Friday, August 07, 2009

Taking time to see

As a change of pace, the boy worked at home one day this week and in the middle of the day, we took some time out to walk the dogs we had been petsitting. (Two matching corgis… requisite "aaawws" all around.) It felt like such a luxury to wander around together in the middle of the day. I couldn't help but look at the neighborhood in a different way. And in doing so, I found this lovely, yet lonely birds' nest that had fallen on the sidewalk. It was just asking to be taken home. Now it sits on my desk inspiring me. Here's hoping all of you find some time this weekend to look at your neighborhoods in a new, slower or different way. Cheers and happy Friday!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Back to basics: The Joy of Cooking

While I've been on the computer a little bit less, I've still been in the kitchen a fair bit. I found myself turning to the tried and true Joy of Cooking several times this week, mostly because I can often find a straight-forward, quick recipe when I'm short on time. I had never made my own pizza dough and was determined to this week. I had planned on making it Monday night to rest overnight, but it was late and when the yeast didn't activate on the first go round, I ditched the dough-making for the evening. The next day, I had to find a recipe that didn't require any of this overnight business. Hence, the good old Joy. Here it is in all its crunchy, chewy loveliness:

Basic Pizza Dough
Adapted from the Joy of Cooking
Makes 2 twelve-inch crusts

Combine in a large bowl & let stand five minutes:
1 package active dry yeast
1 1/3 c. warm water
3 1/2 to 3 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 Tb olive oil
1 Tb salt
1 Tb sugar (optional)

Mix all to blend. Knead about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl. Turn to coat, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled — 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 475ยบ. Grease and dust two baking sheets with cornmeal. Punch down dough and divide in half. Roll into balls and let rest, loosely covered with plastic wrap 10 to 15 minutes.

Flatten each ball on lightly floured surface into 12-inch rounds,rolling and stretching dough. Place on prepared baking sheet. Lift edge and pinch to form lip. To prevent crust from getting soggy from the toppings, brush with olive oil.

Using fingertips, dent surface of dough to prevent bubbles. Let rest 10 minutes and then you're ready to go with toppings. Bake until crust is browned and cheese is golden, approx. 12 minutes.

NOTES: I added the lesser amount of flour called for, but it was quite a wet, loose dough, so I probably added at least 1/4 cup more during kneading. Still very sticky. I didn't even notice the greasing the pan part of the recipe until I was typing it just now. I sprinkled the baking sheet with cornmeal only and it all worked out fine. No sticking. Also, I probably could have stretched it out thinner before baking since it puffs up quite a bit. Tasty!

I also whipped up a super fast sauce from Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Cooking.

Bright Red Tomato Sauce
Adapted from Super Natural Cooking

Makes 3 cups.
2 Tb. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp fine grain sea salt
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
Saute all but tomatoes over medium-high heat 2-3 minutes until garlic is just starting to take on a bit of color. Stir in tomatoes, simmer five minutes. Remove from heat and salt to taste. I only had a can of whole tomatoes, so I chopped those up, and then threw the whole thing in the blender when it had cooled a bit. This sauce packs the perfect punch — a whole lot of flavor with some zip from the hot pepper flakes. We're planning to have the leftover sauce with chicken parmigiana tonight — yum!

Monday, August 03, 2009

Summer blogging slowdown

Happy August! I can't believe it's already August — but then again, I 'm sure I say that every year. I wanted to let you know that for this month I will be posting much less frequently than my usual weekday posts. Rather than hold myself to a self-imposed daily schedule, I've made a goal of testing out a different work schedule for the month and spending less time at the computer. I just found out today that I will be a vendor at the Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago in September and have a number of other shows planned for the fall. I plan to spend this month focusing on making new products, doing lots of drawing and freshening up my Etsy shop. That doesn't mean I won't be around, just less often. So happy summer everyone and we'll chat soon…

P.S. I should mentioned that I will still be tweeting. That's right, I've quietly been sucked into the world that is twitter. It's addictive. That's all I can say. @sloe_gin_fizz