Monday, December 6, 2010

We Have Wee Dogs, Marilyn, and Silly Walks!

I'm going to skip the long explanation in regards to my (rather lengthy) absence, and just say simply that I've been incredibly, very sick the last several months. And while I'm not out of the woods yet, I'm am better for the time being.

So, what has the old Scone Gunman been up to, craft-wise? Not much until recently.

I should have been working on crafting Christmas gifts at least a month ago, but the health thing kept me away. However, this past week I finally gathered up some strength, borrowed a dash of motivation, and got cracking on gifts.

One of them flopped. We won't talk about that one, okay?

I have four or five gifts in various stages of undress. Mostly finished but needing something like, say, a frame. I squandered valuable gift-crafting time by starting an embroidery for myself:

I'm a bad person. Wait- redemption!

For my mother's birthday (which also happens to be this month), I embroidered her dog. As in, I embroidered a picture. I didn't embroider *on* the dog.

The tag is embroidered with the initials 'PL', because the dog's name is Penny Lane. It's modified from a Gina Matarazzo pattern.

And for my mother's...boyfriend? Partner? For the guy my mother lives with (that'll do), who happens to be a Monty Python fan (like myself), I stitched the Ministry of Silly Walks plaque:

One of those 'just add a frame' deals.

Is there more? Oh, Cthulhu help you, yes! I've been a crafting fool. In the next day or so I'll post some of my other finished projects, like the prettyful pink neck warmer I also made for my mumsy, as well as my handy dandy, homemade Christmas cards.

Friday, July 16, 2010

It's Alive! And So Am I!

It's been a bit since my last post. Despite rumors to the contrary, I have not fallen from the curve of the earth. As I know everyone out there understands all too well, life sometimes finds a way to insert its own special brand of commercial interruption.

Me, I've been dealing with health issues, which have kept me from my most beloved-est baking. These issues should not have interfered with crafting, but I must confess to an extreme case of laziness. As much as I want to pull out some embroidery or cross-stitch, there's something about the idea of actually going to my working basket and picking out a project that seems more daunting than...well, something daunting.

And while I'm confessing (I've got the Catholics beat on this, I think), I should tell you that what I have been doing is so very, very important. Okay, so I've been glutting myself on Buffy via Netflix. But it could be important. Maybe. I'll figure out how and get back to you.

Until I'm back up and running at a normal pace again, I'll leave you with a couple pictures of one of my current projects. It's a free-form sampler that I have no direction for at all. I'm just seeing where the floss takes me, having fun experimenting with new stitches along the way. Although, I've thus far only used French knots and ribbed spiderweb stitch.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Chainmail Belly Dance Belt

No one will ever accuse me of being a hand model. Between the baking burns, constant OCD hand washing, and working with chainmail, I officially have the worlds ugliest, roughest hands. No joke. My husband can confirm. We're talking wicked witch territory here.

But in the end it's worth it, because my family gets delicious baked goods, my therapist is still in business, and I get awesome chainmail pieces like this one.

All it took was a bag of jump rings, two kinds of pliers, calloused hands, focus, and a Buffy marathon.

Of course, it doesn't have to be for belly dancers only (although that's what I'll use it for). It could be worn to the Ren Faire, for LARP, or just because it's awesome.

This is my first chainmail adventure. You see, last Christmas our oldest son decided he wanted to learn to make chainmail armor. Being wondiferous parents, me an my husband bought him a very large bag of jump rings. He was very excited about them. So excited that he never did anything with them, deciding it was too hard. Or too boring. I'm not clear on that one.

Seeing that pricey bag of metal sitting there not living up to it's potential got me itching (the mosquitoes are bad this time of year). I should go online, research the history of chainmail, study patterns and refference until I have a solid, sound knowledge base.

Or I'd just grab some pliers and start putting rings together.

And I have to say that I'm very pleased with the final result, and that I've developed a love for this particular craft.

Even if my hands hate me for it.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


It's a sugar cookie. No, it's a snickerdoodle. It's neither! It's both!

It's a sugardoodle!

I've been making these for a long time now, and I've been holding out on you. Grown-ups can be so cruel.

What these cookies are (besides one of my favorite cookies, ever) is a sugar cookie/snickerdoodle hybrid (I guess you already sussed that one out, huh?). And it's really so good, if I haven't already told you that. My memory fails.

They're really good. Sugary but not too sweet, cinnamon-y without being overbearing, just crisp enough around the edges and soft and chewy inside.

They're really good. You should make them.

(makes about 4 dozen)

1 1/3 c unsalted  butter
1 1/2 c  sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 1/2 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

3 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon

Preheat you oven to 350 degrees (f) and parchment a baking sheet(s).

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add the eggs one at a time, incorporating each one well before adding the next. Mix in vanilla. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together, then mix with the wet ingredients. In a separate, smaller bowl, mix together the 3 Tbsp of sugar and cinnamon.

Measure out 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough, roll into the cinnamon/sugar mixture, place on baking sheet and bake 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to set on sheet for a minute before removing to a wire rack to cool.

These will stay soft and chewy and perfect for about 5 days in an airtight container of some sort. They'll keep much longer, but won't taste as good after 5 days.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sour Cherry and Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

I'm going to tell you a secret. If you add fruit and oatmeal to anything, anything, even if it contains two whole sticks of butter and nearly two cups of sugar, you can then call it healthy and feel very good about yourself and your superior self control.

Or, you can pretend, at least.

So maybe they're not exactly healthy, though they do have some healthy components. But who cares? These cookies are mighty tasty, and that's all me and my taste buds need to know.

Sour Cherry and Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
(makes about 2 1/2 dozen)

1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter (softened)
1 c light or dark brown sugar (packed)
1/2 c white sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3 c old fashioned rolled oats
1 c dried sour cherries (chopped)
3/4 c chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli dark chocolate)

Preheat your oven to 350 (f) and line your baking skeet(s) with parchment paper.

Cream together the butter and sugars until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, incorporating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, then stir in the rolled oats. Finally, mix in the cherries and chocolate chips.

Drop by 1 1/2 tablespoonfulls onto the baking sheet and cook 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to set up on the cookie sheet for 2-3 minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool.

Notes: You can, of course, customize this recipe until the cows come home (and if you've never had cows, that could be a lot of customizing). Add nuts, peanut butter chips, different fruit, coconut, you name it. You can also easily increase the amount of fruit added.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Belgian Waffles

I'll drive you nuts repeating myself, and I know you and everyone else out there already knows, but I'll risk your ire. I love breakfast foods.

There, I said it. Again.

I eat breakfast every day, usually more than once. Sure, there's the typical morning breakfast, but what would the day be without a "light snack" like egg-in-a-hole? Or an impromptu batch of French toast at 8:00 at night?

It would be a day not truly lived, is what.

What I've been missing (sorely) are waffles. I've been wanting a waffle iron for a while now, and, if you wish hard enough (and it's your birthday and your husband loves you and puts up with your food geekery) you'll wake up one fine Tuesday morning with UPS at your door holding a box with another box inside. And in that last box is a waffle iron.

And it was good.

So I had to jump in right away. I removed the waffle iron from its box immediately, gave it a washing, and then set to work making waffle batter.

So maybe I'm no expert yet, but my first batch (what you see in the picture) came out beautifully, tasted fantastic, and is currently freezing very well.

After some experimenting, I'll return with a recipe I find fit to share. Until then, here's the recipes I used: AllRecipes Waffles I.

Soft Pretzels

 He's a fatty, the little Brando, but I love him anyway

I have a confession. Come closer.

Closer. I don't want anyone else to hear.

Ok, here it is. I love soft pretzels, and for years...

I bought the frozen kind in the big blue box. You know the ones.

I'm ashamed. Deeply. But I've changed! Repented! I have seen the light (inside my oven. Before it burned out). I've been making my own soft pretzels for about a year now, and could never, ever go back to "those" pretzels.

These are very similar to that iconic pretzel you can buy in the mall, the one that goes perfectly with a large Orange Julius (and I have the recipe for that, also! Thank you FN magazine).

The key to the recipe is the baking soda bath. Really crucial. Skip it, and you'll have nothing more than plain white bread twisted into a pretzel shape. And that's no fun. And your children won't love you as much anymore if you try to pass it off on them. You'll get evil looks, I promise.

Don't skip it.

You know what else I love about these? You can freeze them. You can make up a big batch, wrap them individually, and then freeze them for later.

I love freezing delicious things for later.

Soft Pretzels
(makes a dozen)

1 1/2 cup warm water (about 115 f)
4 tsp yeast*
1/2 c plus 1 Tbsp sugar (divided)
5 c all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil

For baking soda bath:
1 qt hot water
1/4 c baking soda

Kosher salt (optional)

In a large cup or bowl, proof the yeast with the 1 1/2 c warm water and 1 Tbsp sugar for 10 minutes. While that's proofing, sift together the flour, salt, and 1/2 c sugar. Add the yeast mixture and oil to the dry ingredients and stir until the dough comes together. Knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth, about 6-8 minutes.

Put the dough into a lightly greased bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap until doubled, 1-2 hours (the warmer it is in your home, the faster the yeast will rise).

Once the dough has doubled, preheat your oven to 450 (f) and start the quart of water barely simmering in a pan on the stove. Turn the dough out to de-gas it. Cut into 12 equal pieces (cut in half, then each half in half, then cut those four pieces into three equal pieces). Roll each piece into a thin rope (about 20" long), and then shape into a pretzel. Prepare racks for drainage (I use cooling racks). Add the baking soda to the water and give it a quick stir. Add each pretzel to the water (1-3 at a time, depending on the size of your pan) and let soak there for about 15 seconds (they'll float to the top). Remove and let drain for a few minutes on the rack.

Place the pretzels on a parchment lined baking sheet, sprinkle with kosher salt, and bake for 8-9 minutes, until golden brown.

*I always fail to mention that when I list yeast as an ingredient, I use the standard Fleischman's active dry yeast (not instant).

Notes: You can do quite a lot with these. Melt some butter and then brush it on the tops of the pretzels when you take them out of the oven (you'll never look back). Sprinkle on some rosemary, or some cinnamon sugar. Go nuts.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Plum Jam Cinnamon Rolls

Nothing too new here, as I've already posted my cinnamon roll recipe (see Sandwich Bread and Cinnamon Rolls From One Batch of Dough). This time I decided I'd follow The Pioneer Woman's* lead (who was following Deb of Smitten Kitchen's* lead) and add some jam to them. Plum jam, specifically, which is one of my favorite types of jam.

If you haven't had it, you should remedy that. Like, five minutes ago.

And in other news, I've been saying it over on the Twitter for a few weeks now, but I will soon (really. No, really) post my snickerdoodles recipe. If you've never heard me go on and on about them on Twitter (and if you haven't, lucky you), snickerdoodles are just about my favorite cookie. They're simple and perfect.

I make them way too often. You should too.

*These two women, by the way, are so amazing that if you don't start following them religiously (if you don't already), I will hunt you down and give you a bare-assed spanking. The fact that they were in the same kitchen together without creating a rip in the space-time continuum by virtue of their combined awesomeness alone is astounding.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Delightful Scones

Because scones can only be delightful, m'right?

So, with a name like 'The Scone Gunman', you'd think I'd have posted more scone recipes by now.

It's true that I'll shove just about any baked good into my pie hole without a second thought. However, that isn't the case with scones. I'm pickier about those tasty little dandies. Some scones are just too dry, and some scones are no more than small cakes pretending to be scones (and they should be prosecuted for identity theft, the crafty jerks).

I've been using the same scone recipe for a long time now, as it was just about perfect for my tastes. But I tried something a little different with them today, and thank Cthulhu, I'm glad I did! These are my new go-to, basic scones.

 See, scones don't have to be triangular. In fact, they prefer circular. Fact.

Now, don't make the mistake of taking "basic" to mean boring or bland. I assure you the contrary is the case! By basic, I mean without backup singers like chocolate chips or blueberries. These are utterly fantastic all alone, with just a bit of butter or jam, if you're so inclined.

However, they won't mind some company (they told me as much). Throw in those chocolate chips or blueberries, or maybe lemon or raspberries or rosemary. Go to town!

The Scone Gunman's Delightful Scones
(Makes about 10 scones)

2 1/2 c flour
4 tsp baking powder
3/4 c sugar
1 (generous) tsp salt
12 Tbsp (1&1/2 stick) salted butter (very cold and cubed)
1/4 c plus 1 1/2 Tbsp milk

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees (f) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Sift the first 4 ingredients together, then cut in the butter until the mixture becomes crumbly (a food processor makes this quick and easy). Slowly add the milk until the dough comes together. Cut the dough into 10 separate pieces (I use an ice cream scoop for this) and space evenly on your cookie sheet. Bake 14-18 minutes. Once removed from oven, allow to set up on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Serve warm.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Muffins for Dinner?

Yes, loaded corn muffins!

You see, if you're ever in a situation where your husband has taken pork chops from the freezer for dinner, and you decide to make corn muffins to go with it, only to later find out that what your husband took out wasn't pork chops at all because you fail at labeling anything ever, and now you have no dinner, don't worry, because you had that corn muffin idea.

But you're going to make it better. Hell, you're going to make a meal of them!

What you do it use your (my) favorite modified corn muffin recipe, and throw in all those small amounts of leftover crap (and I mean crap in the best, most delicious way possible) you've got lurking in your fridge. Like when you made pizza the other night and used all of the Canadian bacon minus four or five slices, and about a quarter of a package of pepperoni from that same pizza. And remember that sharp cheddar you grated for last night's tacos? There's still some of that in there.

So while we're doing a fantastic job of spiffying up our corn muffins, let's take it a bit further. We'll throw in some freshly grated parmesan (because it should be in everything. Everything), jalapenos, some ground smoked chipotle, and garlic powder.

And we'll call it delicious. And it will be so.

Mountain Out of A Molehill Corn Muffins
(Makes a dozen muffins)

1 c plus 3 Tbsp corn meal
1 c all purpose flour
1/3 plus 3 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp smoked chipotle pepper
2 tsp garlic powde1 large egg (beaten well)
1/4 c vegetable oil
1 c milk
1 c finely grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 c finely grated parmesan cheese
1/3 c chopped Canadian bacon
1/3 c chopped pepperoni
2-3 Tbsp chopped jalapenos

Perheat your oven to 400 degrees (f) and grease a standard muffin tin (or line it with papers).

Sift together the first 7 ingredients . Add the egg, oil, and milk, and whisk until just combined. Add both cheeses, Canadian bacon, pepperoni, and jalapenos, and whisk until just incorporated. Spoon batter into muffin tins and bake 15-20 minutes. Serve them warm.


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