This week

So far this week for garden/home things…

I have frozen some basil in oil. I used it I make a dip last night so preserving it didn’t last long. I really love basil!

The dip was very easy. Blended a large handful of basil, some olive oil (maybe a third of a cup) and 8 oz of cottage cheese with some salt and garlic.

It made a creamy dip with the consistency of hummus. It was delicious and I plan on trying it on pasta soon!

I also made up some croutons from leftover bits and pieces of bread on the freezer. I noticed that the bread was still in really good shape, so I may try freezing some whole loaves of homemade bread in the future.

Last night I also made microwave simple syrup (1:1 ratio) that I can keep in the fridge for iced tea. I hadn’t made it before but how simple! I made it in a large mason jar, so not even any dirty dishes!!

I am craving some homemade lemonade. If the price is right I may pick up some lemons tonight! They are never local so I feel a bit guilty, but I guess it’s my little indulgence.

That’s about all! Seedlings are growing, slowly. We will be planting the garden next weekend and I can’t wait!

DISASTER!



Last night, I tried to find a way around cooking my rice.  My successful experience with cooking dried beans made me confident.  Possibly too confident.


Here I sit, stirring rice (and typing between stirs.)  Why?  Because I failed.


After my beans were cooked (about 10:30 PM) I decided that I could start the rice & not have to cook anything tonight.  Easy, right?
I consult my http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/ cookbook & discover that rice only takes 2 hours or so.  I fret.  I do not wake up at 12:30 AM for anyone or anything.  Hubby to the rescue! He gets out the timer we use for lamps when we go on vacation (robbers, don’t pay attention.  We never go away.)  And he plugs the CP in, sets it for 2 hours, and away to bed we go.


Scene two:
This morning, the kitchen.
“OH CRAP”
The rice is a mushy ball of starch.  It is completely unsalvageable (sorry, no pics.  Too early to think.)
Lesson learned: Don’t get cocky.  And don’t cook rice unless you’ll be available to fluff it at the end (that’s what she said. Sorry, mom!)
Anyway, I came home and made (well, I’m still making) rice.  And now we will have a fabulous rice and bean dinner.  We’re even getting fancy and adding tortillas and cheese to the mix.


Here’s a pic pre-nosh.  



YUM.  


The recipe is as follows: 


*this made about a million pounds but I plan on freezing most of it


3 cans worth (6 cups?) of black beans 
     – When I cooked the beans I added chiles and a little can of chipotle peppers.  It’s a spicy dish so season to taste. 
4 cups cooked rice
2 cups diced tomatoes, roasted on 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.  
Handful fresh parsley


Mix & enjoy! 

Recipe- Oven Baked Eggplant Rounds

Here’s a recipe I really like. WW recommends this as an app, but I served it recently for 6 (I cooked it, with my sister-in-law Kayla’s help!) over homemade linguine that Eric made with some basil and parsley. It took about an hour to prep, but the kitchen was full of family getting the meal ready, and we all enjoyed it on the patio with some lovely cheap vinho verde (http://www.casalgarcia.com/.)

Vinho Verde is a Portuguese wine that is so drinkable, it’s a little dangerous on a hot day.

It’s called “Green Wine” because it is a young wine, made to be drunk within a year (not an issue in my house.)

If you want to learn more:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vinho_Verde

Anyway- onto the recipe!

Oven Baked Eggplant Rounds (modified from a WW recipe)
1 point each

1 large eggplant, peeled
Non stick cooking spray (olive oil)
1/4 c Parmesan cheese
2 tomatoes, same diameter as the eggplant, sliced
egg whites, beaten
1/8c bread crumbs

Spray baking sheet with non stick spray

Slice eggplant into 1 inch rounds
Coat with egg white “wash”
Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese
Place on baking sheet, bake at 475 for 15 minutes

Take out, place tomato slices on top of eggplants, sprinkle lightly with bread crumbs, spray with non-stick spray
Place back in oven for 3 minutes

Bread

“I would say to housewives, be not daunted by one failure, nor by twenty. Resolve that you will have good bread, and never cease striving after this result till you have effected it. If persons without brains can accomplish this, why cannot you?”
‘Housekeeping In Old Virginia’ Marion Cabell Tyree ed. (1878)

Baking bread can be a frustrating task. It sometimes seems like the results have less to do with the effort you put in, and more to do with some magic in the air. I always tell Eric that I feel like an alchemist when it comes out correctly.

Here’s a photo of my bread. I’m still an amateur, but I enjoy completely everything about baking it. I’ll muse about that another day, maybe.

As you can see, my bread is prettty pale. I long for a browned crispy loaf, but no luck yet. Any tips?


For now, here’s the recipe and the result:



5 cups flour
1 pkg (5 grams) instant yeast
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp melted butter
2 cups warm milk

Combine 3 cups of the flour along with the sugar, instant yeast and salt in a large bowl or in the bowl of a large electric mixer that uses a dough hook. Add the melted butter and warm milk. Using a wooden spoon or the regular paddle of your electric mixer beat for 4-5 minutes until the mixture is smooth with no lumps. If using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook at this point and begin to slowly incorporate the remaining 2 cups of flour.


Cover dough and leave to rest and rise for one hour.

At this point, I grease a baking sheet, shape the loaves haphazardly, and bake.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 30-40 minutes depending on the size of the pans that you are using.
When baked, turn loaves out onto a wire rack to cool. Brush the tops with melted butter if desired to soften the top crust.