Basic Orecchiette Pasta

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This handmade pasta is delicious with the classic broccoli raab sauce, with an uncooked sauce of tomatoes and basil, or in a cream sauce with mussels and mint. The dough comes out best if you work the water in very slowly; don’t try to bring in too much flour at one time. Flour amounts are listed by weight (oz.) and by volume (cups); use either measurement.

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I made mine with chicken and home-made pesto with basil from my garden, with a little cilantro and parmesan on the top.  It was yummy and very easy.  It does take a little time. I usually watch the cooking channel or a funny movie.  You have to happy when you cook.

Ingredients

225 g/ 1 1/2 cup semolina flour

255 g/3/4 cup + I Tbl unbleached all-purpose flour

255 g/1 cup warm water

2 tsp salt

Preparation

1. In a bowl, whisk the flours together well. Mound the flour on a work surface, make a deep well in the center and pour 2 Tbs. of the water in the center. With two fingers, stir in a little flour from the walls of the well. When the water is absorbed and a paste has formed, repeat with more water until you have a soft but not sticky dough.

You can do this in your KitchenAid with the dough hook.

2. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until it’s smooth and supple, 7 to 8 minutes. If it crumbles during kneading, wet your hands to moisten the dough slightly. Cut off a golfball-size chunk of dough; cover the rest with plastic wrap. Roll the chunk into a cylinder about 1 inch in diameter. With a very sharp knife, slice the cylinder into disks about 1/8 inch thick

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3. Pick up a disk. If it’s squashed from cutting, squeeze it slightly between your thumb and index finger to return it to a circular shape. Put the disk in the palm of one hand and press down on it with the thumb of your other hand. Swivel your hand (not your thumb) twice to thin the center of the ear, leaving the rim a little thicker. If the dough sticks to your thumb, dip your thumb in a little flour as you work. Repeat with the rest of the dough. As you finish the disks, lay them on a clean dishtowel. When you’ve shaped an entire cylinder, sprinkle a little flour over the ears and repeat the process with a new chunk of dough.

4. If you’re not cooking the pasta immediately, spread the rounds out on floured baking sheets and leave them at room temperature at least overnight, or until they’re hard enough that you can’t slice them with a knife. (The time they take to dry depends on humidity and the moisture level in the dough itself.) Once the orecchiette is dry, transfer them to covered jars and store at room temperature.

5. You can as an alternative, freeze them on a baking sheet with parchment and then put in a sealed container once they are frozen.  Cook directly from the freezer – do not thaw.

 

6. Bring a large pot filled with salted water to a simmer over medium-high heat.  Add the orecchiette and simmer until they float to the surface, 2-3 minutes.  Simmer for 1-2 minutes more, until al dente.  Remove immediately with a slotted spoon and serve right away.

 

The recipe I used is from “Pasta by Hand” by Jenn Louis and I totally recommend buying this book!

Basic Orecchiette Pasta

Oh its that squash?

How To Identify Squash—Different Squash Types You Didn’t Know About! Just know it is not Zucchini!

Whole and sliced courgettesI bought a farmers box of fresh vegetables and fruit from a local farmer about a week ago.  I had my first Kohlrabi ever and made a wonderful salad with it and an apple from the same box.  It was delightful and I posted the recipe earlier.  One of the other things in the box was a mysterious squash. I found out what it was online and it is very easy to cook, but I loved seeing all the other squash many I have never tried.  Here they are:

Nature has showered us with a variety of fruits and vegetables.  They are now labeled and placed in categories. They do tend to vary with the season or environment, the climate or the soil. Squash  has the most varieties classified into the summer and winter types.

This veggie is available in multiple shapes and colors, which differ in taste.
The summer and winter forms do not actually mean the seasonal type but it is purely based on the perishability of this green. The ones with harder skin and seeds are more durable than the ones with thinner peel, so they have been termed as winter squash. Both the variations are found year round.. This article will share which can store longer than others.

You might have seen in the market but did not know that it belonged to the squash family.

1. Kabocha
This winter squash is known in New Zealand and Australia as Japanese pumpkin. It has a number of varieties such as Cutie, Emiguri, Ajihei, Miyako and Ebisu. Kabocha which has a dark green colored skin and has a shape similar to a pumpkin. The peel is hard and inside it is orange-yellow.

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2. Acorn
In colour and texture, it is similar to kabocha, but its shape is elongated. Acorn squash is known by different names as Des Moines squash or pepper squash. The ridges are distinct and though it is a winter squash, it is similar to the summer squash.

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3. Delicata
Delicata squash has a tender skin and probably the reason behind the name. It has a creamy skin with green striped lines along the ridges. Because of the delicate skin it is hard to store for a long time and exportation is not feasible. Also known as Bohemian squash, peanut squash and sweet potato squash, this used in cooking and resembles the summer squash, even though it is eaten as a winter one.

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4. Butternut
This vegetable is associated with pumpkin as it tastes like it and is even known as butternut pumpkin in New Zealand and Australia. The interior is orange and the outer cover looks rough yellow,  darkens as it grows. It tastes sweet and one of the most best  types is the Waltham Butternut.

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5. Hubbard
Hubbard squash can be used as pie stuffing or in soups and has a wide range of vibrant rind colours like orange and gray, and within it is yellow. This winter squash can have a durability of around 6-months if stored well. It weighs between 8 to 20 pounds and owing to its huge quantity, it is sold in cut pieces.

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6. Calabaza
The Calabaza squash can be known as the West Indian pumpkin and is cultivated in America and West Indies. Due to its hard skin, it is transported to different places as it can be stored for longer than the ones with thinner skin.It is available in the market in cut pieces, but once cut, like any other fruit it spoils within a few days.

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7. Spaghetti
This squash splits into strands similar to spaghetti. This cylindrical shiny yellow squash weighs from 4 to 8 pounds and is used in pasta or savored by adding herbs and butter. It has been called vegetable spaghetti, noodle squash or vegetable marrow.

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8. Turban
Glistening yellow inside and bright colored peel ranging from green to white to orange, this squash has a typical shape which helped it in acquiring this name. The big cap can be removed in order to make it into a pot to hold soup and the like. This is one of my personal favorite squashes as it is beautiful and practical.

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9. Gold Nugget
Gold Nugget aka oriental pumpkin is a smaller version of pumpkin and it weighs from 1 to 3 pounds. This orangey squash can be cooked, cut into pieces or even prepared whole.

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10. Carnival
The Carnival squash tastes like butternut squash and sweet potato and is eaten after removing the peel. The hard skin of this winter squash is deep green in color with light green and orange marks. It is used in soups or enjoyed simply by baking or steaming.

Carnival squash at the market

11. Ambercup
This looks like a little pumpkin with dark orange skin and flesh. It can be roasted by cutting into cubes and being a winter squash is storable for a long time. The flesh has a sweet taste and is not mushy.

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12. Banana
The Banana squash belongs to the Cucurbita maxima species like hubbard and buttercup squash. Its peel colour varies from orange, pink and light blue with the inside a peculiar shade of orange. It has a long structure and can be used to make pie and even soup.

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13. Sweet Dumpling
With a cream color skin  and dark green ridges it looks like a pumpkin being pressed on the top giving it a distinct shape. The flesh greenish to orange in color, has slightly sweet taste and is soft. This squash is good for baking as it is small in size and can be cooked whole.

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14. Eight Ball
A tiny  form of zucchini squash and preferably eaten young. Matured they can be used as vessels or pots, by taking out the seeds, to hold dips or soup or most anything.  I like the idea of using it as a salad bowl.

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15. Gold Rush
With its  elongated structure and velvety skin  with a golden yellow color this summer squash has tender peel and flesh, with seeds are soft like that of zucchini. The flesh is white and the green stem looks great along with the shiny yellow body. I have always just bought this as yellow squash or summer squash.  I like the Gold Rush name…

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16. Fortune
This summer squash has a waxy light yellow skin with white flesh. Fortune squash has a slim body with a thinner neck and grows in such abundance it will take over your garden.

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17. Cuarzo
Cuarzo is a summer squash with grayish green skin and looks like it could be zucchini’s twin.  It grows in plenty and resists diseases, so it  allows for a longer longer cultivation period.

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18. Parador 
Velvety yellow color with small ridges and tilted neck this summer squash grows fast  are a treat to the eyes and taste.  Try cooking just the flowers.  They are wonderful deep fried.

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19. Sunburst 
The Sunburst squash or patty pan squash are small and look ornamental with their flowery structure. The sunburst patty pan comes in bright sunny color and with its buttery taste fits into any summer dish. Patty pan squash can be found in light green known as white squash.

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20. Calabash  
The unique shape suggests it could be called bottle gourd.This summer squash has light green skin and ivory white flesh and grows in a climber plant.comes in several shapes and can reach up to 3 feet in length.

Oh its that squash?

Garlic! Garlic! Garlic!

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I love the smell of cooking garlic and try to grow it in my garden every winter.  This year some critter enjoyed a lot of it before me, but there is still quite a bit left growing.

One of my friends on FB posted that we are now importing more garlic from China, so I was interested in the difference between the two.  First of all it is quite easy to identify the imported garlic, as the root has to be cut off to meet exportation law.

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Or here is another photo:

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Garlic is a nutritious vegetable that makes for a savory addition to many recipes. Yet new information has come to light that’ll probably change the way you buy and eat it.

You’d think your produce is grown in nearby farms, right? That could be wrong! You could very well be eating something that traveled halfway around the world to get to your grocery basket—and if you’re not careful, it may cause serious health risks.

In our culture, 80% of the garlic comes from China. In 2014, the United States imported over 138 million pounds of Chinese garlic, and each year the trend appears to grow. Since you’ve likely been eating this garlic for so long, you may not think it’s a problem—until you learn it’s often covered in bleach and pesticides.

Having driven by Gilroy and smelling it there, if you have been in the area you might assume all your American garlic comes from that area in California: Gilroy- “the garlic capital of the world”). Considering it was once the world’s largest supplier of garlic, that statement might’ve been true. That’s changed in the past few years.

In the US, it’s become cheaper and easier to import garlic from places like China. The unfortunate side of this is that China isn’t as stringent with its safety regulations. Reports run rampant of garlic bleached in chlorine, fumigated in pesticides, grown in untreated sewage water, and even contaminated with lead. If you have ever been to China, that would not be a surprise to you.

The bleach is used to cover up dirt spots, even though they’re perfectly natural. According to the Australian Garlic Industry Association‘s Henry Bell, while bleaching kills insects, prevents sprouting, and helps whiten the bulb, it’s fumigated with a dangerous toxin called methyl bromide. When taken in high doses, methyl bromide can cause central nervous system and respiratory problems. According to the UN, it’s 60 times more dangerous than chlorine—so the lower cost is not worth the risk. Luckily, you can easily tell the difference between Chinese and American garlic as I displayed in the photos above.

  1.  Look for the roots. Chinese importers have to remove the roots to abide by regulations, but American farmers have no such rule, and often leave them attached.
  2. Weigh it. Chinese garlic contains more water, so it’s lighter. It’s actually 37% solid, compared to the American 42%. To test it, give it a squeeze: a firmer bulb is the way to go!
  3. Taste it. Chefs swear that garlic from China has a bit of a metallic taste, while American bulbs are more flavorful. American garlic contains more allicin, which is the dominant factor in determining that distinct taste and smell we all love. CA garlic routinely scores a higher BRIX scale rating (sugar content)

Fun fact: garlic from China contains 3500 ppm (parts per million) of allicin, while American garlic has 4400 ppm.

It may cost a bit more, sure, but buying American garlic is safer and well worth it. If nothing else, it simply tastes better!

China is putting California garlic growers out of business, and YOU can stop it. Less than ten years ago, all of our garlic was grown in this country, primarily in CA. Now less than 40% is grown here and most of it (60%) is coming from China.

The roots being removed is required by the Ag Dept. to prevent soil-borne plant diseases from entering our country. If the roots are still there it is California garlic. The Garlic Growers Assoc. says not one single US grower cleans out the root end.

Share this important information with your friends!

Some, but not all information found on “Boredom Therapy”.

 

 

 

Garlic! Garlic! Garlic!

And the chickens went to new yard….

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Gertrude (the white rude one), Henrietta (in the middle) and Hennie all joined other chickens in a bigger yard in a family with children.  Having chickens was quite the experience.

As they got older and bigger, as I opened the back door, they would coming running to greet me.  I think it was because I was the one that fed them.  They would eat grapes out of my hand with very quick and almost scary delivery. They missed once in a while and that was always a bit startling.  They followed me around the yard, sometimes feeling a tad too close.

They started producing eggs at about six months and every day there would be three eggs of varying color and size.  It was interesting what they loved to eat and didn’t love to eat.  They love sardines and shrimp and would leave some bread uneaten. Tomatoes and grapes were the favorites, although they did eat the last of the zucchini from my garden.  It will be a miracle if some of my peonies come up in the spring, as those along with some of my herbs were other favorite meals.

They always stayed in the fenced yard, never attempted escape and fertilized my lawn, so much so, I had a separate pair of shoes for the back area. They loved to sit and poop on the outdoor tables and chairs.  Actually, they loved to poop everywhere.  They dug in all my flower beds, spreading the bark and dirt all over the patios and walk-ways daily and pooped there too.

My gardener came yesterday to take them to their new home.  He has a larger area for them to run free.  The chickens had never gone under the deck till yesterday.  Miguel crawled under the deck to get Henrietta, while Hennie squeezed easily through the fence to enter my neighbor’s yard.  They squawked a whole lot, till they were lovingly held by their new owners.  They calmed down and left in the back of his trailer, in their  coop on the way to their new home.

I do miss their funny noises, fresh eggs, but not the poop.  Chickens are very poopy animals and my back yard was starting to smell very fertilized.  Bye chickies.  We enjoyed having you and have you go.

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And the chickens went to new yard….

Back to Baking & Soups Galore

Soups and Fall seem simultaneous. It is cold outside with a few snow flurries and I am looking out of the kitchen kneading bread and stirring soup.  This just makes my heart sing.  I some days wish I had a group of friends I could just call and say “Soup’s On”, please come on over.

I started making a lot of soup when I had a restaurant on Bainbridge Island in the 90’s.  Every day I would make a new soup, so there was always something different to try. I honestly wish there was a local restaurant that would do the same.  Most local restaurants have the same menu (and soup) day after day, month after month, and unfortunately year after year.

A little behind in my posting, but not in my cooking, so today I will add the recipes of the last week or so starting with yesterday.  IMG_6679

As a child on the weekends we often had Campbell’s tomato soup and a burnt grilled cheese sandwich (on Wonder bread). As an adult, the idea is appealing, but not the ingredients, so several years ago I started making my own tomato soup.  I don’t always use the same recipe (and now really don’t use one at all), but the ingredients must be fresh and wonderful for it to be tasty.  I love how it looks in the pot after it has been pureed.  Doesn’t that just look inviting!

This is what I did yesterday and scroll down for the Paul Hollywood Savory Brioche Couronne (bread with ham & cheese)

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Ingredients

10 Roma tomatoes

1 onion

A couple cups of home-made Chicken stock

1 tbsp of EVOO

3 – 5 garlic sliced thin ( I like garlic, so always throw in a little extra)

Hand-full of fresh oregano from my herb garden

Salt and Pepper to taste

1 cup or so of chopped basil

1 stick of butter ( oh yeah, that adds to the flavor)

1 cup or so of half & half or whipped cream

Fresh reggiano parmigiano for the top

Sour cream for the top  and I added chives for color (but just a little)

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Combine quartered tomatoes, onions, whole garlic cloves, oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon sugar in large roasting pan. Roast, stirring once or twice, until tomatoes are brown in spots, about 11/2 hours. Let cool 5 minutes. Working in two batches, process roasted tomato mixture in food processor until smooth. (Pureed mixture can be refrigerated for up to 1 day.)

2. Put the mixture back in the pot, add the chicken stock, basil, oregano, butter and cream and simmer a few minutes.  Taste it and add salt & pepper to your taste.

3. Put in a pretty bowl and top with sour cream and a little shredded parmesan.

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Ingredients

 

 

Back to Baking & Soups Galore

Bread & Butter Pickles

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Here is another easy and fairly fast recipe that I made the other day.  I just put my jars in the dishwasher at the highest temperature, rather than do the whole water bath described by America’s Test Kitchen.  The cucumbers are from my garden and the lone red bell pepper is the only one that lived in my garden.  Happy to put the two together in the same recipe. My husband loves these on hamburgers or as my youngest son called them: “Hammaburgers”.  I like them just plain as a side dish or on a slice of delicious bread.

Bread-and-Butter Pickles

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS

We wanted a bread-and-butter pickle with a crisp texture and a balance of sweet and sour—perfect for adding to a char-grilled burger. Most recipes combine cucumbers and onions in a spiced, syrupy brine; we cut back on the sugar and added red bell pepper for its fresh flavor and color. Cucumbers can lose their crunch when processed in a boiling water bath; we found that combining several crisping techniques gave us the best results. We tossed our sliced vegetables in salt to draw out excess water.

We added a small amount of Ball Pickle Crisp, which helps keep the natural pectin from breaking down, resulting in firmer pickles. Finally, rather than processing in a boiling-water bath, we employed a technique known as low-temperature pasteurization, which involved maintaining our pickles in a hot-water bath at a temperature of 180 to 185 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes—in this temperature range microorganisms are destroyed and pectin remains largely intact.

INGREDIENTS

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2 pounds pickling cucumbers, ends trimmed, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 onion, quartered and sliced thin
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1 1/2‑inch matchsticks
2 tablespoons canning and pickling salt
3 cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
¾ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon celery seeds
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon Ball Pickle Crisp
FOUR 1-PINT JARS

1. Toss cucumbers, onion, and bell pepper with salt in large bowl and refrigerate for 3 hours. Drain vegetables in colander (do not rinse), then pat dry with paper towels.

2. Meanwhile, set canning rack in large pot, place four 1‑pint jars in rack, and add water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to simmer over medium high heat, then turn off heat and cover to keep hot.

3. Bring vinegar, sugar, water, mustard seeds, turmeric, celery seeds, and cloves to boil in large saucepan over medium-high heat; cover and remove from heat.

4. Place dish towel flat on counter. Using jar lifter, remove jars from pot, draining water back into pot. Place jars upside down on towel and let dry for 1 minute. Add 1/8 teaspoon Pickle Crisp to each hot jar, then pack tightly with vegetables.

5. Return brine to brief boil. Using funnel and ladle, pour hot brine over cucumbers to cover, distributing spices evenly leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Slide wooden skewer along inside of jar, pressing slightly on vegetables to remove air bubbles, and add extra brine as needed. 6a. For short-term storage: Let jars cool to room temperature, cover with lids, and refrigerate for 1 day before serving. (Pickles can be refrigerated for up to 3 months; flavor will continue to mature over time.) 6b. For long-term storage: While jars are warm, wipe rims clean, add lids, and screw on rings until fingertip-tight; do not overtighten. Before processing jars, heat water in canning pot to temperature between 120 and 140 degrees. Lower jars into water, bring water to 180 to 185 degrees, then cook for 30 minutes, adjusting heat as needed to maintain water between 180 and 185 degrees. Remove jars from pot and let cool for 24 hours. Remove rings, check seal, and clean rims. (Sealed jars can be stored for up to 1 year.)

Bread & Butter Pickles

Pizza Pizza Pizza

Everyone loves pizza, but what is interesting to me is that everyone seems to like it a bit different.  My husband and I loved the pizza we ate in Florence, Italy.  It was simple, with not a lot of ingredients, thin crust and totally delicious.

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I found this photo online and it is an example of that perfect pizza we found in Italy. I eat gluten free 99% of the time, but that one night in Italy I ate three pieces of my husband’s pizza.  I had ordered a salad, but I guarantee his pizza looked a lot better than my salad.  I savored every bite and unsavored it about three in the morning when I woke up quite ill.  But I still loved that pizza and going forward eat in a lot more moderation.

I have been trying to made a good pizza crust for a while.  I have used Paul Hollywood’s recipe and America’s Test Kitchen.  I sort of combined the two to some success.  I am realizing there is a real art to making great pizza.

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With this pizza I used a pizza stone with a pizza dish on top.  I heated the oven to 550 degrees (blew out the fan) and added the pizza.

Lesson here:  Maybe a little lower temperature is okay, roll out the dough thinner and add the basil after the pizza is done.  I used a fresh mozzarella, but not the best I could find, so next time I will find a buratta  mozzarella, as it is softer and much more flavorful.  I always make my own sauce, but find it is better if I use fresh tomatoes rather than low sodium canned.  I have a wonderful herb garden on my back porch, so always use a variety of fresh herbs.

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The next pizza next pizza I attempted I used my new cast iron pizza pan described by America’s Test Kitchen as being the best.  For this I decided to use up the rest of some sausage from the night before.  I had to wait for a turn in the oven, and the pizza dough kept rising.

After the fact I watched a video on how to use this new cast iron pan.  I did not want to take it out of the oven, so attempted to put the toppings on while it was still in the oven. This is where I say: “failure”.  The crust was messy, too think and had a rather odd shape.  Next time, take the pan out of the oven and add toppings.

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The bottom of the crust on this pizza was perfectly cooked, but it sat out a little too long, so it grew in the heat of the kitchen.  I also discovered that I really don’t like sausage on my pizza, or mushrooms.  Lesson learned: Get it together faster, keep it simpler and take the dang pan out of the oven to add toppings. BTW we threw this one out.  One taste was enough to know neither of us liked it much. Crust was great, but toppings were too much. Great way to ruin a yummy crust.

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This one was our favorite, even though cooked on just the pizza stone and not the cast iron.  I do admit, I kind of messed the only one cooked on the pizza cast iron.

Conclusion of this experiment: Make the dough as it tells you in either recipe, divide it in thirds like it tells you and unless you are cooking for several, freeze two of the pizza dough balls for later.  Every recipe I have tried makes way too much pizza dough for two people.

My recipe for the red sauce is as follows:

  1.  Chop a bunch of tomatoes and I leave the skins on
  2. Chop up some very fresh garlic
  3. Add a little good quality EVOO
  4. Grab herbs or buy them and add them to the pot
    1. I like oregano, thyme & rosemary
  5. Cook for a while
  6. Add a teaspoon of sugar
  7. Puree till finely blended and add however much salt & pepper you like

Paul Hollywood’s Pizza Dough recipe:

Ingredients

  • 250g/9oz strong white flour, plus extra for flouring (in the US use bread flour)
  • 5g/¼oz salt
  • 30ml/1fl oz olive oil
  • 5g/¼oz fast-action yeast
  • 180ml/6fl oz water
  • semolina, for dusting (optional)

    Ingredients

    For the pizza dough

    Method

    1. For the pizza dough, mix the flour, salt, olive oil, yeast and water together in a bowl.

    2. Turn the dough out onto an oiled work surface and knead for 5-10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Cut off a small piece of the dough and stretch part of it as thinly as you can. If you can see the shadow of your fingers through the dough – the light should shine through the dough like a window pane – without the dough tearing, it is ready to prove.

    3. Shape the dough into a ball and tip into a bowl.

    4. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise for an hour.

    5. Divide the mix into three balls. Roll out on a floured surface into circles. Place each circle on a flat baking tray or a plastic chopping board dusted with semolina (so the pizza can be easily transferred to the oven later).

    6. Place a pizza stone or an upturned baking tray into the oven and heat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7 (in a non-fan oven).

     

    America’s Test Kitchen Recipe

    1 ¾ cups water divided, 1/2 cup warm, remaining at tap temperature
    2 ¼ teaspoons dry active yeast (1 envelope)
    2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for brushing dough
    4 cups bread flour
    1 ½ teaspoons table salt
    vegetable oil (or cooking spray) for oiling bowl
    semolina for dusting peel
    2 LARGE, 4 MEDIUM OR 8 INDIVIDUAL PIZZAS

    This dough can be used for any size pizza with thick or thin crust; simply adjust the cooking time to fit the pizza. Make sure you heat the oven to 500 degrees for thirty minutes before you start cooking. Your tiles or stone need at least that long to heat up; if they’re not properly heated, your pizza crust will be thin, blond, and limp. Once the dough for the crust has been topped, use a quick jerking action to slide it off the peel and onto the hot tiles or stone; make sure that the pizza lands far enough back so that its front edge does not hang off. For a cornmeal-flavored dough, substitute three-quarters cup of cornmeal for three-quarters cup of the bread flour. Editor’s Note: This recipe was updated in 1997, when we found that adding more water resulted in a tastier pizza. This recipe contains a total of 1 3/4 cups water, while the original that appeared in the magazine in 1995 contains 1 1/2 cups.

    1. Measure 1/4 cup of warm water into 2-cup measuring cup. Sprinkle in yeast; let stand until yeast dissolves and swells, about 5 minutes. Add remaining 1/4 cup warm water plus remaining 1 1/4 cups tap water and olive oil. Meanwhile, pulse flour and salt in workbowl of large food processor fitted with steel blade to combine. Add liquid ingredients (holding back a tablespoon or so) to flour and pulse together. If dough does not readily form into ball, stop machine, add remaining liquid, and continue to pulse until ball forms. Process until dough is smooth and satiny, about 30 seconds longer.

    2. Turn dough onto lightly floured work surface; knead by hand with a few strokes to form smooth, round ball. Put dough into medium-large, oiled bowl, and cover with damp cloth. Let rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

    3. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface and use chef’s knife or dough scraper to halve, quarter, or cut dough into eighths, depending on number and size of pizzas desired. Form each piece into ball and cover with damp cloth. Working with one piece of dough at a time, shape as shown in illustrations below. Transfer to pizza peel that has been lightly coated with semolina, brush dough very lightly with olive oil before topping and cooking.

    4. Use the following guide to determine cooking time for pizza crust with topping but without cheese. All pizzas need to be cooked an additional two or three minutes after adding cheese, or until cheese is completely melted.

    THIN CRUST

    14-inch pizzas (Master Recipe makes 2) – 7 to 8 minutes

    12-inch pizzas (Master Recipe makes 4) – 5 minutes

    8-inch pizzas (Master Recipe makes 8)- 3 minutes.

    MEDIUM-THICK CRUST

    12-inch pizzas (Master Recipe makes 2) – 9 to 10 minutes

    8-inch pizzas (Master Recipe makes 4) – 5 minutes

    6-inch pizzas (Master Recipe makes 8) – 4 minutes.

    So there you have it, probably too much information about making a simple pizza.  I find using the best ingredients and doing lots of practice runs (and I am definitely still working on mine) will give you the best results.

    I remember reading Malcolm Gladwell’s book telling you it takes 10,000 hours to be an expert at anything and am hoping that does not apply to making the perfect pizza.

    Happy eating.

Pizza Pizza Pizza

Bamboo Bamboo

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Neighbors! We all have them. They may be five feet or five miles, but basically we all have neighbors. Most people try to get along with their neighbors as it is just easier that way. I have lived in several neighborhoods in my life. Growing up on a farm, my grandparents were my neighbors.  They were wonderful people so that was a great experience.

When I lived in Manhattan Beach in California I never met one of my neighbors. When one neighbor’s mail accidentally came to our house, I knocked on the door and the person asked me just to put it through the mail slot.  Not so friendly, but luckily we did not live there very long.

Living in Del Mar, California my neighbors became friends. Some of them remained friends till they died. There were no boundary disputes or view disputes. The lot next to us sold and we lost most of our ocean view.  We did not buy the lot, so knew there was nothing we could do. Would you believe an ocean view lot in Del Mar back then sold for $40,000?

Moving to Bainbridge Island we had wonderful neighbors that are friends to this day. They had four children that closely matched the ages of my three, then they had two more. My youngest son and one of their daughters still spend time together and they are in their thirties.

Moving to waterfront on Bainbridge it got a little edgier, with a shared driveway, boundary disputes and even sharing part of a sport court. I sold that house fifteen years ago and they are still having boundary disputes. I will never do a shared driveway again. One neighbor put their trash on top of my trash, so I paid for extra bags till I finally called Waste Management and they went through the trash and the neighbor started paying for their own trash.

Having neighbors can be challenging or nice. It depends on a lot of factors. When you live on low bank waterfront in Kingston, your neighbor is ten feet away from you on each side. There are view covenants so you don’t destroy the view of neighbors and they can’t destroy your view.

Building the home in Kingston where I now live I knew we had a fabulous view and I knew if I set the house back twelve more feet than allowed it would not effect my view.  I did it to be nice to the neighbor. Luckily I did, so now I am allowed to add a privacy wall to my patios.  It is within the view restrictions.

As you can see by the photo, the neighbor two doors over built a deck on the side of his house, as he could not build on the water side of the house because of the view restrictions.  He sits and smokes and talks loudly on the phone, so we just completed this wall upstairs and pictured below the wall we built downstairs.

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We can finally eat and entertain with a little bit more privacy. We no longer see the huge Sea Hawk colored basketball/tennis court or the red caboose. Nice!

Bamboo. Bamboo. Several years ago we planted bamboo along our property line. There is a cement wall supporting our neighbors fence, so we knew the bamboo would not spread in her direction. Her house is set back, so we also knew it would not affect her view. We do have a deep barrier on our side of the bamboo, but still fight the spread of it. When my granddaughter is here, we do the “Bamboo Hunt” and when she finds another baby bamboo, she calls out:Bamboo Bamboo”.  I cut it back.

She spent the summer with me, so we did a lot of bamboo hunting.  It always made it fun. Yesterday I was working in the yard, cutting back the new growth, when I noticed I was getting a “hole” in the bamboo that I had not noticed before.

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As I walked closer I realized that quite a few stalks of my bamboo had been cut off at four feet or less.  I decided to remove them, as there were so many cut off ones.

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Now, I know I did not cut these off, and my gardener had not cut these back, so how did this happen? I think my neighbor must be doing Midnight Gardening?  Legal?

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This is about two-thirds of stalks that were cut short, and I plan to remove the others today. IMG_1354

I walked down to the beach to see if the bamboo was hanging over in the neighbor’s yard and it was not. I was still a little puzzled. I know she does not like my bamboo, but can she reach two to three feet into my yard and cut my bamboo? Is that legal?

If you live on the beach, legally you cannot have a wall more than four feet high within the first 200 feet of the water, but you can plant anything. I do find it an interesting law, but it is the law. When I lived on Bainbridge one neighbor planted juniper plants right on the property line, blocking my view of the Bainbridge ferry, and there was nothing I could do about it. I could not even cut without that neighbors permission. That is my understanding of the law.

So here I am fifteen years later and I am guessing my neighbor is not only cutting my bamboo, but reaching into my yard and cutting it.  What do you do? You want to try to be a good neighbor, but what does that entail?  For now, I will take the remaining cut bamboo out and just keep an eye for any more cut. Confrontations do not make good neighbors and I have had one too many confrontations this summer already.

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So here are the three to four foot remains of what my neighbor cut the tops off. The fire pit is about 2.5 feet deep.  There are about 30 stalks here.  Pretty gutsy neighbor.

I think when we move in a few years I will give up waterfront living and move somewhere, where there are less neighbors.

Bamboo Bamboo

Chickens Make Happy

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Meet Henrietta, Hennie and Gertrude new family members this summer. We got set up for them with the visit of my six year-old granddaughter for the summer. Thought she might enjoy watching them grow over the summer.  As it turns out, I like it more.  They are characters with individual personalities.

Henrietta is the black one on the left and she is second in command, followed by Hennie. Gertrude, the white Bantam is the leader of the pack.  She is the first one to try any food, the first one to venture out the door and will meander furthest from the coop.  My neighbor’s seven year-old granddaughter came over and was watching the chickens one day.  She looked at me and said I know why you named the white Gertrude, she is SO rude.

When we first got the chickens I kept getting the black chicken (Henrietta) and the brown chicken (Hennie) confused.  My six year-old granddaughter looked at me very seriously and said:  “It’s easy grandma, Hennie is brown like me”.  I have not confused them since.

When I am working in the garden, I let them out in the sunshine, but have to be careful as we have several Eagles in the area.

I was told that chickens are natural trash disposals and so far that seems true.  I did a little research about what not to feed them, but I find it fun that salad and fruit no longer goes to waster. We grow wine grapes in the back yard so I generally let them have some in the early evening when I am having a glass of wine.  That is their five-o-clock cocktail.

Carrot greens are no longer wasted and they seem to love herbs.  When Claire was here and would not eat bread crusts, they were quickly devoured. The favorite so far seems to be corn on the cob.  They come running when they see me with that.

In this life and at this time when it is hard to find something to smile about, my chickens make me smile.

Chickens Make Happy

Chicken breasts with Brown Butter-Garlic Tomato Sauce.

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Simple Summer dinner with beautiful tomatoes from Central Market is perfect for a warm evening.  Cooking is a joy to me, but the down side is there is too much good food to it, so I decided to veer away from America’s Test Kitchen and Paul Hollywood’s cooking as some light dishes might be good for the waistline.  (or lack thereof)  This one was very quick and easy and I loved the richness of the sauce.  My granddaughter has not yet developed a taste for tomatoes, but when the tomatoes were removed, she ate the entire piece.  Served with Parmesan Risotto ALA Diana, a summer salad with lettuce from our garden and tiny baby carrots and beets, as my granddaughter loves both.

Recipe:
YIELDServes 4 (serving size: 1 chicken breast and about 1/3 cup tomato mixture)

Browned butter is the quick cook’s best-kept secret: Less than two minutes in the pan caramelizes the milk solids in butter for a fragrant, nutty note in any dish. Try not to chop the tomatoes too finely; you want them somewhat chunky so they’ll break down in the sauce faster, but you also want them to retain some shape. If your chicken breasts are larger than 6 ounces (some can be as big as 12 ounces), halve the two breasts horizontally instead of pounding them thin. Serve over a bed of whole-wheat couscous, whole-grain polenta, or brown rice.

Ingredients

  • 4 (6-oz.) skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 cups halved grape tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

NUTRITION INFORMATION

  • calories 341
  • fat 17.3 g
  • satfat 5.6 g
  • monofat 8.1 g
  • polyfat 1.6 g
  • protein 39 g
  • carbohydrate 5 g
  • fiber 1 g
  • cholesterol 139 mg
  • iron 1 mg
  • sodium 443 mg
  • calcium 36 mg
  • sugars 4 g
  • Est. Added Sugars 0 g

How to Make It

  1. Place chicken breasts on a cutting board; pound to a 1/2-inch-thickness using a meat mallet or small, heavy skillet (all four breasts should fit in one large skillet). Sprinkle chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add chicken to pan; cook 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from pan; keep warm. Do not wipe pan clean.

  3. Reduce heat to medium. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, butter, and garlic to drippings in pan; cook 2 minutes or until butter just begins to brown, stirring frequently. Stir in tomatoes; cook 2 minutes or until tomatoes are wilted. Spoon tomato mixture over chicken; sprinkle with parsley.

     

Hope you enjoy this yummy summer dinner.  We sure did!

 

Chicken breasts with Brown Butter-Garlic Tomato Sauce.