Welcome to American Homestead. I'm happy you have found my blog. Make yourself comfy and see what's been happening around here. I write about the things that interest me ~ creativity, travel, food, nature and a happy life. I'd love to read your comments.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Elle's Kitchen: Popovers

Crunchy on the Outside, Almost Custard on the Inside

When I was in college, my friend Brian
and I used to steal away to go to lunch
at a place called the Soup Emporium.
We would sample different kinds each
time, soups that were made with love,
nothing from a can.  A few years later,
Mr. Wonderful and I would go to a place
in the same location, now called Popovers.
They still had great soups on the menu
and every 15 minutes, fresh from the oven
popovers would be served ~ heaven...
And that started our love affair with
the popover.


1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
6 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups, milk
2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
butter for greasing pans

I have 2 six cup nonstick
popover pans for this recipe.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Coat popover pans with butter.

Place 1/2 tsp. of the melted
butter in each cup.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the
eggs and milk, then whisk in 2 tbls. of
 the melted butter.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour and salt,
then whisk in the egg mixture.  Whisk
vigorously for 2 minutes, until smooth.
Divide the batter equally among the
greased cups and bake for 20 minutes.
Reduce the heat to 325 degrees F. and
bake for 15 minutes more.

Serve with butter and jam.

And every once in a while, Mr.
Wonderful and I still treat ourselves
to homemade soup and popovers.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Last Bouilloire in Paris

French Lessons

One of the items on my list of
"Things to Get in Paris" was a
copper kettle.  So I went to THE
place for kitchenware in Paris,
E. Dehillerin.  Dehillerin has been
around since 1820 and everyone
who is anyone in the food world
has shopped there.

Including Julia Child,  I'm guessing
most of those pans in her kitchen
came from Dehillerin, it is where she
shopped when learning to cook in Paris.
Take a look at the kitchen in the background,
 I think it looks alot like Dehillerin.

The interior of Dehillerin reminds me
of the hardware stores of my youth.
Jammed to to ceilings with products,
organized ~ yes, a bit dusty ~ yes,
fancy ~ NO!  If you are the type of
person that must shop in a Williams-
Sonama type of store, this is not for you.

But it is THE place to go for
French chefs. 

On a Spring afternoon, my brother
and I strolled over from our apartment
in the Marais, on a quest for my kettle.

When we got in the store my brother
told the salesman that I wanted a
Bouilloire, pronouncing it "boo loo wah"
and he was corrected by the salesman.
It is "boo oow loo wah".  Now, we will
never forget how to pronounce kettle in
French.  The salesman then told us they
no longer were selling the large kettles. 
There was one hanging on the wall and I
asked if they would sell me that one?
After some consultation with his co-workers,
it was decided that yes, they would.

While they worked on getting the kettle
down and packing it we went exploring
all the nooks and crannies of the shop,
including the cellar.  It is fascinating to
see all the things they carry and to think
of all the great chefs who have walked
these same steps.
Back upstairs, one of the salesmen chatted
with me about tennis while I waited in line
to pay.  I find it sad when I read about this
and other places in Paris and people say they
were treated so rudely.  Only once in Paris
was I ever treated poorly and that was by
a waiter who probably is rude to his own
Mother.  Generally people in Paris are nice,
they are more reserved than Americans but
that is not a problem.  I have found if you
behave in a nice manner, you are treated
well anywhere in the world.

Here is my much used bouilloire.
I think I have found the best way to
 learn foreign words.  Go someplace
foreign and become part of the culture.
Just ask Mr. Wonderful how to say
candle in French ~ bougie.
But that's another story...

Friday, January 27, 2012

I Admit Defeat...

All week I have been battling this cold
and it just doesn't seem to be going away.
I have eaten what seems like gallons of
hot & sour soup, it is usually my cure all.
I have used an entire jar of honey making
hot lemonade, it hasn't helped...
People are telling me it takes 8 days to get
over this bug.  Ugh!

At least I have had Pinterest to keep my
interest.  For those of you that use it, click
the button on the top left of this page and
follow me.  For those that haven't discovered
it yet ~ come aboard, it is a great way to stir
your creative juices!
I wonder if Pinterest has cold remedies?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Copper Cleaning

Getting a Jump on Spring Cleaning

My brother has spent his life traveling
the world and collecting interesting things
along the way.  One of those collections is
his copper.  Since he is a great cook, he uses
the copper all the time and that can lead to
stains and tarnish.

As he cooked, he noticed if something
with a tomato base would drip down the
side, it would make the copper sparkling
clean.  He developed this recipe for a
non-toxic copper cleaner.

1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 to 1/3 cup table salt
3 to 4 Tabl. vinegar or lemon juice

Mix together with a fork and paint
surface of copper with a paint brush
or piece of steel wool.  Let sit for 5
minutes.  Rinse with water.  Scour
surface lightly with 0 grade steel wool.

So, I put it to the test.  Yikes, I'm
embarrassed by the awful condition
of my copper.

After 5 minutes, it looked great.
I found it took the tarnish off very
easily.  For areas with grease spots
I used a Brillo pad to remove the spots.

Be careful though, you may spend
the rest of the day cleaning every
piece of copper in your home.

I hope he doesn't come up with a
silver polish!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Chock-A-Block Wednesday

West Virginia

By using Half Square Triangles, you
 can have an easy and precise block.

Fabric Requirements:

Fabric A: Fussy Cut
1 - 4 1/2" square

Fabric B: Gold
4 - 3 1/4" squares - Mark
a diagonal line on back.

Fabric C: Blue
4 - 3 1/4" squares - Mark
a diagonal line on back.

Fabric D: Cream
4 - 3 1/4" squares

Make Half Square Triangles:

Pair 3 1/4" squares, right sides
together, in the following combinations:

2 - C/B     2 - B/D     2 - C/D

Sew 1/4" away from each side of drawn
line, cut on drawn line and press:

C/B to the Fabric C
B/D to the Fabric B
C/D to the Fabric D

Square to 2 1/2" .

Make Outer Center Units:

Layout Half Square Triangles as shown
and sew together as shown.  Press seams
open to reduce bulk.

Layout units as shown and sew together
in 3 rows.  Press seams in rows 1 and 3
to the left and seams in row 2 to the right.

Sew rows together and press final seams
open to reduce bulk.  Square to 8 1/2".

Here is another one I made, I
like this one better.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

National Pie Day

and I missed it!

Yesterday was National Pie Day.
A holiday I had never heard of
until yesterday.  And as someone
who considers herself a pie lover,
I am shocked that I never knew
of this splendid celebration before.

National Pie Day is celebrated on
January 23 or 1/23 because pie making
is as easy as 1,2,3 or I suppose we could
say, as easy as pie...

I confess I prefer to make a pie
over eating a pie.  Except in the
case of pecan, pumpkin or pineapple
pie.  I don't love fruity pies but since
most people do I make them.  I would
always prefer a fruit crisp, buckle or
grunt to a pie, but that's just me.

I love all things related to pie.  I've
collected rolling pins, flour sifters,
pie birds, pastry cutters.

Packed away somewhere is a collection
of vintage advertising pie pans, waiting
for just the right kitchen.

This delicious holiday was created in
1986 by the American Pie Council.
Another thing that I never knew
existed until yesterday.

Now we must be sure to not confuse
this holiday with the equally important
National "Pi" Day which is March 14th.
I think it could be fun to celebrate that
day with a pie as well.

All of the pies shown were made by
me during my now famous,
"Summer of Pie".
If I ever spend the summer at home
again instead of gallavanting all over
creation, I will do it again, but I may
need some new recipes. 
 Any suggestions?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Happy Chinese New Year

The Year of the Dragon

I bought that sweet little antique
ginger jar while wandering all alone
in China this year.  I thought it was
appropriate for today.

I wish you good fortune, happiness,
wealth and longevity.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Just Takes 2 - Set 2

Here are the others...

The final blocks from Set 2.

This is THE worst block I have ever
made.  I love precision in my quilting
and there is nothing precise about this.
After cutting, sewing, ripping and a little
cursing I finally finished and it was the
wrong size.  I added a few strips to 2 sides
and squared it up because I never wanted
to make this block again!!!!

I think I'll go lose myself in some
felt and embroidery today...

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Just Takes 2 Mystery Quilt

A Few More of Set 2

Here are a few more of Set 2
of the Just Takes 2 Quilt.

Sadly, I have not been enjoying
this project and I'm not sure I
will continue with it.  I suppose I'll
 try one more set and see from there.

More tomorrow.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Currently Dreaming Of...

New feltwork designs.

This year's garden plans.

Our next adventure.

We have finally figured out all the financials
from the Last Hurrah Tour.  Honestly, I had
no idea what it would cost to go around the
world and I was a bit apprehensive about what
the final number would be.  Would we ever be
able to afford to travel again?  Five people,
nine countries, four continents, eating, drinking,
transport, entertainment, all those currencies,
all those exchange rates.  Thankfully our sister
is an accountant who made it so easy.  And in the
end, it was MUCH lower than I had anticipated.
Amazingly so.
So, we are now planning the next journey... 
Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Chock-A-Block Wednesday

Grandmother's Choice

This pattern makes a block 10 1/2" unfinished.

Fabric Requirements:

Fabric A: Rust
5 - 2 1/2" squares

Fabric B: Blue
4 - 2 1/2" squares
4 - 3 1/4" squares

Fabric C: Beige
4 - 3 1/4" squares - Mark
a diagonal line on back
4 - 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" rectangles

Make Half Square Triangles:
Pair Fabric B and Fabric C 3 1/4"
squares with right sides together.
Sew 1/4" away from each side of
drawn line.  Cut on drawn line and
press seam to the dark fabric. 
Square to 2 1/2".

Make Corner Units:
Layout units as shown and sew
together in 2 rows.  Press seam in
row 1 to the left and seam in row 2
to the right.

Sew rows together, press seam
open to reduce bulk.
Square to 4 1/2".
Make 4.

Assemble Block:
Layout units as shown and sew
together in 3 rows.  Press seams 
in rows 1 & 3 to the inside and seams
in row 2 to the outside.

Sew rows together and press
final seams open to reduce bulk.
Square to 10 1/2".