zesty lemon bars – Spring is here!

Spring is finally here, and with all the warmth and sunshine I’ve been inspired to bake some zesty lemon bars. I’ve borrowed another recipe from Joy the Baker (here is the link to her page for the classic lemon bars recipe) and have included a few of my tips below.fromscratchhome_classiclemonsquares_1a

  • To get the lemon zest and juice I first used a vegetable peeler to peel a thin layer of the zest off (avoiding the white rind with that), finely chopped the zest, then sliced the lemon in half and squeezed the juice. I needed the juice of a whole large lemon to get the 1/4 cup the recipe calls for
  • when baking the crust it was still bubbling with butter at the 18 minute mark. This turned out to be fine. I thought it might have been something wrong with the recipe, but all was good in the end
  • before adding the filling to the hot crust, I stirred it once more, since the sugar had settled-out. This prevented the sugar from ending up in a lump in the middle
  • I cut the bars still in the pan – first trimming the edges (they are more decadent and chewy.. absolutely delicious! but didn’t look nice on the bars)
  • I suggest you wait several hours until the bars have completely cooled to give them a true taste test. They are all the more lemony with time!

I’m not sure I’m done with making lemon, or even other citrus fruit desserts yet this spring. There’s just something so refreshing about citrus after a long winter.

~ Leena

Flax – pull over sweater from the simple collection

I finished the flax pull over sweater this winter, and loved how easy the pattern was and the results. I highly recommend this project for anyone making their first sweater. It was a free pattern from Tin Can Knits, in their Simple Collection.The yarn used was Wool of the Andes Tweed, worsted weight, from Knit Picks. I made the 4 year old size, for my nephew (who is a big 2 year old ;) ).
~Leena

fromscratchhome_flax1a

Learning to knit, and why I knit

I recently saw a ‘learn to knit’ collection of knit patterns – The Simple Collection – designed by Tin Can Knits. It includes 8 patterns and free tutorials designed to teach you to knit.  What a fantastic idea! (And these knitted items look great too). I’ve been knitting for a few years now, and am a bit beyond learning the basics, but I love the style of the pullover pattern that is due to be released this September so I think I might knit one up for my nephew.

What I love most about knitting is the relaxing rhythm that you get into with the needles, the feel of the soft yarn in your fingers, and the satisfaction of time spent creating something to be used. Knitting also is very flexible with such a variety of projects from small to large, simple to complex, and an endless selection of fibers and colours to work with.

Oddly enough, when I learned the basics of knitting as I child, it didn’t make a lot of sense to me. After learning to crochet in my early 20′s I went back to knitting and suddenly understood what was happening with the various stitches and the yarn to make the fabric! If you have never understood knitting but would like to, perhaps learning the basic single or double chain in crochet might actually help!

If you’re starting to knit and have the basics learned, I have another suggestion: I’d recommend trying to knitting “continental style” instead of (or perhaps after learning) “British”. My mom taught me British, which is a great and easy way to learn but my tension was always off, resulting in unevenly knitted pieces. I also found I could knit a lot faster with continental style. It feels a bit awkward at first but the transition is well worth it! (in my opinion anyway ;)

~ Leena

Easy Peach Blueberry Pie – oh my!

Peaches are deliciously in season right now (as are blueberries), and I couldn’t resist buying a quart, or two… or three! I was inspired to make pastry… peaches and pastry – a glorious combination.

I don’t have very much experience making pie or pie crust… in fact, this is only my third attempt at making pie. I found this wonderful recipe for peach blueberry pie on Joy the Baker, and thought I’d give it a whirl. I found Joy’s recipe and instructions really easy to follow, and the results were amazing ( if I may say so… ;). The spices that are added (cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander) give this pie a subtle boost in flavour.

fromscratchhome_peachblueberrypie_1 fromscratchhome_peachblueberrypie_2

I modified the baking temperature and next time I would modify the amount of time in the oven as well. I baked the pie for 15 minutes at 400F and then 45 minutes at 350F (the recipe said 375F, but I went with 350F and I’m glad I did!!) but even with the lower temperature the crust edge was quite over-done. Next time I might take it out at 40 minutes.

So what have you been making with in-season fruit?

~ Leena

I’m back, finally

It’s been quite a while since I last posted on this blog, but finally I’m back!

I’ve been working on my Masters, and it is almost done. I hope to defend within a few weeks. The thesis, and other life events, consumed so much of my time that the blog was put on hold. Of course, it’s all worth it and I’m very excited to get back to more regular posts.

I don’t have anything to share just yet, but there are a few projects in the works. Just thought I’d get my feet wet again with a quick post for now.

~ Leena

knits, purls, and a whole lotta love

We may still have a few hot days of summer yet, but Fall is around the corner – I can feel it in the air – and with that returns my fervent desire to create warm clothing! It must be a survival instinct :)

At the same time, I don’t have a lot of free time. I’m trying to finish my Masters in the next 2-3 months, which will be a challenge to say the least. So, small projects it is. I decided to make a sweet baby sweater for the 5 month old daughter of my good friends. It was an extremely easy pattern to follow, and well worth the few dollars I paid to the designer (the pattern link is here on the Ravelry.com website). Continue reading

Soft grass and fresh spring air: a few photos to share

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This gallery contains 5 photos.

I’ve been a bit absent in writing on this blog, and I feel it’s about time I posted something new! These past months I’ve been very busy working toward finishing my Masters, but I’ve managed to get some fresh air … Continue reading

from scratch ideas in the Hunger Games

Aside

I just finished the Hunger Games book… I couldn’t put it down once I started (literally!!). I’ve always considered myself a slow reader, and it took me only 14hours to read (not too long really). I was in suspense the whole time, and completely immersed in the plot and characters. I thought Suzanne Collins did an excellent job of presenting just enough information to give you a good idea of what was going on in the plot, while letting your imagination fill in the other details. Continue reading

ginger garlic tea to help keep colds at bay

We’re now into March and while the cold and flu season should be almost over in Northern climates, it’s unfortunately not over just yet! I recently picked-up what seemed to be a really nasty cold for most people, but I think I’m managing to hold it at bay – it’s only mildly affecting me.

Usually I am the one who is the most down and out from a cold or flu, so why is this time different? Well, I immediately took lots of rest as soon as I felt it coming-on, but I also took vitamins, and made a LOT of this tea recipe I’m going to share with you. I made much more than I normally do, and I think it’s helping to fight this nasty cold!

Hopefully the name hasn’t thrown you off: ginger garlic tea. On it’s own the flavour might be too overwhelming, but I sweeten it with a big spoonful of honey, making it almost delightful!

  • In a small saucepan, heat 1 cup of water until boiling
  • add 1/2 tbsp finely chopped ginger, and 1 tbsp (2 cloves) finely chopped garlic
  • boil gently for 30 seconds more and then remove from heat
  • At this point you have 3 options:
    • [option 1: let everything steep, covered for 1-2 minutes]
    • [option 2: add 2 pinches of loose green tea, or a bag of green tea, if you don’t need to sleep right away; let steep for 1-2 minutes]
    • [option 3: add a bag of echinacea tea for extra cold fighting ability; let steep for time recommended on bag]
  • strain through a fine mesh strainer (or cheese cloth) into a mug
  • add a heaping teaspoon or tablespoon (to your liking) of honey
  • add a squirt of lemon juice (also optional)
  • give a good stir
  • enjoy!

I find that the honey and lemon are really good to sooth a sore throat. Garlic and ginger have natural properties that help fight colds. Garlic is said to be anti-biotic and anti-viral. Ginger is anti-inflammatory, helps reduce fevers, and encourages sleep.

So, why pay for expensive “cold remedy” teas, when you can likely make one that’s more effective (fresh ingredients!) on your own for much less money. If you don’t have one of the ingredients above I encourage you to make the tea with what you do have. Even just drinking lots of hot water is really good for fighting a cold! I wish you good health for the end of this cold season…we’re almost there!

easy quilted cover; protection for a fantastic, old stereo cabinet

Falling in love… with a piece of furniture

When my Opa (grandpa) moved out of his house there was some furniture left behind. It was great timing for me since I was moving back into the area to start my Masters, and I was in need of couches, a coffee table, kitchen table, etc, for my new apartment. While in the house to take the couches I noticed the stereo cabinet… and fell in love. I’ve never fallen in love with a piece of furniture before. But this was just so retro, yet modern. A piece of fine craftsmanship from the early 1960′s. Handmade from solid, hardwood maple. I had seen it many times as a child, but never appreciated it like this.

I immediately began to think of how to re-purpose this wonderful piece. A side board or buffet? Storage for liquor and glasses? Perhaps just re-fitted with a new stereo system Continue reading