Cool, rainy days

Looking ahead at the next 10 days of weather, it looks like frost may be behind us. Today is much cooler than yesterday, but tonight the temperature doesn’t fall but a couple of degrees. Cool, rainy days are bread days. There is a loaf and a half of homemade bread in the freezer, but no more rolls for sandwiches that call for a roll rather than a slice. I pulled out the mixer and the dough bowl and made a batch of the sandwich roll recipe, dividing it into 8 rolls instead of 6 at the recommendation of a friend that made them after I did a couple weeks ago. They are a much better size. I also used half whole wheat flour with the all purpose to make them heartier an healthier.

And pizza dough rising for dinner.

My walk in the drizzle up to check for mail revealed the beautiful Dogwood at the top of the drive in full bloom, though they aren’t really, as it is just the colored modified leaves showing now, the real bloom in the center hasn’t opened yet.

On my way back down to the house, I saw the Momma Wren fly from her Barberry Bush nest so I took a peek.

Though the one in the garden failed, this wren has 5 hungry babies hidden away. I will leave them alone as I can see the nest from the utility room and will see as they get ready to fledge.

Yesterday, we went to the local nursery and though I tried to start my own pepper and tomatoes, they look puny and leggy, so I purchased my pepper and tomato starts for the garden. They are under the grow light with hardening off time when the wind and rain permit. I have tried numerous times to start my own starts and never had good results. The 14 starts are healthy and strong and cost less than the 4 packages of seed. I guess I should just plan on buying them each year. I wore a mask and was pleased that all the employees and other customers had on masks. They didn’t even handle my debit card and I had taken my own container to bring them home. Another couple of weeks and they will go in the garden. In the meantime, I need to finish the weeding and prep.

Return to Simpler Times

I have blogged in the past about being a bit hippy in the sense that I have always had a garden, been a recycler before it was popular or required, used up/reused before throwing away. Long before I met my husband, I cooked from scratch, baked my own bread, and was vegetarian by choice, though that aspect is more limited as he is a definite omnivore and cooking two different meals is too onerous. We do have meatless meals occasionally, I do make sides such as macaroni and cheese or au gratin potatoes that I can eat as my meal and he as a side. During my earlier days of omitting meat from my diet, I read several books, bought a couple. Only one of them has stayed in my library, a nutrition guideline and recipe book full of vital information and anecdotes of the lifestyle changes of the authors. The book is “Laurel’s Kitchen.”

My copy is 2 years older than our marriage, 4 years older than my eldest child, well worn, well loved, and cherished. Though I rarely refer to a recipe anymore in my cooking, it is still pulled off the shelf to check my intuition when returning to cooking something I have let lapse over time.

One of those processes that lapsed after the kids were grown and less bread consumed, was bread baking. By that time, artisan loaves and whole grain breads could be purchased in the grocer or at the Farmers’ Markets. With us at home and away from others, bread baking has returned to my routine. The internet has a wealth of recipes and instructions on “how to” but I love my old book. Yesterday, I blogged that with our Natural Foods Store doing email orders and no touch curbside delivery, I bought the fixings for a meatless Mediterranean dinner, but needed to make Pita. When I first moved into this home with hubby still working across the state, Son 1 and his family were living here with me and still doing interior work on the house. They were very amenable to meatless meals and both very good cooks, so we would buy Dolmas and olives, they would make hummus and tabbouleh, and I would make Pita bread and we would feast. I haven’t made Pita in at least a dozen years, but knew that when I made them then, the recipe did not come from the internet, but from my beloved book. This morning, I pulled it back off the shelf to refresh my memory. The recipe in the book makes 24 Pitas, or if half of the dough is formed into a loaf, a dozen Pitas and a loaf of bread. I may go for half a dozen Pitas, a loaf of bread and half a dozen sandwich rolls.

When I was making bread for our growing family, hubby bought me a giant pottery bowl.

I would mix up 3 or 4 loaves of bread, beating the dough with a large wooden spoon and breaking a few of them over the years as the dough got stiff. Kneading in more flour in the bowl by hand until the dough was not sticky and turning it on a floured board or counter to finish kneading it. At a craft fair at some point, hubby bought me a wooden dough bowl.

The final kneading and rising could be done in the bowl. It was all done by hand, but alas, a wrist break, wrist surgery, and arthritis make if nearly impossible to do the entire process by hand anymore. I can do the artisan type breads, but that dough doesn’t make good rolls or Pita so we bought me a Kitchen Aid stand mixer.

It is not a commercial grade one and it struggles toward the end of kneading dough, so it gets the bread started and then I turn it into the wooden dough bowl to do the final kneading and proofing. The dough is proofing covered in that precious wooden dough bowl as I write. Later it will be divided and prepared for baking the bread for dinner and meals later in the week. A slow down in time, a return to a simpler life. There is some good come from this staying at home.

Our daily bread

The self isolation has prompted a return to bread baking and consumption of homemade bread. When we knew that we would be staying at home and began our supply stocking, some sandwich type rolls and a loaf of sourdough bread were purchased and frozen. A month into the isolation, those supplies are long gone which prompted a resurrection of the sourdough. While the sourdough was being fed and restored, a couple of loaves of no knead artisan bread were made, then the starter was ready and several loaves have been baked, giving one to the neighbor that helped with the mower. This morning, I realized that there were no sandwich rolls left, so the starter discard was put to use to mix up a batch of dough for them. There are two recipes that I use for rolls, one with sourdough and one without. The sourdough ones take longer to make but use up the daily discard. The ones below are the yeast raised ones.

The yeast raised ones are done, the sourdough have 4 more hours plus baking time. Think I will stick to yeast raised for sandwich buns.

The bread making helps pass the time and since we aren’t going anywhere, there is plenty of that. Because flour is a rare commodity, I can’t go out to get it, I’m using so much of it, I ordered fresh stone milled organic flour. It comes from a mill where a blogger friend works and it arrived today. I just sprayed the outer box with 1% bleach spray and will open it with gloves on once it is dry and bring my 4 three pound bags in. Can’t wait to try it, but with one each of the roll recipes rising on the counter that will make 12 buns, and about a half a loaf of sourdough remaining from yesterday’s baking, it will have to wait a day or two and will probably be a loaf of sandwich bread.

This morning, the mower repair people came and picked up the riding mower to take in to fix and when I stepped out to yell up to the guy to see if we paid for the pick up now or when it was returned, I saw our neighborly mower had again jumped her fence and come to visit.

If she is going to come mow, I wish she would at least come down to an area that I have to mow, not an area that is saved for hay. Of course it had just started raining when I called her owner to let her know where “Bad” Penny was. She is due to calf in May so maybe she will stay home and not leave her little one then.

The time at home has my garden in a better place than it has ever been this early in the spring, but we have two days of rain followed by a chilly day and near freezing night ahead, so it will sit idle. The asparagus look like they will provide enough for a meal soon, then they will overwhelm and I only like them fresh, so freezing or otherwise preserving is not going to happen. I know daughter and granddaughter love them and I’m sure she will be glad to come out to pick up a bag full and a dozen eggs. I need to get out between rain showers and string some trellis for the peas.