Friday, February 26, 2010

Hot and Sour Soup

I found an interesting recipe over at Back to Basics blog and decided to give it go. Of course I had to alter it to suit my own tastes a little. This is quite a hot soup, so if you don't like a lot of heat use less chili pepper flakes and less garlic chili sauce.

Hot and Sour Soup

1 package of firm tofu - cubed
6 cups vegetarian chicken flavoured broth
1 package of sliced mushrooms
1 can bamboo shoots - drained
1 can sliced water chestnuts -drained
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoon sesame oil
6 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons chili/garlic sauce
2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cp cauliflower florets
2 carrots peeled and sliced
2 stalks celery sliced
2 green onions sliced thin

Put everything in a large pot, reserving 3 tablespoons and rice vinegar, and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until veggies are tender.
Add reserved vinegar just before serving.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Gardening Bug!

The weather was very mild this week and we even had a couple of days with sunny skies. Maybe that explains why the gardening bug has hit me hard this week. All I can think about is getting out in the garden and planting this years crop of goodies. I've even been dreaming about gardening, which you must admit is a little bizarre.

I sat down Monday with the seed catalogues and made a list of everything I wanted to grow. This I went through each catalogue and made a list of things to order. Tomatoes and beans from Terra Edibles. Herbs, potatoes, and cucumbers from Dominion Seed House. Ground cover, herbs, and blueberries from Henry Fields. Henry Fields is a new nursery to my collection this year. I received a catalogue from them through Harrowsmith's Magazine. They carry a lot of things I haven't seen anywhere else, like buckwheat and hairy vetch.

I looked through the catalogues each day this week and added or subtracted, yeah right!, things from my order forms. Today I sat down and went to each places online ordering page and placed my ordering. Of course, I added a few things to each list as I went through each nurseries online catalogue. By the end of my shopping spree I had spent $200.00 on seeds and plants for this years garden, and already have a list of plants I plan to order later this spring or next spring.

So in no particular order here is my gardening list for this year.
Vegetables: Cranberry Beans, Speckled Calico Lima Beans, Straight 8 Cucumbers, Miss Pickler Hybrid Cucumbers, Summer Cabbage, Winter Cabbage, Mesclan Garden Mix, Hot Pepper Variety, Yukon Gold Potatoes, and Field Corn
Herbs: Hyssop, Catnip, Winter Savory, Summer Savory, Garlic, Spearmint, Dill, Chamomile, Basil, Chives, Garlic Chives, Thyme, Rosemary, Sage, and Borage.
Fruit: Tomatillos, Brandywine Red Tomatoes, Ground Cherries, Coldset Hybrid Tomatoes, Cranberry Tree, Semi Dwarf Northland Blueberry, and Dwarf Tophat Blueberry.
Ground Cover: Buckwheat, Clover, Hairy Vetch.

We've also decided that we are going to plant Sea Buckthorn either later this year or Spring next year. Sea Buckthorn is a fruit shrub from Asia and is sold at Dominion- Seed-House. It is hardy to zone 1 and resists road salt. This is great for us and will be used to partially replace the out of control cedar hedge at the front of the yard. So, not only will we cut the hedge back but we will be able to replace it with a fruiting shrub to add vitamin C to our winter diet.

Sunday, February 07, 2010


Can you believe one of the hens has decided she is going to set a clutch of eggs? Doesn't matter that it is the middle of winter, no matter how mild it has been, it is still winter. Doesn't matter that none of the eggs she is trying to sit on is fertilized. And, apparently it doesn't phase her in the least that I take every single one of the eggs out from under her every day.

Every day I will go out to check for eggs and Queenie, of the Stinkeye Sisters, is sitting on whichever nest has the most eggs in it. I'm assuming she gets off to let the other hens lay eggs but I haven't actually seen her move. She just sits and when I open the hatch to collect eggs she puffs up, growls (who knew a chicken could growl) and gives me the royal stinkeye, along with some annoyed tuuk, tuuk, tuuking.

Otherwise, the chickens seem to be dealing with the snow on the ground. Far better than I had been led to believe by the folks who live in warmer climates. For the most part they stay under their coop and bask in the sun coming in the window we placed in front of the wire. It faces the sun so between the solid wind breaks on the East, North, and West sides and the window on the South, they stay pretty toasty under there. On sunny days with no wind I can almost always count on them being in their tractor which is the open wire cage on the left side of their run and yard.

They do love their treats. If they see me through the window of the back door they run to the gate and crowd there waiting for me to bring them something to snack on. Today they got left over buckwheat pancakes. Most days they get boiled barley, or dry cracked corn and seed mix. I can almost guarantee that they won't be as interested in me once spring and green grass gets here, but who knows.

In these two pictures you can see everyone, except Queenie. The Barred Rock, far left, is Auntie. The red girl next to her is Red. In the next picture top to bottom - right to left - we have Tag, Diana, Henny Penny, Maggie, Rosy, Princess Pea, and Wag. Start with a white and end with a white.

They each have their own personality and are very talkative to me, PeterC, Dunny, Muffit, each other, and occasionally one of them will sing like a canary, though not as sweetly, to herself as she sits in the sun. Diana likes to stand on the toe of my muck boots as I feed them, while Rosy likes to stand in the middle of the feed tray when I give them breakfast. Silly chickens but I do love them.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Best Ever Pizza Crust

Best Ever Pizza Crust
2 cps warm water - hot from tap will usually be about right
2 Tbsp sugar or 4 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp Yeast
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp Olive oil
enough flour to make a dough - around 4 cps
Dash of cornmeal

Place warm water in large bowl and add sweetener. Stir until sugar is dissolved.
Add yeast, stir to dissolve, and set aside until foamy - 5-15 minutes.
Add oil and salt, mix well.
Add flour 1 cup at a time until you get a dough that is soft but still stiff enough to be kneaded.
Knead for 5-10 minutes adding small amounts of flour to prevent sticking.
Form dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Let rise until double - 1 -1.5 hrs.
Punch down dough and knead for a few seconds to release air.

For 2 12 inch pizzas:
Split dough into two balls and press out into rounds about 12 inches.
Sprinkle pizza pan with cornmeal and lay dough into pan, stretching as needed to make it fit 12 inch pans.
Prick dough with a fork, brush with olive oil, and allow to rise for 10 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 F. Place dough in oven and bake until done but not brown - 10 to 15 minutes.
Add sauce and toppings, return to oven and bake until edges of dough turn brown and toppings are cooked.

This recipe is pretty flexible on size of crust as long as you have the pans for it.