Monday, August 20, 2012

Monday - 7 Days Left

So, it's the last Monday of summer vacation.  Next week we go back for 3 days of inservice, and then the kids come back on Thursday.  It gets a teeny bit harder every year to go back!  I can't complain - this has been a terrific summer for relaxing.  Despite my health issues, I've taken it easy.

So how did I spend today?  I slept in until all of 7 am, and then enjoyed a leisurely cup of coffee and the internet.  I have a routine -- check email, hit FB,  head over to Ravelry, check out several blogs, check my school email, then head back to FB to play my games (Words with Friends, Pyramid Solitaire, Bubble Safari, Bubble Witch Saga.   I gave up on Gardens of Time and Hidden Chronicles because they were too dependent on continually adding friends to progress!).  By this time it's past 8 am, and I got a couple of phone calls from friends and family.  I spent the next hour showering, breakfast, and getting laundry started.  I had a few more phone calls, and I finally emptied a bookshelf that needed clearing out.  I filled a trash bag, and filled a box with giveaways.  I headed back to the kitchen and tackled the refrigerator.  Since today is the day we get our new basket of produce, I really needed to see what was left over in the veggie bins.  I cleaned them out and decided to make a refrigerator cole slaw --- red cabbage, Napa cabbage, some fennel, carrots, a pepper, and an onion all got shredded.  That took care of most of the produce that needed using up.  Then I pureed a largish zucchini and made a cake with it as a treat for the week.  This was a new recipe I found on Pinterest.  Mine doesn't look as pretty!  The glaze was much too drippy on my cake.
But I'll bet it will taste good!

   By the time all the baking and slaw-ing was done, it was time for lunch.  I spent the afternoon finishing laundry, reading, and then made a trip over to the farm to get our new basket.  We got a lot of cukes and squash, too much for just us, so my husband took some to a friend.

And now it's about time to start dinner, and then . . . some knitting and the start of slowly adjusting my body clock back to school bedtime!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Grilled Pizza with Garden Fresh Veggies and Goat Cheese

This was my first attempt at grilled pizza.  We had a plethora of basil and tomatoes fresh from the local farm.  (We belong to a CSA and we've been greatly blessed with an abundance of produce - the vegetable pizza toppings are all from the farm!  )  I even made my own pizza dough which I haven't done in years.  Here's what I learned.  The dough was a bit too bready for our likes - we like a thinner crispier pie.  That was definitely a function of the baker!   Another time, I'd divide the dough into 2 batches and roll/press it out more thinly before grilling. I'd also probably make smaller pizzas which would make it much easier to flip when it was time to do so.  My pie was probably about 14 inches in diameter which made it hard to manage without a second set of hands.  Perhaps another time, I'd lightly grill the onions and peppers first.  The bottom of the crust started to get a bit too charred, but the toppings were still pretty uncooked so I ended up bringing it in and putting it under the broiler for a couple of minutes, until the cheese got runny.    Taste wise, it was pretty good.

Here's what I did.

I made a basic pizza dough:

        1 pkg dry yeast (in the envelope)
        1 cup luke warm water
        1 tsp salt
        1 tsp sugar
        1 TBS olive oil
        3 cups flour (divided in half)

Warm your mixing bowl first by running under hot water.  Put the lukewarm warm water in the bowl and sprinkle the yeast over it.  Let it stand for 5 minutes.   Stir, and then add 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp salt, and 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Mix at low speed and then gradually add 1.5 cups of flour.  When the flour is incorporated, gradually add the remaining flour.  If you're using a stand mixer (I have a Kitchen Aid), change the blade to the dough hook, and knead the dough on low speed for about 5 minutes.  Dough should look smooth and silky, and not be sticky. If it's sticky, you might need to add a tad more flour.  Remove hook, and form dough into a ball (or divide into 2-3 balls), cover dough and let rise about 20 minutes.  Punch down, and let rise another 10 minutes.  Roll dough out into size you want (or press dough into a pan).

To grill:

Spray your grill grate (gas or charcoal) with non stick cooking spray.  Then heat grill.  Spray the back of a cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray (or use a large tray).  Place the dough on the back of the cookie sheet, and spray top of dough with non stick cooking spray.  Carefully slide the dough sprayed side down onto the grill and grill for about 5 minutes with cover down.  Check!!  The bottom of the dough will char but you need to watch it. The top will bubble up as dough cooks.  When bottom is done, slide back on cookie sheet and flip so that the charred side is up.  Place your toppings on the pizza and then put the uncooked side down on the grill.   Grill for about 5 minutes, until bottom is lightly charred, but not burned.    (This is where I had problems -- the bottom started to get too charred, even away from direct heat, and the top wasn't cooking fast enough)

Toppings that I used in the order they went on the pizza:

Homemade pesto -spread on the charred pizza
Thinly sliced red onion
Sliced fresh tomatoes
Green pepper strips
Dollops of goat cheese

My pesto recipe:

About 3 cups of basil leaves, lightly packed
About 1/3 cup of olive oil
1/3 cup of freshly grated parmesan
Juice of half a lemon
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup walnuts  (I was out of pine nuts!)
3 cloves of garlic

Put basil, walnuts, and garlic into food processor.  Drizzle some of the olive oil (2 tbs?) over all and whirl until chopped.  Add salt, pepper, lemon juice, and as you process the mixture, drizzle remaining olive oil into it.  Adjust seasoning, adding more lemon juice, garlic, etc. as needed.

I didn't use all the pesto for the pizza --- I had about 1/3 of it left over for the future.

We (2 of us) only ate 1/2 of the pizza --- the crust as I made it, was about 1/2 inch thick and bready, so it was quite filling.

I'm not sure how soon I'll grill a pizza again, but it was worth trying, and it did taste mighty good.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Three Weeks and Counting

Where is the summer break going?  Three weeks minus one day, and back on the treadmill we go!  My husband and I took a mini break this past weekend, partly to try to beat the hot, steamy weather.  He came home early Friday afternoon and we took off for Maine.  We had no particular destination in mind, just the desire to get away and eat some fresh lobster.  We headed up towards Portland, but were unable to find a place to stay.  Not surprising since it WAS Friday, and it WAS an August weekend.  We ate at Lord's in Wells Harbor.  We've been there several times before.  They have a terrific seafood chowder, perhaps the best I've ever had - it's chockfull of fish, shrimp, lobster, and scallops and (don't tell anyone) it's made with real cream.  I also had the "Three-Tailed Lobster" - 3 split lobster tails.  Pure ecstasy!  Since we couldn't find a place to stay we headed back south, and by chance found a place in Portsmouth, NH.  We got the very last room (due to a late cancellation) and enjoyed a comfortable bed, a spacious room, and glorious air conditioning.

 On Saturday we hopped aboard the Thomas Laighton, and took a 3 hour cruise of Portsmouth Harbor and the Isles of Shoals (about 6 miles offshore).  It was a gorgeous day on the water and there was a lovely sea breeze.  We arrived back home about 5 pm, just in time to enjoy a strong thunderstorm.

The steambath weather finally gave way to lovely dry weather and even a pretty coolish night.  This is a busy week:  Appointments today and tomorrow, and a day-long workshop on Friday.  I am also hoping to go to the NH League of Craftsmen annual fair on Thursday if all goes well.  A friend and I try to go every year and every year I add to my jewelry collections.