Friday, July 18, 2014

Summer Rains

The rain  this summer has been keeping our July nice and cool this year. It's still been a little too warm for some of my tomato plants to produce well but they're looking healthy and I have hopes for a nice fall tomato crop.

They say it probably hit 100 degrees for a short bit one day so far but I don't think it quite made it where I was so I'm refusing to count it. The rain and warm weather has gotten my cucumbers to produce really well this year. We've eaten several of them so far and there are still more growing. Likewise the pepper plants are loving the weather. They would grow in hotter weather too but with the rain and nice temperatures there are plenty of peppers for making tasty meals.  For some reason the zucchini isn't doing so well though. They made some fruit and then began to die back. I thought people always talked about the plentiful zucchini but maybe I need to redo the soil. There's always next year.

The potatoes made little bitty potatoes after the tops died back. If there's anything else down there I haven't found it. It's possible that it's really deep though and I want to wait to dig any deeper so as not to disturb any neighboring plants. There are still onions in the ground nearby as well as some herbs.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Making Bread - Demystified

I was reading in the paper and there was an article about the hassle of making bread. It talked about how we don't know how to do the simple things anymore and instead rely on store bought loaves that really don't give you the same satisfaction as if you got them fresh.

In this article they also gave a recipe for what they called the easiest bread ever.  Sure they made it look all fancy and plugged specialized equipment that no one really ever needs to even know exists, but the for got to loop back to the real problem we're facing. It takes time to make bread and they gave one of the worst recipes I can imagine to start with.  They said to use yeast, and yes they recommended quick rise yeast, but they insisted that you don't have to kneed it and that it takes three hours to rise.  This is the part that bugged me.  At this point you might as well have thrown the ingredients into a bread machine or gone down to the store and gotten some of their bakery items. You'd have the same experience.

To make a good loaf of bread, and really feel more a part of the process, you have to get your hands dirty. Knead the crap out of that dough! This isn't just a way to mix the dough. First off this really makes you appreciate the bread and what goes into it. Second it actually makes the bread rise better. Your body heat gives the yeast a better environment to thrive and thus makes it rise quicker and better.

Another thing they didn't seem to want to do, and I can understand that there are a lot of people out there who might agree, is add sugar to the ingredients. We're not talking about a cup of sugar or even a quarter cup. All you need is a teaspoon or so to feed the yeast. This will wake those buggers up and help them multiply. Even with quick acting yeast I would add sugar.  This doesn't affect the taste of the bread since the yeast eats nearly all of it up during the process.

As far as the tools you need, you just need a bowl, some measuring cups and spoons, and a loaf pan or two. You might even decided to make it a round loaf which just needs a flat pan to bake on.  Get used to making bread first and if you decide later you want to get fancy then go explore the world of breads and see which kinds you like. In general they are easy to make and will make you feel accomplished.

Recipe Coming Soon!