It’s called fishing, not catching!

Well, I haven’t been making much of anything these days.  July is such a busy month up here.  I’ve had out-of-state visitors and vacations and sunshine and work and other things to do!  So I’m playing a little catch-up– this is about a quick little fishing trip I took earlier this month.

I had been fishing before, but wasn’t feeling confident enough to head out on my own.  So when my mom’s cousins invited me to crash a cabin they were renting on the Kenai river and go fishing, I jumped at the offer!  I found a fly rod and reel setup at Cabela’s (on sale!) and then found a pair of waders.  I had a bunch of other gear already so I dug it out of my closet and hit the road.

  That’s my second cousin, Allan, slaying ’em out there on the Kenai River!

  Here’s the fish I caught!  Just one.  I should have spent more time out there!  Right after this pic I got some personal fish cleaning lessons!  Sure is nice to have a little fish in the freezer AND feel like I can tie my own knots and clean my own fish!  Gonna be looking for some silver salmon this year too!

Seems like most of Anchorage headed down to the Kenai peninsula and fish and dipnet so I hit a lot of traffic coming back.  Not a bad day to be stuck in a beautiful place though!

And Bentley was so excited to be home and in her own yard!

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Sourdough Resources

I first read about sourdough starters in my Cooking Alaskan cook book.  The cookbook said: don’t worry about making something from your starter every day.  Sometimes you just have to throw away the discarded starter and you shouldn’t feel bad about it.  So I don’t!

In case you’re not familiar, sourdough is a wild strain of yeast that is kept alive with regular feedings of flour and water and kept under control by a symbiotic relationship with a strain of bacteria (lactobacilli).  King Arthur Flour has a lot of great info about sourdough.  (You’ll find that every source tells you different things!  Pick and choose and find a system that works for you and don’t worry too much about finding a “right” way.  Similarly, what I’m posting here is what has worked for me– I’m not claiming to be an expert on sourdough starters, but I have done a lot of research!)

I first started the starter with commercial yeast.  (I know!  Sacrilege!)  The thing about sourdoughs is even if you have a starter from, say, San Francisco, eventually the wild yeasts in your area will win out anyway.  So it’s cool to say your starter has been around for many many years and maybe over time they develop some extra depth of flavor…  but it’s really not a big deal to start your own.

I was feeding my starter and taking care of it and all of a sudden it just stopped being bubbly.  I have a couple theories: 1) I was feeding it according to my schedule and refrigerating it and not really understanding what was going on and 2) Perhaps the commercial yeast died off and the wild yeast wasn’t quite strong enough to take over.

Then I came across the Sourdough Start-along on Serious Eats.  It’s got really great info mixed in with all the steps!  The biggest takeaways I got from this site:

  • Weigh your ingredients.  I’m getting really consistent results with 1 oz of water and 1 oz of flour.
  • Stir it!  Especially if you suspect it’s sick.
  • My bread recipe! (Day 9 and Day 10)
  • No real reason to discard unless you just have too much starter.

Even if you get your starter from someone, the starter-along is worth reading.  The only thing I don’t think they’re clear about is the importance of feeding the starter enough– they instruct you to just keep feeding it until you run out of room.  But if you have 8 oz of starter and you’re feeding it just 1 oz flour, 1 oz water, you’re starving the starter.  You can smell this– the starter starts smelling acidy and less yeasty and bready.

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Here’s my starter enjoying his evening meal. I use a dough whisk because I’m fancy.

I took my “sick” starter and started following some of the principles (weighing my ingredients and more stirring!)… and it was bubbling away in just a few days.  Anyway, a few months and mishaps later and I’m still keeping my starter alive!  I’ll gather my favorite recipes, experiences with refrigeration and drying starter and share those in separate posts.  There’s so much to write about!  GOOD LUCK and have fun!

 

Sourdough Excitement!

Let me tell you a tale about how I really screwed up my sourdough starter…

First of all, I’m planning on gathering my sources and writing up a more in-depth post about sourdough and my starter, but I think that will have to wait.  I was thinking of that more in-depth post when I snapped a few shots of my sourdough starter:

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Let me tell you, there are few things LESS exciting to photograph than sourdough starter.  You can see it has risen and sunk back down– ready for another meal of flour and water!   I usually keep it out on my counter under that (*lucky*) towel.

My Mom and Dad came up to visit recently and I couldn’t wait for them to taste my sourdough bread and my sourdough pancakes.  In fact, I was so excited that I made pancakes with ALL THE STARTER.  I know everyone says you can start a starter with what’s left on the spoon or bowl, but I was nervous about the eggs and sugar and everything…  My starter has only ever been flour and water!  Plus, I had a tiny bit of dried starter that I had put away a few weeks ago, so that seemed like the better solution.  We were going out of town so I mixed up the dried starter with a little water and flour, put it in the fridge before we left and hoped for the best.

Nothing happened while we were gone!  I was n.e.r.v.o.u.s!  Alas, this story has a happy ending.  I took it out of the fridge and fed it and the next day it was bubbling away again!  And in a few short days I was even able to pack up a little starter for Mom to take home and play with!

Happy sourdough-ing!  I’m making a loaf of bread tonight!

Easy Finish!

Yesterday I spent some time going through some bins of fabric in order to consolidate, organize and get rid of fabrics I’m just not feelin’.

I had a big rubbermaid tote full of all kinds of things.  Rug padding, home dec fabrics, sparkly mermaid fabrics, everything.  At the bottom I found this bag I started YEARS ago.  It’s made from the Amy Butler Blossom Bag pattern and also Amy Butler fabric because I cannot resist it.

So tonight I ironed it back into a normal shape (whoops) and assessed what needed to be done.  Turns out it only needed the inside pockets sewn together!  I was pumped!  But as soon as I got going I remembered why it wasn’t done before.  It’s just sooo many layers of thick fabric it hardly even fits under the presser foot.  😦  And I think I got frustrated with it and then thought “I’d never even have the guts to carry such a brightly-colored shoulder bag!” and put it to the side.  I’m a few years older now and I’m definitely going to use this (even for just a few times, haha!).

I switched to my darning foot (has the most clearance), did the best I could, sacrificed a few needles…  and it’s done!

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Here’s the inside.  The pockets should be spaced differently…  but it was so hard to keep it together and I’ve gone through enough needles that it’s gonna have to do.  One of the pockets is just open and one has a zipper.  Then they divide up the main body… but I didn’t tack down the bottoms, so they just kind of flap around.  It’s done enough to use and that’s 100% better than being unfinished at the bottom of a rubbermaid bin!  No one sees the inside anyway. 😉

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I love the detail at the straps!

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What I sewed today: June Block of the Month

This year I joined a block-of-the-month club at a local quilt shop!  I  paid a flat fee and then I have to pay if I miss a month or don’t finish my block from the previous month.  I figure it’ll get me to sit down at my machine at least once a month and it has!  And it’s been fun!  The blocks are a challenge but a fun challenge.

So…  once a month I sit down with a pile of fabrics and a bunch of rulers and get cutting!

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I picked the “Alaskan Wildflowers” colorway.  The main fabric– those wildflowers– are in every block.

They give good cutting instructions but not enough fabric to cover even one mistake!  So you have to be pretty careful.

The other thing is they use Marti Michell’s “templates,” which are numbered templates for every shape you’ll need.  When I signed up they said “do you want to buy the templates?  Most people buy the templates.” I said I’d try it without (after all, I find the measuring and cutting pretty fun and it would have nearly doubled the cost of the club!) and she said “you’ll probably end up buying them later.”  …Which sounded like a challenge.

I haven’t bought the templates!

I won’t buy the templates!

But anyway… it’s cool if you use the templates.

I hardly ever sit at my cutting mat, but for these, I have a seat and take my time…  and soon enough I had stacks that looked like this:

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Another fun thing is we can swap out the fabrics they give us for other fabrics.  Last month there was a fabric I just didn’t like, so I ended up switching it out.  If you use it at least twice it all looks intentional, so I swapped out a dark red for this blueberry fabric.

Everything went together pretty uneventfully…  we did have to “swirl” a seam, which I understood but still had to google.  It makes the seam lay flatter when you have lots of layers.

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And we sewed some weird shapes that I’m not used to sewing!  But it turns out it’s because that big triangular white piece gets sewn on last.

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Here it is!  All sewn up.  You can see the tiny picture they give us– theirs was red on red and mine ended up more blue on blue… and I really like it!

Here’s the progress so far.  I’ve done 6 months, 6 more to go!  I’ve already started planning how I want to finish it up and set the blocks.  I know I want them to be on-point (diamonds instead of squares).  It sure is pretty!

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All in all, a fun Saturday activity!

Hi ya!

Welcome!  My name is Aimee and I like to make things.

selfie!
oh hey there!

At the risk of over-explaining, I thought I’d start with a few thoughts about this blog.

In Alaska, newcomers are called “cheechakos” and old-timers are “sourdoughs.”  I’ve been in Alaska since 2008 and finally feel like I can shed my “cheechako” label.  I’m not quite sure I’ve experienced enough to call myself a Sourdough just yet but I’m getting there!

I love to quilt and one of the things I really love about it is the connection to the past.  I can make quilts using the same techniques, patterns and technology that have been in use for over 100 years and generations of my family.  Though I appreciate the heritage and traditional quilts, my quilts have a decidedly fresh and modern feel to them.

Recently, I started keeping a sourdough starter, which is a way of leavening bread that’s been in use for thousands of years.  It lends a rhythm to my kitchen and makes really great pancakes.  The bread I’m making gets an overnight rise in the fridge.  The more time it takes to rise and rest, the more “sour” it becomes.  So “fresh sourdough” is a bit of an oxymoron!

I hope to share some of the projects I’m working on.  On any given weekend I’m building something in my shed, sketching/designing quilts or furniture, sewing or baking.  I hope to share all this with you!  (and also save for my own use later!)

Here are some pics of things I found on my phone that may give you some hints of what’s to come:

hexies!
my recent obsession with hexies and english paper piecing
umber ella ella ella
This umbrella table I made!
rainbow chips
That time I made rainbow chip frosting from scratch because they don’t sell it any more
colorful zippers!
that I’m buying my zippers in bulk now
bedrooms
my beautiful bedroom wall colors!
CAD and quilting
how I love to design quilts in CAD!
quarter square triangles
Quilts I’ve made, quilts I am making, quilts I am going to make…
BOM
the blocks I make with a block-of-the-month group at a local quilt shop
built-ins
This built-in dresser and shelves I built to fill an awkward nook in my bedroom
sourdough
Sourdough bread and other baking adventures!