Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Old Country Pizza Pie Dough

I imagine that when they make pizza pie, in the old country, the dough is as fresh as the pasta, the bread, and the air. Now that's pizza! (as my daughter says when I make this) I snapped a lot of photos when we made homemade pizzas last week. The recipe for the pizza dough could not be easier! Just give yourself an hour-and-a-half ahead of time for when you want your rustic country pizza to come out of the oven and get gobbled up.
I have also made many batches of the pizza dough for my daughter's sleepovers. We set up bowls and bowls of toppings, and each girl makes her own pizza. Now that's a real pizza party!

 Old Country Pizza Dough
3 cups all-purpose flour
2-1/4-ounce packets of quick-rise yeast
1/2-teaspoon sugar
Combine flour, yeast, and sugar in a mixing bowl.
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup lukewarm water
Mix salt, oil and water with the flour mixture. Knead (by hand or with mixer dough hook) for approximately three minutes, until dough feels smooth, or starts to pull away from sides of mixing bowl and easily forms into a ball. Place the smooth dough ball in a large bowl, coated with olive oil (wipe dough around it) and let it rise until doubled in size; approximately one hour.

Punch dough down. For a large, 16-inch pizza, roll out the entire dough ball. For two medium-size pizzas, cut the dough in half. Wrap one dough ball and set aside. Let the dough you are working with rest for a few minutes, and roll it out. Place it in your prepared pizza pan (sprayed with non-stick cooking spray)  and form the crust, pinching around the edges. Spread on pizza sauce to your taste. 

Sprinkle on shredded mozzarella cheese, and/or cheeses of your choice. This time we made one four-cheese pizza, and one loaded with pepperoni. We've also made delicious veggie pizzas with mushroom, onion, and green pepper.

Place on the bottom rack of a cold oven, and bake at 500 degrees F for approximately 17 to 20 minutes--this will depend on your oven and the toppings. The crust should be golden brown--but not overly brown.
My daughter's favorite: 4-cheese!

Princess Minnie - supervising my seedlings.
I've got several cherry tomato plants I've started from seed. My favorite is Burpee's Sweet 100--those little tomatoes are the candy of the yummy eaten warm right off the vine, you almost feel like you're somewhere in Italy. I'm picturing a homemade pizza covered with them! That will be sometime in July. Hopefully, this is our last cold day in March. I'm ready to send all the coats to the cleaners and get out my sandals!

Good gardening...good eating!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Go find your happy place, and if you can't find it, make it.

 "Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn't hurt the untroubled spirit either."

--Elizabeth Zimmerman

I feel like I have been knitting little squares for a long time, in-between things, during things, and anytime I was at risk of the dire possibility of being bored. That is really not a word in my vocabulary! These little guys are coming together, this week, into a unique little wall hanging.

As for my ever-growing stack of larger, 20X20-stitch squares, they are still multiplying into a nice throw. I vowed to stitch at least one square a day. I'm still working on yesterday's! Love it, love it.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Spring's Wings--It's "Every Inchie Monday"

Okay, first of all, there is snow on the ground this morning in the Ozarks! I don't think my radish seeds out in the garden are very happy...but other than that I am still going to celebrate today's Every Inchie Monday theme, which is "Winged," with my favorite spring winged thing: a butterfly.

Please visit the Every Inchie Monday blog for the most amazing art ever to grace one square inch at

This teeny tiny cross-stitch piece began when I was searching for something usual...and this time it was a piece of black aida cloth which I need for another project. Looking at it I realized that a little stitched butterfly would really pop on that black background, and so it began. 

I designed my butterfly using yellow and green DMC satin floss, and stitched it up in no time at all. I knew I wanted the body to be beaded, and my little aqua beads were perfect. After sewing on the little beads, I trimmed out my one-square-inch.

 My silver DMC memory thread was also ideal for the antennas. And just like that, she was finished! I sewed a linen backing on the black piece of aida, and trimmed the corners with a bit of a bigger bead.

I dearly love this little butterfly, and I'm starting to imagine a bigger canvas with several of them flittering around and some flowers--so I've now got some designing to do! 

I'm also really starting to look forward to the time when I have a year's worth of Inchies to put together in one art piece! I've noticed other participants talking about that idea, and I can't wait to see what that will look like and what shape it will all take.

Ahh. Snow...shmoe...let the sun shine in!

In the meantime, I had seedlings to water on the greenhouse, and my little princess, Minnie, loves to help. She follows me and the watering can all the way down the greenhouse, and of course, has to water herself in the process. Helping Mommy is exhausting! My roma tomato seedlings, planted in mid-February, are getting hearty, and everything else is coming along. I've now planted the yellow pear tomatoes from my sister, so I hope this cold weather snap doesn't put my seedlings to sleep!

I just keep reminding myself, it is, indeed, spring! Although yesterday, the cold led me to mugs of hot tea with my orange blossom honey, and knitting--so I was fine. I watched a wonderful movie on about the life of Dolley Madison--loved it so much, I'm going to have to watch it again. If you watch it, don't miss the special feature about the making of the costumes.
It's all good. Happy eating, writing dreaming, and stitching!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Vintage Recipe Friday - Salad Days

In 1976, America's Home Economics Teachers were feeling generous, and patriotic, and actually created a cookbook to celebrate our Bicentennial year.

I was a very young teenager then, but I remember receiving a copy of it at school, then put it away somewhere, and I guess it never saw the light of day for decades.

I feel guilty. Don't tell my homec teacher.

I don't know what it was about food photography back then, but I think it's a bit disturbing. In this photo, the refugee pickles look frightened of the giant tuna-potato pepper boats lurking over them, and I am quite sure that this lovely salad is much more appetizing than it appears here in black and white.

On another note--that is the tallest pitcher of ice tea I think I've ever seen! And the tablecloth has a very strange, almost alien texture. Well, enough of the photo critique!

I might change the mayo in this recipe to low-fat, and make sure the tuna is packed in water. But other than that, not a bad little salad. I am going to try it. I like tuna salad, and I like potato salad, so why not?

I love doing Vintage recipe research--some of the things I find are timeless and classic...other things just make me giggle, and jiggle like the jelled salad molds below from a 1950's booklet called "The Joys of JELL-O."

I don't know, it seems like a weird way to eat salad and the veggies look like they are in a Jell-O prison! It is very colorful though--almost like a set of Marie Antoinette's hats.

I would never make this in a million years. But it's very 1950's and very kitchy. It sort of reminds me of a family potluck Jell-O salad that one of my aunts would bring to the holiday dinners when I was little. I seem to remember it having pineapple, Jell-O, cream cheese and some kind of crunchy vegetable. I ate it and thought it was good--so go figure!

Yesterday my sister shared some lovely yellow pear tomato seeds with me, so I've got to get those started today--and most of my housework is done so I am hoping for some stitching time too, and I may even work on my novel a bit. The sun is trying to come out, and yet, winter is trying to stage a comeback this weekend!

Having all the little tomato, herb and flower starts on my greenhouse keeps me hoping. And these Jell-O molds keep me giggling!

 Salad isn't really salad, until it is fresh from the garden. Tasty veggies chopped up and drizzled with a little Italian dressing - yum. We'll keep the Jell-O for a little snack or dessert.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Leek, Laugh, Love

What do you do with those last few tall, hearty leeks from the garden? Make a little Leek-n-Shroom Penne Pasta I say! A bowl of this nice warm veggie-filled, bacon-topped pasta dish will make you happy. It's fast, easy, and delish!

This all started with me, clearing out a garden bed to plant radish seeds--those things love the cool March weather, and they will be done in four weeks, so I devoted one of the raised beds to my beautiful radishes--well, they will be radishes, soon. However, along with some stray plants and weeds, I still had three hearty leeks right in the middle of the bed that were from last summer--and those things stay all winter if you let them! I didn't have a dinner fresh leeks led the way.

Having been in the garden quite a while, it was really important to wash them well--slicing them length-wise first to get all the sand out under cold water.


1-cook several slices of chopped bacon in a large pan
2-set cooked bacon aside, drain the pan leaving just a tiny bit of bacon dripping, and add two tablespoons butter and a splash of olive oil to the pan
3-Saute sliced leeks (about three) and add several sliced mushrooms--let saute a minute or two
4-Add about 1/2 cup white wine and let it reduce
5-After a couple of minutes toss in about 12 ounces of cooked penne pasta
6-Continue to saute and toss it all together, and serve topped with bacon bits and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

 I think I will have more roma tomato plants than I know what to do with! But they are some of my favorite for Italian dishes--especially pasta. I can't wait to eat from the garden again!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Inchie Monday--RHYTHM INCHIE

When you have rhythm--it's a sort of daily thing--you have it every day in every way. It's in a song you're singing with the's in your feet when you hear a Michael Jackson's in the flowers swaying in the wind...rhythm is engrained in the time of year and the way we go about our day. 

My teeny tiny Inchie!
This week's Every Inchie Monday theme, rhythm, is a fabulous theme to sit down and interpret in some kind of artistic way. Not to mention, a piece of art that must be one-inch by one-inch. (Visit My first visual thought of rhythm was Fred Astaire's tap shoes. But when you love someone like Fred Astaire, and you've watched enough of his dance performances, it all seeps into your skin and into your personal daily culture--it's more than the feet. 
So, back to the days. All I have to do is look at my calendar--the way I highlight, circle, draw, make notes (in spite of technology, I can't let go of my regular paper calendar journal) see the rhythm of my days. There's creativity, chores, plans, events, busy work, children, friends, family...there's a big star on the night I'm going to see Elton John! There's choir practice...sometimes play practice...and a definite void where there should be more violin practice. I love this, daily life thing...and so my Rhythm Inchie, the Rhythm of Days, begins with a piece of a calendar that used to be stark and white, and is now layered with the special, joyful, messy, mundane, fun, organized, musical, magical marks that symbolize the rhythm of everyday life.

I found the cutest lemon cucumber seeds this weekend--and a wonderful stash of beautifully inexpensive bulk seeds at my hardware store. Love it love it! Eat, Write, Dream, Stitch and Grow!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Vintage Recipe Friday--Coffee and Custard

Respect me...respect my coffee! Imagine my shock, when doing a little vintage recipe research, at finding out that "back in the day" some husbands thought that the average woman, inattentive wife, and drugstore waitress, couldn't manage to make a good cup of coffee! This train of thought, apparently, had been going on for hundreds of years-- from a page out of the 1949 Esquire Men's Entertainment Cookbook. Not exactly PC anymore...were 1940's men even buying recipe books?

Coffee used to be a lot more complicated, I'll admit it. So it's not totally shocking that it fell under the spell of olden-day male chauvinism. Thank goodness for coffeemakers is all I can say. 

The next thing to master? A fabulous custard! 

This custard recipe is also from the 1940's, and I can't wait to make it in some cutey cute little custard dishes I found on sale. I am a custard novice, so I'm excited to try it! It only has five ingredients--but several steps. I love the variations too. It looks super yummy! Enjoy!

Make some fresh custard, hot coffee, and knit yourself happy!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Honey? I'm Home!

It was time to meet one of my dearest friends and have lunch at our favorite girly place. 

Honey Heaven is a local shop and tearoom here in the Ozarks that I adore. I heart honey--and I love the rooms at Honey Heaven stuffed with painted furniture and antiques, fat bee motifs, and the cutest gifts and goodies (like chubby painted tea pots and tins of bee bar lotion). I have actually gotten craft ideas from their gift shop items (I'm known to troll places for ideas)--and I'm thinking of making a series of bee embroidered pillows to sell here. I wish I would have snapped a pic of the actual tearoom areas! I had bees on the brain! Guess I'll take more pics on my next visit. 

Honey mustard chips

Sharon and I always look forward to the honey-mustard chips they serve while you're at your table trying to catch up on the latest gossip and peruse the menu. We both love the Garden of Eden Quiche--filled with roasted veggies. Sharon got it again this time. So yummy! And of course you always get a salad and a mini muffin on your plate. I also had raspberry ice tea--and if that wasn't heaven...Sharon ordered the honey cream cake for dessert. Oh my. It all tasted fresh and delish.

Sharon next to the bees in the Honey Room!
Me and the bees!
 After we caught up on everything going on in our lives and finished off a great lunch, we went to their special Honey Room in the back of the shop...where a hive of real honey bees live (their glass hive is connected to a pipe in the wall that lets them exit and enter from the outside as they please). We have a lot concern for honey bees right now, because lately their very existence has been threatened by pests and diseases worldwide. We need our bees! These busy guys and their queen are fun to watch in a glass hive.

Honey Heaven's real beehive.
There's nothing like shopping in a real honey shop where there are shelves and shelves of local honey in a variety of flavors, honey based salad dressings, and my daughter's favorite treat: honey sticks. I was on the lookout for a big honey bear of Honey Heaven's own Orange Blossom Honey. I wanted the large one this time, because we completely used up a small container of it already--using it all winter in mugs and mugs of hot tea and piped onto flaky biscuits. 

Honey has a lot of I thought I'd share a few with you.

  • Honey (depending on the quality of its nectar and pollen sources) contains vitamins B1, B2, C, B6, B5 and B3. Now I think that should be written more like, Vitamin Bee-1, but maybe I should embroider that.
  • Honey is good for your skin, and attracts water.
  • Honey helps sore throats.
  • Honey can soothe a mild tummy ache.
  • Honey has been known to be effective in the treatment of ulcers.
  • Many bee-lieve honey is the most wholesome sweetener.

So this is why bears have good skin, never cough or complain about their tummies! ;)

I forgot to pick up one of my other favorite items, while I was there, which is a good tin of bee lotion. Very nice to use on dry heels in the winter and rub on your cuticles when you've been gardening and have had your hands in water a lot!

I found a photo of a fat bee from my cutting flower garden last year. One of the reasons I plant the cutting flowers, like zinnias, right next to the tomatoes, herbs and other veggies is, of course, to attract the bees for a fuller and healthier garden bounty.

I hope you have a dreamy little shop near you, like Honey Heaven, to have a tearoom lunch once in a while and a little bit of shopping--all good for healthy eating, writing, dreaming and stitching!