Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bread - roll it, tie it, wrap it - it's ALL good!

Homemade bread is a part of almost every evening meal at our house.  I wanted to share some ideas and a recipe with you to help you put some homemade delight on your kitchen table this week.

I do all kinds of things with my bread dough.  Dough is fun to play with - remember those days as a kid when dough came in blue, pink, yellow and green?  You made ropes, slices, pies, knots, and more. Well, get creative in your kitchen and have fun with something you get to eat at the end!  Learn to think "outside the box" when it comes to dough.  Just because it's a dinner roll, doesn't mean you can't turn it into something else like cinnamon rolls for breakfast or breadsticks for dinner.

Most of the time, I use recipes for basic dinner rolls, biscuits or cornbread and make them the conventional way..in a pan. But some times I play with my dough.  Call it re-living childhood memories!  I roll my dough into long ropes which rise, bake and turn into bread sticks, sometimes I tie it in knots - you can find my recipe for garlic knots in the archives here....garlic knots are probably one of my boys favorites.  You can also roll your dough thin and cut into narrow strips then wrap the strips around fresh asparagus - drizzle with butter and grate with fresh parmesan - yummy!

Earlier this week I brought a pan of lasagna out of the freezer for dinner on a busy day.  When I put together lasagna for a meal I always make at least two, sometimes many more, and freeze them.  That's what we call fast food on the farm!

To go with the lasagna I decided to make bread with Italian seasoning.  This dough smelled so wonderful during the rise time that Elijah followed his nose to the kitchen asking what was in the oven! I also decided to roll it instead of tie it.  I chose a dinner roll recipe that I love, added 2 tablespoons of freshly grated Italian herbs -  and rolled it out like a pizza as large as my dough board would allow.   After rolling the dough flat, I cut it into slices...like a pizza (we're thinking Italian here!) and rolled each slice from the wide end to the narrow just like I do when I make croissants. (Ok, I know that a croissant is French...but this isn't...just play along with me ok?  I'll give you the croissant recipe another day)

I placed them on a cookie sheet, let them rise again and baked them.  When they came out of the oven, they were brushed with melted butter and sprinkled with garlic salt and freshly grated parmesan cheese - these are one of my boys favorites and I rarely have a roll left!

Today is Josiah's birthday.  He requested a quiet family dinner at home with homemade pizza.  Once you get in the habit of making homemade pizza dough, you'll never want to eat pizza out again. Homemade dough is easy and can be made ahead of time, as can most of the toppings, making this an easy meal.

Here's my recipe for wonderful homemade pizza dough.  This recipe is for 2 regular crusts. I usually double this for my family.

1/4   cup olive oil
1 Tblsp. honey
2 tsp. sea salt
4 cups flour ( you can use part wheat, part unbleached bread flour if you like)
1 1/3 cups warm water
1 Tbslp. yeast

Heat pizza stone in oven to 500 degrees. Put yeast and warm water together and let stand about 5 min. While waiting put remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Add yeast and water and mix for several minutes in mixer using dough hooks - or you can knead by hand.  Dough should be stiffer than bread dough - add a bit more flour if necessary, slowly and in small increments.  Knead till dough is smooth and elastic.  Let dough rest for 30 minutes.

Punch down dough and remove from bowl.  Divide dough into smaller portions and roll out on a cornmeal dusted surface. A large pizza will use about 1 pound of dough.  Place on pizza pan or screen,  brush lightly with olive oil...I do this step on my dough board - then fold and place on a pizza screen....

and prick crust with a fork...this helps to prevent bubbles in your crust.

Lower oven to 400 degrees and pre-bake for 6 to 8 minutes.  Remove from oven.

At this point, I go ahead and roll out and pre-bake the rest of the dough.  Just stack them on the counter until you are ready to make pizza.  This saves a lot of time when you are sitting at a table with 4 hungry young men!  I can get a pizza out of the oven every 10 to 15 minutes.  It also makes it easier to slide them on and off the pizza stone!

When you are ready to eat, take one of the pre-baked crusts, spread with sauce and cheese and bake on a pizza stone at 400 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes or until done.  If you don't have a pizza stone, invest in one...it really is worth the little it costs and makes a big difference in the quality of your crusts.  I think mine was purchased around Christmas one year for $10.

You can add your favorite toppings...
my favorite tonight was pineapple and onion...wow!  It disappeared so quickly that I didn't have a chance to take a picture for you!

Tonight, we enjoyed pineapple and onion, bacon and onion,  cheese and one with carmelized onions on top.  Yummy!

If I am taking a day to bake breads, I try to do a couple of batches of pizza crusts.  After pre-baking, let them cool, package well and store flat in the freezer.  When I'm really organized I measure out the cheese needed and place in a container with
the crusts. When you need a meal quickly, or unexpected company arrives, you can have dinner on the table within 15 minutes of heating your pizza stone!

If you've been reading long, you know that birthday cakes are a big deal at our house.  Josiah had a different request this year - anyone recognize this symbol?

  A free lip balm to the first person to leave a comment telling me what this symbol is from!  On your mark, get set, go!

It was a wonderful evening....or it was....until Jeremy set the birthday cake on fire...seriously...
this was taken just before "the big one" ignited....I had ASH in my water glass folks...

I can't be too hard on him though - he's having all of his wisdom teeth removed in the morning!

Just a typical evening at my house....oh....if you people only knew!    
Ahem...SO.....what are your favorite bread recipes?


Monday, June 14, 2010

Attention North Carolina

 *NOTE: It was brought to my attention that this video was removed...you can view it at this link - better see it while you can!   HT to Kathy! *

I have to say I was shocked.  And that doesn't happen easily.  I knew that many of them were arrogant and elitist but this?  Pay attention North Carolina....this man is up for re-election and you have the power to fire him....and after watching this I hope you agree that he needs to be fired.

And the part of "I have a right to know who you are".....didn't this young man have a right to know if his representative supported Obama's agenda?

If I were this young man, I'd be filing assault charges.

We must be vigilant!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Classes and changes!

Now that I'm "settling in" it's time to talk about upcoming classes. I'm going to do something I've never done - teach a class on a Friday...if enough interest is shown.

Remaining classes for June are as follows:

Basic Herbal Medicine will be taught on June 18th from 1:00 pm until 5:30 pm
Soapmaking Made Simple will be taught on June 26th from 1:00 until 5:30 pm

If you are local, or even if you aren't, and you'd like to attend please email me for more information.  You can reach me at tnfarmgirl at comcast dot net.

Now let's talk about some changes coming up.  I think I've caught it...the re-decorating bug.  I've had friends tell me that their intent was to do one room in their house.  Then it looked so nice, that they had to keep going and before they knew it they had done their whole house!

Now that the dust has settled here, and I love the new look so much, it's time to start on my farm website!  You'll see some changes over the next few weeks.  One of the biggest changes is going to be the address so you might want to make note now - it will no longer be sweethollowfarm.com but is changing to tnfarmgirl.com.  When it is finished, hopefully it will closely resemble this beautiful blog that Flibbypie designed.  Not only will it look different, but my shop will be filled with many new products!  More soaps, teas and I've added lip balms - they are so soft and creamy and made with oils specifically suited for lip tissue!

It's been many years since I "decorated" that site and it is definitely in want of an update.  You can peek now and then to see my progress - my shop will be open the entire time except for about 3 days as the name is changed over.

We are just finishing up one of our building projects and will be sharing pictures soon.  The new fruit trees are planted, the beans are flowering and the trees are filling out with peaches, pears and apples.  I'm preparing myself for canning season which will be commencing shortly.

Life is busy, happy and fun!


Friday, June 11, 2010

Welcome to my new home!

Welcome friends!  Come on in, look around and make yourself at home.  Check out the new pictures, enjoy the flowers!

Didn't she do a wonderful job?  Feel like re-decorating yourself?  You'll find my fabulous decorator right here...one at a time now.....no fighting!  Her rates are so reasonable and she is a delight to work with!

Hope you like my new place....I just love it!

I wonder if she does kitchens.....


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Redecorating my online home!

The next time you visit my blog don't think you've come to the wrong house....I've just had it re-decorated! It's amazing what a little new paint, new pictures on the wall and a few other changes can do to brighten your experience.  This lady is very talented, easy to work with and was very patient with me when I asked her to move the "picture on the wall" a bazillion times till it was "just right"!

She even brought me fresh sunflowers - some of my favorites!

I hope you enjoy my home - can't wait to see you there!



Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Perpetual Garden Calendar..with a twist!

Let's talk calendars!  Typically, in my area, I can purchase a yearly wall calendar with pretty pictures for  $20.00 or more. I write important dates on it, birthdays, holidays...you know...I'm sure you do it too...what do we do with those at the end of the year?  I throw mine away and head to the market to buy one for the next year.

When I wrote my Perpetual Garden Calendar, I wanted to keep the price about the same as you'd pay for a blank calendar with pretty pictures.  However, you don't throw my calendar away - at least you ought not!  There are no "dates" on it - just all the gardening information you need at your fingertips.

There is a general note taking area for recording your own gardening information to help you every year. There is a list of things to do each month...planting, transplanting and more.  There is even a frost zone conversion chart so you can use this calendar no matter where you live in the U.S.!

I chose to print it on 80 lb. card stock for durability (I want you to have this for many years!) and had it laser printed so the ink wouldn't run.  It was updated this February with several new pages added. I'm very pleased that the feedback on my calendar has been extremely positive.   

But, I thought of something recently that I wanted to do with my calendar! (You can call me slow at the end of this.)  So...I've been working on it this last week and finished it up tonight and I'm really excited!!

Have you ever wanted to purchase my Perpetual Garden Calendar but just hated to spend $20? I've come up with a way for you to get it at a lower price!  I've created a PDF file of my calendar and placed it on my website for download!  My Perpetual Garden Calendar, in e-book format, will be selling for $15.00 saving you $5.00!

There's even more good news...just for the month of June you can get my calendar for $12.00!!  I hope y'all are as excited as I am!

I'd love to hear from those of you who have my Perpetual Gardening Calendar...does it meet your needs?  Are you happy with it?  Any suggestions for a future revision?

Looking forward to gardening with each of you,


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Planting Raspberries - A "Short Notice" Version

Let me start by saying that you should be preparing your raspberry beds NOW for planting next year.  I'm not going to go into all the boring details but if you plan ahead you will save yourself many hours of unnecessary work.  That is the ideal method.   My life rarely falls into the "ideal" anything.  I'm just saying.

When you receive a phone call one evening and a friend offers you 50 raspberry canes you do not tell said friend..."oh, wait...I need a year to prepare beds"....at least I don't.  I'm not sure how quickly I said yes but I'm pretty sure it set some sort of world speed record.

So be fore-warned... I'm sharing with you the "TNfarmgirl's gotta get it done in just a few days" method.  I'll let you know next year how well this turned out - so far it seems to be working.  I'll also share at the end how we are going to go back and "fix" some things.

First off, break the news to the planter of the canes.  Hopefully they love raspberries as much as you do and delight in the thought of lots of back-breaking work in exchange for those delicious red jewels.  Josiah was up for this and never complained.

We marked off our rows - short ones in the place we chose - about 10 feet long.  Length is totally up to you and the strength of your back.

I will say that we had one old square point shovel and ended up purchasing a second so he could have a brother's help.  Be sure your shovel is sharpened - it will make your work much easier.

Josiah is marking his rows by slicing into the sod with the edge of the shovel blade.  He did this for each row.

Josiah then began to remove the sod with the square point shovel.  Let's just say that's much easier to type than it is to do - especially when you have multiple rows...

Once Josiah got the sod removed - he used our walk-behind tractor to till deep beds.. sorry - no pictures of this - I probably went in to fetch cool water - and missed this.

Next he removed a good amount of the dirt from his rows and replaced it with compost and some organic amendments to give these little canes a good start.

We took the "old" dirt and used it to fill in some holes in yards and barnyards around the farm.

Waste not, want not, Grandma always used to say!

Josiah then used our little tiller  - a Mantis - and yes, they really are as wonderful as the advertisements say...

Anyway, he tilled the compost, organic amendments and original dirt together.  I liken it to using a mixer to cream butter and sugar in the kitchen.  You want it really well mixed.

The Mantis was better for this job because it is light and easily maneuvered down the row...well...mixing.

Then came the "fun" part.  We began planting the canes.  Now, I should tell you that each cane got a good soak in water before it went into the hole.

When we picked up these canes,  they were a bunch of sticks in some awesome mulch.  We put them under a shady tree and kept them moist - not wet mind you...just lightly moist.

Several days later, when we went to plant, they were leafed out and beautiful - at least most of them were. I think we might have lost 8 or 10 - at least they weren't leafed out when we planted them but we are hopeful they will make it.  We kept water on them regularly during long hot, dry spells.

Now, what we still need to do...we need to put T-posts at the end of each row and string some high-tensile wire to support the canes as they grow.  We also need to go back and remove the sod from between the rows (right now we are keeping it weed-eated down very close to the ground), till it and plant it into clover.

If we can afford to rent a sod removing machine, we'd like to do that since we have some larger areas with the same need...but if it doesn't work out at least we have two shovels.

We have about 8 of these rows.  We will use the suckers that come up next year to add to our rows.  Our goal, to supply all of our own needs and eventually to be able to sell some locally.

We also have plans to share some of the suckers with friends who would enjoy having their own raspberry patch.

The friend who shared these canes with us mows half of his canes down each spring.  That way the ones left standing provide plenty of fruit for his family during the spring and the ones that are mown grow up enough by fall to provide a fall crop - sounds like a plan to me!

We are so thankful to this friend who felt prompted to share his canes with us.  We are also most grateful to our Father who created such a wonderful taste treat and has allowed us to plant our own supply.  He is ever watching out over my family and meeting all of our needs!

How greatly we are blessed!

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