Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Garden Pleasures, October

Here it is October 11 and the garden is still going strong. On Saturday, we picked most of what was left of the Swiss Chard. It is one of the last crops to get eaten. I have to confess that I don't really like it that much, but as our choices for fresh garden produce get more and more limited, it starts to get more appealing.

It comes in the most amazing array of colours. After we picked it, we seperated leaves from stalks and blanched the leaves.

After blanching, I squeezed them and froze them in meal size chunks. I use them like frozen spinich, for lasagna, soups, and anything else you'd throw frozen spinich into.

The stems got chopped, blanched and also frozen. They're great in soup and stews.

Whatever was left over was thrown into the chicken coop, where some happy hens had a feast!

We have a new crop of peas, almost ready to eat!

And the fennel is looking big and delicious. Check out our swallowtail caterpillar at the top right....it also thinks the fennel is pretty tasty. We've been watching him grow for a few days now. I didn't realize he was in the shot until I cropped it just now.

We're back to eating lettuce. The summer is just too hot for lettuce to grow properly.

Zuma (our dog) found this sweet house finch lying on the deck this morning. I picked her up and held her for a few moments, then put her in the hedge. I think she must have accidentally hit  the house and been momentarily stunned. When I went back to check a few minutes later, she was gone.
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Happy Halloween Skeleton Bread

Here's a Happy Halloween Skeleton Bread that you can make as a family treat, a take along to a potluck or as part of a Halloween supper before Trick or treating! This guy is a regular at our annual neighbourhood halloween potluck. He is Huge, about 3'6" tall., using enough dough for 2 loaves of bread.  If you want a smaller guy, use half the recipe!

I used Martha Stewart's Ladies' Fingers recipe   HERE  Assemble your equipment. I used a mixer, but you can make the dough by hand. I used Instant Yeast instead of the traditional yeast called for in the recipe. If you use it, you just mix it in with the flour, no need to proof it first.

After you make the dough, let it rise, covered, in a warm spot for about an hour until it is doubled in size.
                                     The dough will be firmer than bread dough usually is.

                                                  Divide the dough into six roughly equal pieces.
 Use the largest piece first, this will be the head. It is easier to work on a counter that doesn't have any flour on it, so that the dough sticks slightly and stays in place while you are rolling and shaping.

                    Flatten the dough with your fingers or a rolling pin and poke holes into it, making a face.
                                 The dough will be about 3/4 of an inch thick when you flatten it.

                                              The next largest piece will become the rib cage.
                             Cut ribs into both sides of the dough, leaving a connection in the middle.

                                        Use your fingers to make the ribs longer and thinner.

                          To make legs, take another piece and roll it into a rope, about 14 inches long.
                               Cut lengthwise down the middle, then cut the two long pieces in half.

                                  The arms are made the same way with the next piece of dough.

                              Make the hips by flattening a piece and poking two holes into it.

                                     Cut the last piece into 4 parts and make feet and hands.

                                              Here's what he looks like before getting poached.
                     I used a large roaster with about 2 inches of water and 2 tablespoons of baking soda.
Following Martha's directions, poach all the pieces for a minute on each side, taking great care with the ribs, so that they don't break off. I use tongs and two spatulas to lift the biggest pieces out of the water. If anything breaks, just shove it back together before baking. Brush each piece with egg wash (a beaten egg mixed with 1 T of water), sprinkle with coarse salt or sesame seeds and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes until golden brown.

                                                 Or, you can just make some skull buns!

This seems a bit complicated, but its not that hard! I made a video describing the whole process  last year and you can watch it here on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/EvesLittleEarthlings

                                                                Happy Halloween!

Posted by Picasa