Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Whole Wheat Sourdough Pizza Crust

Although I really do love a good, thick pizza crust, I've been making this recipe a lot lately. It's a thin-crust pizza, and much simpler than the other one (only four ingredients instead of seven; and it only needs to rest for half an hour, instead of and hour and a half. Plus, when I'm impatient, or don't let the oven preheat properly, I sometimes ended up with doughy crust in the middle. Since this recipe is pre-baked, it never has that problem. It also has the added benefit of working very well from the freezer, so I can make the crust on say, Tuesday, and finish and bake the pizza on Friday (like I'm doing this week!)

Sourdough Pizza Crust
2 cups sourdough starter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 ½ cups flour

Knead all together well; cover and let rest for ½ hour.

Roll out into desired shape and bake 5-10 minutes at 450 degrees.

At this point, you may either let it cool and then freeze it, or top it and finish baking it (450 degrees for15-25 minutes, depending on your toppings. Remember, the crust is pre-baked, so you just have to cook the toppings.)

Makes two 12-inch rounds or one cookie-sheet size pizza crust.

This post is part of Real Food Wednesday.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

"Thank You for Your Support" Part 2

I posted about a month and a half ago about how cheap wire tomato cages were great - but not for growing tomatoes. I read a tip in Countryside magazinesuggesting using wire hog panels instead. So last week we finally got around to taking a trip to the local Farm & Fleet store, where we picked up 4 (they come in 16' lengths, and I have two 24' beds, so I got 4 and we overlapped them (I didn't want to cut them because who knows, we might get pigs some day!)

As you can probably see, I'm also experimenting with mulch. I got red plastic mulch film for this bed of tomatoes, a thicker silver mulch plastic for the bed in the far background (I'm actually re-using this from last year - worked great!), and the bed in the middle is going mulch-less (that bed is all volunteers, so they're not exactly spaced, and so not conducive to plastic mulching. I do have lettuce and garlic interplanted with them, though, so I won't be weeding just for the tomatoes there. I also didn't put hog panels on that row, since I didn't know they were going to volunteer there, so they have - you guessed it - cheap wire cages).

And, while we're talking mulch, you can also maybe see that between the rows I mulch the walkways with old paper chicken feed bags and leftover landscape fabric. Waste not, want not! My garden's not going to end up on the cover of any magazine, but it's functional. I went for too many years weeding the beds and the paths (as if I didn't have better things to do!) so now no path goes uncovered!

(I do want to say here that I'm not completely comfortable using plastic in the garden - who knows what chemicals are leaching into the ground, and then into my plants? If I decide to mulch again next year, I might try paper mulch, or maybe newspaper or feed bags (free!) with wire over top to hold it down (it gets very windy here on the hill).  More research!) 

This post is included in Simple Lives Thursday at GNOWFGLINS

Friday, June 10, 2011

Homemade Fish Tacos

Being a Wisconsin girl, I didn't grow up eating much seafood, so I don't really know many ways to prepare it (make that 2 - fish chowder and the ubiquitous beer-battered fish fry). Then last fall, my husband and I went on a business trip to San Diego. Spurred on by two high school friends who now live in California, I decided to be brave and try two new fish dishes - sushi (YUM!!!) and fish tacos. Now, one of those friends is married to a marine biologist, so he knew where to get good seafood, and he recommended Blue Water Seafood Market and Grill (at the time, I didn't realize that it's actually pretty famous - it's been featured on the Food Network, etc.) They didn't serve sushi, but they did have fish tacos, so that's what I tried first.
It was nothing like what I expected (think Taco Bell but with fish). It was fresh, it was light, it was wonderful. I was hooked.
Of course, our week in San Diego was soon over, and we were back in Wisconsin, where few people have even heard of fish tacos, much less knew where to get one. So I set out to make my own. In my own typical fashion, I found a recipe in a cookbook (The Everything Cast Iron Cookbook - which I highly recommend!) and scoured the internet until I found about three likely-looking recipes, combined them to my taste, and started cooking. Here is the tasty result:

Fish Tacos

Corn tortillas
One pound firm white fish fillets (perch, tilapia, etc.)
Cabbage (or lettuce), tomatoes, onions, cheese, avacados (or whatever other toppings you choose)
White sauce:
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup yogurt
1 tsp lime juice
½ tsp oregano
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp dill
½ tsp chili powder

Prepare toppings, mix together the white sauce, and warm the tortillas. Rinse fish and pat dry. Place a skillet (cast iron works well) over medium-high heat. Once it is heated, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and swirl to coat. Add the fillets and cook for about 3 minutes (more or less depending on the thickness of your fish). Flip the fish and cook for another 3 minutes (you should see the fish change from translucent to opaque).
Chop the fish into 1 inch strips and place in a bowl. Sprinkle with salt. Serve in tortillas with toppings.

(This will definitely be made frequently in our house - even the kids liked it!)

This post is part of Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Iced Chamomile Tea

It was 100 degrees around here yesterday, but my sure way to beat the heat (other than a trip to the beach!) is to sit down and relax with a nice cool glass of home-grown iced chamomile tea.

(I love this drink even more because the chamomile plants came up all by themselves this spring (they are notoriously vigorous self-seeders) - so no planting - in the rock garden we are ripping out this summer - so no weeding - and my girls also love chamomile tea, so they volunteered to pick it for me - no harvesting! My oldest daughter even boiled the water for me, so all I had to do was put the flowers in the tea ball, add some honey, and stir it all up! If it wasn't 100 degrees out, I wouldn't even break a sweat!)

Iced Chamomile Tea
Fill your tea ball with chamomile flowers (fresh, dried, or frozen) - or - use 2 chamomile tea bags (I like Choice Organic which is what I buy if I run out of home-grown flowers)

Boil 2 quarts of water; take off heat and add tea ball or bags. Steep for ten minutes. Add honey to taste.
Pour into a glass pitcher (I don't like to use plastic because of the heat) and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Chamomile is known for its relaxing and soothing properties, perfect for when you're winding down at the end of a long, hot day in the garden!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Mac N Cheese - without the Mac!

This is what we're having for supper tonight - a meal that's evolved so far as to no longer have its original defining ingredient! But we love it, and hope you will too.
This dish started out as plain old mac n cheese, with some peas thrown in to add a little vegetables ('cause you're supposed to eat your vegetables, you know!) Eventually I made it a meal by adding some ham. Then I started making it from scratch, using homemade cheese sauce. And finally, now that I know better, I've started leaving out the pasta entirely (although we still call it Mac n Cheese).
It's what I call a "toss in some of this" recipe - throw in some leftover peas, some leftover ham (pastured, of course), and make a cheese sauce; then mix it all together and warm it up. Couldn't be simpler (or faster - I often fall back on this when I forgot to get meat out of the freezer for supper!)

(I know, it doesn't look like much - but it's comfort food - it's not supposed to look good!)

This post is part of Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade.