Friday, June 22, 2012

Double Double toil and Trouble

This is what happens when you attempt to double a recipe and do not write it out with new measurements.  You see, I doubled everything fine.  Except for the butter.  I had it in my head I needed a cup of butter (which is correctly doubled, as the recipe called for 1/2 cup).
When warming said butter, my brain said "You need one cup.  One cup doubled is TWO cups".  So in effect, I doubled every other ingredient and quadrupled the butter!  I checked to see how far they were spreading, making sure I was spacing them correctly.  Imagine my shock when I saw THIS:


I was laughing so hysterically DD and DH came up to see what was going on.  I got a lecture from DH about doubling recipes, then he giggled because it is the same lecture I have given him in the past LOL!  Not enough ingredients to mess around trying to correct the mistake, into the garbage it had to go.  Trust me, it almost killed me.  A POUND of butter!  At least I had bought it on sale - a small measure of comfort.

Next problem?  No more butter to start again.  Bake sale tomorrow.  Late.  What to do?

Shhhhhhh.  I cannot believe I did this.  We had some butter flavour shortening left over from chocolate chip cookies DH made.  I do NOT use hydrogenated vegetable oil/shortening as a rule, and I won't put anything made with it in my mouth.  I sold my soul to the cookie gods, and made a new batch using the shortening.  I added salt to the recipe to make up for what would have been in the butter.
The shape is much better!  I won't post the recipe until I have a chance to try it with the proper ingredients, and I daresay I won't be tasting any of these cookies.  They look good.  My house smells like kettle corn cooked in palm oil - sounds pleasant as long as you like kettle corn, and I hate it ROFL.

Oh, and I did double the recipe again, this time writing out the new measurements and double checking.  Don't worry, DH shook his head at me in shame - tee hee!


Sunday, June 17, 2012

I hate drippiness!

I have to find myself an insulated water bottle.  I absolutely hate drinking from something that is dripping with condensation.  I.  HATE. IT.

I hate the drips on my clothes, the wet ring on the table, having to wipe my fingertips after putting the thing down.

We have some of those double wall cups with the removable lid and hard plastic straw that kind of look like take out cups.  And I really like those.  They insulate well so your drink stays cold, and they do NOT sweat on the outside.  I find them a bit hard to carry around outside though, like when I am working in the garden.

What kind of water container do you use?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Pilfered Peas

While at the WECSA farm today, I happened to notice that there were quite a few peas that were ready.  I did not plant them.  I don't know if the person that did plant them had a plan for them.  I do know that I was there, it was about to get dark, and the chances anybody would be coming tonight were quite slim.  Picking those peas was a public service really, as they would be bloated and yellow by tomorrow.  Or not.  But why take that chance?!?!?

Actually, I am only joking about pilfering.  We share everything out there.  Go out, do some work, harvest what you want that is ready.  That is pretty much how it works.

Now, these are shelling peas, not sugar snap peas.  Sugar snaps are edible podded, in that they have a sweet, crisp, and entirely edible pod.  You can eat them at any stage, small and skinny like a snow pea, a little fatter with tiny peas inside that pop like caviar in your mouth, or fully mature and plump with full grown peas.  Shelling peas have a plastic like lining inside the pod that makes them unpleasant to eat.  And it is a shame, since the pods really do taste good when they are fresh picked and juicy.

I have a special technique to peel that tough membrane away so that I can eat/use the pod.  Some people eat sunflower seeds or peanuts in the shell.  I peel and eat pea pods!














If you don't feel like fiddling with them, I discovered last year that chickens LOVE the hulls.  You don't even have to chop them.  A whole shopping bag full disappeared in seconds.  You could also compost them, or use them to make a sweet pea stock - which I have never ever done LOL.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Wildlife encounters of the alien kind

The most wonderous things I have ever seen in our yard would be praying manti.  I don't know how we were blessed with them, but most years we see at least one or two.  It always delights me to see them when they are small, tiny things taking a run for it across the porch or patio.  You could almost mistake them for a light green snippet of grass blowing along in the breeze.  But then you spot that triangular alien head LOL!  There seem to be quite a few little ones running around right now.

There is one that seems to like one of our hanging baskets, it's about an inch long and still very light green.  I keep trying to get a picture, but he moves so fast.  It's like he knows what I am trying to do, and wants to tease me.  Tonight I was deadheading some of the flowers in that basket, and he came out and gave me a look!  When I stopped, he went back in amongst the leaves.
It's the basket on the left.  And yes, smarty pants, I am aware that my hanging baskets are not, in fact, hanging.  Right now they are SITTING baskets, and the hooks are being used to anchor them to the chairs in an effort to keep them from blowing away.  Our yard is like a wind tunnel.  We have several shepard hook type devices in our yard, but they are all in places where I cannot easily see the baskets on a daily basis.  And if these babies have any hope of ever being watered, I must be forced to bear witness to their parched and droopy cries for help as part of my regular meanderings.

We will move one of the hooks, once I decide where I want the baskets to go.  Decisions, decisions.  Of course, I have to decide before the praying mantis gets too much bigger and I am afraid to go near the thing to move it.  There is something horrifying about a bug longer than your hand that pivots his head to watch you walk by.  Never mind finding out that those suckers FLY, and have enough weight that you feel them land on you.  *momentary break in case you, like me, need a moment to shriek inwardly while doing the heebie jeebie dance*.  For now he is small, and cute, so still allowed to be located that close to the front door.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Whatchoo lookin' at?



Tee hee!  Look at that smushy, stinky pug face!




This is the look I get when I try to eat my morning toast in peace.  Ruby thinks that I am supposed to SHARE my toast.  Always.  I have a differing opinion, however.

As much as I love good toasted marble rye bread and butter with coffee in the morning, toast just does not hold me until lunch time.  Sometimes if I add melted cheese it works, but not always.  Same with a bowl of cereal - it fills me up but by 10:00am my sugar is crashing and I am ravenous and light headed.

Eggs hold well, but I don't always feel like cooking anything bright and early in the morning.  I have been thinking about making a few omellettes, maybe a quiche or an egg casserole, that sort of thing once per week.  Then I can just pop a serving in the microwave easy peasy.  Any tips?  Have you ever done something like that?  Will you come and cook me breakfast every morning?  *snort*!

Although, I can't guarantee I can avoid...........this face.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

SPROUTS!

My new passion.  Okay, maybe not a passion.  Can a person even be passionate about sprouts?  Sure, the process is kind of fun, especially if you are a nerd like me.  I find it interesting to see the transition from a hard seed to something alive and vibrant.  A little water, a little time, and you are rewarded with a pearly root and sometimes a green shoot or leaves (depending on type, and time).  Perhaps enamored is a better word.  I am "enamored" with sprouting.

While visiting one of my favourite health food stores (I NEVER get there enough, and now she is thinking of selling...but wants the business to continue, so at least she won't be closing.....I hope) I picked up a bag of sprouting seeds.  A salad mix of broccoli, radish, clover, and alfalfa.  I have always liked sprouts, especially when they are fresh and lush and crispy.  And the instructions are easy enough.  I don't know why, in my hippiness, I have never tried making my own.















Rinse, then soak the seeds for 4-6 hours, then drain well.  I used a mason jar, with a piece of tulle held in place over the opening with the jar ring.  Turn the jar sort of bottom up, tilted, in a bowl.  Rinse the seeds and drain well twice a day, until they have sprouted and have their first set of leaves (for this type of sprout, anyhow.  You can also go microgreens, which works slightly different).  For some reason, I was smitten with the vision of a line-up of vintage jars on the counter, in various stages of sprout-ing-ness.  Doesn't that sound cute?  Tell me it is cute or I will make you look at all my sprouts again!














I did the soaking last Saturday.  The sprouts were ready for the fridge (by my taste estimate, anyhow) on Tuesday, but I think it could have waited until Wednesday.  I tried to float off the hulls, but was only partially successful.  I found I didn't mind them anyhow, so didn't press it or try any other methods (like a salad spinner).  Really, that is no time at all.  What other produce can you  harvest in just a few days time?

This is a spicy mix, with the radish in there.  I find the broccoli adds a bit of a bite as well.  Eating them as is, you almost think they are bitter until you are hit with the radish burn.  In a wrap with some cheese and tomato they are awesome!  A bit of chew from the seed coats, crunch from the tails, zing from the brassica and radish, cool grassiness and a bit of sweetness from the alfalfa and clover.  From what I have read, they will keep for several days in a covered container in the fridge.  Every time I walk by, I eat another pinch, so mine won't have to last that long!

Next, mung beans and lentils.  Done soaking, and in the rinsing stage - but not much going on yet.  Mung beans are the bean sprouts we are all used to.  Lentils, as a sprouted item, are new to me.  From what I understand I can eat them raw when the sprout is just a bit longer than the legume itself.  Other beans should be used when the sprout is very small, and should be cooked because they contain compounds that are hard for us to digest.  I am dying to try chick peas!  Sprouted hummous, here I come!

Monday, May 07, 2012

Mmmmmm.....rolls!

My husband and daughter are not big fans of sandwiches...especially those made on plain bread.  Sometimes I can get away with a sourdough or a good but very light rye, but in general it is buns buns buns.  Crusty sub rolls are their favourite, but they are getting hard to find.  The good stuff is being replaced with wonder bread in a tube shape, and contain more dough conditioners than wheat flour.

If I do get bakery rolls, I can only buy a day or two worth at a time, or else they go stale or mouldy before I can use them.  Freezing dries them out, no matter how I seal and defrost them.  It is a pain in the arse to stop every couple of days, and frankly, I tend to spend more than I should because I always pick up other things while I am there.

A dream would be to bake small batches of buns or rolls every couple of days.  That way they are always fresh, I can try different shapes and recipes to my hearts content without having millions of loaves of bread nobody will eat lying around, and my family gets good wholesome bread with no additives.  Well, that would be the dream.  Life often gets in the way, ya?

Not to mention these picky eaters are NOT as receptive to home made as I would like.  Thankfully their tastes are expanding a tiny bit, and my bread making skills are expanding as well.  The last few efforts have even surprised me.

Tonight, it was Kaiser rolls.  I planned on following a certain recipe, but it called for an ingredient I did not have and a couple of rises I didn't have time for.  I used my basic dough recipe (3 cups flour, 1 cup very warm water, a squirt of honey, a tsp of salt, 2 1/2 tsp quick rise yeast).  I added an egg and a tablespoon of non-hydrogenated margarine (what do you want, my butter is frozen!).  This went into the oven to proof with some hot water while DD had her singing lesson and I did some work at a community garden.  For the procedure to turn those ingredients into bread, let me know you are interested.

When we got home, I folded the dough (degassed, not punched down which sounds so violent).  Then I divided it into six parts.  Shaped each into a ball and let rest for a few minutes.  Then I flattened them out a bit, and let rest again.  Finally, folded the edges into the center to make the rough kaiser shape, pressing the seams into the middle to make a sort of divot.  I turned them upside down on some masa harina corn flour to rise for 30 minutes in the oven with some hot water, then another 30 covered with a towel on the oven as it preheated.  Baked for just shy of 20 minutes at 450 F (taken from the recipe I intended to use).

Results are not bad.



The inside texture is perfect. (What?  One of them was smaller.  I couldn't just leave the poor thing there to be picked on by the other, bigger Kaiser rolls).

Next time, I will change a few things.  First, I will add the smallest amount of whole grain flour to add some wheaty flavour.  Second, I will not rise the shaped rolls upside down.  I think they would have had a better shape that way.  I could always do dough ropes and tie them knot style if I want them fancier, these are rustic looking and I like that.  If I want to top them (maybe with corn meal) I would rather brush them with water and sprinkle on.  I personally like the masa, but I can see it tasting a bit dry to picky one and two.  Also, the oven temp was a bit too high.