Butternut Squash Linguini with Fried Sage

My garden this year has been a *huge* learning experience. A few to many set backs and lots of frustrations. So with that being said, I’ve noticed my blog has temporarily turned more into a cooking blog, which I don’t necessarily mind, I enjoy cooking! But my main reason for this blog is to document my gardening experiences, good or bad. So this week I will write a post doing just that and briefly talk about my plans for our fall garden. P.S we have about 14 weeks (give or take) until our first frost, if you are planting a garden this fall, start planning!

SO…a vegan PASTA dish. No butter. No cream. No cheese..unless you want it in there, in that case I won’t tell anyone ;).

10393964_10102013481773352_1074372403080665239_n

Continue reading

Advertisements

Pizza Crust

You know how hard it is to find a 4 leaf clover? I feel that way towards pizza dough. It’s near impossible. For the last 5 years I’ve tried, probably close to 20 recipes. They were all fine. I mean in the end they were technically ‘pizza crusts’. But this pizza crust…fantastico!

There are two KEY steps to making a beautiful looking pizza crust:

1) Using a pizza stone. Seriously, don’t forget the pizza stone. Pizza stone. Pizzzzzaaaa sttttoooonnneee.
2) Preheating your oven (and pizza stone) on the highest setting for at least an hour*. This will give you that nice crusty bottom but still a nice chewy bread.

*Clothing optional, because your house will feel like a sauna.

Thin Crust Pizza Dough

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 3/4 cup warm water (about 105°F)
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 cup plus 3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:

In a small bowl, whisk together the yeast, sugar and warm water and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the dough blade, combine the cake flour, all-purpose flour and salt and pulse 3 or 4 times.

Whisk 1 Tbs. of the olive oil into the yeast mixture. With the motor running, slowly add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture, allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding more. Pulse the machine 10 to 15 times to knead the dough. The dough should clean the insides of the bowl but will be slightly sticky.

Coat the inside of a large bowl with the remaining 1 Tbs. oil. Dust your hands with flour and remove the dough from the food processor. Form the dough into a ball and place in the bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Divide the dough in half and roll out as directed in the pizza recipe. Makes two 10-inch thin-crust pizzas.

Enjoy!

20140624-083514-30914308.jpg

20140624-083512-30912647.jpg

20140624-083513-30913644.jpg

Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes

Something magical just happened this morning.

It was beautiful.

It was delicious.

It was lemony.

It was poppy seed-y.

It was soft.

and moist.

Covered in butter.

and a little bit of maple syrup.

O, lemon poppy seed pancakes, how I love you.

20140413-084658.jpg

Little hands make light work…or a lot of work 😉

20140413-084426.jpg

Lemon zest makes me a better person, I’m sure of it.

20140413-084436.jpg

Did you know that every gram of seeds has about 33 micrograms of morphine and 14 micrograms of codeine. Cover that with flour, sugar, butter and syrup and you have Christmas morning.

20140413-084451.jpg

Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes

(makes a lot! About 20 small/medium sized pancakes)

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups buttermilk

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 tablespoons poppy seeds

butter, shortening, or vegetable oil for frying

maple syrup for serving

In a small bowl combine granulated sugar and lemon zest.  Rub together with your fingers until sugar is fragrant.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Stir in the lemon sugar.  Set aside.

In a separate bowl (or you can use a large liquid measuring cup), whisk together buttermilk, eggs, vanilla extract, lemon juice, and melted butter.  Pour the wet ingredients all at once into the dry ingredients.  Add the poppy seeds and stir to combine.  If a few lumps remain, that’s no problem.  Let the batter rest for 10 minutes while the griddle heats.

Place a griddle, or a nonstick saute pan over medium heat.  Add a bit of butter, shortening, or vegetable oil to the pan.  A teaspoon of fat will do for a n0nstick saute pan, a bit more fat may be necessary for a griddle.  Dollop batter onto hot pan.  For small pancakes, I use about 2 tablespoons for each pancake.  For larger pancakes, I use about 1/4 cup of batter.  Cook until golden brown on the bottom and and bubbling on top.  Flip once and cook until golden brown on each side.

Place cooked pancakes on an oven-proof plate and place in a warm (about 150 degrees F) oven until all pancakes are cooked and ready to serve.  Serve with butter and warm maple syrup.

ENJOY!

Gardening Trays

Every year in my garden I weed, I pick, I pull, I trim and I harvest. I end up with handfulls, armloads, bucketloads of plants and produce. How do I move it? I use my hands, I use my shirt, I use bowls from the kitchen, I use the baskets that normally hold the throw blankets in the living room. Really anything that could hold something.

None of these things were really working well for me. I’d leave my kitchen bowls outside for a few days, my good shirt would now become another…gardening shirt. (Why do I always forget to put on the ratty shirts when gardening?!) My hands could never hold enough, and a few delicate tomatoes would go tumbling down the steps, and my basket used for blankets would eventually be covered in dirt and leaves because I would forget to clean it out before returning it to it’s rightful place. But the gardening stores around here never really had anything I liked. They had totes and cute baskets for holding fancy tea towels in..but nothing I wanted to fork out 30+ dollars for that was practical.

We’ve been tossing around a few ideas for gardening trays that would be useful in the garden. You could rinse your produce in them, shake off dirt, use them to hold your weeds or carry gardening pots outside with them (and whatever else you could imagine using them for.) Here’s our first draft.

Sketching out the ideas

Sketching out different ideas and measurements

Picking out different woods. Poplar and Oak.

Picking out different woods. Poplar and Oak.

Beautiful oak

Beautiful oak

Sawing sawing sawing

Sawing sawing sawing

Oak box and a poplar box

Oak box and a Poplar box

So there they are! This is definitely the rough draft, things weren’t quite even in some places, and we are still working with what type of screws/nails to use on the boxes, especially the Oak boxes. I like the idea of using Poplar, they are easy to put together and affordable. We will definitely need to put a linseed finish on both of them (or something similar.) The Oak boxes are very sturdy and they just feel good in your hands. They are a bit heavier than the Poplar, but will withstand weather and use for a very long time. They aren’t as affordable as the Poplar, but I think they will be worth their weight in gold once finished. Also, I think we’ll do a couple different varieties and sizes. Make the Oak one with a mesh bottom and the Poplar one with wooden slats, maybe do a few smaller varieties for those that mostly have berries and herbs. Let me know what you all think! 

Granola

Warm.

Soft.

Crunchy.

Chewy.

Healthy.

Versatile.

Hints of coconut.

Bites of nuts and fruit (optional)

Want to put raisins in? Go Ahead!. Want to put dried apples in? GO AHEAD! Want to put nothing but oats in? Yup, that’s right, GO AHEAD!

Granola is just so wonderful. There’s no wrong way to make it. It’s pretty much full proof! And I like recipes like that. No brainers, because sometimes, with babies running around I really don’t have any. (…Actually even without babies running around, I still sometimes don’t have any.)

unnamed

Pour all those beautiful oats into a big bowl

unnamed (1)

Then add all your coconut, nuts, seeds, oat bran and wheat germ.

unnamed (2)

Get your honey, molasses, salt, brown sugar, oils, cinnamon and vanilla and stir together, bringing it to a soft boil. Is it bad to drink that stuff? It smells so good.

unnamed (3)

Pour onto the dry stuff and stir together. Wow, that just looks great.

unnamed (4)

Beautiful

unnamed (5)

Spread it on a baking sheet, and sneak a bite of two..if you’re a weirdo like me and enjoy raw oats. Then bake it for 20 min, stirring halfway through.

unnamed (6)

Pull it out of the oven, (eating a bite or two while severely burning your tongue) and let it cool to room temperature. Then enjoy!

My favorite granola recipe

8 cups of rolled oats
1 1/2 c wheat germ
1 1/2 c oat bran
1 cup of almonds
1 c pecans
1 – 1 1/2 cups of coconut
1 1/2 tsp of salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup of molasses
3/4 cup of honey
1 cup coconut oil
1 tbl cinnamon
1 tbl vanilla
1 cup of dried fruit

1) Line baking sheet with foil

2) Combine oats, wheat germ, oat brean, seeds, and nuts into a bowl

3) Stir together salt, brown sugar, molasses, honey, oil, cinnamon, and vanilla. Bring to a bowl.

4) Pour over oat mixture and stir to coat. (I like to drizzle more honey over the entire thing, stir, and do it once more)

5) Spread evenly on baking sheet and bake for 20 min, stirring half way through

6) Cool, then stir in dried fruit

Apple Sauce

Since the end of the growing season, things have been pretty quiet around here. It has been nice just watching the leaves fall and the snow moving off the mountains into our area, but over all I’ve been pretty bummed since summer left. What am I supposed to do until spring?! COOKING. Duh.

So last month we went to my husbands family farm out in Colorado for the weekend to make cider and I was able to bring back a couple bushels of apples. And when I say apples I really mean giant golden juicy nuggets of goodness. So this week I made two kinds of apple sauce. Plain applesauce and cinnamon apple sauce. You can’t go wrong with either one, both are super sweet and delicious. I got the recipe from The Pioneer Women, and it might be my favorite recipe for applesauce I’ve ever made. I made sure to use apple cider and doubled the recipe! (I also just used a stick blender, one of my favorite kitchen tools.)

APPLE SAUCE

Ingredients
6 pounds Apples, Peeled, Cored, And Cut Into 8 Slices
1 cup Apple Juice Or Apple Cider
Juice Of 1 Lemon
1/2 cup Brown Sugar, Packed
1 teaspoon Cinnamon, More Or Less To Taste

Preparation Instructions

Combine all ingredients in a large pot and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes.
Carefully puree in a food processor or blender (don’t fill too full; split into two portions if needed) until smooth.
Store in the fridge.

Enjoy!

He's a big fan of home made applesauce

Pico de Gallo

We are at the peak of gardening season and we can’t pick the tomatoes fast enough! If you are unable to eat 20 lb of tomatoes every week, don’t let them just go bad! There are so many things you can do with all your uneaten tomatoes: Tomato sauce, tomato paste, Pico de Gallo (my favorite) and also just cans of chopped up tomatoes to use later.

I don’t really have a formal recipe for Pico de Gallo but the key to good Pico is simplicity and to have a equal ratio of tomatoes to onions. Don’t forget to use your tastebuds to determine how much of the other ingredients you want.

Portia’s non-recipe Pico de Gallo recipe

5 or so large tomatoes

1-1 1/2 large onions

2-4 limes depending on preference

1/2 – 3/4 of a cilantro bunch (depending on preference)

1) Slice tomatoes open and remove the seeds plus the tops and bottoms.

2) Chop the tomatoes and onions up to the size you prefer (I like them small).

3) Pick cilantro leaves. Make sure no stems get into the Pico. (This can be a daunting task. If you can, get your husband, wife, friend,  or child to do it!)

4) Finely chop cilantro.

5) Stir all together and add the juice of the limes one at a time so you don’t overdue the lime. Stir together, taste, and adjust.

6) EAT! (We really love Juanita’s gluten free tortilla chips. (SO AMAZING and way better than the other tortilla chips).

photo (16)

 

Portia Westesen

What’s in your home?

tumblr_m42qmcVsgK1rw9ehso1_500

It’s crazy how many chemicals they can pack in those bottles! Check out what ingredients are in your everyday items and what it all means! Two of my favorite sites are below:

Good Guide

Skin Deep

And although most things contain some form of chemicals you can always choose the ones that have a LOT less, or have better alternatives. For example we are starting to switch our house over from classic soaps like Dawn dishsoap to Dr. Bronner’s. I eventually want to start making my own soap, but that’s a little ways off.

Here’s a few examples of common household cleaning products and then a possible alternative!

1a: Dawn dish soap ingredients (from what I could find online): Triclosan, water, magnesium, sodium dodecylbenzene sulfonate, ammonium laureth sulfate, lauryl polyglucose, lauramidopropylanine oxide, SD Alcohol 3A, sodium xylene sulfonate, sodium chloride, fragrance, pentasodium pentetate, sodium bisulfite, quaternium 15, D&C Orange 4.

1b: Dr. Bronner’s Citrus magic soap ingredients:  Water, Organic Coconut Oil, Potassium Hydroxide, Organic Orange Oil, Organic Olive Oil, Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Organic Lemon Oil, Organic Lime Oil, Citric Acid, Tocopherol.

2a: Comet scrub ingredients: Can’t find a list of ingredients, if anyone can find them send them my way!

2b: Home made scrub ingredients*: baking soda + dish soap, make into a paste and voila! You can also add Borax and your favorite essential oils into the mix. (*Thanks Christine for the tips on a good scrub base!)

3a: Windex ingredients: Water, Isopropyl Alcohol, 2-Hexoxyethanol, Videt EGM, Sodium C14-17, Sec-Alkyl Sulfonate, Ammonium Hydroxide, Propylene Glycol, Mirapol Surf S-210, Fragrance, Liquitint Sky Blue Dye

3b: Homemade window Cleaner: Vinegar and essential oils

Not only are you using ingredients that are more natural, recognizable and less scary BUT you can keep reusing your own containers! Yay for less waste!

Portia Westesen