Sandra Kehoe

Basketmaker & Willow Artist

Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies

These chocolate chip shortbread cookies are by far my most favorite cookie to make and to eat. We decided to do a few types of cookies this year for Christmas and these were first on my list. In the picture they can be seen on the right side of the plate; little squares topped with sugar!

The recipe for these shortbread cookies is in a very hard to find spot in a book that I barely use anymore. So I decided it was time to get this recipe up here so I can stop searching for it every Christmas.

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Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies

3/4 cup butter

3/4 cups powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1 + 1/3 cups flour

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup mini semi-sweet Chocolate chips (or regular sized ones chopped up in pieces)

Heat oven to 350F. Combine butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and almond extract in a large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Reduce speed to low and add flour, cornstarch and salt. Beat until well mixed and then stir in chocolate chips by hand. Pat dough into an un-greased 15X10X1 jelly roll pan. Sprinkle the top with large grain sugar. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes. Immediately cut into squares, rectangles or triangles. Remove from pan once they have cooled.

John C. Campbell Folk School with Jo Campbell-Amsler

Still catching up on my summer travels, and no summer is complete without a trip to the John C. Campbell Folk School. I’ve made it my goal to visit this school at least once a year for my foreseeable future.

This was my third summer visiting and my third time taking a week long class in willow basket making. This summer I had the honor of working with Jo Campbell-Amsler, the queen of willow rib baskets. She is one of my favorite teachers by far; her knowledge and calm way of teaching creates the most “zen-like” few days. I had the honor of working with her last summer in New Jersey so it was so nice to spend another 5 days working with her at JCC.

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I always try to do at least one or two walks around the fields and gardens. This is such a very special school and I highly recommend looking into their classes. If you look back in my blog you will see many more pictures and highlights from my trips here.

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The main focus I had for my time this week was making a basket with lids. Jo teaches a gorgeous sewing basket with two lids that I had my heart set on. Little did I know this amazing basket would be taking me three full days to complete, but it was worth every minute. The picture above was at the end of day two.

So this time at the folk school I decided to try camping in their campgrounds. It was my first attempt at using my Tentsile Tree Tent. I have to say, this was the most comfortable sleeping arrangement I’ve ever had on a camping trip. It takes minutes to set up and take down and I felt extra secure being up off the ground. By chance I was so lucky to find out that my friend Colleen who took classes with me the last two years was also camping and taking the same class as me.

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The Folk School is so special and makes you feel just like the door to the main hall says, “welcome home.”

Once I finished my sewing basket I had one more day so I moved as fast as I could to whip up a backpack. I had purchased leather straps for a different backpack I made, but didn’t fit. Fortunately Jo’s backpack pattern used those exact straps, so I was determined to make one to fit. Honestly even though I felt like I rushed it, this backpack is now my favorite basket that I use all the time. It comes with me whenever I go hiking out in the woods.

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Below is a picture of myself and Colleen. “Basket Buddies” for life ;)

Hope to see her again in the future for maybe another great willow class!!!!

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Pickled Pumpkin

Adapted from, The Complete Book of Pickles and Relishes by Leonard Louis Levinson

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Pickled Pumpkin

makes 6 pints

4 or 5 pound long island cheese pumpkin

Salt

1 pint vinegar

1/2 pint maple sirup

4 whole cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 small cinnamon stick

12 peppercorns

1 bay leaf

2 small cloves of garlic

Peel and seed the pumpkin and cut into small cubes. Sprinkle with salt and let it stand 2 or 3 hours. Meanwhile make a sirup of the remaining ingredients. Wash salt off pumpkin, pack into hot, sterilized jars and pour the sirup over it. Place on lids and process in a water bath canner for 20 minutes.

At the Branch Ranch with Eddie Glew

Ok, I’m trying my best to keep up with blogging and writing about all my weaving experiences this last summer. Not sure why it’s super hard to get me to stop moving and write a few sentences every so often; three jobs, two kids and a boyfriend might do that to you!

July was a super quiet month and then August kicked right back in with some amazing fun. In the beginning of August I traveled up to Warkworth Ontario to the Branch Ranch. A willow farm and basketry school run by two of my favorite Canadians ;)

This week they were hosting a basket maker from England, Eddie Glew of Blithfield Willowcrafts.

When I found this out a few month prior I was so super excited. Eddie and I have been following each other on instagram for a few years and I was over the moon to find out I could take classes with him only a few hours away, instead of a whole ocean away. The thought of having to drive on the wrong side of the road in the UK is enough to make me stay here LOL.

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So I was super lucky to get into all of Eddies classes, three in total. We started off with a rope coil weave basket, moved to square work and finally a fitched shopper on the last two days. The fitched shopper I think is the only thing that I didn’t get a picture of yet.

So what can I say, and how much can I compliment without sounding like a broken record! Eddie’s work is just perfection and he is a stellar teacher. All I can say is that if you ever have the chance to take a class with him you better jump. His work speaks for itself and trust me when I say that he is a teacher with a true passion and love for this craft. We were all in good hands and it was wonderful for me not only to learn basketry techniques, but to pick up on some great teaching techniques as well. My sincere thanks to Eddie and his amazing wife too, for visiting Canada and making it super easy for me to take some classes.

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There wasn’t only baskets, there was great meals, amazing chocolate, a car full of willow, two grams of saffron in my pocket and a few axes might have been thrown. As amazing as it is to learn and work with other basket makers, the experience and friendships are just as special and memorable.

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If you are an extreme saffron lover like I am and you are in Ontario or near it make sure you check out True Saffron. Or just check it out now! Don’t purchase mediocre saffron that might not be the real deal, trust me get the good stuff.

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We managed to remember to take a few pictures at the end! I’m really hoping to travel to England one day and take a few more courses with Eddie. I’m no where near ready to stop learning as much as I can. Cheers!