Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I had my doubts

I recently subscribed to yet another farm/garden/homesteading magazine, The Herb Companion.  Our first issue arrived with a cover story on pizza.  We make pizza all the time; it is definitely a favorite in our house. Their recipes look amazing, not your ordinary sauce-and-cheese pizza (which I don't like), but I had my doubts about their speedy crust recipe.  No rising time with a yeasted crust? Hmmm ... that goes against all of my intuition as a bread baker. 

I decided to give it a go last night. 

More of a flatbread than a pizza, but very delicious.  My very picky 10 year old proclaimed it the best pizza ever.  The recipe made two thin crusts - the kids had a half cheese only-half cheese and mushroom pizza; we had mozzarella, provolone, artichoke hearts, mushroom, roasted red pepper, garlicscape and shallot. 

This is the crust recipe here 
from The Herb Companion
• 1 teaspoon sugar
• 1 cup lukewarm water
• 1 (1/4-ounce) envelope dry rapid-rise yeast
• 2 1/2 cups flour
• 1/4 cup cornmeal
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 teaspoons honey
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
1. To prepare dough, add sugar to lukewarm water and stir. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water and stir again until dissolved. Let the yeast mixture sit 5 minutes.
2. Using a food processor with a steel knife blade, add flour, cornmeal, oil, honey and salt; pulse off/on several times to mix. Add yeast/water mixture through feed tube while the food processor is running and allow it to “knead” for about 1 minute or until dough is smooth. Add more flour or water, if necessary, while kneading to get a smooth dough.
3. Remove dough from food processor and allow to rest 5 minutes. Spread/stretch or roll out dough on a floured surface to about 14 inches in diameter or the size of your pan. Transfer pizza dough onto a pizza screen, or to a pizza peel spread with coarse cornmeal (for easy transfer to a preheated pizza stone). Turn edges under to form a slight rim.

For the plain pizza, I made plain dough, taking half out of the food processor and rolling it right out.  For our pizza, I added fresh rosemary, basil and chives from the garden to the remaining dough in the food processor and let it mix just a bit more.  Also, I was out of corn meal, so I subbed flax meal. 

The only thing I will do differently the next time is to bake the crusts separately, with no toppings, until they are slightly crisp and golden.  Even though the recipe says it will make 1 thick or 2 thin crusts and you should only have to bake the crust alone with the thick crust, I found the thin crust to still be very doughy after baking the pizzas.  Delicious, but I would prefer a crisper crust next time. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


I have heard it in many places that if you have livestock, sooner or later you will have deadstock.  We had our first experience with this on Sunday evening.  We'd been out all afternoon and when Kenna went to let the chickens in, she found one decapitated in the grass.  Nothing else amiss, the head was no where to be found, the fencing was all still intact.  Poor chicken; poor Kenna. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

So that "and counting" part ...



4 brand spankin' new baby Ameracauna chicks.  These little ladies came from My Pet Chicken, which i didn't realize was local to us.  They have a chicken coop that I am dying to pick up for use as a hutch for the angoras ...

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Night gardening: A cautionary tale

Le me preface this post.  I am a perfectionist.  Unable to sit still and do nothing, almost to the point of manic, I have multitasking down to a science.  I can't sit and watch a movie; I have to knit and watch a movie.  Otherwise I might just go crazy.  At any given time, I could wallpaper the local library with my to do list, and I tend to try to stuff as much as humanly possible into any given day.

Ok, that said, let's get on with night gardening. 

It started innocently enough.  I was at the barn putting the chickens to bed.  It was just before 8 pm, and there was still day light, but no direct sun, so it was cool and comfortable up at the barn/garden.  I built two new beds over the weekend and haven't been able to fill/plant them yet because it has been too hot this week, so I saw my chance.  Take the half an hour I had before the sun went down, fill the two beds with topsoil, plant and water.   Piece of cake!

Mr. Farmer-Man went to get the wheelbarrow.  I started without him, moving shovelfuls of topsoil from the pile on the side of the driveway to the first bed.  By the time he got back, I was almost done.  How's that for efficiency! He started filling the wheelbarrow to fill the back bed, while I smoothed the dirt in the other bed and started to plant.  We'd be done in no time!

What I didn't count on was the mosquitoes.  While I was shoveling the dirt maniacally, there were merely a nuisance, and I swatted them away with my hand and with the shovel.  No big deal.  Now, kneeling in one place at the bed smoothing the dirt, they were swarming me with the frenzy of a shiver of sharks in a chum bucket.  I swatted while I worked, but, being me, I refused to stop until I was finished.  I am bigger than they are, I was not giving in!

I finished planting the bed and told A, aka, Mr. Farmer-Man, it was time to go in, as I had noticed the wild arm flailing he was doing at the back bed as well.  We could finish the second bed tomorrow. 

As I got into the car to drive back to the house, the itching started.  No.  Itching is simply too mild a word.  It was like my skin was on fire with itching and there was nothing I could do to put it out.  I was itching like crazy and A was telling me to stop because I was bleeding and trying to herd me into a cold shower. 

A cold shower and a lot of peppermint soap later, i emerged to survey the damage.  My entire left shoulder was a mountain of mosquito bite - there were so many bites such close proximity to one another that the entire area swelled together.  I had broken blood vessels all over my shoulders, arms and back from scratching.  And, because although I sew all day long and pretend to be a farmer in the afternoons, I keep my fingernails long, the rest of the skin on my back was punctuated with red claw marks from scratching.  I looked like I got in a fight with the bear. 

So, if you ever get the bright idea to try to cram some gardening in after the sun starts going  down, please save yourself the pain.  Oh, and I did have the forethought to put on deep woods off.  I cannot even imagine what would have happened if I had been completely un-repellented!

Sunday, June 5, 2011


Cannot wait to finish the outdoor run area for the bunnies.  Hutch #1 is assembled and ready to go!

1st day out

As you can see, there was a frenzy of excitement here today.  

The chickens went outside for the very first time!

 All the chickens, even the very large one on the left, were happily scratching for centipedes.  The big chicken on the left even ate one too, for good measure.