Thursday, October 24, 2013

Pumpkin Orange Cheesecake

This is easier than it may sound and sooo yummy.  The oranges really bring out the pumpkin flavor and the orange zest and fresh pumpkin also give this cheesecake a pretty color.  

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans (optional)
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter or 1/4 c sunflower oil
  • 2 small Hokkaido pumpkins
  • 3 8-ounce packages cream cheese
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • zest of 2 large oranges (must be organic)
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 tablespoons Grand Marnier (optional)

Place broken graham crackers in a large, sturdy ziplock bag and use a rolling pin to crush.  Mix with the melted butter or oil and line the bottom and lower third of the sides of a large spring form pan with the mixture.  Tamp down with the bottom of a ramekin.  If the crumbs aren't well tamped down, they might come loose and float to the top of the cheesecake during baking. Bake about 5 minutes, until brown and fragrant. Let cool for at least 30 minutes.

Cut each pumpkin into about 8 pieces, cutting off any stems or rough spots in the rind, but leaving most of the rind intact. Scoop out the seeds. Brush the insides with olive oil and bake on a baking sheet or pan at 350° for about 30 min.   Test every 10 min or so after that until the pieces are soft (you should be able to insert a fork easily).

Mix all of the filling ingredients in a blender or with a hand mixer or handheld blender. Pour into baked crust and bake at 350° for 45 minutes. Check to see how it's doing.  It will probably need 15-20 minutes longer, depending on various factors. It should be done when the center is firm (it shouldn't jiggle when you shake the pan. You can also try inserting a fork or toothpick in the center to see how clean it comes out, but it won't come out completely clean even when it's done, as this is meant to be a rather moist dessert.

Let cool for at least 30 minutes.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.  You can even pop it in the freezer for an hour if it's still warmish at the start of dinner. Served with homemade whipped cream with vanilla sugar or natural vanilla bean icecream.

p.s. i neglected to take a picture of it (zillion of things going on) but it looked quite like the above photo i swiped from the internet--can't recall now where i found it but it was also a pumpkin orange cheesecake.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The weather has been gorgeous lately, so i went out and took a few pictures downtown.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Flowers at the Farmer's Market

Ikebana, using lilac and spirea from Dieter's garden.

Overdue for Spring pics

Chestnut trees at the Elbe.

Spring has been particularly glorious this year, or maybe it only feels that way, after the longer and colder winter.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Winter Here

Inside: Dieter brought over a beautiful amaryllis recently.

The view from my front windows.

It's Snowing!

Not much sewing around here since the holidays, but i thought i ought to post pics of the gorgeous snow. It doesn't usually snow that much in Hamburg, at least not in the decade since i've been living here. Today, went for a stroll with a friend on the Alster, the lake in the center of town. It only freezes over about once in ten years. The lake was crowded with people and dogs, iceskaters and skiiers.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

New Year's Fruit Crumble

The result of much experimentation in efforts to please various fruit crumble lovers of my acquaintance (it turns out Germans love fruit crumble, even though it is not native to their habitat). I'm not completely certain about these amounts. That's why i recommend adding things like flour gradually to make sure it's the right amount. I tend to do this by feel, without measuring anything. This ends up being a pretty intensely flavoured dessert (and more lemony than appley) which is why serving it over vanilla ice cream is crucial, to sort of cut the intensity a bit.


1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract or 1 tsp vanilla sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamon
2-3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
about 1/4 cup orange liqueur, e.g. Grand Marnier
zest of one lemon
juice of one lemon

2 granny smith or other tart apples, unpeeled, chopped
2 pears, chopped
1/4 cup raisins that have been soaked in Grand Marnier for a day or longer


2 tablespoons sugar
1 tsp vanilla sugar if you have it or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamon
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
4 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup rolled oats

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. You'll need a medium-sized baking dish.


In a saucepan, melt the butter, add the brown sugar, cinnamon and cardamon. Stir constantly until sugar carmelizes slightly. Add the flour gradually until you have a doughy consistency. Add juice of lemon and lemon zest, add orange liqueur and simmer, stirring, for another minute or so.

Arrange fruit in baking dish, stir in the boozy raisins* and pour cooked liquid over fruit to cover. Don't worry if it seems to rest thickly on top; it will melt into and around the fruit as it bakes. Bake fruit for 20-30 min. at 350°F or for 40 min. at 200° F

You can have this baking while you're preparing dinner. Smells wonderful. Or do it way ahead and bake the topping just before serving.


Warning: this is an unorthodox method, but i find it easiest. Melt the butter, add sugar and spices. In a medium bowl, whisk flour together with baking soda, add gradually to butter mixture till you have a soft dough. Add oats and nuts and mix together.

Spread topping over fruit and bake using the broil function (top-heating element) for another 10 min or until lightly browned. By the way, i do this all in a toaster oven. Works fine and uses less energy.

Serve warm with Breyer's or Blue Bell Natural Vanilla Bean ice cream or "Bourbon-Vanille Eis" if you're in Germany.

*term stolen from Casey Ellis, of drunken cherries fame.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Year's UFO Resolutions

Feeling guilty here about having gotten sidetracked again from ongoing projects to make a couple of new quilts. And i can't help noticing how the list of UFOs keeps growing. Sooo, here is a list of UFOs i plan to finish this year:

grandmother's fan
Autumnal Tumbling Blocks
Indigo Star (3 versions)
Amish Dahlia
yellow and blue star for Franny
Sophie's bargello
blue Tumbling Blocks for Amelia
Hidden Ninepatch for Julian

Not-Yet Begun Projects that are tempting me:
a ragtime in muted pinks and browns
a bear's paw
contemporary, simple quilt in Autumnal batiks

UFOs i'm leaving on the backburner for 2011:
log cabin
Sister's Choice for moi me me

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Can Quilting Prevent Memory Loss?

I just saw this article on the New Old Age blog.

"At the age of 78, Bob Branham, a retired computer software developer in Dallas, Tex., took up quilting. It wasn’t his idea, actually. He’d never dreamed of piecing together his own Amish diamond coverlet or rummaging around Jo-Ann Fabrics in search of calico prints. But then he enrolled in a trial sponsored by the National Institute on Aging to assess whether learning a new skill can help preserve cognitive function in old age. By random assignment, he landed in the quilting group.

... neuroscientists suspect that learning a challenging new skill — a new language, a new musical instrument — may be even more effective than mental games at keeping the brain sharp. And quilting is more complicated than it may seem..."

Maybe this explains why my grandmother (the galloping horse one) was still as sharp as ever when she died at 97. I wonder how helpful quilting is if you've already been doing it for years. Maybe if you continue to expand your repertoire of skills and keep experimenting, it has the same effect.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Laura Ann's Quilt?

For years, I've been collecting purples and greens to make a quilt for my friend Laura Ann in her favorite colors. I was thinking more variety would be more interesting, but then when i showed her a couple of examples, she seemed to prefer a color scheme more like this--not at all scrappy and with orange points. Now i'm worried that what she really liked was a detail like the exact fabric in the border, and not this overall color scheme. It is rather in your face, isn't it? So i'm going to canvas her views, now that i've made a few blocks. The border will of course have various greens and purples and more of the saffron in it, if i have enough left. I'm thinking of doing a pieced border.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Another Autumn bouquet. It cost me about € 7 to make these two bouquets. I figure the larger one would cost about €15 at a discount florist. The most expensive part is actually the greenery. All of these roses only cost €2. So the great thing is i can replace the roses as needed and have fresh bouquets for roughly €2 per week! And with this cool weather, they actually last closer to two weeks.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

The Orchid Orphanage

The Orchid Orphanage
Originally uploaded by nhendricks
It started when I bought a couple of white phaelanopsis orchids at Ikea and mentioned this in passing to a friend.
Friend: "Ah, maybe you'd like to take my orchid! It never blooms." It turned out a number of friends were having bad luck with orchids.
Next thing I knew, i had a windowsill full of orphan orchids. I checked out a book from the library on how to take care of them. It took about a year, but they finally all bloomed.

Another Pincushion

I didn't manage to take pictures of my favorite pincushions before giving them away, but I can make more with the same fabrics. I like the fabrics in this one a lot, too. It still needs its button. I think it's also time to get cracking on hot water bottle covers again.

Baked Eggs

I've gotten into making Baked Eggs recently, after a recipe I found in Nigella Lawson's Nigella Express. She recommends drizzling cream over the tops. I prefer grated cheese.

Wild mushroom powder is good to add before the eggs. Also, tapenade. I found mushroom powder available here and here Wild mushroom powder

Put a bit of olive oil in the bottoms of the ramekins. Add freshly ground salt and pepper, plus wild mushroom powder, if you have it. Add chopped basil, an egg and dollops of Frischkäse or herbed cream cheese.

Sprinkle with grated cheese and lay slices of cherry tomato on top. Drizzle a few drops of truffle oil over this and bake at 350°F for 10 minutes. Nigella suggests serving baked eggs for a simple family supper or as a starter at a dinner party. I like to have them on a lazy Sunday morning or as an easy Dinner for One. Since you can bake these in the toaster oven, you don't have to fire up the big oven for this. You can even put bread in to toast with them, if there's space.

P.S. The original recipe is much simpler: just eggs, cream and truffle oil. I added most of these ingredients by experimenting, as Nigella recommends.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Imelda and George

Aunt Imelda and Uncle George came to visit on their way to France. Here, we'd climbed a hill overlooking Boppard in the Rhine Valley. Can you believe they're 75? They've known each other since they were 18.

Finished Piecing Tumbling Blocks

A few weeks ago, just before my aunt and uncle came to visit, I finished piecing the Tumbling Blocks. Hurrah! I'm going to use this orange for the borders.

Just after i finished, i made 5 pincushions from this pattern at Carpe Quiltem, but have already given away 3 of them so don't have pics of the best ones, but plan to make some more.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pumpkin Patch Primitives Giveaway

Pumpkin Patch Primitives is offering a giveaway here

Believe it or not, I actually have some quilty progress to report, just no time to upload the photos. I finally finished piecing Nancy's Tumbling Blocks quilt a couple of weeks ago, and now just need to piece the border, which will be time-consuming. I had visitors from the US recently, and I took them to Amsterdam and the Rhine Valley last week.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Blog Re-Design Service

I just entered a drawing for a blog re-design at Becky's Creative Blog Design

The drawing is open till October 31st. Looks like she does really good work.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Leap of Faith

I've come a bit further since the above picture. Now I've got about 8 more of those treacherous seams (sewing rows together) to go, then the border pieced to fit the outline. Must wait for additional fabric for that, so finishing the top completely will have to wait, but I hate to stop for fear that i'll lose momentum. This is by far the most difficult quilt i've made. I know, it's nothing compared to applique or paper piecing these blocks, but for me, sewing this together has been a real challenge. I notice, though, that the longer i do it, the easier it gets. You sort of develop a feel for how to sew this accurately, altho i also went through a phase, after things went surprisingly smoothly in the beginning, of being insecure and screwing it up, having to rip out a lot. Like so many things in life, it requires a leap of faith.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Another Raffle Quilt made by Lisa

Ronnie and Ruthie, two of my elder siblings, taken by our Dad in the 50s. These were the two middle kids out of 8 and they continued to be close after we all grew up.

Below, another raffle quilt to benefit AIDS Services in Austin. My sister Lisa made it in memory of our brother Ron (in the photo above). Beautiful work, as always. Lisa is extremely prolific and very generous with her time. One of these days, she'll have a blog of her own and then, look out!

Friday, September 18, 2009

National Gallery and Pub in Dublin

Tthe National Gallery is my favorite place in Dublin. This was the one and only picture i took, because the man in the doorway was a guard, walking toward me to tell me you're not supposed to take pictures.

Where we had dinner our first night. A labyrinthine sort of pub, full of nooks and crannies and atmosphere. Touristy, but lots of locals go there too.


I just got back from 4 days with students in Dublin. It amused me that the first thing they thought of when we stumbled upon a spectacular view was to whip out their phones and text their girlfriends about it.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

She's Baack

I just had to report: I've made tons of progress on the Tumbling Blocks project in the last few weeks. I think i finally have enough blocks for a lap quilt--over 200. I nailed a large piece of flannel to the wall, so that i can better lay them out--and leave them laid out. Important bcs they are so small and so varied in coloration. I'd like to experiment with different kinds of layouts.

I also finally got up the nerve to sew a couple of rows together. I'd been dreading this, assuming it wd be really hard, but it went surprisingly smoothly. All the corners and angles matched fine. I think it's been roughly two years since i started this. What's motivated me to finish it is I want to give it to my friend Nancy.

A lot has happened in my life in the last few months. I suddenly had way more work than before, and less sleep than usual, and then i landed in hospital in May, with a heart muscle infection (Mycocarditis). Spent 4 days in cardio intensive care and then another week on the cardio ward. I'd never spent much time in hospital before, so it was kind of interesting, especially the time in intensive care, once i got beyond fearing for my life (they have a way of checking your vital signs constantly and sending troops of doctors to visit you, and generally making you feel you're on death's door). When they sent me to another wing of the hospital for some tests, i snuck a peek at my files and it was kind of funny to read the nurses's observations of me, as if i were an animal in a lab: "Habits: reading." "Amerikannerin, aber spricht perfekt deutsch." American, but speaks perfect German. This is not true of course, but it made me happy to see this.

I'm all recovered now and work will be slowing down soon. The doctor yesterday told me the final results from the MRI are absolutely fine but i am under strict orders to stay home next time i get sick (apparently, Myocarditis is brought on by overdoing it when you're sick), and since i happen to be getting over a cold, guess who got a lot of sewing done today?

Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Sorry about not posting much lately. It's been a bit crazy around here, with the painters finishing up just before Christmas. I have a tree this year. Will post pics later. I love how the tree looks with candles. We're taking the train to Leipzig on Sunday, for a few days. Neither of us has been there so it's a bit of an adventure. One of my goals for this little Winter break is to get my workspace back in order so that i can get back to quilting. For now, it's just heavenly having a few days with no obligations.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Stealth Model

This one is the stealth version.

The elastic closure is cleverly concealed inside, although this might not satisfy people who are used to the classic shape of a hot water bottle cover. Not sure the world is prepared for this much innovation..

Tweaking the Design

I made a few more of these yesterday, then a Swiss visitor informed me that some sort of closure really is important, so I ripped out a couple and inserted elastic. Above was the result. I think the next batch will have drawstring closures. Me, I still prefer no closure at all.

This is my first mini-quilt, inspired by Hedgehog's at (still can't seem to link now).

Friday, November 07, 2008


I don't think i've ever been this pleased and optimistic about an election result. Obviously, this isn't meant to be a political blog, but I just have to say it: I'm so happy that Obama won!

Funnily, I've heard from a number of Germans, both before and since the election, that they don't believe Americans are "ready" for a black president. It must be an opinion that's been floating around in the German media. Must ask a friend if this is so as I don't read much German media, apart from Die Zeit, which tends to be a bit more thoughtful and broadminded (i.e. not immune from but less inclined to facile, knee-jerk anti-americanism).

Hot Water Bottle Cover

I'm thinking of making a few of these as Christmas presents, with flannels I've been collecting for a while. I'm not sure whether a drawstring closure a few inches from the top is necessary. I personally prefer it plain, as it's easier to change the water more often that way. Any opinions on this? By the way, I have a German friend (you know who you are!) who unaccountably hates flannel.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Tokyo Quilt Festival

I just ran across this album of pictures from the Tokyo Quilt Festival on Jan's b*muse blog (link in the title--for some reason, i can't seem to set up links within texts at the moment).

It was exciting to look at these quilts from Japan. I lived in Tokyo for 8 years before i came to Germany and I love the Japanese sense of color, the asymmetry and "wabi sabi". Recently, looking for material for a short stories course i'm teaching, I found the Oxford Book of Japanese Short Stories.

It seemed to be just the right time for me to run across this collection. Some of the stories are deeply disturbing and some confirm my bleak assessment of Japanese society, but it's still fascinating to hear Japanese voices talking at eloquent length about their world. While I was living in Japan, I was often mystified by various elements of the culture. Like many Westerners, I also, frankly, felt alienated by the culture and found it difficult to cope with many of the differences. That's why it's good to have a bit of light shed on the mysteries and also, fun to re-encounter Japanese aesthetics from a safe distance (I left in 2000).

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Grandmother's Fan

After several months of woe and intrigue with my Mac, i'm finally wired at home again, and hoping to be better about blogging now. Being offline did have a silver lining, though. It gave me time to finally get started on the Grandmother's Fan quilt for my nephew Marcos. He chose this pattern from a book of historical quilts while he was visiting me a couple of years ago. I decided to use mainly Japanese fabrics.

Mail from Hedgehog!

This fabulous little quilt arrived in the mail from Hedgehog (aka Jen) in Finland recently. What a wonderful surprise! It's even more beautiful in person than in photos. I love the colors and the composition and the contrasting stitching. It was an entire strawberry package, including: strawberry tea, white chocolate with cookies and strawberries, and even a set of Merrimekko napkins with the same strawberry print as in the quilt. Jen's quilt has inspired me to start my own series of mini-quilts, using Japanese fabrics.