Saturday, February 4, 2012

Fresh Bread

Yum! The smell of fresh bread in the house…*drool* 
Do you remember the “trial and error” part of my blog. Well here we are! This is my first ever attempt at homemade bread. My awesome mother in-law had given me a Kitchenaid Mixer a few years back (I LOVE IT I might ad) so I chose a bread recipe that was in the Kitchenaid Mixer recipe book.  It’s called Cool Rise Bread. It says it’s the easiest for beginners, so I figured I better start at square 1.

Here is the Recipe:
Place 5 1/2 cups flour, 2 T. sugar, 3 1/2 t. salt, 3 packages of active dry yeast and 1/4 c. butter or margarine (softened) in your mixer bowl. Attach bowl and dough hook to mixer. Turn to Speed 2 and mix about 20 seconds. Gradually add 2 cups very warm water (120 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit) and mix about 1-1/2 minutes longer.
Continuing on Speed 2, add remaining 1/2 cup to 1-1/2 cups flour (1/2 cup at a time) and mix until dough clings to hook and cleans side of bowl, about 2 minutes. Knead on Speed 2 about 2 minutes longer.
Cover with plastic wrap and a towel. Let rest for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes your dough will have risen considerably. Divide the dough in half.
Place the dough in greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 inch loaf pans.

Brush each loaf with oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 2 to 12 hours. When ready to bake, uncover dough carefully. Let stand at room temperature 10 minutes. Puncture any gas bubbles. Bake at 400 degrees 35-40 minutes.

My bread didn’t look like a perfect loaf but mmmm it sure was good!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Melissa Jeans (first) Garden

Happy February!! Can you believe it is already February? The past few weeks here in “the south” have felt more like a Wisconsin May to me! We have been in the 70’s- absolutely perfect weather! As if the great weather wasn’t good enough, my amazing husband has been lucky enough to have extra time off from work YAY! We spent much of this time “cleaning” the garage. Haha! Funny though, the only thing that changed was that a new (and much larger) miter saw appeared.  ;) I can’t complain though, as the miter is one of my most used power tools.
Any ways, all of this nice weather has got me itching to plant a garden! Now some of you may know that this is no small task for me. I was not blessed with the green thumb my mother and grandmother have, in-fact I have just the opposite. I can kill any thing that grows and is green! Really!
So I set out to gather knowledge about gardening at my local library. I have been there 3 times and checked out almost 20 books about gardening. My all-time favorite is Grow Great Grub by Gayla Trail. I actually plan on purchasing the book from amazon. (Yeah it’s that good!)

Where to put my garden?
After much deliberation on where to place the actual garden I have decided to make a raised bed garden along the back fence in my yard. I decided to do this for several reasons. First I know the soil, or clay here isn’t very suitable for growing. Second I know that location will get the best sun light.  However, the main reason I decided to place my garden there and lift my garden up out of the ground was because of my dogs. We have two very large and very naughty curious dogs. They tend to get into everything they can reach, especially our 10 month old mastiff who now weighs more than I do. Do you know how much damage a 120 lb teething puppy can do!??!
Mater (like ta mater, but without the "ta")
with my hubby resting after a long walk

George (as in Curious George)
Standing at our 5 ft gate.


Raised bed?
Do you still remember that this is my first attempt at a “real” garden? ;) I have planned out my raised bed garden, and although my husband thinks I am nuts, it will be 8 feet long and 2 feet wide. The garden will be about 1 ½ feet deep. I plan to raise the “bed” up using 4x4s an additional half foot or so (rather than it just sitting on the ground). This will provide a nice height for planting and maintenance etc. It will also help keep our dogs out. Think something like this…

What am I going to grow?
After reading a lot, and knowing what our family will and won’t eat, I had a list of things I would like to have in my garden.  The book Grow Great Grub also touches on what plants grow nicely with each other and which help attract “good” insects.  I sketched out a general plan on paper, and then discovered this amazing website called You can actually plan your garden here. The best part is the web site tells you how many plants you can place in a given space. For example you should only have 1 broccoli per square foot, but you can have 2 basil plants, or even 16 carrots per square foot. This tool helped me immensely! Yet another great aspect about this tool is that it will give you planning and care tips on the plants you have “placed” in your garden.
Take a look at my garden planning so far…

I plan on building this bad boy this month, so keep an eye out for the post about that.