Sunday, October 25, 2009

Slowing Down

It is getting to that time of year when I seem to run out of things to say for awhile. The garden is done, the trees are dropping their leaves, and I tend to curl up with a cat or two and turn in to a potato. This will go on for a few weeks and then I am back to being my weird self again. Maybe it is the lessening daylight hours, or maybe I am part squirrel and after the frantic harvest I just want to hibernate.

PeterC has decided to do some volunteer work for a local horse rescue, once a week. Last week he was gone all day Saturday and this week it is today. I like having a few hours of quiet time and really should be working, but it is hard to get motivated when there is a warm fire and sleeping animals all around. Of course that is my current excuse for not getting my work done. The truth is, I am afraid I'll mess up and have to redo the whole project.

I was asked to write an article for a magazine which requires that I carve a few scoops. The first scoop went well, was finished quickly, and looked very nice. The second scoop got screwed up at the very last part of the carving. The second attempt at the 2nd scoop got screwed up during the shaping stage. I finished the 3rd shaping out of the 2nd scoop just a couple of days ago and it has been staring at me, challenging me to pick it up.

I am ahead of schedule but I don't like letting things sit until the last minute. So once I finish this post I am going to head into the studio and work on my scoop. If I am lucky, or good, I'll get it finished tomorrow and will be able to start the third scoop on Tuesday. Once the article has been published I will post pictures of the finished scoops.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sweet Potato Experiment

Some of you may remember I was doing an experiment this year by planting sweet potatoes in large planters instead of in the garden. I decided to do this mostly because the sweet potatoes spread on the surface and require quite a bit of space. Space I need to plant other vegetables in. The other reason for trying them in pots was to make it easier to harvest. Upend the pot and pick out the lovely potatoes.

We had our first killing frost on Tuesday so I harvested the rest of the vegetables on Wednesday and Thursday. It was then, that I realized the sweet potato experiment can officially be classified as a failure. The plants grew very well and were very lush on the surface. Under the soil was another story. The potatoes grew in a tight interlocking ball just at the base of the plant. From each plant I was lucky to get 1-2 lbs of edible tubers and I had to carefully loosen one, to loosen another, to remove the key piece, at which point the whole ball released into separate tubers.

So, with the failure of this experiment I am once again reduced to losing half my garden space to plant three sweet potato plants. I would say they are worse than pumpkins but at least the vines on the sweet potatoes are small and the leaves not overly large. Maybe I can plant taller growing vegetables around the vines, hot peppers or something. We'll have to see what next year brings.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

It's Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada and I find I have a lot to be thankful about.

I am thankful that two neighbours have now commented about how nice it is to see chickens in the backyard, one even going so far as to ask for eggs which I couldn't provide yet.

I am thankful that the garden was very productive, even with the cool wet summer, and we have 25lbs of carrots, 10 lbs of beets, 4 quarts of dry beans, and still have sweet potatoes and hot peppers to harvest.

I am thankful that PeterC has once again returned safe and sound from his business trip.

I am thankful that we have food in the house, much of it from our own garden over the years, and wood for the stove, and warm furry bodies to keep us from freezing in the middle of the night.

I am thankful today for PeterC, who supports me in all my moods and holds me through all my fears and tears.

Today is a good day.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Flat Bread

I've been looking for a good, soft, yet chewy flat bread recipe for a long time now. I've tried recipes from all over the net as well as the few in my bread book. Nothing fit the bill. The bread always came out to crisp to so heavy that it was virtually inedible. The dogs enjoyed my efforts but I enjoyed very little of them.

That has finally changed. I found a pizza crust recipe that cooked up beautifully and had almost the exact texture I was looking for in my flat bread. So, I played with the recipe some and finally came up with the perfect flat bread. It can be used as a pizza crust, or as a wrap for souvlaki, or as a mop for stews. And best of all it only takes an hour and a half from start to finish if you have a warm spot to rise the dough.

Flat Bread
4 1/2 cps flour
1 Tbsp Yeast
1 Tbsp salt
2 cps warm water
1 Tbsp sugar

Pour 2 cps warm water into a bowl.
Stir in sugar and yeast.
Allow to proof until very bubbly.
Add salt and first 3 cps flour.
Mix by hand or with a spoon until dough starts to form. It will be very sticky.
Flour a work surface with half of remaining flour and dump dough out of the bowl, cleaning sides as you go.
Knead the dough, adding flour as needed until it is not sticky to your hands but still very soft.
Grease the bowl and add the dough, covering with plastic wrap or a damp cloth.
Let rise until doubled.
Once risen punch down dough and knead on lightly floured surface for a few minutes, just to get all the air out.

Form into your chosen style:
For pizza stretch out dough to fit your pan, should do a 12 inch pan easily, brush with olive oil and bake at 450ยบ F for 10 minutes. Add your sauce and toppings and bake for another 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

For souvlaki wraps, called pitas by the local Greek restaurant, break the dough into 1 1/2 to 2 inch balls. Roll each ball out to a round. Each round should be less than 1/4 inch thick. Brush with olive oil and place in a medium hot skillet. Cast iron works perfectly. Cook for 2-3 minutes each side. Bubbles will form on the side opposite from the heat, this is normal just flip and press.

For stew mops use the same directions for the souvlaki wraps except each round is thicker, but no more than 1/2 inch. Brush with olive oil and bake in oven until golden brown. Flip once to brown opposite side.

And there you have it, the perfect flat bread recipe. If you want to change the taste try adding herbs and spices to the dough for something savoury. Or, if you want something breakfasty add chopped, dried fruit and some oats or honey. This recipe is infinitely flexible. Let you imagination soar.