Monday, November 29, 2010

Weekend Edition: Thanksgiving Weekend

We had a lovely Thanksgiving despite the cold.  It should be cold on Thanksgiving, right?  It's late November after all!  We celebrate Thanksgiving most years with a large group of family friends, all of whom are excellent cooks.  The day is spent in an idyllic New Mexico location, and always includes a hike before dinner.  Can't get any better than that!  No photos because sometimes its nice to just live life, not document it for others.

Meanwhile with the extra long weekend I did fairly typical things.

I read an actual letter from a friend.  Visited a local nursery and brought home a beautiful gardenia that has been perfuming my kitchen and fooling me into believing that I'm in the tropics.  (Tried a ridiculous number of times to capture a photo that was in focus, and could not do it.)  Baked the third week's worth of sourdough bread.  Many other completely non-photogenic things as well, like mowing the lawn for an hour until the gas ran out in the mower and it could be cleaned and stored for the winter, and obsessing over really great furniture deals on ebay that I couldn't partake in because they were all local pick-up only in locations that I can't easily get to.  Sigh.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Snowy Thanksgiving

Brr, woke up to a dusting of snow this morning and completely grey skies.  It's making for a stay inside in front of the fire type of Thanksgiving.  Good and cozy!  Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Weekend Edition: All About Bread

The weekend had non-bread related moments, of course, like battling the pre-holiday crowds at TJ Maxx.  That was hellish, but resulted in the purchase of a really great gift for a friend, as well as a bag of Lindt White Chocolate Lindor truffles for me.  So good.  The older I get the lighter I seem to like my chocolate.

First bread related item: Afghani Bread, $3.00 from Ariana Halal Market.
Huge (my computer is in the photo for scale), chewy and still warm when we took it out to the car.  I'd eaten this bread before when friends had brought it to work, but I'd never stopped into the market myself.  The owner (I'm assuming) was really nice, and the café menu looks delicious.  I'm definitely going to have to go back to eat someday soon.

Second bread related item: This week's loaf of Sourdough.

I thought the sponge was too dry last week, so this week I made sure that it was less so.  Instead of just tweaking last week's recipe, I defected to this one from Clotilde of the Chocolate & Zucchini blog.  I like her detailed instructions, and the fact that the bread had fewer ingredients (no oil or sugar).  Due to my lack of a kitchen scale, I had to wing it a little with measurements, but stuck to her basic 1:2:3 ratio and ended up with a delicious and large loaf of bread.  Less dense this week than last, and a better flavor, possibly due to the folding technique that she recommends.  

Third bread related item: Sourdough Starter Cake.
I had a little bit of sourdough sponge left over after I'd mixed up the bread, and not wanting to waste it, decided to make up a little cake.  Flour, eggs, baking powder, sugar, orange zest, rose-water and crushed cardamom made a very tasty cake.  The glaze was orange juice, powdered sugar and a tinge more rose-water.  Yum.  

Brr, now I have to go sit closer to the wood stove because I've caught a chill today and can't seem to stay warm.  I blame the nasty wind we're having.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Fun: A Living Room for Linda

My first attempt at virtual decorating was to get my friend Kelly excited about her new condo.  It was so fun that I mocked up a couple of room options for my mom and myself.  I've made a few more since then, but never gotten around to blogging them.

The boards below were made to help an old family friend redecorate the living room in her new(ish) house.  She rented for decades in and around Santa Fe, and only bought her first house a couple of years ago.  Her rental houses were always heavy on charm, and old adobe in the middle of an orchard, a wood cabin with a loft bedroom on a hillside, a coverted barn with the bath tub in the kitchen.  Her furniture and aesthetic evolved to suit those spaces.  A boxy 60s ranch kind of threw her for a loop. 

After looking at lots of design inspiration images, Linda found herself drawn to the Scandinavian farmhouse look.  The board below was an attempt to show how she could bring about that look.  Muted cool colors, raw wood, shutters instead of curtains, something handmade, and a mix of new and antique furnishings.  (Click images to make larger).

Version two brightened up the colors and added a little more pattern, which I think gave it a more contemporary look.

Version three is based on what will probably actually happen in the space.  She's planning to paint the walls a very pale grey green from Benjamin Moore called Pine Barrens.  She had already purchased one set of natural linen drapes from Pottery Barn, so sticking with that is the most cost effective solution.  More lighting that stylistically reinforces the look will help a lot.

My major suggestions for Linda were painting the walls, which were a "neutral" yellowish tan color (seen here), rearranging her furniture, and restyling her bookshelves.  Both the fireplace and the bookshelves are focal points, so I wanted her to open up the site lines between the two, as well as traffic flow.  Linda has two nice Danish modern style armchairs and a new off white sofa, as well as a wall of IKEA Billy bookshelves.  I wanted to illustrate that she could adjust the personality of the room really easily by changing up little things like curtains, carpets, lamps and throw pillows.  She loves the new furniture arrangement and is planning to paint the walls over the Thanksgiving break.  I can't wait to see more progress!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Culinary Chronicles: Huazontle / Quelites Quesedillas

I introduced my mom to the concept of blogs by the countless links I send her of things that I think are cool.  She has since introduced me to a couple of blogs in return.  One of them is Lesley Téllez's The Mija Chronicles, where she blogs about learning to cook Mexican food as a young Mexican American expat currently living in Mexico City.  Back in September Lesley bought some huauzontle at market and decided to dedicate a week to exploring how she could cook with it. What is huauzontle?  Sounds really exotic, doesn't it?  Its a Mexican green that's botanically related to quinoa, although its eaten fresh, prepared like spinach or broccoli, and not as a grain.   When I looked at Lesley's photos I thought it looked like a heartier version of a weed that we call lambs quarters here in New Mexico, or quelites in Spanish.  Its also known as wild spinach, and as far as I know, only the leaves are commonly eaten here in New Mexico.  Lesley was preparing the flower heads.  Had the lambs quarters in our yard not been forming their own flower clusters I may not have noticed the similarities.

Lesley Téllez's huauzontle.  Photo used with her permission.
The lamb's quarters growing in our yard in September.  The leaves look identical, although Lesley's seems to be a brighter green.  Lamb's quarters leaves are a little fuzzy, and the flower/seed heads are not as dense.

My mom moved to New Mexico in 1965 as a VISTA volunteer.  She was posted up in Dixon where she worked with a local community organizer to do things like set up the volunteer fire department.  In the early 60s a lot of the villages in Northern New Mexico were still very isolated,  and a lot of the older people still spoke primarily Spanish, cooked on woodstoves, and ate very simple foods that they grew themselves, like beans, chile, apples and things they foraged, like quelites, and watercress.  Either up in Dixon, or in the next few years when she was living in Santa Fe, my mom learned to pick quelites and add them to a pot of beans.  Every once in awhile you'll see them on a menu at a New Mexican restaurant (Padillas has them on whichever day their special is carnitas-- Tuesdays?), sautéed with onions, but its generally actually spinach in that case.  My mom saw someone selling them at the Downtown Farmer's Market this summer, but you probably won't find them in a regular supermarket.

A day or two after reading Lesley's first post about huauzontles, I picked some of the lambs quarters from our yard to try preparing them her way.  I'd never cooked the flower heads before, but I like to experiment. I just blanched them quickly in boiling water and made a simple cheese quesadilla, served with a side of tomatillo salsa.  The lambs quarters really do taste like spinach, a very mild flavor, but this gave a bit of crunch.  It was good, but not super exciting.

My lambs quarters quesadilla with roasted tomatillo salsa.
A few weeks later, much to my surprise,  I went to Pro's Ranch Market and found actual huauzontle in the produce department.  It's flower heads were on steroids compared to my lambs quarters, and all of the leaves had been plucked off prior to display, but I snatched it up.  This whole bunch cost $0.79.

The huauzontle that I purchased at Pro's Ranch Market.
We prepared it much the same way as the first time, in quesadillas.  I should have stuffed chicken breasts and served it all with a molé sauce like Lesley did, since I always buy molé at Pro's these days.  Maybe next time.  In the future I won't bother to buy the huauzontle, but will just use the lambs quarters.  In terms of flavor, I didn't discern any difference, but at least I know that the lambs quarters in our yard are grown without pesticides.  According to this article by Deborah Madison, lambs quarters, also known as goosefeet weed, grows all over the United States.  So keep an eye out for it where you live.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Culinary Chronicles: Lentil Stew with Lamb Sausage and Chicken

Why do I keep posting so many recipes for tomatillos?  Its because they grow like weeds and produce hundreds of fruits per plant, yet most of the recipes that I see on a regular basis are either for tomatillo salsa, or a green sauce for enchiladas.  I've been trying to broaden their range in my cooking repertoire and incorporate them into non-Mexican food dishes.

A couple of weeks ago my mom boiled up a lot of tomatillos in order to freeze them for later use.  She was left with about 6 cups of tomatillo broth that she didn't want to throw away, but wasn't sure what to do with.  In typical fashion, one morning she said to me, "If you are planning to make a soup, maybe you can use up that tomatillo broth."  I had mentioned no plans of making a soup, nor was I particularly inspired to do so, but that is my mom's way of suggesting hopefully that I come up with something delicious.  The idea thus being planted in my head, various ingredients combined themselves over the next few days, and what I finally ended up with was a lentil stew, flavored with lamb sausage that I bought at Whole Foods Market, and chicken.  My mom loved it, in fact what she said after the third night eating it was, "This is the best lentil soup I've ever eaten."  She's not one to quantify things as "the best," so that was pretty high praise.

I'm always interested in the creative process of things.  What triggered the use of a certain medium, or a color combination, were you inspired by a smell, was a memory triggered by the quality of light?  I find cooking to follow the same process.  My original plan was for a much clearer broth, with chicken and Spanish chorizo floating in it, along with white beans, and maybe chard and tomatoes.  Along the way it morphed into a thick broth with the prevalent flavor of lamb.  How did it happen?  I couldn't find the hard links of Spanish chorizo on my regular shopping route, and so I switched to lamb sausage, which seemed like it could go well with the original concept.  Then I got home, and realized that I'd forgotten to buy white beans, and there weren't any in the cupboard.  There were lots of lentils though.  Since lentils are a common food in Spain, I knew that it would combine well with the other ingredients, and voilá, I had a soup to satisfy Mom's request.

Adding a hearty green, like kale, would be delicious in this.  Carrots too.  I had neither on hand or else I probably would have included them.  If you aren't a fan of lamb, go back to the chorizo idea, or substitute a spicy chicken sausage.

Lentil Stew with Lamb and Chicken

1 cup lentils, rinsed
3 chicken thighs, boneless and skinless
1 lamb sausage*, about 6 inches long
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 tsp. smoked paprika**, or smokey chile like dried chipotle or pasilla
6 to 8 fresh plum tomatoes, chopped
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
6-8 cups tomatillo broth***, chicken broth, or vegetable broth

Cut sausage and chicken thighs into one-inch strips.  Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a heavy bottom soup pot.  Add meat and brown on all sides.  Once the meat is browned, add the onion and cook until translucent.  Add paprika, tomato paste, and lentils and sauté for a minute or two, stirring so that all ingredients are well coated with the spices.  The sausage that I used had garlic and basil in it.  If you are using a plainer sausage, or ground lamb, add a clove of garlic, finely minced and a teaspoon of dried basil or mint.   Add tomatoes, and cook for another 20 minutes, or until the lentils become soft.  Salt to taste.  The sausage that I had was soo salty that I didn't need to add any additional salt.  Soup thickens a lot when the lentils soften.  If you'd like a thinner consistency just add additional broth or water.  Garnish with parsley, a dollop of plain yogurt, or a crumbling of farm cheese.

*I used a pre-spiced sausage from the Wild Oats butcher counter called Lamb with Basil, Garlic and Pine-nuts.  You could substitute chunks of lamb or ground lamb, but make sure to add garlic and herbs if you do.  A spicy Spanish chorizo would also be good.

**I know, I'm currently obsessed with smoked paprika.  It's that good.  Try it.  Or skip it.  You could add some chile flakes, or a small dried chile in its place.

*** I can't imagine that many of you would have tomatillo broth on hand.  We only had it because my mom boiled a lot of tomatillos from our garden so that they could be frozen for later use, and there was extra liquid left over afterward.  The tomatillo broth had a nice tangy sweetness to it that other broths won't have, so if you have tomatillos on hand you could chop and boil some of them to use as a base. 

Weekend Edition: Adventures in Sourdough

I showed you my sourdough starter on Thursday, and this weekend I made my first loaf of bread from it.

I read a lot of recipes, and had planned to use one from Chocolate & Zucchini, but since most of her measurements are in grams, and I don't have a kitchen scale, I had to look elsewhere.  I ended up going with this recipe from S. John Ross.  It turned out pretty well, but there are definitely a couple of things I'd adjust for the next loaf.  I think my sponge should have been a little wetter, because I was only able to incorporate two cups of flour instead of the recipe's three.  I felt like even with dramatically less flour my dough was on the verge of being too dry when I was kneading it.  Also, next time I'd cut out the sugar that is added to the sponge prior to mixing up the dough.  I know sugar is often added to feed the yeasts and make the bread rise, but this loaf had a touch of sweetness to it that I don't favor.  Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a sweet bread, but was more like a commercial sandwich loaf.  

All in all, the loaf turned out better than I expected.  It rose well, it browned nicely and formed a nice crust, it cut nicely, and it tasted good.  I mixed whole wheat and white flour.  It wasn't particularly sour-- there were parts of the bread that tasted more like sourdough than others.  The crumb was dense enough that it would be good for sandwiches, but it wasn't dense and heavy, or hard to chew.  And most importantly, it sent me an omen that I should continue to make sourdough.  Do you see the perfect "S" that formed as the bread rose?

I also made pancakes with some of the sourdough starter.  I used another recipe from Uncle Jim's Book of Pancakes, a vintage cookbook that I featured in this Vintage Kitchen post (before I'd named the Vintage Kitchen posts, I guess).  They look slightly red because I threw some frozen raspberries into the batter.  Extremely good pancakes.

If you click those photos they'll open slightly larger, but in case you still can't read it, here's the transcription.

Sourdough Pancakes from Uncle Jim's Book of Pancakes by James E. Banks; Filter Press, Palmer Lake, CO, 1967.

In the early days of the American West, a solitary prospector or herder couldn't go to the market when he needed yeast for his baking.  So he carried along a sponge of sourdough starter.  It really was sour dough.  Even today, sourdough cookery is one of the supreme treats for an amateur chef.

The first thing you need is a starter.  Here's a method that has always worked for me.  Because this is still an art, not a science, it may not work for you.  If it doesn't, wait a few days and try again.  Your first batch of sourdough pancakes will repay your effort many-fold.

Place 1 cup of milk in a glass jar or crock (nothing metal!) and let it stand at room temperature for a day.  I use a 6 oz. instant coffee jar, but any wide-mouthed jar will do.  The second day stir in 1 cup flour.  Leave the mixture uncovered in a warm place (80˚ F is ideal and can be achieved near the pilot light on a gas stove.  Not too near, though or the heat will kill the yeast.)  for 2 to 5 days, depending on how long it takes to sour and get bubbly.  To speed the process in warm weather you can cover the jar with a layer of cheesecloth and let it stand outdoors for a few hours to expose the dough to wild yeasts in the air.  If the mixture starts to dry out, stir in enough lukewarm water to bring it back to its original consistency.  When it has a good sour aroma and is full of bubbles, it's read to use.

Every time you use your starter, replenish it with equal amounts of flour and milk.  Let it stand at room temperature for a few hours, or until it gets full of bubbles again, then cover loosely wan store in the refrigerator.  From time to time you may have to scrape some mold from the top of the jar where the starter dries out a bit.

This is certainly not the only way to get a starter going.  When Cal Queal, outdoor editor of the Denver POST, appealed for a recipe, he got 23 answers.  A starter is best if used once a week.  If you don't use it for two or three weeks, discard about half and replenish it as described above.  If you don't expect to use it for several weeks, you can freeze it.  Be sure to leave it at room temperature for at least 36 hours when you want to use it again.

After you've worked with your starter for awhile, you'll get to know it as an old pal that gets better with age.  I'd read this and was skeptical until I noticed that my results took a real turn for the better about six months after I made the starter.

Here's the basic recipe:

1/2 cup sourdough starter
1 cup undiluted evaporated milk
1 cup warm water*
1 3/4 - 2 cups unsifted flour
2 eggs
2 TBS granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda**

In a large bowl gently mix 1/2 cup starter, 1 cup undiluted evaporated milk, and 1 cup lukewarm water (*or 2 cups whole milk), and 1 3/4 - 2 cups flour.  The amount of flour is determined by the consistency you like.  Leave overnight at room temperature.  Be sure not to leave a metal spoon in the bowl.

Next morning add 2 eggs, 2 TBS granulated sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1 tsp baking soda**.  Mix well, but don't beat.

** If your starter is quite sour, you may need to add more baking soda.  You'll learn by trial and error.  Never go more than 50% above the suggested amount.

For variations on the basic recipe, you can replace as much as half the flour with buckwheat flour, rolled oats, cornmeal or wheat germ.  They are all good.

If you want to make sourdough waffles, add 2 TBS melted shortening to the batter just before baking.

In the old time lumber camps, the loggers had an easy substitute for syrup.  The simply dissolved brown sugar in hot coffee and poured it over the pancakes.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Fun: Silver Seduction

The exhibit of Antonio Pineda jewelry at the Folk Art was fantastic.  If you like jewelry in particular, and design in general, and can get there before January 2, I urge you to go.  For more images and history you can buy the exhibition catalog on Amazon.  I'm tempted.  I didn't take my camera, because I kind of hate taking photos in museums, and it's often prohibited, but I did dig up a couple of images of some of my favorite pieces.  The lighting was really dim in parts of the exhibit.  I understand that sometimes materials are light sensitive, but silver?  I'm pretty sure they could have up'd the light candles so that the colors of the stones were actually discernible.  On the plus side, the introductory signage was all displayed on a wall painted that lovely Barragan pink.

This articulated fuschia blossom brooch really appealed to me.

This bracelet was inspired by an armadillo shell.

Obviously there was much more, and to get a glimpse, you'd be better served by these videos put together by the Fowler Museum at UCLA, where the exhibit originated.  The first is the short version, for those of you with a time crunch.  I recommend the second, it's only 7.5 minutes long, and you get to see a lot more of the work.

Exhibition: Silver Seduction - The Art of Mexican Modernist Antonio Pineda from Fowler Museum on Vimeo.

Silver Seduction: The Art of Mexican Modernist Antonio Pineda from Fowler Museum on Vimeo.

Friday Fun: Museum of International Folk Art

I guess in the 1950s you wanted your jewelry designer to have that bad boy charm.   Pic from here.
Unless the weather takes a turn for the worse, I'm currently up in Santa Fe where the Museum of International Folk Art has an exhibit of the work of Mexican modernist jewelry designer Antonio Pineda.  I've seen crystal and bullet necklaces all over the web lately, but I'll bet this was the original that inspired them all. (Although maybe this is more like amethyst jaguar teeth).

This necklace is in a private collection.  Image from here

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fall Funk

I'm out of sorts with the internet.  I'm finding it hard to keep up with all of the blog posts that I have planned.  I have several started, but not finished.  I also just finished reading the newest issue of Lonny magazine, haven't even looked at Covet Garden yet, and have shows stacking up in my Hulu queue.  I'm just lacking energy when it comes to the web.  Is it Fall?  Maybe it's Season Four of The West Wing, which makes me believe that there can be good intelligent people in politics for a few hours a night, despite the fact that its fiction.  I kind of needed that after the recent elections, and its all I want to watch these days.

This was the view from my front porch a couple days ago.
Or have I just been tiring myself out getting ready for the colder weather that's supposed to be on its way?  Stacking wood closer to the house for easy access to the woodstove, and planting lots of daffodil bulbs before the ground freezes have taken up some of my time lately.

Maybe with the colder weather and the need to stay inside that it brings, I'll get back on the horse, so to speak.

Culinary Chronicles: Sourdough Starter by Accident

It's not much to look at is it?  I'm really excited about it nonetheless because it's my very first sourdough starter and it sort of came about by accident.  My mom makes her own yogurt, which is super simple.  When you do so, you always keep about a half cup of yogurt to add into the mix for the new batch.   The live cultures are what ferment the new batch into yogurt.  A couple weeks ago, a batch went kind of off.  It smelled and tasted really yeasty.  She decided that it was probably better to throw it out and start again using a jar of yogurt from the store as the starter culture.  Due to the yeastiness I decided to add in some flour and water and see if I could make a sourdough starter.  I mean if it smells like yeast it probably is yeast, right?  Success!  I've already used some for pancakes, the recipe for which I'll share in a future post.  Meanwhile I've been feeding the starter everyday, and growing it, so that this weekend I will have enough to take half and bake a loaf of bread.

I've been wanting to try to start my own yeast culture ever since I saw Martha Stewart do it way back in the 90s, using a leaf from a cabbage.  Apparently that white film that you see on cabbage leaves is a source of active yeasts.  The thing that always held me back is that if you read enough about sourdoughs they start to sound like an incredible amount of work.  You have to feed them and keep them at the right temperatures, and if you don't bake a lot, you end up throwing out starter and therefore wasting a lot of starter.  It always seemed like a project that I'd be better off starting later.  Then fate stepped in with that yeasty yogurt.  I guess I'm going to start baking more.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Culinary Chronicles: Affogato

I'm not a frappaccino drinker, I prefer a plain latte when I go to a coffee shop, and at home I make strong coffee and lighten it with half & half.  In other words, no sweet coffee for me.  Except every once in a while, when an affogato really hits the spot.  I don't think I'd ever had an affogato until I went to Italy, and I don't often see it on menus here in the southwest, but its the perfect treat.  A scoop of ice cream with a shot of espresso poured over, combining after dinner coffee with dessert.  Delicious.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Saturday Scene: More Fall Color

When I was saying that our fall color is primarily yellow, I wasn't kidding.  These are the elms that run along the irrigation ditch at the back of the property at dusk yesterday.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday Fun: Strangely Natural

When I say that I live on the urban/rural edge, I really mean it.  Our house is in a neighborhood, we have city water, sewer, etc., and it only takes ten minutes on city streets to reach downtown.  However, due to the large lots, acequia systems, county distinction that allows for lot of farm animals per acre, we have a lot of nature at hand too.  I've found and collected all kinds of interesting natural things from around the property-- crawdad claws (they come from the ditch), desiccated lizards (crawled into a poster tube in my mud room and apparently couldn't get out again), pieces of wood with perfectly circular holes bored by woodpeckers, all kinds of feathers from common doves to pheasant tail feathers, but what I found today might take the cake.

Seriously, is that the most phallic mushroom you've ever seen?  It was even wet on the tip.  I have no idea what kind of mushroom that is, but it was just growing out of the front lawn.  Nature is really amazing sometimes.

Update: It really is phallic... I think it's most likely a Phallus impudicus, or Common Stinkhorn mushroom.  It did have a distinct odor, although I wouldn't say it stunk.  It mostly just smelled mushroom-y.  

Friday Fun: One Day Early

Yep, I spent all day yesterday in leisure pursuits, and today will be mostly chores to make up for it.  I was gone most of the day yesterday looking for Fall color in the form of bigtooth maples in the 4th of July Canyon.  New Mexico is primarily yellow when it comes to Fall leaves-- our aspens turn yellow, our cottonwoods too.  Beautiful, especially against our insanely blue skies, but sometimes a little variety is nice.  This was the best we found, as the rest had already faded or fallen, but the trip was fun nonetheless.  Its close by too, less than an hour from Albuquerque, I'd say.

Meanwhile, I'm happy to say that my buntings are finished, packed up and mailed off.  Whew, on to the next sewing project.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thursday Photo

This weather is making it impossible to stay inside. 

This is one of my favorite parts of the property.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Crafty: Bunting Flags

Wow, I feel like I was a posting machine for a couple of weeks and then wham-- radio silence.  I didn't burn out or anything, just got involved in finishing up a couple of projects that have kept me away from the computer.  One of them is making bunting flags for my friend's baby shower.  I wanted to contribute something to the decor that wasn't disposable and could be used to decorate her nursery in the long term.  Since the organizers hadn't chosen any colors, I started with some old fabrics that I had on hand and then bought a few more that tied them all together.  I would have preferred warmer shades of orange and yellow, but those just didn't appear.  Fate sent me green and blue.  I wish that I'd been able to find nicer patterned fabrics too, but I went to the fabric store closest to my house, and their selection was not good.  I feel like they'll be fine, but could be better.  Oh well.  They also took much longer than anticipated due to sewing machine angst.  (Old machine = temperamental and I'm not knowledgeable enough to adjust accordingly).  I'm just going to send them off (baby shower is in Northern California) and advise that the flowers bring in bright contrasting tones.