Monday, March 22, 2010

My New Favorite Shirt

Check out this awesome tee I purchased from Happy Family (  I've been wearing it proudly and looking forward to growing all our own produce this year!
I also love the "Avant-Gardener" tee at Black Sheep Heap (

Friday, March 12, 2010

Oat Bread

Yesterday I felt like trying out a new bread recipe. I jumped on and just searched for "bread", scanning down the page I came across this Oat Bread recipe that had good reviews. Only problem with is that almost all their bread recipes are for bread machines. I like to do things a little more traditionally, although I do let my Kitchen-Aid stand mixer do the kneading for me! I've baked enough bread that I figured I could work with the list of ingredients alone, so here's what I did:

  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons margarine
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
Dissolve brown sugar in warm water (between 105-115 degrees F) in stand mixer bowl fitted with dough hook. Pour over packet of dry yeast and let sit 10 minutes until yeast is foamy. Add melted margerine and salt on stir speed. Add oats and flour, one cup at a time, scraping down sides when necessary until incoporated. Turn to speed 2 and knead for 10 minutes. Remove dough from bowl and butter bowl. Replace dough in bowl and turn to coat with butter. Let rise 1 hour. Punch dough down, cut into 3 sections and form into balls, place dough balls in buttered bread pan and let rise another hour. Beat egg yolk with a couple tablespoons of water and brush bread with wash, sprinkle with oats and bake at 350 for 35 minutes. If you want a softer crust on the top I think a milk wash would be nice with this as well.

This bread turned out great! We ate almost the whole loaf at dinner with our minestrone soup. YUM!

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Let the Spring Planting Begin!

I'm out of town for the month of March but that didn't stop me from getting my seeds started! Thanks to my wonderful friend who is house-sitting and keeping my seeds watered.

So with a few trays, a bag of organic growing medium, and a handful of seeds I am currently germinating:

Organic: Tomatoes: San Marzano
Organic: Tomatoes: Roma
Heirloom: Tomatoes: Yellow Pear
Heirloom: Tomatoes: Polish Linguisa
Heirloom: Sweet Peppers: Chinese Giant
Organic: Onions: Walla Walla Sweet
Rosemary: Romero
Thyme: Common
True Lavender

These are just a handful of the seeds we'll be planting this year. Ones that I could confidently start indoors and will be ready to transplant when I return from my trip in April. The rest of our seeds will be sewn outdoors.

Only time will tell how the germinating will go but the planting was very easy. It was $8 for 3 flats at Lowes, they came with trays and plastic tops, and hold a total of 216 plants. The bag of growing medium was another $8 and saved me time mixing my own. Each packet of seeds was between $1-2 and I still have plenty leftover seeds to sew in the garden when I return.

Starting seeds is a simple matter of filling the trays with growing medium and dampening. Planting your seeds according the the packet instructions, usually 1/4 inch deep in the soil, and covering with the plastic top or damp newspapers. Set the seeds in a warm spot to germinate and that's it! A couple days after the seeds have germinated you can remove the plastic covering and let your seedlings get some fresh air and sunlight. The trays underneath will be handy for watering from the bottom and the seedlings will be ready in 4-8 weeks. I know that by the time I return the chance of frost will be past so I will harden mine off and transplant them early. Blogging updates on our seedlings to follow!

Here are the other seeds we will be planting this year:

Heirloom Sweet Corn: Golden Cross Bantam
Heirloom Cucumber: Lemon
Spinach: Matador
Organic: Carrots: Scarlet Nantes
Organic: Peas: Oregon Sugar Pod
Organic: Garden Bean: Provider
Organic: Cantalope: Hearts of Gold
Organic: Onion: Evergreen Long White Bunching
Organic: Summer Squash: Early Prolific Straightneck
Organic: Summer Squash: Burpee's Fordhook Zucchini
Organic: Summer Squash: Early Summer Crookneck
Organic: Okra: Clemson Spineless
Organic: Watermelon: Moon & Stars
Fennel: Zefo Fino
Green Beans: Santa Anna Pole
Brussel Sprouts: Catskill

Organic: Chives, Garlic: Allium Tuberosum
Organic: Sweet Basil: Ocimum Basilicum
Organic: Cilantro: Coriandrum Sativum
Organic: Parsley: Single Italian Plain leaf
Organic: Genovese Basil
Organic: Gourmet Lettuce Blend
Chamomile: German
Oregano: Mediterranean
Stevia: Honeylead
Dill: Dukat
Basil: Siam Queen
Sage: Broad Leaf

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Mom's Cannelloni

Warm, hearty, and filling. Don't be daunted by the long list of ingredients or the part about making the crepes. I was a little the first time I made it but it was sooo easy! It now takes me (almost) no time to whip this up. And if I don't have the time to make the crepes sometimes I make a "Mom's Cannelloni Casserole" (recipe to follow).


My mother-in-law makes this amazing cannelloni, which is my husband's FAVORITE meal. Last time he deployed this is what he requested as his homecoming meal. My mother-in-law got this recipe from a friend and has been making it since 1977. The "noodles" are actually crepes! (Don't run out to the store and buy a fancy crepe pan, any small non-stick pan will do!)

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3 eggs
1 2/3 cups milk
1 tbsp. oil

1 lb. ground beef (I make it with ground turkey breast)
1 tbsp butter
1 clove garlic, crushed
1, 10 oz. pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed (I make it with chopped, cooked fresh spinach)
3 Oz liver pate (sometimes this is hard to find, recently I've been using cream cheese instead, which obviously tastes nothing like liver pate but it has a similar consistency and binds everything together)
1/2 C parmesan cheese
2 eggs, beaten
nutmeg, oregano, salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
3 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup white wine (optional)
1/4 c. grated Swiss cheese
dash nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
8oz tomato sauce (I've been using tinned crushed San Marzano tomatoes, I like the fresh and less salty taste)
grated parmesan cheese
Prepare crepes by blending all ingredients in bowl: Pour scant 1/4 cup of batter into crepe pan-turn out onto clean dish towel to cool. Makes 12 crepes
Brown ground beef or turkey. Drain if necessary. Add remaining filling ingredients. Place scant 1/4 cup in each crepe. Roll and place in lightly greased baking dishes (13 x 9).
Cream sauce: Prepare as basic bechamel sauce, adding wine and cheese last. Pour over crepes to cover well---this makes a lot of sauce and you may not need it all.
Top with a wide ribbon of tomato sauce and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
Bake 350 or 25-30 minutes until bubbly.


Sometimes I crave the cannelloni but don't have time to make the crepes. I just boil up a package of Rotini or Penne pasta. Combine it with the ground beef or turkey "filling." Pour into a buttered baking dish and top with bechamel sauce, the ribbon of tomato sauce, parmesan and bake!

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