Friday, April 27, 2012

Hot Cocoa and Sourdough Kinda Day, and Looking Forward to Summer

The morning dawned cloudy, but no rain while I fed and moved the goats.  Just before we left for school, the skies opened and it poured.  By the time I got back home, it was sunny with clouds on the fringe.  Then cold wind, then sunshine.  The forecast called for rain, but the sky didn't seem certain of what it wanted to do.  Neither was I.

I stopped by the feed store to get chick feed.  Those babies eat so much!!  I'm anxious to get the coop built and get the Americaunas outside.  They're too big for their enclosure, and there's just something not right about a rooster crowing in the house.  It doesn't even help wake Becca in the morning.

Big John's Market was next, as part of my quest to find organic and/or non-GMO cornmeal.  They have Red Mill cornmeal, but after reading all four sides of the package and checking to see if there was anything on the bottom, there was nothing there that made me willing to use it.  There was a purple corn flour that was organic, but nearly $20 for a small package didn't seem right.  After all, one of the reasons that I'm trying these recipes out is to try to save money.  When I got home, I checked online and found that Red Mill and King Arthur Flour both have organic cornmeal available online, though King Arthur's listing told me that they're sorry it's not available.  That's okay, because King Arthur's cornmeal is much more expensive than Red Mill, and Red Mill actually has it available.  I hate paying shipping for something that might be available locally, so I'm going to check Oliver's for it, and also ask Big John's if they will start stocking organic. 

The sourdough starter I've been working with isn't working, so I dumped it and intend to start a new batch, this time with starter from San Francisco.  Let's hope this works better.  I think that the warmer days will help, as it has been pretty cold here, and we don't centrally heat the house.

The next recipe to try in Make the Bread, Buy the Butter is hot chocolate mix.  I'm not a big fan of the stuff, though Becca likes it, and I do use it when making mochas and hot chocolate for the girls in the morning.  (For those of you who don't know, I include Sophie, who car pools with us to school, in these treats because I really love her.  Her birthday is the same as mine, so that makes her practically family, too, right?)  I really don't like the soy in the mixes available (even Ghirardelli's "ground chocolate" has soy!), so this is a good option to get away from that.  The recipe is super simple, and Jennifer assures me in the book that it's better than store-bought.

Assembling the three ingredients was easy.  Trying to sift them into a bowl, was a P.I.T.A.  The chocolate was getting all over the place, and the brown sugar wouldn't go through the sifter.  I finally turned over the sifter and dumped the mess into the bowl, using a whisk to mix, and my fingers to pick up and crush any errant small lumps of sugar.

I was eager to try this and heated some milk, then carefully measured in the chocolate mix and the vanilla.  It was a little salty to my taste, but otherwise good, and definitely better than Swiss Miss or Nestle.  It's hard for me to judge, since I don't really drink hot choc--  Well, I could put some coffee in there.......

Yes.  This is going to make a good mocha, using a little less salt next time.

When I took the little bit of time I had on Wednesday (the English Muffin Fiasco Day) to knit, I caught a show that's new to me on television.  It's called "The Chew," and appears to be a bit of a wacky morning talk/cooking show.  Talking about cooking.  Or cooking while talking and goofing around is probably more like it.  There was a potato salad recipe I'd like to try, so I decided to give that a go.  Easy, summer prep-like, and not likely to burn the house down.

The recipe can be found here, and I've also listed it at the bottom of this post, correcting the typo error from the online version, and eliminating the instructions for a simple roast beef sandwich.  Yes, I like bacon, almost anything with bacon in it.  In fact, the other night, Becca and I had a pasta dish with homemade sauce made from diced tomatoes, onions, and garlic, with wine and BACON.  Heaven.

The potatoes went on the stove to boil, and the bacon in the pan to fry.  At just the right time, I got an invite to go meet Bette's new dog, Jake.  Isn't he pretty?

He gets along great with baby goat Hope, too.

By the time I got back home, the potatoes were cooled and ready to cut.  I folded the mayo mixture into the potatoes and tasted it.  It's good!  Is it different from other potato salads I've made?  Yes, a bit.  I like the few differences.  I've never used red potatoes in potato salad before, and I like the texture.  The dressing seems lighter (I admit that I used about twice as many potatoes as the recipe calls for), and I love the bacon surprises.  "Oh, yeah!  There's bacon in here!"  (I would probably add more bacon next time, especially since I doubled the potatoes.)  I realized later I'd forgotten about adding the corn.  Der.  I'll try adding that next time.

By the time I'd eaten the potato I'd set aside for brunch and put the salad in the fridge, it was time to get out of the kitchen again, and head out to pick up kids at high school.  After coming home, Becca, as typical, didn't want to taste the potato salad.  When she did taste it, cautiously, she asked for more - enthusiastically.

I saw a mouse in the hen house, lying in wait under the area where Roxie's eggs drop safely where she can't peck them.  It snuck up to try to get the egg I was reaching for and gave me a scare!  I'll pick up some mouse pouches with Balsam fir (called Fresh Cab Mouse Pouch) to see if that'll keep them away!  (You can find the pouches on Amazon, but your Ace Hardware store will likely have it at a much lower cost, without added shipping.)

Becca made four dozen lavender cupcakes to share with her Visual Fine Arts class.  One of these days she'll need to make some to keep!  I noticed our lavender bush is blooming, so we'll gather the flowers from now on so we don't have to buy them.  One small package goes a long, long way, but it is expensive.
Red Potato Salad with Bacon

1 pound Red-skinned New Potatoes
3 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1/2 cup Mayonnaise
1/4 cup Bacon (crumbled)
1/4 cup Scallions (thinly sliced)
1 cup Corn (fresh or frozen and thawed)
4 Hard Boiled Eggs (peeled and chopped)
Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Place the potatoes in a large pot of seasoned water. Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the potatoes are barely tender when pierced with a knife. Drain and let cool.

Quarter the potatoes and place in serving bowl.

Mix together the dijon mustard, mayonnaise, bacon, scallions, corn and hard boiled eggs until mixed and then fold into the potato salad to serve. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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