Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Patriotic Ponderings

My overarching sewing goal for this year is to work through projects I have started (I know, not the most specific goal, but it is what it is). This goal also includes kits that I have purchased and are still sitting in my sewing cabinet or in a drawer. One of these kits that had been lying around for over a year was the one for this patriotic-themed table topper that will be the topic of this post.
I picked this kit up at the Stitching It Up quilt store in Cedar City, Utah, a couple of years ago. I liked the shades of red, white, and blue that would complement other patriotic pieces that I have completed through the years. The center features a variation on the traditional windmill block. The white side triangles or "points" feature machine appliqu├ęd flags. 
One of the key things I learned from putting this quilt together was a bit of a lesson in humility. Before I started sewing this quilt, I cut all of the pieces per the instructions. Unfortunately, the four center squares finished bigger than anticipated. As a result, all of the other pieces needed to be adjusted. Fortunately, the kit provided enough fabric to accommodate all of the adjustments. If you look closely in some of these pictures, you can see where I created some extra seams to meet the new dimensions. Fortunately, again, when you look at the whole, the individual flaws tend not to stand out.
Here are a few other patriotic creations from around my house. I keep the alpine tree up year round and just change out the garland and decor with the seasons. The stars are ones that I bought a few years back and use to accent the tree.
The pillow is from a pattern by Shepherd's Bush, and I picked up the bear at a gift shop in Philadelphia. My daughter aptly named her "Philadelphia."
In pondering these patriotic pieces and the flaws hidden within them, I am reminded of the need for humility, both individually and corporately as a nation. Although some good quilting can help cover some flaws in the pieced work, the flaws are still there. Likewise, our best efforts to conceal our flaws can not remove their existence. As the psalmist reminds us:
He [God] rules by His might forever;
His eyes keep watch on the nations;
Let not the rebellious exalt themselves. Psalm 66:7
The psalmist also reminds us of God's faithfulness to those people and nations who will seek Him:
Let the peoples praise Thee, O God; 
Let all the peoples praise Thee.
Let the nations be glad and sing for joy;
For Thou wilt judge the peoples with uprightness,
And guide the nations on the earth. Psalm 67:3-4

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Kentucky Derby Day … Hot Brown Sandwiches

Happy Kentucky Derby Day!
As I have shared before, I am not exactly the most knowledgeable person with regards to the Kentucky Derby, but I do enjoy the elegance and tradition of this event. I'm hoping to have the opportunity to attend the Kentucky Derby some day, if for no other reason than to dress up and wear an elaborate, but elegant hat. Here's a little peek at some of the hat tradition:
Hot Brown Sandwiches are regarded as part of the Kentucky Derby cuisine. The name, Hot Brown, actually refers to the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky. The sandwich's origins date to the 1920s when the hotel hosted late night dinner dances. The hotel decided to come up with a late night snack alternative to ham and eggs, and the Hot Brown was born. The Hot Brown is essentially an warm, open-faced turkey sandwich covered with a Mornay sauce. It is further enhanced with slices of tomato and bacon. 
At the Brown Hotel, Hot Browns are prepared in individual crock ware and use two slices of bread. We used a glass baking dish and made 6 smaller sandwiches.
Here's a look at the recipe we used and how we put ours together.

Sauce ingredients:
  • 3 tablespoons salted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups heavy cream 
  • 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, plus extra for garnish
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg (we just used a slight sprinkle)
  • Salt and pepper
For the sandwiches:
  • 1 lb sliced roasted turkey breast (we used deli turkey and had it sliced thick)
  • 6 slices of bread (crusts trimmed - you can use Texas toast if you want, we used homemade bread)
  • 12 slices of bacon
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, sliced into wedges
  • Paprika
  • Parsley
First to make the sauce: In a two-quart saucepan, melt the butter and slowly whisk in the flour until combined to form a thick paste or roux. Continue to cook the roux for 2 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. Note that this roux is going to be a light one.
Whisk heavy cream into the roux and cook over medium heat until the cream begins to simmer, about 2-3 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat and slow whisk in Pecorino-Romano cheese until the sauce is smooth. 

Add nutmeg, salt, and pepper to taste.

To assemble the sandwiches:

Place the bread in an oven-safe baking dish. 

 Arrange the turkey and some of the tomato wedges over the sliced bread. At this point, you can put the pan in the oven for a few minutes to start to get the turkey and bread warmed through - you only need to put it in for about five minutes or so.
 Pour the sauce over the turkey, tomato, and bread. Arrange the remaining tomato wedges on top of the cheese, and place the bacon slices over each sandwich. Sprinkle each with some parsley, paprika, and some additional grated cheese.
 Broil everything for about 5 minutes or so until the sauce is nice and bubbly.

Our assessment of these sandwiches is that they are a success, and we will likely be enjoying them for next year's Kentucky Derby as well. Now that our pre-race meal is complete, it's about time to sing My Old Kentucky Home.