Vietnamese Red-Cooked Baby Back Ribs

Vietnamese red cooking: adding caramelized sugar to pork baby back ribs

Red cooking is billed as “Chinese stewing“, but there is nothing specifically Chinese about it. It is also one of the more major cooking techniques in Vietnamese cuisine. I would not be surprised if the technique is also prominent in other Asian cuisines.

In Vietnamese cuisine, the technique is called “kho“. There are variations of the technique in every region of Vietnam. Also, since it is possible to use a lot of salt and fish sauce and sugar in “kho”ing, resulting in a highly salty and sweet dish, the technique probably also served as a way to preserve food in the old days, when refrigeration was not yet commonplace.

I remember my Mom’s red cooked pork belly, cod, shrimp, and chicken. Not fondly. 🙂 I never did like her red cooked dishes because they were always too salty and not sweet enough. Also, I also particularly hated her red cooked cod since most fish, especially less fatty ones, become hideous if cooked for a long time. My Mom never did grasp that fact. I can say with some confidence that I did not inherit the culinary gene from my Mom! 🙂

I generally avoid red cooking seafood. The length of cooking time required for the caramel and other flavors to infuse the protein would render the seafood completely inedible. Instead, I like to use red cooking as a stewing method, to cook dishes to be reheated and eaten several times during the week. Sometimes, I would do red cooked chicken or shrimp for a dinner, but it’s not technique I employ often for a single-meal dish.

Basically, red cooking features caramelized sugar as the main ingredient, resulting in a dish with reddish golden brown hue. My general procedure for red cooking is to sautée thinly sliced shallots as the aromatic for the dish, then add the protein and caramelized sugar and season with fish sauce and black pepper, adjusting the taste with salt.

With pork belly, pork ribs, or beef chuck roast, I would first cube and brown the meat in a cast iron Dutch oven, then remove the meat and sweat the shallots in the same pot. While I’m sweating the shallots, I make the caramel by heating about two tablespoons of white sugar in a small Teflon saucepan. When the sugar starts to melt, I return the meat to the pot so it would be heated up enough by the time the caramel is ready.

Remember that at this point, the caramel will darken very rapidly, turning dark and bitter very quickly, even if removed from heat. The trick is to add it to the meat just before it turns the desired shade. I like to add the caramel to the pot when it turns golden reddish brown and just starting to foam, as in this video, where I was making red cooked pork baby back ribs:

After adding the caramel, I add water or stock and a couple of Thai peppers and simmer for a couple of hours. I often add hard boiled eggs to the stew, but towards the end so they won’t be too overcooked. Letting the dish sit overnight in the fridge allows the flavor to round out more and also for the eggs to absorb the caramel sauce. It’s also common to add ginger and/or lemongrass. Another variation calls for coconut juice in the stew (not coconut milk!), though I don’t usually usually add coconut juice as my S.O. doesn’t care for its taste.

browned ribs, ready for caramel caramel, ready to add to ribs

Pinning zippers?

When pinning zippers, do you pin parallel to the zipper tape, or at right angle to the zipper tape? Maybe it depends on your pinning habit.

I always pin perpendicular to the stitching line and sew over the pins. (Cue rancorous sew-over-pins religious war here! 😆 ) I do that for several reasons. When several layers of fabrics are pinned, they are shifted in relationship to each other, like this:
fabric layers are distorted when pinned
At places where the pin enters and exits the fabric layers, the layers are shifted, the thicker the fabric, the greater the shift. Thus shifted, the fabric layers will be distorted when stitched.

Additionally, if I pin parallel to the stitching line, I’d need to either remove the pins as I sew which I find time consuming, or to pin a distance away from the stitching line, which compromises accuracy.

If I pin perpendicularly to the stitching line, the fabric is still distorted, but in a direction perpendicular the stitching line and thus won’t result in distortion of the stitched seam.

Additionally, I can sew over the pins. (After stitching, I remove pins all at the same time, saving a lot of time.) I know that many people who warn against sewing over pins, citing the danger of hitting a pin and breaking needle, throwing machine out of alignment, eye injury, etc. There is definitely that danger. However, the risk of hitting a pin, and of whether or not the needle will break on hitting a pin, depends on the size of the pins used. I use Clover’s Patchwork Pins which are only 0.4mm in diameter i.e. very very fine. They are flexible and bend very easily but can be bent back into shape, yet they are sturdy enough to anchor layers of fabric. As such, in the very rare times when the needle hits a pin squarely, the pin gets bent, but that’s all.

In the same spirit, when I pin zippers, I pin perpendicular to the teeth and tape as well. Since the pins will “ride” over the zipper teeth and might foul the presser foot, as the second and third pins in the following pic show:
zipper tape pinned with pins perpendicular to tape

As such, I need to remove the pins rather than sew over them. However, removing the pins negates the point of pinning (to ensure layers do not shift), so instead of removing a pin altogether when I sew up to it, I would pull it out just enough so that only its tip is still engaged, as is the case with the top pin in the above pic. (In fact, I just realized that in the pic, even though the point of the point of the pin is still engaged in the zipper tape, it’s barely visible!) This affords me the benefit of layers still being secured against shifting, yet the point of the pin does not present an obstacle.

Vegan bacon?!

I recently made some new friends who are vegans. That may sound like “making friends with collectors of dryer lint” but I assure you that they are actually pretty cool people. As I love to cook for friends, I tried my hands at vegan cuisine. I’m not a vegan, but tackling vegan cuisine is akin to trying a new, unfamiliar, ethnic cuisine. It’s a fun challenge.

The first thing I attempted was mini BLT sandwiches for a potluck dinner. (“BLT” are “bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches”.) The two ingredients that were challenging were bacon and mayonnaise. It’s not difficult to find vegan mayonnaise, though I had to mortgage my house to buy a jar of the stuff. I found several brands of vegan mayonnaise at a local Whole Foods. It tasted quite decent and surprisingly close to real mayonnaise.

The other challenge was, obviously, the bacon. I scoured the Web for a vegan bacon recipe and settled on one from that seemed promising. The recipe used coconut chips as the base ingredient. Coconut chips turned out to be quite hard to find. The coconut chips that I found had too much small bits of coconut in the mix. The smaller bits would char too easily in the oven. I needed to sift the chips to isolate the bigger chips.

Since I didn’t have a sifter of the appropriate size, I made a sifter using the cardboard stock from a cereal box. I punched the sifter’s holes with a paper punch:

sieve for coconut chips, made from cereal box

sieve for coconut chips, made from cereal box

I baked the chips at a much lower temperature than called for in the recipe. The recipe’s 350° for 5-10 minutes resulted in burnt chips that were not as crispy as I’d have liked. Instead, I baked at 150°-175° for a long time. The process was more akin to dehydrating than baking.

bake/dehydrate at approximately 150 °

The chips keep for a long time, weeks, in an airtight container.
If you want that umpteenth degree of crispiness, you can always toast them in the oven for a few minutes before using.

Use shoe boxes to organize sewing notions

We all have different methods of storing our sewing stuff.
Recently, a member of my local chapter of American Sewing Guild gave a presentation on how she organizes her sewing stuff.
One approach that she and I share is storing items in boxes stacked on shelves. Her boxes are all uniform, labeled with their general contents, and stacked to a maximum of three high on shelves. My boxes are old shoe boxes labeled with a listing of their contents. 🙂

I use shoe boxes since they are often of the same shape and size and thus will stack better. I suppose boot boxes, or boxes for shoes for Shrek, would be very different in size, but those are few and far between: I have few pairs of boots, and I don’t know Shrek.

For labels, I use a piece of paper folded to about the same size as a box’s cross section, with a fold in the top which would hook onto the box’s edge and be secured by the lid. The labels are usually just hand written. If I get ambitious, or if a box’s contents have changed too much, or if the list gets too big, or if the box’s contents change often, I’d make a list on my computer and print that out. A printed list is easier to edit, but obviously has a higher “start-up cost” than a hand written list.

using shoe boxes for sewing notions close-up of label for shoe boxes containing sewing notions

V-shaped hem slits

I’ve been asked to clarify/explain how I did the V-shaped slits in my Dress Shop shorts:

The slit is basically a “lined” diamond shaped cut-out in the garment fabric. When folded in half along one of its axes, the diamond turns into a V shape. By locating the points of the diamond on the hem line, the result would be a V shape “slit” at the hem.

The steps are:

  • Cut a piece of lining larger than the diamond by 3/4″ on each side of each axis.
  • Draw the diamond shape on the wrong side of garment fabric, with two of its points on the hem line.
    I’d recommend making the diamond larger than the desired slit size by 1/4″, as I find the shape “shrinks” a bit during construction.
  • Pin the lining to garment fabric, right sides together.
  • Stitch the outline of the diamond shape, drawn earlier, pivoting at corners. Use short-ish stitch length, especially around the corners:
    mark and stitch diamond shape

  • Slash inside of diamond, through both layers, from corner to corner:
    slash inside diamond through both layers

  • Press seams open, turn lining to wrong side of garment and press the diamond shape, then fold in half along one axis and press.
    turn and press diamond shape

  • Fold along hem line and press and voilà!
    finished at-hem V slit

Sewing and turning a spaghetti strap

There are a multitude of methods to make a spaghetti strap.

One method calls for using needle and thread. I used to do this, but have never been happy with it because the thread has to be inserted near the end of the tube and the fabric tends to fray and the thread’s knot would slip out half way through. When it does, I’m pretty much up a fairly undesirable type of creek without a paddle, because it’s impossible to recover from that.

The first method calls for using a bobby pin. I have not tried this method, not having ever used a bobby pin and therefore not having one. This method seems promising, though I can see that the length of the bobby pin, or rather the lack of it, can make turning the tube over the pin quite a fiddly affair.

The second method uses a tube turner, the type with a hook in the end, faces the same problem of the tube’s end fraying and letting the hook free.

The third method uses a plastic drinking straw as a DIY tube turner.

The last method calls for stitching the tube casing wrapping a length of twine or cord, then stitch across one end to anchor the cord, and then turning the tube back over the cord. A variant of that calls for anchoring the cord stitching the tube. This is better because there is less “trapped” fabric in the anchored end and hence less bulk, making turning the tube easier.

My method is a hybrid of these last two methods and the first method. I just use a length of sewing machine thread anchored to the tube’s end with a “bar tack”: reduce stitch length to almost zero (effectively making a thread bar) and zig zag near tube’s end, then pull out a length of thread:
zig zag near tube's end, then pull out a length of thread

Thread the length of thread through a large needle, then run the needle through the tube, blunt end first, to turn the tube:
thread secured to a needle, ready to turn the tube

My method does not require an extra cord like the last two methods, and does not run the risk of the tube’s end fraying and the thread pulling loose half way through the turning process.

One constant among all these methods is that if you are making tubes from woven fabric, use fairly light fabric, and cut the strips for the tube on the bias (at 45° to the fabric’s fibers) which results in more stretch in the strip, both lengthwise and crosswise, making turning the tube easier.

Precision is overrated! :)

Baking fish or seafood en papillote is one of my favorite quick-meal methods. I can be as fancy as I want, or as slap dash as I need to be. I can sautée the aromatics like onions, shallots, or garlic beforehand, perhaps with spicy marinated olives, to bring out more flavor. Or if I’m in a rush or feeling lazy, I can just toss everything into the packet and go with that. However I do it though, I simply use a large-ish piece of parchment paper, fold it in half, and crimp it. It’s not like the end result would taste any better or worse if I am casual about the shape of the parchment paper.

Recently, I came across an en papillote recipe that calls for cutting the parchment paper into a heart shape! My immediate thought was: “Who has time for that?!” But, I suppose that if I was the type who cook wearing beautifully manicured and painted nails, like the person in that recipe, I’d probably also want to be very precise with the shape of the package! Either way, the end result would be equally delicious :

halibut en papillote, before


halibut en papillote, after


Custom range duct, five years later

You may remember from five years ago when we got a new GE Profile cooktop that I had to fabricate a custom duct for the exhaust in order to make use of the existing ducting. Heck, whom am I kidding? Even I don’t remember that, why am I asking you?!

It’s kinda cool looking back at that post, seeing how I went about making that exhaust, how I made a mock-up, a prototype of it, using packaging from Marie Callender frozen dinner entrées:
Cardboard prototype for exhaust manifold

prior to cutting out the tin sheet and riveting:
Laying out and cutting of exhaust duct exhaust duct folded and riveted

My neighbors were suitably impressed when they saw me in my garage bangin’ away (get your mind out of the gutter!), hammering and riveting the zinc sheets into shape. One of my neighbors, a man, even made a remark about how he wished he had the “skill set” to do something like that!

I was rather proud of the finished exhaust:
completed exhaust manifold for GE Profile cooktop, side view completed exhaust manifold for GE Profile cooktop

I wanted the exhaust to be fairly air-tight, so I used foil backed duct tape and clear silicone caulk on the riveted seams. My concern at the time was for the longevity of that caulk, given that the floor of the duct will probably collect a lot of oil and grease, which may seep out and react with the caulk, breaking the seal and leaking oil and grease.

I am happy to report that the exhaust’s ducting is holding up perfectly! Tim Allen would be proud!

Where to position the needle when using invisible zipper foot?

Recently, I answered a question on about needle position when using an invisible zipper foot. I figure I would share my answer here as well.

When using a zipper foot, the needle stays in the middle. You position one of the foot’s two grooves over the zipper teeth depending on which side of the zipper tape you are attaching. The grooves locate the zipper tape in the correct position relative to the needle.

For example, in the following pic, the left groove is over the zipper teeth, ready to sew the right edge of the zipper opening. (The “right” edge of the zipper opening is when facing at the garment’s right side. I omitted the fabric for clarity, but the fabric would be right side up with its edge on the left, aligned with the zipper tape’s left edge, under the zipper tape.)

close-up of invisible zipper foot positioned to sew right zipper tape

And this is when sewing the other edge, with the zipper teeth of the left zipper tape under the left groove:

close-up of invisible zipper foot positioned to sew left zipper tape

Another pair of shorts from Dress Shop pattern

white cotton eyelet and plaid shorts

Since I was so hapy with the fit of the first pair of shorts that I made using a pattern generated by Dress Shop, I made another pair from the same patterns.

I used some white eyelets cotton left over from making a dress (also from a Dress Shop pattern, more on that soon), plus the remaining cotton flannel from Michael Levine in L.A. from the first pair of shorts.

Actually, the cotton plaid was already cut and edges serged, ready to go, from when I made the first pair of shorts. How did I come to be so prepared? It’s a tale of attempted and failed matching of plaids!

When I cut the first pair of shorts, I started with the two front pieces, making sure the center front falls on a “major” plaid stripe. Then I work my way around to the two back pieces, matching them to the front pieces. I planned on simply letting the plaid pattern at center back to fall on whatever vertical stripes they may, since I felt it was the most important to match the plaid at center front and side seams. Everything was going great, until.

When I started the assembly was when I noticed that I had borked the plaid matching at the side seams: somehow I had managed to cut the back pieces on the cross grain i.e. turned 90 degrees! I guess it must have been because the stripes looked nearly the same on the cross grain as they do with the grain and I had somehow turned the fabric when cutting. Luckily, I had enough fabric left to cut two new back pieces and finished the shorts. It was a good thing I had two yards of the fabric. Who know it’d take two yards of fabric to make one pair of shorts?!

Anyway, since now I had two unused back pieces, albeit cut on the cross grain, I used them in my second pair of shorts. The fabric is almost as stable in the crosswise direction as it is in the lengthwise direction, so the pieces being cut on the crossgrain would not affect the wearing ease or the fit much.
white cotton eyelet and plaid shorts white cotton eyelet and plaid shorts

I added an underlining to the front pieces as the white cotton eyelet is fairly sheer. To add some pizzazz (I’m all about the pizzazz),
I made patch pockets from remnants of the two fabrics and trimmed the front pockets with contrasting bows and the back pockets with fabric covered buttons:
close-up of front pockets of white cotton eyelet and plaid shorts close-up of back pockets of white cotton eyelet and plaid shorts

First pair of shorts from Dress Shop pattern

plaid shorts from Dress Shop pattern

I recently started using Dress Shop, a Windows application that generates custom-fit sewing patterns.

The application comes in three flavors: Quick Start, Deluxe, and Pro. They are variants of the same application. One can try the application for free by downloading the application, installing it, and check out its functionalities. The only thing one won’t be able to do during the trial is to actually print out the pattern. Other than that, the trial version of Dress Shop has the same functionalities and features and the Quick Start version of Dress Shop.

Dress Shop recommends making a fitting sloper first so that’s what I did. I could have just selected a standard size and started with that. Instead, I figured since this is something I’d do only once and it’d be important to be as precise as possible, I opted to measure and enter my measurements into Dress Shop. There are 59 different measurements altogether! However, many of them are common measurements, just split up into front and back portions e.g. front bust side seam to side seam, over bust) and back bust (side seam to side seam across back at bust level). I generated the dress sloper pattern, and made the sloper from some junk fabric I had laying around. The sloper was basically a princess seam sheath dress that has zero wearing ease. The fit of the sloper gave clues as to which measurements to adjust by how much.

Next step was to try making something. I decided to try making a pair of shorts, since I don’t have any shorts whose fit I really like, and since summer was coming. I had a light cotton flannel plaid bought at Michael Levine in L.A. during a trip out there to do a runway show. Since it’s a plaid, I had to do a lot of matching, cutting the pieces one at a time. I’ll write more about how I did the matching in a future post.

plaid shorts from Dress Shop pattern plaid shorts from Dress Shop pattern

To add a bit of pizzazz to what is otherwise just a “wearable muslin prototype”, I added V slits at side front of the hem and added multi-color buttons:
close-up of slit and buttons detail

The V slits would be very straightforward if they were situated at the usual position, in the side seam. Instead, I wanted the slits to be more towards the front of the thighs, where there are no vertical seams I can’t think of any way to do such a slit other than creating a diamond-shaped openning with the diamond’s short axis on the hem line.

A “prototype” of the diamond-shaped opening, backed with lining:
close-up of construction of in-hem off-seam V slit

The diamond-shaped opening, folded as it would be in the actual hem, forming the V shaped “slit”:
close-up of construction of in-hem off-seam V slit

Construction detail of the diamond-shaped opening:
close-up of construction of in-hem off-seam V slit

Full disclosure: I am not only a satisfied user of Dress Shop, I am also the owner! 🙂

Sheer inserts: new trend?

They say that there is nothing new under the sun. Even though there are a gazillion galaxies in the universe, each having a gazillion suns, and some of those suns may have a planet with intelligent life, I think it might not be that far fetched that there is nothing new under any of those suns.

Case in point: one of my currently favorite embellishment methods is to add sheer inserts into garments. Specifically, I like to add sheer horizontal inserts near the hem of skirts and dresses. Such inserts flash more legs while keeping the hem demurely long. The skirts and dresses are both proper and scandalous at the same time!

I would use various types of sheer materials for the inserts. For some, I’d use white organza:
Pic of Altered version of McCall's 5619, now View A

Or ivory organza:
M6953 dress with sheer inserts, front view

Or white netting:

I don’t know if it’s coincidence, or if I just happen to notice such embellishments more, having done them myself, or if it is actually a current trend, but suddenly everywhere I turn, I’m seeing such sheer inserts.

I see them in mass market ready-to-wear garments:
fit-and-flare dress with sheer band insert at hem red skater dress with sheer black band insert at hem body con sheath dress with sheer horizontal band inserts fit-and-flare dress with sheer band inserts

in garments designed by students at NYC’s Fashion Institute of Technology:
dress with sheer band insert at hem

in designer garments e.g. in this gown by Prabal Gurung:
Prabal Gurung long gown with sheer band inserts

I can’t be sure whether I’m avant garde, or whether great (design) minds think alike, or whether it’s pure coincidence. But one thing is for sure: my designs are currently trendy! 🙂

An inch is not an inch, and why it doesn’t matter!

One would think something as standard, and as important, as an unit of measurement would be both easy to implement and be important to get right. Can you imagine the fracas that would result if one second represents different duration in different usages?! There’d a lot of baking recipes getting messed up, train schedules being mere suggestions (though I’ve been to actual places where they are merely suggestions), and people “not feeling their age”.

I recently bought a replacement tape measure and after having bought it, wondered about its accuracy. I compared it to the inch-size grid on my cutting mat and the result was… shocking. So I compared it to other tape measures that I had on hand.

It all started out innocently enough:
pic showing tape measure inaccuracy

…but then the fun and games ended and it started to become worrisome at around the high 20s mark:
pic showing tape measure inaccuracy

At the low 50s, things have become completely borked:
pic showing tape measure inaccuracy

I suppose tape measures are like tire gauges: a random sample of tire gauges will all show different readings. With tire gauges though, as long as a tire gauge is consistent and produces repeatable readings, it’s useable: tires are not exactly precise laboratory-grade air vessels and it’d be both impossible and meaningless to measure or to know the precise, actual, pressure in a tire. With tape measures, I guess I can pick the ones that show the most similar readings and go with those, on the grounds that there’s safety in number!

Realistically, the inaccuracies don’t affect my sewing. First of all, I make few measurements that are in the 50-inch range. For instance, my outseam is in the 40-inch range so I don’t care that the readings don’t become unusably inaccurate until the 50″ marks. Secondly, I most often use a tape measure as a measuring stick and not as a tool of reference. If a measurement, e.g. the outseam, is X inches, then I’d measure a distance of X inches on the pattern or the fabric. As long as I make both measurements with the same tape measure, it doesn’t matter whether a measurement of X inches is actually X inches or not. It only matters that the distance I’m measuring on pattern or fabric is actually the outseam measurement.

Endives With Apricots, Blue Cheese, Walnut

For a recent fundraiser dinner, I did endive with roasted figs, blue cheese and candied pecans appetizer. It’s a great combination, as cheese and something sweet always is. It was the first thing to disappear from the buffet!

It could have been better though. The roasted figs were sweet enough but they were a bit mushy and could have been sweeter. It’s usually difficult to go wrong making something sweeter. Indeed, there is a Vietnamese saying that goes: “To add beauty, use gold and red. To add taste, use honey and fat”!

Subsequently, I tried a variation, substituting the figs for slivered dried apricots. The apricots is sweeter and is more “toothy” and really improved on the dish.

pic of endive with dried apricot blue cheese candied walnuts

As an aside, the rounded underside of endive leaves makes filling them, and serving the dish, quite fiddly and annoying. I “flattened” the bottom of the leaves by slicing off a sliver off the underside, creating a flat surface which added much needed stability.

pic of how to flatten bottom of endive

Weird baked pasta trick! :)

I used to use a metal measuring cup turned upside down on top of a lasagna to “tent” the aluminum foil cover so it won’t stick to the melty mozarella. However, I don’t like the way the cup leaves a ring in the cheese top of the finished lasagna. Also, when I remove the cup, it usually takes a bit of cheese with it, leaving a tear/hole in the cheese.

I think I have found the perfect solution: run a pair of bamboo grilling skewer through the aluminum foil and rest them across the top of the baking dish.

photo of skewers supporting foil covering baking dish close-up photo of skewer supporting foil covering baking dish close-up photo of skewer supporting foil covering baking dish

The result is an almost perfectly clean foil after baking:

photo of almost perfectly clean baking result

How to make a scrunchie

You may have seen that when I make a garment, I often use the remnants to make a matching scrunchie. It’s a great way to say “this garment is custom made” without having to actually tell people that.

Making a scrunchie is relatively straightforward. Afterall, it’s just a tube enclosing a loop of elastic. The trick is in how to make a scrunchie quickly and efficiently, with as few steps as possible and as little hand sewing as possible, yet with the highest degree of finish possible. I searched but could not find a page with good instructions, so I decided to write one.

I start with a rectangle of fabric, 3.5″ x 20.25″. I prefer to cut it on the bias (45 ° to the fabric’s grain), but sometimes I’d cut it with the grain if I don’t have enough fabric. The length of the elastic depends on your hair and how tight you want your scrunchie. I use a 7 1/2″ length of 1/8″ elastic cord, allowing for 3/4″ of overlap of the ends to form a loop.

There are four seams altogether. The first seam is to form the tube: fold the rectangle lengthwise, right sides together, and sew a 1/4″ seam along long sides, stopping about 2 inches from the ends:
sew seams along long sides, stopping 2" from ends

Turn the tube using a bodkin, or a large safety pin:
turn tube using bodkin

Run the elastic through the tube:
run elastic through tube

“Whip” the ends of the elastic together. I put the ends under the presser foot and zig zag across them as much as I can. I don’t tie the ends together because the knot would invariably slip and become undone. Also, a knot is a bit too bulky inside the tube.
whip ends of elastic together

Now, here’s the tricky part: match up the ends (the short sides of the rectangle), right sides together, and stitch a 1/4″ seam:
ping short sides of rectangle together

Now, here’s the really tricky part 🙂 : pin as much of the remaining open edges along the long sides of the rectangle as you can. (You won’t be able to pin all of it.) Since the tube will be doubled up inside itself, be very careful not to catch the inner tube in the seam.
pin long sides of rectangle together

Here’s another view of the pinned seam:
another view

The stitched seam:
stitched seam

Now turn the tube right side out, and stitch the last bit of the lengthwise seam close:
20160604_141059_b 20160604_141124_b

Another user for safety pins: bra strap keepers

You know that I use safety pins to baste clothes for fittings. I also pin a few safety pins to the lining of my purse, so I always have them for emergency “wardrobe malfunctions”. Here’s yet another use to that amazing invention the safety pin: bra strap keepers. I pin small safety pins (about 1″ long) inside the shoulder straps of the dress and secure bra straps with them.

using a safety pin as bra strap keeper

Using safety pins to baste

I use safety pins to “baste” clothes during alterations because they approximate a sewn seam well enough for fitting purposes, and because using safety pins permits the wearer to try on the garment without getting stuck by sharp pins. It occurred to me that safety pins might be a great way to teach children to do fitting.

Anyway, one time I used safety pins to narrow the sleeves on a jacket I made for myself.

skirt suit, sleeves basted with safety pins!

I wore the jacket (part of a skirt suit) in “real life” several times to be sure of the width of the sleeves before making the alteration permanent. The temporary seams with safety pins were so “real” I actually forgot about the temporary alteration and wore the suit multiple times and sent it to the cleaners multiple times. I didn’t realize that until one day I accidentally turned a sleeve inside out when taking off my jacket and saw the safety pins! 🙂

skirt suit, sleeves basted with safety pins!

Blue Cheese & Honey!

Cheese paired with a sweet something is one of culinary’s classic and enduring combinations: gouda and apple, cheddar and honey, manchego and dried figs, Swiss and a dollop of fruit preserve, etc. A quick way to make a simple, quick, and very tasty treat is to sprinkle blue cheese crumbles on slices of French bread, drizzle with honey, and toast under the broiler for a few minutes until the cheese is bubbling and the bread is browned around the edges. As variations, add slices of roasted or broiled fruit such as figs or pear.
slice of French bread with blue cheese and honey

Keeping track of eggs’ age

We don’t use many eggs. We don’t bake many desserts. We don’t have eggs for breakfast. About the only thing we use eggs for regularly are omelets, e.g. this recent Sunday lunch of an omelet of scallions, cherry tomatoes, and blue cheese:

Sunday omelet: scallions, tomato, blue cheese

We buy eggs only half dozens at a time and usually have some laying around in the fridge for quite a while. (I know, eggs are better when fresh; we just don’t eat ebough eggs to always have fresh eggs on hand.) The way I keep track of what kind of eggs, and bought how long ago, is to tear off some of the labeling on the egg carton, write the purchase date on it, and put it in the egg carrier:

how to keep track of eggs' type and age