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Sunday, February 26, 2017


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!