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Friday, October 26, 2012

Ask Annie - Volume II

Fantastic and fun questions again this week!  Thank you to everyone who asked...I'm happy to answer,

1.  What is hotdish?
Quite obviously the person who asked this question is not a ND or MN native.  My friend, Lori, had only lived in this state for a month when her California born and bred taste buds were introduced to hotdish.
(This is the classic "OGT - Olive Garden Topper")

Simply put, hotdish to us is often "casserole" to the rest of the planet.  It has a starch base (potatoes, noodles, or rice), some kind of meat and a sauce (of either cream or tomato).  Vegetables may or may not be included.  You can make it on the stovetop or cook it in the oven.
(And the legendary "Scottdish")

Hotdishes are the cornerstone of any good potluck.  Wait...potluck is also a regional term.  Did you know that in the south, they call it a "coverdish"???  Potluck, or coverdish, is a wonderful event where everyone brings a dish and we all share.  I come from a church that does potlucks at the drop of a hat.  Or the mention that there might be a hat dropping.  We do love us some potluck!

2.  How do you put the cover on your hoophouse?
---With a grunt and a groan and an "oh-my-goodness"!

But seriously, we've done it two ways.  Neither way was suggested in the assembly manual.  The first time we put the cover on, it was in hurricane force winds.  We bunched it up and pulled and pushed it up and over one end of the hoophouse.  Then we secured that end and pulled it (with the wind) across the frame and secured the other end.

This past week we put the cover on again (because we moved the hoophouse).  Hubby climbed to the top of the peak on one end with a ladder.  I handed up the cover and he pulled it onto the top purlin.  Then I pulled the sides on (going back and forth to keep them semi-even).  This worked really well!

In case you were wondering, the assembly manual says to tie ropes on across one side edge, toss the ropes over the frame and then pull the cover over.  Maybe next time...

3.  What is the easiest way to grow potatoes in a small backyard garden?
---Potatoes are so fun to grow!  And I have never met a potato I didn't like.  That makes them the top of my list of garden must haves.  Before I married Hubby, I lived in a small town.  I had a small garden.  And I had potatoes.  Potatoes can be planted fairly close together which allows you to maximize garden space.  They aren't fussy:  the don't like too much water or too fertile of soil.

There are some people who have grown potatoes in garbage cans and tires.  From what I hear, these methods were either a huge success or a colossal failure.  It's 50/50 at best.  I prefer good old soil to grow my potatoes.  But if space is an issue, you can use extra large totes to grow potatoes in...but I'd only do that if I was desperate.  

Bottom line, I'd save space on other vegetables by trellising my pole beans, peas, cucumbers, etc. and saving space for potatoes.

But that's from a gal that's never met a potato she didn't like.

4.  What is the easiest thing to try and can the first time?
---I get this question a lot.  And my answer is this:  fruit or jam.

Peaches are super easy and the taste of a homecanned peach during the dead of winter transports you right back to summer time!  Here's how to can them!

Jam is just as easy, but slightly different.  My sister and I canned jam our first time and that's how I was bit by the canning bug!

I must warn you, once you start canning, you'll can everything.  Hubby often jokes that if he leaves something in my kitchen too long I'll can it!  

The most important thing is to have a good canning book (I recommend Jackie Clay's Growing and Canning Your Own Food) and clean equipment.  The process of canning is the same whether you are canning chokecherries or chicken, taco meat or tomato soup.  The only thing that changes is what goes in the jar and how long you process it.

5.  What quilt do you really want to make but haven't gotten to yet and why?
---Oh boy!  There's a few of them.  I just went through all my books and patterns and only kept the ones I REALLY wanted to make.  But if I have to pick one, it's this one:
I love just about everything by Crab-apple Hill!  I'm a sucker for embroidery and piecing together and this lap-size quilt is gorgeous.  I don't think I will do it in this colorway.  I'm torn between doing a sepia and cream or doing hunter green, red, cream with hunter green embroidery for Christmas.  It's at the top of my list for this winter...after I finish some UFO's.

Why haven't I gotten to this project?  The short answer is Kiddos.
The long answer is that it requires a tremendous amount of tracing and I don't have a lightbox, so I would be tracing vertically on a window and I just can't get excited about that part of it.  Now, if I had a preprinted panel?  I'd be done.

6.  What quilt store would you like to buy the fabric and why do you like that quilt store?
---This could get me into trouble...
I have a LOT of favorite places to buy fabric.  But I'll narrow it down to two:
          The gals at the QC know their stuff.  Especially Linda and Paulette, two sisters who make me laugh until I cry.  Linda and I share a passion and love of handwork (she taught me to English paper piece and for that I am eternally grateful).  The QC also stocks embroidery, yarn, etc. for other types of handcrafting.  Their classes are fantastic!  For years, my two quilting friends from Bismarck and I would go to a weekend retreat there and eat and sew and eat and sew.  The rule was when you sewed through your finger, you had to go to bed.

          This quilt shop overwhelms me every time I go there.  And I go there anytime I'm within 50 miles of Perham.  This is one shop you MUST detour for.  Why?  First of all, they have in-house designers so they have one-of-a-kind patterns you can't get anywhere else.  And they have samples and kits of everything.  Second, their fabric selection is second to none.  Any type, any colorway...they have it.  I bought the fabric for Kiddo3's baby quilt there.  Had no idea what I wanted and found something I wouldn't normally pick, but I love it and can't wait to finish it!  (She's almost 2 so it's about time!)

Like I said, these were fantastic and fun questions.  Thanks so much!

If you have a question you'd like answered in "Ask Annie", leave it in the comments and I'll answer it next time.

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