Thursday, April 29, 2010

Spring is in the Air

Spring is in the air the air. I saw my first hummingbird today. And oh yes my wisteria has got it's first blooms. I planted this vine 5 years ago, eagerly waiting, year after year, after year...I was gonna rip it out, but now that it is blooming I guess it can stay.I live in the mountains of south west Virginia, where they are known for having wild flowers galore. A lot of the flowers that grow here, I have not seen before anywhere else.

 I did a survey on what's coming up right now, we have trillium's.

The strawberry plants look real healthy this year.

The tulips are so beautiful.

I found these interesting purple wild flowers growing all through the woods. Nature has a way of healing, the beauty sure lets me know that there is a Creator..
I get to have this beautiful view greet me every morning. Lord I am grateful for your beautiful creation. Just think God goes to all the trouble of putting rare flowers on a mountain top for eye candy.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Homemade Pizza

I would like to show you how I make my homemade pizza. Since my family likes their crust, crispy, a pizza stone, and pizza peal are a must. I also own a kitchen aid which makes forming the dough a breeze.

Supplies: Large bowls, kitchen aid, pizza peal, pizza stone

Ingredients for dough:
1 cup warm water about 110 degrees.
2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups flour all purpose plus extra flour for rolling dough out
Toppings: mozzarella cheese, pepperoni

Bowl with electric mixer fitted with dough hook. Add warm water, yeast, and sugar. Stir to dissolve yeast.
wooden peel
pizza stone.

Add olive oil, flour, and salt. Mix with dough hook until the dough comes together it will
start to climb up the hook. The dough will be a little sticky.
Place dough in a large greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap. Place in warm area for 1 hour to rise . It will double in size.When taking dough out, pull at sides of bowl to release. The olive oil will be heavier on the bottom of dough. Flip less greasy side on well floured peel. Pull dough gently out till you reach the desired size, make sure it's well floured..

Homemade sauce:
1 -28 ounce can whole tomatoes drained,
3 cloves fresh garlic chopped,
1 teaspoon basil,
1/4 teaspoon oregano,
1/2 teaspoon anise seeds,
1/4 teaspoon salt,
2 teaspoons olive oil.

In fry pan add olive oil, and garlic. Fry on low for 3 minutes, do not burn. Add basil, oregano, salt, anise seeds, and drained whole tomatoes. Smash with a hand held potato masher. The sauce will stay on the chunky side. Simmer for 10 minutes , the sauce needs to be thick with out water in the pan.

Place pizza stone in cold oven before turning on. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.Placing pizza stone in hot oven will cause it to break.

Hand stretch dough on well floured board, I have a pastry cloth that I have floured well.
Sprinkle corn meal on pizza peal
This is what the dough will look like on pizza peal. The peal makes placing dough on stone easier.
Notice the dough on the pizza stone is hanging over the stone,. I use this to my advantage. I let the dough cook for 6 minutes, or till I see small brown spots forming on top of the dough,. I pull it out with my peal, and flip it over. The edges that are flipped down are now up, it works like a wall keeping the sauce from falling off to the side, and burning in the oven.
I topped this pizza with cheese and pepperoni. Bake for 8 minutes till cheese is melted and pepperonis sweats.
, The other topping I like are green olives, and bell peppers.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Happy Surprise, Update on Chocolate Chip Cookies

I thought I would share what happened to me last night. My husband  had made a request for chocolate chip cookies. I thought I had everything I needed to make them at the time., so I said OK.
  Then to discover I didn't have shortening one of the main ingredients. I looked all over my cupboards  for several minutes finally giving up. Since we live 15 miles from the closest grocery store I gave him the news that there would be" no cookies tonight."

Then I remembered I had a can of Lou Ana Coconut Oil, that I had purchased for making homemade soap. The stuff looked like shortening, so I thought I could substitute it for shortening. I looked on line and they recommended to use 75 % of what the recipe called for.

My recipe calls for 1 cup of shortening, so I put 3/4 cups coconut oil. The ingredients were mixing in my mixer when I found the shortening. I added 1/4 cup shortening to the coconut oil. That was the only deviation from my recipe.

My husband had always liked these cookies, his favorite way to eat them, was to dunk them in milk. His only complaint was they wouldn't soak up the milk. Now with the coconut oil they soak up the milk, and stay crispy, even when dunking. It changed the taste as well for the better. Try my recipe this way and let me know what you think. I know I will be experimenting some more.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Dessert Homemade Brownies From Scratch

I use to make brownies from a box, they were good, but I wanted to find a recipe from scratch that was even better. These homemade brownies from scratch are superior to any box brownie mix. I also like the fact that it has very few ingredients. I try to take lots of pictures for people like me that didn't have a mother that liked to bake. Let me know if you like my tutorials.

1/2 cup butter (one stick)
2 one ounce squares unsweetened chocolate
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs very well beaten
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Make a double boiler if you don't happen to own one like me. It is essential  to melt chocolate, and butter slowly so not to burn it.

 In a separate bowl beat 2 eggs with 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Beat very well to where the membrane of the egg whites is broken down to runny consistency. Take a third bowl add 1 cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, and 1/2 cup of flour. Mix well with whisk.There will be 3 separate bowls. One bowl will have the egg, and vanilla mixture. One will have the flour, sugar, and baking powder mixture. One bowl will have the butter and chocolate mixture.
Combine the ingredients of all 3 bowl together. Hand mix til smooth about 10 strokes.
Pour into a 8x8 glass pan. Bake for 30 minutes at 300 degrees.

In another bowl add 3/4 cup of milk chocolate chips. Melt in homemade double boiler.
When chocolate chips have melted mix 1/3 cup of whipping cream. Blend til glossy, and smooth. Insert tooth pick to test to see if done.
Frost homemade brownies with chocolate glaze.

Tole Painting Baby Rocking Chair

In my previous blog where I spoke of reworking my stools. I would like to give you a quick lesson on how to tole paint. What really appeals to me about this kind of painting is you don't have to know how to draw to come up with a decent product.

I first took an interest in tole painting, when I joined the Tuesday Morning Ladies Fellowship  We were stay at home mom's with small children. Every November we would have a craft sale, to raise money. My goal was to sell enough to be able to buy Christmas presents. There was one mother that did the best in sales, and what she did was paint Christmas ornaments with tole painting. Oh how I admired those ornaments, and wished I knew how to tole paint.

Here lies one wooden baby rocking chair.

I based coated it a dark blue. I traced out my pattern on tracing paper. Sandwich white carbon paper between chair and tracing paper. Using a stylist or pencil follow the drawing.
Caution before you trace the whole drawing lift up, check to make sure your carbon paper is on the correct side. Tape to chair so it doesn't move while you are transferring drawing.
Lift paper off, the tracing will be very light, which will allow you to erase latter.
Base in medium colors.Side load square angle paint brush with darker colors then base color. This will allow painting to look more 3rd dimensional.

This video gives you the action required to side load your paint brush.

Monday, April 19, 2010

My Kitchen Redo on the Cheap

Since I have a small kitchen, and do a lot of cooking. I came up with low cost methods of redoing my kitchen  cheap..

 First of all I got rid of our kitchen table. Made a kitchen island instead. Where we could sit on one side, and store dishes on the other side. I had an old work bench out in the garage, that we converted into a kitchen island. Notice the table was laid to hang over one side of the cupboards to have an area for sitting.

The back side was ugly, and also to unify the look, we covered it with bead board, I really like that stuff it
goes well with our cape cod style home. I painted the bead board white, so it made it appear larger.

The front I painted a barn red, to match the one red wall that I painted in the kitchen.

We purchased a oak table that we found on clearance, ripped off the bottom portion, and glued it to the cabinet top with liquid nails.

Found some chairs at the thrift store,which fit perfect under neath the bottom of the island.
Since I like to paint I reworked the stools also.

The bottom of the islands  holds my baking supplies very nicely.

My top cabinet doors did not match the bottoms. We priced the doors at a discount chain store at a hundred dollars a piece. My solution was to take the doors off and I saved big on this redo.I guess the other bonus is that it forces me to keep organized.

I purchased a metal rack, to organize my large bowls.

My husband put a shelf above our slide glass door .Where I can put some of my decorations for the  kitchen, as you can see I'm partial to gingerbread men.

I still have the rest of the chairs to paint. What do you think of my kitchen redo. I bet you might be able to implement some of these ideas too.