Tuesday, December 21, 2010

From our house to yours - Recipes for yummy cookies

These are some of our favourite cookies because they not only taste yummy, they look good on a plate. The round balls are Chocolate Carousels, a peanut butter ball full of fruit and nuts topped with chocolate. No baking and simple enough for kids to make. The white looking Lemon Squares are a shortbread base with a lemon topping that can be thrown in the blender whirred and poured over the crust. I keep a bottle of lemon juice on hand so I can whip these up whenever necessary. The pretty mincemeat poinsettias, are a twist on the usual mincemeat tarts that make a festive addition to a cookie plate.

Chocolate Carousels

1 cup peanut butter
1 tablespoon soft butter
I cup icing sugar
1/2 cup (scant) chopped dates
1/2 cup chopped pecans or filberts (filberts were used)
1/2 cup drained maraschino cherries chopped
Cream together the peanut butter, butter and icing
sugar and fruit and nuts and form into 1 inch balls.
Melt 4oz of semi sweet chocolate and drip over balls.

Lemon Squares

1 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup powdered icing sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
Cream butter and sugar together then add flour until
thoroughly mixed and press into a 13x9 inch pan.
Bake at 350 F 20-25 minutes until just starting to
brown as it will be returned to the oven when the
topping is added.

Beat together
4 eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice (fresh or bottled), if using fresh
add the grated lemon zest for extra flavour.
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup all purpose flour
I do the topping in the blender adding the ingredients
one at a time as it's running, finishing with the lemon
juice as the blender starts to have difficulty working.
Return to the over for another 25 minutes or more
until the top is set. I time it for 25 minutes and start
watching until the centre is set and firm to the touch.
Sprinkle with icing sugar, cool and cut.

Mincemeat Poinsettias

1 cup margarine
1 8 oz pkg cream cheese
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
bottle of mincemeat
maraschino cherry pieces
Cream together butter and cheese. Beat in eggs and
vanilla. Combine flour and baking powder. Stir into
mixture. Form a stiff dough. cover and chill. Roll out
half of mixture into 1/8 thick rectangle. Cut into 3 inch
squares, slit from corners. Put a dollop of mincemeat
in centre, and fold down alternate corners and press
a cherry in centre. Return excess dough to
refrigerator. Repeat with second half.
Bake at 375 for 12-14 minutes.

Guaranteed to add on pounds, but it's a celebration and now and then, we're allowed to splurge. By the way, the holly in the corner of the placemat is a larger variation of the pattern for the skates done in size 10 thread.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

A gift for you

This year I decided not to send snowflakes in our Christmas cards and I tatted ice skate ornaments instead. Eight pairs of teeny tiny skates were made. One thing I've noticed with tatting is that the details can often take as much time as tatting the whole project. Tatting skates takes a whole lot more time than a snowflake, mostly because we have 2 feet and need 2 skates. I thought I'd make these skates wearable instead of as ornaments, so I added a tiny pair of holly leaves to hide the bar fastener behind them. An extra pair of tatted holly leaves with red beads for berries and an itsy bitsy bell. I would have rather used 2 bells so that they jingled more and I could have put them on the skates, but I didn't have enough bells and couldn't find a store that had more of them that tiny. (I'll bet that after Christmas I see them everywhere I go.)

I expect these to be worn, maybe on a coat and they may get wet, so I thought the usual paperclips that form the blade of the skates might rust. When I found these red plastic coated paperclips, I thought they were perfect. Making tiny blades for skates, lacing up tiny little boots, tatting minuscule holly leaves and sewing on the bar fastener took almost as much time as tatting the skates, but finally they were done. TA DA! Tatted ice skates.

I thought you might like to tat a pair of your own, so here is the pattern. The whole thing is mostly rings of 4-4 and chains of 2 except for the chains at the toe and heel on the first row, and at the toe on the second row; which are 3.
Corrected pattern

An experienced tatter probably doesn't need anything more than the diagram, but some people might find a little more instructions helpful especially with the shaping of a 3D object. The first 3 rings at the toe all join into the picot of the first ring and when you are finishing and inserting the paperclip blade, that's where the paperclip is inserted, so make sure the picot isn't too small I used all same size picots. The three rings at the heel are made the same way, so make sure that picot isn't tiny either. Then when you make the second side of the sole of the skate the rings are joined to the matching ring on the first side. End with a shuttle join, and split ring to climb into the second row.

On the second row join each ring into the base of the ring on the first row. End with a shuttle join and split ring to climb into the third row.

The third row shapes the top of the foot. After the split ring, (no chain) tat another ring joining it to the base of the ring at the tip of the toe, then tat a third ring joining it to the base of the next ring. Think of it like a clover leaf. Then tat a chain of 2 and one ring joined to the base of the ring on one side of the foot and switch shuttles to tat the ring on the other side of the foot. Chain 2 and tat the next pair of rings, one on the left and one on the right. Then chain 2 and continue tatting ring and chain around the top of the shoe finishing with chain 2 shuttle joined between the last pair of left and right rings.

Row 4 begins the boot with a split ring. This split ring marked with an asterisk is the new front of the boot. Chain 2 and tat the next ring joining it to the base of the ring along the side of the boot. continue working around the boot ending with chain 2 shuttle joined into the top of the front ring. You should have 10 rings and 10 chains.

Row 5 and 6 begin with a split ring and are just a repeat of rings joined to the base of the ring on the previous row and chains. Make sure that you have 10 rings and chains on both rows.

Finish by breaking off the excess part of the paper clip and insert the remaining overlapping section one end in front and one end in back. Then use a strand of contrasting thread and lace up the front of the boot and tie a tiny bow at the top. Repeat for the second boot and tat a chain of about 30 stitches to join the two skates together.

Just an additional note, these were tatted with size 20 thread and measure about 1.25 inches.

The holly leaves that were used as an excuse to hide the bar pin at back are just cloverleaves joined together. You tat the first cloverleaf and do a shoelace tie before doing the next ring or you end up with a wreath shape instead of holly. Tat the next 2 rings, one with each shuttle and the last ring as a split ring. If you want to add 3 beads between the leaves the beads need to be on the shuttle before you start. They're tiny leaves that take only a small amount of thread, so you could unwind the shuttle and add them on in the middle. Slide the beads into place and do another shoelace tie, then tat the split ring starting the second leaf and tat one ring with each shuttle, joining the 2 leaves together at the side, followed by another shoelace tie and a final cloverleaf joining the last ring to the first cloverleaf of the second leaf. This same design can be made larger just by increasing the stitch count to 3,4, 5, 6 etc. and it still seems to work.