Friday, March 11, 2016

Sewing Thoughts

So I am super desirous of a 30s style slip. And maybe a nightgown. Tap pants? I just want silky decadent underthings. So here are some inspo:

Firstly, a 20s dress that the Dreamstress made that I desperately want for this year's 20s linen dress.

And the lingerie:

Monday, March 7, 2016

This'll Probably Be Awkward

... but I'm going to see my Great Aunt tomorrow. I haven't seen her since 1998. She didn't remember me. She said, "what do you think is my relationship to you?" I said, great aunt. She said "you must be mistaken." I said, I got your number from my Aunt C H. "Ooh, I DO keep in touch with her... what's your relationship to her?"

She's 96 and I haven't seen her in 20 years. I am far from offended. :-P She agreed that we probably were related she just didn't remember me. We set up a time for lunch, I got the address, and she asked if she could write down my name. It wasn't until I said my last name (her sister's first husband's last name) that she went "OOOOH. I haven't thought about that family in many years! Oh that's who you are?"

I figure, if I'm only in the DC area every 20 years, it rather behooves me to visit the only family I have in this area! Here's hoping it goes well.

Friday, March 4, 2016

HFF: Roasts

5. Roasts (February 26 - March 10) They’re a staple of the historic table, in many different shapes and forms and types. It’s also a cooking technique. Try a historic recipe for a roast, or a recipe that involves roasting, and tell us how it turned out.

I picked up a Lamb Belly at my butcher's yesterday. (My husband and I are trying to reduce the high-methane-producing animals in our diet - so beef and pig are out.) Never having cooked this cut, nor much lamb at all, I asked the butcher what she recommended. Apparently, some people roast it, some people braise it, some people fry it on high heat and slice it thin. Roast! Well, that caught my ear, as I had a roast challenge!

The only problem with this lamb roast is that it's not a leg of lamb -- which is the traditional lamb roast. A lamb belly is a wide, thin slab of meat. No biggie, I figure. I'll make a roulade-type thing and stuff it. And lucky me, but my whole meal wound up being recipes printed back to back!

Roast Lamb
A leg of lamb is usually sent from market wrapped in caul; remove caul, wipe meat, sprinkle with salt and pepper, place on rack in dripping-pan, and dredge meat and bottom of pan with flour. Place in hot oven, and baste as soon as flour in pan is brown, and every fifteen minutes afterwards until the meat is done, which will take about one and three-fourths hours. It may be necessary to put a small quantity of water in pan while meat is cooking. Leg of lamb may be boned and stuffed for roasting. See stuffing, under Braised Mutton.
Make gravy, following directions for Roast Beef Gravy on page 202, or serve with Currant Jelly Sauce.

Hmm, see stuffing under braised mutton?
1 cup cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup melted butter, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 tablespoon Poultry Seasoning, 1/4 cup boiling water.

Directions for gravy on page 202?

Roast Beef Gravy. Remove some of the fat from the pan, leaving four tablespoons. Place on front of range, add four tablespoons flour, and stir until well browned. The flour, dredged and browned in pan, should give additional color to gravy. Add gradually one and one-half cups boiling water, cook five minutes, season with salt and pepper, and strain. If flour should burn in pan, gravy will be full of black particles.
Well that looks like it'll be tasty. But let's cast our eyes over more of this chapter to make sure I picked the right recipe for tonight. Hmm, what's this "Lamb Bretonne"...?
Lamb Bretonne
Serve hot thinly sliced roast lamb with
Beans Bretonne. Soak one and one-half cups pea beans over night in cold water to cover, drain, and parboil until soft; again drain, put in earthen-ware dish or bean pt, add tomato sauce, cover, and cook until beans have nearly absorbed sauce.
Tomato Sauce. Mix one cup stewed and strained tomatoes, one cup white stock, six canned pimentoes rubbed through a sieve, one onion finely chopped, two cloves garlic finely chopped, one-fourth cup butter, and two teaspoons salt.

And thus, my whole meal was easily planned with back-to-back recipes.

The Challenge:
The Recipe: Lamb Bretonne (Roast Lamb, Stuffing, Beans Bretonne)
The Date/Year and Region: 1922 edition of The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book by Fannie Merritt Farmer, published Boston, MA
How Did You Make It: The alterations I made to the roast lamb were to a) make it a roulade (omg I officially hate tying up a round roast soooo much!) b) stuff it and c) instead of using a rack I used porcelain chopstick rests. I also never noticed the flour browning (I'm cooking at 350F), so I basted it with smaltz starting at an hour in.
The alterations I made to the stuffing were to use corn flake crumbs instead of cracker crumbs, and to use a mix of spices instead of poultry seasoning. (Oregano, Rosemary, Nutmeg, Cayenne)
The alterations I made to the Beans Bretonne were to use one pickled pepper snagged from a pickle jar and some red pepper flakes instead of the six canned pimentos.
Time to Complete: overnight soaking for beans, cooking beans for 2 hours during the day, and then 30 mins prep for beans and 2 hours cooking. 10 mins prep for lamb, 1 3/4 hours cooking for lamb. 5 mins cooking for gravy. Not very much ACTIVE cooking.
Total Cost: $9.90 for the lamb. Everything else was in storage.
How Successful Was It?: Pretty tasty! The lamb was tastiest with lamb + stuffing + gravy + beans/tomato sauce. It was a little too dry otherwise.
How Accurate Is It?: I'd say pretty accurate. All of my alterations are fairly normal ones.

And a final comment from my husband: We should make this again, but with an actual roast, not the stuffed one. And serve it with biscuits. Maybe cheesy ones? (*hopeful face)

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Couture Design

My student Y is taking a course on Couture Design, as the final construction course before she starts her year-long senior project as a Fashion Design major. We've been having so much fun, all the hand-sewing, and with 14 yards of silk draped across us... I've been taking pictures of course, as it's been such a treat.

Here's the general idea for the skirt. This is merely pinned onto the mannequin, I think we'll actually sew it to the waistband today.

Lookit all the pretty fabric! We were handstitching the second hem, encasing the horsehair braid (one side has 6" braid, the other has 3" braid -- and it's all invisibly handsewn).

A closeup shot of the stitching for the hem. It winds up going pretty fast, for all that it seems to take forever!

And this is the top that accompanies it. We finished it yesterday (although the hem needs adjustment. It was finicky and some of the bones are a little too long). This is the second top design, and it's roughly based off of a dress that Y's mother made for a client. The initial top design was going to use a tshirt with the cover art of Le Petit Prince that had been embellished by embroidery and beading.

Comme ça. This particular stitch is whipped back stitch, in silver metallic thread.