Saturday, March 31, 2012

Hard Work but a Great Fundraiser!

Hi Everyone,

The children of the Cathedral decided some time ago that for the holidays, they would have a fundraiser, and use the proceeds to support the Episcopal Youth Camping Scholarship Program.  This will help young people who do not have the resources, to be able to go to camp.  It was a great idea, and they decided that they wanted to sell "Cookies in a Jar."
All our ingredients
Jars lined up and ingredients for cookies ready to go!

The fun part was that we MADE the cookie mix and filled and decorated the jars as well.  With the help of the ladies of Episcopal Church Women, we were able to fill and decorate over 200 quart Mason jars!  The recipes were found almost exclusively on .  Just search "Cookies in a jar."  And everyone who has made their cookies has told us that they were delicious.

Jars filled, labels with directions to make the cookies and fabric and yarn tops added

It was hard work, but not so daunting as to stop us from achieving our goal.  Because we bought all the ingredients and made them ourselves, the profit margin was a lot bigger than if we contracted with a company that makes these type of jars for fundraising.  We ended up selling the jars at a very reasonable cost ($5), and still made $500 to give the scholarship program, after ingredients were paid for.  The jars were also donated, so that helped a great deal.  If you try this, you will find that there are a lot of Mason jars out there in people's attics and basements, looking for a use.  Don't be afraid to ask people!

Orders ready to be delivered!

Have a great week!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Ten Thousand Villages

Hi Everyone,
Today I am writing about a wonderful little shop in Garden City, not far from where I live.  There are many of them all over the globe.  This is a non-profit organization and this is a short quote from their website, , about how it began:

The global fair trade movement began with the founding of Ten Thousand Villages more than 60 years ago through the visionary work of Edna Ruth Byler, a pioneering businesswoman. Byler was struck by the overwhelming poverty she witnessed during a trip to Puerto Rico in 1946, where she was moved to take action. The seminal contribution of Byler ignited a global movement to eradicate poverty through market-based solutions.

In this store, you can find a wide variety of artisan works, from jewelry to garden pots, to books to coffee, spicy hot chocolate and tea.  Each purchase supports a woman's business somewhere in a developing nation.  Here are some things that I have purchased there.

Bracelet from India

Necklace from India

Necklace from Guatemala

I also found a very pretty pot for my indoor garden.  It was made in Vietnam.

I found a very lovely tagine here also.  It is a vessel for cooking Morrocan dishes and is originally Berber.  You can make wonderful and tasty dishes in it, as you see from my cookbook.

There are many beverages which are made by businesses supported by Ten Thousand Villages.  All these businesses are engaged in Fair Trade principles.  Some of the beverages include a variety of coffee and tea, as well as one of the best spicy hot chocolates that I have ever tasted.  If you are familliar with the film or book, "Chocolat", you will know exactly what I mean!

Here is their brochure.  Find one near you or go online.  It is worth your time and buying power!
Have a great day,

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Saint Joseph's Day and Zeppole di San Giuseppe

Hi Everyone,
On the 19th of March, we Italians here in America and in all parts of the world celebrate the feast of Saint Joseph, the carpenter and earthly father of Jesus.  He is a very important saint in our culture.  He is the role model for fathers and you will find a great many people, especially in our Italian section of Providence, Federal Hill, provide celebrations in honor of him.  He is, by the way, also the patron of the laborer, and therefore is special to the Italian laborers who were immigrants to this country at the turn of the 20th century, as many of our granparents were.

Traditionally, we have a pastry that is synonomous with Saint Joseph's Day that is eaten and shared on that day each year.  It is called "Zeppoli de San Guiseppi", and I thought it might be good to share this recipe with you.  Here in Rhode Island, where many Italian Americans reside, you have many options for buying zeppoli in our numerous Italian bakeries,  However, you may not live near one, or you may have a spirit of adventure and want to try your hand at making them.  So, here is a recipe to try.

Zeppole di San Giuseppe
(Makes about 12 (2-1/2-inch) zeppoles

1 cup water
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Pinch of salt
1 cup flour
4 eggs

1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup whole milk
2 egg yolks
1/2 tablespoon dark rum
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup heavy cream, whipped

Confectioners' sugar for dusting
Maraschino cherries

To make the pastry:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium saucepan, combine water, butter, sugar, and salt.
Bring to a boil. Remove from heat.
With a wooden spoon, beat in flour all at once.
Return to low heat.
Continue beating until mixture forms a ball and leaves side of pan.
Remove from heat.
Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating hard after each addition until smooth.
Continue beating until dough is satiny and breaks in strands.
Allow the mixture to cool.
Transfer the dough to a pastry bag with a large star tip.
For each pastry, pipe a 2-1/2 -inch spiral with a raised outer wall on the baking sheet.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown.
Remove and allow to cool before filling.

To make the filling:
Combine sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan.
In a bowl, whisk together milk and egg yolks
Whisk milk mixture into sugar mixture.
Place the saucepan over medium heat.
Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly.
Boil for 1 minute; remove from heat.
Stir in rum, orange zest, and vanilla.
Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl.
Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface.
Allow to cool for 30 minutes and then refrigerate until cold.
Fold in the whipped cream.

To assemble the zeppole:
Cut the pastries in half horizontally.
Transfer the filling mixture to a pastry bag with a star tip.
Pipe some of the filling onto the cut side of the bottom half of each pastry.
Place the top half of the pastry on the filling.
Pipe a small amount of the filling into the hole in the center of each pastry.
Place a maraschino cherry in the middle.
Dust the pastries with confectioners' sugar.

So, have fun and Buono feste de San Guiseppe!
Have a great day,

Friday, March 9, 2012

Baby Hats made with Sock yarn!

Hi Everyone,

Today, I am going to show you a little bit of fun that I discovered a while ago.  As you know from previous posts, part of our Charitable Knitting in our group at the Cathedral, is baby hats for the newborns at Kent County Hospital. 
I have accrued a lot of sock yarn, in my efforts to actually begin to learn to MAKE socks--haven't quite got there yet!!-- and it occured to me that it was the same weight as yarn that we use for hats.  So, I have started to make some hats out of the really cute self-patterning yarn that is ordinarily used for socks.

Tell me what you think:

So, have a great day! 

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Special Family Gift

Hi Everyone,
Since I wrote about Christmas Village last time, let's finish the season by looking at an idea that I had this year for a special Christmas gift for my family.

Especially at Christmas, I like to give a little something to my siblings and their families that ties together the generations of our family in a special way. So, this year I had a brainstorm about a recipe book.

You see, I sometimes have requests for my mother's or grandmother's favorite recipes, especially for holiday cooking and baking.  What I decided to do was to create a book that had pictures of the family as well as some recipes that go back a long way in our family.

This project was great fun for me, and as I had access in my office to one of those wonderful "Magic Machines" that puts spiral binding on a book, I was able to create the book in Publisher on my computer and then print it out and assemble it. 

On the day of our family's Christmas celebration, I gave one to each family, and also sent one to each of my aunts and my uncle (my mother's siblings), so that they would each have one. 

I am showing a few pages so that you can get an idea of what I did.  It is so easy to do and creates a wonderful momento for the family-- try it!

Have a great day,