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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Breadbaking...with sourdough

So, last week Dear One and I were watching Chef Brad's Fusion Grain Cooking on the BYU-TV channel which we get on ROKU.  There was a cracked wheat sourdough bread recipe which really looked good.  I thought I might make it something.

Well...sometime came quicker than I expected. I had seen sourdough starter at King Arthur Flour and I had also seen sourdough flavoring there.  They cost about the same amount of money but since the instant flavor would presumably run out but the starter could be kept alive for years..I thought I would get the actual starter.  When I was out yesterday I forgot to stop at King Arthur and after that I had my great fall in the garden so the thought of sourdough, or anything involving effort, went out of my mind.  Not so the mind of Dear One.  SO....often I went to get a one-ounce container (really cute container, by the way...!) of sourdough starter when I got just before they closed.  Stopped at Dan and Whit's to get the potatoes, then came home and started the feeding process of the starter.  This morning all looked well so I went through the two more feeding processes and have now pulled the first batch of Chef Brad's cracked wheat bread out of the oven.

These show what happens when not enough flour in the dough!

Ugly bread, but does taste good. 

Not enough flour!

Of course, I went against  better judgement and put in only the amount of flour he called for.  Well, I did put is a little more, but the dough was sticky and I was sure it needed more flour but did not do it.  PLUS  I have 1 1/2 pound loaf pans and he said this made 2-pound loaves.  Those two  little items together made a  pretty icky-looking batch of bread, but it certainly does taste good.

The second batch is rising in the pans.  This time I put in 11 cups of all-purpose flour instead of the 6-8 cups old Brad tells us to plus I divided into six loaves...four in pans and two ovals on parchment paper on a half sheet pan.  The rising is looking good.  (I also have a batch of buttery sourdough rolls from the KAF sourdough blog rising though I may be too tired to see them all the way through to buns.)

Second bath: WAY more flour

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Now I am Crabby!

You know,  I have always subscribed to the idea that if we do our best, that is all we can do.  Now I have a different view:  sometimes your best is just not good enough!  I suppose this is because I have a problem with pride and don't like to ask other people for help, but still...

Case in point:  we have a nice new salad garden in front of the house.  All well and good.  We also have a Mittleider growbox out in the field which we put in maybe ten years ago...5 feet by 30 feet with 8 or 10 inch boards as the box.  We did NOT pull out all the brushy trees and bushes and things  before we started.  Bad idea.

With all the brush growing around the growbox it was impossible to get to the back side and take care of the plants on that side without walking in the growbox and potentially annoying the plants that actually were growing.  Last fall we had the whole field, including that area brush-hogged.  A great thing to do.  However,  this spring I thought it would be good to pull up the ROOTS of all that stuff that had been chopped off by the hogging, but I did not want to ask for help, and I never got to it.

On the front side of the growbox about a third of the side was the receptacle of a variety of detritus from a moving/demolition project.  This spring I also thought I should remove all that stuff as soon as the ground had dried up.  Unfortunately, when the weather was good, I did not feel like it.

Now we have shoulder high brush and even weeds growing around the growbox.  There are also two trailers parked a few feet away from the growbox.  The pieces of house demolition that the dump didn't take are still there right up next to the growbox in the walkway, and now they are covered with wet weeds.

Today I decided it was time to hill up the potatoes....our first potato project in years (I had discovered that there were ten potatoes in our potato bucket that had sprouted.  Instead of tossing them out I thought I would see if they would grow.  Well, they did so we have ten plants that are now a foot high.  Since I didn't have enough dirt to hill them up I found a lumber company that sold me two bags of mahogany shavings to use to hill up the plants.  I was just about done when I slipped on the wet weeds/demolition debris, and could not right myself before I fell all the way to the ground and smashed into one of the metal trailers. 

Currently I am really crabby because it hurt, I could not get up immediately because of all the hard stuff under and around me, and because I was afraid a snake would come and sit in my lap, plus there are so many ticks around I figured I would be eaten alive by them.  So, what would any normal red-blooded me do?  I shouted for help since I knew Dear One was on the porch. 

No one came to rescue me so after a few minutes, having caught my breath, thought I ought to think up some mild words to mention on the subject, then managed to roll over to where I could grab something that would help me get to my feet.  I finished covering the last of the potatoes, grabbed a stake for the last tomato plant I was going to put into the growbox but had decided there on the ground that I was not going to go back to the garden again (maybe ever) and which tomato is now going into the salad garden.  Since the beets and carrots did not do anything, well, one of each, the little mutts, so that is where I will put the tomato...and I gingerly got into the truck and pulled it back into the parking spot and went to see where my rescuer was.

He was doing his scripture study on the porch and had not heard me calling for help.  Well, I suppose if I had really shouted he would have heard me...but perhaps that is a vain hope. If he HAD heard me, he would have come right along.  He always does rescue me.

So...that is why I am crabby.  And somewhat off gardens.  I just looked in the mirror at my arm and it looks normal.  What a bust!  Don't even have a good gardening wound to brag about.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Second Harvest!

On Saturday, 15 June 2013, we harvested three items:  red leaf lettuce, baby spinach leaves, and cilantro!  This is so exciting.

The original garden was put in on 3 May and only one or two spinach plants came up.  The harvested spinach came from those plants.  The red leaf lettuce was from transplants I found at Longacres and planted before the last frost but covered them.  The cilantro is from starts I found at Home Depot and also planted early.

This is very good news: harvesting.  The bad news is that A gave us three fingerling potato starts to plant which I set in the garden but did not get to put them into the ground.  They are now gone, as are a few of the wax bean leaves.  This gets my goat.  I should have planted them immediately.  Never mind the rain and the fatigue.  The only good potato news is that on Wednesday I was at the growbox in the field and found two of the ten potato plants I put in almost three weeks ago had come up.  Yay!

Disposition of today's harvest:  Dear One ate the lettuce and spinach with sugar sprinkled on top and said it was good.  The cilantro went into some salsa verde!  (Click on the link for the recipe...) It is pretty good, but not as good as the Herdez salsa verde we got in Mexico, you can't beat that, but for homemade with a YouTube video as guidance, I call it cilantro well spent!

Applesauce cooked in the pot

Applesauce after sugar and cinnamon added
 We were given some apples that needed to be used immediately and since I was rather tired I just peeled and cored the apples, threw them into a heavy saucepan with some water, covered them and put them on medium low heat.  I then went upstairs to some computer project, forgetting all about the apples until I came down again and could smell them, and hear the little valve on top of the pot jumping!  Fortunately, the medium low heat was just right.

The report on the applesauce is that it is "Good".  That is good news.

Now back to do the dishes.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

PACC White Bean Hummus

At a wonderful get-together a couple of weeks ago, Amy made some absolutely delicious white bean dip.  She very kindly gave me her recipe.  It turns out I did not have the exact ingredients, and since I had cooked some dried white beans, adding a little baking soda as they soaked--though since then I have heard I should have left the soaking water with baking soda with the beans and cooked them with baking soda water--which I drained then cooked until the beans were soft, I really wanted to make some bean dip.

Seeing several recipes for hummus I thought I might use bits of each recipe to make something edible.  IT WORKED!    Go to Grammie's Kitchen and Bedtime Stories for the recipe!

This is a picture:

This hummus is not really wet as it looks...just the result of bad photography.

Cotton Coverlet Knit on the Bond Incredible Sweater Machine

Company is coming.  The quilt on the guest bedroom bed has been through sheet-rocking to ill effect.  A new bed-covering seems to be the thing.  What to do, what to do....

Lovely people gave me two buckets of cotton yarn, much of it variegated.  What ho!  A cotton coverlet knit on my Bond Incredible Sweater Machine which has an extension and parts from the Bond Ultimate Sweater machine!  Now that is a great idea!

SO...I sat down and started.  Because of the size of the bed, the coverlet is being knit in five strips.  Weeks ago I started, casting on 75 stitches for the width of the strips.  After knitting two of them, I thought I would like to make the middle one a bit wider so I cast on 110 stitches for that one.

Central coverlet strips laid out on bed so you cannot see the error at the top!

The rub came when the number of ROWS came into play.  The first one came out just the right length...but alas, I had not written down anyway I could find how many rows it was, so I counted the rows in 10 inches and multiplies by 108, the proposed number of inches LONG I wanted the coverlet and came up with a number...I think 560 rows, so away I went knitting the second strip.

When I held the two strips together the second strip was WAY TOO LONG!  How had my math failed me so badly?!  Well, however it happened, it really did, so I was back to the drawing board with figuring.  Rather than tear out the long strip rows, I cast on the 110 stitches for the middle strip and went to town knitting up the strip as quickly, but consciously as possible as I HATE IT when the carriage comes off the stitch bed or when the stitches come off the stitch bed and have to be replaced...so time-consuming.

The left strip is WAY too long and the center strip too short

Now I have three strips of three DIFFERENT lengths...a pretty kettle of fish.  What to do, what to do (again!)...

What I did:  First I basted one side section together with the middle section with ravel cord.  That was not that enjoyable so I decided to mattress stitch the second side section to the middle.  It took a long time but by the time I finished I had come up with a plan, so I mattress-stitched the first side section to the middle, pulling out the ravel cord as I went.

With the three strips together I could address the different lengths issue.  What I decided to do was to pick up the stitches on the shortest (middle) strip  with a circular needle, in this case a US size 8 needle about 29 inches long, and begin knitting it up to meet the correct length strip using the yarn that I unraveled-as-I-went from the too long section.

Knitting up the center strip to match the correct length right strip

It is working but taking a while.  The rest of the plan is that when I finish that...getting all three strips the same length, I will then return the sewn-together strips to the Bond machine and "seam-as-I-go", which will be somewhat of a bear project as the coverlet is so big, heavy, and awkward, but then when I get to the right number of rows, I will stop knitting.

What was going to be strip four before new plan

So far I have not come up with a plan for the finishing AROUND the coverlet, but I still have the hours of hand-knitting the central section, and the hours knitting the other two strips to figure it out.  I will post that plan when it comes!

Just as I am writing this I remember the Barbara Walker Learn To Knit Afghan project I started a couple of years ago.  Maybe I should have finished that one instead!  Well, if I get this project completed in the next few days, perhaps I can get rolling on Barbara Walker again...

Monday, June 17, 2013

Homemade Twinkies (chocolate!)

In case you don't know, there is always a  sweepstakes running on who can be the best Grammie ever!  I have never been that person, but with this recipe I feel as if I am actually a contender! 

A month ago I received a dear letter from our sweet A in which she did mention that she feels very kindly towards me.  Not only that but she brought up the Twinkies I had made when I was visiting there for her baptism two years ago.  She had really enjoyed them and requested that we have them again when they come for a reunion next month.  In fact, SEVERAL BATCHES were suggested.

SO....as any contending grandma would do, I decided to haul out the pan and give it a try again to see if I could successfully make Twinkies again.

There are many YouTube videos on making homemade Twinkies, nearly all of which have you make your Twinkies pan out of folded up aluminum foil. I suggest you do not do that.

 Lay out the money and get a real Twinkies pan. It is called a canoe pan. It comes with an injector for filling your Twinkies.   I got mine at The Prepared Pantry.    I love those people!  They are so generous with recipes and "free" things.  Their newsletter comes every week and almost always there are recipes it is worth reading.  (The most recent one was making Baked Alaska in a Cup!!!  You may be SURE I am going to make that someday soon.)  Sign up for the newsletter.

Anyway,  this is how I made the first two test batches of Twinkies.

Using a Betty Crocker Pound Cake mix, make up the batter according to the directions.  Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. 

Grease and flour your canoe pan.  Seriously...DO this.  You want the Twinkies to drop out of the pan.  Grease AND flour the pan, but then shake out every bit of the flour that will drop off the grease.  I say this because the second batch, the chocolate Twinkies, had too much flour left in the canoe cavities and, surprisingly, the flour adhered to the Twinkies which did not look pretty, nor did it taste that fabulous.

Use a portion scoop to fill the canoe cavities about one-half full.  I tried three different sizes and I think it was about 3 Tablespoons that worked.  If you put in too much they look less like Twinkies when they are cooked. More like Twinkies with a skirt, which I guess could be a food fashion statement, but...

Bake for 15-17 minutes, checking after 15 minutes.  When they are cooked, remove from oven and let sit on rack for 5 minutes before trying to remove Twinkies.  After 5 minutes,  use a silicon spatula or some other soft plastic knife-y type thing, to go around the edges of the cavities then invert the pan over the rack and let them fall onto the rack.  If necessary, gently shake the pan  before inverting.  Let cool completely.

Before putting the remaining batter in the pan, wash it, dry it, then grease and flour it again.  Really.  Do this.  You will have a big disappointment if you don't...

Chocolate Twinkies which had too much flour left in the cavity before baking.

The Betty Crocker Pound Cake mix made 16 Twinkies.

When the Twinkies are completely cool,  inject them in the bottom in three spots.  Don't put too much filling in or you will blow out the side.  That is really no problem but it just does not look as nice.  On the upside, you get more filling!

The second test batch I made with a chocolate cake mix.  I thought the cakes might not be sturdy enough to handle the treatment with the injection process, but this mix worked as well.  The next text batch will be with some homemade batter at which time I will add an UPDATE to this post!


1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

Put everything except the whipping cream into a large bowl and mix until very smooth.  In a mixer bowl place the cold whipping cream and whip until sturdy peaks form then fold into the cream cheese mixture.  Fill injector (can use an icing bag with an open tip if you did not spring for the canoe pan with accompanying injector) then inject filling into three spots on the bottom of the Twinkie cake.  You will need to use a gentle hand!

Notice the little white spot about middle right side...that is the beginning of filling blowout.  That whole darker spot was about ready to blow but the filler stopped filling in the nick of time!

They are now ready to eat.  If they are not all consumed at once, place remainders in a closed container in the refrigerator.

Hopefully I will find a recipe for a filling, actually a Whoopie Pie-like filling that uses marshmallow fluff.  I know there is the perfect filling out there, but I have not yet found it.  There was a company in Maine who made the best Whoopie Pies and fillings but I did not contact them when I had their address. I have been distressed about it ever since...

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Early Morning Walk--starting at the gardens

Well, not that early since I took a while to read emails before I left  but it was before 7 AM.  Here are pictures from the gardens.  Because there are so many I will put the other pictures in a new post.

Lodi apples 16 June 2013
Basil in salad garden

Brandywine tomato in growbox

Chives in salad garden

cilantro in salad garden

cucumbers in salad garden

deer track in growbox!!!!!

deer tracks in the wax beans in the growbox!!!!#@$#@

Leeks in growbox

Marigolds ready to transplant into growbox

Rutgers tomato in growbox.  Do you think it will make it?

Zucchini, Black-seeded Simpson leaf lettuce, and Sugar Snap peas in salad garden

Zucchini in growbox

Wax beans, marigolds and radishes in salad garden

Early Morning Walk-2 The plants along the way

Here are many different grasses and plants.  I don't know the names of most of them.  If you do, please enlighten!

It was a really short walk...just to the foot of the hill, but it was so pleasant looking at all the grasses and other plants, listening to the birds singing so sweetly, and chatting with the dogs and Jackie.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Early Rising

Another early morning rising...2:14 AM this time.  Since I could not get back to sleep I crawled out and up to the workroom where I finished the middle strip of a cotton coverlet I am knitting on the Bond Incredible Sweater machine.  Two of the four side strips are already completed.

It turns out that all three strips are of a different length!  Gr-r-r-r!  What to do?  Well, since the middle one is the shortest, I decided to unravel the longest side and pick up stitches along both edges of the shortest side until two of the three strips are of the same length then knit the remaining two sides in a seam-as-you-go.  I think I can do it.  I am edgy to get this done as it is part of the preparation for family reunion in less than a month's time!

Very kind people gave me two buckets of cotton yarn, which is why this is happening.  As for the rest of the yarn, I think I have enough cotton yarn to make all the dish and face cloths I plan for the rest of my life!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Alfredo Sauce is Delicious!

Our Relief Society cookbook has given me such pleasure...the recipes are delicious but thinking about the wonderful ladies who submitted them is even more satisfying!

Shellie gave a very tasty alfredo sauce recipe which I made just as she put it in the cookbook the first time I made it and we loved it.  Since then I have wanted to make it but did not have all the same ingredients so I made the alterations below.  I guess it was a success because when I got home, all but about a half cup of it was GONE!  That makes me happy...plus it made for a much smaller serving for me, which is always a good thing!

PACC Alfredo Sauce

8 ounces cream cheese cut into smallish cubes
1/2 cup grated sharp or extra sharp cheddar cheese
2-3 large cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon chopped parsley
Sea salt to taste

In large cast iron skillet melt butter over MEDIUM heat then sautee garlic for about 1 minute.  Add cream cheese chunks, grated sharp cheese, and heavy cream.  Stir with wooden spoon until mixture is smooth and slightly bubbly.  Add parsley, black pepper, and salt to taste.  Serve over your favorite pasta.  We have used linguine, macaroni, bowties, and wide egg noodles.  They are all good.  The bowties were the most fun!

Sorry there is no picture.  There was not enough left to photograph...

UPDATE:  Today was our 40th and, since the alfredo was so well-received yesterday, I made it again! This time there was some left over. 
PACC Alfredo