Use-Watcha-Got Cooking: Tuscan style stew

Okay, so I made this video a while ago, but had all sorts of problems exporting the finished video into a file format that I could upload to YouTube that worked. After trying for days and having it fail, suddenly it worked. Nothing had changed on my computer, and there was no software update. Just, one day no-worky, another day, yes-worky.


No matter!

Normally, I would have done a long, photo heavy post on making this, but I don’t have the media storage space, so I’m trying to make more videos. I’d found a video on how to make a Tuscan beef stew that looked really good, but I didn’t have the exact ingredients.

So I made it with what I had on hand.

Here is not-quite Tuscan style beef stew, made with mead.

Let me know what you think, and if you have any suggestions to improve things!

The Re-Farmer

Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s Thanksgiving weekend, here in Canada. Thanksgiving is officially tomorrow (the second Monday of October), but we had our dinner today.

We did pretty much everything different this time! Including the turkey. I had hoped to brine the turkey overnight, but didn’t have the energy for it. Well. Mostly, my hands were hurting too much. Either way, we normally would just roast the turkey, covered in bacon. To keep the turkey from sticking to the bottom of the roaster, I would put a layer of some vegetable under it, depending on what I have at the time. An onion sliced into rings, long stripes of carrot, pieces of celery, that sort of thing.

Turkey takes a long time to roast, though, so I decided to try something different.

I spatchcocked it. Something I’ve done with chicken, before, but not turkey.

It’s surprisingly easy to cut that spine out, even with the pain in my hands.

Once spatchcocked, however, it no longer fit in my roaster. Using a baking sheet meant I could use a rack under the turkey. I still added some thick slices of the Tropeana Lunga onions we need to use up first, under the turkey.

For the bacon, I would normally weave the sliced right on top of the bird, but tried something different there, too.

In another baking tray, lined with a silicone baking sheet (parchment paper would have worked, too), I wove the slices from an entire package of bacon. That got topped with another silicone baking sheet, and then I used a heavy marble rolling pin to flatten it out. After removing the top sheet, I used the bottom one to transfer the bacon mat to the top of the turkey. The final step was to add some water to the bottom of the pan.

I forgot to take a “before” picture, but this is how the turkey come out after it was done.

It took a lot less time to roast it, too.

After the turkey was in the oven, I got the mixed vegetables prepared, then spread out on another baking tray and added to the oven about 40 minutes into the turkey’s roasting time.

The mixed vegetables included some Uzbeck Golden carrots (I didn’t want to use the Black Nebula carrots, as they’d discover the entire dish!), more Tropean Lunga onions, the last of our own potatoes, plus a few store bought potatoes, some Red Kuri squash, sweet potatoes and, of course, the sunchokes. That all got tossed with some salt, pepper, garlic granules, paprika and olive oil. It turned out awesome.

When the turkey and vegetables were getting close to done, we made a soup as well. Something else I’ve never done before…

Peanut soup.

When I was able to visit my brother not long ago, we had peanut soup for lunch. I’d never tasted peanut soup before! My SIL had spent a long time trying to recreate one that she’d had at a restaurant. A recipe for West African Peanut Soup was the closest recipe she found, and she modified it to get the flavour she was after. I was able to take a picture of the recipe she used, along with her own notes for the things she changed.

What we made was a mix of the original recipe, plus some of her modifications, and it turned out really well. Among the optional ingredients was shredded chicken, which we skipped this time. The instructions also suggested one way to serve it was over rice. My younger daughter helped me make it, and we both found it funny when, after her sister had some of the soup, she commented on how it seemed a bit like a curry, and that she was tempted to put it over her turkey, adding that it would probably be great over a bed of rice!

Once the idea was brought up, both girls did use the last of it over their turkey, and decreed it delicious.

This is definitely something we will make again!

By the time we were done our dinner, none of us had room for desert, so that waited a few hours. For that, we just had a purchased pumpkin pie and some butterscotch swirl ice cream.

Meanwhile, I’ve also set aside a turkey dinner, including the soup, to bring to my mother tomorrow. She should have enough to last her a couple of days. 😊

If she’s willing to eat it, of course. No mashed potatoes and gravy, this year. 😉

The Re-Farmer

Should have done that from the start

Y’know, sometimes I’m a doofus.

Yesterday, I decided to try making meat pies with an oil based crust again. The goal was to make mini pies, in muffin tins, perhaps, or just little turnover hand pies.

After my first attempt was a tasty fail, and my many searches for recipes did not turn up anything I found useful, I decided to try a hot water dough I’ve made many, many times before.

It’s from this cookbook.

Sort of.

I have this as a set of 11 English language books. Which is funny, because on the back there’s a sort of an index telling what categories of recipes are in which numbered book – and there are 12 of them. Some of them are split between two books. The reason is that this was originally published in French. As a set, it would have been 12 books. Which means that everything in the English language books are shifted over from how the contents are described on their back covers.

My late MIL had the original cookbook. Back in the day, in Quebec, they had a sort of recipe card subscription, where recipes were sent every month or whatever. However, this subscription sent chapters, and people could keep just the ones they wanted. The pages were sewn together. When all the chapters were sent out, the subscribers could then take all their chapters and have them professionally bound. That’s what my MIL had. It was a thick, hardcover book, with many decades of wear and tear on it. This was the book that had the base recipe for tourtierre, a traditional meat pie, that she used (except hers was modified for her own secret recipe, which was passed on to me). It was also where the base hot water dough recipe was from. Every Christmas, my MIL would special order her secret mixture of ground meat from the butcher, complete with “top secret” and “eyes only” warnings (my late MIL was a hoot!) from the local butcher. Anywhere from 20 – 30 pounds of it, depending on how many pies she planned to give away that Christmas. In the years we were living in the same province, we would spend a couple of days with them, making tourtierre, assembly line style. The first day was to make the filling, which then sat outside overnight to cool. The next day was to make triple-recipe batches of hot water dough, over and over. Each triple-recipe batch was set outside in the snow to chill, which did not take long at all, while the next batches were being made. I usually had blender duty to mix the hot water and shortening, then helped with mixer duty to combine the dough. My husband had the job of rolling the dough balls out between two sheets of heavy duty vinyl, and other family members lined the pie tins, filled and topped them. When baking started, she could only fit 3 pies into her oven at once. After coming out of the oven, they were given some time to cool, scattered around their condo, before being set outside to freeze.

So I became very, very familiar with that hot water dough recipe, even though I couldn’t read it very well in French.

I’ve been a fan of Mdm Benoit for many years, so when I found this set of cookbooks at a charity book sale, I snapped them up. I had them for a few years before I happened to look closely through the pie dough recipes and saw one that was very, very familiar. On a hunch, I found another section and, sure enough, there was the base tourtierre recipe from my MIL’s French cookbook. I had unknowingly found an English copy of it!

Now, this hot water dough recipe uses shortening, but it gets melted into the boiling water, so I figured to give it a try using oil.

So I dug out the appropriate volume, made the dough and…

Had another tasty fail.

The dough just crumbled apart.

I was able to roll the dough out inside pans, using parchment paper to be able to move the top, and still had to push it together because it was breaking apart so much.

While this second tasty failure was in the oven, I sat and flipped through the cookbook.

I found this on the very next page after the hot water dough recipe.

I should have known. I really should have. Instead of going through dozens and dozens of internet recipes, I should have just gone to Mdm Benoit in the first place.

I would never have thought to use milk instead of water. I also find it interesting that is specifies to NOT stir after combining the water and oil.

We don’t use waxed paper, but do have parchment paper, including non-disposable versions. Either would work to roll the dough out.

If I can get a working dough recipe, I plan on making a large batch of filling, then make lots of small pies that we can stick in the freezer for quick eats.

The next time we have something thawed out that will make a good filling, I will try this recipe and see how it works!

Meanwhile, the next time I want to try something to conserve ingredients, I need to remember that the internet is not my friend. I have dozens of cookbooks, even after purging so many of our books for the move *sniffle*. Many of them are very old. Those are my fravourites, because they have really basic ingredients, and don’t assume you have access to pretty much anything, at any time.

Mdm Benoit wins again!

The Re-Farmer

A tasty fail!

Yesterday, I tried a bit of an experiment.

I decided to make some little beef pies in muffin tins.

This is something I’ve made before – the first time, in Home Ec class! My experiment was with the dough. We’ve been trying to find ways to use less butter in our cooking. We don’t use margarine or shortening, so when it comes to cooking and baking, it’s either liquid oil or butter. With oil, it’s easy to have a variety. Not so much with solid fats.

So for the meat pie, I wanted to make a hot water dough (which is sturdier, for heavier fillings like meat), using oil instead of butter or shortening.

This is the finished result.

As you can tell, the muffin tins didn’t happen!

The dough simply would not hold together and was very difficult to roll out. I think I added too much flour, but the oil made it so slippery! In the end, I had to put half of the dough in the pie pan and roll it as thin as I could, right in the pan. After the filling was added, with about an inch and a half of space around the edges, I rolled out the other half of the dough as best I could, then brought it over, wrapped around the rolling pin, to cover the filling. Some repairs were needed, as the top was spread over and tucked around the filling. Then the edges of the bottom crust were pulled up to seal it more.

It actually turned our really delicious. I didn’t get the hand pies I was after, but that’s okay!

The filling was ground beef, browned (in butter, of course), adding onions and garlic early on, then cubed carrots half way through. The last thing added was the cubed potatoes, along with some beef stock. It was left to cook, covered, until the potatoes were just barely done, then uncovered and stirred until the liquid was all evaporated. A touch of flour was added to absorb any remaining liquid and thicken it. I ended up with more filling than fit in the pie, but it tastes good all on its own, too.

I have some hot water dough recipes that include things like egg that I might try. Maybe that will work better.

The good thing about experimenting like this is that, even when it doesn’t work, it still tastes good!

The Re-Farmer

Our 2021 garden: morning harvest and first potatoes, makes for an awesome breakfast!

I finished off my rounds this morning by doing some harvesting in the garden. The beans in particular had plenty to pick. 🙂

I found a yellow bean, growing on a green bean plant!

It didn’t get picked. It felt completely empty. Any beans it might have had did not develop. I did find one other yellow bean among the green beans, on another plant, that did have developing beans in it, but it was super soft for some reason.

There as a big enough haul this morning to need two containers! 🙂

Among the sunburst squash, we have the one plant that is producing green squash instead of yellow, though some of the developing squash have streaks of yellow in them. An interesting mutant plant! 😀

The yellow beans are pretty much done. We’ll still be picking them for the next while, but just a few here and there.

I found flowers on both green and purple bean plants! Just a few, but still a surprise, this late in the season. We’ll be having plenty of those to pick for a while, from the looks of it. Lots of little ones developing on the plants.

Our first potatoes! We could have picked potatoes earlier, but we’ve been leaving them for now. This morning, I decided to reach into a few bags and dug around until I felt a potato and pulled it up. These are the yellow Yukon Gem and red Norland potatoes. I did not try to pick any of the fingerlings, yet.

That’s a pretty good harvest for the day! There are enough beans there to do another bag for the freezer, if we want. 🙂

I used a bit of everything when I made breakfast this morning. 🙂

I made a hash using all three types of beans, a couple of sunburst squash, a zucchini, and one of each type of potato. I also used onion and garlic that we harvested earlier. Even the oil I used to cook with was infused with our chive blossoms, and the dried parsley on top is from last year’s garden.

It tasted great, too! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Melting and managing, and I GOT TO TOUCH IT!!!

Well, the forecasts have changed again. Instead of things starting to cool down starting today, we’re now supposed to hit 33C/91F with a humidex of 40C/104F this afternoon, and hit 30C/86F over the next couple of days. Thunderstorm warnings are back for tomorrow, but now extending over two days.

I really hope we do get them!

Overnight temperatures are high, too, making it hard to sleep. Especially since the box fan I had in my window broke. I suppose I could take the one we’ve got in the root cellar, but I think our curing garlic needs it more than I do.

The cats, meanwhile, are melting.

David is just so… magnificent!

Layendecker spent hours in my butt spot, splayed out like this, until I had to claim my chair.

We were able to have our very first BBQ (grilling, for the purists) yesterday.

This is the first time we’ve used the BBQ my brother gave us. It was insanely hot, even in the shade, but being able to cook everything at the same time, and not heating up the house, was worth it.

After the meat was set on the warming grill, I took the zucchini strips and put them directly on the grill, just enough to get some char on them. It was awesome! Unfortunately, the photos I took of the finished meal did not turn out, but it was as pleasing to the eye as to the palate. The purple corn was interesting. The kernels were far harder than I expected. I liked them. I look forward to growing enough for both fresh eating (or making chicha morado) and to make corn flour. That will be a few years, which will also give us time to pick up a decent quality mill.

The steaks are the sirloin steaks from the meat pack we got from a local ranch. I kept it simple. Just a bit of oil (okay, maybe not so simple; I used (fake) truffle oil), salt and pepper. Oh, man. It’s been so long since we’ve had steak! My husband and I even made a “date” of it and ate at the table. He usually isn’t able to sit at the table for very long, but he put up with the pain for steak! 😀

We got a nice little haul of tomatoes yesterday evening; these are mostly the Spoon tomatoes.

I am quite enjoying having these, but have found I still can’t eat fresh tomatoes. About the best I can say when I tasted one last night is, at least I didn’t gag.


Which is weird, because I like tomato in things, to a certain extent. I just can’t handle eating them fresh. My younger daughter is much the same. No loss, though. We planted these for my older daughter and my husband. They enjoy tomatoes!

As the temperatures started to drop a bit, yesterday evening, my husband opened up various windows and the inner door in the dining room – setting up the little step latter so the cats can look out the window of the outer door, of course. We still have food and water set up on the concrete steps for Butterscotch and her kittens. Even though they have moved to the empty property across the road, she still brings them over.

Not long after things were opened up, I heard a commotion outside the door, and the cats were very interested in whatever was under their perch. So I popped over to the living room window to see what was on the steps.

I never saw anything on the steps, but I did find a shadow on the post for the hanging bird feeder! It was getting dark by then, but I could tell it was a raccoon. Not the big one we saw the first time, but a slightly smaller one.

So I went outside to shoo it away.

Now, normally, they run off as soon as they hear the door open, and I come around the corner just in time to see them dashing away.

Not this time!

As I came closer to the feeder, making shooing noises, the raccoon was far too busy eating to take off. It was sitting with its lower body on the bird perch – what used to support a platform feeder on the post before we cleaned it up and painted it – and was grabbing the base of the hanging feeder with its front paws. When I got to the post, it just froze.

And stared at me.

So there I am, standing RIGHT next to the post, face to face with a raccoon.

Before anyone starts, yes, I know what to watch out for re: rabies and so on. I am very aware that wild animals are unpredictable and can F you up, in general. I was being cautious and giving it plenty of opportunity to jump down and run away.

I think, however, the way it was hanging onto the feeder, it couldn’t just let go, and with this big human standing there, it probably didn’t want to off balance itself and drop to the ground.

So it froze.

And stared at me.

With that adorable face.

Since it wasn’t moving, I carefully reached out and poked the end of its tail.


I poked it again.


I wiggled its tail a bit.

Still nothing!

I poked its hip.

It just kept staring at me.

I even gently poked at its strange little man-hand foot.

Not a twitch.

Finally, I reached out and began to pet its lower back.

It let me.

The only time it really moved was then Potato Beetle started weaving around my feet. I paused to pick him up and the two of them stared at each other for a bit, but Potato Beetle was far more interested in being held than in the creature on the bird feeder post.

So I pet the raccoon some more for a while, the left it be. It took a minute or two before it finally got down and ran off.

I got to touch a raccoon. !!!!!

The rest of the family missed all this. I didn’t even have my phone with me to try and take a photo, though it was probably too dark for one. I certainly wasn’t going to use a flash on the poor thing. When I told them, I got chastised by my daughters, first for taking the risk, then for terrorizing the poor raccoon. 😀


With today’s heat, the garden beds are getting a thorough watering. Instead of standing out there in what is already 28C/82F, I’ve been using the sprinklers, moving them every 45 minutes or so, and will be finishing with the spray and soaker hoses. Though someone had already put kibble out for the cats, I did have to top up the containers by the junk pile and concrete steps already.

The kittens were out and about.

Toesencrantz won’t come anywhere near us, but she will watch from a distance.

I was watering the tomatoes and cucamelons from the rain barrel, going back and forth, and in one of my trips, I found I had an audience!

I love how Toesencrantz has her toes on the log like that. So adorable!

Since the rain we did get, and now the heat being back again, the squash are all blooming like crazy.

I really like the luffa flowers!

Still no luffa, though. For those who grow luffa, is that normal? Shouldn’t there be gourds by now?

The ants really like the luffa vines. I’m not sure why. They seem to just be climbing them. As long as they are not damaging them, I don’t mind. Ants are pollinators, too. I find it odd that they are only climbing the luffa, though, and nothing else growing at the squash tunnel.

The one Red Kuri squash is getting bigger. 🙂

I am starting to think we can harvest some of our melons, but I’m not sure. The bigger ones don’t seem to be getting any bigger, so I figure we can at least start harvesting those.

Maybe I’ll pick one of each type, when I hook up the soaker hose, later on. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Babcia’s Bread Experiment, part 10: No Knead bread

A while back, we tried a recipe for overnight bread, which you can read about here, and find a link to the original recipe we used.

I then tried an “over day” version, using the dough baby from my Babcia’s bread experiment. It was fantastically successful!

We’ve made it again, as a pretty basic no-knead bread and, once again, it turned out awesome!

If you are new to this blog and don’t know the background to this, you can read the story behind my experiment to try and recreate the bread my grandmother made in pre-WWII Poland, as my mother remembers it. Or you can check out all the posts about it at this link. All links will open in new tabs, so you don’t lose your place here!

Here is how we made No-knead bread, using the old dough method.

The first step is to dig the dough baby out of the flour it sleeps in.

My Babcia did bread baking once a week, and when the old dough sits that long, it tends to be dry enough to break apart into pieces before reconstituting it. This time, the dough baby had not been sleeping in its bed of flour for that long, and it was still quite… doughy! 😀

So I just pulled it apart a bit and placed it in the bottom of a very large bowl.

I don’t know how much that is. Maybe about 2 cups, including the flour stuck to it? The dough baby rises and collapses while stored in the flour, and I made no effort to measure the quantity.

I also pre-measured 2 Tbsp each of course salt and sugar, and 1 Tbsp of yeast.

The yeast would be optional. The dough would need more time to rise without it, which would give more of a sourdough flavour.

Four cups of very warm water was added to the dough baby. Since it wasn’t dry enough to break into pieces, I spent some time stirring it and breaking it up in the water.

Then, the sugar and yeast was added and mixed in, the bowl loosely covered, and it was left for about 10 minutes.

I like to use traditional active dry yeast, rather than quick or instant dry yeast, but that’s just me. The traditional yeast needs more time to proof in the liquid compared to the quick yeast, and the instant yeast wouldn’t need to be added at all at this point, but would be mixed in with the flour.

If I were not using yeast, I would leave the water, dough baby and sugar mixture in a warm place for much longer, checking regularly to see how active it was.

Here is how it looked after 10 minutes. I stirred it again to break up the dough baby a bit more.

Then it was time to add some flour.

I started by adding 3 cups of flour. It’s easier to mix in that amount compared to starting with just one cup.

I decided to use Durum wheat flour at this point, just because I have it. Use whatever flour, or mix of flours, you like best!

After the first 3 cups was thoroughly beaten in, I added another cup of flour and the salt.

More flour was beaten in, about a cup at a time at first, then a half up at a time.

How much flour to use is something I’ve never been precise about. I know there are bread bakers that weigh and measure precise amounts, but in my experience, that just doesn’t work. The amount of flour needed can depend on things like how fresh the flour itself is, to how much humidity there is in the air.

With 4 cups of water, I would have expected to work in at least 8 cups of flour for this recipe (with my usual kneaded bread, I typically used 5 or 6 cups of flour to 2 1/2 cups liquid).

We are very, very dry right now.

Today, I worked in 7 1/2 cups of flour, and probably could have done with a bit less.

By this point, I was working the flour in with my hand rather than trying to stir it with a spoon. If you have an electric mixer with a dough hook, go ahead and use it!

Before setting it aside to rise, right in the same bowl, I sprinkled some flour over the top and sides, in case it rose high enough to touch the bottom of the bowl’s lid.

Lightly cover the bowl, then set it in a warm place for about an hour. With our chilly our kitchen is in the winter, I heated our oven to its lowest setting (145F on “warm”), then shut it off before I started mixing the flour into the dough. The covered bowl is left in the warm oven, with the light on, to rise. Anywhere that is warm and draft free will do.

Here it is, after an hour. It just barely touched the bottom of the lid! 😀

The dough it then pushed down and worked a bit to incorporate the flour that had been dredged on top.

Next is a very, very important step.

A piece of the dough needs to be removed and set aside for the next batch of bread!

I dumped some flour on a container and plopped about a cup of dough onto it.

Once the new dough baby was set aside, the rest of the dough was dumped onto a 9×13 inch baking sheet that was lined with parchment paper. The last time I made this, I used a parchment paper lined lasagna pan, but I could also have split it into two parchment paper lined loaf pans.

If I didn’t have parchment paper, I would have well oiled the pan, first.

Speaking of oil…

After spreading the dough out to fill the bottom of the pan, I stabbed at the dough with my fingers to create “dimples”, then topped it with oil, course salt and dried parsley flakes.

I happened to still have some fake truffle oil that I used, but an olive or avocado oil would work just was well.

The pan was then set aside for the dough to rise again. Since this batch is so flat and thin, I started preheating the oven for 450F right away. Had I used loaf pans or the lasagna pan again, I would have let it rise longer before preheating the oven. If I had used no yeast at all, it would be left in a warm place until doubled in size.

While the shaped loaf was waiting to go in the oven, there is this to deal with…

The bottom of the bowl still has quite a bit of dough stuck to it!

We can’t let that go to waste!

Into the bowl went the new dough baby, and the flour it had been resting on.

While working the flour dregs into the dough baby, scrape as much of the dough stuck to the sides and incorporate it into the dough baby.

You probably won’t get all of it off the sides, which is okay.

The dough baby is now ready for a nap. I have a canister of flour that I bury it in, but it can also be buried right in a bag of flour, as long as you’re not planning to use the flour for anything else in between bread baking!

After the dough baby has been buried, it will rise quite a bit before collapsing in on itself, breaking through the surface of the flour. Remember to check on the dough baby later on, to make sure it is still covered in flour.

Once the oven is ready, place the pan of bread into oven and bake. If you wish, place a container with about a cup of water on the rack under the bread pan, to add some steam to the oven as it bakes.

For a very flat loaf like what I made today, it took about 25 minutes. A deeper loaf, or a pair of loaf pans will likely need 30-40 minutes. Bake it until it looks like this.

With the oil added to the surface, it will have a deep, golden colour when it’s ready.

When baked, remove from the oven and left to cool for a few minutes. Once it is safe to do so, remove the bread from the pan and onto a cooling rack (parchment paper makes that job a LOT easier!).

I really like the big, flat slab of bread, but it is a bit hard to cut a slice off! 😀

Here is how it looks on the inside.

The crumb is light and fluffy, yet still wonderfully chewy. The star of the show, however, is that golden, flavorful top crust! It’s just a lovely and delicious combination of textures and flavours.

The only problem with this bread is how difficult it is, not to just scarf it all down right away! 😀

Here is the recipe.

Old Dough No Knead Bread


  • old dough set aside from previous bread baking
  • 4 cups warm water
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp traditional active dry yeast (optional, or use 2 Tbsp if you don’t have old dough)
  • 2 Tbsp course salt
  • about 7 or 8 cups of flour
  • small amount of good quality oil (olive oil, avocado oil, etc.)
  • small amount of dried parsley and course salt

Break up the old dough into a large bowl. Pour water over the old dough and stir. Add the sugar and yeast and leave to proof for about 10 minutes. If you do not have old dough, use the larger amount of yeast and proof it in the sugar water. If using only the old dough and no added yeast, leave the bowl in a warm place until the mixture is bubbly.

After the yeast and old dough has proofed, add 3 cups of flour and mix thoroughly until it forms a very smooth batter. (An electric mixer can be used at this stage.)

Add the salt and 1 cup of flour, mixing thoroughly.

Add more flour a little at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition, until it reaches a thick but sticky consistency. Use your hands to mix in the last of the flour. (If you have an electric mixer with dough hook attachments, switch to the dough hooks at this point.)

Leaving the dough in the bowl, dust the top of the dough with flour and cover loosely. Place in a warm spot to rise until doubled in size.

Prepare baking pans by lining with parchment paper or oiling thoroughly.

When the dough has risen, punch it down again, folding it into itself to incorporate the flour dusted on top.

Dust some flour on a small plate or bowl. Remove about a cup of dough for the next batch of bread, setting it aside on the floured container until later.

Pour the remaining dough into the prepared baking pan(s). Using your hands, press the dough to fill the pan to the edges and corners, then stab into the surface with your fingers to create dimples in the dough.

Carefully sprinkle oil across the surface of the dough, then use your hand to spread it evenly across the surface.

Sprinkle the oiled surface with course salt and dried parsley.

Set aside in a warm place to rise.

While the bread is rising, return the dough set aside earlier to the mixing bowl, along with any flour in the plate or bowl. Use the flour and the dough ball to scrape off any remaining dough stuck to the surface of the bowl, working the dough ball until smooth. Shape the dough into a ball, then bury it in a container of flour, for use in the next batch of bread.

When the pan of rising bread is almost doubled in size, preheat the oven to 450F.

Place the bread in the centre rack of the preheated oven; if desired, place about a cup of water in an oven proof container on the lower rack to create steam.

Bake until the bread is a deep, golden colour – about 25 minutes when using a 9″x13″ baking sheet, about 30-35 minutes if using loaf pans, or a cake or lasagna pan. The finished loaf should sound hollow when the bottom is tapped.

Set aside to cool in the pan for a few minutes, then transfer the bread to a rack to finish cooling.


The Re-Farmer

Trying out an overnight bread recipe

One of the things we enjoy doing is baking bread and experimenting with bread recipes.

Unfortunately, none of us are particularly able bodied. In what way may be different for each of us, but it’s not unusual for none of us to be up to kneading dough at the same time. I would happily use a bread machine, but not only do we not have enough outlets for another kitchen appliance, but even the ones we do have trip the power bar if we use more than one at the same time (before we started using the power bar, it would trip the breaker, and we’d have to climb up a small ladder, onto a shelf, to reach the breaker box and flip it back on).

Last night, I decided to try a plain, basic, overnight bread recipe that would not require kneading. After a bit of searching, I found this one.

Of course, I didn’t follow it exactly, but I stayed close. 😉

One of the things I changed was to add a bit of sugar to the yeast and water mixture, just to feed the yeast.

I did not transfer it to another bowl, drizzle it with oil, then put it in the fridge. The bowl I used has a lid, so I left it in the same bowl and skipped the oil and plastic wrap. We also did not have room for such a large bowl in the fridge. I suppose I could have put it in the old kitchen, which is easily as cold as a fridge, but out dining room is pretty chilly, too, and I was feeling lazy. So I left it on the dining table overnight.

The only other difference is that I used half a cup less flour than the recipe called for. It’s really dry here in the winter, and that has a very noticeable affect on how much flour we use, vs what recipes call for, this time of year. I worked that last half cup of flour in by hand, and could feel that adding more would leave me with a regular, stiffer bread dough, so I left it be.

Here is how it looked in the morning.

What bubbly heaven! It actually looks like you could pour it!

Looks, however, can be deceiving.

While it was certainly a soft and sticky dough, it did pull away from the sides very easily as I stirred it down and worked it a little bit.

Now, my plan had been to use this to make hamburger buns.

Ha! Silly me!

Not the right dough for that! I supposed I could have done it, but I was prepping this to rise before heading out to do my morning rounds, so I just didn’t have time to be fuzzy.

Instead, I made a couple of very lopsided loaves on a pan I’d prepared for buns. 😀

I then left it to rise in a warm oven, then headed out to do my morning rounds and take care of critters.

I gave the loaves about an hour to rise before preheating the oven to 450F.

This is how they looked, while the oven was preheating.

I need to sharpen my knives. 😀

Here they are, after baking for 20 minutes. They were so pale, I was concerned they might not have had enough time, but when I pulled them apart, I could see they were just fine.

The resulting bread had a lovely, spongy crumb. The texture is soft and chewy, and it had a bit of a sourdough tang!

It was definitely a hit!

I think the next time I make bread using old dough the way my Babcia did, I will try it as a variation of this overnight bread. I would just have to adjust the quantities to make sure I have extra to remove for the next batch.

Once again, if you feel like giving it a try, this is the recipe I worked from.

I definitely recommend it!

The Re-Farmer

Making kluski; Polish drop noodles

I was feeling lazy today, and wanted to make something quick and easy for supper, to go with the meatloaf I had in the oven.

I decided to make kluski. Well. I suppose the proper name for them is kluski kladzione, since kluski is a generic Polish word for all kinds of dumpling type things.

These work up really quick, so start a large pot of salted water going, have a slotted spoon handy, and place a colander over a bowl nearby.

I finished mixing the dough well before the water reached a rolling boil.

The recipe is simple. Three cups flour, three eggs, a bit of salt… (the recipe in the link above uses only two eggs, but I followed the quantities I got from a video I found, so things can be flexible)

… and enough water to make it a batter-like dough.

I use a little over a cup of water to get it to this consistency. It just needs to reach a consistency that’s almost something you can pour.

I mixed by hand, but an electric mixer can be used. I just didn’t feel liking something else to wash. I just kept beating it by hand until the water was ready.

Traditionally, the drop noodles are made by putting some of the dough onto a plate, then scraping pieces off into the water when it reaches a roiling boil. Or, they can be dropped directly into a soup.

I didn’t want to wash a plate, either. I’d used an 8 cup measuring cup to mix the dough, so I just scraped small spoonfuls over the edge of the bowl, instead of the edge of a plate.

They cook up very quickly, too. The pieces I scooped out were pretty small, so they were done very soon after they all started floating on the top. I just gently stirred after dropping them in, to make sure none were stuck to the bottom.

Once a batch was done (I did it in three batches), I used the slotted spoon to scoop them into the colander to drain.

They can be eaten right away at this point, just tossed with a bit of butter and seasonings. I decided to keep following the video I found, though. This next part isn’t necessary, but the video I watched did it, so I gave it a try this time, too.

I took the colander over to the sink and rinsed them with cold water.

They were then dumped into a hot pan with generous amounts of melted butter.

After frying for a minute or so, they were done and ready to serve!

Except my meatloaf wasn’t even done yet.

The resulting little dumplings have a soft, toothsome texture to them, and taste wonderful. I found I didn’t even need to add more seasons. Just the butter it was fried in was enough! Unfortunately, my meatloaf did not turn out all that well, but at least I had delicious kluski!

This is the video I found, when confirming my quantities to make these. I think Grandma Lipinski is adorable!


The Re-Farmer

Babcia’s Bread Experiment, part 8: ham and cheese roll!

For the next while, as I remove part of the dough from one batch to use in the next batch, I will be taking out slightly larger pieces of dough, to make larger batches of bread with it, next time.

Our flour canister is tall and narrow, so I’ve made a point of flattening the dough baby a bit before burying it in the flour. When I opened the canister last night, I found the dough baby had grown enough to emerge from the flour like a mushroom!

I think today’s dough baby will the the last one I can fit into the canister! I’ll have to start burying them directly in the flour bag. They get so big! Which is encouraging, since that shows how lively the yeast is, so it’s a good problem to have. 😀

The dough baby was light, with a slightly crunchy dry shell, and a thick bubbly interior. The larger size made it a bit harder to tear apart to put in the little crock to soak overnight, so the pieces were a bit on the large size. That did not seem to make a difference to how it looked in the morning.

I soaked it in 2 cups of warm water overnight then, because I wanted to increase the amount of dough I was making, I cheated a bit and let maybe a tablespoon of commercial yeast proof in another cup of warm water. Right now, I’m getting enough to make the equivalent of 4 small loaves, and I eventually want to be making the equivalent of 4 large loaves. I don’t plan to get to my Babcia’s level of a dozen loaves at a time! 😀 Making enough for 6 or 8 loaves, maybe, but not a dozen!

Once again, I used a mix of all purpose and Durum wheat flour, and let it rise only once before shaping. When I am no longer using commercial yeast, I’ll add an extra rising again. I also split it to do one half plain, and one half fancy. For the first half, I made it into 4 knotted buns and used a cast iron pan to bake them in again, which is working out very well.

The second half got divided again, to make a pair of rolled loaves.

Each piece was rolled out, then small pieces of leftover ham were scattered evenly, followed by generous amounts of shredded sharp cheddar, mozzarella and Monterey Jack cheese.

Before rolling them up, I did dampen the edges with water, but I did not try to seal the dough.

Once rolled up, the ends were tucked under, and they were left to rise.

The knotted buns were baked first, and turned out quite adorable.

The ham and cheese rolls, as expected, did leak out the bottom seam!

That’s okay. It just got crispy on the bottom of the pan, for some extra deliciousness. 🙂

I would not recommend doing this without using parchment paper. 😀

A huge bubble formed under the top, as the cheese melted and the layers collapsed below. That did make it a bit hard to cut through! 😀

The ends that were tucked under were a lot more substantial. I the slices where the large bubble formed, the top crust was almost like a fancy chip! 😀

We had them for supper with tomato soup. It was a very nice combination! 😀 The crispy cheese bits made for a lovely little treat, too.

I’d call this experiment a success! 🙂

The Re-Farmer