Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Very Productive Saturday

This week, I received my highly anticipated new cookbooks, "More-With-Less Cookbook", and "Extending The Table" . Both are chockful of simple, nutritious recipes, using basic ingredients, and the second has recipes from all over the world, from Argentina to Zimbabwe. Aside from delicious culinary delights, both books discuss the need to be selective in what we eat - basically to eat fresh, eat local and eat organic, when possible.

The two recipes I made were English muffins and Pita bread, two baked goods that are usually purchased, rather than baked from scratch at home. Well, the English muffins were a snap ! Once the dough is kneaded, and has risen, you roll and cut it into muffins, then coat them with cornmeal. And, yay! I got to use cornmeal that was made from our own heritage corn. The interesting part was that rather than being baked, Engish muffins are cooked on a hot griddle (or in my case, cast iron skillet). I confess right now, I couldn't resist. As soon as one had cooled enough, I cut it in half and slathered it with homemade strawberry jam...heaven :D

Next was the pita bread, which was also cooked differently. After the dough has risen and the bread is shaped and rolled, the bread is cooked on very hot (ie.450 F) cookie sheets for about 4 minutes. It puffs up, gets flipped and baked another 3 minutes or so. I think my cookie sheets were not preheated enough (as mentioned in the recipe) and not all of the pita breads really puffed up. Nonetheless, they all have a "pocket" and can be stuffed as a sandwich or used as a base for mini pizzas.

I actually started out my baking with the standard 3 loaves of whole grain bread I bake every week. The flour is a different mix every time I make it, but usually includes spelt flour, corn flour, ground flax seeds and whole pumpkin seeds, as well as some white flour. I mixed some grated cheddar cheese into one of them for some cheese bread to enjoy with the mushroom soup I made for lunch. Yummy!

To work up an appetite, I went outside to see how progress was being made on our new growing hoop house. Ralph and our nephew, Matthew, were hard at work getting it set up. It was larger than I thought it would be, but when I started thinking of the 100+ tomato seedlings I have growing on our windowsills, I realized that Ralph was right in installing the full size (which will be 60 feet long and 20 feet wide, when completed). The area between the hoop house and the bush will be quite a microclimate and heat sink, perfect for the melons and cucumbers I will plant there. Still lots to do before it will be ready for the plants, but I can hardly wait!

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