Aunt Margret's Sour Cream Fruit Tart


Next to Gma Krueger's Sour Cream Rolls recipe, which are a lot of work, the most used family recipe is Aunt Margaret's Sour Cream  Fruit Tart.  It is so easy that it is the dessert I go to in a panic because it is so versatile.  I like tarts because they require less fruit, are less work, and feed more people.

 Although I always use fresh fruit, it could also be made with canned fruit as well.
Custard Filling:
Mix 1 c. sugar and 1-2 T. flour
Mix 1 eggs and 1 c. sour cream
Combine both  
Add 1 t. vanilla and spices as desired.  Depending on the fruit (or my mood), I may use ginger, cinnamon, cardamom or 5 spice...any one or any combination...about a teaspoon. I especially love cardamon.  It is next to impossible to mess up this recipe, so it is perfect for the visually impaired, young children, or any one in need of a last minute dessert.
Pour sour cream/sugar mix into an uncooked pie shell (I use a 12" tart pan).  Add fresh fruit (pears, apples, plums, peaches, etc.).  I like to arrange the fruit, but Aunt Margaret just chopped hers and it tasted just as good.  Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.  (Optional): Once cooled I dust with XXX sugar and a few nuts.  

Sometimes I combine fruits... blueberries with peaches. apples with [lums,  and raspberries with rhubarb.  Once I added raisins soaked in brandy to an apple tart and topped with a streusel.  Ymumy

Not only is this recipe easy, it is beautiful and feeds about eight easily .  


Don't call 911


As smoke is billowing from the house, one of the neighbo

rs says to another:  "Don't call 911, it's just Gerry cooking."  I consider any meal a success when I don't burn up a saucepan or set off the smoke alarms.  My stove has a digital control panel which I cannot see at all. 

I tried to memorize where specific controls were, but the  results were so hazardous that I gave up. One day I was going to cook some bacon on a cookie sheet in the oven. I thought I had set it on bake.  I had missed the mark and set it on broil.  Before long, the bacon was cremated, and the grease was on fire. Our smoke alarm not only makes a screeching, screaming noise, it actually yells "Fire, Fire!"  And to top that, we have two smoke alarms.  So the house was filling with smoke, the alarms were screeching and screaming, and I was trying to get the bacon out of the oven with an oven mitt. The oven mitt melted.  At this point I ran to get a neighbor to help, and he saved the day. Now I let somebody else set the oven for me.   After it was all over, I remembered the fire extinguisher in the pantry.

I still burn a saucepan or two.  So whenever I'm at a thrift store, I check the saucepans.  If there's a good one, I buy it . I know it's inevitable that before long I'll burn another one..  

My cooking style has changed with my declining eyesight.  All my life, cooking has been a joy.  Getting up in the morning and donning an apron was always a good day. I only try to do recipes that have a great leeway for measurements.  If I do try to make something that has specific measurements, I have DH do all the measuring before he leaves home. 

For liquids, I have this nifty little device that I received from LCSB *. It fits on the edge of my measuring cup.  When I pour liquid into the cup, when the liquid reaches the device, there is a beep.  LiCSB* also provided me with a black cutting board, which is great when I'm cutting things like cheese, onions, apples, etc.--things that are hard to see on a wooden board. 

I use the stove less and less and the slow cooker more and more. I  keep a supply of packaged sauces and gravies that I could make in a minute  to cover up my mistakes.  If I'm lucky, I only burn something on one side so I can serve it with the burned side down.

If it is truly a disaster, it all goes in the trash and we have soup from the freezer.  My biggest concern is that I'll miss something when I'm deboning fish or chicken, or that I won't see mold.  I like to listen to cooking YouTubes and Bobby Flay for inspiration so I can just keep on cooking.

*Lilac City Services for the Blind 


Plants that play well tpgether!


If I could only have one flower bed, this would be it.  As a person with impaired vision , making the right  plant choices  can save me a lot of headaches down the road. This very small bed is only about 6 feet  square.  What makes it dramatic is the obelisk in the center. 

The important thing is that the plants play well together.  There are no bullies that want to take over and crowd other plants out.   And also there are no wimpy plants that can't hold their own.  All the plants in this bed are robust but well mannered  and coexist very nicely.

This was the first bed I planted after we moved here. It started out as a circle but now it's a square . I have  removed all the grass and put pavers around it. 

I planted a small clematis in the center knowing it would take a couple years for it to take hold.   So I planted perennial sweet peas to fill the obelisk in the beginning . 

Right now the sweet peas and the clematis are neck and neck.  It will be interesting to see which dominates next year. I let the sweet peas go crazy until the1st of August and then I cut them back.  They started reblooming in a couple of weeks and will bloom through September. 

The bed is planted so densly that it overwhelms any weeds trying to germinate. That makes it very easy to care for.  There's a lot of daffodils in there that bloom in the spring and a few alliums. 

My primary concern when planning this bed was that all the plants were robust perennials between18 and 24 inches tall.  Plants include Veronica (Six Hills Giant ), lavender. salvia, iris, shasta daisies, perennial geraniums, yarrow, doronicum, clematis, and perennial sweet peas. As a bonus these perennials also attract bees and hummers.


Make a pillow sham into a Yoga mat tote

 Obviously the first thing you're going to need is a pillow sham. I find thrift stores are the best source. I had six of them because I wanted to make pouches for things I have made for the grandchildren. I have always checked the pillow shams because sometimes I would find ones with special material or trims that I could use in other projects. 

The first thing to do is turn the sham over.  On the back is an opening to insert a pillow.  Hand stitch that opening closed, and then give the sham a good press.  Now you have a piece of fabric that is finished on all edges and lined. 
A great way to start a quick project.  

The pillow sham I used for my yoga mat was just the right size. The shams are different sizes so it would be a wise thing to do at this point to measure your mat when it is rolled to see if the pillow sham needs to be trimmed.

After it is all pressed and measured, you can think about adding some lace or pockets.  You want to do this before you  sew the long sides together.  I added a pocket for my phone and another for my coin purse and my card for the Y. 

Now it is time to sew the long seam.  Pillow shams vary in thickness depending on the amount of batting used.  M sham was thin enough my machine could go through easily  But on one of the pouches I had to open this long edge of the pillow sham and pick out some of the batting before it would go through my machine. 

You will need to add a strap or handle. I added the strap after I sewed the long seam, but it could be added before.  I attached one end 1 inch from the top and the other end about 3 inches from the bottom.  A strap can easily be made from coordinating material; or you can do what I did and use a belt from the thrift store.  Belts make great handles for totes and bags.  I look for soft leather, or jute.  I couldn't resist adding an old belt buckle just for bling.  It is non-functional.  The strap needs to be added BEFORE you close the bottom.

The last step is to do a running stitch around the bottom and gather it up. Tie a knot in the thread.  Just to be safe I put a dab of glue on the knot. 

Now you can pop your yoga mat into the tote and head off to class.  This tote would also make a quick and easy gift.


What do you see??

 I'm often asked, "Exactly what do you see?"  The answer is, "Not much!"   I'm in the advanced stages of macular  degeneration, and the central part of my vision is pretty much gone.  This means anything that I'm looking directly at I can't see.  Fortunately,I still have my peripheral vision, but unfortunately that peripheral vision is dim, blurry, distorted, and multiple vision.  It has turned my life upside down and taken away so many of the things that I love to do, blogging being one. 

There are two types of technology that I need  to try blogging again. The first is dictation.  I have three options for dictation:  MS Word and Gmail on the desktop, and Gmail on the phone.  Of the three options, my phone dictation works the best. After I have the post composed in my head, I dictate it to my phone and email it to myself so I can open it on the desktop
I listen to it several times with Narrator text reader at this point.  Unfortunately, Narrator does not allow me to edit while it is running.  So when I want to make a change, I have to exit Narrator and use dictation, then turn Narrator back on to continue.  

Narrator is a complex program which has over 100 commands and the commands are different with each version of Windows.  I haven't found a tutorial that fits my needs.  Luckily, Vivian from the Lilac City Services for the Blind came to my house and helped me with the keyboard commands. 
Switching back and forth is a complicated and time-consuming process.  But in the process, I have improved  organizing my thoughts before dictating and also improved my dictating and listening skills.  Editing photos is the next challenge as the type is too small in the photo taskbar to navigate with Narrator.  Coming soon are posts about my dog, my garden, and how I cope with cooking for my ever patient husband who politely eats all I burn or ruin.


Pouches 2 and 3


When I decided to make four pouches I was thinking that it would keep me busy until Thanksgiving.  What a delicious thought.  Now it is early August and I'm just about finished with pouch 2 and laying out the laces for pouch 3.  At the rate I'm going, I'll be done by the end of the month .  But boy am I having fu


The pillow sham that I used for pouch 2 was heavier than the others and had more batting.  It also had prairie points around the outside. It was a beautiful sham.  I didn't want to cut off the points, and they were too thick to go through my machine.  So I just overlapped them and tacked them .  The bottom seam was also going to be too thick to go through my machine, so I opened it a bit and pulled out enough batting to make it work. 

I thought I could use the  green gimp with my wonky way of sewing, but it just moved too much.  I gave up after about 3 in. I'm going to try tacking it down with a little fabric glue and see if I can make it work that way.  If not, I'll have to add more lace.  I'm finding that not just any lace is working.  It needs to be medium weight and about 1 in. to 1 1/2 in. wide.   I have to be able to feel the edge of it with my thumb, because I use my thumbnail as a guide for where the stitches go in and out.  The medium lace will lay flat while I'm stitching and not move about.  I have a little groove already worn in my thumbnail where the needle goes in and a callus on my thumb where the needle comes up.  The trick is to relax and trust my thumb.

The pillow sham I'm using for pouch 3 is completely different.  It is very lightweight so it will be easy to sew. Laying out and auditioning pieces of lace is the most fun part of the project. I can spend a whole evening just fussing with a lace.

A button fell off one of my husband's garments, and he wanted to know if I could sew it on.  Fat chance!  But my neighbor Georgette has threaded dozens of needles for me, and we're going to have a button-sewing tutorial tonight.  He will learn about stitch in, stitch out, stitch in, stitch out.  You're never too old to learn a new skill, they say.


Pouch One

Several years ago I made a special project for each granddaughter.  After spending all that time and work, I wanted to make a pouch to protect each project.  I started collecting neat pillow shams that I could embellish to make into a pouch. Somehow this project always got pushed to the back burner; and even when we sold the farm, I still had six really nice quilted pillow shams.  Now is finally the time to use them. 

Obviously I would have done a much better job if I had done it before I lost my sight; but having it to do now is giving me a new appreciation for all the things I did in years past.  It is a joy just to sit with my needle in my hand, no matter what the end product looks like. The pillow shams are perfect because they have a lining and, all the edges are finished.  I can get two pouches from each pillow sham. 

 I thought the lace motif would be the easiest thing to start with.  But as it turns out the lace by the yard is easier to sew because the edge is regular.  I used an old piece of dresser scarf to make a flap.  I thought I was done with this pouch, but now I realize that I can make it even better with a ruffle and a little more stitching.  I had six pillow shams, and I used one for my yoga tote.  And it will take two shams to make the pouches.  So I will have a couple pillow shams left to try another project. Of course in the meantime, I will be going to the thrift store to see if I can find more pillow shams.

This project turned out quite nice and could be used as a hand bag or as a small tote.  It's definitely got my creative juices going.      

Note:  In response to a previous comment, I will try to do another post on the yoga tote when I get better at this.  Thanks for the comment.


From pillow sham to yoga tote

 When I was still doing a lot of needlework, one of the things I checked at the thrift store was pillow shams. They often had interesting materials or trim. I had six of them that I moved with me, planning to make pouches to protect fabric books.  

So when I needed a bag for my yoga mat, I  thought a pillow sham  was the perfect size.  All I would have to do is make one long seam, but it looks so naked. I did have a lot of lace and maybe I can sew a little onto it.  And, lo and behold, I found  that by using my left thumb to keep track of the edge of the lace and the spacing of the stitches, I was able to do it . The stitching was a little wonky but it was secure.  At first I kept going to my big magnifying  lamp to see how bad the stitches were; but after three or four times of checking, I decided what the heck, I didn't  really  care what they looked like.  I just had fun doing it. 

Then I decided I wanted a pocket for my phone. I tried to do it with the sewing machine on slow speed, but I made a horrible mess of it . Then I tried holding the pocket with my left hand and just turning the sewing machine wheel with my right hand and doing it one stitch at a time.  I was able to attach the pocket. So I added another pocket with lace.  I just gathered up the bottom, and now  just love it. 

This got my creative juices going and I couldn't wait to try something with another one of the pillow shams.  

I have a feeling this is going to open up something that will be lots of fun this winter.  How many things can I do with pillow shams?  The nice thing about them is they are finished and lined and ready to be embellished.

Stitch in, stitch out, stitch in, stitch out.
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