Saturday, May 30, 2009

can i just say one more little thing about bread?

i don't know what it is about me and bread lately, but I've really been rolling out the dough the last couple of weeks. I've been enjoying experimenting with different ways to use the same bread recipe, and i wanted to share just a couple more variations with you.

make the official bread recipe, and divide your dough into thirds as usual. then, working with 1/3 at a time, roll it out just like you would a pie crust. cut the bread dough into about 16 equal pieces using a pizza cutter.

starting at the wide end, roll the triangles up. (just like a crescent roll)

let them rise, bake and then brush with butter before serving. yum!

sometimes i like to make rolls for our sandwiches: roast beast, chicken salad or pulled pork BBQ. 1/3 of the recipe will make about 6 buns (hefty sized) so plan accordingly. roll and pat the dough into a roll shape. then dip the bottom in cornmeal. this gives it just a little bit more professionality, and besides it looks really impressive! rise and bake as normal. let the buns cool before you cut them.

now, i know that i sort of promised to quit blabbering on and on about bread, but can i just tell you one more, one more little thing about bread? i found this awesome recipe for bread made in a dutch oven here. i went out and bought myself a pretty little red dutch oven, and have been making even more bread. (and if you substitute buttermilk for the water it makes an awesome crusty sourdough bread.)

and that's all i have to say about bread.

i promise!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

TIME WARP~ Thursday's Livestock and Garden Report ~ Week 9

there has not been much gardening going on this week, due to the several days of rain we've received. (which we're very thankful for!)

however, we did manage to get the remainder of the tomatoes in. you can see the upper garden here, along with a peek of the high tunnel. the last short row of black fabric is the sweet potatoes. there remains just a little bit of room for some beans.

a few weeks ago, we planted the high tunnel with tomatoes. amazingly, all the tomatoes were the same size when i bought them, but look how much they've grown in comparison to the ones planted outside!

both of the varieties in the high tunnel are an early bearing variety- early girl and big boy, so we should soon have some fresh tomatoes. you can already see some blossoms on many of the plants.

yesterday i staked and pruned the tomatoes. we've never pruned our tomatoes before, but thought that we'd try it for this year. i also staked the tomatoes, using basketweaving, an easy and quick method that i found here.

we did work one day down in the lower garden, tilling under some of the plants that Dave was certain would not make it. for some reason all the seedlings that we started were very small and leggy. hopefully we can perfect our technique for next year, to save the expense of having to buy hundreds of seedlings. we replanted peppers, cauliflower, broccoli and cabbages. (in the rain!)some of the carrots were coming up, so they were not a total loss. we also hilled the potatoes, and planted the other half of the sweet potatoes.

I'm almost out of room in the LG, but there are still some things that I'd like to plant: winter and summer squash, cucumbers, a sunflower house for the girls, and a row of sunflowers at the top of the garden.

the meat birds are growing rapidly, and we've decided to start butchering some of them next week, at 11 weeks of age. i miscounted how old they are, so they're actually one week older than we thought. we'll start with the bigger ones first, and work at it as Dave has off. and it will be none too soon, as they've devoured an entire ton of food! I'll let you know the final cost after they're all sleeping in the freezer...

that's it for this week. I'm off to stake tomatoes...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

who IS that mystery painter?

Tom Sawyer stopped by today to paint our porch.

that's becasue Huck Finn was a little too busy to do it himself.

Tom seems to be a just a little bit camera shy.

but, he sure looks like he's having a great time!

plus, he's doing a great job!

Monday, May 25, 2009

In which the blogger is not actually doing anything even romotely interesting enough to write about

it's been as busy as usual around here. but, nothing very noteworthy to blog about.

we've had several big garden days, and plan another for tomorrow. the lower garden (LG) has finally dried out, thanks in big part to Dave's ingenuous water diversion system. we're working on replanting almost half of that, since only the potatoes and onions were able to be salvaged. the upper garden (UG) is all planted now, mostly with potatoes and tomatoes.

i have some sewing that i want to be doing, but never seem to be able to get to it...

every time i cook a wonderful meal for my family, they keep showing up again a few hours later telling me that they're hungry...

i keep doing laundry, but the pile is never getting any smaller...

and cleaning... well, let's just say that's also on the list of things to do...

but the good news~ i have been obsessively regularly updating my side bar, and fiddling around with it. I've added some new things, and even when i don't blog, i try to keep the lists fairly updated.

so quit reading this boring post, and go see what's new on the side bar!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thursday's Livestock and Garden Report~ Week 8

there's not much to report this week. the heavy rain on Saturday night, combined with the threat of killing frost on Sunday and Monday have made for a slow garden week. i already told you about the water problems we had in the lower garden from the deluge of water pouring off the hillside.

we both quickly realized that while this was the first time that our garden was swamped, it would certainly not be the last. Dave thought of a clever (and inexpensive) solution. just this morning he and G finished installing the second drainage/diversion/water collecting thingy.
there are 2 points in the garden where the massive amounts of water draining off the hillside were going to be a problem. in both of these points Dave installed a sump pump barrel, and then a 100' drain tile to direct the water away from the garden.

it's now nearly five days after the rain, and the water is still steadily draining off the hillside. thankfully it's no longer soaking the garden.

we have further plans to somehow gather and store all this water for when we'll need it to water the plants. we're still fine tuning that idea.

with the warm and beautiful weather that is forcasted, the plants (and weeds) will be growing. so, no more rest for the weary!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

a wonderful recipe made EVEN BETTER!

a couple of weeks ago i shared with you the "official bread recipe" that i always use whenever making buns for my family. I've modified it a bit more, and created a special treat that is very popular, especially on Sunday mornings: sticky buns!
using the official recipe, make it just the same as if you were going to make buns (or bread) with the exception of adding 1 cup of sugar. divide the dough into thirds.

working with only 1/3 of the dough at a time, roll it out on a floured counter into a rectangle. then brush the dough with melted butter.

next, sprinkle it with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. our mixture here is heavier on the sugar than cinnamon, as I'm not a huge fan of cinnamon. at this point, you can also sprinkle the sticky buns with chopped nuts or raisins. we didn't do either for several reasons: we didn't have nuts (yummy) and i don't like raisins in my sticky buns. (yucky)

starting with a shorter side, roll up the dough rectangle into a log.

cut off about the last 1 inch or so on either side (it will make weirdly shaped sticky buns, so you don't really want them), and then divide the remainder of the log into eighths.

put them in your pan, and let rise in the oven (set at 200) and then bake. rising will take a bit longer than the regular recipe, due to the higher sugar content.

when they are nearly done baking, melt 1 stick butter and 1 cup brown sugar in a small saucepan on the stove top. bring this mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. when your sticky buns are done, turn them out onto a serving platter (i forgot to take a picture of that step) and drizzle the syrup mixture over the tops.

wow! you won't believe how yummy they are! i love to have them with a cup of coffee, and just peel them apart savoring each bite.

now, you may be asking yourself "how in the world does she make these on a Sunday morning?!" I'll let you in on my little secret. when you have the buns rolled out/up, and placed in your baking dish, instead of putting them in the oven to rise, put the buns in the refrigerator. (make sure you've covered them tightly or they will dry out) then on Sunday morning, just pop them in the oven to rise. it will take a bit longer for the buns to rise, but well worth the few minutes earlier you'll need to get up.

another "secret" was shared by my reader Annette. it's a good one, and i plan to do this the next time i make buns. here is what she shared: "I have a suggestion for when you make a double batch. Bake the rolls until just thoroughly baked, but not browned. Then freeze them. When it's time to eat them, put them in the oven, frozen...for a few minutes...maybe ten. And voila: fresh hot rolls! and not burned."

what a great idea! i hope your family enjoys these recipes as much as our family does. maybe I'll go back to making the sticky buns a Sunday morning tradition. what traditions does your family have?

Monday, May 18, 2009

which do you want first... the bad news or the bad news?

Saturday afternoon and evening we had torrential downpour, giving us a whopping 1 inch of rain in just a few hours.

the lower garden did not fare so well, but not nearly as bad as we first feared. there is a run-off stream on the hillside right above the garden, and with so much rain in such a short time... let's just say that the garden has some major drainage issues.

probably about ½ of the carrots are lost, although we won't know for sure for over a week. some of the potatoes were underwater as well, but by Sunday afternoon they had mostly drained. the rest of the garden is very, very wet, and i won't be able to get in there to work for days? weeks?

however, things could definitely be much worse~ the hard frost that they were calling for last night did not seem to materialize. there is another frost warning for tonight, so maybe after that we're in the clear. (she says with eternal optimism.)

our broody hen finally hatched her egg. yes, singular. not plural. and somehow, the one lone peep did not survive. i found it in the chicken tractor yesterday afternoon, all muddy and limp. it was so sad, and i felt terrible.

we don't know what happened with all the other eggs that she was brooding on, since there was absolutely no sign of them in the nesting box. I'm not sure what went wrong: was it us and poor management? or was it the hen and poor mothering? i do know that if another hen goes broody i will separate her from the rest of the flock. hopefully that will bring more successful results.

we've had a little set-back and some disappointment, but no major harm done. "onward and upward!"

(extra brownie points to whoever can tell me what that quote is from!)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

NOT a little bit of "peace and be quiet"

even though things are often super busy around here, i try to make as much time for A as i can. she is eager to learn, and picks up the basics quite fast. she likes when i give her "school" to do, and i like to oblige her in that regard.

she will come to me and say "momma, i want to do something that i want to do" meaning that she wants for me to give her some school project to work on.

I've been wondering around to different blogs and gleaning some "tot school" ideas, and came up with this variation last week.

i cut out 5 circles and on one side wrote the color. then on the other i traced a shape and wrote the name of the shape. (i have a jar of shapes that i got at the thrift store last year for $1~ there are tons of possibilities!)

then both girls sat at the little table to sort. A did understand the concept of what she was to do, but very quickly lost interest for some reason. B was interested, but too young to complete the sorting. unfortunately, it took me much longer to prepare the activity than the time that A actually spent doing it!

so chalk up another cold cup of coffee for mom.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thursday's Livestock and Garden Report~ Week 7

yesterday was a big gardening day, with all hands on deck.

all 3 girls were ready for a busy and muddy day in the garden with properly clad feet. with such cheerful and colorful boots, how could we not have a great day?

G got right to work tilling the remainder of the lower garden.

M and i planted the peppers together. i put them in the dirt and she covered them with milk jugs, since it's still a bit early in zone 5 to have peppers out. even though we've literally been saving milk jugs since January, we were still several dozen short.

we also planted carrots~ many carrots. when we were done, B and i watered them. (and as any experienced gardener knows, the only sure way to be certain that you'll get rain in the next 24 hours is to water whatever you've just planted. works every time. try it yourself!)

these are the 7 rows of potatoes in the lower garden. some are just starting to peek through the soil, but you can't tell from the picture. i tilled between all the rows to keep the weeds down.

rows of onions, beets, onions. i will thin the beets when they get a little bit bigger. unfortunately, i planted these rows too close together, so they will need to be hand weeded, since the tiller cannot fit down through rows this narrow.

here's the lower garden as it looked when we were done last night. at the far bottom is the 7 rows of potatoes (red pontiac, yukon gold and kennebec) then the onions, beets, onions. next is 2 more rows of red pontiac potaoes. then the row of peppers. above that is ½ row of sweet potatoes in the black fabric to help keep the soil warm. (not planted yet). i plan to put the winter squash on either side of the sweet potatoes. then a row of pitiful looking broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. not sure if they will survive, since they are quite spindly and leggy. we started those ourselves, and obviously we don't quite have the knack of seed starting just yet. the carrots are all planted at the far end, filling out the incomplete rows of beets, onions and peppers.

the yukon gold potatoes in the upper garden are mostly up, and after i tilled between the rows, Dave hilled them. the potatoes will all get hilled at least 3 times.

the tomatoes are planted in the high tunnel, and doing nicely. even though we've had a few nights of high 30's, they have done just fine. i got nervous on 2 of the coldest nights, and we covered the tomatoes with another layer of insulation. (just more black fabric carefully laid on top) better safe than sorry!

today Dave decided that the oats and clover are big enough to withstand the chickens foraging, so we moved the meat birds' hoop houses over to the "chicken triangle." while the cornish cross roosters are mostly sedentary, they do enjoy picking at the fresh green grasses. also, their coop will be cleaner, as the hoop houses will be moved every day.

here they are happily settled in~ fresh water, and lots of their special high protein food. BTW, just this morning they started on their eighth 100 pound bag of food. with 5 weeks yet to go until we get to butchering day, I'm thinking that I'll be lucky if i can hold them to 1000 pounds of feed.

even though these chickens are phenomenally stupid (and that's saying something, as chickens in general are not too bright!) they are curious.

the "baby buffs" as we call them are also in the chicken triangle, and they will get the same special treatment as the cornish X. (minus the looming butchering date) they are fully feathered out, and much tamer than i expected them to be.

this poor little guy didn't quite make it to June 17th. the cornish X are such mutant freaks a fragile breed that their legs can easily get broken, or their hearts give out. tomorrow we'll be having fresh chicken for lunch. even with 5 full weeks to go, he weighed in at just over 2 lbs. not too bad, I'd say.

the pigs are settled in nicely, and although they are still quite skittish we do see them more often.

they sure do love those scraps! it's a blessing to have the restaurant garbage to feed them because it really helps cut down on their feed bill. (some weeks i spend more at the feed mill than i do at the grocery store!)

there's another week in review. thanks so much for stopping by- i enjoy your comments and encouragement!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

the transformation has begun!

last week Dave decided that The Time Has Now Come To Begin the siding project. we've had boxes of siding, inside and outside corners and J channel sitting in our cellar for many months now. (taking up much room that could be used to store more junk more efficiently)

siding is a relatively easy and quick home improvement project that greatly improves the way the house looks by leaps and bounds. the tedious part is laying out the starter strips, corners and edges. however, once that part is done, the actual siding just flies on.

this is right off the back porch. i plan on having a "kitchen garden" right here, full of cherry and grape tomatoes, as well as basil. (that's' so we can have lots of fresh pesto and tomatoes with noodles. yum!)

so far it's looking great! I'm anxious for this project to be done, and i guess G and I will be learning how to hang siding, as Dave can use all the help he can get!


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