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!

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Garlic Scape Pesto

I wrote a song for you all. I think Harry Connick Jr. did a version of it. It’s lovely. 

Here it is:

It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

With the kids picking spinach
And everyone telling you “happy harvest!”
It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
It’s the hap -happiest season of all
With those seasonal berries and gay happy cherries
When tomatoes come to call
It’s the hap – happiest season of all

There’ll be carrots for picking
Big melons for licking
And weeding out in the row
There’ll be scary big sluggies
And tales of the glories of
gardens long, long ago

It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
There’ll be much irrigating
And anticipating
When veggies are near
It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

Was that a little much? No? I didn’t think so.

Garlic is one of my very favorite things to grow and harvest. It’s so tall, handsome, easy, knows how to impress, smells amazing… 😉 …Plus you get scapes. Have you ever had them? They will blow your socks off… 😉
My favorite way to eat them is making them into pesto. Wowee. I thought I loved pesto before, but now! It’s a whole new love affair. Shh, don’t tell my husband 😉

Have I taken the innuendo’s to far? The winking, it’s a little much isn’t it. Okay I’ll stop.

scapes, garlic, cilantro

scapes, garlic, cilantro

Garlic Scape Pesto

Serves: About 1 cup
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped garlic scapes
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted (I even just used pre-sliced almonds from Costco, tasted just as good!)
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Place the garlic scapes, basil, lemon juice, salt and half of the olive oil in the bowl of a food processor.
  2. Process until the basil and garlic scapes are finely chopped.
  3. Add the toasted almonds and process until smooth.
  4. With the food processor running, slowly drizzle in the remaining oil until everything is well blended.
  5. Add the Parmesan cheese and pulse a few more times.
  6. Season with additional salt, if needed.
  7. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Garlic scape pesto

Garlic scape pesto

Buttermilk blueberry breakfast cake

I’m terrible at writing new posts. It’s bad. To make it up, can I buttery you up a big slice of buttermilk blueberry breakfast cake? It’s pretty good. Which is an understatement. When you take a bite, it reminds you of being 5 years old at your grandmas house. With sleepy eyes and heightened senses, you can smell your grandma pulling the cake out of the oven from your bedroom. The crispy, sugary top and the moist blueberry middle, I wouldn’t be surprised if you started to cry a little. I know I did.

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Buttermilk Blueberry Breakfast Cake

Serves 6-8

½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tsp. lemon zest or more — zest from 1 large lemon (I did 3 tsp of orange zest I had frozen, it was perfect!)
7/8 cup* + 1 tablespoon sugar**
1 egg, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour (set aside 1/4 cup of this to toss with the blueberries)
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 cups fresh blueberries
½ cup buttermilk***

* 7/8 cup = 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons
** This 1 tablespoon is for sprinkling on top
*** To make homemade buttermilk, place 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice in a liquid measuring cup. Fill cup with milk until it reaches the 1-cup line. Let stand for five minutes. Use only 1/2 cup of the prepared mixture for the recipe.

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Cream butter with lemon zest and 7/8 cup of the sugar until light and fluffy.

2. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Meanwhile, toss the blueberries with ¼ cup of flour, then whisk together the remaining flour, baking powder and salt.

3. Add the flour mixture to the batter a little at a time, alternating with the buttermilk. Fold in the blueberries.

4. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan (or something similar) with butter or coat with non-stick spray. Spread batter into pan. Sprinkle batter with remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes. Check with a toothpick for doneness. If necessary, return pan to oven for a couple of more minutes. (Note: Baking for as long as 10 minutes more might be necessary.) Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

Just a friendly reminder!

It is CRUCIAL to keep your potatoes well watered, especially during the flowering stage and right after. 1-2 inches of water a week! When foliage turns yellow and starts to die back, discontinue watering.

La Ratte and Yellow Finn

La Ratte and Yellow Finn

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.

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

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

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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.

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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!

Smoothies

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Sunshine smoothie

2 oranges
6-8 strawberries
1/4 of a lime
1 cup of pineapple juice
1/4 cup of water
2 ice cubes

 

I’m sure that I’m not the only one who gets obsessed with something delicious, making it over and over until you’re completely sick of it. Well, this is one of them. I’ve been making it almost every morning. And for some reason, that little bit of lime really puts a pep in my step.

Enjoy!

Spring!

Whew. It’s been awhile. Sorry about that guys.

This year has been a tough year getting things going, I have a million things going on! It’s also an especially warm winter here in Utah so it’s been throwing my growing groove off.
Do people still say groove? groove.

Anywho… Anywho?

ANYWAYS.

I’ve had some up and downs. I tried soil blocking under the pretense that there was a good chance I would fail the first year. And I did. I got the blocks to form beautifully, and I even followed a recipe. I hate following recipes. But, I did anyways, and after the first few days in their little hut they started to smell STRONGLY of ammonia. Not a little ammonia. But like someone pee’d on it and stuck a plastic cover over it for a few weeks. I’ve read a few reviews on how you are supposed to let your soil blocking mix sit for a month to break down before you use it, so I’m going to try that and test it out. In the mean time, I’ve already gotten my seeds going in a pre-made seed starting potting mix, and they are chugging along quite nice.

Chugging…why do I keep saying weird things?

My tomatoes have formed true leaves and I’ve transplanted a few of the extra sprouts into their own container. Which, holy smokes, I thought I had lost them. With in 10 min they were flat on their backs and weaker than a candle in the wind. But with in a few hours they were back to their upright positions. Tip I learned: DO NOT GRAB BY THE STEM, only by the leaves. The stem is very sensitive and can be easily shocked.

Right after transplanting:

Shocked tomatoes, poor guys.

Shocked tomatoes, poor guys.

A few hours after transplanting:

Bouncing right on back!

Bouncing right on back!

And here they are now, a few weeks later. Lookin’ good ladies! (And gents..) I’ve also been giving them a few tablespoons of fish fertilizer once a week, and it’s been a great thing! Especially for the tomatoes that had some shock.

German PInk

German Pink

Bonny Best

Bonny Best

 

Sorry for the blinding light, but here are a few other things I’m growing so far: kale, oregano, chives, cilantro, broccoli, celery, parsley, basil, lavender and peppers. I definitely started the kale and broccoli a couple of weeks to early. So I’m going to try and transplant them outside and put covers over them till it’s a bit warmer out.

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I spent all yesterday working on our strawberry patch, removing the old mulch, weeding, and removing some of the strawberry plants that died. There are a few things that I’m going to do differently this year/next year. 1) Transplant some of the runners after the last harvest, that way that are in their semi-dormant phase. Yesterday, I removed some of the plants that were to close to each other and tried to replant them. I think they will be fine, but it took a tole on them. 2) Their roots are sensitive to moisture and light, so I’ll be more careful not to lay the bare roots out while I’m working on getting them replanted.  3) This year I want to fertilize them more. My strawberries did great last year, but I think they will really benefit from the fertilizer.  Tip: 1 lb of balanced fertilizer per 100 sq feet. With that water an inch per week throughout the growing season.

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Over the next 2 days I’ll be planting my lettuces, spinach, carrots, peas and potatoes! I’m a couple weeks behind on the peas, so we’ll see how well they do. Also, I’m growing potatoes for the first time this year. What is your preferred growing method? I’m short on space, so I was thinking about building some wire potato cages out of thick wire fencing. If you have a method that works, please share!

Overall, I think this is going to be a great growing season and I can’t wait to see what everyone else is doing and growing!

And to end, here’s a cute picture of my daughter 🙂

 

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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.)

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Pour all those beautiful oats into a big bowl

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

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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.

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

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Beautiful

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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.

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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

Horseradish

There’s a surprising number of people who are scared of Horseradish. Don’t get me wrong, it’s weird stuff and smells funky. But when you put it on a warm roast beef sandwich, *mouth salivating*, it’s just about the best thing the world has to offer.

Just give it a try, if you haven’t already.

Seriously. Right now.

….

It’s also SO EASY TO GROW! It grows everywhere and in almost any climate, (up until Zone 3.) People often grow it separately from their main garden plot because it’s pretty much impossible to get rid of. Every tiny piece that breaks off in the soil when harvested WILL turn into a new plant. Talk about fertile 😉 So consider planting your horseradish in containers.

Unfortunately, I didn’t plant my horseradish in a container and I totally broke up a ton of pieces in the soil…good thing we’re living in a rental!

Growing Horseradish:

In the spring find a very sunny spot in your garden for your horseradish. They can flourish in almost any type of soil but waterlogged soil. So if you are using a drip system in your garden for your water loving greens consider planting them in a separate part of the garden OR in a container.  There, I’ve said it twice. I’m going to listen to my own advice next year.

Once you’ve found your spot, add all your compost and manure and work it in about a foot deep.  Place your root (with the buds facing up towards the surface) at a 45 degree angle or straight down. Cover with 2-3 inches of soil and give it a good water. After that you only need to water during really long dry spells.

Harvesting Horseradish:

Horseradish needs about 12-18 months to reach full maturity, but if you live in Zones 4-6 and you planted it in the spring you can harvest a decent root for your fall dishes. Make sure you harvest the roots when they aren’t actively growing! That means in the fall  after the first hard frost or early spring.  Examine all your horseradish and use a garden fork to loosen the soil around the plants that are at least 1 inch in diameter. Once you remove the roots cut off the tops and side shoots and replant in the same spot, adding in compost along the way.

Eating Horseradish:

Scrub all your roots and peel with a potato peeler. Cut into small chunks and toss into a food processor or blender and grind up to the consistency you like. Add 2-3 TBL of vinegar to every cup of horseradish. To have a milder horseradish, add the vinegar in immediately, and for a stronger horseradish wait 3-4 min and then add in the vinegar.  Then, ENJOY!

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Garlic!

So I’m a dog person. I love dogs. All dogs. Except maybe the hairless ones. But every time I see a homeless dog my little heart aches and I call my husband and beg him to let me take another one home. He of course talks reason into my bleeding heart and tells me that we already have one, we don’t have room, ‘think of the dog hair!’ ect ect ect. There’s really no moment in my life where I couldn’t picture having a dog in my life.

Until they get into my garden, this time digging up my garlic.

At that exact moment, horrible thoughts flood into my brain: ‘CHARLIE, YOU BETTER RUN AND HIDE!’, ‘NO MORE! CHARLIE, PACK YOUR BAGS!’, ‘I’M TAKING YOU TO THE FARM, CHARLIE!’. The threats continue for a few more minutes, until I see his sad eyes and of course I go over and cuddle with him and tell him it’s okay.

Anyways, enough about that! We’re here to talk about GARLIC!

This year we grew a few varieties of garlic: Ukraine, Music, Siberian, and German Red.

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Everyone has different opinions on when to start garlic. Some say a few weeks before the first frost, others say after the first frost, and some even say it doesn’t matter as long as they reach their full maturity, which is 9 months. I think it really depends on where you live and the climate. Here in Utah it’s a good idea to plant anywhere within the first week of frost when the soil is nice and cool. You can also plant after the last frost when the soil has started to thaw, but you will get bigger and better bulbs if planted in the fall. (Or so I’m told by most gardeners. I’m going to plant a second set this spring to see how it works in Utah).

Three things I love about growing my own garlic:

1) It’s so easy! And I can grow them for the fraction of the price they sell them for in the store.

2) SO much variety. You really can only buy 1 or 2 types of garlic in the store, but when you are planting your own you can grow dozens of different varieties! YAY!

3) Taste. Garlic is packed with more punch and flavor (especially when it’s heirloom!) when it’s grown in your own soil.

Try growing your own garlic this year! Even if you don’t have a plot, you could always build a box or buy one!

There are three types of garlic:

Softneck: Grows best where winters are mild (tolerant till Zone 5)
Hardneck: Extrememly cold tolerant! Great for really cold bitter winters.
Elephant: A hardy garlic that can withstand winters till Zone 5 if heavily mulched

I would definitely experiment with a few different types and varieties when you get ready to plant. Every one is different and you might be surprised with what grows best in your area and what ends up being your favorite!

Growing garlic:

This year I broke up my cloves and let them sit in some water over night. Some people recommend a mixture of liquid seaweed and baking soda to help prevent fungus, but I didn’t have any and we really don’t have problems with that here in Utah.

Start by loosening the soil a good 12 inches and working in some well rotted compost.
Place the cloves 4 inches deep and between 6-8 inches apart. Make sure you place the pointy top up and the flat part down. Cover with soil and place 3-5 inches of mulch (hay, straw, or leaves) over the top.

Viola! So easy, right?

As you can see, I still need to mulch mine…

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Harvesting:

I didn’t know this about garlic but it bruises easily! So when you are harvesting them do so very carefully. Loosen the soil with a gardening fork or shovel before pulling them out. Lay them out to dry in a nice warm spot away from harsh sun light and rain. After a week or two, brush off the soil and cut the roots to about half an inch long. Wait another week and cut off the stems of the hardneck varieties, and trimming and braiding the softneck varieties. Hang your garlic in nice mesh bags or if you have braided your garlic, hang in a nice cool dark place, like a garage or basement.

And that’s it! Lots of great garlic all year long. Also, make sure you don’t peel the papery outer wrappings, it keeps the garlic from rotting or sprouting.

So go on now! Go plant some garlic! 😉