Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday

It's Good Friday and for several reasons.  We made it to the Good Friday church service today which is always so moving.  And there were lots of people there.

I finished 3 little quilts this week and that is also good.

One is hanging on the wall. The applique center is a free pattern from Erin Russek at One Piece at a Time.

The other two will be displayed somewhere.  One is the ugly fabric challenge quilt and I was very happy to finish it.  It did not sing for me.  It didn't even hum.  I think the fabrics were all too muddy or dull for me.  I used the blue border and goldish orange binding to add some brightness.  This quilt will probably move to my closet and stay there.

This was the March challenge and here is the February challenge which was pieced last month but finished this week.  I like that the binding on the sides are one color and the ends are another color. Both were challenges from the Sentimental Quilter.

I enjoyed my trip to Primitive Gatherings and managed to find some great fabrics for a couple of upcoming projects.  Yea!!

Happy Easter.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Designing Monday

GRRRR!!  I am frustrated.  I have been working on the quilt of the month from the Sentimental Quilter  which is to use ugly fabrics.  I found quite a few from the scrap bag I received from Homestead Hearth  and got busy making HST's.

 I needed more blocks to fill up my quilt and pulled more fabrics that I don't consider ugly from my stash.  Now I am having the darnedest time trying to find fabrics to pull it all together.  My objective was to make all the blocks different, but now I am thinking I will just make some repeats from the ugly fabrics as they are all from the same color family.  This is just a little fun quilt, so there should be no frustration.  Right?

A nice thing that happened this weekend:

As a gift for providing info on the US Cheese Championship, New  England Cheesemaking Supply Co.  sent me this mozzarella kit.  How sweet is that?!!  Milk was on sale last week for $1.68/ gallon, so I am ready to make cheese.

Tonite I am going to a demo at one of the nearby libraries called Beyond Basic Cheesemaking.  Would you believe Primitive Gatherings in right on my way?  This is going to be a great day!!! LOL

Hop over to Judy's blog to see some beautiful designs.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Wonderful Gift

The New England Cheesemaking Supply Company blog is featuring a recent post from my blog about the US Championship Cheese Contest that happened here in Green Bay last week.  They have a terrific blog and newsletter where they feature articles about home cheesemakers and products to help them.  It is a fun and rewarding hobby.

Take a look at their website to get some great ideas for cheesemaking.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Designing Monday

I finished up this quilt top for the guild I belong to.  We make what are called Soldier Quilts to distribute through a local organization to veterans.  They are not Quilts of Valor and have really only size requirements.  After I get it done it goes to a guild member who adds a label to the back indicating it is a gift from our guild.

This pattern is one from the Fons and Porter magazine.  I simplified the stars and reduced the dimensions to fit the size requirement I was given. I made a similar one at the retreat I went to back in Feb.   I bought backing for this one today, so should be able to have it finished for next month's meeting.

Hop on over to Judy's blog to see more beautiful designs.

Friday, March 15, 2013

And The Winner Is ........

After all the votes were tallied the winner of the US Championship Cheese Contest is:

an aged Gouda from Holland's Family Cheese LLC in Thorp, WI.

Second place went to:  a Tarentaise from Spring Brooke Farms in Reading, VT.

Third place went to:  a medium cheddar by Team Cracker Barrel Natural Cheese, Weyauwega, WI

Here is a link to yesterday's news story about the Finals of the Cheese Competition, including a short video of the winner, Marieke Penterman, who reminds me a bit of Ricki Carroll of New England Cheesemaking Supply

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Cheese Champs

Everybody knows that Wisconsin is America's Dairyland.  What better place than Wisconsin to host this:

Every two years the Wisconsin Cheese Board hosts this competition here:

As you enter the atrium, there are tables set up in a horseshoe where judges are hard at work evaluating over 1700 entries.  There are 80 classes of cheese and butter that have to be tasted and rated for packaging, color, taste, texture, etc.  Not a bad job, eh?  This year there were 21 judging stations.  Judges are from across the country and most are from Wisconsin.  WE DO LOVE OUR CHEESE!

Each judging station had 2 judges ( the people with white hats ) and 2 runners ( orange hats ).  The runners fetched the cheese for the judges and sometimes even cleaned up the table and the equipment.

Some of the cheese comes in little round balls or flat squares.  Some come in huge squares or cubes up to 200 pounds!

As best as I could tell all the cheese is commercially produced, although I did not see any information to verify that or anything on the entry sheet to require that.

I sat down to watch at several stations.  First the packaging is examined.  At one station there were little balls of mozzarella in plastic.  The judges first comment was about the cute little pigtail shape of the plastic as it was sealed on the ends.

Next the judge looks at the cheese inside the plastic to see if there are any dents, discoloration or other defects.  Then they take a sample of the cheese.  If it is a hard cheese, they use the trier like in the photo below.  The judge pulls out the cheese and then breaks off a hunk where the wax is and plugs it back in the hole.

 For softer cheeses they use a big honkin' knife that looks like a machete.  A couple of tables had a large knife with  handles on both ends to rock it back and forth.  Then they cut the cheese in several slices and take a piece to sample from the center of the cheese.  For blue cheese, the table had a ginormous cheese wire slicer.  I loved that this blue came wrapped in blue foil.

Here's the slicer wire:

Once they have the cheese cut or a piece in their hand, the judges smell the cheese.  Then they taste it for saltiness, bitterness, and texture.

Once they have the taste evaluated, they spit the cheese into a bucket.  Yep, you heard right.  All that glorious cheese right in the trash.  Most of the judges were somewhat discreet and kept their bucket behind them so the spitting was not so obvious.  At one table a young man was being trained by an experienced judge, so they kept their bucket between them and it was quite a show!!!

After each quality of the cheese is rated, the judges enter their scores into an IPAD.  Each judge had his or her own.

 As I understand it, they start out with a perfect score of 100 and deduct points from there.  Each class assigns a 1st, 2nd and 3rd prize.  The first prize winners in all categories, except processed cheese compete tonite for the Grand Prize.  I think the big winner is only awarded $500, but the marketing advantage is huge.  

There is a table set up for tasting.  There were 4  types of cheese available:  sharp cheddar, yellow cheddar, Havarti, and pepper Havarti.  I read on the contest website that these are all supposed to be winners from the last competition.  I was not too crazy about any of them.  They were all from Wisconsin.


 This judge's name was Charles Lindburg ( he had his name tag on upside down.)  I thought that was kind of funny.

 This table featured bandage wrapped cheeses.

 Chipotle Gouda (Does that sound weird to anybody but me?)  I read in the paper that there are so many spicy cheeses that they have to spread the among all the judges so they don't have their taste buds overwhelmed by the heat.

 Baked Brie - The runner brought out these two plates with covers.  Underneath was a heated cheese.  He also had the cheese in its original packing which was the cheese in shrink-wrap plastic and in a box.   I was drooling for a taste, although it was brownish and not too appetizing when they cut open the prepared cheese.

 I don't know the name of this cheese, but the runner told me it is made to put on the grill and it doesn't melt.  Hmmm!  I don't get it.

Our newspaper reported this morning that the newest cheese on the block this year is called Juustoleipa.  It is a Finnish cheese that is being produced in the UP.  It has to be heated and is very buttery.  

Hope you enjoyed seeing a little slice of Dairyland Heaven.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Designing Monday

I have been working on a soldier quilt for our guild this week.  I pieced all the stars for it a couple of weeks ago and then set it aside to work on some other things.  This week I cut most of the stripes and should be able to piece it this week if time allows.  My calendar is pretty full, but sometimes that's when I get the most done.

I finished a genealogy class this weekend that has been going on since early January.  Our county has a very dedicated librarian who has been working in local history and genealogy for 35 years.  She has an incredible memory for historical facts and trivia and has taught this class every year for probably 25 years.  I took it originally in the early 80's when it was about 4 or 5 weeks long and a full class was 20 people.  Now she speaks to an auditorium of 75 - 100 and the class takes 9 - 10 weeks.  Computers have made so much more information available as have the efforts of the LDS church.  While I was poking around on my computer this weekend I found a record for my great grandfather listing him on the rolls of the poor house in the early 30's.  This made me so sad to think they had so little when we have been blessed with so much.  I know that my mother purchased a headstone for the graves of my ggf and ggm in the 90's, because there was no money for markers when they passed away.  She told me  that she remembered as a girl that they were poor as churchmice but very proud.

We were able to talk to both our son and our daughter yesterday.  He is struggling through his mid term week and has lots of studying to do.  She has a new boss and things seem a little brighter in her corner of the world.  I think the conservative culture of Saudi Arabia has really worn on her, but she has been able to find some people and places where she can be more herself and that has been a blessing for her.

Daylight Savings hit us yesterday and today I was up bright and early.  Unfortunately the sun has not shown its face yet.  Hope you are having a sunny day in your part of the world.  Be sure to hop on over to Judy's blog to see more beautiful designs.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Designing Monday

At the guild auction last month, my friend, Barb won some books and she gave this one to me.

 She knows I love to make little quilts.  I asked her which one of the quilts she liked best in the book and she picked Anna's Choice.  I pieced together this little cutie patootie out of reproduction fabrics I found in my stash using the pattern that Barb picked.  She did say that her doll is wearing green.  I guess I will have to bind it in green so it at least looks like it has more green.  LOL.

I also pieced one more of the Scrap Basket Blocks from Lisa Bonjean's blog.

Hop on over to Judy's blog to see more quilty designs.