Saturday, October 29, 2011

Garden Construction Project: Building a Hoop House PART 3 (of 3)

With *snow* in the forecast, it was high time to do the finishing touches on the hoop house! We have not had fall yet this year...the leaves are still green on the trees and we still have some flowers in bloom like this rose by the patio. It's one I got at the grocery store a few years ago as a house plant, but it's been very happy to live outside year round. There are peppers to bring in from the garden too.

So, when I left off with the construction posts, the next step was to build and hang the doors. The doors came out really well after some aggravating planing here and there. Outside, with the hinges and latch showing.

And inside, showing the diagonal supports. I need to put a hook and eyescrew on the inside so I can keep the door closed when I'm inside.

The door on the back wall is the same.

Then, we had to create the roll up ventilation with pipe, clips, crank and some anti billow cord. The entire side can be rolled up at once! It will stay up too, with the handle braced on the edge of the end wall, but I think it's a good idea to put clamps on a couple of the ribs along the length just to add a little support for the roll up part to rest on.

This picture shows the crank. We have it held off the ground with a loop of rope. I wouldn't want it to be frozen into the ground on the first warm days of spring when we need to open the house up! There is plastic at the ends of the ventilation section to prevent any major drafts getting in under the ventilation flap.

A view of the side showing the ventilation set up and the anti billow cord laced down the side. Look how tight the plastic gets when the weather gets chilly!

Inside, there are some finishing touches to do like the hooks for the doors. I need to level the ground for my potting bench, but am just too pregnant for that amount of digging right now! You can see my coat/tool rack on the potting bench. I need to hang that on the end wall.

Of course, there needs to be a lot of planting too!!! I have gotten too pregnant to do much of that or much weeding. Also, we have been dealing with the moth/caterpillar attack. At least there is some greenery in there. Most of it I planted, but a few tomatoes volunteered and I have left them growing to see how they take the cold.


Cilantro (some of which will go in a chili later today!) and basil.

Carrots. I'm hoping for some super sweet cold weather carrots for xmas!


Swiss Chard, both Fordhook Giant and Bright Lights varieties.

A view down the middle bed showing German Winter thyme in the box, Evergreen Bunching scallions, marjoram, par-cel and various herbs, Winterbor kale, dill, fennel...

My beets, spinach, broccoli and broccoli raab are trying to grow, but have suffered the most from caterpillar attack. Next year, I will use organic treatments to try to protect them better. Johnny's Seeds has suggested I use Dipel.

It has been quite the adventure to build, but we are so happy with the results. I know we are going to use it a lot. I hope it holds up well and doesn't need much more maintenance than a new 'skin' each season...I'll keep you posted, of course!

Now, it's back to house construction...working on the nursery project. I hope to have a post about that in the near future. That cutesy due date countdown ticker in the corner of the page is becoming a little stressful with all the work that needs doing. Let's hope he's not an early baby!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Molasses and Buttermilk Bread

We have not turned the heat on yet this year and it was a challenge to make bread in a cool house today. It took such a long time to rise! I wasn't sure it was going to come out, but I find that bread is pretty forgiving.

It has great flavor from rye flour as well as the molasses and buttermilk.

This is another recipe from Sweet and Savory Swedish Baking by Leila Lindholm.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Chicken Korma

This is one I've cooked and blogged before, but it's so good I have to share again! The recipe is from Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. I so enjoy the process of cooking a curry--it is a real sensory experience! It's visually pretty, smells amazing and sometimes I like getting immersed in methodical slicing or dicing.

I picked the green chile and cilantro from the garden. The chilies are going by in the colder weather, but the cilantro is thriving in the hoop house.

Although the recipe calls for green chilies, I just had to use this red mariachi from the garden too! It was perfect!

Chicken Korma simmering on the stove top.

I also picked a few radishes from the hoop house for a crunchy, tasty garnish.

It is exciting when dinner time finally arrives and all the toppings are arrayed in preparation.

All ready to eat! Yum!!!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Breakfast Bars

It's not on purpose, but I've baked another item beginning with the letter B--seems to be an accidental theme for October, so far!

This treat is from Nigella Express, but is also posted on her website. The bars are truly "express" to make, though they do spend an hour in the oven. They are a little sticky to prepare, but you'll enjoy the smell of the coconut and other ingredients while you evenly distribute and then press them into the pan. You could substitute any of your favorite nuts and seeds.

They are a little tricky to cut. I found it easiest to use the point of my large kitchen knife rather than trying to slice down with the whole blade.

In linking to the recipe, I saw that Nigella has a new book coming out in 2012! I'm already looking forward to it, not that I've even come close to running out of recipes to try from her other books =)

Friday, October 14, 2011


The nursery is still under destruction...umm, I mean, fuel is needed for the weekend ahead! What could be better than about 10,000 calories of brownies?!

This weekend's project will be drywalling a ceiling. Just what every pregnant woman wants to be helping with at about 27 weeks, LOL!

This was another new to me recipe from One More Slice by Leila Lindholm. (I love when a cookbook makes me want to try all the recipes in it.) I skipped the frosting as we need to have energy, not a sugar coma.

It is very rich and chocolaty. I used Bensdorp cocoa powder in it which has been a favorite of mine for awhile now. Of course, we cut into it while it was still warm from the oven.

I'll have to freeze most of it!

The baguettes, from my last post, have been so good. I had slices topped with cream cheese today. Jeff took one loaf to work where it was eaten up! I still have two halves in the freezer to thaw and warm over the next few days.

I'm wondering, does anyone know the best way to store french bread overnight to preserve the crunchiness of the crust? I usually just bag it and let the crust go chewy which is nice too, but I'm wondering if wrapping it in a tea towel is a better option? Or some other idea...?

The baking gods must be smiling on me lately as I've been having wonderful success in the kitchen with some new recipes. Also, I entered a King Arthur Flour Company drawing on Facebook and won a coupon for a free 5 pound bag of their All Purpose Flour!

Thursday, October 13, 2011


This was a first for me! I'd never tried making baguettes before, though I kept meaning to.

I started with a pre-ferment stage which made a bubbly blob! I'm not sure whether this is a Biga or a Poolish, as I read definitions for each and this one is sort of a combination...drier like the Biga, but fermented for the shorter time of the Poolish. The recipe book just calls it a starter dough, so maybe I'll just go with that! This is what a bit of yeast, water and bread flour looked like after about 4 hours.

I then made a second dough incorporating the starter into it and let it rise before turning it out on a floured board to divide and shape.

I shaped the dough and arranged it on a sheet pan. I would like to get a proper baguette pan soon. I clearly need some practice with shaping! I think the shaped pan will help too, as I'll know just what size I'm aiming for. Also, I was worried they would rise and stick together arranged like this, in fact, I moved two to a second pan just after the photo as they were getting too close. I think the actual baguette pans are longer, so your loaves are longer and thinner too.

Just before putting them in the oven, I brushed them with water and sprinkled two with everything topping and two with sesame seeds.

I followed a recipe from One More Slice by Leila Lindholm. You can see a clip of her making chocolate baguettes here. That recipe calls for the same starter dough, so you can see how it's used.

So yummy!!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Blueberry Buckle

I've really been in the mood for blueberries! Could it be a pregnancy craving? Or perhaps I'm just craving the butter, sugar and cinnamon so often accompanying blueberries! Today, I made Blueberry Buckle from the The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion. It has lots of sweet streusel topping.

I had a piece still hot from the oven and it was so lovely. I broke it apart to cool a little before greedily eating! It was a perfect tea-time pick me up to tide me over to a late dinner.

It is going to be great with coffee in the morning too. Jeff's already planning to take a rather large amount to work.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Blueberry Muffins

The lemon poppy seed cake didn't quite make it to Sunday, so I made blueberry muffins. Jeff is doing a lot of work on the nursery that I can't help with, so I'm keeping him well fed!

These are made following a recipe in Sweet and Savory Swedish Baking by Leila Lindholm, though I substituted vanilla paste for vanilla sugar and confused the temperature/cooking time for the size muffin tin I had. I wasn't quite awake enough to follow directions yet, but it all worked out anyway!

Edited to add: Here is the video of Leila Lindholm making the muffins.