Monday, June 6, 2011

Creating a small kitchen garden

It is June and I know it is a little late to be thinking about a kitchen garden, but here in the Northwest our spring was cold and wet. It was not a typical spring and certainly not a spring for building a small raised bed. In the last week the weather has dried enough to work the ground, mow the lawns and contemplate sowing seeds. With any luck this part of the world will see a summer and reap the benefits of a carefully planned kitchen garden.
My garden beds started out in the form of four uncut 2x4 lengths of lumber. Each length was eight feet, was cut in half and was nailed together to create a four foot by four foot square.
Once the frame was completed I placed a cardboard liner inside the frame and then covered the cardboard with untreated landscape fabric/weed barrier.
After lining my garden bed with the landscape fabric, I filled the area with a mix of steer manure, top soil, sand, pearlite, compost, alfalfa pellets, and a blend of nursery soil. I filled the frame so that the soil was approximately 4 inches deep.
It is my hope that this small garden spot will serve as a good location to grow lettuce, herbs, and chard. I plan to start a few summer squash and cucumbers in these beds, but I know that I will have to transplant them to another location. Cucumbers and squash need more area for their vines to spread.
My  tomatoes, beans, peas and cilantro will be grown in containers and I will feature them in later post.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Astronomy Friday....chasing asteroids

The asteroid Vesta makes it's appearence in June, and now is a great time to begin you search for this object.

 A pair of hand held binocular will help you spot it nestled among the stars of Capricornus. The asteroid is shining at the 7th magnitude in early June, but before summer ends it will be a bright 5.6 magnitude and visible to the naked eye.
To locate Vesta, use Iota Capriconi as a guide, Vesta lies less than 1 degree east of this star tonight!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Carrot Cake

So common to many spring gardens is the deliciously sweet and vibrantly orange carrot. Carrots are filled with great taste, crunch and vitamins. Just some of the reasons I love carrot cake. This recipe uses applesauce instead of oil and is very moist and flavorful. Diced pineapple replace nuts, but you can certainly add them to this recipe if you wish. The entire cake is topped off with a thick cream cheese frosting, for a wonderfully decadent dessert.

4 cups all purpose flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp mace
1  1/2 cups applesauce
1  1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
the zest of one entire orange
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup pineapple, diced
3 cups shredded carrots

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 9x 13 inch baking pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl combine eggs, sugar, applesauce, orange zest until smooth.
add the carrots and stir thoroughly.
Add 4 cups of sifted flour and the remaining dry ingredients, fold into wet ingredients until almost incorporated.
Add the raisins and diced pineapple combine all ingredients until completely combined.
Pour into prepared baking dish, place in the oven and bake 35 to 40 minutes.
To test, insert a toothpick, if it is clean when removed the cake is done.
Do not over cook.

Serve cooled with a cream cheese frosting and an ice cold glass of milk.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ricotta calzones, My first blog post

I recently discovered a wonderful new recipe over the Memorial Day Weekend. It features a delicious crisp pocket of bread filled with cheeses, spinach, roasted peppers and garlic. This calzone recipe  is is savory, creamy and aromatic. It is simple to make and satisfying, enjoy.


Basic calzone dough:

4 cups of flour
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups warm water


3 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
16 ounces ricotta cheese
8 ounces of chevre (goat cheese)
8 ounces shredded  mozzarella cheese
4 tbsp grated parmesan
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp oregano
pinch of salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes
1/2 cup roasted red peppers
6 cups fresh baby spinach

The dough:
In a large bowl combine the flour, salt and yeast.
in a measuring cup combine the warm water and oil,

Slowly add the water to the flour mixture. Mix the oil, water and flour until it is combined and forms a ball. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter top, knead the dough ball until it is elastic and smooth to the touch, usually 5 minutes maybe a little longer. If the dough is too wet add a small amount of flour.
Oil a large bowl and placed the kneaded dough into the bowl. Cover with Saran wrap and let it rise for 2 hours or until it is doubled in size. While the dough rises prepare the ricotta filling.
In a large bowl combine ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, goat cheese, egg yolk, oregano and seasoning, cover and refrigerate.
In a 12 inch skillet heat the oil and add the garlic. Pay careful attention not to burn the garlic. Add the roasted red pepper and saute until fragrant, one to two minutes. Next, add the spinach and combine until just wilted. Remove from the heat and cool the spinach.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Prepare a large baking sheet with cooking spray. While the oven is warming remove the dough from its bowl and punch down. Form the dough into a log about 12 inches long, cut into six pieces. Shape each piece into a ball. With a rolling pin, roll one ball into a disc eight inches in diameter.
add  four tablespoons of the cheese mixture to the center of the disc, top with two tablespoons of the spinach and pepper mix.

Fold the dough over and enclose the filling. Crimp the edges with your fingers so that the filling does not leak out during the baking process.
Repeat six times, place each finished calzone on the baking sheet. brush with and egg wash and bake 25-30 minutes.

Serve hot with a fresh green salad