Saturday, October 29, 2011

Based on the recipe below I ventured into homemade pizza dough. I used 2 cups bread flour and 1 cup semolina flour. I used rapid rise yeast at 10 PM and left the dough in the refrigerator over night with a punch down in the AM and another at 4PM followed by room temperature rising and baking at 7.

I used the dough hook to kneed for 10 minutes (a compromise as I've read 20 elsewhere and here said 5). The window test totally failed.

The first rise was over double, the second less than 50%. The dough rolled out easily and was perfect for my 16 inch cast iron pizza pan.

Baked at 450 for about 15 or 20 minutes...I lost track.

Used 1/4 pound thin sliced mozzarella and 1/4 pound thin sliced pepparoni. Could have have had slightly thicker cheese, also could use some pre ground parmesan. Used 4 mod mushrooms sliced too thin, use 8 thicker next time, a hand full of the little "yummy" peppers slice and pre frozen and Contadina pizza sauce (full can) with added home grown and dried oregano.

Will experiment more. I think no semolina next time, more mushrooms and cheese.


California-Style Pizza Dough

From James McNair's New Pizza (Canada, UK), by James McNair.

Over the years, I have tried countless versions of pizza dough, yet I've never found one that I like as much as this version that I developed for my first pizza book in the 1980s. It has undergone a few refinements since then, but the basic recipe stands. The olive oil imparts a subtle flavor and richness and the crust bakes up tender yet chewy.


1 cup warm water (110°F 115 °F; 43°C to 46°C)
2-1/4 teaspoons (1 packet or 1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
About 3-1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose, broad, or semolina flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil, preferably extra-virgin


Pour the warm water into a small bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the water, stir to dissolve, and set aside.

To mix and knead the dough by hand:

In a large mixing bowl, combine 3 cups of the flour with the salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, then pour in the yeast mixture and the 1/4 cup oil. Using a wooden spoon, vigorously stir the flour mixture into the well, beginning in the center and working toward the sides of the bowl, until the flour mixture is incorporated and the soft dough just begins to hold together.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Dust your hands with flour and knead the dough gently, pressing down on the dough with the heels of your hands and pushing it away from you, then partially folding it back over itself. Shift it a quarter turn and repeat the procedure. While kneading, very gradually add just enough of the remaining 1/4 cup flour until the dough is no longer too sticky; this should take about 5 minutes. As you work, use a dough scraper to pry up any bits of dough that stick to the work surface. Continue kneading until the dough is smooth, elastic, and shiny, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Knead the dough only until it feels smooth and springy but still slightly moist. Too much kneading overdevelops the gluten in the flour and results in a tough crust.

To mix and knead the dough with a food processor:

In the processor bowl, combine 3 cups of the flour with the salt and process to mix well, about 5 seconds. Add the yeast mixture and the 1/4 cup oil and process continuously until the dough forms a single ball or several masses on top of the blade, about 30 seconds. Pinch off a piece of dough and feel it. If it is too sticky, continue processing while gradually adding just enough of the remaining 1/4 cup flour for the dough to lose most of its stickiness. If the dough is dry and crumbly, add warm water, a tablespoon at a time, and process until the dough is no longer too dry. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand as described in the previous paragraph for about 2 minutes.

To mix and knead the dough with a heavy-duty stand mixer:

In the mixer bowl, combine 3 cups of the flour with the salt. Attach the flat beater and mix well at the lowest speed for about 10 seconds. Add the yeast mixture and the 1/4 cup oil and mix well at the lowest speed for about 1 minute. Replace the flat beater with the dough hook and knead at medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. (After about 3 minutes, pinch off a piece of dough and feel it. If it is too sticky, continue kneading while gradually adding just enough of the remaining 1/4 cup flour for the dough to lose most of its stickiness. If the dough is dry and crumbly, continue kneading while gradually adding warm water, about a tablespoon at a time, until the dough is no longer too dry.)

To mix and knead the dough in a bread machine:

In the mixing compartment, combine the ingredients in the order suggested in the manufacturer's manual. Run the machine as directed in the manual.

After mixing and kneading the dough by one of the preceding methods, using a pastry brush, generously grease a large bowl with oil. Shape the dough into a smooth ball by stretching the outer surface smooth and tucking the sides of the dough underneath the bottom of the ball. Place the ball, smooth top down, in the bowl, turn to coat the ball all over with oil, and rest it seam-side down in the bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap to prevent moisture loss and set aside in a draft-free warm place for the dough to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour and 10 minutes if using quick-rising yeast or about 1-1/2 hours if using regular yeast.

Alternatively, transfer the bowl of dough to a refrigerator and let rise for 1 hour, then uncover and use your fist to punch the dough down gently to expel air. Cover tightly, return to the refrigerator, and let rise for up to 24 hours, punching down 1 or 2 more times during the rise.

When the dough has doubled in bulk, use your fist to punch it down gently to prevent over-rising. If you are using bread flour or semolina flour, turn the room temperature-risen dough in an oiled bowl to coat once more, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and set aside in a draft-free warm place until the dough is once again doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes if using quick-rising yeast or about 1 hour if using regular yeast (omit this step if using all-purpose flour). If you cannot bake the dough risen at room temperature within 2 hours of its rising, punch the dough down again, turn it in an oiled bowl to coat once more, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate. (The dough can be punched down a total of 4 times and kept refrigerated for up to 36 hours before the yeast is exhausted and the dough unusable.) Let chilled dough come to room temperature before proceeding.

Leave the dough whole for a large pizza, or divide it into 2 equal pieces for two pizzas, 4 equal pieces for individual pizzas, or 8 equal pieces for appetizer-sized pizzette. Form each piece of dough into a smooth ball in the same manner as the original large ball. If you wish to freeze dough for later use, wrap the pieces tightly in plastic wrap or seal in airtight plastic containers or freezer bags and freeze for up to 4 months. Before using, thaw in a refrigerator for 1 or 2 days or for a few hours at room temperature.

Yield: Makes enough dough for one 16-inch round pizza, two 12-inch round pizzas, four 8-inch round individual pizzas, or eight 4-inch round appetizer-sized pizzette; for 8 servings

Monday, October 24, 2011

Donna Gwyer made this lovely quilt!

Julie's mom pulled off this wonderful shower!

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Mary Ann made the cutest decorations too.

Since it was a couples shower Joey even got some how to lessons from another Dad.

Julie will be keeping David close!
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Sunday, October 23, 2011

My son Joey and his wife Julie are expecting our first grandchild any day now. We know he is a boy and they plan to name him David Browning D'Anna. I can't wait to meet the little love.
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Meanwhile, mom and dad are getting in a little practice time.

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Posted by PicasaMy OLD kitty, Panther

The Big Project, an update for this year

It's a rainy day here in Maryland, yet again, but it is a drizzle and temperature is nice enough for shorts. I've spent it planting bulbs with my new bulb auger which is a wonderful tool and makes things much easier. I've also potted up so bits of DNA pilfered from here and there and sat several times to watch the birds at the feeders and rest.

Have I mentioned that the Big Project (vegetable garden with raised beds in a medium to large mammal proof fence) is going great? Well, short of the dang stink bugs it is. Lovely soil, effective fence and brain finally wrapped around 3 season planting and crop rotations thanks to the help of

When my kids built me the fence they also ran power to the shed and water. DH just hooked up the electric (15 volt max) so I have a light and a plug place. The water still must be turned on at the house but I can run it out of a hose that stays inside the fence.

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Other sub projects to come:
Build even more raised beds inside the fence (about 1/2 complete)
Box in a Freecycle double sink within the fence for washing up and potting
Set up a soaker hose system for each raised bed
Continue planting flowers on 3 sides of the fence (4th side is the shed)

In the rest of the yard my biggest new project is to plant liriope under my deck to stop the constant erosion.

This has been a great gardening year for me thanks to much help from family.Posted by Picasa


Yesterday I attended a one day introduction to beekeeping seminar designed to help one decide if this is something one wants to do and to know enough to put in orders and obtain needed supplies so one is ready to open operations in April if the answer is yes. My answer is very likely yes. This is the wonderful group I have joined:

I am fond of insects in general but especially fond of pollinators. I'm a gardener who uses Integrated Pest Management. I'm retired and looking for new interests. I'm one of those crazies who pet bees. Honey bees often do better in garden apiaries than they do in the commercial, migratory operations. The group that put on this presentation was full of funny, bright and personable people. I joined the club today. They have an equipment loan program for members for the honey extractors. They hook new-BEEs up with a mentor who will work with the newbie one on one while installing bees in their first hive and while doing the first hive inspection. My county recently cleared up zoning questions leaving it clear I am unencumbered in that way. I'm told the nectar flow is good in Maryland and our disease problems are manageable. Importantly too, DH doesn't seem to object.

One of my concerns is the weight of the hives as they must be moved in order to inspect the colony. I was happy to learn there are options that reduce the weight of each element. The hive bodies come in 3 sizes as far as height goes and 2 sizes as far as the number of frames go. I will likely limit my sizes to medium boxes for brood and shallow boxes for honey storage. I will also go with 8 frames per box instead of 10.

The investment is not trivial. The hive itself, the workers and the queen, the protection gear for inspection and working the hive and misc. items like smokers and "hive tools". Still, it is less than many pets and way less than therapy. I will take another course 2.5 hours one day a week for 6 weeks, called "The Short Course" this winter and go to monthly meetings meanwhile. For now I'll review my notes, start reading, and Google a bunch of things I noted for that purpose today.

I really like having a new subject to study.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Dairy Free Pancakes

From :
Any changes I made noted with ( ... ).

Makes 8 large pancakes

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 T. sugar
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • ½ t. salt
  • 1 cup unsweetened plain almond milk or other non-dairy milk
  • 1 large whole egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten    (I just used 2 whole eggs and it was fine)
  • 1 ½ t. canola oil 
  • (I added frozen blueberries after pouring the batter and it worked well)


1. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt, making a well in the center.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the almond milk, whole egg, egg yolk and canola oil until well combined. Add to the well in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. (Batter should still have some lumps.)
3. Lightly oil a heavy-bottomed skillet or griddle and heat over medium heat. Once hot, add the batter to the pan, about ¼ cup at a time, flipping when bubbles begin to form on the surface of the pancakes and the edges begin to rise. Cook the other side of the pancakes for about 1-2 minutes more, or until golden brown. Repeat until all of the batter is used, keeping the pancakes warm either on a plate beneath a towel or in a 200 F. oven. Serve with toppings of choice.