Soup Sundays: Vegetable Beef with Cheddar Biscuits

This Soup Sunday is a classic soup, one of the heartiest, tastiest and warming soups of all- Vegetable Beef-, with one of the tastiest dunkable companions- the cheddar biscuit.

This soup should almost be named the ‘anything and everything’ soup because you can put literally anything and everything in it. Take the ingredient list below as more of general guidelines for vegetables to add to your soup- because you can really add anything that you want!

Vegetable Beef Soup

1 1/2 lbs of stewing beef, cubed
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp paprika

2 cups chopped carrots/turnip/potatoes/other root vegetable

2 1/2 cups (or more) of beef stock
1/2 can of tomato sauce
1/2 cup cooked barley
1/2 can of black beans
1/2 cup of chopped brussels sprouts
1/2 cup corn

Sear beef in the bottom of a soup pot. when the outside has browned, add onions and mushrooms, cook until the onions are translucent. Add basil, oregano and paprika coating the meat, onions and mushrooms, fry for 1-2 minutes. 

Meanwhile cook root vegetables in a bit of water in the microwave (to reduce the amount of time it takes to cook in the soup).

Add beef stock, tomato sauce, and root vegetables with water to the meat. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Add barley, beans, brussels sprouts and corn, then continue to simmer until the meat is tender and the brussels sprouts are cooked. Add salt and pepper to taste- then serve your tasty soup!

Don’t forget to make these dunkable companions to go with it! These are my absolute favourite thing to go with soup- so tender and flaky!

Cheddar Biscuits

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, cold and cubed 
3/4 cup cubed cheddar cheese
1 cup buttermilk

Mix flour, baking powder and salt together. Cut in the butter, mixing with a pastry blender until it is in little pieces, making a crumb-like texture. Add the pieces of cheese, coating them with the flour mixture, then add the milk and mix until it is just comes together. Spoon onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bake at 400°F for 20 – 25 minutes, until lightly brown. makes 12 small biscuits or 6 large biscuits. Serve warm with butter.. mmmmmm.

It has been so nice having soup every Sunday this fall :), and enjoying the leftovers for lunch through the week. Snuggling onto the couch with a mug of soup and a cheese biscuit, watching TV. I have been loving the new season of Downton Abbey- all the accessories they wear- it makes me want to make some beautiful hair pieces. I’ve also been loving a BBC show called The Paradise- the period costumes, the accents – it give me the warm fuzzies.

My other great TV fashion inspiration source (very different from the previous two shows) is Revenge. The ladies (and men) on that show wear the most amazing things,- the nautical themes *swoon*- my fashion fav is Charlotte- she is always just so polished but edgy and fresh- just love it! – And I will definitely be finding some inspiration for future sewing projects from this latest season! Also who can not LOVE Nolan – and pretty much everything he wears and does? 

Anyways, enough of my TV fashion idiols, back to the kitchen- when will we finally invent dishes that wash themselves?

xo erin

Friendship Cake

Around this time every year, if I am attentive enough, I will remember to start the best 30 day process -the process of friendship cake.

Friendship cake is one of my grandma’s recipes. It takes 30 days to make, and it is usually started in late November so that it can be ready for Christmas. Friendship cake starts, as all good cakes start, with alcohol, which is either in the form of brandy (if you are starting the friendship cake) or in the form of starter – given to you by someone who just finished making their own friendship cake. 

This is where the ‘friendship’ comes into friendship cake, because at the end of the process you are left with not only lovely cake, but also the ‘starter’ for more friendship cakes that you can give away to your friends so that they can start their own friendship cake- spreading the love of cake.

Making this cake involves 30 days where you ferment fruit with sugar and alcohol on your counter. At the 30 day mark you drain the liquid (giving it away to your closest friends) and add fruit to cake batter, making delicious, boozy, fruit filled cakes, ready to be enjoyed and shared on Christmas.

The best part of friendship cake is that it is the ultimate Christmas present.  
-To make 6 lovely and thoughtful presents – I make my cakes into 6 loafs, wrap them beautifully, and put the 1 1/2 cups of starter into a jar with a nice handwritten recipe card with the instructions for friendship cake. Not only are you giving delicious cake, but you are giving them the chance to be part of a chain of ongoing friendship cakes. And they will also know that you spent 30 days on their present! But let’s be honest, only 5 friends will get this for Christmas because I have to save at least one loaf for myself!

Friendship Cake

1 1/2 cups of ‘starter’ or Apricot Brandy (or if you aren’t particular like me, any fruit brandy in your possession)
6 1/2 cups of sugar
1- 28oz can of sliced peaches in syrup (not drained)
1- 19oz can of chunk pineapple (not drained)
1- 28oz can of fruit cocktail in syrup (not drained)
1- 375ml jar of maraschino cherries (drained and halved)

For each cake: (batch makes 3 cakes/ 6 loafs)

1 yellow cake mix
1/3 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 small pkg vanilla instant pudding
1 c chopped walnuts

Day 1 – Combine starter, 1 1/2 cups of sugar and peaches into a very large bowl. Cover and stir once everday.

Day 10 – Add 2 cups of sugar and pineapple with juices. Cover and stir once everyday.

Day 20 – Add 2 cups of sugar, fruit cocktail and cherries. Cover and stir once everyday.

Day 30 – Drain fruit, divide juice into 1 1/2 cup portions (of friendship cake starter) and give away to very lucky friends. Divide fruit into 3 portions (one for each cake). 

For each cake, mix all of the ingredients for the cake together mixing it at a medium speed until well combined, add the fruit and stir in until fully incorporated. I suggest doing each cake separately since it would be a very large amount to do all 3 at once, but you can definitely do all 3 at once if you have a bowl big enough. 

For each cake, grease either 1 bundt pan or 2 loaf pans. Bake at 350 °F for 65 minutes (if using a bundt pan) or 50 minutes (for two loaves).

Today is the day that I start my friendship cake!

First step – the brandy. So this is either starter that you were given, or the recipe says apricot brandy, but I didn’t have apricot brandy, I had “Old Plum Brandy” which has been sitting on my bar cart for a little too long and I figured that it wouldn’t be too different- so 1 1/2 cups of that!

Next sugar, 2 1/2 cups of that…

And finally peaches in their syrup… yum

Now to be mixed in a very large bowl! 

And I will let this sit, covered on my kitchen table, stirring once everyday, until the next step on day 10!  Always dreaming of the cakes that are to come 🙂 !
– And now back to the sewing cave, to think up more Christmas sewing ideas!

Bringing back 2004

Finally a fashion sewing post!- and I think this is definitely one of the more interesting and cool things I’ve made.

I was looking through all my patterns, trying to decide what I should make, and I came across one of my older Burda World of Fashion magazines (one of my favourite sources of patterns). 

This edition of BWOF is from 2004, and I can honestly say that I was surprised by how many of the patterns were really cool and wearable. I was 13 in 2004, and I don’t know how many people can look back at their 13 year old self, or fashions of that time without at least cringing a little. But to my surprise, flipping through I did see lots of potential, and this one in particular caught my eye.

And I knew just the fabric to use- some bright orange stretch knit that I found when I was at Fabricland buying the stretch knit for the Sailor Moon costumes.

I picked this pattern mostly because it was so unusual, and I really wanted to challenge myself. The pattern is one of the strangest I’ve ever seen, the front/back piece is like a semi-circle that you cut a big slit into, and the sleeves come to a corner where they attach at the back. There are also so many elements to it- it is a cropped, long sleeve, v-neck, back draped top with a waistband that crosses over in the back.

As Burda instruction are misleading at best, I really just had to keep pinning all these pieces together and figure it out through trial and error. But it did come together.

Does anyone else find that when they work with stretch jersey late into the night, all those scrap pieces around you suddenly become all your accessories? Like that strip lying there looks like it would make the best head band to get that hair out of my face, and wow that piece could totally be braided into a bracelet, until suddenly you look like this at 2AM… just me? okay…

I didn’t use my serger on this (sorry mom), instead I just used a zigzag stitch. It was fairly simple overall, and once I figured out how it all went together it was just a matter of stitching it together. Although the facing for the neck was a little tricky to pin and make sure that it stayed straight. I should have probably basted it to make sure it would lie right, but I was too lazy. I also did some top stitching on the sleeves seams just to emphasize them and make them lie flat.

The Front
The Back
Back close up

I love the final outcome, and I think it looks so cool. I don’t personally feel that I can pull of crop tops on their own, so I wear it with a tank underneath, but I still love wearing it!

Some pics with my dog Finnigan 🙂

– thinking about re-making this in purple, maybe a little less dramatic than the orange… off to the sewing cave!

xo erin

In Heaven at Boretski Gallery

This past weekend, hanging at home with mom, we decided to do a little shopping at my favourite place, Boretski Gallery. It is a little shop in downtown Belleville, close to my hometown, that deals in everything vintage and fabulous. I don’t know if I have yet shared with you my love of vintage fashion, but it is quite a passion of mine and very close to my heart.

I used to go to Boretski Gallery all the time when I was in high school, usually with a friend or two, and we would spend HOURS looking through all the dresses, jewelry and hats, putting on fashion shows and modeling all the dresses, feeling as special as can be :). Sometimes not buying anything and sometimes splurging on a couple items I couldn’t live without, items that are always among the most special in my wardrobe.

 I wasn’t able to go there as much when I was in university and since I graduated this spring  because I live further away and didn’t have access to a car, but I have always tried to drop in from time to time to check in, say hi and drool over everything in the store.

Visiting with my mom reminded me of all the special times in that store- the time I spent 5 hours with my good friend, modeling all the dresses in the shop for Marina (the amazing shop owner, who kept the shop open more than an hour after closing because we were having so much fun!), and finally settling on an amazing little blue number for my graduation. Or the time that I spent about 4 hours looking through everything in the store and finally splurging on a Marilyn Monroe-worthy gold bathing suit and long black evening coat… I still swoon thinking of these purchases, that are in loving places of honour in my closet!… 

One of the most special things about this shop is that it reminds me so much of my grandmother. My grandmother was a seamstress, a collector of all thing vintage and a very fashionable lady. She was and still is my inspiration, and her house and her sewing shoppe was always filled with amazing vintage clothes, accessories, fabrics and sewing and crafting things that are now part of my collection. Going into Boretski Gallery, and with every turn and little surprise I can’t help but think of her :).

(a bra that might make people inquire about the coldness of the room…)

Every time I go into this shop, there is something that I just CAN’T leave without, and this visit was no exception. Browsing through the coats, thinking of the cold outside, I came across this- and I just couldn’t put it back.

I know that I already have a, um.. large number.. of coats, but wearing different winter coats is one of the only things you can do to look different day to day in the Canadian winter, and this one was just the perfect amount of vintage and quirky- and I am really looking forward wearing it and building outfits around it! 

I am so excited to share one of my favourite places in the world, and the best shopping destination in my area! It is worth dropping in just to chat fashion with Marina!

(Marina & I)

Now I am off to make some long wrist warmers to go with my new coat, and dream about all of the other gems that I saw this visit 🙂 !

xo erin

Soup Sundays: Ham & Potato Soup with Cornmeal muffins

I was at home this weekend, enjoying the wonderful chill of fall, and one thing that made my weekend just that much better was a lovely bowl of homemade soup. There really is nothing better than homemade soup, especially when it is fall, when your mom made it, and when it is accompanied by some variety of dunkable companion.

Since I enjoyed my soup so much this weekend, I felt that I had to share it with the world. And upon realizing that I have a variety of soups in my cooking repertoire I figured that I would make it a fall feature on my blog “Soup Sunday” – starting with my mom’s soup: Ham & Potato soup, with cornmeal muffins.
As you can see this soup is more of a Ham & Potato, & corn, & carrots, & white kidney beans soup, but for simplicity we just call it Ham & Potato. – and yes it is just as creamy and filling and delicious as it looks :), especially when consumed accompanied with a homemade cornmeal muffin. 
Looking through my mom’s recipe book I found these well loved recipes:
A good rule of thumb when looking through my mom’s cookbook is: the dirtier the recipe card, the better the recipe. 
Mom’s Ham & Potato Soup
3 1/2 cups diced potatoes
2 medium carrots diced
1 small onion chopped fine
1 cup ham (or more if you really like ham)
2 cups of water
1 1/2 cup chicken stock
– place above ingredients in a pot & boil covered until the potatoes are tender-
5 tbsp butter
5 tbsp flour
1 cup cream
1 cup chicken stock
1 can white kidney beans (drained)
2 cups corn
1 pkg chicken bullion 
– while the veggies & ham are boiling, melt butter with flour to make a roux, then mix in the cream. Add chicken stock and stir until thick. Add beans, corn and bullion (& parsley ‘for looks’- clearly optional)-

Then add the veggies & ham with their stock into the creamy mixture and you have SOUP!!
AND- if you are feeling particularly decadent then you can make these dunkable companions to go along with it:
 Great Cornmeal Muffins

Dry Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (the wimpy Canadian whole wheat flour)
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
Wet Ingredients:

2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup olive oil
2 eggs
1/4 cup honey
1 cup fresh corn (optional, and not in the featured photo, but good)
– mix dry, mix wet, mix together. Bake at 400 °F for 20 minutes, or until lightly brown. Makes 12 muffins that can be enjoyed hot or frozen for a later time.- 

I promise you will not regret making these! – Also I think this is the time where I have to change the name of my blog from “The Sewing Adventures of Emerald Erin” to “The Sewing and Life Adventures of Emerald Erin”, because, let’s be honest, this blog is not even close to being entirely about sewing. Food, crafting, jewelry making, creative outings and general cool life stuff is taking over- or at least is a good accompaniment to my sewing posts. 🙂 
Anyways – I hope you have a lovely Sunday, and maybe snuggle up with a nice warm bowl of soup like I did! I know that when I do I feel like this:
All yawns and snuggles, and then I cuddle into bed and enjoy a movie or get lost in the vortex that is YouTube.
Happy Sunday everyone!
xo erin
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