We love our technology, but in some ways we are taking the old road.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Funny Things You Learn When You Blog

I was looking at my SiteMeter out of my usual curiosity, and I saw that someone found me through a Google search. The search was "hay bales stacked like mount rushmore". Well, that's too funny. I do not have that topic in my blog, but I do have stacked hay bales and Mount Rushmore in two separate entries. I'm sure the searcher was disappointed.

So then I entered that search into Google, and my blog was the top result! So that's even funnier. Maybe the searcher had an idea that no one's ever tried before.

Pizza Night

Friday night is pizza night for our family. It got started back when my kids were very little. We'd order pizza to give me a break from cooking and to feel like the weekend was starting; I stayed home with kids who didn't go to school yet. But it was a waste of money to order pizza every week, so we started trying every frozen pizza. We didn't really like any, so my husband suggested I try making homemade. I didn't think I liked homemade pizza, but I gave it a try. And we liked it!

I got the dough recipe from my mom; it's pretty much the same as Betty Crocker's.

Pizza dough

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 C warm water
3 C all-purpose or bread flour
1 t sugar (optional)
1 t salt
2 T vegetable/olive oil

First combine the yeast with the warm water in a large bowl:

Let it stand 5 minutes. Then add the flour, sugar, salt, and oil:

Mix it as well as you can with a wooden spoon, then knead it until the dough is well-mixed and smooth. I do this right inside the bowl. You can also use a stand mixer for the whole process. You don't have to knead it as long as you would regular bread dough:

Then you can use the dough immediately or cover it and let it stand up to a couple of hours. It gets a nicer texture when you let it rise, but there isn't a big difference:

If you're using metal pans, grease them. You can also use a pizza stone, preheated in the oven.

Divide the dough in two and shape the crusts on your pans (or cornmeal-dusted pizza peel, if using a stone), pinching the edge to raise it. Spread sauce over your crusts; I like Contadina:

Add your toppings. I use about 1 cup of shredded mozzarella per pizza. Usually I add Hormel pepperoni, and sometimes I use precooked sausage. Sometimes I add onion, black olives, mushrooms, and/or green pepper. Once in a while I do Canadian bacon and pineapple. But most weeks, it's just easiest to do pepperoni.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees while you're shaping and topping the pizzas. Bake for 6 minutes, then switch the position of the pizzas (assuming you have one pizza on the bottom rack and one on the rack above) and bake for 6 minutes more.

This is a good-tasting, inexpensive pizza that isn't difficult to make. For me, probably the best part is knowing that, every Friday night, my menu is already decided and everyone's going to be happy with it!

Monday, August 17, 2009

French Toast with a Flamingo

How do you like my Magic Tree House-like title?

This morning my little one made french toast sticks from the kids' new cookbook. New is a relative term, since I gave it to them for Christmas. But we've just started using it.

First she cut up the bread:

Then she mixed up the eggs and milk:

Then when she was dipping the bread and then rolling it in crushed corn flakes (we followed the recipe even though we don't normally make it that way), her feet got tired, so she adopted her flamingo pose:

She has such long, thin legs that she really reminds us of a flamingo when she does that.

We did not care for the corn flake crust. Daddy's french toast is much better.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Cookbook for Boys & Girls

My kids have had the 1950s Betty Crocker Cookbook for Boys & Girls for a few years now. I remember looking at the original with great fascination when I was a child; I think my mom had had one. Ours is a reissue with a few notes about the recipes involving raw eggs.

We just finished working our way through the whole thing.

I'm rather compulsive about cookbooks. (Maybe I need to go watch "Julie and Julia.") I like to work my way through them methodically, almost like I'm using them as a cooking class, trying recipes and techniques I haven't attempted before. Then I make marks next to them so I'll remember how much we liked them. In my cookbooks, I stick to recipes that look good and don't involve too many unusual or expensive ingredients. In the kids' cookbook, we made everything except the ones involving ingredients we couldn't get, which did happen with a cookbook written decades ago. Betty Crocker does not appear to make a cream puff mix anymore. Oh, and we skipped the recipes involving peanut butter and nuts. Some recipes are still good if you leave out the nuts, but some are just boring without them, so I mostly don't try those recipes.

It was really interesting seeing what 1950s ideas of food were. The best recipes were totally basic things, like beans & weiners, grilled cheese sandwiches, and butter frosting. I don't think we'll refer to it often for recipes, but it sure was fun to try things. Now the kids are moving on to the newest Betty Crocker kids' cookbook. The first recipe was good - blueberry pancakes!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Hand-crafted Hay Bales

We planted our orchard in an alfalfa field. The alfalfa between the trees remains. But you can't drive a tractor and baler between the trees. And we needed some bedding for our chickens, having nothing else without purchasing it.

So my husband borrowed a weed cutter from his brother and has been cutting it by hand. It's like swinging a golf club.

Then he and the kids have raked it up and hauled it in the wheelbarrow. We had a hay pile most of the time while we had many chickens. But now we don't need so much bedding with just a dozen chickens in the coop. So my husband wanted to make litte rectangular bales somehow to store the extra.

He invented a manual haybaler:

It's a hinged frame made from scraps we had lying around. He and the kids would pack lots of hay into it, and he'd hold the kids' hands while they jumped up and down to pack it. They thought it was fun. Then my husband would tie twine around the bales and dump them out.

So now we have a few haybales stacked for sometime later when we need some bedding.

We'll probably just mow the hay with the lawnmower for the rest of the season since we shouldn't need it.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


We will have sweet corn soon!

The ears are gettting filled out, but the kernels don't spray yet when you pierce them. So tonight we are watering with the soaker hose again. It's been so very dry here.

I have some volunteer Roma tomato plants in my garden this year. The plants are doing beautifully.

Tomatoes have been slow to get going here, because the weather has been so cool. But there are small green tomatoes in my garden now.

My dill is huge.

Now... don't look at those... weeds. Yes, I need to weed my garden.

So, my dill. I planted cucumbers in hopes of getting a bunch of baby ones to make into pickles. But something ate all but the center of my cucumber plants earlier this summer - probably deer. So those plants basically had to start over. I don't think my cucumbers will coincide with my dill, if the cucumbers ever do well. So unless I buy some tiny cucumbers at a farmer's market soon, I don't think I'm going to use that dill. I do love homemade dill pickles.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


My flower garden is moving along through its seasons. The lilies I posted a picture of earlier this summer, when they were just starting to bloom, bloomed big and beautifully - but I forgot to take a picture then.

The yellow flowers bloomed well, too, and still look great:

The thistle-like perennial I got from a neighbor has purple flowers on it now:

And these poker-like flowers have been blooming a long while, too:

I really need to get my flower book out and try to remember what these plants were! These were all shared by generous gardeners, so I've promptly forgotten what they said they were giving me.