MN Quilt Show

I make it a point to attend as many quilt shows as I can find time and excuses to visit, especially when it means I can visit an area outside my local city. In this case, I wanted to visit friends and family in my old stomping grounds, and I was able to coordinate the timing with a quilt show taking place in St. Paul during my stay up there.

My daughters and I met my friend Beth and her mom at the show and spent the entire day shopping the vendors and perusing the show quilts. By the time we left our feet were SO SORE!

The vendors ranged from “Ghana Crazy” handwoven baskets from Ghana (www.ghanacrazy.com),

ghana baskets

 

hand dyed fabric (www.cherrywoodfabrics.com), african panels and fabrics (www.vogies.com), thread, notions, machine vendors and antique quilts. 

antique quilt

 

And we couldn’t pass up the ewe pins at the wool shop (www.ewe-niquecreations.com).

my EWE

 

The show quilts were from various states. Submissions came in from all over the state of Minnesota, as well as Montana, Utah, Florida, Tennessee, Arizona and Colorado, just to name a few states. There were quilts created by children, art quilts, including an exhibit showing 16 quilts with a river flowing continuously through each. There was also a beautiful special exhibit from the Corea Quilters Association. The most unique creation I witnessed was one made of denim fabrics, namely jean parts.

denim quilt

 

There were so m any beautiful and intricate quilts, some with extensive quilting, some simply done. My favorite quilt was “Earth Mother”, submitted by Laurie Ceesay of WI.

earth mother

The quilting shown on the following quilts is amazing and inspiring. There were many hand quilted quilts, that must have taken volumes of hours to complete, but I was more taken with the machine quilted pieces. If you would like more information about the MN quilt show or quilt guild, click here!

 

 
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Quilt Shop Review – Quilt Country

Whether you are a fanatic quilter, or a hobby sewer, you have likely visited many a store looking for something to catch your eye, or help you complete your task. There are a number of chain stores that carry common fabric of varying quality and tools for crafters and artists of all type.

Quilt shops offer a less cookie cutter environment. Rather than a corporate model and standard layout and staffing, the local quilt shop employs people that have an interest in quilting, whether it’s their hobby or employment. They offer assistance for anyone asking, they can help you pick out the right fabrics for your project or find a resource to help you finish it. They generally have higher quality fabric, so it costs a bit more, but it is well worth the experience. In most cases. One of these cases is described below.

Quilt Country

Quilt Country is located on the west side of the Fox Avenue exit from I35E. Open daily, this shop has a staff of “Supergirls” that truly are that. Helpful and friendly, they do their best to advise you through any questions. There are a multitude of books, patterns, embelishments, as well as thread, kits and a classroom. And then there’s the material.

It’s ridiculous. In a totally awesome way. Rows upon rows upon rows of fabric, they offer everything from asian insprired fabric, batiks, vintage style to wide backing, fleece and minky. They have jelly rolls and fat quarters. And all over the walls of the shop, they have inspiration. Quilt tops and finished quilts adorn the upper walls, providing beautiful examples of the quilt and quilting patterns. Those samples change with the seasons, ever teasing the shopper’s eye with enticing color and patterns.

I have been to many quilt shops in a variety of states, and this is top of my list. I have visited frequently and have NEVER had a less than pleasurable experience.

Check out their website for more information, as well as class schedules and store hours. www.quiltcountry.com. Happy shopping quilters!!

State Fair Winnin’ Corn Relish

Being that I am a complete and total carb lover, I like to experiment with my starchy vegetables so that I can manage to work them into every dish. In particular, the sweet, tender kernels of corn on the cob have long been something I’ve treasured. But knowing that the longer the kernels sit on the cob after picking, the less sweet the corn kernels become. So when, one year, I bought a slew of corn from a farm stand, I knew I needed to cook all my corn and find other ways to use it besides eating it straight off the cob.

I started with the basic recipe in the Ball Blue Book of Canning, and changed it a little to meet my tastes. The liquid is outstanding, as is the corn, which improves over time. The recipe here is my concoction, so feel free to adjust the taste to fit you!

Ingredients:

  • 18 cobs of corn
  • 1/2 head small green cabbage, chopped finely
  • 1/2 red onion, minced
  • 1 green spicy pepper (I used pasilla, but have used jalepeno), finely minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, minced
  • 2 cups sugar (less if your corn is really sweet)
  • 1 quart apple cider vinegar (I use organic with “the mother”)
  • 1 c water
  • 2 tbsp dry mustard
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp celery seeds
  • 1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds

Cook the corn only until it turns bright yellow (I steam mine for about 3 minutes). DO NOT overcook your corn at this point, it would be better raw than mushy! Then I quick roast it, either by broiling it in the oven, putting it on the grill or just over a stove burner, to color some of the kernels. That will give your corn a crunchy texture, as well as a sweeter, smokier flavor. Once the corn is cool, cut the kernels from the cob.

corn after roasting

Add all the ingredients into a very large bowl and stir together. Actually you could just add them all straight to the pot. There you will stir while your relish is cooking and flavors are melding for the next 15 minutes or so. It is now ready for canning!

Ladle the relish into jars (having a funnel REALLY helps). I don’t use a funnel, so my corn ends up all over the place.

relish into jars

Ensure your jars are full to the bottom of the neck with the veggies, and liquid leaving headspace of only 1/4 inch. Wipe your rims clean with a wet cloth, place the lid and screw top and when all your jars are ready, place them in your BIG pot/boiler water canner, and process for 10 minutes.

Remove the jars to cool and seal, and let them sit for 24 hours. If you can let them sit for that long without digging in. Happy eating!

TIPS for making jam

This is essentially part two of “How to make great jam”. I have included a slew of pictures that show step by step what you may experience, in order of the experience.

I would like to mention that although the recipe provided yesterday was for strawberry jam, it can be adjusted for ANY berry! Different fruits have different natural pectin levels, but as far as berries go, they are all similar in that, as well as the fact that they vary in natural sugar content. So if anyone tells you to measure EXACTLY, DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT! Don’t put that pressure on yourself. If you have really sweet fruit and you use the exact amount of sugar, your jam will be too sweet.

There is an easy way to fix your jam if you end up with syrup instead of jam. Reprocess the jars. Or dump them back into the pot and cook it a bit more. That may result in a darker jam, but it will firm up. But before putting yourself through that, you can do a jelling test. When you are finished boiling up your jam, give it a few minutes and put your metal spoon in there. If the jam is slow to come down your spoon and drips off more in globs than thin drips, then it will set. If it’s still runny, just boil it for another minute and then jar and process your batch.

So if you decide strawberry isn’t your thing, or maybe you feel like trying blackberries because they’re super cheap right now, just substitute the same amount of berries! That is truly it – that simple. I made 4 berry jam this morning (pix below) and used about 2c strawberries, 1c blueberries, scant 1c raspberries and 1c blackberries. It was probably more like 2.5c strawberries because I was scooping it in with my measuring cup, rather than really measuring. But it turned out fabulous.

Please take a moment to click on each picture for more details. Happy canning!!