Cornmeal Drop Biscuits…Being Martha

Once you have your ingredients ready to go for the biscuits, I would start the chili first as the biscuits are really easy to make and don’t take much time.  This is my chili from scratch; a really simple recipe.  If there is interest, I can post the recipe.

Combine the dry ingredients first….cornmeal, flour, baking soda, salt, etc.  Then, cut in the butter with a pastry cutter.  If you don’t have one, you can use two knives or this alternate method here.  The one key to cutting butter into dry ingredients is that the butter is chilled.  The buter does not need to be fully blended.  Small pea size chunks of butter are okay.  They make the biscuits even better once cooked.

Add in the milk to the dry ingredients and butter.  Mix until just combined.  It will be chunky because of the butter…that is OKAY!

Use two spoons to drop 1/3 cup size biscuits onto a cookie sheet.  This takes a little bit of coordination and the dough is a little sticky.  Take your time and be patient with yourself.

The biscuits dropped onto the cookie sheets look like they will fall apart.  Resist the urge to make them perfect little balls.  They will ruin the consistency of the biscuits once they good and will not allow the butter chunks to melt throughout.

Do not overcook…pull them out when you see a tinge of golden brown start to show up around the base.  The one thing that I would have done differently was to place parchment paper or a baking liner on the baking sheet.  it would have made it easier to pull the biscuits off with out scraping off the good crunchy bottom.  Here they are all done and ready to eat.

This is such a quick and easy recipe.  I think it would be really good as a topping to a baked chili dish even.  Maybe place your chili in an 8×8 glass dish, top with this cornmeal biscuit dough and cook for 20 minutes….it would be so good!!!

I would rate this an EASY recipe great for the beginner baker or even kids.

I would rate the taste a 9 out of 10.

The one thing I liked about this recipe is that the biscuits were not really dry like other cornmeal breads or muffins.  Instead, they were very moist and had a great taste.

Happy Baking!


Machine Applique Tutorial

I first learned to machine applique about 6 years ago in a class at the Fat Quarter Shop in Vista taught by Michelle who is now the shop owner.  This shop continues to get better and better and still remains one of my favorite shops.  I thought I would pass on what I have learned over the 6 years since I have been using the machine applique technique.  Some of my favorite quilts are appliqued.  You will find a step by step guide in this post….

First, you want to figure out what shape that you want to applique.  One of the easiest ways to find a shape (if one doesn’t come in the pattern) is to google it.  If you google ‘flower template’ and click on images, you will be amazed at all the different choices that come up.  It is a great resource for getting the applique shape you want. There are many other options as well (kids coloring books, magazines, etc.)

 This technique utilizes fusible web.  My favorite is ‘steam a seam lite’.  There are many kinds including ‘wunder under’, pellon, etc.  This is my favorite and works well for machine applique.  The others work as well, but this is my preference.  You want to trace the image on the waxy (non-sticky) side of the fusible web.  For a simple applique, I slip the template under the fusible web and continue to reposition to trace multiple pieces of the same template.  There is no need for a light box; it is fairly transparent and easy to trace.

I then cut out each of the items leaving some white space around each of them.  I would suggest at least a 1/2″, but do not carefully cut them out.  Rather, I loosely cut them out as shown below.

 I then select the fabric I want for each of the applique pieces.  I place the fabri on the ironing board wrong side up and iron the fusible web onto the wrong side of the fabric.  Really easy and no need to steam or iron multiple times.  It is a really quick iron and they are adhered to the fabric.

Now, you cut each of the shapes out along the trace line.  It can be easily seen on the wrong side of the fabric as seen below.

Here is what the cut out pieces look like when they are ready to start placing on your project whether it is a pillow, quilt top or even a piece of clothing.

Now, carefully layout where you want each of your applique pieces.  Once you know where you want them, peel the paper backing off each of the applique pieces.  This will leave you with a piece of fabric with a slightly tacky back.  This tacky back is the magic and what will eventually adhere to your quilt with a little heat.  If the paper backing is difficult to get off, score it lightly with a pin and it will make it easier.

Now, iron on your applique pieces onto your project.  Just run over each piece several times with the iron and you are ready to sew.

I prefer to machine applique using the blanket stitch.  Here is what it looks like on my machine.  The stitch length is set to 2.0 and the stitch width is 2.7.  Make sure that you change your foot to allow for the side to side motion or you will break a needle!  Trust me, I have done it a number of times!  I also use the knee lever on my machine when I applique as it makes it gives me the most flexibility to operate the pressure foot and keep my hands on the material when maneuvering corners or tricky areas.

I always start the stick by bringing up the bobbin thread first.  Then, I make multiple stitches to knot the beginning of the stitch with the needle dropping down right on the outside edge of the applique piece.  You will want to practice this stitch and to understand the rhythm of your machine and the order with which the blanket stitch is created.  This will help you to understand how to manuever curves, turn and angles.  You will learn when you are on the inside of the stitch and on the outside.  You always want to turn corners and curves on the outside of the stitch.  You need to practice, practice, practice.  The more you practice, the better you will get!

Here is a closeout of how the stitch looks on the applique.  You will notice that part of the stitch is on the applique piece (the legs of the stitch) and the other part (the stem of the stitch) is on the base fabric.  You will notice the turns are maneuvered with the stem portion of the stitch.  Again…practice, practice, practice!

Here is a sneak peak of a quilt that I am working on with multiple appliques. 

The key to this technique is patience and practice.  The great part about this technique is it’s simplicity.  Compared to other techniques (starch method, plastic template, double applique, needle turn, etc), it is pretty simple and quick to do.

Applique away….




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