Confectious Concoctions

I have a lot of hobbies. You probably do, too. ArtsKC started Art/Work, which is a “city-wide corporate arts challenge that enables companies to showcase their employees’ talents in the literary, visual, and performing arts.” One of Barkley’s clients, UMB, is very involved with ArtsKC, and my friend James, the Account Supervisor on the UMB account, was very set on recruiting Barkley partners who create outside of work to contribute something. He persuaded me into participating, and so here’s what I made.

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One of the stipulations was that it couldn’t come from an existing pattern, so I drew a pretty simple shape for a clutch on an 11×17 piece of paper, placed on the fold to be symmetric as any other pattern would call for. I got the fabric from Sarah’s (of course). It’s from Amy Butler’s Midwest Modern collection, called Park Fountains (in mustard). I loved it at first sight and knew it would make a fabulous clutch pattern. I made yo-yos to embellish the front, referencing this website for instructions. Note, you stitch through both layers after turning the 1/4″. I somehow missed that memo.

I don’t expect it to win anything during the exhibition/competition, but it was still fun to be able to contribute. If I had time and/or started when I originally intended to, I would’ve made another purse.

What do you think?

A co-worker of mine posted this recipe for Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies recently, and I knew it was right up my alley. Friends have called me out as not living up to my reputation or Twitter name (@chelseathebaker), so I am trying to right that wrong by bringing in baked treats once a week, or at least once every other.

I did change up the recipe a little – here’s my version: 

2 sticks butter, softened (I use unsalted)
3/4 c brown sugar
1 c white sugar (I used Splenda)
2 eggs
1 T vanilla
3 c flour
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
mini Oreos

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Cream sugars and butter until light and fluffy.
  3. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until well-blended.
  4. Combine  flour, soda and salt, and add to sugar mixture gradually, mixing well.
  5. Stir in chocolate chips.
  6. Take each mini Oreo and enough cookie dough to encase the Oreo – you don’t have to roll it into a ball or anything, just make sure the Oreo is covered.
  7. Bake for 8 minutes (I did not need to grease my cookie sheets).

Makes approx 3 doz.

I generally liked the dough (that’s how I predict the success), but I think I tend to like my chocolate chip cookies with more brown sugar flavor. That being said, everyone likes this cookie dough – it’s quite light and fluffy, and if I hadn’t recently had a dental implant put in, limiting my taste-testing ability, I probably would’ve devoured one already to give my full-fledged opinion. In any case, they were well-received, so I’ll likely put this in my arsenal to be brought out frequently.

Kyle’s mom sent me a book for Valentine’s Day, Always the Baker, Never the Bride, and it’s actually affected me quite a bit.

For one thing, I’m a pathetically helpless romantic, and even the simplest of stories with even a touch of romance (realistic romance – not the Fabio-on-the-cover romance novels) get me in a state of I-can’t-put-this-book-down-because-I-need-to-see-if-he-kisses-her. And this book has a super sweet storyline to it between employer and employee. Sigh.

However, the heroine in the book is a baker. I.e. she’s me, except I’m not diabetic, or 5’9″. But she’s amazing. And I want to be her, and so this book has rekindled the thought of going to culinary school – a thought that has all but left my mind since I started at Barkley, at an agency I truly loved, in a career I knew could take me places and that I was finally enjoying life as a working girl.

And then this book had to show up with Top Chef All Stars in full swing. With the bud of an idea of a cupcake war event in Kansas City in the spring beginning to blossom.

Oh. BTW, this book has recipes in it, including Espresso Fondant, and tips for how best to layer a multi-tier cake, and top 10 wedding themes.

This book makes my mind swirl when I’m not concentrated on my quickened heart rate induced by the I-can’t-put-this-book-down-because-I-need-to-see-if-he-kisses-her.

So what did I do for 3 hours on Sunday night? I made cookies for Valentine’s Day. Heart shaped ones. Sugarless, except for the Barbie Pink royal icing. I thought they were ok. Others thought they were fabulous. We’re our own worse critics.

Kyle and I went to Justus Drugstore in Smithville for Valentine’s Day last night and it was beyond amazing. Chef Justus even came out to greet each table during the several hours it takes to finish the fantastic meal there, and I learned that at 45, he had only been cooking for about 8 years.

So for now, because culinary school ain’t cheap, I’m still all but ruling it completely out as a future endeavor. So there’s still hope for me and my bakery. Some day.

Kyle and I went to Dog Nuvo for lunch one day, and their soup du jour was yellow pepper soup. I believe it was Roasted Curried Yellow Pepper Soup, but my memory fails me. A hot dog didn’t sound appealing then, so I thought I would get their soup. When it arrived at our table, it was glorious – beautiful and so delicious. It wasn’t pureed like most pepper soups. Instead, the peppers were diced into uniform square shapes, resting in a glorious, semi-opaque broth.  The skin was intact, and cooked to perfection – still slightly crisp, like pasta al dente. The golden color of the peppers really inspired me. There’s just something about a yellow pepper that says fresh and gourmet, and relevant in all seasons. It seemed so simple, I knew I had to figure out how to make it. I am a self-proclaimed Soup Maven.

So I did some research to see if I could find a similar recipe. But all of the recipes I found were a puree. Oh well. No problem. I’ll just make it up and here’s what I came up with:

Yellow Pepper Soup

5-6 yellow peppers

4-5 cups chicken broth or stock

1/2 sliced mushrooms

2 green onions

1 can Cream of Celery soup

1 tsp Curry powder

1 tbsp Tarragon

1 tsp Turmeric

Ground black pepper

I thought the soup at Dog Nuvo was roasted, but the skins were in tact still, so I went ahead and broiled 2 peppers all around enough so they were blacked and I could take the skin off. I just diced the remaining peppers. In retrospect, I don’t think roasting was necessary and I won’t do it next time to see if there’s any difference in flavor.

In a large pot, get broth boiling with the tarragon, curry and turmeric. Add diced, un-roasted peppers. When they are about half way cooked, add your sliced mushrooms (and diced roasted peppers if you chose to do that), green onions and cream of celery soup. Let it heat through, season to taste.

A couple things I might add in the future:

Chives (I didn’t have any on hand)

White or yellow onions

Garlic

Here’s a teaser photo of the most recent #ChelseaFitchOriginal that I finished on Sunday. More photos to come! #sewing http://ow.ly/i/3PnT

I finally finished Juanita’s purse the other night, and so decided to name the style after her.

This lovely lady is about 12″ long, 9″ high, and 6″ deep, with 24″ straps (end-to-end). There is a zippered interior pocket, about 9″ x 6″ with a 7″ zipper, and dual open interior pockets opposite it, perfect for easy access to your cell phone or other odds and ends.

Fabric patterns I used

  • Exterior – Clair Blocks Brown designed by Jennifer Paganelli for Free Spirit/Westminster Fibers
  • Interior lining – Chelsea Lace for Studio E Fabrics

Other notions included a silver, “regular” sized magnetic snap and a 7″ zipper –  regular polyester zipper from Joann’s in Cloister Brown, and dark brown thread.

Here are most of the pictures of the final product – I know you’ve been anxious. For a few more, check out my Flickr photo stream.

I took the bag to work for a test drive (it works just fine) and now have a couple co-workers interested in having a Chelsea Fitch Original made just for them. I’m looking forward to working on them, but I think I need to find a less expensive fabric source. If you’d like one made for you, just drop me a line.

In the meantime, please let me know what you think about my first “for hire” bag in the comments.

Yesterday, Kyle and his little brother (from Big Brothers Big Sisters) made peanut butter swirl brownies – a recipe I found from a blog I read. They were very tasty, though I was thankful that Kyle sent his little brother home with the majority of them, and the rest (except for a little for me) went with Kyle to work today. Today is his birthday (Happy Birthday, Love!).

While the boys baked, I met my friend Jacob who commissioned me to make a purse for his sister’s birthday that’s in a few weeks. I showed him my sketches and we talked about features for the bag (pockets, zippers, clasps, etc.). I also showed him some of the fabrics I loved that I took pictures of last week. We decided on a green cross-hatch background with purple/pink/orange/turquoise paisley blossoms. I’m obsessed with it and am so glad I get to work with it. See?

The bag will also have dark blue accents and handles, and the interior will be pink, likely a simple pattern, like a pinstripe or similar. I’m very excited because I’m designing it from start to finish. Not using any pre-existing patterns, but am arming myself with many free tutorials and things learned from other patterns I’ve used. Plus, I got some inspiration from other designs. So, I don’t think it’s a big surprise that I’m also a little scared that I’ll mess it up somehow. But I think that’s a glorious thing about sewing – most errors are fixable, though always annoying. As long as you don’t cut wrong.

I found this fabric at Urban Arts + Crafts at Briarcliff in North Kansas City/Riverside. The rest will likely come from Sarah’s in Lawrence, and/or Joann’s. Sarah’s just has a much, much larger selection of fabric than Urban Arts offers.

When I was doing my research at Urban Arts, I took the bolts of fabrics that I absolutely loved down from the shelves and laid them on a table and took pictures to show Jacob. I took 25 pictures. I took pictures of my chaotic method, of close-ups of the bolts splayed out on the table, of others I didn’t have time to take down, but wanted his opinion on them. It was fun. But I think I have a problem.

Bolts of beautiful fabric

Le sigh …

I felt bad for leaving a mess, so I purchased a $3 pattern for a coin purse/card holder.

So, this will be my very first “true” Chelsea Fitch Original (as my custom tags say). Though one can argue Juanita’s bag is an original since I took an existing pattern and modified it to fit my vision for her bag.

Speaking of Juanita …

I’m also about 1 step away from finishing it. It’s technically finished (I took it on a test run today), but there are a couple things I might modify or add. I sent her some pictures and questions today, so hopefully it will be 100% done tonight, if she gets back to me.

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Watch out Martha, I'm the next Domestic Diva.

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