. :D We usually fill them either with plums (the oval, violet variety) or apricots, but some people also use jam.

This recipe makes between 12 and 18 Buchteln, depending on how you like your ratio of plums to dough. I like them on the small side, with just a thin layer of dough surrounding the plums. My great-grandma made them big and fluffy, and served them with hot vanilla sauce, which is also wonderful.
500g flour
30g fresh yeast (or one package dry yeast)
1 tsp. honey
200 ml milk (slightly warmed)
80g sugar
2 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1 tsp. salt
12-18 plums (or apricots)
12-18 sugar cubes
80g butter
60g sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

(Since I got the recipe from my mom, and I find yeast dough to be a bit tricky to get right, the instructions are rather thorough. If you're an experienced baker and know your yeast dough, feel free to make it the way you always make it, then stick the plums in. If not: hope this helps.)

As we're working with yeast, it's best if the ingredients are all at room temperature before we start. Eggs can be brought to room temperature by submerging them in warm water for 5 mins.

1. Warm up the milk and dissolve the butter in it. It shouldn't be hotter than body temperature, or it will kill the yeast.

2. Dissolve the fresh yeast and honey in 5 tbsp of warm milk, cover it and leave it in a warm place for 15 minutes. (If using dry yeast, you can skip this step.)

3. In a bowl, add the flour, yeast mixture, sugar, egg yolks, whole egg, salt and most of the milk-butter mixture and knead it into a dough. You can do this by hand or with a kitchen machine.Knead it until it is elastic and only slightly sticky, but not too dry. It may take a while. You may want to add more/the rest of the milk or a bit more flour to get the right consistency. If in doubt, it's better if the dough is too sticky than too dry, or the yeast won't rise as well.

4. Cover the bowl with a towel and leave it in a warm place for at least an hour. It should rise to roughly twice the size. Do a bit of sewing or knitting to tide you over.

5. Pit the plums/apricots. I usually slice them down one side and then pry out the pit. The two halves should still be connected on one side, because you're going to replace the pit with a sugar cube.

6. Melt the additional butter in a little pot or bowl and mix the sugar and cinnamon in another bowl.

7. Depending on how much dough you'd like around your plums, take pieces of dough between the size of a golfball (for a thin layer of dough) and a tennis ball (for a fluffy Buchtel), flatten them a bit and put them around your plum to form a ball. In my experience, it's smart to have the "seam" of the ball on the "whole" side of the plum, because the seam of the dough is going to be placed face-down in your baking dish, and that way the juices of the plum will stay inside and not run out (does that make sense?).
8. Dip each ball first in the molten butter and then in the sugar-cinnamon mixture, then place it into a baking dish. You don't need to grease it, since you already buttered the dough. Then, cover the dish with a towel and leave it to rise for another 15-20 mins. Then, place the dish in the oven (shouldn't be pre-heated) at 160°C until the Buchteln are nicely browned. My small ones took about 25 mins, big ones can take up to 45 mins.
I wouldn't try them right out of the oven, cause they're really hot, but they taste best still warm, just sprinkled with a bit of powdered sugar or very decadently with vanilla sauce.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

This Week

Buying fabric at the Holland Fabric Market in Potsdam. The blue/brown plaid will be pyjamas, the colourful checks a Colette Hawthorn. The others are for comissions.
Plum buchteln. I so love late summer.
Climbing the plum tree next to the building where my choir rehearses. Reminds me of climbing the plum tree in my grandpa's garden when I was a kid.
The light gets all fascinating, these late summer afternoons. I love that it's still warm enough to sit in the grass and have a coffee while the sun goes down.
I also have a job now! After writing (exactly) two dozen applications in the last two months, which (for now) have yielded four job interviews, I've been promised a one-year contract in the practice of a very nice cardiologist who also specializes in gender medicine. :) I can start in November, so there's still some time to enjoy life - and maybe sew something, for a change - without constantly worrying about (un)employment. Hooray!