Gardening: New Veggie Garden for 2014

When deciding where to put my first ever garden, I took my neighbors advice and put it in the spot where the previous owners had had their garden. I’m told they had bountiful harvests of tomatoes and carrots and everything else. There was already a raspberry bush in the area! Well, it’s been at least 6 years since the previous owners did anything with that garden area and the trees have grown up since then, causing a lot of shade to hit it. My veggies are growing, but I don’t think they are growing as well as they should. Therefor, for 2014 I have decided to move my garden to the sunniest location in the yard. My only concern with this location is that, as you can see from the photo, the brush pile is just to the left and we have bunnies who like to live in there. I don’t want to put up a fence next year, assuming The Little One will stay out of the garden!, but I may have to just to keep out the bunnies.

Big sunny spot near the fence line by the neighbors garage.

This new garden spot is right next to the other neighbors garage. I’ll need to cut back the brush next to the fence and then I also plan to attempt to grow beans and peas and sweet pea flowers using the fence as a trellis. Eventually I’d like to grow my own grapes, but I don’t think 2014 will be the year for that. Getting started was probably the hardest part of this whole ordeal. Breaking through the tough grass roots. The first shovel I had wasn’t quite sharp/pointed enough, so I had to switch to the other one and once I switched it was MUCH easier.

Getting started!

Half hour of digging! One row done! LOTS more to go!

I spent about half an hour digging today in the hot, hot sun. We managed to dig one row of the grass out (and by we I do mean me, with the kids only slightly getting in my way!) We had to take a break at that point because it was about 1,000 degrees outside. OK, the weather app on my computer says it hit 81, but in the noon sun it sure felt a lot hotter!

Sitting in front of the fan with our ice water! Whew it was hot!!!

Once we’d cooled off enough I opted to go back out and dig some more. The Big One decided to stay inside where it’s cooler. I ended up getting POURED on while I was out digging. It started as a gentle sprinkling of refreshing rain water and soon turned into a downpour. It felt wonderful, but the downpour plus the thunder…. I went in at that point! Two rows of digging completed! And I’ve got to say, the wet soil sure makes it easier to dig up the grass!!! Oh, and because I won’t be planting anything until next spring (the exception being some Wild Lupine seeds I will be collecting on vacation and planting in the fall) I’m simply digging up the grass and flipping it over. The grass will compost nicely and feed the soil. I also plan to do some trench composting over the summer in this area to help feed the soil as well.

Next spring (or maybe in the fall?) I hope to get some pavers or cinderblocks and build a little border around the edges. I will also dump some compost in the spring and plant directly in piles of that.

Until next time!

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Pizza Bread

I’m a terrible blogger. I know, I know…..

Pizza Bread

This is a recipe I recently made for my meal swap group. The above photo features meatballs, but for my meal swap group we did pepperoni.

SUPER easy and tasty!
You basically take my grandmother-in-laws pizza dough recipe, double it, slice the dough into 6 pieces, roll the dough out, pour on some sauce, put the pepperoni, add the cheese and roll it up (carefully!!!)
For the bread:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Package active dry years
  • 3/4 cup very warm water
  • 2 TBSP Olive oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups flour

DIRECTIONS:

1. Add the package of yeast to the water. let sit for 5 minutes as the yeast does its thing. The water should be hot, but not TOO hot – you don’t want to kill the yeast!

2. Add the sugar, salt and oil to the water.

3. Mix in flour. You can either use a mixer (I use my Kitchenaid Stand Mixer) or you can knead by hand, for about 5 minutes.

OPTIONAL: The dough is ESPECIALLY good if you add in some pizza herbs and seasoning! I like to add garlic powder, onion powder, Italian Seasoning, Basil, Oregano, etc. SO yum!
For the sauce I use the recipe here.

Cut the dough

Cut the dough

Putting together the pizza bread!

Putting together the pizza bread!

ASSEMBLING THE BREAD:

1. Divide the dough. Shape it into a nice round (or square) lump and cut in half, then cut each half into thirds. These are just guidelines, you can really make as many or as few as you want. What I like about making them small is that each person can have their own roll, plus when the bread is smaller it cooks quicker!

I have an actual dough cutter (I believe it’s Food Network brand? From Kohl’s?) and I LOVE it! It cuts through the dough SO well and scraps any dough left on the counter right off! You can also use a knife if you don’t have a dough cutter/scraper.

2. Spread out one of the little rolls of dough you cut in the previous step. Spread as THIN as you can without tearing any holes. If you do get a hole you can kind of fold the dough back over and try again. You want it thin though because it’s going to rise a LOT when you bake it!

3. Spread the sauce across the dough. Careful you don’t get too close to the edges or you’ll have a HUGE mess when you go to roll it up!!! If you’re like me and LOVE sauce, you’re going to have to hold yourself back. You can NOT put a lot of sauce in these! You can certainly DIP the bread in some sauce once it’s baked though!

4. Add your toppings. In this case, pepperoni. You can add whatever you want though. Meatballs, onion, peppers, olives, etc.

5. Add the cheese! You can probably even put more than I put on in the photo!

6. Now the messy part! ROLLING the bread! Start at one end and instead of actually ROLLING the bread over, it’s best to sort of FOLD it. I find what’s easiest is to fold it, pinch the edges, fold, pinch, etc. Then at the end you need to seal the edges. Pinch them shut and kind of smooth them over with your finger.

7. Finally you’re ready to bake and eat your creations!

Preheat the oven to 425* and bake for 10-15 minutes. The bake time is going to depend on the size you end up making your bread and your oven. My oven is ancient and terrible so I ALWAYS check the food at the halfway point. Since these times are based on MY oven, keep a close eye on your food!

8. Enjoy! Allow the bread to cool down a bit. When we make it for the kids we always cut it open first to let the inside cool off so they don’t burn their little mouths. I like to heat up some sauce as well to dip mine in because, as I said above, I’m a sauce lover!

FREEZING: I froze these for the meal swap group. I put 3 each in the gallon sized ziplocks. Each person got 6 bread rolls. Thaw completely prior to baking.

Roll the dough! This is a bad example... I had a bit too much sauce, did not pinch the edges as I rolled AND forgot the cheese!!! #FAIL

Roll the dough! This is a bad example… I had a bit too much sauce, did not pinch the edges as I rolled AND forgot the cheese!!! #FAIL

Seal and smooth those edges!

Seal and smooth those edges!