October 31, 2011

planting garlic


I have never planted garlic before.  I'm not entirely sure why, it seems to be an easy plant.  This year I decided I would try my hand at garlic, since we use it in almost everything I cook.  I have one small garden bed, about 2'x2', where I planted peas this year.  I took 3 heads of garlic from my CSA share, broke up the cloves, and planted them.  I didn't have any leaves raked up to put on top, so I used newspaper, which I will probably have to move away in the spring.  I'm hoping it works, because how awesome would it be to grow your own garlic?!

I was in a bit of a race this year too...due to the above picture.  You are supposed to plant the garlic late in the year, like the end of October.  I had planned to spend Sunday planting the garlic and raking up leaves at my mom's house and spreading them over the freshly planted garlic, and my almost closed up garden.  Unfortunately, snow was in the forecast.  I rushed to plant it Saturday evening.  The above picture is what we woke up to on Sunday morning, after a night of no power.  I'm glad that I got the garlic in the ground, and I hope that my newspaper will work in place of the leaves!

How about you?  Do you plant garlic in the fall?  And did it snow where you are?  We only got a few inches, and it was all slush.  Emma made a great Halloween snowman though :-)

I am linking up the Homestead Revival's Barn Hop again this week

October 28, 2011

green smoothies

Have you tried them?  Do you know what they are?  The drink that mixes fresh greens with water and fruit to create an entirely healthy yummy fuel for your body?  I first heard about green smoothies a couple years ago through Happy Foody.  I was a little scared to try them.  I love fruit smoothies, but something about putting spinach or kale in it, and replacing my beloved orange juice with water, seemed like it was a bad idea to me.  Who would have known that I would grow to love them and crave them on a daily basis?

My very basic recipe is pretty easy, and short on the measurements.

Pack your blender with fresh baby spinach.  Add one glass of water and blend the spinach.  Add one fresh or frozen banana and blend.  Add about a cup of frozen berries - i use blueberries, raspberries and strawberries.  Blend it all together, add a little more water if you need to, drink up!

My family actually loves these, and we have grown to crave them daily.  Funny, considering it is freezing out right now!    It is the same basic recipe over and over though.  Sometimes we use kale when we have that available, but mostly we use spinach.  Other people add sweeter fruits like pineapple, or they put in apples.  I don't think my blender could handle raw apples, but maybe :-)  And our "green" smoothie is more of a brownish purple color because of the berries.  My kids love these as well, and anything that makes my kids eat the dark leafy greens makes me a happy mama.

Have you ever tried a green smoothie?  Do you have a favorite recipe?  When it gets cold out do you still want them, or do you move on to warmer breakfasts?

October 27, 2011

my brain is in a fog

I am having one of those days again.  It seems like they are all too common.  Maybe it is because it is freezing in my house right now!  OK, that is an exaggeration...it isn't that cold...but with snow in the forecast, well it isn't looking too great for my November 1st hold out!  Who am I kidding, I still won't turn the heat on, but I will definitely be doing a large amount of baking and tea drinking in the next few days.

I have been attempting to be involved in Hello Mornings.  It really is a great idea, but I think maybe my life isn't cut out for this type of program.  These ladies are wanting to be up around 6:30 or 7am and THEN have quiet time before their kids wake up.  I don't know about everyone else out there, but my kids are NOT late risers.  They are most often up by 6am, and lately it has been more like 5:30.  So for me to get up and have any sort of quiet time it has to be at like 4am, and that is not happening!

I am concerned about setting the clocks back too.  If they typically wake up at 6, and we set the clocks back, are they going to be getting up at 5am?!  And then I have to wake up, when, 2am to get quiet time?  What is that verse in Proverbs 31 - she rises while it is still night and provides for her household...yeah...that's me :-)  I guess I need to take comfort in that my kids still take a 2 hour nap during the day, and they do go to bed at 7pm every night...so maybe I am not as bad off as I think I am.  I am at my best in the am though, not today.

When is your best time for quiet and peace?  Should I try and reset my body by being a night owl again?  Is that the only way I will get some free time?

October 26, 2011

i need two more sets of hands!

I am loving the ability to link to the yarn along at small things!  There are so many good book ideas and knitting projects going on!  I wish I had the time to record them all with my own ideas for crafting.  Unfortunately, I am still in the frenzy of Christmas knitting.  Well, it isn't completely unfortunate in the fact that I love knitting for my babes, and for my family, but, the fact that it is probably my most time consuming craft...that is the unfortunate part.  I am still working on my surprise Christmas present...and just finished one of my babe's socks for the winter season.  I am starting to work on a doll for my boy also for Christmas this year.

I am still reading The New Good Life.  I have to say that it is getting better.  I had a bit of a problem reading it in the beginning because the author was the heir of the Baskin-Robbins fortune, and chose to NOT take his inheritance, but I'm sure he could have always gone back if he needed to.  He has some really interesting thoughts on money, and life in general.  I definitely recommend it.  I also recently picked up Deeply Rooted: Unconventional Farmers in the Age of Agribusiness.  I haven't read past the introduction, but I am very excited to read this book!  I have seen several reviews on other blogs, so hopefully it will live up to expectations.  Would love to hear any other book recommendations people might have!

Joining up at the yarn along again this week at Small Things :-)

October 25, 2011

end of october...already?!


Wow, is it already the end of October?  How did that happen?!  I have been busy busy busy trying to get my crafting done for the holidays, just to look at the calendar today and realize that I am nowhere close to being finished!  Why is it that I decide on January 1st to have a handmade holiday this year, but then am unable to really get going until 2 months before the holiday…2 months…really?!

I guess part of the problem is that I seem to have crazy priorities, like making sure that my food is local, and made from scratch.  That doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for me to be able to sit back and knit.  Add to that my crazy children, and it ends up being a jungle!

My goal over the next several weeks is to do something somewhat crafty every day.  Even if it is just knitting a few rows in one of my many work in progress knitting projects.  My hope is that if I continue to do a little bit every day, I will be  where I want to be by the week before Christmas, which is the week that we celebrate with Matt’s family.

Do you have any tips?  Anyone want to come and be a mother’s helper for ummm…six or seven weeks?  Typically I would ask my mom to help out, but she is not around during the week due to working, so I am left by my lonesome…hmmm…what to do! 

October 24, 2011

fruit scrap vinegar

A few weeks ago I talked about how I was reading through Wild Fermentation and how I had started my first two batches of fermenting foods.  The first was kimchi.  It came out seriously delicious.  I didn't really have everything that I needed to put in a normal kimchi, so I kind of fudged it a little with the veggies, but it still worked amazingly.  The only thing I will do differently next time is rinse the veggies after they have been sitting in the brine to soften initially - before I put it all in the jar to ferment.

The other ferment that I am still currently working on is fruit scrap vinegar.  This was really interesting to me, considering I use a lot of vinegar for my salads.  I thought about how wonderful it would be for me to make my own vinegar instead of relying on store bought all the time.  Not that I don't love Bragg, but I am always looking for alternatives to store bought.  It is still sitting away fermenting currently, but it is pretty close to done. And I taste it pretty much every day to see how it is doing.

Fruit Scrap Vinegar - from Wild Fermentation

1/4 cup sugar
1 quart of water
apple peels and cores of 3-4  organic apples

First you dissolve the sugar in the water.  Then stuff your peels and cores in the quart jar.  Fill your jar with enough of the sugar water to cover the apples, then take some more of the sugar water and put it in a little plastic sandwich bag to sit on top of the apple peels and keep them submerged in the sugar water.  Then you wait...and wait...and wait some more.  Once the liquid starts to look cloudy that is when you want to strain out your apple peels and cores.  It took about 2 weeks for mine to look cloudy.  Then I put a cover on the jar and continue to let it sit out on my counter.  I shake it up every day, and then burp it to let the pressure out.

I'm not sure how strong this vinegar will be, and I definitely wouldn't use it for canning.  But, it has been a really fun experiment, and Emma has enjoyed shaking up the jar every day.  Have you ever made fruit scrap vinegar? Did you like it?  Do you have any other fermented foods that you make and/or enjoy?

Today I am linking up at Homestead Revival's Barn Hop.  Hope to see you there!

October 21, 2011

vegetarian chili

Beans, oh glorious beans!  So versatile for the vegetarian cook :-)  One of my go to dishes for the winter is chili.  There is something about a spicy hot meal that you can dip nachos in.  Anyone who knows me knows that I have a bit of a thing for nacho chips!  This recipe is definitely easy.  It comes together quickly and then sits in the crock pot all day making your house smell wonderful!
  
First you want to pick/rinse/soak overnight 1/2 lb of dry black beans and 1/2 lb of pinto beans.  The next morning, rinse them again and then put them in your crock pot.


Next you want to take 2-3 cups of sliced onions and peppers.  I used frozen because it is what I had on hand, but fresh would work as well.  I would say 1 medium/large size onion and 1 medium/large sized pepper if I was using fresh.  Add it on top of the beans.


Next take 2 cups of frozen corn and add that to the crock pot.


For my chili I use my own canned tomatoes.  I use one quart jar of crushed tomatoes (no salt added).  It is definitely not the same texture of store bought crushed tomatoes, mine is much more chunky.  If you are using canned tomatoes from the store I would either use whole tomatoes with their juices and smush them up, or diced tomatoes.  Then I also use one pint jar of salsa.  I used medium in this batch, and it wasn't nearly as spicy as I normally like it, but it was still very good, and I kind of like my mouth to be on fire...not everyone rolls that way :-)


Add the tomatoes right on top of everything else in the crock pot.  At this point I put the all important chili powder in.  I usually just eyeball it, but I measured out 1 Tablespoon for this batch.  You can also add cumin  and coriander for a little extra spice.  Set it on high for 6 hours, or low for 8 hours.  I typically try and stir it after the frozen veggies start to soften a bit, but if you are leaving the house in the morning, just kind of stir it all together as best as you can.  


Typically I would serve this with a bunch of cheese and sour cream, but I have been trying to eat less cheese lately - and we were out of our allotted cheese for the month, so I just served it up with some hot salsa and nacho chips.  It was delicious!  I hope everyone tries it!


Do you have a favorite chili recipe?  I'm always looking for new ideas!

October 20, 2011

how low can you go?

We are doing really well on our goal of not turning the heat on until November 1st.  We have been blessed with a relatively warm fall, so I think that helps.  Yesterday morning it was a tad chilly for my liking, but not so uncomfortable to warrant the heat being turned on...and actually it was more that I couldn't find a sweatshirt downstairs and my kids were still sleeping upstairs.  I was able to wrap up in a blanket with some coffee, and honestly that was good enough.

I have joined in with Crunchy Chicken's Freeze Yer Buns challenge this year.  We are in for it I'm sure.  Although, I like a challenge, and with my kids continuing to enjoy there naked streak (is three years still considered a streak???), I think that it will go quite well.  And the fact that it helps to save a bit on the oil, well that is always a plus!

Some of the things that we do to keep the heat in is to block off our rooms.  We live in an old new englander, which means a lot of rooms, but they all open to each other.  We try to hang up blankets into the hallway where our leaky front door is, and then also put a blanket over that door.  We don't use the door, and it really does need to be replaced, but until we find the money to do such things, we improvise :-)  It seems to work though!  We also have an amazing down comforter from CuddleDown, which I have had since college, and it definitely keeps you warm...too warm in fact for everyone but me :-)

The other really important part of my keeping the heat down strategy is to bake a lot :-)  I think this is part of the reason I started making bread.  And since my family will eat a loaf of fresh baked bread/day, it definitely helps to keep the house warm.  I guess that could be counted as cheating since we use an electric stove.  But, I am counting it as a great heat source!  Between bread, roasted veggies, roasted chickens, soups that simmer all day long, and cookies we bake everyday every couple of weeks, we stay pretty toasty!

Do you have any tips for keeping the heat down in the winter?  What do you think a comfortable temperature is in your home?

October 19, 2011

baby socks


There is nothing as satisfying to me as knitting baby socks!  They knit up really fast, and they are oh so cute!  I am currently knitting socks for both of my babes for the winter.  What is funny is that when I picked up knitting again, after my brief junior high experience, I didn't knit a scarf or a pot holder.  No, instead I knit socks.  Maybe because my daughter was only a few months old and oil was $4.50/gallon, or maybe it was because I thought socks were the easiest thing to knit at the time :-)  But, that is where I am this week in the knitting world, socks.  And unfortunately, the socks I was knitting for my son now need to be a bit larger to account for my daughter's desire to have *that* yarn for her socks :-)

As for reading, this week I am reading The New Good Life by John Robbins.  I am not that far into it, but it seems quite good so far.  It definitely makes me question whether or not I need the latest and greatest or if I would be happier with less.  I think in some respects less is absolutely better.  But, when you start in debt (whether from student loans, credit cards, or whatever), and really have no safety net (the author was the heir to the Baskin-Robbins fortune - although he gave it up), you feel helpless.  Some times it seems that no matter what you do, it never is enough.  So what is the big deal with adding a little extra!  Good food for thought!

I am linking up with Ginny at Small Things again today for her yarn along :-)

October 18, 2011

last summer csa pick up

Yesterday was the last pick up for the the season.  It was kind of bittersweet, not knowing if we would be having the summer CSA next year.  It was also a fairly small basket.  We are entering the end of October in Maine, and our farm doesn't grow a lot of winter storage crops for the CSA members.  Yesterday we got:

potatoes
leeks
lettuce
celeriac
and something that looks kind of like large white carrots...i'm thinking potentially some type of radish?  any ideas?

It is definitely taking a lot of faith on my part to not sign up next year for the CSA.  We may still do it.  We eat so many veggies, that it really does seem to work out financially.  For instance, I went to the grocery store and bought lettuce and spinach last weekend and spent $25...granted it was 2 11oz bags of lettuce and 2 11oz bags of spinach...and it was organic, but it is what we would use in a week.  My entire CSA share is $25/week...and we split with my mom...so it ends up being less.

I'm also having trouble thinking what I would need to grow.  I guess we will see as the weeks go on and our winter CSA starts up.  They obviously do all the root veggies and a lot of preserved/frozen foods, so I am not quite ready to give that up too.  Take onions for instance, we eat a lot of onions, onions and garlic are probably in every dish I make.  Are onions easy to grow?  Or would it be smarter to grow leeks and freeze them?  No clue!

I have been following along with Heather on her $400/month grocery challenge.  She eats a whole foods, mainly vegetarian diet, much like us, but I can't get how she can buy all of those fresh foods on that little per month, without the help of a CSA or a garden.  We usually budget around $300/month for groceries, not including our CSA's, and it doesn't seem to go all that far :-)  The only thing I can come up with is that we need to provide more of our own food, and hope that over the winter I can learn a lot about how to keep the pests away without spraying chemicals all over my yard.

Any gardeners out there that produce a large portion of their own food?  How did you start out?  Just remember we have a 16'x20' plot for our garden...you have to start somewhere right!?


October 17, 2011

trees and fruit

We are having a very large and very diseased tree removed from our property at some point this fall, thanks to my mom.  Behind that tree is our neighbors fence, but we have about 10 feet between the fence and the driveway.  Of course I am thinking about planting some trees there that will benefit us.  Mainly fruit trees...ok all fruit trees.  Obviously I won't be planting an orchard on my little quarter of an acre, but if I could plant a few fruit trees, how awesome would that be?

Think of my surprise when I went to the mailbox last week and pulled out the Fedco Trees 2012 catalog!  There are so many varieties of fruit trees, bushes, shrubs etc. in this catalog, it would be fun to read through even if I didn't want to buy one of everything.  The Fedco catalogs, while not in color and not extremely flashy like other seed catalogs, provide so much information for someone who is just starting out, or someone who has their stuff together :-)

I was thinking about possibly doing two dwarf apple trees, and then maybe a cherry tree.  I also would love to have fresh peaches, but I think that would be pushing it in my zone - 5a.  I know that most fruit trees need cross pollination in order to produce fruit...so whatever I choose will probably double with different varieties.

I have these grandiose dreams of a large fruit producing area, since we are such big fruit eaters.  In addition to the fruit trees, blueberry bushes, raspberry bushes, and blackberry bushes would all be welcome additions to my little homestead...but that may be a little out of reach at the moment!

What about you?  Do you have fruit trees, or other fruit growing where you live?  Have you ever planted apple trees?  Am I completely out of my league on a quarter of an acre?  And how the heck do you keep the deer away?

Linking up at Homestead Revival's Barn Hop :-)

October 14, 2011

bread and a recipe

I love bread.  I really do.  I think I would probably be able to survive on it if I had to.  Add some soup and I am one happy girl!  I'm not talking the bread that you buy from the grocery store though, I am talking home baked bread.  When I was younger my mom made homemade oatmeal bread.  I remember the smell from the kitchen, and how good it was with butter on it.  Yum!  I have never been able to replicate what my mom used to make, but I have been able to come up with my own basic bread recipe.  It is super easy as far as bread goes, and pretty forgiving considering I don't use measurements really.  I tried to really work at getting the recipe down so I could share it with you today.  So here it is!

For 1 9x5 loaf

1/3 c honey
1 c warm water
1/2 Tbs instant yeast
3-3 1/2 c flour (i use unbleached white)
1 tsp salt
oil to coat

Mix honey and water in a large bowl until the honey is mostly dissolved.
Add instant yeast and stir to combine.
Add 1 cup of flour and mix until mostly smooth.
Add 1 cup of flour and 1 tsp salt, mix to combine.
Add enough flour to make a ball, and then knead in enough flour to make it a moderately stiff dough that doesn't collapse when you stop kneading it.  It should still be stretchy, but not too sticky.
Grease a 9x5 loaf pan.
Drizzle a little oil over the dough and turn to coat.
Form into a loaf and put in bread pan to rise until the dough is about 1 inch above pan.
Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until it smells done and sounds hollow when you tap on the middle.

You can use instant or active dry yeast for this recipe.  I have used both.  I just happen to have instant yeast (bread machine yeast) right now, which means I only let it rise one time.  If you have active dry yeast the only changes I would make are to let the honey/water/yeast/first cup of flour proof for 5 or 10 minutes until bubbly.  And then I would also let it rise until doubled in a greased bowl, punch down, form into a loaf and then rise in the pan the second time.

This recipe is very easy to modify.  If you want to add oatmeal, or grains, do it after you add the second cup of flour.  If you don't have honey, use brown sugar.  This bread is slightly sweet, and would be good with cinnamon and raisins as well.  Have fun with it!  And if you do make it, please come back and tell me how it turned out for you!

October 13, 2011

intentional living

I have been thinking a lot about intentional living as of late.  It seems so easy to just let everything go and let the flow of life suck you in.  I have two babes, obviously, and they are my world.  They also take up a large amount of time.  Time playing, reading, feeding, comforting.  Not that I would trade that in for the world, I am a mama after all, but it is so easy to be defined by those days.

There never seems to be enough time for me to do everything that I want to do, so some things slide.  I either spend the day really engaging my kids, or I spend the day really cleaning the house.  Or I spend the day on the internet, trying to figure out how to engage my kids and clean my house...all in the same day :-)  I don't want to completely lose myself, and sometimes that day to day balance gets to me.  I think about what it means to step back and live, not just float along as the days come and go.

After talking to Matt about goals, we implemented some changes to our routine.  It wasn't easy since he works two jobs...but we have come up with a few changes that have been working in our weekly rhythm.

The first is to allow us each a couple hours each week to be alone.  It isn't a huge amount of time, and I am sure that there are families out there that spend a lot more time apart from their family as a whole.  We tend to be a family that spends very little solitary time.  Not that I think that is bad either, but I needed a couple hours to just sit in silence while Matt played with the kids, and he needed a couple hours to listen to random podcasts about God knows what (Doctor Who).

It has really been wonderful, and interesting.  The first two weeks I didn't know what to do, so I sat in my craft room drinking a glass of wine.  And that was it.  Really.  For two hours.  I was so overwhelmed with *stuff* that I didn't know what to do when I had time alone to do something fun and for myself.  Now I am still drinking the wine, but I'm also knitting and reading and watching random tv shows that my sister-in-law sends my way (totally awesome by the way).

The second change we have implemented is to not make plans for Saturdays...at all.  We have declared it family day.  With Matt working 6 days per week, it was something that was necessary.  We don't always do something fun like Unplugged Sunday.  Sometimes Matt has to work part of the day.  Sometimes we do make last minute plans with our friends, but for the most part we don't.

I can't even explain how great that has been for our family dynamic.  It obviously is difficult, we have a lot of family that we want to see, but overall it seems to be better for us as a household to really hold Saturdays as a free day just for us.  It is also allowing us to get a lot of much needed work around the house done.  All the extra stuff that really doesn't get done during the week (see first paragraph), like outside chores, fixing up our house, that kind of thing.

These are just two of the changes that we are attempting.  I think that overall everything has worked out really well so far.  We have a whole list of changes that we want to make, but taking it slow has been key for us.  These two changes alone have made a world of difference though.

What about you?  Do you try to live intentionally?  Or are you swept away by the day to day?  Any tips for former floaters?

October 12, 2011

yarn along


I have decided to join in with Ginny from Small Things this week for her yarn along.  Without further ado:

I started knitting this lace pattern several weeks ago, and obviously have not gotten far.  I have never knit a lace pattern before, but I really like how this one is turning out!  It is for a Christmas present this year (so if you know me, pretend you never saw this :-)), we shall see if I can finish it on time...

As far as reading goes, well I am reading a lot of books, like always, but the two that stand out to me right now are One Bite at a Time and All New Square Foot Gardening.  I am still trying to work my way through the 52 bites, some go a little faster than others.  Although we have a regular garden, I am still thinking of using some of the square foot gardening techniques.  And we all know it is never too early to think of next year.

October 11, 2011

fast food

I have a confession.  After all the talk I spout out about eating locally and making whole food choices, I'm not always successful.  Not that someone should only eat local, seasonal food, but it is what I am striving for.  It usually happens out of the blue, and mainly due to lack of planning on my part.

Take yesterday for instance.  My kiddos were up at 5:30am.  Yes, we wake up that early sometimes.  Well, I am always up that early, and more often than not my babes follow suit.  You would think that I had all the time in the world to prepare food for the day, have good, wholesome meals, and get all the laundry done...and you would be mistaken :-)

1:00pm rolls around, the babes are both asleep, and I haven't eaten yet.  What do I do?  Grab a scoop of peanut butter?  Nope.  I call my husband at work (he works down the street), and ask him to go to the grocery store.  Well, it's the grocery store, you can get some decent food there.  I mean most people do, right?  Not me.  I ask him to bring me home potato skins.  And that is what I eat for lunch...and really my only meal of the day because after eating those I felt like crap for the rest of the day.

I don't understand why the request isn't to pick me up a sandwich, or a salad.  Or even a can of prepared beans!  All of that would have been way healthier, and would have taken less time to prepare...but I ask for potato skins...yeah.

What do you do when you are starving?  Do you whip up something healthy?  Or are you like me and buy crazy "convenience" foods that are full of undesirable ingredients because you are blinded by hunger?  Someday I will have a good amount of prepared healthy food at the ready...unfortunately, that day was not yesterday :-)


October 10, 2011

closing up the garden


What beautiful weather we have had in Maine this past weekend!  80's and sunny on Saturday and Sunday.  I can't complain about it one bit!  The fact that it isn't muggy, well that makes me even happier :-)  Plus, it warms up our house so that I do not have to worry about heat.  It looks like it will be warm most of the week as well, and that is a good thing!

This past weekend we spent time closing up the garden.  We have a great source of horse s***, and were able to get a truck full of it.  I am planning on doing some lasagna gardening, or sheet mulching I guess it can also be called, this fall.  It seems like an excellent way to build up the soil for next spring, and relatively easy too.  I am all about easy :-)

First, I am taking the large stack of newspapers I have been saving and laying them out on the garden, water them down.  Then I will fork the manure on top of the newspapers, and finally rake up the leaves down at my mom's and throw them on top of the manure.  Hopefully by spring this big pile of mess will be nice soil that I can dig right into and plant my veggies.  Oh, and when I say *I* I really mean the husband.  I wrangle the kids, he does the manual labor, I think it is a fair trade!

Does anyone have experience with this gardening method?  I believe it is supposed to suppress weeds, and anything that does that is a big ol' plus in my book!

Linking up to the Homestead Barn Hop

October 7, 2011

caramelized onion focaccia


I was planning on reporting on my fermented concoctions today, but they still  need to sit a bit longer, so instead I will be talking focaccia!  This is only my second time making focaccia, and honestly I don't know why.  It is some of the easiest bread to make...seriously.  The last time I made this, I used roasted garlic on the top...a lot of roasted garlic.  Edward was definitely not knocking on my door that night...or any night actually...hmmm...Anyways!  It was delicious, but unfortunately I am out of garlic right now.  What I did have on hand were onions from our CSA share on Monday.

adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book

1/2 c flour
1/2 c warm water
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 c warm water
~4 c flour
2 tsp salt
4 small - medium onions, sliced thin

Mix 1/2 c flour, 1/2 c warm water and yeast in a bowl, cover and let sit overnight.
Slowly mix in 1 cup warm water, salt, and enough flour to make a ball.
Turn out on floured surface and knead in enough flour to make a stiff dough.
Put in bowl and drizzle with olive oil, turning once, cover and put in warm place to rise for about an hour.
While dough is rising, saute onions in olive oil on low.  Season with a bit of salt and pepper if you wish.
When dough has doubled in size turn out onto greased cookie sheet, do not punch down.
Let dough rest for 30 minutes.
Stretch dough into a circle about 12 inches being careful not to pop all the air bubbles.
Push fingers into dough every inch or so.
Spread caramelized onions over top and drizzle with olive oil.

Bake at 475 for about 15 minutes, or until it smells/looks done.

We served this with pasta sauce for dipping, or you could use extra virgin olive oil, or eat as is.  A couple notes.  I used bread machine yeast because it was what I had on hand, I didn't find any problems using that. Also, I definitely did not let the sponge sit overnight...I am not that patient...and I was hungry...but I did wait about 3 hours.  It probably would bring out more of a sour flavor if I had let it sit overnight.  I think you could easily cook this on a pizza stone, but we don't have one, so we used a baking sheet.  Let me know if you try it and like it!

October 6, 2011

must have non-local foods

I have been thinking a lot about local, seasonal eating recently.  Who am I kidding?  It is all consuming, all of the time :-)  I like to think that we could easily eat an all local diet if we had the funds to support that...or the garden!  But, when I think about local foods, there are a few things missing that I love and would make me happier overall.  Without further ado, my top ten non-local foods that I probably will continue to buy even though there is no possible way to grow these in my cold climate...well...unless there was no way at all to get them...but I am not thinking about that right now!

1. good quality extra virgin olive oil
2. tea
3. coffee
4. spices (lumping these all together)
5. avocados
6. lemons
7. limes
8. oranges
9. almonds
10. peanuts

When I write it down like that, it makes me realize that perhaps I am a little concerned about scurvy... :-)

What about you?  What would your top ten be?  Or could you make do with fewer?

October 5, 2011

to csa or not to csa? that is the question...

Yes, I am already thinking about next year's garden. Most people are probably dealing with their fall gardens and season extension at this point...me? not so much!  I really need to psych myself up to delve that deep...not to mention a little more planning and investment.  To be fair, I am planning on closing up the garden next weekend, putting down newspaper and compost...and hopefully planting some garlic in the next couple of weeks as well.  But, I am really thinking about next year.

Matt and I are considering *not* getting a summer CSA share next year.  We have gotten the CSA share since 2008, and absolutely love it.  This is in no way against our awesome farm.  It is more about us having more of a hand in what we eat, literally.  We want to grow more of our own food.  We want to be a bit more self sufficient.  I think that starting to grow more of our own food, instead of relying on the CSA is a big step in the right direction.  Not to mention it is hard to come up with such a large sum of money in January...a few weeks after Christmas...

Taking the leap to not having that back up is a little stressful for me.  Even though we buy our CSA up front, it only ends up being $25/week, and if my garden is an utter failure (like it was this year), I have the backup of the CSA.  I don't think it would be at all possible to get as much from the farmers' market as we get each week in our share basket.  But, if I take that money that I pay to the CSA up front, I should be able to have a pretty rockin garden next year.

So what is my first step?  Well, when you have a CSA share, you eat whatever they give you, whether or not you like it (and we rarely find something we don't like in our basket).  With growing your own, you have complete control, which means that I need to sit down and figure out how much food we eat, and what we would want in a garden that is our primary food for the summer.  Nothing like an incredibly daunting task to really get me in the mood...I think it could be fun though.  Maybe if I start this early, I will be able to get a seed order in early enough to get everything that I request, and start seeds at the end of January/beginning of February.

What about you?  How do you plan for your garden?  Do you use it as your main food source?

October 4, 2011

knitting with kids

We are a crafty family.  Well, I am crafty, and my kids are crafty...I wouldn't necessarily say that Matt is that crafty :-)  Both of my kids LOVE anything creative.  That is part of the reason I designed a craft room in my home.  A place where we can all go, create, get messy - and I don't have to worry about paint on the floor :-)

I knew it was only a matter of time before Emma would want a part in my crafts.  It is hard to hold her back, she is one determined little girl.  I prefer not to say "you can't do that because you are too little."  So instead, I try to work with her on whatever she wants.  Most times I am able to adapt to her level, like instead of using a needle and thread, I use blunt needles and embroidery floss.  She turned three in May.

I have been putting off knitting for at least the past six months.  I was convinced that knitting with a three year old was not going to work.  I had fears of her taking the needles and using them as weapons against her younger brother...although most of the time she just takes my knitting off the needles and makes X's, T's, and L's :-)

Finger knitting was something that I had heard of, but not tried myself.  I had these bizarre pictures of knitting with both of my pointer fingers into some basic pot holder or scarf in my head...clearly I had no clue :-)  Then I decided to actually google finger knitting, and it is surprisingly easy!  Emma enjoyed it, and didn't have any problems following the directions.

Great!  I thought.  She can finger knit and we can make some fun Christmas presents for her cousins.  Unfortunately, when we were done she said "thanks mama, but I'm done with this, can I please knit with the needles now?"

What about you?  Do you share your crafts with your kids?  Or do you stick to more age appropriate crafts?  Any tips on knitting with three year olds???

October 3, 2011

fermented foods

A couple years ago I tried kimchi for the first time.  It was my first experience with fermented foods - I don't count beer and wine here.  You would think that I would have tried sauerkraut first, that being one that most people are familiar with, nope I went with spicy :-)  And then last year, our winter pantry CSA gave a lot of preserved foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, and even lacto-fermented green beans.  All of which were amazing!

I recently got my hands on Wild Fermentation and have loved going through this gem of a book!  The author has recipes from veggies to sourdough breads to even beer and wine.  When I think of preserving the summer harvest, I always think of canning or freezing; fermented foods are definitely new to me.  I think that lacto-fermented anything is definitely an acquired taste.  My husband is not a fan, although I did make this salsa, and he LOVED it...kimchi...not so much.  My daughter, on the other hand, cannot get enough of the stuff.  And if it helps her to eat veggies, what is not to like.  And the benefits are extremely encouraging!

This morning I whipped up a batch of the kimchi that is in this book, and I am hoping for good results...we shall see.  Matt was impressed to see the selection of beer, wine, and mead recipes...so I think we may be trying some of those.  I also found a recipe for fruit scrap vinegar.  I will try and document my experiments, and barring severe sickness, will be back to report on how everything turns out.

What about you?  Do you lacto-ferment?  Any tried and true recipes you may want to share?  Is it something you are interested in, even if you have never done it yourself?