Wednesday, October 12

Fallen Behind

Catching Up On Farmgirl Fare
It's been a discombobulated sort of autumn around here so far, and I'm feeling a bit scattered. Some comments (and people) and various other things have managed to fall through the cracks lately (mostly while I was away), so I thought I'd try to do a little hodgepodge of catching up here.

First of all, I'd like to extend a very warm welcome to all the new visitors to Farmgirl Fare. And if you've been stopping by for a while but have just started leaving comments, I thank you for taking the time to write. I pride myself on personally welcoming everyone to the farm, but I know I have missed some of you lately. Your feedback (both positive and negative) is a valuable and entertaining part of this blog. I really love hearing what you think, answering your questions, and just getting to know you. As you know, I don't get around to writing a whole lot of text-filled posts, but I feel that the comments sections of the daily photos often turn into informative and amusing mini posts themselves.

Name That Sheep Contest Update
The Secret Panel of Judges has been hard at work trying to choose a name for Yellow 21. Your response has been overwhelming; the judges don't have a clue how they're going to pick just one name. (But they are having almost too much fun with this.) The winner (along with a surprise or two) will probably be announced Monday, so you still have time to enter a new name, go back and defend your previous entry, or bash some other names you feel are totally inappropriate. Click
here to meet Yellow 21 and learn more about how you can win a sheep.

Book Swap
Last summer, Amy at the wonderful
Beauty Joy Food hosted the first ever BJF book swap, and it was a great success. Click here to read the round-up, and click here to find out how you can join in on the fun with Book Swap 2. Sign-ups are going on now.

E-Mailing Me
I know some of you have hunted around Farmgirl Fare trying to find my e-mail address, but it isn't currently posted anywhere. Here it is: farmgirlfare at gmail dot com.

The Pita Project
I know many of you are already familiar with the saga I now (that it is over) refer to as The Pita Project. If you are not, and you like pita bread, click
here to read more. It has been wonderful hearing from so many of you who were inspired to make your own pitas after reading about my adventures.

There are also a few recently added comments and questions to the pita post that I would like to respond to:

Beejay, Welcome to the farm! I enjoyed hearing how you made yeastless pitas. Bernard Clayton (whose recipe I used) did say that the steam is what makes them puff so it makes sense that they worked. Sounds like you had a delicious pita party!

Tabehodai, Welcome to the farm to you, too! I would definitely be interested in baking something together, as we both have a
DeLonghi Convection Oven, though mine is rather small. I mostly use it to heat up bread or leftover pizza or bake pita chips and pita pizzas. (The link above is to a new model that is identical to mine only larger; it'll hold a 12-inch pizza. I think I may have to trade up.)
Regarding your (not stupid) questions: when you are baking pizza in any kind of oven, you want to bake it directly on the hot stone (or tiles). Let the stone heat up as the oven heats up, and be sure to give it enough time to get very hot (up to an hour in a conventional size oven, less time in a small toaster/convection oven). Never put a cold stone into a hot oven or it may crack.
I wrote more about using baking stones and tiles in the following posts:
Bread Bakers, Start Your Ovens!
Three Onion & Three Cheese Pizza
Loving Leftover Pizza

Elizabeth, congratulations on making your own pitas. I appreciate your suggestion that I add "let the dough double in size in a draft-free place" to the recipe, but I'm going to leave it as it is since I actually let the dough "rest" for a set period of time (30 minutes) rather than until it doubled in size (which it didn't in the 30 minutes). Also, between the half dozen fans on full blast throughout the summer and the frigid air blowing into our very old house during the winter, I don't think I've ever let any dough rise in a completely draft-free place!

Kitchen Mage, you mentioned using pre-ferments (sponges or starters). I didn't come across any pita recipes that used them, but of course I was too scared to do a pita google search (or I'd probably still be making pitas). I do know that I have tossed a cup of my four year old sourdough starter (straight from the fridge) into everything from Farmhouse White bread to pizza dough, always with positive results. (I never make pizza dough without it now.) This idea has me intrigued; the next time I make pitas, I'll add a cup of starter to the mix and let you know what happens.

You also asked about pairing wine and pitas. I'm no expert, so I'll just give a few brief, personal suggestions. Red wine with pita pizzas. White or red wine with pita chips, depending on the flavor of the chips and your taste. And with warm, unadorned, unpuffed pitas hot from the oven? Champagne!

Summer Harvest Soup For Fall
Last month I posted
this recipe for Simple Summer Harvest Soup (made with sweet red peppers and summer squash) which Alanna then featured at A Veggie Venture. Last week Alanna found herself unable to resist the bargain 25-cent sweet red peppers at her local farmer's market, so she once again turned to my recipe for inspiration. However, she managed to come up with this totally different soup (that sounds delicious). Sweet peppers and squash are still readily available in many places (like sitting on my kitchen counter), so it's not too late to try one of our versions--or to improvise and come up with your own. If you do, I'd love to hear about it.

Getting Yourself A Little Donkey
No, I am not holding a contest to give away
Dan. Are you crazy? But I know that after seeing pictures and hearing about him, there are at least a few of you out there (like Jamie) who are now hankering to share your life with your own dandy little four-hooved friend.

Unfortunately, Jamie, you are going about this all wrong. You say that you "keep showing my significant other your lovely photos of Donkey Doodle Dandy and telling him I want one of my own, but so far he is resisting the idea." Okay, while I do admire your "I will win eventually" attitude, I fear you have a very, very long wait ahead of you. That is unless you do one simple thing: Take delivery of the donkey while you are home alone. That is what I did, and I plan to do it again just as soon as I find a suitably adorable girlfriend for Dan.

A picture is one thing. The actual donkey is something else entirely. Resistance will be useless. Plus, what is the unenthusiastic naysayer going to do? Your new donkey is already happily ensconced in the backyard! Call someone to haul it away? I don't think so. I hope some of you find this advice helpful. And please don't forget to send me pictures of your new donkeys.

(P.S. When you think about it, this strategy could probably work with all kinds of things besides donkeys. . .)

Coming Up
I had an anonymous request for my homemade pesto recipe and will hopefully be posting it in the next week, along with some information on the types of basil I grow.

And I haven't forgotten that ages ago I promised to share the recipe for my
Oatmeal Toasting Bread. I just wanted to give you enough time to familiarize yourself with the Ten Tips For Better Bread first so that your loaves will come out perfect on the first try. Has everyone found a wooden dough bowl?

I also have a pile of half-written posts and a whole stack of other ideas and stories in my head. Some of my favorite cold weather and holiday recipes should be making appearances, too. Of course, all these plans could be waylaid by something
totally unexpected. It's happened once or twice before. But you can be sure that whatever does transpire, there will never be a dull moment (and there will probably be pictures). I sure hope you'll join me.


  1. YAY first comment ;)

    Love the catching up fg :)
    Dan rocks :) don't forget you can get mini donkeys ;)

  2. Hey, I was supposed to get this one, Clare, but I was too busy emailing you! Grrr.

    thanks for all the updates, FG, and I for one am looking forward to holiday recipes. I love this season!


  3. Wow, I'd never be able to use a set time for deciding how long to let dough rise! The temperatures and humidity in my kitchen (and outdoors) are so different throughout the year. In the summertime, dough left on the counter generally takes about an hour to rise to double. In winter, it takes at least 6 hours because the kitchen temperature is about 15C. In winter, I usually put dough into the oven (turned off) with the light turned on to try to mimic summer countertop temperatures. We have lots of drafts in this old house too....

    Excuse me as I press this point a little further. My confusion on your pita recipe lies here:

    : knead for 6 minutes.
    : Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
    : Divide the dough into 8 pieces.

    There is no actual mention the half hour of rising. Are you cutting the dough before it has risen for 30 minutes? (It looks like the dough has already risen in the photo)

    Making yeastless flatbread is really pretty amazing. We used to make chapatis fairly often but now find that it's easier and just as satisfying foodwise to make naan (and now, thanks to you, pita is in the same category as naan).


  4. Susan,

    As much as I enjoy your photographs, it's nice to read a real post.

    BTW, I doing Beranbaum's Proscuito Bread tomorrow. I'll let you know how it turns out.

  5. Hi Clare,
    Oh yes, mini donkeys would be perfect for the suburban dweller.

    Hi Amy,
    You'll get her next time. : )
    Yes, I love this season, too--I call it The Season of Eating!

    Hi Elizabeth,
    I, too, often have to alter rising times for bread doughs depending on the weather and season. But, ideally, if you let your dough rise in a place that is 74 to 78 degrees F, then rising times should be pretty consistent. (That's why many bakeries use proofers, etc., to they can regulate the air temperature).

    For the pita dough, I went with a set amount of rising time like Bernard Clayton did (I just increased it by 10 minutes.) I assume a room temperature of about 74 to 78 degrees. Bernard did not say anything about the dough doubling in size.

    As far as the steps in my recipe, yes (as per Bernard), I divided the dough into balls and then let them rest. This is copied from my recipe in the Pita Project post:

    "Roll into balls, dust lightly with flour, and cover with a damp tea towel. Let rest for 30 minutes. (I increased this from Bernard's 20 minutes.)"

    Hope this helps sort out your confusion. Overall, I think the pita dough is more easygoing than bread dough. And besides, who wants all their pitas to puff anyway? I have to bake another batch because all I have left in the freezer are perfectly puffed pitas, and I am craving pita chips and pita pizzas smothered with the homemade pesto that is calling to me from the fridge. Happy baking!

  6. Hi Kevin,
    Oh, sure, tease me with the thought of warm proscuito bread for an entire day. That sounds fabulous. I suppose it does give me time to hunt down some proscuito. Actually, I doubt there is any to be found in the surrounding five counties.

    I do have a package of locally raised, naturally smoked bacon in the fridge, just waiting to be turned into the last BLT's of the season--served on freshly baked Farmhouse White of course. . .: )

    Hey, it's nice to hear that somebody considers this hodgepodge of catching up 'a real post!' Thanks.

  7. I tried your pita recipe last night with some success. The pitas that didn't puff were used more like a Greek pita and just folded and filled. Easy enough recipe to make me want to keep trying until I can get mine to puff like yours.
    Also tried your emergency chocolate loaf. Very good!
    I look forward to trying your oatmeal bread. I bet even Mrs. MacTavish would like it!

  8. Been stalking your site for months. Just love the photos-it sure makes country living look like a fanasty! I made your pitas a couple of weeks ago. They were FABULOUS! Only 3 out of 8 didn't puff, but were perfect to roll around a little tuna fish. I thought the directions were very clear and they tasted like a hug. They will be a central part of my cooking repetoire this fall. Looking forward to more wonderful recipes-soon;)

  9. Forgive the long comment. This is for FarmGirl and Jamie (and all the rest of you can just have a chuckle), sent to me by my joke-emailing dad:

    A city boy, Kenny, moved to the country and bought a donkey from an old farmer for $100.00. The farmer agreed to deliver the donkey the next day.
    The next day the farmer drove up and said, "Sorry son, but I have some bad news, the donkey died."
    Kenny replied, "Well then, just give me my money back."
    The farmer said, "Can't do that. I went and spent it already."
    Kenny said, "OK then, just unload the donkey."
    The farmer asked, "What ya gonna do with him?"
    Kenny: "I'm going to raffle him off."
    Farmer: You can't raffle off a dead donkey!"
    Kenny: "Sure I can. Watch me. I just won't tell anybody he is dead."
    A month later the farmer met up with Kenny and asked, "What happened with that dead donkey?"
    Kenny: "I raffled him off. I sold 500 tickets at two dollars a piece and made a profit of $898.00."
    Farmer: "Didn't anyone complain?"
    Kenny: Just the guy who won. So I gave him his two dollars back."
    Kenny grew up and eventually became the chairman of Enron

  10. Thank you for the advice, FG! That had actually occurred to me. Unfortunately, the s.o. has been quite clear on what he would do: Take delivery on something *I* don't want while he is home alone! His joke (I hope) example is a helicopter. :-)

    BTW, I tried making the pitas and we both agree that they are fantastic. Thanks so much for the recipe. It's so much better than the recipe I was using before.

  11. Hi Alisha,
    Oh, the pressure is on now. : )

    Hi Terri,
    Welcome to the comments section of the farm! I'm so glad you had success with my recipes. I am currently working on the oatmeal bread post (as well as a few others). In fact, I just did a little sampling of a freshly baked, still barely warm loaf. Tough work, but somebody had to do it. : )

    Okay, the sheep naming contest judges have a possibly embarrassing (to them) question for you: Are they missing some reference? Is there a Mrs. MacTavish somewhere or did the name just come to you? (They don't have TV and don't get out much.) Interesting name choice. Your entry has been officially noted!

    Hi kh,
    How wonderful to hear from a stalker! And one who made my pitas and thought they were fabulous! Woohoo! Didn't you just make my day (and yesterday, when I read your comment the first time). I'm definitely working on more recipe posts. They should be up, well. . . it sounds like you understand the time frame around here. : ) Thanks so much for taking the time to write.

    P.S. I'm stealing the phrase "tasted like a hug" from you. I absolutely adore it.

    Oh Cookiecrumb,
    LOLOLOL! I loved that story! You know, I have a whole pile of donkey stories and jokes and sayings that I received when I first acquired Dan, but I hadn't heard that one. It's now one of my favorites--and wasn't the timing just too perfect!? Thanks so much to you and your dad.

    A helicopter? A helicopter? Do you know how much those things cost? Even the rinky dinky ones are an absolute fortune! And what, praytell, does he need his own helicopter for anyway?

    Why, for that kind of money, you could purchase an entire fleet of donkeys and still have money left over to buy each of them their own little cart to pull. Now that would be useful. A helicopter? Pish!

    P.S. And yet another pita fan! Yippee!

    P.P.S. Is it a secret how to get to your blog? Blogger won't show me your profile page so I can't find a link to it. Let me in! Let me in! : )

  12. Thanks for the welcome Farmgirl.
    The name Mrs. MacTavish is not referenced to anything. We have a male cat who was originally named Tiger by our children. He now has many names and Mr. MacTavish is one of them when he is seeming serious. We don't remember how we came up with the name but when I saw Yellow 21 I immediately thought her name should be Mrs. MacTavish.

  13. Hi Farmgirl,
    thanks for your reply!
    I have an old DeLonghi, it's a 95FL. It's not big but it baked my first batch of cookies well :) I have yet to venture baking breads with it. When shall we bake together? What shall we bake? As I said, I'm new so I will need your guiding hand!

  14. Hi Tabehodai,
    Um, looks like we may have to put that DeLonghi Bakeathon plan on hold. Yesterday morning I went to make toast and the Function knob broke off in my hand. Bummer.

    Do you have a full size oven? We could always make something in that.

  15. No, it's all I have for now. It seems pretty full-sized to me :)

  16. Hi Tabehodai,
    I'm sure we can figure something out. : )


December 2015 update: Hi! For some reason I can't figure out, Blogger hasn't been letting me leave comments on my own blog (!) for the last several months, so I've been unable to respond to your comments and questions. My apologies for any inconvenience! You're always welcome to email me: farmgirlfare AT gmail DOT com.

Hi! Thanks for visiting Farmgirl Fare and taking the time to write. While I'm not always able to reply to every comment, I receive and enjoy reading them all.

Your feedback is greatly appreciated, and I especially love hearing about your experiences with my recipes. Comments on older posts are always welcome!

Please note that I moderate comments, so if I'm away from the computer it may be a while before yours appears.

I try my best to answer all questions, though sometimes it takes me a few days. And sometimes, I'm sorry to say, they fall through the cracks, and for that I sincerely apologize.

I look forward to hearing from you and hope you enjoy your e-visits to our farm!