Monday, February 27, 2012

Focaccia with Rosemary

Cold and rainy winter days always inspire me to bake. Sometimes cookies or cakes and other times bread. Today is a bread day so I'll share my recipe for whole-wheat rosemary focaccia. Focaccia is an Italian flat bread. This particular recipe, which I adapted from an Italian cookbook, is one of my families favorite breads. I use a combination of whole wheat and regular bread flour, brush it with extra-virgin olive oil and top it with coarse sea salt and fresh rosemary from my garden.

1 pkg yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
pinch of sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups bread flour
3 tbsp olive oil
fresh rosemary
coarse sea salt

* in a medium bowl, mix yeast, water and sugar... allow to sit about 5 minutes until yeast has dissolved and starts to foam
* use wooden spoon to mix in the whole wheat flour... gradually mix in the bread flour, stirring until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl (you may not need the entire 2 cups)
* knead dough for about 10 minutes on a lightly floured surface
* place dough in a lightly oiled mixing bowl, cover with a cloth and let rise in a warm place 30-45 minutes, until dough has doubled in size
* punch dough down and knead for 2 minutes
* brush a shallow baking pan with olive oil, place the dough in pan and use fingers to press it into an even layer (it's ok if the dough doesn't go all the way to the sides of the pan, mine rarely does)
* scatter with rosemary leaves, cover with a cloth and leave to rise about 30 minutes...preheat the oven to 400 during this time
* just before baking use your fingers to make rows of small indentions in the surface... brush with olive oil... sprinkle lightly with coarse salt and bake for about 25 minutes.
* cut into squares before serving... serve right from the oven or at room temperature

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Upcycling - a little trashy (#1)

Wikipedia defines upcycling as "the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value". It's a bit of a passion of mine. I'd like to say that it's because I am so "green" and "eco-conscious" (really I'd like to be) but actually, I'm just a cheap-skate. My latest upcycling project is an old fabric softener jug turned watering can.

How to make it

Rinse your old jug very well. When you think it's clean enough, rinse it a few more times. (Your plants/seeds will not like the fabric softener)

Using a very small drill bit or hammer and nails (take obvious safety precautions and/or use common sense) make approximately 20 holes in the cap.

Make a "fancy" label. (see above

Fill with water and sprinkle on your plants.

*As a side note*  This is great for young children to use on seeds because the water comes out very slowly and will not disrupt the germination process or the delicate roots of young seedlings.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

My first full Veggie Garden

I am determined to have fresh, organic, nutritious veggies for my family this year. I have done exhaustive research on the best veggies to plant for my families needs and for zone 8 (south Georgia), when and how to start my seeds, where to place my garden, and will be taking a soil sample to my local county extension office this week. I will post the results of the soil sample and what additives I need when I receive them. I used the following link to layout the plans for a basic 3x6 raised bed garden. Mine will probably be slightly larger but still, it's a good layout.

Gardener's Supply Kitchen Garden Planner Garden Designer

The above is my basic plan for the main garden (bell peppers, tomatoes, okra, cucumbers, squash and zucchini). I am also adding 3 rows of corn on the north side of the garden. I chose the north side because the corn grows so tall that I don't want it to shade the other plants too much. I also plan to incorporate marigolds in the main garden to help naturally ward off pests and several rows of sunflowers to the south to help attract pollinating insects.

I bought my seeds this week and will start the bell peppers and tomatoes tomorrow. All of the plants except for corn and sunflowers will be started indoors. We've had an extremely mild winter, but I still want to get an early start on the actual plants.