Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Take A Peek Wednesday: How I'm Spending My Sumer Vacation!

                 How has your summer been? I've been busy..busy in the garden,busy on day trips, busy around the house, and busy trying to get some relaxation in there. 
                  The garden is coming along nicely and have already made some mental notes for next years garden. Like..plant 3 times the amount of zucchini because we are already out. I had one plant that didn't produce anything! I've learned my lesson with in, don't even bother in this climate. I'm waiting on my blue jade corn to come into harvest as well.

           I've been hitting up the local second hand shops and was thrilled to finally find an egg wire basket! is it no the neatest thing ever? The second hand shops here are for the most part seriously disappointing but every so often you can score something fabulous.

                     We've gone on a bunch of nature walks..I'm determined to soak up as much vitamin d as possible before the long dark days of winter hit us..and you know they are coming!

                  In just a few short weeks the boys will be heading off to school and my husband will be headed off for a new job adventure. So for now please excuse my absence. I am loving the time with my family and will return soon.

I have so many things to share with you all..I finally made a sourdough starter that is thriving. I've baked so much bread it's unreal. I'm learning new ways of stretching the food budget. So stay tuned and I wish you all a wonderful summer!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

TCSB's July Cake: Glazed Almond Butter Cake

                    Here is my monthly cake from, The Cake Slice Baker's. We were given a choice of 4 cakes from Great Cakes and I went with this one.

                 It's a pretty straight forward butter cake with an almond topping that is crunchy and chewy at the same time. Overall not a bad cake and one you could serve to all lovers of almonds.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Take A Peek Wendesday: Where Has Summer Gone?


                I'm currently participating in a 100 day happy challenge. You post a pic everyday,for 100 days of something that makes you happy. This was my pic for yesterday..Rain...We are in a stretch of miserable non stop rain.

The happy part was that I baked up some cookies..because a rainy day really does require freshly baked cookies.

I sure hope summer makes a return. I've got corn and watermelons that are relying on it. Not to mention my spirit. I need more sun and warmth! 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Whole Wheat Orange Blueberry Drop Biscuits

                      Summer vacation is in full swing over here..and with that comes with two forever hungry teenage boys. It.Never.Ends. The crazy thing is, they don't snack in between meals. Ever. I suppose on one hand I should be happy that they aren't constantly on the hunt for something to eat but when they do eat? wow. I'm seriously impressed with the amount they are able to put away with out ever gaining weight. If I sound envious,it's totally because I am. I am on the cross trainer 6 days a week to keep up with my love of all things bread. Like these drop biscuits.

For some reason I am not into the proper rolled out biscuits. I just don't have the time nor the patience for it. Drop biscuits? I'm all over those. They are quicker,taste just as good and you can mix and match the flavors and add ins.

Blueberry and orange is one of my favorite combos and with some added whole wheat for good measure you can pretty much feel awesome for plopping these down in front of your kids..and then watching in awe as they inhale them before you have time to serve milk.

Not a fan or orange? swap it out for lemon. It's all good!

Whole Wheat Orange Blueberry Drop Biscuits

1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 cup All-purpose Flour..or use all WW
1/2 cup Sugar
2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/4 tsp. Salt
1 cup (8oz) Orange Yogurt..I used low fat
1 Egg
1/4 cup Butter,melted
1 tsp. Orange Zest
1 cup Fresh or Frozen Blueberries

1/2 cup Powdered Sugar
1 TBS Orange more as needed
1/2 tsp. Orange Zest

Preheat oven to 400 or 200 celsius. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease with nonstick spray;set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the first six ingredients.

In another bowl,whisk the yogurt,egg,butter and orange zest until blended. Add to flour mixture,stir just until moistened. Gently fold in blueberries.

Drop by tablespoonfuls 1 inch apart onto prepared pan. 

Bake 15-18 minutes or until light brown.

In a small bowl,combine the glaze ingredients;stir until smooth. Drizzle over warm biscuits.

** If using frozen blueberries, use without thawing! Not a fan of blueberries? try raspberries**

Yield: 12-15 Biscuits
Adapted From: Taste of Home                        

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Take A Peek Wednesday: What I'm Harvesting

                   My backyard is alive with bees,butterflies, and food! The chickens are laying eggs,my veggies are growing, and I am just so thankful for it all. So what have we been eating, you ask?

              The sweetest strawberries and golden raspberries,for one! I realize I should have planted at least 5 container raspberry bushes because they taste that good. I had forgotten how sweet berries are when you grow them yourself. It's such a treat to walk out there and pluck a few and eat them while checking on everything.

                 My patio snacker cucumbers are growing like weeds! We,along with the hens have been snacking on these delicious cucumbers..which by the way,were grown entirely in my front window! I will have to take a picture of it because it grew 3 times bigger than I had imagined and the cucumbers are way bigger than I expected. I laugh every time I see people walking by only to stop and come back to see what it is we have growing. I did not plan to grow them in our front window but the plants grew so tall so quickly that I was afraid to move them.

         I have been so worried about my baby corn and my blue jade sweet corn. I lost a lot of corn..I could totally relate to poor Charles Ingalls from Little House On The Prairie when that man lost a corn crop for the millionth time. I nearly cried over the 7 plants I lost and vowed to never try again. I kept pushing forward though and was so happy when I saw them thriving finally.

           They've done so well that I was finally able to harvest my first baby corn! Isn't it cute??? It looks just like the corn from the cans you can purchase..but it tastes a million times better. My corn crop won't be a huge one but I still managed to grow the baby corn and that is something. My blue jade still has a ways to go before I know if it worked or not..but they are getting taller by the day and look great! I grew corn people...CORN!

          My golden zucchini is doing very well and we are eating a ton of that.

           I love the funky shapes they come in..this one looks like an egg plant! 
 Now for what I'm waiting on: My potato plants are kicking major butt and have started to flower. I reached in the bag to see if I could find anything..I pulled out a small new potato! I am going to wait until the plants are done flowering and by then the potatoes should be of a decent size. I'm waiting on string less celery that I forgot to take a picture of. They are coming along just fine and look like cute little celery stalks right now.

             My rainbow carrots are doing well but need some more time before I can pluck those out.

          My mouse melons are coming along..still way to small yet but they are thriving in the green house.

             My pear tomatoes are coming along and so are my tiny tim tomatoes. I've got small watermelons growing but I am not sure about those. We need some massive warm days and so far those have been few and far between. 

I happily spend every moment I can sitting outside and listening to the buzzing of the bees..speaking of bees...

     I spotted this poor tired little chap the other day as I was taking the clothes out to the dryer. Someone on my facebook page had posted about feeding these guys a little sugar water if they appeared to be still and close to death. I guess they are ok but are in need of a sugar boost. I ran inside, mixed up a little sugar water and took it out to him. He crawled over and started drinking right away..within minutes he was just fine and on his way again :) Hopefully as a thank you he stopped off and did some pollination for the zucchini plants!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Cinnamon Raisin English Muffin Bread

                         Has summer vacation started where you are? We have a little over a week to go over this way and once they are out, they only have 6 weeks off! I used to love my 3 month long summer vacations and although I think it's a bit overkill with that amount of time, I feel like my boys have missed out on those never ending hot summer days.

With vacation coming up I am stocking the freezer with as many breads,rolls,waffles,buns,and cookies as I possibly can. They are both going through the hollow leg syndrome and can eat and eat AND eat! thank goodness the garden is starting to produce because those two are costing me a fortune in groceries!

Here is a wonderful bread to make that requires zero kneading time on your part, makes a fabulous breakfast served along side a big bowl of yogurt and berries, and even makes a great peanut butter and banana grilled sandwich!

Cinnamon Raisin English Muffin Bread

3 cups All-purpose Flour
2 TBS sugar
1-1/2 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Baking Soda
1 TBS Instant Yeast
1 TBS Ground Cinnamon
1 cup Milk
1/4 cup Water
2 TBS Vegetable Oil
1/2 cup Raisins
Cornmeal,for sprinkling in the pan

In a large mixing bowl,whisk together the flour,sugar,salt,baking soda,yeast, and cinnamon.

In a small saucepan,combine the milk,water and oil and heat over low,stirring often until the temp reaches between 115-110 F. Pour the warm liquid over the flour mixture.

Beat on high speed,either by using a hand mixer or stand mixer,for 1 minute. The dough will be very soft and that is ok! Add the raisins and mix until combined.

Lightly grease an 8x4 inch loaf pan and sprinkle the bottom and sides with cornmeal. Scoop the dough into the prepared pan and even out the dough as much as you can. I found that using a rubber spatula lightly sprayed with nonstick spray helps with that.

Cover the dough with a tea towel or with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with nonstick spray and allow to rise in a warm spot until the dough just barely rises over the rim,about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, pre heat the oven to 375 or 190 celcius. Bake the bread 22-27 minutes,until golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Cool completely on wire rack. 

Yield: 1 Loaf
Source: Chez CateyLou

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Cake Slice Bakers: June Cake Reveal

                It's that time again..The Cake Slice Bakers all reveal their cakes...It looks like this one..the yellow cake was a popular choice for a lot of us. The title of the cake was something along the lines of...the best yellow cake. I am already skeptical when anyone announces something to be..the best. We all have our versions of what we think is best so to go ahead and announce it like that,leaves you wide open.
                So was this the best yellow cake in the whole wide world? not by my standards. I've made many yellow cakes and this one is close to the bottom of that list. It's ok though. It's not a horrible cake but not one that I would make again.

I topped the cake with a wonderful chocolate glaze and served it up to my youngest son..who turned 14 on the 13th. I officially feel old now. I am 39 with a 16 and 14 year old. Time is officially going way to fast!

As always..we are baking from Great Cakes by Carol Walters. Check out what everyone else made!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Take A Peek Wendesday: Falconry Class


                      A little over a week ago I took a 4 hour falconry class with my husband. It was one of the best afternoons I have spent since moving here.

                       There was about 15 of us and we were all able to put on a glove and have these magnificent birds fly to us.

                 This is an African Snake Eagle. Isn't she beautiful? it was her very first time working with a crowd and did a brilliant job. There was one though that had me a bit worried. She was big and beautiful..and so very very powerful. She could snap our fingers clean off if she wanted to. She literally flew circles around us.

                        She was an American Bald Eagle. You could hear her powerful wings and she zipped right passed us and as her eyes quickly scanned the entire country side, she would briefly lock her gaze upon you and you couldn't help but be slightly afraid.  She was the reason I was so excited for the class. She was going to fly right to me! As I walked up for my turn they plunked a baby chicken head inside my glove. I held my hand up as high as I could and waited for her to take flight. She reached me within seconds and I gasped when I saw her talons come forward to land. 

            It was an experience I will never ever forget. As I waited for her to leave my arm I quickly paid attention to everything I could. My arm was starting to sag from her weight so I had to put my other hand underneath to give better support. She was panting because of how warm it was outside. She was shiny and perfect and focused. She spotted the food in the other persons hand and got ready. She gripped my arm,gave a huge shove,and off she went.

There's more to tell..but you have to come back next wednesday for part two..with lots more pictures!!!!!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Whole Wheat Pita Pockets

                      Pita pockets were something that I never thought to make myself. I always assumed they would be to hard and that I could never get them to puff up correctly. Well the truth is, they are easy but sometimes half my pitas won't puff up. It doesn't bother me because you can still fold the pita like a taco and eat your sandwich that way.

I've been making this recipe for awhile now and figured it was time to blog it while I had a bit of down time. We've had amazing weather so we've been out enjoying it and I've been busy dog sitting for our friends like we do every summer at various times. They come over and spend a few weeks with us and chase the chickens around a bit and play outside as much as possible. 

So about this recipe. It's straightforward and I highly suggest using a stand mixer for this one only because the dough starts off really sticky and then whips itself into shape within 3 minutes. If you do it by hand, and you totally can,try to not add any additional flour for the first 2-3 minutes. The whole grain flour needs a few minutes before it can start absorbing the liquid so you need to give it that time before you load it down with more flour. I think in total I have only ever added maybe one teaspoon of additional flour to the mix. I make sure to flour up my hands really good though when it comes to take the dough out of the bowl and shaping it into a ball.

The pitas are really delicious and 100 times better than anything you get in the store.

Whole Wheat Pitas

1-3/4 cups (7 ounces) Whole Wheat Flour
1-1/2 cups ( 6-3/8 ounces) Bread Flour
1-1/2 tsp. Salt
1-1/2 tsp. Instant Yeast
1-1/4 cups ( 10 ounces) Warm Water
2 TBS (7/8 ounce) Olive Oil

Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and knead them together-by hand-or mixer- until you have a soft,supple dough,about 8 minutes by hand or 5 minutes in the mixer with the dough hook attachment. Add flour only after kneading it for a few minutes and remember that whole wheat flour needs additional time to absorb the liquid so hold off as long as you can and then only add a small amounts as you go along. You want a soft dough that feels tacky to the touch.

Form dough into a ball and place into a greased bowl. Cover and allow to rise until doubled in bulk,about 1-1/2 hours.

Place a baking stone into the oven on the bottom rack and preheat oven to 450 or 220 celsius.

After the dough has risen,turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and cut it in half. Divide one half of the dough into 4 equal parts and form each into a rough ball. Let the balls rest for 10 minutes,covered with a tea towel,while dividing the second half of the dough the same way. This rest will help when it comes to the dough being easier to roll out.

Using a rolling pin,roll out each ball to a circle about 6-7 inches in diameter and less than 1/4 inch thick. Use only enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to the rolling pin and the work surface. To much flour allow the dough to skid around. Remember to keep the remaining balls of dough covered as you work.

Gently pick up the pitas with your hand or if you have one,a baker's peel and place directly onto the hot baking stone. 

Bake each one 3-4 minutes..that's about how long it will take them to balloon. You can flip them over half way if you want the other side to get some color on it but when I did that,they totally deflated. So I wouldn't really worry about it.

Stack the warm pitas together in a kitchen towel to keep them from crisping as they cool.

Yield: 8 Large Pitas
Source: King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking    

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Take A Peek Wednesday: Birds,Berries,and Blooms

               Once a week I hear the stranger-danger scream from the hens. It's because of that guy..The Heron. If someone has a pond in their backyard like our neighbor does,you'll find these guys. They just sit there and wait for the moment when they can fly down and snatch up a Koi or two. As soon as one lands next door the hens start screaming and they'll take off soon after. I think they hate the screaming as much as I do.
      My golden raspberry bush is coming along nicely and I was able to taste the first one a few days ago. Wow was it good.
               Everything is blooming and it makes me soooo happy!!!! What are you loving most about the beautiful weather?

Monday, June 2, 2014

Whole Wheat Rye Loaf


                   I've been taking baby steps towards the rye flour. I must confess that rye bread in combination with caraway seeds is something that makes my eye twitch. I don't really care for the aniseed like flavor of caraway and find rye bread as a whole almost to strong to enjoy. I don't know why I am now working towards liking it. It's not like there isn't a bazillion other breads out there that are screaming for my attention..but here I am anyway..posting a very baby step like recipe towards rye. I have another one to share with you soon..a full on step towards it that really wowed my gang over.

This is a super easy recipe with only 1/2 cup of rye..I told you it was a baby step! So come along and bake with me if you aren't a fan of rye and maybe together we can work towards semi liking it.

Whole Wheat Rye Bread

1-1/4 cups Warm Water
1 tsp. Active Dry Yeast
1/2 tsp. Sugar
1-1/2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 cup Rye Flour
1-1/2 tsp. Salt
1-1/2 to 1-3/4 cups Bread Flour
1 tsp. Cornmeal

In a large bowl, stir together the warm water,yeast and sugar until yeast is dissolved. Stir in whole wheat flour and rye flour with a whisk until the mixture is nice and smooth. Cover the bowl and let stand in a warm spot for 1 hour,or until mixture is bubbly and has doubled in size.

Stir in salt and 1-1/2 cups of the bread flour,gradually adding additional bread flour as needed to make the dough easy to handle. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes or until dough is smooth and springy ( You can also use a kitchen aid mixer with the dough attachment..knead for 5 minutes on speed 4 or until dough is smooth and springy). Grease a large bowl with oil and place dough ball in bowl turning once to coat. Cover bowl and allow to rise in a warm spot for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle the center with cornmeal. Gently deflate the dough and shape into a tight round ball on a lightly floured surface. Place on prepared sheet and press dough to flatten ever so slightly. Cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place 45 minutes or until doubled in size.

Meanwhile,about 30 minutes before baking,place a pizza stone into the oven and preheat to 425 or 220 celcius.

Using a small strainer,sprinkle 1 teaspoon bread flour over the top of dough. Using a serrated knife,cut 4 ( 1/4 inch deep) slashes on top of loaf,then make 4 diagonal cuts to create crisscross pattern ( or slice however you like). Slide dough and parchment paper from cookie sheet onto pizza stone.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until crisp golden brown and bottom sounds hollow when tapped. Cool completely on wire rack,about 1 hour.

** If you don't have a pizza stone then go ahead and bake it on the cookie sheet**

Yield: 1 Loaf
Source: Betty Crocker The Big Book of Bread          

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Take A Peek Wednesday: Container Garden Update!

                  It's currently pouring outside so I thought I would do a little catching up on my postings. The stretch of warm weather we had really did wonders for the garden. I was able to pluck the first harvest of the year..A beautiful juicy strawberry!
              My rainbow carrots are growing like crazy!

                        Potatoes!! They seem to be thriving in their grow bags and I can't wait to open the little door up on the bottom to reach in and grab some when they are ready. It's my first time growing potatoes and I'm really excited.

                     The golden raspberry bush has teenie weenie berries on there and really look forward to those ripening.

                      Here we have string less celery. I didn't even know this type existed until my husband picked it out for his veggie to grow.

                        Here is a bunch of veggies growing in a smaller greenhouse. We've got blue corn,baby corn, yellow zucchini,egg plant, and tomatoes. A few of my zucchini leaves had some issues with to much rain on their leaves so I sprayed a solution of baking soda and water to help them out. I already have plans on how to make things better for next year. I'm going back to my much larger green house because I ran out of space way to quickly in this one. I'm going to be ripping out more things and getting rid of the rest of the grass we have in our backyard. I am just so over grass. I want nothing but growing space!

                    This is a bingo watermelon..In the U.S. I believe they call this a sugar baby. I don't hold out to much hope for these. We need way more sun and warmth in order for these guys to grow but I wanted to take a chance anyway.

                   This is a patio snacker cucumber and believe it or not,it's growing in my front window! I have a really long front window that gets hit hard with sun and heat so it's currently houseing two huge container pots of these guys and my bingo watermelons. I'm actually leaving the cucumbers in the window because they need zero pollination and get tons of heat where they are. Isn't it just the cutest little cucumber ever?

                           I've planted wildflowers to do my part for the pollinators that will hopefully hang out in peace in my backyard this summer :) I didn't get a pic of everything..I forgot to snap a pic of my banana shallots and my mouse melons oh and my rhubarb..all three are doing very well!

How is your garden coming along?