Friday, May 8, 2015

Lofty Goals in Domesticity

I have set three goals for this weekend:

1. Make an epic Mother's Day Cake
2. Create some heirloom tea towels.
3. Gluten Free Cookies

I am not qualified to attempt any of the above but that won't stop me from trying.  The cake is a strawberry vanilla checkerboard.  Here is picture of what I am going for:


Then for the icing I am going to try a new technique and go for a true ombre like the one below.






I looked at two tutorials on pinterest, first for the cake itself and the next for the icing.  Like everything DIY it seems ridiculously easy and totally within reach of possible.  However, if you have ever attempted anything on pinterest, you know that it is where good intentions go to die.

But, every now and again you stumble upon brilliance.  I made comic book heels once. They turned out pretty good.  The lasted for about a year, and then the modge podge comics started to crack and look less than awesome, but a year was a good run in my opinion.

That one small win has forever buoyed me into thinking I can attempt anything.  Case in point, my next project for the weekend is recipe tea towels.  If you aren't crafty and have the time, you can upload your photo of the recipe to Spoonflower and they will make the fabric for you. It's actually pretty reasonable prices, but I am short on time because this is for Mother's Day, so I have to go the DIY route.  But here is a photo of what I am attempting:

Here is the jist of it.  You get a photo of a recipe card that someone in your family hand wrote.  Then you get some flour sack tea towels which I thought would be really hard to find, but they are available at Walmart as a package of 5 for $8 or so.

You treat the tea towels in a mix of fabric softener, alum, arm and hammer washing soda (which IS hard to find, but I finally found it at London Drugs) and water.   Click the link above for details on quantities to make the concoction.

I did all of the above last night.  From a distance, the mixture makes your kitchen (provided that is where you are working) smell like laundry which is ok, but up close, it'll burn your nose hairs off.  From the "Lessons Learned" files, if you are making more than one tea towel, double of triple the recipe because the towels soak all of it up.

Once the tea towels soak, you rinse them off and air dry.   Tonight, I am onto the next step .  Blow up the photo of the recipe card to a size that matches the tea towels.  The ones from Walmart are HUGE. 30 inches by 30 inches.  So if you are good at sewing split those suckers in two.  I however am not, so it will stay big and I am going to write the recipe twice.

You then use a sharpie to trace the recipe onto the tea towel.  Because of the concoction treatment, the ink will not fade, or so goes the tutorial.   The cool thing is that by tracing the writer's handwriting it's a lasting memory of the person who wrote it, which is really amazing.  Here is the recipe from my Grandma Preston that I am going to use.  I was hoping to get her famous matrimonial cake (which everyone in the family ate at some point, it will forever remind me of her), however, we couldn't find a copy.

 Instead my cousin Jill found this coffee cake recipe.  It's great because it's Classic Grandma in that it is written on her own letterhead, with references to where she got it (Winnipeg Free Press, Report on Farming 1975).  It makes me smile that even when writing recipe's, Grandmas was sure to cite her sources.   Vera Preston was such a bad a**. She raised 3 boys in a small house (and even smaller budget) in the North End of Winnipeg, volunteered for everything, decided to learn how to play the organ in her 70s,  stayed active and lived alone until the ripe old age of 92. Even thinking of her now with all her lovely weird quirks makes me smile. I really miss her.

Creating something that will always remind me of her is definitely worth a go.    If all goes to sh*t, I can still use the tea towels, the fabric softener and washing soda.  The alum, not so much.  I think it is mainly used for preserving fruit cake, although I did read it can be used as a blood coagulant which is somewhat terrifying considering it's sold in the spice aisle.

Last but not least is the gluten free cookies.  My cousin Jill (who I simply adore and am very close to) recently got diagnosed with Celiac.  I read into everything and recent goings on gave me pause.  Jill and I were born a year and a day apart.  Her birthday is December 30, mine, December 31.  She got her Celiac diagnosis and a week and a day later, I got my Epilepsy diagnosis.  Both of us had been dealing for issues for a long time and both diagnoses took a long time to determine.  Strange eh?

Anyways, I wanted to make her something gluten free as a treat.  I found a gluten free mix for cookies, so I am going to see how it is.  My next attempt will be using gluten free flour alternatives from Bulk Barn, but I don't want to bite off more than I can chew this go round.   I called her husband last night to get the details.   Can I make them in my kitchen if I have flour/gluten in my kitchen?  Do I have to use pans that have never come in contact with gluten?  I didn't know how far we had to go.

Jason assured me that as long as everything was washed out ahead of time, it should be fine.  Jill also has issues with eggs/dairy, but this recipe only calls for one egg, so as long as she doesn't eat all the cookies in one fell swoop she should be ok.  But if you know Jill, she is very slender (she also has alabaster skin...so basically the polar opposite to my **ahem** curvy frame and olive skin)  and the idea that she would hunker down and snarf back a dozen cookies in one sitting is beyond laughable.

I am meeting Jill for breakfast tomorrow, so I will have to bake the cookies tonight. Fingers crossed that all my projects turn out well.  But hey, if they don't, I'll at least have fun trying.



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