Wednesday Giveaway!

This week’s winner, Lisa Benson, will receive a really fun assortment of Moda Pocket Notepads. Each one is 3″ by 4″, closes with a magnet and has 75 pages. She can keep her favorites and give the others away, keep for stocking stuffers, or gift herself with all of them!

I’ll be back with another Giveaway next Wednesday. Until then you can shop for all sorts of sewing notions, books, and other fun stuff at!

Braised Celery

Occasionally, I like to pull a few cookbooks off the shelf and browse through them in search of things I might want to cook. That’s how I discovered a recipe for braised celery, in the San Angelo Junior League’s cookbook, submitted by a Mrs. Evrard Ricci.

Now, I’m familiar with celery. I use it in all the usual ways that Americans use celery—soups, salads, stuffing, snack. But until I saw this recipe, it had never occurred to me that cooked celery could be the main ingredient of its own dish.

Clearly, it went on the list.

Then I looked for variations on the theme. Braised celery, to my surprise, is A Thing. Alton Brown has a basic recipe, which is pretty similar to the one in Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything—and both are riffs on the method for “celery in butter” given in the original Larousse Gastronomique. They’re all pretty sparse, and would work best with really fresh, flavorful celery. Alexa Weibel has a much more elaborate version at NYT Cooking, which I plan to try next holiday season. Julia Child apparently has a recipe, but I don’t (yet) own a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, so I couldn’t check it.

I do, however, have a copy of Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, which has three recipes for celery: braised and gratinéed with parmesan; braised with potatoes in olive oil and lemon juice; and braised with onion, pancetta, and tomato. That’s the one I ended up making (in our electric skillet, because our gas range died).

Start by sautéing a thinly-sliced onion in oil until lightly golden. Add pancetta, also cut into thin strips (I actually used soppressata, which is what I had on hand). Once the fat on the meat starts to render, add a can of tomatoes (the recipe calls for whole plum tomatoes, chopped coarsely, but I just used diced) along with the celery, cut into chunks on the bias, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover the pan, and let cook until celery reaches desired tenderness.

It was … fine? The celery by itself didn’t really taste like anything, but the sauce was good. Ultimately, the celery I used was mediocre—it was a package of celery hearts from Sam’s that had been in our fridge for more than a week, and had partially frozen in places (our second fridge has some really cold spots). With better celery, I hope for better results; this is definitely a method I plan to try again.

The leftovers got added to a stew with part of a pot of beans (Rancho Gordo’s alubia blancas, to which I added chopped parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme) and some sautéed smoked sausage. Both the beans and the celery seemed happier the second time around.

Have any of y’all eaten or made braised celery? Let us know in the comments below.

Wednesday Giveaway — Oh, the wonder – All for “Uptownconnie”!!

Mini Wonder Clips are perfect for English paper piecing and can substitute for pins in many piecing situations. Connie will receive the 20-count package (we also carry a 10-count package of rainbow-colored clips). Check out this video for helpful tips. The photo below is from our April 20th newsletter. I used wonder clips to hold the binding in place on my Water Lily quilt before Steve stitched it down.

I’ll be back with another Giveaway next Wednesday. Until then you can shop for all sorts of sewing notions, books, and other fun stuff at!

Wednesday Giveaway!

We carry several excellent threaders in our store. Debbi Russell is the winner of The Colonial Needle Threader, this week’s Wednesday Giveaway! It has two sizes of sturdy wire threaders inserted into a single handle, making it easy to carry in your sewing kit. Dandy!


I’ll be back with another Giveaway next Wednesday. Until then you can shop for all sorts of sewing notions, books, and other fun stuff at!

Cookbook Obsession: The Beginning

[Note: this is a guest post from my son, Christopher.]

Let’s start with two recipes from Rare Collection: Superb Recipes by The Junior League of Galveston County (1985)—one for moussaka and one for brisket.

photo of a two-page cookbook spread, with recipes for moussaka, deluxe cherry brisket, and steak marchand de vin

This cookbook originally belonged to Lorna’s maternal great-grandmother, and then to Lorna’s mom, Judy, and then to Lorna who took it when she moved out of her parents’ house. She’s cooked a variety of things from it over the years, but particularly the moussaka—most recently last December, which is when I first noticed the brisket recipe on the opposite page.

Season brisket with soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Okay, sure. Sprinkle Lipton onion soup mix, rosemary, caraway seed & celery seed onto brisket. Initially, the soup mix threw me off, but it’s basically a spice mix, so whatever. It’s the last step—where you put the drippings from the brisket into the bottom of a pan, layer the (cold) sliced brisket on top of it, and dump a can of cherry pie filling on top before baking the whole mess another half hour or so—that caught my attention in a wtf kind of way.

That recipe, and browsing through other recipes in the book as Lorna cooked, sparked a new obsession for me. I ordered a few other used Junior League cookbooks that evening (Dallas, Palo Alto, and Colorado), and several others in the following weeks. And more since: I have a cookbook called The Melting Pot: Ethnic Cuisine in Texas, which was compiled by UTSA’s Institute of Texan Cultures. My mom picked up a stack of cookbooks at a garage sale several weeks ago, including two that were evidently fundraisers for the Sherman School Food Service Association. I found a bunch at an antique mall in Denison last weekend, but only came home with four, ranging from a long-defunct Dallas restaurant to an RV park in Harlingen, Texas.

I’m still trying to figure out what’s behind my interest in these cookbooks, but I think a big thing is a curiosity about how recipes travel and change over time, and from context to context and kitchen to kitchen. I plan to write a guest post here once a week or so—look for one on braised celery next—but I’ll also be writing at, if you want to follow along in more depth. In the coming months, I’ll be putting out calls for favorite family recipes, as well as variations on particular themes. I look forward to hearing from y’all!

Wednesday Giveaway Winner – Pam Wilkerson!

Applique Stitchery by Jean Ray Laurie is one of my all-time favorite books. It was published in 1966 and it is a delightful reflection of the time then—and it is still relevant today. The book is out of print, but Judy Fine had a spare copy and she gave it to me to share with one of you! The random number generator has chosen Pam Wilkerson to receive this book for her collection!

I showed this book in the Time Out below…

I’ll be back with another Giveaway next Wednesday. Until then you can shop for all sorts of sewing notions, books, and other fun stuff at!