Tuesday, August 30

Farmhouse White: An Easy Sandwich Bread Recipe for the Perfect BLT (or PBJ)

Does anything taste better than a BLT on old-fashioned, homemade bread?

The beginning of BLT season is something we eagerly and impatiently anticipate all summer long. For us, it's a momentous occasion that ranks right up there with birthdays and Thanksgiving.

The sandwiches, which we have for dinner, are always made the same way, with juicy heirloom tomatoes from the organic kitchen garden, meaty salted and smoked (without nitrates) bacon from a locally raised hog we have butchered to our specifications, lots of my favorite (and amazingly heat tolerant) Parris Island Cos lettuce from the garden if we're lucky, but most likely crunchy iceberg from the grocery store (hey, it's late summer in the Midwest), plenty of Hellman's mayonnaise, and perfectly toasted slices of freshly baked Farmhouse White.

We've already had BLTs several times this month, and we're nowhere near tired of them yet.

If you've been longing to learn how to bake your own sandwich bread, my easy Farmhouse White is the perfect place to start, and the recipe includes detailed instructions for beginners. I also offer lots of bread baking tips here and here.

Made with milk instead of water, this is a simple, traditional loaf that's nice and soft, but not too soft. It's great for just about any kind of sandwich and brings peanut butter and jam—a breakfast staple around here—to a whole new level. It's wonderful toasted, smells heavenly while toasting, and makes an awesome BLT.

The best part is that once you're comfortable with the basic recipe, you can go on to experiment by adding other ingredients to the dough. This can be a lot of fun, as even a slight change will often give you a completely different loaf. The bread in the BLT photo above was made using several cups of white whole wheat flour in place of some of the all-purpose flour.

I've been baking this bread for 16 years and have watched plenty of people who claim they never eat white bread gobble slices up. It's been one of my most popular recipes since I originally shared it back in 2011, and I've heard from many former nervous novices who are now confident bread bakers thanks to Farmhouse White. Maybe you'll be the next one!

Have you been enjoying BLTs this summer? How do you like yours?

More bread posts on Farmgirl Fare:
Easy French Bread Recipe: Four Hour Classic Parisian Baguettes

© FarmgirlFare.com, where it's not just a sandwich, it's a freshly baked, bacon-filled adventure.

Tuesday, August 23

Recipe: How To Make Your Own V8 Juice (Easy Homemade Vegetable Tomato Juice)

Bye bye, V8 juice! This healthy, homemade V4 version will blow you away (recipe here).

For the first time in ages (decades?), I actually managed to get some of my tomatoes planted early on time in the kitchen garden this year. And although it's been a strange tomato season so far (for one thing, I've plucked off more massively destructive—and totally creepy—tomato hornworms this year than in the last 20 years combined—yuck) a couple of reliable varieties have done really well, and we've been enjoying them on everything from BLTs and tacos to big dinner salads and frittatas.

And yet at last count I still have eight big colanders and bowls of tomatoes in various states of imperfection (cracks, big bite marks, just plain rotting) covering every flat surface in the kitchen. What to do?

Make a batch of this easy homemade tomato vegetable juice! It's a refreshing way to drink your garden veggies and keep up your stamina while working out in the heat, plus it'll help you quickly use up all those overripe, imperfect, or just plain ugly tomatoes.

This flavorful, rejuvenating juice is like Campbell's V8 juice but much better, and it's been one of the most popular recipes on Farmgirl Fare all year round (hello readers in the southern hemisphere!) since I originally shared it back in 2008. Did you know V8 juice is mostly made from water and tomato paste, plus a frightening amount of salt?

Technically my gardener's delight version is only V4, though you could certainly add more vegetables, such as beets, spinach, carrots, or sweet peppers, if you like. Either way, the homemade version will blow that V8 away.

To make it, all you do is chop everything up and toss it into a pot, simmer until soupy, then put it through a food mill.

This juice will keep for at least a week in the fridge, or you can preserve it in glass jars (canning instructions are included in the recipe) to enjoy the taste of vine-ripened tomatoes on a deep winter day, when the heat and sweat of summer are nothing but a distant memory.

P.S. Quick and Easy Gazpacho (totally refreshing chilled tomato vegetable soup) and Pasta with Easy Sun-Dried Tomato, Fresh Tomato, and Artichoke Pesto (I love this stuff).

Friday, August 12

Friday Farm Photo: Have a Homespun Weekend.

Any plans this weekend? We're looking forward to the arrival of a big thunderstorm that's supposed to bring a couple inches of rain and some sweet relief from this sweat-drenching heat. I realize it's the middle of August in Missouri, but we're all pretty tired of hearing that it's 96 degrees outside but feels like 109. Bring on that cool rain. Please.

Rainy day plans include bottling three cases of home brewed beer, baking a Mexican Monkey Cake (which freezes beautifully) with some really flavorful organic bananas, and searching through way too many containers of seeds in the freezer (this is after emptying out at least seven or eight containers last winter) for all the fall crops I probably should have started a couple of weeks ago. But it was way too hot.

I think it's too late in the season for the Maxibel and Masai haricots verts we love so much and that I never got around to planting in the spring (I haven't had good luck growing fall bush beans in the past), but I have high hopes that Swiss chard, tatsoi, mizuna, kale, arugula, broccoli, and several kinds of both heat and cold tolerant lettuces will soon be feeding us into the winter. That is if I can find any space to plant in the overgrown jungle that used to be my kitchen garden. Summer rain is always welcome (anything for a respite from watering) but boy, do the weeds go crazy after it. I can hear my hunky farmguy out there weed whacking now, so there's hope.

The weekend menu will be featuring freshly picked tomatoes, tomatoes, and tomatoes!

P.S. Greek Style Panzanella Salad with pan-fried olive oil croutons and Easy Italian Countryside No-Cook Tomato Pasta Sauce with basil, capers, and kalamata olives.

Monday, August 8

Recipe and Rave Reviews: Tomato, Mozzarella, and Basil Pesto Pie with and Easy Cheesy Biscuit Crust

Scared of pie dough? This easy biscuit crust is perfect for beginners (recipe here).

It wouldn't be summer on the farm without a shout out for this longtime favorite recipe from the Farmgirl Fare recipe archives. Enjoy!

Do tomatoes and basil say summer to you? Do you love pesto and savory pies and melted mozzarella cheese? Then you'll want to celebrate the bounty of summer with this Savory Tomato and Basil Pesto Pie.

This is one of my most popular recipes, and men seem to especially like it. My friend Susan in Vermont once said to me, "I'm making your tomato pesto pie for dinner tonight. I made it last week, and my husband fell in love with me all over again." You'll find more rave reviews below.

When my pal Finny, who has been known to live by the motto All pie, all the time, first tried this recipe back in 2006, she added a layer of insurance for her meat loving husband—cooked and crumbled Italian sausage. How brilliant is that?

If you want to try adding some, too, you'll find my easy recipe for homemade Italian sausage here (no casings required!), and there are helpful step-by-step photos of Finny's version of this pie here, which she makes every year with Brandywine and Better Boy tomatoes from her garden (warning: Finny uses bad words).

If you're scared of pastry crust, you're going to love this recipe. The  biscuit dough is practically foolproof, and the pie itself is easy to make but looks impressive and tastes delicious.

Don't believe me? Below is a sampling of rave reviews from the comments section. Thanks so much to all of you who take the time to come back and report on my recipes. And thanks for pinning them on Pinterest too!

Read the Savory Tomato Pesto Pie reviews below. . .