We’re in full-on summer mode here in Toronto this week – twenty eight degrees and humid. The hot summer season could also be known as icy, frigid air conditioning season too. I made a lightweight, summery scarf recently at a wonderful batik workshop at The Shop, a makerspace on College Street in Toronto. Find them here.
You can certainly find a ton of tutorials on YouTube or Pinterest with instructions on batik, I’ve looked. However, it’s so nice to have someone set everything up and have all the right equipment and experience to show you how it’s done. Seriously… having someone else clean up after you is a true luxury.
Full confession, I’m not a huge fan of traditional batik. I bought some fabric when I was in Thailand years ago and still have done nothing with it. My challenge going into this workshop was to take the traditional craft and make it something I found more appealing which to me meant less fussy and more spontaneous feeling.
Traditional batik can be very complicated and intricate but in a nutshell it is a resist dying method where you apply melted wax and dye to fabric. I applied the wax which you can see still in the fabric below with a large paintbrush in abstract shapes.
Above is the dyed fabric with the hardened wax. After ironing and washing the wax is gone and I’m very happy with the soft, unique pattern seen below.
There are very few things that I would consider saving from a burning house (of course, once family and the dog are safe) but one thing I’d try and save would be Mom’s cookbook.
My mother wrote all of her, and our, favourite family recipes by hand into a book for each of her children. Yes… all by hand, it’s a 165 page book and she has seven children. I clearly haven’t taken very good care of mine but I do think that a cookbook should look well-used. I would suspect a pristine cookbook is one that isn’t very good and that’s certainly not the case here. I am determined to make all the recipes in the book.; my own, much less ambitious, Julie and Julia project.
The third recipe that I’m featuring here is for oatmeal cookies. There’s a reason Mom’s recipes are all so good, they have been curated, tried, tested and refined over years of baking. The other two recipes I have shared so far are Cinnamon Biscuits found here and Delicate Lemon Pudding found here.
There is definitely a special affinity among Nova Scotians for oats which surely comes from their Scottish ancestry. Samuel Johnson’s 1755 Dictionary of the English Language defines oats as: “a grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people.” I have read also that the Scot’s retort was “That’s why England has such fine horses and Scotland has such fine men.” I’d have to say that this is a fine cookie.
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cp brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp soda
- 2 tbsp hot water
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1 cup raisins
- Cream butter brown sugar and vanilla together. Mix soda with water and add to creamed mixture. Combine flour, salt, nutmeg and oats and mix well. Add to creamed mixture and add raisins, mix thoroughly.
- Use a small scoop to form cookies and bake on a lined cookie sheet in a 400 degree oven for 6 to 8 minutes.
The Ross’s up on the highway had a cherry tree when I was little. I don’t ever remember if it produced fruit but I do remember the shadow it cast over the road and that was a welcome bit of shade on our summer walks to Zeno’s store for treats. In my home in Nova Scotia homemade pies were a wondrous thing, not unusual but a treat none-the-less. Rhubarb, apple, lemon and my Dad’s favourite raisin pies were flaky and tender, tart and sweet.
Try these little tarts, they are a wonderful mix of flaky pastry and tart filling in just the right size of serving.
Tart Cherry Tarts
For the pie crust I use the No-Fail Pastry recipe off the Crisco box and it hasn’t failed me yet.
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup or stick of Crisco shortening
- 4 to 8 tablespoons of ice cold water
- Blend flour and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Cut half inch cubes of chilled shortening into flour mixture with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with pea sized pieces.
- Sprinkle 4 tablespoons of ice cold water over the flour shortening mixture. Using a fork stir and draw flour from the bottom of the bowl. Add more water by the tablespoon, mixing until mixture just comes together. Don’t over mix or the pastry becomes tough.
- Form dough into a ball and wrap with plastic wrap and chill.
- Place half of dough onto a well floured surface. With floured rolling pin gently roll out the dough from the centre.
- I used paper liners in a muffin tin and used a plastic container the size of a flattened paper liner as a pastry cutter.
For the filling:
- 1 19 fl. oz. jar or can of sour pitted cherries in light syrup
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- Combine the cherries and sugar in a medium saucepan on medium heat. Simmer, stirring often, until filling thickens. About 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Fill the prepared pastry shells and top with a smaller pastry piece.
- Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes. Remove when just golden. Cool on a rack and enjoy. Makes 9 tarts.
I like the idea of making smaller tarts rather than whole pies. Tarts are easier to serve and save because, like a cake, once you cut into a pie it’s never that pretty whole again. Also young boys love to steal them and eat them from their hand.