Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Back to basics: Revel (Oatmeal Fudge) Bars

Revel Bars and I go way back. The original was on a recipe card from Toll House i think, and ever since i was 10 or 12 i have been making them; there was a time that pans of these were flying out the door by the dozen as holiday orders. High school and college friends made these one of my signatures, and the aroma of them baking gives me flashbacks to the 80's and 90's. (Scrunchies are back with a vengeance, so there! May we never see the high teased bangs again though.)

This recipe has survived the food-snobbery of side-eyeing anything using canned milk, and has been improved by using good chocolate and a judicious amount of salt. Quick-cooking oats create the best texture; old-fashioned or steel-cut hydrate differently and don't make a satisfying layer.
For this post I decided to go full flashback and make them as I first did, with a hand mixer and countertop toaster/oven. Obviously a "serious" mixer makes quicker, handier work of the oatmeal base, but they taste the same regardless.

Revel Bars -- 1 10x15 pan
1 stick/8 oz/228 g butter or   margarine (one case where there's   no marked difference), divided       into 7 oz (200 g) and 1 oz (28 g)
2 cups/14 oz/400 g brown sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups/11 oz/ 325 g all-purpose flour
3 cups/9 oz/260 g. quick-cooking oats (oatmeal)
1/2 tsp/2.5 g salt
1/2 tsp/2.5 g baking soda
1 14 ounce/400 g can sweetened condensed milk
12 ounces/340 g good-quality bittersweet chocolate
2 tsp vanilla extract

Line a 10x15 rectangular pan with foil or parchment. Preheat the oven to 350F/170C.
For the oatmeal base: Put the 7 oz/200g butter in a mixer bowl. Add the brown sugar to the mixer bowl and cream together until fluffy and light. Beat in the eggs until smooth, then the dry ingredients. Mix on medium speed to a thick batter.
For the fudge: Put the 1 oz/28g butter, condensed milk and chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup. Microwave on full power in 30-second bursts, stirring each time, until just melted. Add the vanilla and stir smooth.
Using your hands and an offset spatula, press 2/3 of the oatmeal base into your prepped pan. Spread the fudge on the oatmeal base, covering it completely. Dot the remaining oatmeal base by the spoonful on top of the fudge layer, spacing evenly.
Bake about 25-30 minutes until the oatmeal part is lightly browned and doesn't hold a dent when you press a fingertip in. Cool on a rack, then carefully lift the slab out of the pan using the parchment or foil onto a cutting board. Cut into 24-30 bars with a serrated knife. 
These taste best warm but not hot, an hour or two out of the oven. To get that texture after, microwave a bar approximately 8 seconds on high power.

Half the batch fits in a 9x9 square pan; check after 15 minutes. Cut in 12-16 bars.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Sewing up: Part 2 of the pull-on/peasant jumpsuit tutorial, with a special split-sleeves bonus mini-tutorial

AAAnd we are back, ready to put the cut-out pieces together. Go HERE for Part 1, the pattern draft and cutting. (Note that I used a print here, so it's easier to see right and wrong sides.)

To recap, you will have EITHER a front and back top, sleeves, and left and right pants and pockets, for a jumpsuit with a waist seam; OR a full body front and back, sleeves, and pockets, for a jumpsuit with a vertical center seam.

First, the pockets. 

Serge or finish all the edges of the pocket pieces. Press 1/2 inch (12 mm) on each straight side to the wrong side, then clip the corners to reduce bulk. Press the curved edge as well, clipping into the curve as necessary. Stitch down that curved edge, which is your pocket opening.

Pin the pockets into place on the pants pieces on the right side, then topstitch the straight edges, backstitching or lockstitching at the edges of the curved pocket opening where there will most likely be stress.
I think I may have matched the pattern too well? Hard to see the pocket on the upper left.

For a jumpsuit with a waist seam: 
Pin each pants piece right sides together and sew the inner leg seams front to back.

 Turn one leg right side out and put it inside the other leg to pin, then sew, the center seam from front to back.
Slide the right-side-out leg into the wrong-side-out one, lining up the raw edges. 

I sewed this seam with blue thread, hoping it would make it more visible...

 Finish that seam, then pull the one leg out of the other to finish the pants inner leg seam as one continuous serge. Press the serged seams flat to one side. 

Serge the neck edge of the front and back top pieces each sleeve piece if making regular sleeves. (If you are making split sleeves, don't do this. see note On split sleeves below, between the 🔵🔴🔵) Pin the front edge of each sleeve to the front top piece, right sides together. Sew, starting at the bottom of the arm and ending at the finished neck edge, and finish those seams. Do the same for the back edge of each sleeve and the back top. You will now have a cross shape with a hole in the middle. Press the finished edges of the neckline to the wrong side, first 1/4 inch (6mm) then again 1/2 inch (12mm). Edgestitch starting from a sleeve seam, leaving an opening to insert the elastic.

Fold in half
Fold the cross shape in half right sides together so the edges of the sleeves meet, and the back and front meet. Sew up the sides, starting at the lower edge and ending at the sleeve ends. Serge or finish those seams, then press them flat toward the back. Press the hem of the sleeves to the wrong side by 1/4 inch (6mm), then by 1/2 inch (12mm). Edgestitch the hem, leaving an opening to insert elastic if you are using it.

Join the top and pants: Have the top inside out and the pants right side out. Line up the center seams of the pants with the center marks of the top front and back edge so that the pants are upside down inside the top, right sides together. 
Pin and sew. Pull the top up so the whole thing is wrong side out. Trim the seam allowances to 1/4 inch (5-6 mm), then press them open.

continue to the waistband below.

For a jumpsuit with a vertical center seam: 
Prepare the pockets as above, and sew them onto the body pieces where you marked -- 1 1/2 inch (3.5 cm) down from the waistband for a child, more for adults. 

Once you have attached the pockets, place the full body pieces right sides together and pin the front center seam. Sew and finish that seam. Do the same for the center back seam. Press them to one side. 

For regular sleeves, pin and sew the sleeve edges together, and finish those seams. (See note on split sleeves between the 🔵🔴🔵) Turn one sleeve right side out and align its edges with the armhole edge of the body piece. Pin, paying attention that the front edges and back edges match up. Start at the bottom of the armhole and sew toward the neckline on the front, then start again from the bottom sleeve seam to the back neckline. Do the same for the other sleeve, then finish both armhole seams. Press the seams toward the back, then press the hem edge of each sleeve first 1/4 inch (6mm), then 1/2 inch (12mm) to the wrong side. Edgestitch, leaving an opening to insert the elastic if you want to gather that edge. 
Serge all the way around the neckline to stabilize it, then press 1/4 inch, then 1/2 inch to the wrong side as well. Edgestitch the neckline, leaving an opening to insert the elastic.

Pin the inseam of each leg, then sew from the center down each to the bottom. Finish as one continuous serge, then press the seam toward the back. 


*On split sleevesMark the joins, 
I marked 1-inch (2.5 cm) lengths separating 3 1/2 inch (9 cm) "splits"... do as few or many as you see fit, making sure top and bottom are sewn together at least 1 1/4 inch (3.25 cm).
pin and sew. Press the edges to the wrong side 1/4 inch (6mm), 

then carefully edgestitch all along the edge. You'll have to bunch it up somewhat under the presser foot to get to the center, like this: 

For jumpsuit with a waist seam, sew the sides of the top together before attaching the completed split sleeves; for one with a center seam, attach the sleeves as given, starting at the bottom of the armhole. 


 For both ways:
Prepare and attach the internal waistband: Press 1/2 inch (12mm) of each long edge of the waistband strip to the wrong side. Pin carefully to the marks on the wrong side of the jumpsuit, following the angle or curve of the waist markings.

Edgestitch the top edge, then the bottom edge, leaving an opening to insert the elastic.

Insert all the elastics with a bodkin or safety pin. I do the neckline, then the waist, then the sleeves. Check for fit before cutting and securing the elastics by overlapping the ends and sewing an X (If your machine has a crosshatch stitch, it works well to make a secure join). Close the openings stitc hand or machine.
Lastly, hem the pant legs: fold over 1/2 inch (12 mm), then as much as necessary to get the right length. Edgestitch or blind hem.

That's it, you're done! Test it out, (trampoline or a grassy hill optional) jump!

Monday, July 15, 2019

peasant jumpsuit/romper pattern hack/tutorial -- any size!

The jumpsuit has a fun name, and it's like a dress in that it's an outfit in one piece with no becoming un-tucked, coordinating or agonizing over what goes with what, but the bonus of no worries about being cold or the wind coming up that you have with a skirt. Remember this cutie? 

Try this  or this if you want a onesie that zips and has a hood if you want the coverage of that, but moving on... 
Even better than a jumpsuit is one that literally just pulls on, with no buttons to sew on or fall off and no zipper to get stuck. 

Et voila, the peasant-top jumpsuit. 

You can make it in short-sleeved/shorts for a romper in cotton, challis or a tropical gauze,
 or long-sleeved/full-length in baby corduroy or french terry or velour for a three-season no-brainer (this one features a split sleeve), 
or any combo therein. Note that you can use either a woven or a knit for the jumpsuit, but it should have a good drape (not too crisp or clingy) and be stable enough to not roll when it's cut. Bear in mind that knits are stretchy, which means you might want to size down to get a not-too-baggy but still loungey look if you plan to use a knit.

Now there are quite a few video tutorials out there that use commercial patterns and that's great, but we're not going to do that! if you find a peasant top and pants patterns in the clearance bin, then by all means use those, but for your convenience (ha, really mine) here are some that are free. (with thanks to their respective bloggers/originators:)

Free peasant top/dress patterns:
child sizes:
from rectangles, sizes 3, 4 & 5
the original I made years ago in sizes 3 and 5 years; 
this one is good, sizes 1-14 years with sleeve options

adult sizes:
draft-your-own actually you could use this for a child too, based on measurements
S,M, L  -- use the bodice only, the sleeve is a needlessly odd shape. You'll need to draft a sleeve that looks like the bodice but in your sleeve circumference across. Match the armscye curve to front and back. Bear in mind that the front will dip lower than the back, so the sleeve will look like this:

Pants patterns:

from babies to 6-7 
sizes from 2 to adult XL one piece
XXS (20" [51cm] waist/29" [74cm] hip) to 5XL (60" [150cm] waist/65" [162cm]hip) front and back pieces but can be joined
how to copy an existing pair of pants with contrast cuff and waistband

These are all pajama/lounge pants fit -- these are not going to be trim, close-to-the body pants because of the way they are sewn. If you have a pair of pants in a fabric similar to the one you are making your jumpsuit from that fit the way you like, use the last tutorial above to copy them.

The best way to figure out which pants pattern size to use is by hip measurement -- outseam length is not a dealbreaker because you can always hem them up, and unless your waist measurement is much larger than the hips you don't have to worry about that.

Pockets:  It's simpler to make a jumpsuit with the one-piece pants (no side seam) -- if you want to have in-seam pockets though, you'll have to keep the side seam. I prefer a cut-in patch pocket, which is a basic shape: (this is for an adult size; for kids, measure their hand and make it comfortable -- the one above is approximately 8 in[20cm] by 5 in[13cm]):
10 in[2.5 cm] x 7.5 in [19 cm] with opening 3 in [7.5 cm] x 4 in [10 mm]

(side note for nerds: this basic shape, which i think of as a cracker with a corner bitten off, is the basis for the half-drafts of a peasant top, its sleeve, and pants legs! How fun is that?) 

In addition to the two patterns, you'll need a tape measure, pencil, eraser, tape (not too sticky, like washi tape or scrapbooking paper tape) and a ruler, and a few important measurements. GIRTH is measured from the top of the shoulder, down through between the legs, and up the back, on a slight diagonal and a bit of ease for walking. Like so:

 TORSO Length is a straight line perpendicular to the floor from the back neck to the waist.

Fabric requirements will vary widely -- finish your pattern hack first, then figure out the yardage/meters based on the length of the pattern pieces and how wide the fabric is. Pockets will need more, but just a tiny bit. (For reference, our daughter's size 8-10 took a meter/yard of 52" wide fabric, and my adult petite size 16 (roughly) took 2 meters/yd of 60" wide fabric.)
You'll also need elastic -- 3/4 inch should be good for adults for the waist, but go with 3/8 or 1/4 for the neckline, and for kids.
Also matching thread and the appropriate needle for your fabric, plus pins or clips.

The pattern hack:
First, the peasant top. You'll use your torso length to figure out where to shorten the pattern where it joins the pants -- most tops have enough to tuck in, but you don't need that -- just enough to blouse out above the waist. Measure from the center back and draw a line across. Mark the corresponding point on the front, taking into account that the front neck is lower.

 Measure the new length of the top pattern front and back and add that to your center seam length on the pants (where the pieces are sewn together below the waist) -- it should be about the same as your Girth measurement, minus the distance over your shoulder. Since all these patterns are in half, the center front and center back will be on the edge that would be unfolded as sewn. Check also that the bottom edge of the top and the top edge of the pants are about the same.

Jumpsuit with a waist seam: If you want to use a fabric with a prominent print that won't look good with a center seam, go ahead and cut the top front and back, and sleeves, out of the folded fabric as-is, like you were just making the top. 
To join the pants part, you'll need to subtract any waistbands first. If you already have your top, cut out the pants left and right, making a mark which are the front and back seams. Mark where to place the pockets on the right side -- usually an inch or so down from the waist, and closer to the sides than the center seam.
You'll also need a strip 3 inches wide (2 to 21/2 inches for kids) and the length of the top of the pants to carry the elastic on the inside -- an internal waistband. Cut this along the grain.

Combined pattern piece (seam in the vertical center): I wanted to make one pattern piece with a center seam, so i went a step further and combined the top and pants in the pattern. Remove the waistband and seam allowances from the top edge of the pants pattern, and align that with the waist points you just marked. Cut the top pattern down the center, front and back. You'll move the seam allowances from the sides to the middle.

Tape the front pants to the front top, and the back pants to the back top pattern, lining up the waist seams and grainlines as closely as you can. Now measure up from the inseam to the neckline on both front and back, and add them together. This should be about the same as your GIRTH, minus how low you want the neckline to fall below the junction of your neck and shoulder.

See where this is going? Instead of having the seams go up the sides, we have the center seam that you usually see on pants go on the top as well. The straight edge of each pattern is the folded side. Now all you have to do is trace around the taped-together patterns to make the single pattern piece.

This is a great pattern to use for coveralls like mechanics wear -- that are meant to go over regular clothes and be pretty much the same front to back. Also great for small kids who don't have much shape, just straight up and down.

Note that if you have a good-sized booty (or need room for a diaper), your back and front on the pants will differ a lot. The blue line is the front, drawn onto the back for comparison.

In this case, it is better to make your pattern piece flat and not on a fold, marking front and back. The one-piece pants pattern is already like that, so join the half-front of the top to the front of the pants, and the back to the back, and blend the lines. It will look like this. This is for a romper/shorts, but you can see the difference between front (on the left in the pic) and back (on the right).

Mark your waist points and draw a line across -- for all but the most pole-built of us, it will be slightly higher in the back than in the front, just like the original pants pattern. Don't worry if it looks much larger than your actual waist. 

You'll still need the sleeves, and a waist strip the length of that line (3 inches wide for adults, 2 to 2-1/2 inches for kids) as above. Cut all the pieces (2 body pieces, 2 sleeves, 2 pockets) from the fabric in mirror, and one strip. Make sure to transfer the markings for the waistline, and pocket placement.

NOTE: On split sleeves: Cut the sleeve pattern piece apart down the middle. Tape the edges of the sleeve together (seam allowances should remain the same) so the seam will run along the top of the arm instead of the underarm, like so:  

Mark 1 inch (2.5cm) joins separating the open sections, spacing evenly so the sleeve will be seamed at the top and bottom edges (makes inserting the elastic so much easier.)  

Wow! We got all that done, and next post is the sewing!

Friday, May 31, 2019

pretty-colored potato rolls -- again.

We're almost at summer! So summer-colored bread buns. Also, potato hotdog buns (which, to be fair, are also great made into lobster rolls -- just split through the top rather than the side)... Partly inspired by the purple burger buns at Hapa, and my previous colored potato braid. Potato rolls are a classic for sandwiches because potato has a sort of timed-release moisture action in the baked bun, keeping it moist and soft but sturdy enough to stand up to loading with filling. These are not quite as smooth as Martin's, but they are tasty and a bit more complex in flavor because of the sourdough.  

The potatoes -- purple and Yukon gold, microwaved (most microwaves have a potato setting! If yours doesn't, one large or two smaller potatoes will take about 3 1/2 to 4 minutes on high), cooled, peeled and mashed. These are purple regular potatoes, not Okinawan sweet potatoes or Filipino ube. They're really deep purple!

Sourdough Potato Hotdog Buns (two-color version) makes 16 hotdog buns or 10 120 g burger buns
100 g. bread flour
90 g. water
20 g honey
8 g active dry or instant yeast
Beat together in the mixer bowl and let rise 1-4 hours, until puffed and bubbly. (if you're using instant yeast, you may want to add half now and the other half with the starter.)

Add and mix in with the hook:
320 g starter, fed 6-10 hours before
180 g bread flour
8 g salt 
20 g dry milk powder (optional)
(let rest 15-20 minutes to autolyse, if you wish. It's not essential, but it makes a smoother, more consistent dough.) Mix the dough again and divide it in half. 

175 g each mashed purple and Yukon gold potatoes (or 350 g of one kind)
30 g butter (or margarine, or coconut oil)

(Of course if you just want one color you'll skip the dividing and just mix the potatoes in with the whole batch.)
Add the potato to each half and mix it in with the butter (15 g or 1 tbsp for each part.) It might take a bit of kneading on the counter to get a uniform color, (I'm kind of disappointed the yellow is not that vibrant), round, then place in lightly buttered bowls and let rise until doubled, about 40 minutes to an hour.

Smileyfaces in the risen dough!

 Fold the edges in to de-gas, then turn each out.

Divide each into pieces about 38 g each, and fold to pre-shape. (The two in the middle will be single-color, so they're 75 g each.)

Roll into 6-inch ropes and twist. 

Lay them on a nonstick mat or parchment,
cover with a lid or plastic, and let rise... they may touch, but that's okay.

Bake at 350 about 20 minutes, until browned and sound hollow when tapped (the crust will be firm, but it softens as it cools). Pull them off the sheet and allow to cool on a rack so the bottoms don't get soggy.

The interior crumb.