This week has gone fast and while I’ve done very little sewing, I have taken care of lots of loose ends. Compared to my family living in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles, I have nothing to complain about. They are dealing with brush fires that are out of control. Today there are 7 fires, including some now in San Diego. I can vividly recall fires every few years while I was growing up in L.A. My best friend at the time, Tracy, had her same house burn down, twice. The day after the second fire, my Dad drove me past her street. All we could see was the flattened wreckage of her entire block, and her house was destroyed except for the brick chimney which was still standing. I’ll never forget that image.
I can also recall one year, when I was possibly in Middle school, where fires surrounded the mountains all around the valley. You couldn’t go in or out of the area, and the thick, smoky air hung around. Ashes were everywhere, blowing around and kept us covered with dust. We couldn’t be outside for long. The sun turned bright red through the haze, making it feel as though we were all in a spooky horror movie. Though many years have since passed, the infamous Santa Ana winds have not let up and those strong and extremely dry currents continue to stoke small fires into furious infernos. In past years, the fires would ususally blow towards the ocean, ultimately making them unable to continue. This time, the fires are blowing in other directions, away from the sea. Veteran firefighters say that they’ve “never seen anything like it before.” I think I’ll take their word for it.
So what does that have to do with cookies? Well, on Thanksgiving Day several years ago, my “Auntie” Esther had a fire in her condo that left her unable to live there for several months. (The fire started not from winds, but from a household issue.) Just before the fire began, she had baked some particular cookies, which our family refers to as Kmish.
Digression that informs the story I’m telling here….What we call Kmish, some call Mandelbroidt, but most folks refer to these cookies as Biscotti. Traditional biscotti have almonds, are meant to be crisp and dry in order to best dunk them in a drink before eating. The important detail for this story is that the cookies are baked once and then either baked again or left in a cold oven to dry out!
After the firefighters came, sprayed chemicals, water and who-knows-what in her house… my Aunt chose to still have Thanksgiving dinner with the family. What a good sport! My Dad arrived to pick her up and then she asked him….. “I can still use the drying out Kmish in the closed oven, right? ” If you know Esther like many of us do, you would understand that she was serious!! Thank goodness, my Dad answered her with a resounding, no!!!!
So, what does this have to do with quilts? Well, Carol from Justletmequilt.com has been hosting the Virtual Cookie Exchange this week. Check out the variety of cookie recipes that have been posted, including fudge and a caramel sauce too! Along with the recipes, many talented bloggers have submitted fabric projects, tutorials and also written about lovely family holiday traditions.
As I think about all those dealing with fire tragedies back home, I feel as though I want to share my own recipe. Of course, mine is for those very same Kmish/Biscotti that my Aunt couldn’t part with after her fire.
If the dough is too soft, add just a bit more flour. If you don’t have chocolate chips, just use nuts. Kmish, Mandelbroidt or Biscotti. Call them whatever you want, but they are yummy. Dip half of them in chocolate, make them with dried fruit and nuts if you choose…or keep them simple. You can’t go wrong with a classic.
Kmish Biscotti Recipe
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 cup chocolate chips (I like more and even prefer to use mini chips if I have)
- cinnamon and sugar mixture
- optional: chopped nuts
Heat oven to 350º F.
- Combine butter and sugar in mixer. Beat and scrape bowl often until creamy. Add eggs. Add flour and baking powder. Beat at low spread until well mixed. Stir in chocolate chips and optional nuts. If the dough is too soft for next step, add just a little more flour.
- On a parchment-lined baking sheet, divide the dough into two logs about 2-4 inches apart lengthwise. Sprinkle the raw dough logs lightly with cinnamon/sugar mixture.
- Bake 20-25 minutes or until tops are cracked and log ends just start to turn light brown. Remove from oven, reduce oven temperature to 325º F. Cool logs 10 minutes on cookie sheet.
- Carefully remove logs to cutting surface. (I usually just leave mine right on the cookie sheet.) Cut into 1/2 inch slices with a sharp serrated knife Arrange pieces on cookie sheet, cut-side down. Put back into oven and continue baking 12-14 minutes, turning once if you feel like it. (I sometimes just stay lazy and leave them as is.) When cookies are lightly brown and crisp on both sides, remove them from the oven and cool completely. These freeze very well. Makes about 4 dozen or so, depending on how thick you slice them.
Crayon Challenge Quilt
Many people are busy sewing things inspired by the upcoming holidays and I am just sewing everything as usual. I am working on a few charitable things that are ongoing throughout the year. This project is for my friend Amy’s amazing endeavor, A Doll Like Me. The inspiration for this quilt came from a challenge. I asked my artsy son to blindly pick 4 random crayons for me to use as colors. (Turns out I had meant basic Crayola’s but you can see the winning colors here, and they’re not just everyday crayons, are they!? Truth be told, I would never have made a quilt with these colors if not for his input.
I began somewhat skeptical, but still began in earnest. I dug out some Authentic Sweetwater text fabrics and other lovely prints that matched as well. I sewed a simple patchwork design with the main black and purple colors, tossed in a few green squares for pop. and then bordered the sides with a nice green print. My dilemma was where to put the yellow, which kept fighting with me. Once I discovered the yellow fabric could be the finished binding, then I knew this quilt was a huge success!
I honestly love this quilt so much. It would be fabulous in a larger size…and that would be mine for keeps. I quilted the squares with some curves, and made loops on the borders but tried to keep things “real and simple”. I allowed the bold fabrics speak for themselves. Given the results of stepping out of my color comfort zone, I will need to try another crayon challenge again soon!!