Monday, July 28, 2014

Crusty Sourdough Rolls

Summer brings more sandwiches on our menu. I buy a lot more of my bread in the summer. Between my reluctance to heat up the kitchen and just the time savings, it often seems easier to throw a bag of rolls in the cart.

But if I have the time, my husband sure enjoys my own homemade rolls.

I've been searching for a good crusty roll - one that will stand up to a pile of toppings without smashing into a wad. The perfect roll, in my opinion, is slightly chewy, with a nice browned crust and firm interior. And of course, as sourdough fanatics, we think the flavor of sourdough is the perfect compliment to a great burger or pork barbeque. This roll has been my go-to recipe this summer.

Crusty Sourdough Rolls
Makes 2 dozen rolls

5 cups whole wheat flour (or white if you prefer)
2 T vital gluten (optional)
4 T honey
4 tsp salt
4 T oil
2 cups active sourdough starter
4 eggs
1 1/2 cup water
Sesame or poppy seeds for garnish

Mix all ingredients together. Allow to rest for 20 minutes. Add more flour if too sticky but avoid too much flour as it will make a dryer bread. Knead for five minutes. Allow to rise for about four hours or until doubled in size. Divide dough into 24 pieces. Form into rolls and place on greased baking sheet. Cover and allow the rolls to rise several hours until double. Brush rolls with beaten egg and sprinkle sesame seeds or poppy seeds for garnish. Slit tops of rolls immediately before baking. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Don't under-bake. A nicely browned crust boosts the flavor.

Thursday, July 24, 2014


Popping in with random glimpses of our summer activities.

As usual, summer is busy. With our abundant rainfall we could be kept busy every day just pulling weeds.

But I'm thankful for a husband who has decided that sometimes we need to ignore work.

Fourth of July found us biking a short portion of the Alleghany Passage. We started at Frostburg, MD...

...and peddled to the top of the mountain at the Eastern Continental Divide.

The down-hill trip back to our van through a couple old railroad tunnels was the best part of the trip.

Ed pulled the "princess carriage" while the five year old piggy-backed on my bike with a tag-along bike.

And like many five-year-olds, she never ran out of questions or commentary on the entire fourteen-mile ride.

I have done very little bike riding in the last fifteen years. By evening I ached so badly I could barely walk. But the day ended with our van breaking down. And this was no small, simple repair. Thankfully, we were only twenty miles from home and were able to get off the interstate safely. My parents rescued us with their van so we could get home.

Other July activities...



...Where we enjoy the beauty but catch no fish.

Catching crayfish in the creek (and bringing them home to eat!)

This past weekend we attended the Berean Mennonite Bible Conference for the first time.

The campground included these cute little cabins under tall shade trees.

Thankfully it was an abnormally cool weekend for July in PA so we were able to enjoy a few days without AC.

The overflow crowd listened to the services outside. The messages and fellowship (including meeting some of you Home Joys readers!) were just the encouragement that we needed.

And always these blue eyes and smile are my joy bringer.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Lemon Cream Berry Pie

I LOVE fruit pies - and right now this lemon cream berry pie is my favorite. The combination of lemon and fruit is perfect. I have only made it with strawberries and blueberries but I think it would also be good with fresh peaches or cherries.

Lemon Cream Berry Pie

9 inch pre-baked pie crust
1 cup lemon curd (use your favorite recipe or the recipe below)
2/3 cup heavy cream
4 tsp sugar
2 pints fresh berries

Beat cream to stiff peaks with sugar. Fold cream into lemon curd. Spread into baked crust. Arrange berries on top. Refrigerate until serving.

Lemon Curd:
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 T butter

Combine eggs, sugar, and juice in a heavy saucepan. Whisk until smooth. Over low heat, warm mixture while stirring. Add butter. Whisk until thickened. Do not allow to boil. Cool.

What seasonal recipe are you enjoying?

Friday, July 11, 2014

July Garden

I took some photos of our garden recently. We have been getting such wonderful rain showers and everything is growing so well that if I don't share them soon, the garden will look nothing like these photos!

I love to see other's gardens and view their successes and failures. Mine is far from perfect, but maybe you will enjoy seeing it anyway! And I find that from a photo you can't see half the weeds!

We have two garden patches. This is the original garden. It is becoming too shady to grow things well here so I'm only using about half of the garden. To the left is a weedy patch of strawberries. Apparently these strawberries got some sort of blight. The leaves had spots and then turned brown and fell off. We hardly got any strawberries out of this patch. Since I know that blight is difficult to fight, I plan to get rid of this patch and plant something else here. In the middle is green beans (which I planted very late - I know lots of my neighbors are picking beans). To the right is zucchini.


This is our second garden, the larger of the two. The first row is garlic, almost ready to pick. Beyond the garlic is broccoli hiding under row cover from the cabbage worm. To the left is some lettuce that has bolted. After pulling the garlic I will replace it with some fall garden crops.


Next to the broccoli is red beets,sugar peas, and onions. The onions that are flowering are sweet onions. Do you know why they are flowering?


Next is carrots, peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes.

Ed always says I crowd the garden, and here is an example. When the plants were small it looked like I would have room for some vine plants such as pumpkin and watermelon next to the tomatoes. As they grow, I see I was wrong. But maybe I can train the vines to grow over the potatoes as the potato plants die back.

We had planted some little shriveled up potatoes with foot-long sprouts that were left over from last year's crop. I know that experts say to buy new stock each year, but these were languishing in the basement and I decided to see if they would grow. I think that every potato grew and we have some of the nicest potatoes ever. (I would be scared to try in another year though in case our potatoes do get infected with disease.)


I'm reaching under the plants to find nice potatoes like these!


Sweet corn follows the potatoes.


At the end of this garden is another weedy patch of strawberries. This is the patch that gave us our harvest this year. We plan to revamp this bed and mulch it for next year.

On top of the hill by our garden is a row of red raspberries. Eagerly waiting for their harvest!

How is your garden growing?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Darwin's Fillet of Fish with Seafood Filling

 Another recipe from the Dutch Oven Gathering. This was the winner this year. 

When I asked for the recipe, Darwin's wife Regina (you've met her in other posts here) said that she didn't really have a recipe but could give a general idea. Regina is one of those wonderful cooks that doesn't need a recipe - as this dish illustrates!
Darwin's Fillet of Fish with Seafood Filling

smashed crackers and small bread cubes
finely chopped onions
finely chopped celery
fresh mushrooms
any other seasonings

Saute the above in some butter until browned and crumbs a little crispy.  Dump into a bowl.

In same skillet pour some Olive oil or butter and saute a bag of salad shrimp and some crab meat with a bunch of fresh garlic or about a teaspoon from the minced jarred garlic.  When shrimp turn pink take off and toss with the above bread mixture.  Pour a little cream over mixture.

In Dutch Oven or in a baking dish, layer raw fish fillets of your choice, above filling mixture, then top with another layer of fish fillets.  Pour melted butter mixed with  Worcestershire sauce and fresh squeezed lemon juice over top.  Sprinkle with lemon pepper, and any other seasonings you wish.  Bake till fish is flaky and bubbly.  Top with fresh parsley and enjoy!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Crispy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies - Dutch Oven Style

Since you've asked for some recipes from the dutch oven gathering - I asked Daniel and Susan to share how they made their yummy oatmeal cookies. These were seriously the best oatmeal cookies I had ever eaten. This is their reply.

Crispy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Susan makes the crispy oatmeal the recipe at Mel's Kitchen Cafe., using the mixer and baking in the oven and so forth. 

Some of the children like them best as 'crispy oatmeal cookies'.

Daniel prefers 'crispy oatmeal raisin cookies'--with about a pint or more of raisins in the doubled recipe (you can tell if you have too many raisins when the cookie dough doesn't stay together ;) ).

Susan & Daniel enjoy them with apricots instead of raisins (although with apricots plus raisins would probably be good too).  Daniel stacks several dried apricots (about 6), then cuts thru the stack to make 'halves'; then rotate the stacks and thinly slice perpendicular to the first cut.

Daniel prefers to not use the mixer when making these.  

*He uses the proportions of Mel's recipe doubled; 
* in Mel's step 2, uses a fork to blend/stir/mix the powdered ingredients;
* for step 3, use a 4.5 quart glass mixing bowl;
* in step 3, use a pastry cutter to blend near room-temperature butter with the sugars, egg, and vanilla (as one operation) until thoroughly mixed;
* continuing step 3, add the dry ingredients and use the pastry cutter to cut the flour into the buttery mixture.  Like for any good pastry, do the minimum necessary to achieve an mostly thorough mixing of the flour into the butter;
* continuing step 3, use a spurtle (basically a 3/4" dowel with rounded ends, to minimally blend the oatmeal into the butter/sugar/flour mixture.  If adding dried fruit, mix the oatmeal until about half blended, then add the fruit and finish the mixing.  Daniel has some small pockets of unblended oatmeal left when finished mixing.
* for step 4, use a standard soup spoon and gather a lump of the dough.  This is where you artfully finish incorporating the unmixed oats.  Place lump into hand and squeeze a couple of times to form a ball.  The perfect size of the ball is about 1.5" diameter.  Your perfect size may be different. Use baking parchment.  For baking in the kitchen oven, you don't need to squish them flat--they spread quite nicely.  Unsquished cookies are a bit thicker, squished ones are a bit more lacy.  Daniel's 1.5" ball will make a cookie almost 5" diameter.  Susan uses a 1.5" cookie scoop, but has less dough as she makes mostly hemispheres, so her cookies are a bit smaller.
* for step 5, cook a bit longer then recommended--depending on oven--for a crispier product.

For dutch oven baking, the hardest part is getting, then maintaining, the oven at the proper temperature.  The next hardest part is patience, as you can only make several per batch in the dutch oven.  Daniel has noticed that the dutch oven baked cookies are a bit more gooey when finished than the kitchen-oven baked cookies--it seems difficult to get enough top heat without burning the bottoms (or maybe Daniel is not experienced enough, yet).  Daniel recommends squishing the ball when baking in the dutch oven, unless a gooey cookie is preferred.  But any variety of the cookie is good!

These are generally too thin/lacy for proper cookie dipping in milk, but that doesn't prevent Daniel from trying.

Enjoy your cookies.  You would probably have to work hard to make then wrong.

Thanks Daniel and Susan for sharing this recipe!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Chocolate-Laced Pecan Tart - Dutch Oven Style

 You all asked for some of the recipes from the Dutch Oven Gathering - so I emailed a few of the cooks for their recipe.

Bryce made this wonderful Chocolate-Laced Pecan Tart. It was as tasty as it looks. Bryce's mom Barb shares the recipe.

Chocolate-Laced Pecan Tart

Crust:  We used (I think) 1/2 recipe of pie dough.
4 c. flour
1 3/4 c. shortening
1 egg
1 T. vinegar
1 T. sugar
2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. cold water
Mix , roll out, place in dutch oven, forming about 1/2 way up sides.
(At this point, we put it in the freezer until we came to your house, then I put the filling in the crust.)

Filling: (I think we made 1 1/2 times)
3 eggs, beaten
1 c. corn syrup
1/2 c. gran. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 T. melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2c. chopped pecans
1/2 - 3/4. c. choc. chips (or to suit your taste)
Stir together eggs, syrup, sugars, butter, and vanilla.  Stir in pecans.
Sprinkle chocolate chips over pie dough, pour pie goo on top, lay the crust (that is up the sides) down onto the pie goo.  Bake (for a regular pie it says to bake 350 degrees for 50-55 min.) Enjoy the sweetness (then go brush your teeth!)  =)

Thanks Bryce (and Barb!)


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Flo's Cakes - Apricot Sunshine Coffee Cake

 Another yummy coffee cake from Flo. This makes me want to find some fresh apricots!

Apricot Sunshine Coffee Cake

2 TBSP butter, melted

¼ cup packed brown sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

8-12 fresh apricots, halved, or 2 cans (15 ¼ oz)  drained

¼ cup shortening

¾ cup sugar

1 egg

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

½ cup milk

16-24 pecan or walnut halves

Pour butter into a greased 8-inch square baking dish; sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon. Arrange apricot halves, cut side down, in a single layer over top; set aside.

In a small mixing bowl, beat shortening and sugar for 2 minutes until crumbly. Beat in egg. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; add to crumb mixture alternately with milk until combined. Spread over apricots.

Bake at 375˚ for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a serving plate. Place a pecan half in the center of each apricot half. Serve warm. 

Florence lives in the northwoods of Michigan with her husband and three preschoolers. Her hobbies are writing and baking coffee cakes. A few  months ago she published a book titled My First Deer Hunt. This is a children’s story about the time her husband took their oldest son (then four-years-old) to the woods for his first hunting trip.  Email Flo at foxden


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