Tomorrow is Andy's birthday! He has requested a Boston Cream Pie. Coincidentally, I had a quart of organic whole milk already in the fridge, due to expire today. I'd bought it to make some homemade vanilla pudding. When I was clipping all my magazine pages over the past couple of weeks, I had snipped a recipe from a recent issue of Country Living magazine for it. This is my version of theirs.
Homemade Vanilla Pudding
3 1/2 c organic whole milk
6 egg yolks
3 T cornstarch
3/4 c sugar
1/2 t salt
1 t vanilla bean paste
1 T butter
Heat the milk until just simmering in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Whisk the egg yoks, cornstarch, sugar, and salt together until thick and yellow. Stream the hot milk into the egg mixture while whisking continuously (it helps to have someone else holding the bowl while you pour the hot milk and whisk). Return the mixture to the pan and cook over medium heat until pudding thickens and just begins to boil (this will only take a couple of minutes). Transfer to a clean bowl. Stir in vanilla bean paste and butter. Cool to set, about two hours. Makes 3 1/2 cups.
Turns out, when I Googled a Boston Cream Pie recipe, this one from Country Living came up — from the same article that I clipped the pudding from. Why didn't I clip the BCP? I should have a recipe for this — Andy has asked for it several times and I'm always scurrying around trying to put one together. I don't care for chocolate ganache or chocolate frostings, myself, but I will make it for him because I'm cool like that. And he's 37.
The sky this afternoon is literally the color of gauze. And it feels like gauze — there's mist in the air, and everything is damp and webby. I've been sewing all week, making more Tanglewood Bags, working out the various kinks in the pattern. It's not picturesque, the sewing, hence all the food pictures lately. The studio looks like I sprayed it with fabric scraps and nets of thread. In answer to several questions I've gotten, unfortunately no, the Tanglewood Bag is not really a beginner's project. Of course, I always think beginners should just dive in, and be inspired by things you really love, and then learn on the things you love — but this bag has a lot going on, and needs precision for it to look really sharp. That said, precision usually just means patience and practice and a willing attitude, so, you know. You can do that. Slow and steady.
Also, just a head's up if you are going to give making it a try (and I will be producing a pattern for this, as well as a kit, though the kit will take a while before it's available, as the binding needs to be special ordered from France, and they tell me this will take several weeks, and some of the fabric is coming from New Zealand, and that's on its way), you should make sure that your sewing machine has quite a bit of clearance under its free arm — when you remove the extension table (as if to sew around the cuff of a sleeve, for example), you want to make sure there are a couple of inches of clearance below this free arm. If not, it can be very difficult to sew the binding around the sides and handles of the bag, as this is all one continuous seam, and the bag (with all of its pins, and it is pinned to within an inch of its life) must rotate around the free arm at a few odd angles to accomodate those curves and points. All machines are different in how much space they allow. My old machine had a ton of clearance; the one I currently use seems like it has about an inch, as it is attached to an unremovable base. Anyway, I'll remind you about this again when the pattern/kits come out., so that you aren't swearing at me when you go to make this. I'm actually borrowing my friend's machine because I was swearing at myself, and I don't need that. The bags are looking so pretty, though. I'm hoping to have them available for sale in the next couple of weeks, the pattern for sale as a downloadable PDF shortly after that, and the kits ready sometime in July.
Also (I'm almost done, I promise), since I get a lot of questions from people wondering if I have sewing machine recommendations, my sad answer is, unfortunately, no. Major equipment purchases of almost any kind are not my specialty — my goal is usually to get it over with as soon as possible, and at that I would say I am awesome — so I would feel irresponsible advising anyone on something as important as sewing machines. I use a Pfaff Lifestyle 2022. I bought it several years ago and it was the best I could afford, but it's pretty low-end as far as fancy machines go, apparently. It works fine for what I need it to do, except for this free-arm-clearance issue, which is a major issue if you sew handbags. Or sleeves. If anyone knows of good sewing machine discussions, or comparisons, or reviews, will you comment here? I will then link to this post on my FAQ because I have zero doubt that anyone else's advice would be better than anything I could provide on this topic. Thank you!
Now, I gotta get to that cake. Pie. Cake. The thing with the chocolate on top.