16 January 2012

Playing House

Vintage alpacas
Vintage alpaca love

We're not only house sitting at the moment; we're dog sitting a very sweet old bird dog named Bella. Last week the family discovered she has renal failure, so we're making her very comfortable and trying to make sure she's eating enough. She's a bit feeble, but still feisty enough to sneak into the alpaca paddock behind me and frolick through the garden when I'm collecting zucchini.

Long neck
Long neck

Bella Alpacas

Bella

fresh garden beans

Before leaving town, Kate showed me what produce was coming up in the garden and told me to help myself. We're particularly fond of these red-streaked "dragon tongue beans," which are tasty eaten fresh from the vine or prepared like green beans. Thank goodness for all this fresh produce, because everything else I've been making is not so healthy...

Snicker doodles
Snicker Doodles: a classic recipe that never gets old.

I've been taking advantage of the opportunity to bake, not just cookies but bread! I've never made bread before, so this is a big step for me. The truth is, Kate has a bread maker, so I took the easy way and made the dough in the machine. When we stayed with the Matla family in Otaki, Sonja made the best focaccia bread I've ever had, and I requested the recipe. She helpfully sent it along, and it came out beautifully. I took a fresh baked loaf along to a barbeque we attended on Saturday, and it all disappeared with glowing reviews, as did the snicker doodles.

Focaccia
From the Panasonic Breadmaker Recipe Book

2 tsp Surebake yeast (don’t use ordinary dried yeast) 
450g white flour 
1 tsp sugar 
1 Tbsp olive oil 
1 Tbsp milk powder 
1 tsp salt 
300ml water 

Make dough according to bread maker instructions. When ready, roll the dough into 1 large or 2 small rectangles. Place on a greased tray, cover with greased cling wrap and leave to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes. 

2 Tbsp olive oil 
½ tsp salt 
1 tsp dried basil 
1 tsp dried rosemary or 1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp dried thyme

Dimple the top by pressing evenly with your finger well into the dough. Combine the above and brush onto dough. Bake in a preheated 200ºC / 390ºF oven for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Focaccia bread
This fragrant loaf makes the whole kitchen smell tasty.

Since the focaccia success, I have moved on to a focaccia-inspired calzone, using a pizza dough recipe I found online. I stuffed the calzone with ricotta, fresh spinach & zucchini from the garden, leeks, pesto, tomato sauce & red peppers. After weaving the thing closed, I rubbed the top with a small amount of the same olive oil & herb combination used on the focaccia. When Sam saw my masterpiece, he professed his love for me.

Then he asked, "aren't you going to put in the mozzarella?" and I realized I forgot the ingredient I was most looking forward to! It was sitting on the counter, taunting me. It was too late to unfold it, but I stuffed the mozzarella into our slices after baking, so it all worked out. The ricotta and veggies made it taste like a lasagne pie.

calzone

pastel nails

We had a few days' break from work, so I painted my nails pastel colors, inspired by the gardens around the house. We're going to be house painting tomorrow, so I don't expect they will last long!

I also fell in love with a little chartreuse car I saw in the grocery store parking lot. Chartreuse doesn't work for everything, but I do love it on a car.

Chartreuse car

2 comments:

Labear said...

I do not see any big trucks in the parking lot

Kristen Eads Covington said...

Ha! It's true. We're not in Texas anymore.