Showing posts with label Making. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Making. Show all posts

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Living Room-Finished!

I flew through this project.  In just 5 days, I finished painting what I think was the world's ugliest living room.  In retrospect, the timing for this project was not fabulous, because I have been busy and gone so much of June, but the living room is so lovely now that I'm starting to forget the hassle and stress of repainting.

It took me forever to find the right color because the living room is dark with few windows and I kept choosing shades that were just too dark.  Then I came across a picture of a dark hallway painted with Benjamin Moore's Gray Owl and I instantly fell in love.  After waffling between trim colors (always the hardest part for me), I ended up going with Benjamin Moore's Cotton Balls.  It's the perfect color to go with the gray in a dark room.  It's got plenty of pure white to draw in lots of light, but it's got enough cream in it to keep from making the room look too stark.  Every time I walk into the living room now, I take a deep breath.  It is so soothing and relaxed.  But enough about it, see for yourself!

Deliberating on colors....

The chaos (and inconvenience) of a covered up, taped-off living room.
The amount of paint it took to cover this whole living room.
Cottonballs on left; Gray Owl on right
A lovely corner.

White and gray.

These pictures are from right after I finished.  I took a whole bunch of pictures
today and then realized my memory card wasn't fully in and so I
have no pictures of the rug and the other side of the room (which wasn't finished).

So tada!  There it is!  I can't believe the difference it's made on the whole house having these two rooms painted.  However, I'm definitely done with painting for the summer.  I always forget how much time and effort it takes.  Tell me, have you been working on any house projects recently?

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Complete!

The dining room is finished!  After weeks of slogging through coat after coat of primer and, finally, paint and then cleaning the floor (I did not do a good floor covering job), I was done!  I have to admit, after finishing this room, I want to work on the even uglier living room.  Hoorah for finished projects and new projects to come!

Remember, this is what I started with.





Finished!

And that is the dining room project finished!  I'm still contemplating pictures and a few other things, but for the most part, I'm done!  Now on to that living room.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Re-Creations

One of my many projects recently has been fixing up the dining room.  I'm conflicted about what to call this project.  "Renovating" or "remodeling" sounds far too serious and like it should involve load-bearing walls and ripping-back-to-studs.  "Re-decorating" or "re-doing", on the other hand don't sound serious enough. After pondering this as I ripped out the light socket covers, I hit upon a name-Re-Creations.  This is a reference to a lovely book that I read many years ago and am currently re-reading, called Re-Creations.  It was written in the 1920s by the mildly well-known Christian author, Grace Livingston Hill.  Now, normally, I gag and read no further than page 1 with Grace Livingston Hill books.  She is smarmier than any author I've ever met, endlessly preaches, and writes unbelievable characters.  But, if you write as many books as she did (197, according to Good Reads), you have to hit on at least one successful story idea.  And Re-Creations was that lucky book.
The dining room, before any kind of fixing-up.  Note the chandelier and the stencils.


"Paint, white paint, had done a great deal toward making another place of the dreary little house.  The kitchen was spotless white enamel everywhere, and enough old marble slabs had been discovered to cover the kitchen table and the top of the kitchen dresser, and to put up shelves around the sink and under the windows...."-From Re-Creations, Chapter 12

The previous owner of our house was into stencils in a big way.  Squiggles and hearts, pineapples and flowers and every other stencil image you can imagine.  She put them around the living room wainscoting and the bathroom ledges, the dining room ceiling, and the entry-way.  She also adored eccentric lighting and the chandelier in the dining room was, I thought, truly awful.  Unfortunately, it all just became part of the scenery and we never really bothered to mess with it.  However, as I stood in the dining room one beautiful spring day, I realized that I was in the mood to do some house fixing up.  So, I went to the little local hardware store and got this lovely paint color from Benjamin Moore and a snowy white trim color and started painting.  It will be subtle and fresh, and much better than whatever was there before.
This is an awful picture, but it's fitting, because the chandelier is awful.

"The dining room had gradually become a place of rest and refreshment for the eyes as well as the palate.  Soft green was the prevailing color of furniture and floor, with an old grass rug scrubbed back to almost its original color....The curtains were white with a green border of stenciling.  The dingy old paper had been scraped from the walls, which had been painted with many coats of white; and a gay green border had been stenciled at the ceiling."-Re-Creations, Chapter 12

In the story of Re-Creations, Cornelia is a young college girl, whose family calls her home urgently because their family is falling apart.  Her mother is in the hospital, father is close to a breakdown, and the children are generally going to rack and ruin.  So Cornelia steps in to the dingy little apartment in the bad part of the city that her parents purchased and moved into without telling her (without telling her?? This part was unbelievable, to me) and begins to put the house to rights.  Since she was studying interior decorating at school, one of her first jobs is to redecorate the house, the proceedings of which are described in lovely detail.
After mudding and a coat of primer.

 "Cornelia awoke with a great zeal for work upon her....The set [bedroom set] in her mother's rom was a cheap one; and that she would paint gray with decorations of little pink buds and trailing vines.  The set in her own room should be ivory-white with sepia shadows....Cheap felt-paper of pale gray or pearl or cream for the bedrooms, and corn-color for the living room...And Carey's room should be painted white, walls and ceiling and all.  She would set him at it as soon as he finished the fireplace, and then she would stencil little birds... around the top of the walls for a border, in the same blue as the curtains...and an unbleached muslin bedspread and pillow roll also stenciled in blue."-Re-Creations Chapter 10

Cornelia, like our previous owner, adored stencils.  And, if I had 1920s stencils around the wall (and bluebirds...can you think of a more charming stencil?  1920s eggshell blue bluebirds), I probably wouldn't have been as hung-ho to prime over them as I was over some hideous 1980s stencils.  Oh, and the trim color currently in the dining room?  This bizarre brown with a lot of yellow and green in it.  Not mustard per se, but definitely headed in that direction.
The window and painted-shut door.  I'm not looking forward to all the prying
taping I'm going to have to do.


I'm in the mudding/priming stage right now.  Yesterday was day one and I spent all afternoon mudding over the drywall piece that had been added to move a door and over the cracks that have developed in the plaster of our old farmhouse.  I've added a heavy coat of primer and today I plan to add more, as well as sand and probably re-apply more mud.  So far, the process is gloriously fun and I'm looking forward to having a pretty dining room.

I love this final quote from Re-Creations:

"The first evening it was all complete the family just sat down and enjoyed themselves in it, talking over each achievement of cushion of curtain or wall as a great connoisseur might have looked over his newly acquired collection and gloated over each specimen with delight."-Re-Creations, Chapter 12.

Reading Re-Creations makes me want to get to work on the dining roomwith an even greater zeal.  I well know that feeling of satisfaction after the completion of a home re-creations spurt and I can't wait to have that with this dining room.  When it's all painted, I'll be sure to post pictures!  Oh, and, if you can get your hands on a copy, read Re-Creations.  It's a lovely book.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book

Lately, my life has been nothing but a whirlwind of deadlines and stuff to do and, as you may have noticed, this is not good for my blog.  Today, I forced myself to take the afternoon off and spend it normally-weeding the soft fruit bushes, which were filled with grass, puttering around the sewing room, and then, finally, doing some recreational cooking.  My eye flitted over The Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book and I knew that I had to make something out of it.

This beautiful cookbook is written by the two owners of a pie shop in Brooklyn.  It is of the modern style of cookbook that I think of as being heavily influenced by blogging.  Lots (and lots and lots) of beautiful pictures, styled within an inch of their lives.  If you look at old cookbooks, there might be a few diagrams, a few sparse pictures just for clarifications, but piles of pictures?  Goodness, no.  And, I have to say, while I am fond of old cookbooks, I appreciated lots of pictures.

The recipes have to be some of the best pie recipes I've ever seen-interesting pie crusts from a chocolate all-butter crust, a cornmeal crust, a pistachio coconut crust, an animal cracker crumb crust. And those are just a smidgen of the gorgeous pie crust recipes.  But wait, we haven't even delved into the pies themselves.  Chamomile Buttermilk Custard Pie, Apple Rose Pie, Concord Grape Pie (in a gorgeous design),  Cinnamon Apricot Pie with Vanilla Pouring Cream, Bourbon Pear Crumble Pie....

Pie is something that has a bit of a bad reputation.  It's viewed as something that is terrify and impossible to do, particularly the crust part.  This cookbook calms all these fears.  The writers of this cookbook seem to assume that, of course, it's easy to make a pie.  Of course, pie is not the easiest thing in the world, but it is not an unsurmountable task.  And these writers communicate this through their cheerful, confident approach to pies.  There is probably about 40 pages at the beginning of the book just going over the basics and I really recommend that everybody read those thoroughly, although I still maintain that the best way to learn to bake a pie is to look over an experienced pie baker's shoulder.  However, this is definitely the next best option.  I loved how carefully they covered everything from utensils to types of flour to using locally sourced ingredients, all accompanied, of course, by stunning pictures.  Who knew that a pile of winter kitchen scraps was so beautiful?

While I love a good basic peach or apple pie for everyday, I am an experimenter cook at heart and so I really appreciated this kind of cookbook.  However, I know lots of cooks who prefer to stay with the tried-and-true and perfect the basic recipes.  If you are that kind of cook, then I probably wouldn't recommend buying this book.  But everybody needs to at least check this out of the library.

Tonight, I will be serving a lovely Buttermilk Chess Pie made with a cornmeal crust.  What a treat!  Now, go out and get your hands on a copy of this cookbook and improve your pie baking skills.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Thatched Roof by Beverley Nichols

Beverley Nichols is an author much beloved by both my grandmother and my mother.  Many times over the years, I have been discussing books with them and they stop to gush a little over how witty and sharp and generally great Beverley Nichols is.  I would always smile and nod, but, for whatever reason, never followed through and read something.  The other day, I finally borrowed a Thatched Roof and commenced reading.

I wasn't surprised that I enjoyed the book.  I love to read about people's decorating and gardening adventures and so Nichols's books really are right up my alley.  The gist of this gardening/home improvement autobiography is this: In the 1920s, Nichols buys a completely run-down little cottage with great potential and makes it over, with plenty of advice and opinions from the quirky locals.  In addition to this, it has a lovely garden, which he also fixes up, written about in another book.

There is, of course, much drama involving the whole house being turned into a "ye olde" cottage, filled with fake Tudor pillows and fake Tudor walls, and, well, fake Tudor everything.  I laughed out loud so many times at Nichols's wrath.  There are adventures and problems galore and the descriptions of the house make it sound perfectly lovely once Nichols finishes it.

Another thing that completely impressed me in reading this book was how Nichols made the house really come alive.  I could imagine every room of the house, every color scheme, every bookshelf, every open window.  Often home decorating writers have a hard time trying to describe their project.  In an era before beautiful home improvement books full of more shiny, artistic photographs than text, a book had to rely on the writer's skill as opposed to the crutch of photographs, a refreshing change.

Now, there were some lovely, lovely illustrations done by Rex Whistler did bring the personality of both the house and the book to life.  I appreciated how the illustrations were an aid to the writing, yet did not take the place of the writing.  I've included a sample illustration below:
Credit: Found off of Pinterest.  Not very credible, I know, I know...
The book is also laugh-out-loud hilarious at many parts.  All of the adventures were just plain hilarious, from the trials Nichols underwent, getting a housekeeper, to the descriptions of the nosy neighbors, judging him on the previous owner's choice of lawn statuary.

That said, Nichols got on my nerves by the end of the book.  He strikes me as a waspish little man, never pleased with anything and constantly critical of everybody around him, as well as being a completely priss about his house.  This is funny for awhile, but I couldn't read that indefinitely.  Oh and his blatant dislike for every. single. female who crosses his path?  Also quite annoying.

So those are my thoughts on A Thatched Roof.  Would I read something else by Nichols?  Maybe.  I loved, loved, loved this book, but I think, at least for me, his writing can only be taken in very small doses.  Maybe in a year, when I'm feeling inspired about gardening next March, I'll pull out another of his books about his beautiful garden and have another go.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Best Hot Chocolate

We've been in the middle of a pretty bitter cold snap and that means that I've been spending huge amounts of time inside.  Sure, it leads to cabin fever and absolutely must be relieved by (very) short daily runs outside, followed by standing by the fire whining about not being able to feel my legs.  However, my book load is lightening at such a rapid pace; I can't remember reading this much in a month before.
Can you see the little flash of red from the cardinal?

But, I absolutely require that there is a steady stream of hot beverages while I'm sitting by the fire of an evening.  I've narrowed it down to, truly, the best hot chocolate.  It's also the speediest.  It was (very roughly) copied off of this blogger's recipe, but I've gotten more loosey-goosey with the method in order to spend the minimum amount of time in my freezing kitchen.

When I was young, my mom used to make stove top hot chocolate when we came in from sledding-stirring cocoa and sugar and water until it boiled, then adding milk and heating for what seemed an interminable amount of time.  Then on the other end of the spectrum is the tepid watery sludge made by mixing powdered milk (blech), cocoa powder, and heaven knows what else into water that, for some reason, is never quite hot.  I'm grossed out just thinking about it.  This hot cocoa is the happy medium.  It's got the full-body flavor of the stovetop method with the quickness of the awful hot cocoa mix method.

This is like no hot chocolate mix you have ever had before.  In fact, it doesn't even deserve to have the same name as that sludge-in-a-package.  I think you'll agree with me after you've made a mug.

Here's the recipe and, oh, is it a lovely to have that hot chocolate ready and waiting in the pantry.

Get out a pint jar and into it put:
1/2 c. cocoa powder (don't bother using some cheap, Dutch-processed, alkalized baking cocoa…use a very dark cocoa powder instead-the flavor is far better)
1/2 c. white sugar
2 tsp. cornstarch (This is to make a smooth hot chocolate mix…don't leave this out!)
Now, this part is pretty optional and I haven't actually seen a huge difference when I omitted it.  However, you can add about 1/4 c. very, very finely chopped dark chocolate (I stuck mine in the food processor)
Then, when you go to make yourself a cup of hot chocolate, just dump, oh, about a tablespoon into a mug full of milk and heat.

Enjoy with your next good book!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Just For Pretty


I love capturing the everyday pretty.  Last week, I was getting ready for out of town family and I just walked around, taking pictures of the failed maple fudge, the clean porch, the cat in the sunshine, the dusty piano keys….all of the beautiful, yet boring in my life that isn't enough to make up a real blog post but shouldn't be forgotten.  Here is the recent mundane, yet beautiful from my life:


A bunch of squash, that is now tucked into the
 basement for the winter months.

The knitting project that is going painfully slowly.
I can't write a post these days without adding a cute kitten picture.
Here's Dorcas chasing leaves behind the watering can.

One of a multitude of sunset pictures.
A beautiful wooden bowl that I'm going to put some pretty
little acorns in.

Hetty, short for Mehitabel…the only chicken who has resisted
the coop and, instead, prefers to be free-range.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Tea With Jane Austen

I'm finally getting around to doing some Austen in August posts.  On August 30th.  Oh well.  My Austen in August writing will probably go into September, but that's fine.

The first book that I picked up was Tea with Jane Austen by Kim Wilson-a slim volume devoted to life in Jane Austen's day as it pertained to tea.  There were fascinating facts, quotes from letters Jane wrote, and all sorts of charming pictures and recipes.  I quite adored the book.  

The book was arranged throughout a day, starting with tea for breakfast and finishing with tea for dinner, with stops all along the way.  The author carefully went through the steps that were taken to make tea, depending on class, and argues that tea was something extremely important to Jane.  Wilson quotes liberally from the novels with loving descriptions of taking tea and discussing tea and judging people who don't take tea seriously.  

Wilson obviously cares very deeply about tea and wants all of her readers to care as deeply about it as she does.  Now I am not a devoted tea drinker, but I love history and I love Jane Austen, so this was a perfect book.  And, really, this book was just a sort of history of that time period, seen through the lens of tea.  

The writing was not breathtaking, however.  There were some awkward, stumbling sentences and things were quoted with no clear source.  I believe that this is Wilson's first writing and so we'll credit the mistakes with a not-very-great editor and inexperience.  

I think that this book could be read as a coffee-table book; flipping through the pages at the pretty pictures and reading the quotes at the side.  However, I sat down and read the thing cover to cover and was glad I did.  Halfway through reading, I got up and made a pan of apple (the first of our own apples!), sage, and cheddar scones. I rooted around in the cupboard for a pretty, non-earthenware mug and curled up, feeling perfectly content.  Readers, it was lovely.  In fact, I think a pre-requisite when reading this book should be having a nice teacup filled with a period-appropriate tea (I chose Oolong), and a little something to eat.

One of the best parts was the recipes.  Wilson would quote from a letter or a paragraph in one of Jane's books that mentioned a recipe and then Wilson modernized the recipes and included them in the book.  I copied several down before I returned this book to the library.

If you have ever enjoyed reading anything about Austen, then this is a book for you.  It's fun and interesting...the perfect weekend read.  I quite enjoyed it.  

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Great Marshmallow Experiment

Last night, on the spur of the moment, my family and I decided to have a little campfire in the back yard.  Some rummaging was done and graham crackers, chocolate, and a pack of hotdogs were found, but no marshmallows.  I turned to this trusty cookbook, of which I gave such a glowing review, and, sure enough, there was a homemade marshmallow recipe.  It's quite easy, just sugar and corn syrup (I'll talk about that later), vanilla, gelatin, and water.
I made them in squares, but there's no reason you couldn't cut them
into any pretty shape you wanted.


I heated up the sugar and water and went to find a bottle of corn syrup, you know, that white syrupy stuff that most cooks have a bottle of languishing in the back.  It's not that same thing as the demonic high fructose stuff, but as I pulled the bottle off of the shelf, I happened to glance at the back and saw that, sure enough, in regular corn syrup, there is high fructose corn syrup.  Cussing inwardly, I went back to the cupboard and wracked my brains for a suitable alternative.  I knew that honey would have way too strong of a flavor and I wasn't sure that maple syrup was thick enough.  Aha!  My eye fell on a bottle of agave syrup, this strange syrup that is a quite popular in health food stores these days.  I think it's from some kind of cactus in Mexico, but don't quote me on that.  There was a little bottle of it stuffed in the back of a cupboard.  I dumped that in and, surprisingly, it gave the marshmallows the most buttery, rich flavor.

I really recommend that you get Homemade Pantry, but if you refuse, here's how you make marshmallows:

Heat up your 3/4 cup of syrup (whatever you choose), 1/4 cup of sugar, and 1/2 cup of water.  Don't touch it, just stick a thermometer in and let the temperature come to 250 Fahrenheit.  Meanwhile, put a package of gelatin in the bottom of a stand mixer and pour another 1/2 cup of water over it and let sit.  when your sugar water has heated up to the right temperature, pour it over your gelatin and turn the mixer to the highest setting until the mixture turns shiny and white.  Pour it into a greased 9x13 pan and let sit until they're marshmallow consistency.  Then cut into squares when you're ready to eat and dust with coconut or powdered sugar.

People, these were so good!  They toast gorgeously and turn into this buttery, toasty pile of goodness on your graham cracker.   I will never buy another marshmallow again.  These are dead easy, the flavor far surpasses anything you could buy, and they have such a gorgeous texture!  So often, if you buy an organic marshmallow, they're weirdly dry and flat and chewy, while the jet-puffed ones taste like chemicals and who knows what's in them.  These are perfect in every way.  You must go make them!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Katniss Dress, Part 3-Finished!

Part One
Part Two
Yes, my readers, the Katniss Dress is finished!  After cussing and ripping out a zipper 3 (3!) times and measuring and cutting and sewing some more, I finally have it finished.  I am pleased as punch.  I can't explain how gratifying it is to be able to see something you like and produce very similar results.   Here are pictures of how the dress turned out.  Thank you to Aden for taking such nice pictures of both this dress and my draft dress.

The rough drawing I did that started this whole project.




And that's the Katniss dress, everybody!  It was a long journey from a picture to this dress and I'm so pleased with the results.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Katniss Dress, Pt. 2

(Here's Part 1 of this series of posts)

Well, after much deliberation and backing and forthing, I chose my rough draft fabric: a pretty 1940s reproduction print on some cheap quilting cotton.  I happily reached for the pattern that I had mentioned I was planning to use, but then I stopped.  The dress just wasn't quite right.  It wasn't supposed to blouse at the waist, the shoulders would be dropping off my shoulders, and I didn't want that collar.  I realized that the only design element that I wanted was the gathered shoulders. I realized that the reaping dress that Katniss wears is a 1940s inspired dress, not late 70s, and that was why the dress pattern looked so wrong.  So I went back to google and searched '1940s dresses, ruched shoulders" and came up with tons of dress patterns that looked just like the Katniss reaping dress.  I ran up to the sewing room and did a lot of digging through patterns and came up with two patterns that I decided to combine to make one very Katniss-ey looking dress.

And here are the results!  The fabric I did my practice run in is a floral print, so the shoulder gathers and the way the waist is fitted don't show up very well, but they will in the real fabric, which is solid blue.  It's also quilting cotton, which tends to be stiffer, so it isn't quite as swishy as it will be in the final dress.

I used this bodice and front tie, minus the scalloped edge.  I just drew
a curved line around the scallops on the pattern.

I used this skirt and sleeves.

And here are the pictures of this lovely dress.  Yippee!



*Thanks to Aden for the pictures of the dress!*

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Pictures of Today

Instead of being a good blogger and review two finished books, or writing about my first draft of the Katniss dress that is finished (!), I'm doing this:

Just one of the containers that held apples.

Here's the drama that was unfolding in this picture:  I was cutting up apples for applesauce,
when who should drop by, but Tom.  He proceeded to get most infernally in the way.
A while later, I took the cut up apples inside, leaving that box that had held
the apples and now had two knives at the bottom of it.  A gust of wind
blew up, blowing the box and Tom went chasing after it.
At some point, Shadow came and joined in the fun.
That is, I'm making applesauce today.  Yes, folks, canning season is in full swing, which means that writing about interesting things takes the back burner.  

Ps.  These pictures were taken with the camera on the laptop.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.  My camera has croaked, leaving me sadly picture-less.  I was extremely surprised by how good these ended up turning out.

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Katniss Dress

You all remember this post about my reservations (and thoughts) about the Hunger Games?  Well, the thing I didn't mention then was my love of some of the gorgeous clothes.  I think the movie writers were going for Depression-era clothes and styles and colors.  All of the kids really do look like little 30s kids during the dust bowls.

And this is what the houses look like:
But anyway, during the reaping, when two children from District 12 are taken, Katniss is wearing this gorgeous blue dress that looks like it was made from something drapey and soft, like rayon or wool.  I fell in love with the dress and it's gorgeous 40s-esque details.  

I loved everything from the ruching at the shoulders to the tie belt to the pretty little glass buttons.  After lengthy google searches, I discovered that no pattern company can design this dress because of copyright laws.  Somebody on Etsy is making them for $300.  Well, no thank you (although, to be fair, if I were making dresses for people, I'd probably charge $300, too).  So I set out to find fabric and a similar pattern to make a dress like this.  I found several patterns, but none of them were really that close to this.  Later, I was up in the sewing room and what should my eye fall on, but some gorgeous blue rayon that was just slightly darker than this fabric.  A bit later, I was searching through my patterns, looking for something that would be similar to the dress and what should I find, but a pattern that was very similar.  I nearly passed out, I was so excited!  

I'm just going to use the bodice from this pattern.  I'll use a shorter, slightly less full skirt pattern and sleeves from a 40s blouse.  I'll also take off the collar and turn the dress into a v-neck. I'll make a wearable muslin first-a dress made in cheap fabric to test run something-before I cut out the real thing.  I couldn't be more thrilled!

Here's the pattern.  I couldn't get a good picture of the fabric, so you'll just have to wait until the dress is done.  I can't wait to show you all!

(Imagine this dress with the neck in a v and with a shorter skirt.  Doesn't it look
remarkably like the real dress?)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Dessert Cookbook

As I sit writing this, I am eating the most delectable thing.  It is a pink, creamy, quivering mass, gently perfumed with the scent of garden strawberries-a strawberry yogurt panna cotta.  I made the recipe two days ago and, like a bad blogger, completely forgot to take any pictures.  But this book still deserves a glowing review from me.  It's called Bakeless Sweets and it's by Faith Durand who is the editor of the wonderful cooking blog, The Kitchn. The cookbook is composed of desserts that are bakeless, most of them things like pudding and panna cotta, but also icebox cakes and no-bake bars.  

Yesterday, I made my first recipe out of the cookbook, a strawberry panna cotta, and it turned out perfectly.  Faith Durand perfectly broke down the steps without going overboard in her instructions and after a night in the fridge in a vintage jello mold, the panna cotta came out perfectly and I ate some for breakfast (yes, breakfast *blush*).  Panna cotta is made by mixing gelatin with something cold, be it a fruit puree, juice, or water.  Then, you simmer cream or milk or coconut milk or something with sugar and stir in the juice and gelatin until the gelatin is completely dissolved.  The final step is to pour it into a jello mold or little ramekins and stick in the fridge until it sets up.
The recipe I made-photograph from the book.

Walnut, Fig, and Barley Pudding, Coffee and Cream Jelly Cups, Deepest Chocolate Mousse, Vietnamese Coconut Tapioca Pudding, No-Bake Meyer Lemon Bars...the list goes on and on in this gorgeous cookbook and I am determined to make them all.  The title makes me think of a slapdash cooking 80s cookbook title (you know the type-"Why the heck would you go to any work in the kitchen when you can throw something together that, you know, kind of tastes like food?!"), but that is not at all how the cookbook comes across.  The pictures are gorgeous and the book is well written.  Each recipe in this cookbook makes me hungry.
Vietnamese Tapioca Pudding-the next recipe I want to try,
also a photograph from the book.

I have a special soft spot in my heart for the old fashioned comfort of jelled things and puddings, but even if you don't, this cookbook is sure to win you over.  Really, you must read it and make a least 5 things out of this wonderful cookbook.