July 31, 2009

July: The month of making stuff.

I was busy learning new things this month. Maybe "busy" was code for "getting my mind off things"...and if so, it worked!

First, I'm late with my Daring Bakers post, which is sad because I've actually had this one done way in advance for a change. The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

I also wanted to do something a little different this month (see aforementioned "getting my mind off of things") so I decided to tackle a vegan version of the recipe (found online here at Vegan Cupcakes' site, and a thank you to The Peaceable Kingdom for posting a link to the recipe in The Daring Bakers forum). Many of you know that baking is a bit of a science, so consider vegan baking the organic chemistry (that deal-breaking pre-med class) of the baking sciences. It's hard to make stuff rise and shine without dairy!

My first batch of vegan milano cookies was good, but thet spread even less than I expected as they baked so as a sandwich cookie they were thick and maybe a bit too much cookie. (I never knew there could be too much cookie, but it's true!)

So for the next batch I decided not to make sandwiches, and I also subbed spelt flour for white flour, and mint extract for orange zest. And folks, we have a winner.

These were delicious. There was a constant stream of people at my office door the next day, and it wasn't to tell me what a bang-up job I did on the 340 piece mailing. Those cookies disappeared quicker than emails to a SPAM filter. That said, I just visited Lisa Michelle's blog Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives and literally had to pick my jaw up from the keyboard when I saw what she made. Please go visit her...on a full stomach.

I also started private sewing lessons this month (at M. Avery Design Studios), so I think I'll finally get my fear of the sewing machine under control.I've also been embracing my inner seamstress, thanks to M. Avery Designs, making a cushion cover from fabric scrap:

And just look at this...I can sew in a straight line finally. Most of the time.

I used an end piece scrap of fabric the studio had in case I screwed up, but it actually works well with the purple wing chair in our city apartment:

And I also made a skirt. A wearable skirt!

I believe the fabric is vintage barkcloth, typically found in places like...your grandma's curtains. Which means I've also embraced my inner Maria Von Trapp. I love it! I started private sewing lessons this month, so I think I'll finally get my fear of the sewing machine under control. I need to work on the new-to-me backstitch:

Ooops. At least it's in a tiny corner that no one can see.

I was supposed to take a jewelry making class last night but it was cancelled due to the weather (we have a bit of a floods and pestilence thing going on here again).

Another thing I made...was a lot less room at the shore house, thanks to oodles of things I've bought lately, and some that I've picked out of the trash (I'm not proud. Actually, scratch that -- I am pretty proud of the things I've plucked from the trash come to think of it!). But more on that later. To make room for these new/old items, the shore house will be having a yard sale this Saturday (August 1). If you're in the area, please come on by! (Click here to email me and I'll send you the details.) I'm teaming up with four tasteful friends, so there should be some good stuff in the mix.

Let's just hope I don't buy any of it myself.


Purple Flowers said...

We have the exact purple wing back chair in our living room. It's become "my" chair, and I love it, don't you?

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Hi Laura

Your Milans looks delicious! I've aways loved the mint version the best. Mine looked like a disaster, but I could blame that on the heat in my non air conditioned kitchen..lol...they did taste delicious, however, and my husband is begging me to make them again.
Lisa's cookies are fantastic, as everyhting she makes. I just know she is a professional chef...no doubt about it! I read that DB were giving us a whole week to put our challenges up on our blog, so you are actually in time with your results!

Congrats on all your new sewing skills! You go girl! Great job on that cute skirt.

I'd LOVE to come by for your yard sale but I'm not sure as yet what is on our agenda for tomorrow. Good luck with the sale!

Hugs, Pat

black eyed susans kitchen said...

Laura, Congrats on those cookies, they look delicious and perfect...and couldn't you drop a few off for me??? I will try to make it down for the sale on Saturday. I am very impressed with those new sewing skills. Very cute skirt!
♥, Susan

Blondie's Journal said...


The 2nd batch look and sound delish!! One of my favorite cookies, if I remember correctly. I stopped buying sweets but that doesn't mean I haven't been able to get my hands on them. Pepperidge Farms holds a special place in my heart because my late sister worked there for over 25 years. They really are a fabulous corporation.

I am so envious that you are taking sewing lessons. I don't think I know of any place where I could do that and I too, have the sewing machine phobia. But I am such a curtain/pillow lover and want to scream when I see those prices... But you did good!! (Love that pillow!) I wish you the best in your class and with the jewelry making class (busy girl!)

Good luck with the yard sale. Funny how you are always going to them and now you are having one!!


Lisa said...

Wow..I love how you managed to turn out such perfectly beautiful and tasty Milanos with a vegan approach (was this your first time baking vegan?) The mint sounds so refreshing!

That said, I'm so flattered that you linked me..almost humbled, as I thought my cookies (especially the Mallows) were kind of sloppy when compared to many others in the challenge. You're sweet :)

As for the Yanks, UGH, I cannot believe the errors against the Rays in one game, and last night, that led to losses. Also, can Jerry Hairston pitch? Why didn't Cashman get us a starting pitcher? Mitre is awful!! We're now losing 6-5 as I type this *sigh*

Lisa (again) said...

I just read Pat's post..LOL Pat..no, not a pro chef, maybe semi-pro since I did some catering and other little foodie endeavors, but hoping to be thought of as one when I eventually open up my dream patisserie/bistro *knock wood* :D *hugs*

Also, Laura, your sewing looks amazing. I used to do hook rugs, does that count? LOL

Anonymous said...

applause! the cookies look delicious, and the sewing is wonderful-good for you! I wish I could be at your yard sale-hope it's a success!

Maureen said...

Good luck at the sale - I hope it went well! Those cookies look delicious! My mouth was watering already so I was afraid to check out the link to the other site. :)

Great sewing! I am so envious of your lessons. One day...

The Quintessential Magpie said...

I am SO proud of you, Laura! These are amazing! And that skirt is very cute. Add Scarlet O'Hara to the drapery ladies. ;-) Oh, and who can ever forget Carol Burnette dressed as Scarlet coming down the staircase dressed in the green velvet drapes with a rod sticking through her shoulders! LOL! That bark cloth is darling.

And the cookies... I wish I were there to eat a dozen or so with you!


Sheila :-)

j.cro said...

Clearly I failed on coming by Saturday to your sale. I'm such a terrible friend! I hope it was good and your stuff went flying away to homes other than yours. Your skirt is fabulous! Ohh, la la!
I've made those vegan milanos from PPK too! They're SOOOOO good!! It's easier to spread the filling than dip - it's less messy. Or if you're like my friend Stephanie @ Yum Yum Kid Cupcake, you'll use a cookie cutter and pipe your chocolately centers. DELICIOUS!!!

j.cro said...
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Diane@A Picture is Worth.... said...

You have been so busy...and I've been so LAZY! LOL

Everything looks great, especially that skirt. Wish I could come to your sale! :) Diane

Linda Lou said...

THose cookies came out awesome-I wouldn't event attempt them, love the pillow you made and the skirt, you have been a busy little lady haven't you? Wish I could be at the shore house garage sale, I bet I would find some great treasures!

Audax said...

What an interesting post - great you can use a sewing machine wish I could. And you milanos look spot on and great that you doing the vegan version and you loved them.

That skirt looks so nice you must be very proud. Kudos to you on your many acheivement this month. Cheers from Audax in Australia. And thanks for the nice comments you left on my blog. A