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Making Crusty Bread

Crusty Bread Have you noticed how expensive a crusty loaf of bread can be at your local bakery or even the grocery store?  This time of year I really like to have a crusty loaf of bread to serve along with a hot bowl of soup or a pasta dish.  I'm working on finding a recipe to make at home that delivers on flavor while not taking all day to make.  Is that possible?  I just don't know, but I'm experimenting and will share the results with you here. Last week I found a recipe that claimed three hours start to finish with 20 minutes of active involvement.  I decided to help that along by adapting the recipe for my bread machine.  Here's how it all worked out. Bread Ingredients Crusty Bread Print Recipe 1 1/2 cups slightly warm water, about 90 degrees 1 teaspoon sugar 2 teaspoons salt 3 cups bread flour 1/4 cup whole wheat flour 2 teaspoons bread machine yeast Cornstarch for dusting Directions Add the ingredients to your bread machine in the or

The Role Local Farmers Play in Cheese Production

Do you know where your milk and cheese come from?  Do you ever think about that?   I grew up within walking distance of a dairy farm and was familiar from an early age of the role cows play in providing our milk and cheese.   As time has gone by I've given little thought to the source of my milk and cheese.  As a result, I would answer the question, where does my milk and cheese come from with the rather short, but flip answer, the grocery store. Ocean Breeze Farm Last weekend, the Ocean Breeze Farm, the same one very near to my childhood home, hosted an open house in partnership with Cabot Cheese.   It was one of 50 farms across the Northeast and Upstate New York to open its barns to the local community.   Ocean Breeze Farm is owned by the Pancieras, and Frank Panciera, who you can see pictured on the Cabot Cheese label below, was on hand to greet his guests. Cabot Pepper Jack Cheese Label Featuring Ocean Breeze Farm Ocean Breeze Farm is a member of the Agri-Mark Coo

A Luscious Apple Cake for Fall

Apple Walnut Cake I've been so obsessed with all things pumpkin lately that I nearly forgot that fall is also apple season.  While flipping through my recipe collection the other day I came across this recipe for this delicious apple cake.  It is perfect for dessert, or breakfast or an afternoon snack.  There's a lot going on in this moist cake.  Sour cream ensures its moist texture while walnuts and a crumb topping add crunch. I made my cake with Granny Smith apples, but use whatever apples you have.  You could also make this cake with pears. Apple Walnut Sour Cream Cake 1 9-inch cake, serves 12 For the Topping The Apple Walnut Cake Ingredients 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts 1/3 cup packed brown sugar 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1/4 cup butter 1/3 cup all-purpose flour For the Cake 2 medium apples, peeled and sliced thinly 1 3/4 cups flour 3/4 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup butter, softened 1 cup sugar 1 teasp

Bow Tie Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Spinach

Bow Tie Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Spinach Some days I have no idea what to make for dinner. This recipe came to be on one of those days because of a package of mozzarella and basil flavored chicken sausage I had in my refrigerator that needed to be used.   I was not in the mood to spend a couple of hours cooking and I also wanted a really quick dinner.  The chicken sausage was a perfect beginning to a quick dinner. So, friends, this is a 30-minute or less meal that is perfect for any busy family's weeknight meal. It's also a great weekend meal when you have been running around doing all your weekend chores.  Whip this pasta dish together when friends stop by on the weekend.  Add a garden salad and some crusty bread and you'll take this meal over the top. Bow Tie Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Spinach Serves 6 Bow Tie Pasta Ingredients 1 pound basil mozzarella flavored chicken sausage, cut into chunks 1 lb package bow tie pasta 1 6-ounce bag of fres

In the Garden-Five Tips for Fall Cleanup

Pumpkins Make Me Think Fall Fall in the garden is not my favorite time of year, primarily because the garden activities fall into the drudgery category.  You know what I mean don't you?  It all seems like way too much work, and where's the payback?  I know, I know, the payback comes next spring.  I do keep that in mind and that's what keeps me in the game, so to speak. There's plenty to do around my home and garden this fall.  Here's what's on my short list.  I'm happy to say that some of this is complete already. Five Tips for Fall Cleanup 1.  Winterize the deck by cleaning it and giving it a fresh coat of to protect it from the harsh weather.  Yes, this task is done. 2.  Clean the gutters.  The first round of this dirty activity was completed as a result of Hurricane Irene's debris.  3.  Remove spent vegetable plants from the vegetable garden.  Plant some garlic for harvest late next summer.  Cleaning up my vegetable garden is in proces

Pantry Essentials-The Spice Rack

Are you ready for another installment of the well-stocked pantry?  This week we're talking about essential herbs, of the dried variety, and spices.  Herbs and spices are the elements that deliver flavor to your recipes.  They are what turn the "ho hum" into the "more please" dishes.  I need herbs and spices.  You need herbs and spices.  We all need herbs and spices.  Herbs are usually the fragrant leaves of a plant while spices come from the harder parts of a plant; from the bark, seeds, roots or fruit.  Sometimes a plant provides both an herb and a spice, like cilantro. My Spice Cabinet I keep my dried herbs and spices all together in one cabinet in my kitchen island.  I do most of my food preparation on the kitchen island that is right near the stove.  This makes the location handy for the prep and in process cooking steps of recipes.  Do you keep your herbs and spices in a handy location near your stove? You'll see from the picture that I have qui

Fall Gardening-Time to Plant

As the leaves change colors and the nights grow cooler it's the perfect time to think spring.  That's because fall the best time to prepare your Northeast garden for a bountiful show next spring and summer.   You can plant any time until the ground freezes, but it's best to give your new plantings some time to get established.   Your perennials and woody plants should be kept cool and moist until you get them in the ground.   This is the perfect time to plant bulbs for those beautiful spring flowers.  Just a little effort now will reap big rewards in a few months.  If not planting your bulbs right away, keep them in a cool location.  Remember to water those perennials and bulbs after planting if there isn’t enough rainfall to take care of it for you.   Keep watering until the ground freezes. Location, location, location…   Yes, plants care about their real estate.   Be sure to choose a location that will meet the particular needs of each plant. Your daffodils prefer