Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Rye Dill Bread

On my day off last week I was eager to make bread and to use two ingredients: rye flour and dill seed from my garden. I used two Joy of Cooking recipes as my guide and made plenty modifications.

Here's what I ended up with.

Rye Dill Bread

Combine the following in a large bowl or mixer.

1 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup rye flour
1/2 whole wheat flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp dill seeds
1/4 cup chopped onion
I package yeast ( 2 1/4 tsp)
1 1/4 tsp salt

Mix dry ingredients together.

3/4 cup warm water (115-125 degrees F)
1 large egg

Mix together with spoon or dough hook on mixer. Add 1/4 cup of all purpose flour at a time for a total of 3/4 to 1 cup, until dough is smooth but not sticky.

Knead 10 minutes until elastic.

Place in oiled bowl and let rise for 30-45 minutes until doubled in size. Punch down and place in greased loaf pan. Let rise again for 30-45 minutes until doubled again. Meanwhile,
preheat oven to 450 degrees F. When loaf is risen, brush top with melted butter and sprinkle with dill seeds and salt.

Bake 10 minutes at 450, then decrease oven temperature to 350 and bake 35-40 minutes more. Loaf is done when crust is a deep brown and sounds hollow when knocked on the bottom. Turn out of pan and cool on wire rack.

My loaf made a nice brown crunchy crust because I used a stoneware baking pan. The rye flavor wasn't pronounced, I may increase the rye next time. I was conservative with it because I know it can negatively influence how much the bread rises. The dill flavor was definitely there, but not too strong.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Transplanting Seedlings

With the cold weather setting in, I'm doing a few things backwards. Usually one starts seedlings indoors and then transplants them outside. I'm doing the opposite. I dug up lettuce seedlings that are not making much progress outside and am moving them inside. When I went out to transplant them into a window box, I waited until 10 in the morning so that the chill would be out of the air. However, when I went around to the garden I found it still in the shade of the house and covered with frost. I attempted to dig up the lettuce, but the ground was pretty frozen for the first few layers.
I waited an hour and came back when the sun had melted the frost and warmed the soil a bit. As it was, I was pulling up chunks of frozen soil, which gave the advantage of holding the roots and soil together. I filled my window box mostly with soil from the garden, placed the seedlings on top, and then added some potting soil to the mix.
Though my south-east facing windows don't get full sun the warmth should give the lettuce an advantage for growth. It seems as though the garden isn't getting much sun these days anyways. In another experiment in indoor gardening, I've also planted lettuce seeds around my potted swiss chard. We'll see if they sprout.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Plum Cake

I subscribe to a Tuesday Recipe email from Tori Ritchie. The recipes are always interesting by I think this is the first one I've used. It came just as we were wondering what to do with the rest of the Italian prune plums. They were getting soft and very ripe. We'd made a Plum Tart with the first part of them, but wanted to do something different. A friend came over for dinner on Wednesday night so that gave us a good excuse to make the Plum Cake. The batter was especially good with almond and lemon flavors. My plums were a little past prime and so it was hard to cut them. My other problem was that I didn't have a spring form pan and the plums sinking into the batter made parts of the cake weaker. So when I turned it out onto a plate, the middle fell a part a bit. It still looked and tasted good. I think I'll be using the cake dough recipe again with another fruit like apples or pears.

Here is what's left of the cake.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Boatneck Sweater 1

I started this sweater on Oct 18th and have been working slowly on it. Last Fall I attempted a sweater, but found after knitting the back and front that I didn't have enough yarn for the sleeves. I'll be frogging that one sometime. This time I looked carefully at a variety of patterns on Ravelry and found on I liked. The pattern is a Cotton Classic Boatneck Pullover and the best part is it is free. I wanted to use wool and found another knitter who had successfully used Swish DK from Knitpicks I am following her lead by using size 5 needles to achieve gauge. I choose Amethyst Heather. Since the back and front are identical, I decided to knit it in the round and save myself the trouble of trying to match exactly if I added extra rounds by mistake. I'm also modifying the pattern to make the cables mirror each other. Hopefully I'll finish before winter is over!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

New (to me) Jars

Every Columbus Day weekend one of the local town fire departments has a large fundraising yard sale. People donate to the sale and they always have quite an assortment of furniture, books, and odds and ends. We've gone the past two years and found some nice finds. Last year my husband got a first edition G.K. Chesterton book for the hardback price of $1. This year I picked up a stack of 30 Cooks Illustrated Magazines from the past few years that I'm looking forward to reading. I also found a whole bunch of wire clamp top canning jars. I picked through the three boxes and chose 10 that had the least rust on the wires. They are an assortment of sizes and brands, both Atlas and Ball.

I already have a few wire clamp jars that I use for more decorative purposes. These hold a collection of shells and sea glass collected in Newfoundland.
However, I wanted to use the new jars for storing food. I looked around on the internet for rubber seals so that I could use them to store food. I found a site in California, but by the time I paid for shipping it was going to be $20 for the seals! I'd only paid 25 cents a jar, so that seemed quite ridiculous. I decided to stop by the local grain and feed store that has canning supplies and was pleasantly surprised to find he had dozen for $2.45. That was more like it. Now that we've cleaned up the jars and run them through the dishwasher they are being put to good use storing dry goods. We use other canning jars for food storage also, but then find that every time I need to can, my jars are in use. I don't plan on canning with these jars, though some people still do. I'll be using them to store some foods that sit on top of our bread box for easy access.
We'll be looking forward to the Fireman's Foliage Sale next fall.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Frost on Leaves

Saturday morning the sun was shining through the golden maple trees and illuminating the frosty grass scattered with leaves. I couldn't resist heading out in to the chilly morning air to take these close up photos of the frosted leaves. The frost so beautiful though it forecasts colder weather to come.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Frost on Vegetables

Last night we had a beautiful hard frost. The vegetables that remain the garden were delicately iced. I checked on them later after taking these pictures and they are all still alive and green, no damage done by the frost.
Swiss ChardLeeksBrussels Sprouts
Carrots Kale LettuceI also noticed a large hole by my carrots and then looking closer I found this deer foot print a few feet away. It looks as though a deer inadvertently walked through the bed. It doesn't seem as though it stopped to eat anything.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fall Foliage

The maples are spectacular this year !

My husband says this is called a sun dog. The sky was blue though it looks black in the picture in contrast to the bright colors in the cloud.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Braided Rug

Stage 4
Pant (and skirt) count: 11
My braided rug has been sitting neglected since the spring. Finally last week I had the sewing machine out to quickly make a curtain to hang in one of our doorways to block drafts. The curtain was quick work and the sewing machine was out, so I added a few more roll of fabric to my rug and braided them up. As you can see the last two loops are just loosely wrapped around the rug. Now the next step is to get back to sewing the braid onto itself and making the rug bigger. That will wait for another day.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Swiss Chard

I may have said this before, but swiss chard takes the prize for our vegetable of the year. It went in the ground in mid-May and has been producing every since. We planted 4 seedling plants though there were a couple of plants in each seedling group. Next year I'll try to make sure there is only one plant in each spot since they got crowded and I'll plant 8 plants. I often forget to photograph it when we harvest some because it is such a usual occurrence. Friday night, I remembered to snap a few photos of it before we chopped it up to make Swiss Chard with Golden Raisins and Pine Nuts. We modified the recipe a bit. Basically I didn't bother with poaching the leaves separately as the recipe called for. We've always just sauteed our leaves until they wilt. So we roughly chopped the leaves and added them to the pan after sauteing some garlic and the stems and adding pine nuts to toast. When we added the chard leaves, we added golden raisins that had been soaked in hot water and then drained. It was a nice dish with a hint of sweetness because of the raisins. It's a nice change from our other saute of swiss chard with garlic and red pepper flakes, topped with lemon juice.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Peony Socks Completed

Peony Socks
Started: Aug 22, 2008
Finished: Oct 11, 2008
Yarn: SockPixie Vegan Sock Yarn Peony
Needles: Size 1 double pointed
Pattern: Harris Tweed

I finished my second peony sock. I'm very happy with the results and looking forward to wearing these. These are roughly based on the Harris Tweed pattern, but you can see in my previous posts about these socks that I made quite a few modifications. Surprisingly I still have a fair amount of this yarn left. It might be enough for a third sock, but not two more. I'll probably end up using it to make lots of Magic Slippers.

I've already ordered yarn from KnitPicks for my next project. I'm going to attempt my first sweater.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Plum Tart

At the apple orchard on Saturday, we noticed their Italian plum trees and bough a quart of the plums. In the process of unloading the car, half of them dropped on the ground. That meant we needed to do something with them right away rather than snack on them over the course of the coming week. I was planning on making a free form apple tart with a recipe from Mark Bittman this week, but instead I modified it to become a plum tart.

The dough was from Bitten:

1 and 1/4 cups flour
pinch salt
3 tablespoons sugar
8 tablespoons cold butter
1 egg yolk

Combine the flour, salt, sugar in food processor and pulse to mix. Chop butter into pieces and then add butter and egg to flour mixture. Pulse in food processor until well mixed about 10 seconds. Pour into a bowl and add cold water, one tablespoon at a time. Mix after each tablespoon of water. After about 3 or 4 tablespoons, dough should be able to be gathered into a ball. Refrigerate 1 hour wrapped in plastic or freeze for 15 minutes.

3/4 lb. Italian plums
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons currant jelly
dash of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ground cloves

Cut the plums in half, remove the pit, and then quarter. Mix all the filling ingredients together in a bowl.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Roll or press dough out into a circle and place in a pie pan. It's ok if the dough doesn't come all the way up the sides, but you do want it to have a bit of an edge. Pour the fruit mixture into the middle of the dough. You may want to leave some of the juice out if your fruit mixture has been sitting. Another alternative would be to pre-bake the crust for 3-5 mintues. Bake tart for 20 to 30 minutes until dough begins to turn golden.

When making the tart this time, I made it a free-form tart which was flat on on a baking stone. The plum mixture had a lot of liquid that over flowed the sides of the dough from the start. We placed it in the oven anyways, but there was too much juice and it was running over the edges of the dough and pan and burning in the oven. So midway through the baking, we lifted the tart up (luckily I had put it on parchment paper) and placed it in a pie pan to bake the rest of the time.

Next time I'll bake it in a pie pan from the start.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Fall Foliage

This weekend the foliage is at peak. Our area is flooded with visitors from afar, come to enjoy the natural beauty. It reminds me that I'm lucky to live in a beautiful place when we can snap these photos on the way to the grocery store. We did go the back way to town, but still an amazing sight on a Saturday afternoon when you're headed to do your shopping for the week. As part of our outing, we stopped at a local orchard to pick apples. It was hopping! Unfortunately the camera battery died before we got there. The orchard is on a hill top and has a beautiful view of the surrounding hills. We did stop atop the dam on our way there and caught this picture of Mount Ascutney.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Fall Harvest

Last night we had a very heavy frost. I didn't cover anything so it brought the end to the last jalapeno plant. I picked the very small jalapenos off of it. While I was picking I decided to harvest the carrots that had been planted between the squash. Many of them look like fat baby carrots, though one or two look like more mature carrot size. Not bad for being shaded all summer by the squash. Finally I pulled one of my smaller leeks to cook with the carrots. I think I'll saute the leek in some butter and then add some broth to braise the carrots in.
The garden is looking more and more bare these days. There is just leeks, chard, brussels sprouts, kale, some younger carrots and some late lettuce left.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Pulling Plants

This evening when we took the compost out and went to check that nothing had blown onto the electric fence during the rain today I decided to pick the last of the green beans. There were no more than 12 left and the plants were no longer blossoming so we pulled them. Pulling the plants will give my mesclun just a bit more sun and help it grow to more of an edible size before it is too cold. I planted bush Romano beans this year and they were good tasting variety. I got two good pickings out of these plants, and this was my second planting of them. I'll plant them again next year, but I'd like to be better about more successive plantings.

We also noticed that one of the brussels sprout plants are significantly smaller than the others and that it was being shaded by the broccoli that I was letting go to seed. So we pulled seed pods of green and will bring them into dry. Now the brussels sprouts will get a little more of the waning fall sunlight.