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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

GARLIC HARVEST TIME

I had to check some things in my veggie garden before I headed out at 8am for the Farmers market, and I decided to check my garlic, so I pulled a couple of bulbs and it's ready. I'll have to get the rest later, because parking at the Farmers market is at a premium. Even getting there before it opens, I had to park a few blocks away!

Some of my favorite growers were there and I got 3 gorgeous, one gallon Phloxes - one intense, deep, magentaish pink and two pale pink and white combinations. They look great together. I was also happy to find a one gallon pineapple sage. The hummingbirds love those bright red flowers and since my flower garden is most pinks, purples and lavenders, I like to have one or two bright red and cool yellow things among all those pinks and lavenders to keep it from looking monotonous.

I also found the white gaura that I haven't been able to find elsewhere. So now I'll  have a pink one and a white one.

After pulling out all those big, volunteer oregano plants in my flower bed, as well as some other things, I needed to find some two or three foot perennials to fill those spots.

One of the vendors at the market sells tiny veggie starts - 6 for $2.50. Since this big heat wave, most of my cool weather crops have gone to seed and I've pulled most of them. So I was able to get several new lettuce, arugula, cilantro, swiss chard and escarole starts. He also had a very different, pretty colored zinnia, which is a cross between pink and orange, and I got a couple of those to fill in a spot at the front of the flower bed.

My cherry pink zinnias that I started from seed are a long way from flowering. Next year I won't bother starting my own since I just don't have a special room to set up my grow lights in this new house, and I have since found two nurseries in the valley that sell them.

My tiny blueberry plants are producing and I had 2 hand full sized harvest from one of them early his morning. After seeing how many are on that tiny plant, I starting to wonder why I planted four blueberry plants for one person! LOL I'm sure as they get bigger  won't have any trouble finding takers for them! LOL

That's it for today. Time to think about some lunch and then a nap. After such a busy, running around morning in the heat, I'll be ready for a nap right after lunch!






Tuesday, May 30, 2017

GOOD PLANTING WEATHER

We've gone from sunny, 90 degree days to a  cloudy, 70 degree high day today. Crazy weather; but it will be comfortable for planting this afternoon. This bit colder weather should be good for my lettuce and radish seedlings. I was afraid of the lettuce going bitter or bolting with those 90 degree days but so far, so good.

We had a short thunderstorm wend it way through here yesterday afternoon and it brought light rain for ten minutes or so - just enough to give everything a light watering. Every bit helps. With the late spring rains, I finally got a water and electric bill this week that was less that two hundred dollars for the month. That will change next month, but I'm grateful for those late springs rains we've had this month.

Yesterday I just did some weeding, fed my young seedlings on the back porch and pulled a lot of weeds, and pulled out extra borage that was taking over my flower bed.

Today I'll plant some young geraniums, cosmos and cherry pink zinnias in my flower garden. If I can find a small bare spot, I have a few more tomatoes but plant; but that may not happen today. First I have to dig up a bunch of volunteer fennels, weeds, and other things to make room for them.

Tomorrow will be a bit warmer than today and only partly cloudy, so it should be another great planting and gardening day. Hope everyone's garden is doing well!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Garlic scapes removed and raspberry plants taking over the world!

I never seem to plant enough garlic so last year I upped my plantings but now I wish I had left a bit more space for all these tomatoes.  I planted thirteen tomatoes and still have another couple to plant if I could only find the room! One may find itself in my flower bed since at the moment, that's the only good sun spot left.

There's no room for the few sweet potato slips I started. They're now sitting in a couple of little pots with no place to plant. I'm thinking of maybe using my wheel barrow but if I do that, I won't have a wheel barrow to haul my compost and other things,. Decisions, decisions!

There is one possible spot - a small corner in not the sunniest part of my hidden veggie garden, but I have to get out there in the next day or two and clear out the vegetation there. There's some pretty, almost tropical looking, leafy things there which seem to survive the drought, which makes me suspect they're some sort of bulb. So my plan is to be careful digging some of them out and see if I can transplant them outside the veggie garden.

The last couple of days some of my garlic has suddenly produced scapes which I just cut off. I'm hoping in another month or so I'll be able to harvest that garlic and plant some more bush beans and other things in those spots.

It's been in the high 80's and low 90's for a couple of days, so I'm expecting some of my lettuce to bolt and go to seed if this continues.

All my hand watering is done for the day and I was able to harvest some strawberries and pull some weeds before the heat did me in. I'll try to get back out after lunch. I want to harvest some of that lettuce and there are a lot of new, volunteer raspberry plants that need to be dug up and removed and more small starter plants to plant and all the veggies to feed in the next couple of days. And I still have to get those big raspberry plants under control with some wiring fencing. The metal fence stakes are in the ground so it should take me long to get that under control - I hope!. I still read up again on how to recognize old canes so I can remove them! So I will probably put that job off for another day or two till I figure that out!

Fortunately the weather is going to get cooler in the next two days so I'll be able to get longer, morning, garden time. The Rogue Valley here in S. Oregon does get very hot in the summer, so I need to take full advantage of those rare, cooler days.,

Sunday, April 23, 2017

LAZY SUNDAY

Decided to take the day off and do almost nothing, since it's not much of a gardening day and I'm still tired from two days in a row of some heavy digging through a lot of tree roots to plant a few things and other garden chores.

Early this morning I retrieved some of my Bolognese sauce from the freezer in the barn section of the garage for an easy dinner tonight.

Other than seedling and animal care, tending to my self with lots of vitamins, rest, eating and kitchen cleanup, answering some emails and reading the Sunday paper and doing the crossword puzzle, my time today will be for some computer work and watching lot of saccharine Hallmark, made for TV movies - aka "Junk food for the soul!".

My beautiful daughter called from Germany earlier and we must have been on the phone for close to an hour, if not longer talking about our garden and other plans this spring and as always talking about what we've been cooking lately. I was intrigued by her telling me she use barley to make risotto, which surprised me since she also said she never liked the beef, barley, vegetable soup I made regularly when my children were growing up. Who knew, since she always ate it; but then she was never a fussy eater except for beets which she despised, as did my husband.

I just had a delicious, long, very hot soaking bath and afterwards got right back into my PJ's for the rest of the day. I think I might do more of these lovely, lazy Sundays in the future. It feels too good not to repeat this, and often!




Friday, April 21, 2017

EARLY PLANTED POTATOES ARE UP !

My early planted potatoes are up, the neighborhood lilacs are blooming and my Japanese Maples are all in full leaf. The strawberries are full of flowers and this year I hope the birds and other critters leave some for me!

This is the first sunny day we've had for a while. It was 75 degrees by mid afternoon. I only got a bit of garden time today. It took me almost two hours to plant a six pack of snapdragons and one packaged blue hydrangea due to all the tree and other roots I had to struggle through to get those planted.

I was very disappointed to find out the larger San Marzano tomatoes I bought are not San Marzanos. They were behind the sign that said Sand Marzanos so I never bothered to check the small tlabels in the pots until I got them home and found out they're Sun Golds. So I'll keep one of them and give the other one away, It looks like a small orange tomato if the picture on the little label is correct. Now I have to get back to the store and pick up a couple of San Marzanos.

Tomorrow the temperature drops down quite a bit and rain is in the forecast, so I doubt it I will get garden time. After breakfast I want to make a pot of mushroom bisque, so if there's any garden time to be had  it will have to be after lunch, if there's no rain. I'd like to pop in some of my cold weather veggies starts that I didn't get around to planting today, and maybe tame my wild raspberry plants.

I installed several metal fence posts and have some wire I need to attach to them to keep the raspberries from flopping into my raised vegetable beds. There are also a few raspberry volunteers  that have made their way into and near the raised beds that I want to dig up and move.

Since the weather has been so cold and wet, I'm very behind my garden chores this year. I can catch up pretty quickly if I get a few days of decent weather.  With the rain expected tomorrow, I can probably work on my back porch and get my hanging planters planted and watered. I'll put off hanging them until I turn on the automatic watering system. Either that or I have to buy a new, long, watering wand to be able to reach them. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

ASPARAGUS ON TOAST WITH HARD BOILED EGG BACON AND LEMON BUTTER

My dinner tonight was my Asparagus on toast, topped with a chopped hard boiled egg and fresh bacon bits and lemon butter. This would also make a lovely brunch or lunch or appetizer if scaled down.

For each piece of bread I cooked 6 large asparagus, 2 1/2 slices of bacon and one hard boiled egg. It was served on a piece of toasted, buttered honey wheat bread. After topping it with the asparagus, chopped hard boiled egg and bacon bits, and some fresh ground black pepper, I poured a generous amount of melted lemon butter over it all. Delicious!

My plan for the day was to do some planting but with cold temperatures and and rain putting a stop to that and the same weather expected tomorrow, it looks like it will have to wait till Friday when it's supposed to be 70F in the afternoon. I have a packaged hydrangea that need planting as well as some snapdragons and the rest of my cool weather vegetable starts.

There are many more other garden chores on my list and I just hope we get a few days from now on for me to get all these things done. My raspberries are looking pretty wild and I have some metal fence posts to install with some wire to contain these wild beasts, Right now they're flopping over half of my raised beds.

A new discovery I made after my nice, healthy cherry tomato plant broke off near the base, is that you can remove some of the lower leaves, put the broken stem in water and it will root. Now I have to get it planted and hope it will thrive  in the potting soil as much as it is in its temporary water environment.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Morels have arrived.

A friend just sent me a photo of some morels they just found on their property here in the Rogue valley in Southern Oregon. I haven't had time to look for them since I'm still trying to get my cold weather crops in,  clean up my flower beds and pull the abundance of weeds thanks to the almost non stop rain we've had the past two months.

The only things I planted today were some sweet peas to grow up part of my secret garden fence. I have a lot of volunteer borage so I dug one up and put it in my secret veggie garden. I'll have to move a couple of more in there. They're supposed to be good to plant near members of the cabbage family, I think. I love putting the pretty blue flowers in salad, after removing the little inedible, black centers. The flowers have a pleasant peppery taste, and look lovely in a tossed salad.

It's supposed to go down to the low thirties tonight and I didn't want to take a chance that it could hit freezing, so I covered the lettuce with remay. I ran out of planting space in the veggie garden for the latest lettuce starts so I planted them in my flower bed behind the house. I only have one empty raised bed left in the veggie garden and that's going to be for zucchini, summer squash and melons.

My tomatoes are going in the ground and in large containers along with the serrano chiles, bell peppers. I have one tiny area near the back fence that I'm saving for a small block of corn and winter squash. Even my bush beans will have to go in planters.

Last summer I planted a lot of garlic. I won't plant as much this year because I'm lacking space for carrots and other veggies like turnips and rutabagas that I want to plant.

I put my little tomato seedlings and marigold seedlings outdoors in the sun. And I'll bring them in before dinner. To my surprise, yesterday, I saw a whole cluster of newly sprouted tomato seedlings in the garden. that was a big surprise to see those this time of year. I think tomorrow, if they survive tonight's cold, I'll separate a few of them. I think they may be Brandywines which were in that bed last year; but I can't be sure until the leaves get bigger. I also had Opalka plum tomatoes andBig Zac, a hybrid beefsteak in there, so it will take a while to figure out what they are.

Overnight some marauder came in my secret veggie garden and ate the tops of all my beets that I had growing in containers. My neighbor thinks it may be a possum. I wish I knew what it was. These were last years beets that I kept in the container to harvest the greens and I was jjust about ready to harvest those tops for greens. Wish I had a secret night vision camera to ID the culprit! Guess I will now have to put some bird netting on the next beet crop!

I don't think a bunny could jump up 18 inches to get into the planter. Could it be rats, or racoons or the possum???? No deer can climb that 7 foot fence, so I assume it's something smaller that than either squeeze through, climb over or dig under?????







Friday, March 31, 2017

It's Asparagus time

The rain, wind and cold have left, at least for today and tomorrow, so I was able to get out to the garden and prep a small, new asparagus bed. Last years asparagus planting it bearing fruit. A few have come up and I'm hoping the rest of them made it through the winter.

I only planted four of the seven new asparagus plants I bought a couple of weeks ago because they were the only ones so far, showing any sign of life. That was a heavy job working in a bag of manure and compost and then digging a ditch to give them a proper planting.

There are a lot more veggies and herbs starters to plant; but today was for focusing on prepping that bed and getting those few planted and doing some weeding.

The only other things I planted today were a half a dozen parsley starts and one dill plant.  I also pulled up my bean tower and tomorrow I'll relocate it to the opposite end of the garden where I think it may fare better. Last season the beans on it did fine but one side that was dedicated to cucumbers had hardly any pollination, so I'm hoping this new location will work better.

There's a lot of garden work ahead because of the gawd awful weather the past two months, I haven't been able to get in hardly any garden time during the winter months, so I'll take advantage of the next day or so because the cold is coming back again, and I want to get all these starts planted and still want to plant beets and carrots  and more spinach.

I was so happy to see that my young fig tree that I planted in a large planter survived the very cold spell we had with temperatures in the teens. Looking like that mulch I put around it worked. I can't wait for all those figs. Last year I didn't get any till very late because critters were eating them just as they ripened; but I finally sent away for some fine bird netting and it kept away all the marauders and I finally got a few figs to eat. .Better late than never!

Well, it's time to check my baby back ribs. I made some coleslaw and potato salad this morning and put the ribs in a very slow oven before I went out to the garden. Now I just have to uncover them, coat them in BBQ sauce and give them another half house to cook. I'm ready for a big dinner after all the digging!

Monday, March 20, 2017

New Dawn roses need help

The forecast for mid afternoon rain didn't come so I actually got in the garden to do a not too heavy, spring pruning of my two New Dawn climbing roses.

Spring is here - finally! Flowering cherry and plum trees, daffodils, quince, camellias, and forsythia etc. are in bloom all over town. I do love spring!

George the handyman was here early for me to go over how I wanted him to put up lattice on the sides of the rose arbor. He drove to Home Depot for all  the pieces and some shelving hardware for a couple of shelves in the garage. Then he drove back here with the sheets of lattice, got them cut and stained and in the garage dry overnight so he can install them on the sides of the rose arbor tomorrow! Then  I can stop getting attacked by those rose canes which had nothing to block them from falling in the path under the arbor.

I hope tomorrow brings a mid afternoon rain free spell so I can plant some root veggies. It was lovely to finally get out there to prune those climbers and pull a bunch of weeds. There isn't a sunny day in the forecast for at least the next week; and it's been like this, just about, all winter.

This first day of spring was a good one even without any sun peeking through!




Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Too wet to plant but not too wet to cook.

Yesterday was mild enough by mid afternoon for me to get out to my secret veggie garden and do some weeding and some planting. I planted a bag of Yukon Gold potatoes, and transplanted some arugula and collards and pulled a lot of weeds.

In two days slugs destroyed my few newly planted lettuce, broccoli and cauliflowers starts, so I will have to replace them. I'm glad I only planted a few of them because I wanted to stagger the planting so I don't have so many broccolis, etc. maturing at the same time. Fortunately I had some of the slug/slain bait Escar Go on hand, so I wet down a couple of the beds and put it down. I sent a bunch of those slugs to heaven on my own. There are sure a lot of them this year after all this rain. At least these are tiny, unlike the monster slugs we had when we lived in Washington state!

If the temperature warma up a bit more by mid afternoon I may be able to get into the garden and prune my two newer grape vines and the climbing roses in the veggie garden. The forecast is calling for rain about that time, but maybe this will be one of the times they're off in their forecast.

Since I'm really not holding great hope for that mid afternoon pruning opportunity, I've planned a decent dinner for myself. I'm going to make a pork cutlet dinner using panko crumbs for the coating. The first time I had one of these was during a trip to Japan in the 80's. It's much tastier than a veal cutlet. In any case, none of my local grocery stores even sell veal, which isn't a problem since I try to avoid it. I have a hard enough time giving in to my carnivore appetite without eating baby animals.

I've spent decades going back and forth between being a vegetarian, and back again to eating meat. In recent years I've stopped swinging back and forth but now mix up my weekly menu with meat and non meat dishes. My body feels good with this pattern of eating. In summer, I naturally gravitate to lighter fare particularly since there are so many lovely, fresh vegetables in the garden.

Well, the rain did come, so I think I'll start dinner early.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Here Comes The Sun but not today!

OK, who stole the sun! This was supposed to be another sixty degree sunny gardening day and the promised sun is a "no show"; and it's colder than they said it would be. Time to stay in my warm house, and recharge after a heavy gardening cleanup and pruning session yesterday.  Hopefully the sun will honor me with its presence tomorrow! I have a whole tray of cold weather veggies and a bag of potato seeds and more asparagus to plant in the next couple of days as well as continuing weeding and garden cleanup. There are a few more roses to prune and perennials to clean up; but as long as the warm weather they're promising holds for a few days I can make a lot of headway with it all.

I took the remay off everything yesterday but am still keeping it close by for any late freezes. I was thrilled to see that my three artichokes survived those temperatures in the teens we had this winter. Thank God for heavy duty remay to protect them. Mulching them well, also helped.

Yesterday I pruned all the roses in my flower garden, pulled up a lot of spent annuals and trimmed a lot of the spent foliage on many of the perennials, did a bunch of weeding, took apart the rest of the tomato cages and moved them to the back of the veggie garden shed area, and hooked up a couple of my hoses. There's still a lot more cleanup to do but I'll wait for the sun and warmer temperatures tomorrow. I was exhausted this morning, so it's just as well I took the day off from the garden.

I overfilled the equivalent of two big wheel barrels with all the prunings, weeds and other debris I cleaned up and that was just from one flower bed in the back yard. Those late winter weeds are taking over the world this year from all this rain. Fortunately my veggie beds in the secret garden are in pretty good shape weed wise, but the pathways are infested with them; but those will wait a couple of days until I get my cold weather veggies starts, potatoes and asparagus planted.

The other garden chore I need to do in the next day or two is to start some tomato, pepper and eggplants. I will buy most of my starters but I have one hybrid tomato Big Zac and two heirlooms Opalka, a large, wonderful paste tomato, and a new giant, Italian beefsteak that I just got this year and want to try, that no one around here carries, and buy the rest. The Big Zac tomato is earlier and more productive than Brandywine and similar beefsteaks and has a superior flavor to any other other beefsteak type hybrids I've tried over the years. I also like to grow Corno del Toro Italian frying peppers. Two plants will give me enough to enjoy fried pepper, sausage and onion heroes this summer.

Gone are the years when I would start most of my veggies and flowers from seed. I just don't have the room that I always had to set up several grow lights fluorescent fixtures to start most of my own seedlings. Fortunately we have some great growers here in the Rogue Valley who sell as lot of organic and heirloom varieties at our local farmers markets.

These days I'm only growing veggies for myself and to share with a neighbor or two. In fact, I've had to put off buying fresh kale starts because I don't need 6 kale plants which I only use in my green smoothies. So I will have to get to the farmers market where there's a grower who sells single veggie starts for 50 cents a piece. I get to try a lot of different varieties of veggies that way without having to commit to all those six packs.

What are you all planting or planning to plant this month in your area? 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

SOURDOUGH PIZZA NIGHT



Last night I made this sourdough pizza but even though my starter is well developed, I didn't get much of the flavor in the dough, I had made the dough the night before, so it had over 19 hours in the fridge to help develop even more flavor. I used my 25 whole wheat and 75 bread flour starter. I suspect it was too recently fed. I guess I could have used an older batch since the recipe also called for the addition of yeast. I just need to play with the recipe a bit longer.

I halved the recipe and still wound up with a 15" pizza, so I'll be eating pizza for lunch for a couple of days. Tonight I want to make a BLT for dinner since I have lettuce and a tomato I need to use now.

The instructions said to remove it from fridge and let it rest 15 minutes but that wasn't long enough to relax the dough. I let it rest for a bit over an hour and 2 hrs would have been better. It was nice and round when I put it on the pizza stone (I use a one inch silicon carbide kiln shelf, preheated for 1 hr). But it pulled baked while baking. Next time I will let it rest longer right out of the fridge!

I think in the future I might use my own good pizza recipe but experiment with adding some of my older starter just for the flavor it should impart,  as well as much usual IDY yeast.

The perfect New York style pizza search continues!


Sunday, February 26, 2017

SNOW AND RAIN SO EARLY VEGGIE PLANTING NEEDS TO WAIT





I made another loaf of no knead sourdough bread using one of one other three new starters I made last month. This time I used the King Arthur one and got a better rise with this loaf, than the last one with the rye and bread flour starter, because the starters have matured a lot more in the last month. This loaf has 25% whole wheat flour and 75% bread flour. It makes a nice, hearty and tasty loaf. I expect in time the starter will give me a more sour flavor which I'm looking forward to.

Next loaf I make I want to try the Tartine method. I've been watching some of the videos on you tube and I got the book out of the library and I think I can tackle that very wet dough and all that folding to get a really great crumb.

We're still dealing with yuk weather for the next few days but by the end of the week the sun will come out for a day or two and that may be my chance to plant this new group of asparagus roots I bought last week. Right now Southern Oregon is on a Winter storm warning with rain and snow coming later in the day. Since the ground is too wet to dig and plant, I laid the asparagus roots on top of the ground when I brought them home and covered them lightly with soil. I'm hoping they will be fine until the end of the week.

It's pea planting time too, but I think I'll just put some seeds on wet hand towel paper in a zip lock back and they should be sprouted in a few days and then I can plant them at the end of the week when our daytime temperature will be going up to the low or mid fifties. Hopefully the ground will start to dry out a bit after a couple of no rain days.

After a couple of days of meat dinners (roast chicken and pot roast), tonight I'm making an orichette pasta with olive oil, garlic, anchovies and hot pepper flakes making up the sauce, and with the addition of steamed broccoli florets and some pignoli nuts. It's an easy, quick recipe that I got years ago in a Italian country cookbook I bought on one of our wine buying trips to the Napa valley and it's been one of my favorite, non meat, pasta recipes since then. I cook it so often that I haven't looked at the recipe for years. The original didn't call for the pignoli nuts but my late husband was such a fan of me experimenting with adding them, that it quickly became part of the recipe. I had to agree with him that it did add so nice other texture and a bit more protein to the dish.

Pasta is always a comfort meal for me and I usually try have it at least once a week and I rotate this non meat one with pasta putanesca and another vegetarian one made with caramelized tiny tomatoes, lots of fresh ground black pepper and a bit of heavy cream and pecorino romano cheese. Yum!




Saturday, February 18, 2017

Finally some signs of spring.

Just got back from the garden and was surprised to see the few crocuses I planted last fall are up and flowering, They weren't there yesterday! Two days ago I discovered that my one camellia shrub is flowering with it's lovely, soft pink flowers. I guess the couple of 60F afternoons we had woke things up. We'chad so much cold, windy, wet weather, it's been depressing at times; and that weather has not been conducive to any garden work. The forecast for the next ten daysis now showing colder temperatures and more cloudy and rainy days to come with night time temperatures back down to the twenties again.

I was happy to see that one of my 3 year old artichoke plants  that was well mulched seems to have survived the below freezing temperatures we had this winter; and there are still collards, leeks, kale and some spinach that survived as well. I'm hoping the young fig tree I planted in a very large pot last summer and mulched in the fall has survived; but I won't hold my breath over that one. I hope my other Italian, giant artichoke that I started from seed last season has survived. I have it mulched and under heavy duty remay; but just haven't check it out yet.

Well, it took over a month but now I have 3 healthy sourdough starters. Now I soon will have to make a choice and get down to just one, maybe two. Two are my own and the third is one from King Arthur. The King Arthur one arrived without much life in it and it took forever to get it restored.

Since they've matured, I made a sour dough version of the no knead bread and a sourdough  pizza which came out really well. In both of those I used my 75 White bread flour, 25 Dark rye flour stater. The bread didn't rise as much as I would have like, but the starter was still young, I want to try that one again now that the starter has had a few more weeks of regular feedings.  Then I want to try my hand at making a Tartine bread. I've been watching the videos on Your Tube and am anxious to try my hand at that once I catch up with other things around the house, including taxes.

This week I've been busy going through garden catalogs, doing some cleanup in my hidden veggie garden and made this years vegetable garden plan. I cleaned out planters and pulled up all the dead tomato and pepper plants, removed all the tomato stakes, and did some weeding. Normally I would have done this in the fall but last fall I was dealing with another health challenge and my energy was too low and the weather too bad for me to do any even moderately heavy garden work.

There's a lot more cleanup to do both in the flower garden and veggie garden. We've had so much cold and rain and wind there haven't been a lot of opportunities for gardening. Plus, the  health issue I was dealing with has kept me on a liquid diet days at a time, on  and of,f since early December.

I'm also behind in my soap making, so I'm hoping in another week or so I'll be making some soap. Right now the kitchen counter is  covered in bags of flour, scales, etc. for all this sourdough break and pizza making.

Today I'm spending time in the kitchen cooking a nice,wet and cold day, kind of  dinner. It's German night with a braised sauerkraut dish made with bacon, onion, white wine and chicken broth. With that I'm making a easy bake German pork chop recipe with a dijon mustard, butter and white wine sauce. I'll just do simple boiled and buttered parsley potatoes. I halved the sauerkraut recipe and am using my new 2 quart crockpot to cook it. If this works well, I think I'll be trying a lot of recipes in this small one. I have a large, oval, Cuisinart one which is a steamer, browns, etc, but I'm cooking for one these days, at least most of the time so the larger unit will be good for pot roasts, soups, and things like apple sauce which I used it for last fall.

This sauerkraut recipe supposedly appeals to people who don't even like sauerkraut and my guess is because the sauerkraut is soaked over night, then rinsed a few times and drained before using it in the recipe, it removes most of the sour taste that some find unacceptable feature of sauerkraut. I happen to like sauerkraut, so I would have been find without the soaking as well.

Hope some of you out there are having weather than we on the west coast have been having all month!


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

False pregnancy sourdough starter

The garden and everything else is covered in a new blanket of snow overnight, so I had a chore dragging my trash bin out to the front yard. They haven't yet cleared my side of the road, so I'm hoping at some point they will and I'll be able, I hope, to get my larger, recycle bin out there as well.

My garden was put to bed last month but I'll still have a big spring cleanup. I had a late, volunteer potato crop which was a nice surprise, but a health challenge kept me from doing the complete cleanup I had planned.

My meyer lemon and bay leaf trees are in the house and doing OK; but the gardenia is sad. Leaves have turned yellow and I don't know why. I gave them some ironrite when I first saw the yellowing but they continued to look sadder and less healthy. I had a couple of months of incredible flowers and a very healthy looking plant. I re-potted it into fresh potting soil before bringing it in and it was happy until about 3 weeks ago.. I hope it survives whatever has hit it.

The late season volunteer Thai and Genovese Basil brought in are doing well so I'll have months of fresh basil for cooking and more pesto.

Since I can't garden now, this seemed like a good time to get back to baking bread. Since I gave my sourdough starter away before I moved, I'm trying, so far in vain, to start another one. I think my two starters have a sort of false pregnancy. Seems they were going fine, then stopped maturing, so I did a bit more research and found that this often happens, Often, it's because your starter does capture a bacteria that looks like the one that creates a sourdough starter, but it's a different air born bacteria, and eventually it just fails. I'm keeping my two going for a while yet just in case it can capture some of the right bacteria. There is sign of life, but not as much as needed to pass the float test which indicates it's ripe enough and strong enough to rise bread.

Meantime, I have ordered a mature, wet starter from King Arthur flour and that should be here in a few days, I hope that will work out fine. The way things go, my own may start to wake up around the same time,

I have a rye starter going (that one is showing more activity), and a half and half white bread flour and half whole wheat flour going I was doing all white and yesterday decided to switch it to the current 50 -50 blend hoping that might help.

I've been using this bad weather and time to do a lot of reading on artisan baking which I'm looking forward to doing once I get some success with my starter. Today I found a good recipe for sourdough pizza on the fresh loaf web site, I have it written on an index card and will be trying it as well as the no knead sourdough bread that I also just found on you tube.

This cold, damp, wet, snowy weather is definitely great bread and soup weather I just want to wait until I have a starter that works, So tonight, it won't be soup and home made sourdough. Instead I'm making yaki soba noodle stir fry with zucchini, mushrooms, onions, and snow peas.

How are the rest of you doing this winter?