A little homemade soup

I’ve got a quick bonus post today – some homemade soup! I’m taking some much needed time away from the day job, and when I do have relaxed, uninterrupted time, I love to cook.

This recipe is Emeril’s Butternut Squash, Sausage and Wild Rice Soup, but if you want the original recipe the way he makes it, you’ll have to get it off the Food Network site. His version uses a lot more broth than I do; it also makes about twice as much, probably more.  Certainly too much for me to eat before I’m tired of it.

All ready for the freezer.
All ready for the freezer.

Here’s how I make it:

3 to 4 lbs, peeled, seeded butternut squash, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
Salt, freshly ground black pepper
2 cans chicken broth, or homemade stock
1 onion, diced
2 cups cooked wild rice
2-3 Italian sausage links, removed from their casings
1 cups frozen corn
1-1 1/2 cups half-and-half
bunch of chopped fresh parsley leaves (about 1/4-1/2 cup)

Put the cubed squash in a large pot with water to cover; add about 1/2 tsp. salt. When it begins to boil, cover the pot and simmer for about 10 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork. Drain and set aside.

In a soup pot, heat the olive oil and saute the onion for a few minutes until translucent. Add the sausage, breaking up into small chunks and cook until browned all over. Pour in 1 can of broth and add half the squash chunks. Pour the remaining can of broth into the leftover squash and mash it with a potato masher until reasonably smooth. Add this to the sausage mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Stir in the rice and corn, and continue to cook for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the half-and-half and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the parsley and serve. Or you can put it in individual containers like I do and freeze it.

I hope you enjoy this soup – and again, thanks for stopping by.



Homemade wool dryer balls

I recently learned about wool dryer balls – have you heard of them? Apparently, you pop five or six of these babies into the dryer and they cut your drying time in half, and soften your clothes without dryer sheets, fabric softeners or any other chemicals that could irritate your skin.

I saw them on The Sitting Tree website, but with a $25 price tag, I wasn’t too interested. I figured there had to be a tutorial on the web somewhere that would help me reduce — even if just by a few skeins — the mountains of yarn I have and save my too sensitive skin at the same time.

It’s a pretty simple process – just make a ball out of 100 percent wool until it’s about the size of a tennis ball, then put it into the toe of a leftover piece of pantyhose. Tie the hose tight with either dental floss or something non-wool, like embroidery floss. Add your next ball and tie the hose around it; eventually, you’ll end up with four netted balls encased like sausage.

Wash them in the hottest water you have, then dry them in the dryer and voilà! Instant dryer balls. (Thanks to Ginny at Small Things for her post on the Etsy store The Sitting Tree, where I first saw the balls, as well as to Leslie on The Seasoned Homemaker for her excellent tutorial.) Reports vary, but I read these last anywhere from a year to several years.

These aren't quite so bubblegum pink; they actually have a lot of orange in them.
While Leslie and others make their dryer balls in natural, non-dye colors, I thought I’d start with this yarn to see if I really liked them before digging any deeper in my stash. A color catcher should hopefully get rid of most of the irritants.

I also made a couple of balls out of gray yarn, but they didn’t felt too well and came apart in the dryer. Lesson learned? Make sure you roll the yarn tightly and whatever you use to tighten the pantyhose.

How did they work? I can’t say I noticed a whole lot of reduction in drying time, but they definitely worked as a fabric softener. That alone was worth using two $10 skeins of yarn.

I made a little more progress on Audrey’s quilt. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo of the back, so you’ll have to wait till it’s done, but here it is all pin basted. I was all ready to start quilting when my machine decided to go on the fritz. I hope it turns out to be something simple like user error, rather than $200, which is what it cost me last summer to fix for about the same problem (threads bunching up underneath). Otherwise, I may be in the market for a new machine. Anyone have any suggestions?

What you don’t see here is how I have only 1/4 inch left on the back. I hate to redo this, so I may just baste a straight line across to keep the three layers stable while I quilt.

Till next time, thanks so much for stopping by!


Life took me over

Life took me over the past few weeks – you know how it goes – more projects and things you have to do than time in a day? That’s been my story lately.

So, while not a lot of time for sewing, I did embark on another project, one I love sometimes more than the actual sewing, which is the organizing of the sewing. I wish I could remember which one, but while cruising along the quilt blogging universe one day, I came across a quilter who had all her fabric organized on comic book boards, which are basically acid-free, heavy-weight paper.

You fold the fabric lengthwise either once or twice to get it to the board height, which are almost as tall as letter-sized paper, then you wrap the fabric around the board, just like on a bolt. For multiple yardage, you can use two boards. Here’s a look at the result of a lot of ironing and folding:

021813-1That’s almost all of it, but given that the boards come in packets of 100 and I’m already on my third package, clearly I’ve got a lot of fabric to keep me happy. It was actually quite fun to revisit purchases I made when I first learned to quilt. Some of the patterns I bought the fabric for are ones I wouldn’t dream of making now, but at least I still love the fabric. I’ll have some photos and ideas in future posts for you.

I did manage to get a little more done on soon-to-be-baby Audrey’s quilt:

021813-2I would have had the top completed but discovered on the end pieces on two of the white block rows that my math was a little faulty. I trimmed 1/4″ on one side where I should have trimmed a 1/8″ on both. So, I’ll have to redo those four little blocks, as well as rearrange the duplicate stripe on the left side that will drive me crazy to leave as is.

Next, I’ll have to really decide on the quilt pattern since May — and Audrey — will be here before long. I’d love to hear your ideas – what do you think I should do? Let me know in the comment section or drop me a line at onemillionstitches-at-gmail-dot-com.

I’m so happy you stopped by for a visit!


Progress on Audrey’s quilt

Just a quick post today to show you how I’ve spent part of my afternoon, other than cooking or cleaning. I actually started sewing the baby quilt I mentioned in my last post using Amy Smart’s pattern, “Chain Linked.” Take a look:

This is up on my makeshift design wall, a felt-backed vinyl tablecloth attached with small nails. Not perfect, but it works until I can do something better.
This is up on my makeshift design wall, a felt-backed vinyl tablecloth attached with small nails. Not perfect, but it works until I can do something better.

I wasn’t sure I’d like working with the Kokka Japan fabric, since it’s got a little more heft to it than traditional quilting cotton, but I have to say I love it. It’s very stable, I don’t worry about it stretching as much as I do other fabrics.

I’m also going to deviate a little from the pattern in that I’ll do half chains on the white rows, rather than all light fabric like Amy does. It’s a great opportunity to fussy cut some of these wonderful circus critters. Unfortunately, I kept making stupid, but thankfully not irrevocable mistakes, so I don’t have any of these done yet, but next time, I promise!

I hope you all enjoy the big game today, whoever you’re rooting for. Me, I’m going to eat a bowl of some broccoli cheddar soup I just made and then get back to the machine, but I’m so glad you stopped by for a visit.