Friday, October 31, 2008

Whole Wheat Bread Recipe!

Here is my new bread box! Isn't that exciting? Not wanting to use plastic baggies or put my freshly baked bread in the refridgerator, I finally decided to purchase a bread box. This is the largest I could find in this style (ie: not wooden). It's made by WMF which is the same company where I purchased my glass food storage containers through Williams Sonoma. (Unfortunately Williams Sonoma doesn't carry them anymore and I can't find them anywhere -- let me know if anyone has seen them out there ... I'd love to buy more.) Anyway, it is large enough to hold two large loaves of bread. We can polish off two loaves in one week -- and frankly I don't understand going through the effort of making bread for just one loaf. I bake two at a time.
Here is my flour that I purchased for about .54 cents a pound -- for organic whole wheat and french styled white! Wow.

Here is my Whole Wheat bread for the week -- one loaf is already down to the heel. I've made this recipe twice now and it's come out perfectly both times. The recipe is from The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion which I would have never looked at if it weren't for Rosa's Yummy Yums in Switzerland. She highly recommended it so I checked it out of the library. I've tried two things so far and they have been great. This might be one of those books I will have to splurge on. (I can only renew one more time!) :)

100% Whole Wheat Bread recipe (doubled to make 2 loaves)
(Note: you can make a simple honey whole wheat by eliminating the nuts and seeds. It's wonderful.)
3 C Water
6 T Olive Oil
10 T Honey, Maple Syrup or Molasses (just shy of 2/3 C)
7 C Whole Wheat Flour (36 1/2 oz)
1/2 C Chopped Sunflower Seeds
1/2 C Chopped Walnuts
1 T Salt
1 T Instant Yeast (rapid rise, bread machine) The difference w/ instant yeast is just that it doesn't need to be proofed - activated in warm water first.
In a large mixing bowl, or in the bowl of an electric mixer (this will max out your kitchen aide - even the large one with the crank handle which I have and used ... use your mixer's directions), combine all the ingredients, mixing to form a shaggy dough. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes, which gives the flour a chance to absorb the liquids, then knead it for about 10 minutes, until it is smooth and supple. Note: for the optimal rise, use an electric mixer or bread machine (set on the dough setting). Kneading by hand will make a smaller denser loaf. (this was a big epiphany for me, it does make a huge difference. Otherwise, really work the dough when kneading whole wheat bread by hand.)
Let the dough rise in a greased, covered bowl for 1 hour (mine has needed a lot longer than this in the cool fall weather and 66 degree house -- the dough should be well doubled and very soft to the touch leaveing a little dent where your finger poked it). Dump dough onto counter - cut in half, then make two logs and place them into a lightly greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch bread pan. Cover the pan and let it rise for about 1 hour, (for me longer) until it has crowened about 2 inches over the rim of the pan.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 45 minutes, tenting it lightly with aluminum foil for the final 20 minutes. Remove from pan, cool on rack. (I'm finding in my oven I need to bake it for a total of 50 minutes. 25 without foil, 25 with foil.)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

It looks like they made it ... Fall Scenes

Rosemary ...
Arugula ...

China Choy looking perfectly happy ...

Sweet Sweet Peas

Our backyard ... old farmland, now forest land

Our colorful side yard

Did I mention that I got a new camera? Happy Days.

Heavy Frost

This morning I awoke to a heavy frost. Last night I went out with a girlfriend to see The Secret Life of Bees (which I thought was fabulous and not disappointing as a book-to-movie flick) -- so perhaps I was a little slack at protecting my garden. However, the cold and the frost was so severe that I had a thick layer of frost on the inside of all of my cold frames. It was still above freezing in there though -- some of the frames were frozen shut!! Anyway, not sure what's going to make it ...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Kids are Funny!

Yesterday my SIL Tanya was over with her three children for the afternoon. At some point later in the afternoon Tanya and I heard some major screaming coming from downstairs in the basement. I raced down to the basement to encounter Ripley (4) and Rosalie (4 3/4) going at it. Ripley immediately jumped in to make his case ... "I am talking about Spiderman and SHE is talking about PRINCESSESES!!!"(this is how he said it, with one to many "es"es) Ripley continued "Rosalie says Spiderman saves Princesseses and is nice, but he is NOT, he is scary!!" Then Rosalie jumped in and explained "Spiderman does save Princesses! He is nice." And my dear, sweet Ripley stepped in like the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld and shouted "No! Stop talking!" They would have gone on for hours. I did try to explain to Ripley that Spiderman historically is nice and tried to save people. To which my niece (reminding me of myself) chimes in "See, I was right" matter-of-factly. Ripley would hear nothing of it. When he wears his Spiderman costume, he wants to be powerful and scary -- not nice. However, when Benjamin came home from school and I told him the story he pointed out that Spiderman has never saved a Princess. Point taken.
For the record, Ripley as never seen any type of Spiderman movie, TV show or anything. All it took was inheriting a pair of Spiderman Pajamas a year ago. As I was discussing with a gal at the YMCA when Ripley showed up with his Spiderman Costume on -- those marketeers sure know how to suck the kids into their schemes. But, Ripley loves that costume and gets a lot of joy out of it. So, it's OK.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pumpkin-Orange Marmalade Recipe

When I went to use the three sugar pumpkins that my little garden produced my husband brought up -- with twinkling eyes -- that his mom used to make pumpkin jam and he loved it. Well, you KNOW I just had to try it, right? First, I tried a recipe that I'd found off of Rosa's Yummy Yums that came out pretty well, but a little runny and not perfect. Next, after friends came over with their Portuguese Mother's Pumpkin-Orange Jam I tried to make that. (I had no idea that Pumpkin Jam was a Portuguese thing. Who knew?) I think it came out well! As usual, I used several recipes to come up with this one. Here it is:
Pumpkin-Orange Marmalade Recipe
1 pound pumpkin puree (steam pumpkin chunks in water until tender, then puree in food processor)
2 1/2 cups sugar (Fannie Farmer says that for each cup of fruit you should have 3/4 C sugar - I estimated and used a little less)
2 T honey
Shake cinnamon
2 oranges very thinly sliced, then cut into tiny wedges about 1/2" wide
pinch salt
Stir Pumpkin and Oranges together and let it set overnight in the fridge. (two recipes suggested this, so I did it --- sigh.) Next day put all ingredients together in a heavy sauce pan and stir while the sugar dissolves and the liquid reduces. Fannie Farmer says that Jams / Jellies etc., should get to 8 degrees over the boiling point of water to be sure it "sets". I had a hard time reaching that temperature without getting scalded to death by hot jam bubbling and popping out of the pan. But, I did my best and it is nicely set.
Now, if you are going to can this jam and store it on a shelf to use at a later date -- you need to go through the whole sterilizing of the jars and then probably even a pressure canner / water bath. I doubt the 2 oranges add enough acid to skip that step -- so I'd say go for it. (I'm new at the canning thing.) HERE is a good description on how to can plain old pumpkin -- it should be a good guide.
I was over at my Mother-in-Law's house this weekend and asked her about her pumpkin jam recipe -- I'll try that and let you know how it goes. Enjoy!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Buying Locally

Some exciting things are going on around here (aside from the fact that I was ... or rather my garden was ... attacked by deer last night ARGH!!!). Although my garden wasn't quite as productive as I was dreaming it would be this summer -- for the past year I've been working on changing what we buy and especially what we eat. It was my desire, after reading Serve God, Save the Planet, to begin to make better choices to take care of the earth entrusted to us by God. Then, I read Animal Vegetable Miracle (thanks to RainGarden) and started getting even more serious. Since then this is what I buy for food:
Eggs: From a farmer less than five miles from my house. $3.00 a dozen for free-range, totally natural -- no junkola given to the poor chickens -- Rhode Island Red eggs.
Milk: From Monroe Dairy delivered 2x's a week with the old fashioned glass bottles that they reuse.
Vegetables: Since summer -- largely from my garden with a few exceptions like garlic and onions. Also, carrots were getting attacked by Bambi, Thumper and the E.B. so I had to supplement. Next year, in addition to considering a fence, I will plant more carrots, and I planted garlic ... maybe next fall I will try onions?? I was also reminded by RainGarden about purchasing local produce that stores well over the winter in larger quantities directly from farms for a good price. I was late trying this, but did get a hold of Butternut Squash in addition to a bunch of apples and eggplant (which don't store very well, so we have to munch on those pronto!) I will do more research and prep for next year. After Halloween I will see about getting a hold of some cheap pumpkins. I've been making pumpkin bread and pumpkin jam.
Beef: After watching an episode of OPRAH on conditions inside of pig, chicken and cow "factories" while whipping dinner together one late afternoon -- I recommitted myself to contacting a local couple (among several here in Rehoboth) who raise their own cattle and sell the beef to local customers. I'd done the research already, I just hadn't made the call. They didn't have a lot available just then, but I did get a bunch of hamburger, some stew beef and some tenderloin. Again, these happy looking cows that I saw hangin' out among the trees mostly eat -- GRASS! You know, that stuff that they find in the field while they are roaming around. And, of course no antibiotics, etc., etc. Cool, eh?
Bread: I've committed to making my own bread. Both sandwich type bread and also quick breads. Quick breads are great because they are perfect for the boys to pack in their lunches. (Nope, I don't have wrapped, prepackaged, snacky things in their lunch boxes ... and most things are either in a glass container, metal thermos, or wrapped with waxed paper that I then throw into my compost bin. I also recently purchased mis-matched silverware from the Salvation Army that the boys can bring to school in lieu of plastic -- and I don't have to worry about them losing it -- no biggy. Incidentally - .25 cents per fork or spoon.) OK BACK TO BREAD: I contacted (after reading one of Peter Reinhart's books) a local bakery that has a lot of organic breads and other yummy treats to see if I could purchase some of their flour. "No prob!" the guy said. So, I marched down (drove rather) and picked up my two big ole' bags of flour. One french styled white and one organic whole wheat. Half the price.
Jams: One thing I do have plenty of now is Jam. Ripley is a committed P,B & J type of guy so I decided to make my own. Not only do I know what went in there -- but when you are buying organic strawberry jam from Whole Foods for example, it's expensive! Although I didn't calculate the cost out, I'm sure I saved plenty.
Herbs: Over the summer I purchased a food dehydrator. After failing to produce successful sun dried tomatoes in our humid southeastern Massachusetts weather, I bought one. I've made sun dried tomatoes, dried apples -- that I used in my granola -- and now HERBS! Isn't that cool? Now, talk about savings -- herbs are outrageously expensive. So far I have dried lavender, rosemary and dill. I still have a little time to do others like Thyme, Oregano and Parsley before they get harmed by the cold weather.
Soaps: This doesn't fall into the "local" category really, but it is a big saver on money. You can make your own Laundry and Dishwasher soap that is earth friendly. So, I recommitted to doing that. I'd made some dry Laundry Soap before, this time I tried a liquid version. The Dishwasher Soap is incredibly easy. Kristi does a great job with her instructions. Click HERE for Liquid Laundry Soap, HERE for Powdered Laundry Soap, HERE for Dishwasher Soap.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Ripley's Soccer Game

Ripley's "yellow" team getting instructions from Miss Josie.

(Ripley is in the #1 shirt drinking out of the Kleen Kanteen.)

Ripley getting instructions from Daddy -- "Kick the ball into that goal."

Invariably with 4 & 5 year old soccer games ... a pack of kids chases the ball around.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Happy Fourth Birthday Ripley!

Happy Birthday precious, dear, sweet Ripley.
How thankful to God I am that He brought you to me!
Ripley truly is a dear soul. As he put it yesterday when making a case to his Auntie Tanya that he would like to hold his youngest cousin Spencer ... "Can I hold Spencer? Because my lap is gentle." Here are some "classic" Ripley pictures for your viewing pleasure - in no particular order.

Click HERE for more Ripley pictures
(you will be able to scroll down through all "Ripley" tagged posts)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Caramel Apples and "Spooking" Your Neighbors

Here are "The Boys" eating caramel covered apples. Look yummy, don't they? I got the recipe here. Not the healthiest ... but you have to splurge now and then, don't you? We have this cute tradition in our neighborhood. I've said before that our neighborhood is a rural development where people have between 2 - 14 acres. It's very wooded. Sadly, it is old farm land (the good news is, I'm making my plot into new farm land!). Anyway, this is a great little custom to bring your neighborhood together and have some fun with the kids. By Halloween, all of your neighbors (generally with children) should have been spooked. (OK, I just have to point out ... do you notice Victor commentating again as I'm photographing? I think he's missed his calling -- shoulda been one of those talking heads on Fox News. (Just teasing Love, NPR is more your style. xo)
First, you make 3 little goodie bags. (this is where the caramel apples come in) Not preferring to get stuff at The Dollar Store, or The Christmas Tree Shop, I made chocolate chip cookies and caramel covered apples. The treat is supposed to be anonymous, but I added a note explaining who it was from so folks wouldn't be worried (sad testimony, but anyway).
Second, you make 3 paper ghosts to tape onto the door of the neighbors you have "spooked".
Third, copy this poem and print out 3 off your computer:
Your house has been spooked
During the night by someone in
The neighborhood who wants to
Give you a fright!!

A bag of treats has been left for you,
Full of Halloween candy and other goodies too!

Now it’s your turn to give someone a fright
By placing three bags of candy & ghosts during the moonlight!

You only have until HALLOWEEN
To haunt and make your neighbors scream!
So get busy!
Spread your ghosts
to be sure that OUR neighborhood is haunted the MOST!

Once your house has been spooked,
Leave your ghost on the door,
So that we will come no more, no more! NO MORE!

You’ll need 3 bags of treats,
each with a copy of this rhyme AND a ghost enclosed
To take to 3 houses on your street!
All four of us went out in the dark of night to "spook" our neighbors -- hiding in the darkness, ringing the doorbells (most don't that part - but I was worried about the caramel apples overnight), and running! It was a blast for both Victor and I, and the kids.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Here they are!

A view of part of my garden from above. In the foreground you can see the rows of garlic we planted. At the far end are two long rows of strawberry plants. On the left out of view are my two long rows of asparagus plants. And, of course, my five cold frames. It was in the mid 30's last night and hasn't gotten much warmer so far. We are experiencing a 10 degree below normal cold snap. In the next day or two I will go around the edges of the frames to make sure there aren't any drafts, and mulch with old hay around them for warmth. Just to the left are my three rows of pepper plants. I think I will have to pick them green at this point. They are looking a little displeased with me.

An up close view.

My winter hardy lettuce, arugula and Chinese choy (bok choy) don't seem to be bothered by the chill in the air. If this cold weather persists, I'll have to harvest them soon.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008


Just wanted to let you know that at long last, as of 7:30pm tonight, my cold frames are finished and in place! Whew! Victor and I literally lugged them into place (the remaining 3) just before tucking the boys in bed with the outdoor lights on in the black of night. I've been using Benjamin's camera (because a mystery person knocked my camera onto the ground and now it no longer works -- no one has claimed responsibility) and his camera couldn't even register the picture it was so dark outside. I promise I will snap a shot tomorrow to show them off. I was too late getting started with my plantings -- but at the very least -- I will have cold frames to start seeds outside in the spring. However, I think some things will mature in them. Today it was raw outside -- windy -- and only got into the low 50's at one point. However, in my cold frame it was well into the 60's. Time will tell. Stay tuned.
(Now I can get back to cleaning the house!)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Kids are Funny

I've been working like mad on my silly cold frames. It's a race against time. The weather is turning cold, after a little stretch of warmer weather, I'm certain that frost is just days away. Finally, as of 15 minutes ago, I finished scraping and sanding the windows. Now, I just need to caulk (glaze) and paint them (well, and of course attach them to their frames). This is easier b/c I can do that at all hours of the day in any type of weather. I will post them when they are done.
Meanwhile, I leave you with some funny comments from Ripley.
Usually when going to my parent's house I require my boys to put on what Ripley has named ... "cute" clothes. My mother especially gets a lot of joy out of seeing her grandchildren all dressed up. (Now, I don't mean in coats and ties or anything -- just a pair of khakis and an unstained, ironed shirt and shoes that aren't meant for sports.) Late last week we went to visit them for dinner. As usual I required the boys to get out of their school clothes and get into their "cute" clothes. I was looking OK (I thought), so I kept my outfit on. Ripley looked at me after dutifully putting on his "cute" clothes and said "How come you don't look cute?" Hmmmmm. Needless to say, I went upstairs and changed. Ripley approved of outfit #2.
When challenging Ripley, who was being a bit whiny one afternoon recently, I said "But Ripley, I thought you're tough?" Ripley responded "No, I'm not tough, I'm strong." Oh.
In passing Ripley commented to Benjamin "I don't like ghosts, I like Spiderman. Ghosts are mean." A boy who knows where he stands.

Happy Fall.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Two down, three to go

Growing up, my dad didn't want me to grow up being a helpless, whiny, wimpy, scaredy-cat girl. He was okay with the fact that I preferred dresses with high "twirling factors", but one thing he wouldn't let me do was sit on the sidelines while he and my brother did "WORK" around the house. Maybe that was due to growing up on a farm with three other brothers, or maybe because his incredible mother could work a cocktail party better than anyone -- but she could also chop off a chicken's head and cook that bird for dinner. Anyway, when my window wasn't sitting nicely on top of the frame I remembered from somewhere my father chiseling sections out of wood to make room for things like hinges. I dug around and found a hand-me-down old chisel I'd never used before and did what I remembered my dad doing when I was a kid. It worked and the window sits nicely on the frame now. Thanks Dad.
Here is ham Ripley. As soon as he knew the camera was out he took his eye off the nail and gave me a cheese-ball smile. What a ham. (But a cute ham, if I do say so myself.)
OK, here is Ripley actually at work. I put strips of wood on the bottom of my frames because Eliot Coleman recommended leaving the wood frame unfinished (no paint or stain and NOT presurized wood that even Home Depot didn't recommend) -- then preserving the bottom of the frame that would always be touching the wet soil -- by attaching a strip of wood on the bottom. It was supposed to be 1" thick, but all I could find was 1/2". It will have to do. I hammered the nails in almost all of the way, then Ripley finished hammering the last 1/2". He did a great job and had a blast.
Here they are! Two frames in place. Wonderful. Only three more to go. I only have to scrape, caulk and paint the other windows -- the frame parts are ready to go. Stay tuned!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Growing your own garlic

Here is a frightening picture of me with cute Ripley ... he was helping to plant the little garlic bulbs ... so he can't be omitted! He did a great job following the general spacing of 4-6 inches apart and helping out in general.

Here are the little cloves setting in the troth I dug for them. Directions from Seeds of Change where I purchased my garlic seeds (which are simply very nice looking bulbs of garlic) state that "Garlic prefers a rich well-drained soil, full sun and should be weed free throughout the season. In colder climates (zone 3 - 6), the optimal planting time is about 6 weeks before the soil freezes (mid-fall, October or November). To plant, separate bulbs into individual cloves, placing the flat, scar end down 1 to 2 inches below the soil surface. General plant spacing is 4 - 6 " apart between cloves and 6" apart between rows. Mulch immediately after planting with leaves, straw or old hay. To ensure the most robust and vigorous plants, in spring, when young garlic is forming new leaf blades, apply a liberal top-dressing of compost and provide a steady supply of water. " I chose to plant "hardneck" garlic because this does better in colder climates. I read that soft neck garlic is typically grown in southern California and near the Gulf of Mexico -- clearly not my neck of the woods.

Here is Benjamin -- the CHAMP of the day. He hoed one of the rows, planted two rows of garlic and mulched all rows with old hay. He also went on to mulch my leeks for wintertime. Benjamin also wrote down the varieties for all of my row markers.

Here you can see one row planted, one row planted and covered with 1-2" of dirt from the bottom of the bulb, and one row completed.

Regarding harvest: Seeds of Change goes on to say "As day length and temps increase in late spring, leaf growth ceases and bulbs begin to form. At this point, you may need to reduce irrigating since waterlogged soils will cause garlic to mold or stain. As harvest approaches, plants will dry from the lowest leaf upward, and from the leaf tip to the stem. When approximately 50% of the leaves are dried and turn brown, harvest the bulbs. Hang bulbs inside a storage shed that has lots of air circulation. Hardneck garlic will be fully cured in 2 to 3 weeks under low humidity conditions. Allow more curing time and provide a fan or additional heat if high humidity or wet weather persists. Store in netted bags at room temp or slightly cooler (60-70F).

I've read of folks who just use garlic from the grocery store. I can't speak to that from experience -- but check out this blog.
Skippy's Vegetable Garden

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Cold Frame Progress

Here is Victor coming to my rescue. First, he had to rescue me from the circular saw. Second, he had to rescue me from nailing these frames together. I got a few 3 inch nails in, but then I started bending them left and right. With time I think I would have improved, but I'm a little short on time, was starting to feel very discouraged ... and Victor graciously came to my rescue. Thank you Love!
I'm hardly ever in my own blog, so even though Victor did all of this work (I did hold the boards), I'm posing here with the completed frames.
I still have to fasten the hinges onto the frame and window -- and use a razor blade to clean up my painting job -- but this is how they will look once they are completed. Exciting, eh?

Don't buy stuff you cannot afford

This is a Saturday Night Live clip (I've linked before) that everyone should see now more than ever ... it is HILARIOUS! And who doesn't need a good laugh? Click below.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Apple Picking

Since our apple trees are still in their infancy, we went apple picking on Saturday in Adamsville. What a gorgeous day. As I've lamented recently, we had the rainiest September on record here in New England. Pumpkins are literally rotting in the fields from too much rain. So, this more "typical" fall day was long overdue and very much appreciated.

These apple trees were trellised and packed together like soldiers. Victor wanted to know why we couldn't take this approach and (presumably) grow more apples per square foot. They looked pretty cool, but I don't know anything about it. Hmmmmm.

What a cute shot of Ripley. He was funny because he would only pick those apples he was going to eat on the spot. He literally didn't put one apple into the bag. But, he ate about six apples in that wagon.

Taking advantage of Victor's six foot frame -- handy!

They actually had a few turkeys at this apple orchard that were (the owner told me) one of the closest breeds to a wild turkey. I had inquired because there are a few places here in Rehoboth that sell free range turkeys, but they are the white Holland turkeys that sadly have been bred to have very large breasts (poor things) and don't taste as rich as heirloom -- less "manufactured" breeds. However, they just have a few for the kids to see. They did have a bunch of different types of chickens and they sell eggs. And they had two big ole' pigs and one little piglet.

Here we are at what we believe is the best ice cream place in the Massachusetts / Rhode Island area -- Grey's in Tiverton, RI. I always get their award winning Coffee Chip. Yumola. Benjamin, always the good eater gets a different kind every time -- to try it all out. This time he got the seasonal pumpkin ice cream which tastes like a pumpkin pie. Ripley, black raspberry. Victor, coffee. Incidentally, Victor's looking at me with that funny face because he's editorializing that I said "Say CHEEEEESEEEE!" when that hardly makes sense when they are eating ice cream. The next picture "Say ICCCCEEEE CRRREEEEEAAMMMM!" didn't come out any more flattering. Just smile, you whipper-snapper.

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