A home for all things crafty, health-conscious, cake-related, or in need of a wagon!



Monday, April 30, 2012

Extra Easy Calzones


This is kind of cheating, but I'm going to share it anyway!  Last week, I got some pizza dough from Trader Joe's and I made... calzones!  I would usually fill these waaay too much, with piles of veggies.  This time, I showed some restraint.

Easy Peasy Calzonies:
1 package of premade pizza dough
1 package vegetarian pepperoni
about 1/2 c. marinara sauce
1/2 zucchini
1/2 bell pepper
3 oz. mozzerella cheese (I grated up some string cheeses)
olive oil
shakey cheese
flour
Divide your dough into 3 equal-ish pieces


Grate up your cheese


Chop up the veggies and saute with a little water


Stretch out the dough, and lay it on your pizza stone or cookie sheet.  Cover most of the middle with sauce, then pepperoni, veggies, and cheese on one side.  Fold over the other side, and smash it down the best you can.  (If it's not perfect, it's ok!)


Brush with olive oil, and add a little shakey cheese on top.  (This would be what the rest of America calls "parmesan cheese")  Bake according to pizza dough directions, adding a few more minutes if it's not quite brown yet.- This specific one was at 425* for about 15 minutes, I think.


Enjoy the deliciousness!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Chickens?

So... we've been talking about getting chickens for quite a while. Now that we officially can in Redmond, we have hit a bit of a hiccup:

I'm pregnant! (which explains why almost everything I've posted this year has been about gardening, and not food)

I'm due in mid-October, but because of some other complications (like having to quit my job earlier than I expected to, and that the specific chicken breeds that I wanted were out of stock for a while) we've decided that we're going to delay a year.  So.. next spring, we will have chickens!


On the plus side, I am finally no longer feeling like this:


The only typical pregnancy craving that I've had so far has been pickles- and not even really a craving so much, as that they are delicious with sandwiches.  (If you know John, this alone can confirm that this is his kid; the man could live on sandwiches forever!)  We are really excited, and should find out the sex in about 5 weeks!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

My parents' house: In the greenhouse



When I was growing up, in the first house that I really remember, we had an amazing garden.  My parents transformed the majority the backyard hill into a growing complex, edged with tires that were most likely filled with potatoes.  We grew corn; in Washington!  We grew spinach that tasted like balloons to me, but I think that's because I was used to frozen chopped spinach.  We grew carrots and zucchini and yellow squash.  I'm sure there were other things too, but it was the biggest garden I'd ever seen.  I think that growing up with a garden has really influenced me and my preference for homegrown food.  Slowly, but surely, I'm transforming my hill into growing space.  This is a peek into the greenhouse at my parents' house, already full of seedlings ready for this season.  


 My favorite here is the "Defiant tomato"; It's like it's saying, "I dare you to pollinate me!"


Some bigger squash starts, flowers, and overwintered herbs (thyme, giant parsley, sage, and rosemary)


My dad is quite the woodscraftsman.  (Is that a word? If it is, he is one for sure.)  He made all of these planters last year, specifically for tomatoes.  As they grow taller, you raise the arm to keep them straight and supported.


This was his fall/winter project; A potting bench!  The middle sections with the slats come out, with soil underneath.  Just amazing!


Here is the back of the house, and the whole greenhouse from the outside. (Did I tell you that I helped put it together? I kind of did.  Mostly holding things for my dad while we baked in the sun, and he swore.  It was NOT an easy project!)  Up next? This year's projects, and their crazy giant overwintered vegetables!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Scalloped Potatoes

For some reason, I decided that this was an Easter food, and if I wasn't going to eat ham, I owed it to all of us to at least make fancy potatoes!  I adapted a recipe that I found online, and it was really delicious and decadent (of course!)

Scalloped Potatoes:

4 or 5 potatoes (I used red ones)
3 Tbsp. butter
2 c. grated cheese (I did a mixture of parmesan and sharp cheddar)
1 1/2 c. milk+ 3 Tbsp. flour, mixed together

Slice your potatoes, as thinly as you can manage without cutting yourself.  Get a large rectangular pan, and coat it with cooking spray.  Make a layer of potatoes on the bottom, putting them on top of each other a little bit, like so:

Dot with about a tablespoon of the butter, diced into very small cubes.  Sprinkle on some pepper.

Layer in some cheese to cover, then do another layer of potatoes on top.  Cover again with the rest of the cheese.  Then pour the milk/flour mixture over the top, and bake at 375* for about 45 minutes.


When it looks this good, test a potato to see if it is soft.  If not, bake some more!  Serve with asparagus, and if you feel the need for some protein, you can cook up some French lentils, like I did. (The potatoes were still the best part, don't get me wrong!)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Useful Kitchen Tools

I thought it was high time to share some of my most useful kitchen tools, ones I use on an (almost) daily basis. To start with, we have metal tongs.

These are very useful- from moving around roasting veggies to getting things out of the toaster oven (I use bamboo ones for that- no electricution here!), tongs are something I use all the time. I first bought some after watching a portion of a Jamie Oliver show, wherein he'd barbecued some vegetables in a small aluminium pan, and then tossed them around- I thought, "Why don't I have some of those?" I bought a pair on the way home.

Next up is a microplane. When I first got one of these, I actually got a different type, specifically for zesting lemons. My best friend got one like this, and we decided to test them out to see which is best.
I've decided that this kind is best; my other one is now used solely for grating nutmeg (just a smaller surface area, and didn't stay quite as sharp.) This one can be used for zesting citrus, shaving hard cheeses or chocolate, (or nutmeg)- and it makes lovely little light piles of things with lots of air in them. If you're on a diet, you can feel like you're getting tons of cheese on something, when it's really just a taste. I keep it inside the cover in between uses, just to keep it protected and free of dust.

Everyone always says, "A good kitchen knife" when making these kinds of lists... so: A good kitchen knife. I have 2, just in case. I wash them by hand after using them, and sharpen them once a month or two. Both of these have really lasted me quite a long time- 4 years at least right now. One is a Santoku knife (the pink one) and the other is just a large chef's knife. You want to find one that has some weight in the handle, but not so heavy that it wears out your hand when you're using it. I got each of these knives for about $20-$25, and I think the quality is really good. Some people go crazy and spend huge piles of money on knives, but I think unless you are the Iron Chef, maybe don't worry so much about it. I used to cut things with steak knives for years.... and really- don't do that. It sucks!

A colander! Where would I be without you? Eating soggy food, that's where. This thing almost doesn't make it back up to it's hook, I use it so often. Pasta, veggies, rinsing spinach... what can't it do?
And lastly, a good set of measuring cups. This kind is especially good if you do a lot of baking, because apparently, using one of those old trusty Pyrex guys can be off a slight bit when measuring flour. I really use both types all the time, and you really can't cook from recipes very well without them! (trust me, I've had to do it before, and the results were NOT PRETTY!)

This concludes my list of top 5 most useful kitchen tools!