Saturday, January 24, 2015

Home Made Sandwich Rolls

What better way to spend a 'Snow Day' at home than making FRESH BREAD.

First: I apologize for the lack of tasty images to accompany this blog post. My laptop is on it's last leg and crashes whenever I try to access my memory card. Sorry...

   I recently acquired an iPad from Cash Converters (local 2nd hand shop) and discovered it's awesome for organizing my recipes. Better yet, it's easy to make corrections or keep track of experiments & tweaks.

   Here iz today’s recipe tweak...

A variation of mai 'New Years Bread' recipe. I used this bread for burgers on new years, and as tasty as it was, slices of bread don't always work for burgers. The recipe differs slightly, but essentially I made 8 large rolls instead of 2 small loaves. 


The initial yeast mix remains the same:

1 cup warm water 
2 tsp sugar in water (mix till dissolved)
2 tsp yeast (one packet if you prefer these) sprinkled on top of water.

Ignore for 20 min.

 Wet Ingredients:
2 tbs Butter (melted)
2 tbs Coconut oil (melted)
1 Egg
1 tbs Olive Oil

Dry Ingredients:
4c Bread Flour
1 tsp Dill
1 tsp Thyme
1 tsp Caraway Seeds
1 tsp Onion Salt
1 tsp Minced Onions

Mix ingredients and knead the dough for at least 10 minutes. Sprinkle flour or spray with water as needed. 

Turn on oven for 1 minute.
Turn off oven.

Place ball of dough in a bowl in your slightly warm oven and allow to rise for at least 1:15. Dough will double in size.

Remove from oven and knead again for at least 10 minutes. Cut dough into 8-10 equal parts. Roll and flatten each ball. Remember these will 'Double' in size before you bake them. Space them accordingly. Circles for burgers or long for hot dogs.

Again turn oven on for 1 min, then turn off.

Place rolls in warm oven to rise for 1:15.

Set oven to 375* (after they have risen) and bake for 25 min. 
As they bake, brush tops with melted Butter or Coconut Oil (i use a 50/50 mix of both)


The Coffee Weasel (recipe)

   There are 2 kinds of people in this world. Those of us who drink Coffee and those who don't. It's a Love it or Hate it kinda thing. No one is really 'on the fence' on their opinion about this most sacred beverage.

   But even on this side of the fence, we have strongly divided lines as to what is the correct way to imbibe out beloved Java. Cream & Sugar, Splenda, Half/half, Hazelnut, Heavy Cream, Butter, Bacon (yea, think about that one) and the list of options goes on. On the other side we have those who believe that anyone adding anything whatsoever to his/her cup of 'Black Gold' should be tried for heresy and burnt at the stake.

   My parameters differ depending on the who/what/where of the cup of coffee in question. If I am Wawa-ing then Its a seconds worth of sugar (pouring 'one one-thousand), Hazelnut creamer (an inch or so) and the rest is Hazelnut coffee. My buddy Bob has a percolator so his Coffee is quite dark and tasty. (occasionally it's a bit TOO thick for my prefs, and it gets a bit of cream and sugar

  At home I have started roasting and grinding fresh coffee beans, and let me say that once you have roasted your own coffee, you will never look at store bought Coffee again. You can purchase a 'Hot air Popcorn Popper' for this. Takes less than 10 minutes to roast your own. For the quantity of Coffee I drink, this saves me allot of $$$. Do you like fresh Coffee, or do you prefer store bought that was roasted who knows how long ago and been getting stale on the shelf??

   I'm not a huge Creamer fan, but for all the baking I do, I tend to keep Coconut or Almond milk on hand as well as Heavy Cream. (for making my own Butter). So I occasionally will use one of these liquids in my Coffee just for so. Otherwise my home roasted brew is kept on the 'Dark Side'. I do however like some Sugar and Spice in my Dark Cup of Morning Happiness. For this I have my trusty Coffee Weasel. For those who love Futurama, you will understand this reference. If you don't...
BAM!!! ...and I've kicked it up a notch.

   The mix I normally use is:
-10 tsp Sugar
-2 tsp Cloves
-2 tsp Nutmeg
-1 tsp Cinnamon
Today I added 1 tsp Cocoa Powder to the mix just for so.

I keep this mix in a glass grated cheese shaker.
   I started off using more Cinnamon than the other spices (it's cheaper) but the Cinnamon seems to not mix well and sinks to the bottom of my mug. So I have upped the quantities of the other Spices.

...and that is my favourite cup of Coffee.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Years Eve Herb Bread

I will apologize for the lack of tasty images not accompanying this post. Camera Issues.

As I am preparing for my New Years Tradition of the 'First Light' Ceremony. I've waited till the last minute for freshly baked somethingz for afterwards. I needed a quick something that was different. I have augmented the original from my step-grandmothers church cookbook.

Start-Finish 3hr Max.

New Years Herb Bread:
-1 Cup warm H20
-2ts Sugar
-2ts Yeast (or packet)
mix sugar to the water.... then sprinkle yeast on top... let it go for 20 min...
{to this add:}
-1tb butter
-1 egg
-3Cups Flour
-1 1/2ts Salt
-1ts Thyme
-2ts Caraway
-2ts Dill 
Turn oven on for one minute... then turn off.

Mix wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.
Knead for at least 10 min.

Place in bowl in oven that is now just slightly warm.
Spray top of dough with water and cover lightly.

Let Rise for 1:15. Should double in size or more.

Knead dough back down for 10 minutes to a roll and spiral it on a cookie sheet rubbed w coconut oil. 

-do the 1 min oven thing again-

Let rise in over for at least 1:15.

Oven to 375* 30-35 Min
Half way through brush on mix of butter/coconut oil.

*Turn Broiler on for 1-2 min max to brown the top of the loaf.* 

I have used this recipe for Pizza Dough and Hamburger Rolls.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Indoor Gardening for the Winter Months

So, I had 2 from a 4pack of starters that were due to move forward in their plant lives. Above are Shallot Onions and Sweet Basil grown from commercial seeds. 

The lavender isn't ready yet, but this one will be misted every day. 

Progress is good on my Pear Tree. This was grown from seeds reclaimed from locally grown Pears. It's my intention to attempt to grow new food from existing food as often as I can. 
I started this as a Moss Garden so that I would have a suitable place to start planting seeds into. Moss keeps moisture from evaporating. I initially tried a peach seed, but to no avail. For now I will consider this a Pear Bonsai in the making.

The next 6Pack is starting it's initial soaking. 
2 Sunflower
2 Spearamint
1 Dill (reclaimed seeds from last years crop)
1 Cherry Tomato’s (from reclaim seeds)
 I re-use Chinese "take-out" plastic trays for this. 

Strawberries are still happening. I purchased 3 Strawberry plants from Esbenshades. 2 went outside and this one stayed inside.
These look about ready for a Bucket Garden. I purchased these from a local farm-stand. I left these in a basket in a dark cabinet for awhile to get them to sprout roots.
Happy Gardening. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Mint Bonsai I recently started is looking a bit dull and pedantic. What should we do Sheen? She knows just the thing...

Follow me meow...

Sheen thinks we should add a few of these wild Cactus things.

Carefully we removed three from the ground.

Picked some cool rocks from the river out behind the farm.

Looks much better nao.

Yea, there's the Mint. The dead trunk and tiny sprout on the bottom. I had the branch in water for 3 months and it grew an extensive root system that nao covers the length and width of the pot. It should sprout from all edges of the circle. I will add more rocks as needed to direct or block the Mint.

Thanks for Meowing!!!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

A year of "Gardening With Sheen" Photo Highlights

  It was a great year of Home Gardening here at The Forge. My faithful friend Sheen has been helping me every step of the way. She's not camera shy in the least. ( maybe a bit of a 'camera ham' ) Here are some of her favourite gardening pics from 2014.

  We tilled the ground and started from seeds. I used my grandmothers 'Po-hone' (as she calls it), which is a 3 spade hoe, to break up the ground and removed the stones and other debris. I did this three times before I was satisfied and ready to seed. (Sheen helped with seeding). We dug little troughs and just dumped in a Bunch-O-Seeds and covered it back up.

I stuck Cheap Chop Sticks in the ground on the ends of where these 'seeding lines' were to assist in knowing where NO to step as well as help in the early weeding process and knowing where to expect new growth. I found doing this has been extremely beneficial all year long in remembering where things are. Grocery Stores sell packs of cheap and nicer Bamboo Chop Sticks. Or just keep all of your 'take out' chopsticks.

In a few months the garden went from nothing..... Full Bloom

Our First Cucumber:
Planted late in the season from our trip to Esbenshades.
Sheen is showing off the Swiss Chard:
We got these from Esbenshades because they were colourful. It grows in Bright Yellow, Orange and Red. The the leaves are nice in a salad. The stalks are a bit bitter, but I read they should be steamed.

Sheen sized Carrots:
 We deliberately started with short carrots. I planted too many seeds too close together so they kinda grew together. Next year I plan to build a raised bed for carrots so they will be easier to dig out of the ground.

White Pumpkin:
Only one grew and the vine dried up quickly so it didn't get much bigger than this. It's currently being used as a fall decoration. This was grown just more for fun.

3 started growing but developed black spots quickly. I reclaimed some seeds from the largest one. Will start earlier next year.

 Sheen lost in the Jungles of Lettuce:
This was a packet of Various Lettuce types. Now in October they are still going strong. I have transplanted a few into pots to continue indoors in the winter. I separated my favourites from the 'less tasty' ones and spread them out. I will make a cover to keep the winter snow off of. My stepmom grows Lettuce in the cold season, so I will take a cue from her and attempt the same.

I got 3 plants from Esbenshades late in the season. I planted 2 outside and one inside. I believe you are supposed to snip the flowers the first year to promote a better crop in the second year, but Sheen enjoyed seeing colour other than green in the garden. We only had a handful to eat this year, but have plans on maximizing our crop next year.

Time to eat:

Experimenting with a Dehydrator:
We had a GREAT bounty of little Tomatoes. So much so that We decided to try drying some for dry storage for Winter Soups. The Tomatoes I cut in half and placed them with the cut side facing up and skin side down. Cucumbers I tried sprinkling with Herbs and Spices to make tasty snacks. I used Pepper, Pink Salt, Curray, and Dill. I grew the Dill myself and dried it earlier in the season. I have enough Dried DILL to last the Winter. I purchases some 'back up' Dill in case I run out.. It SOOOO doesn't taste the same. 

I don't have any pics of it from my garden, but I will spend a moment to talk about it. It was the first plant to break soil, the first to produce and didn't stop till I cut it down. I cut it off with 2" left above ground just to see what it would do. It regrew and starting producing within 2 weeks. Best was that it took up so little room, Tall and Slender, and such a overly bountiful. How much I threw away before I thought of drying it. I have always been a fan of "Cooking with Spices" and I was never a Dill fan before I grew my own. On Potato's or Pork Chops. In Egg Omelets or on Burgers.

GREEN BEANS were a disappointment. I planted too many too close together and they grew too tall and dense. They were very bountiful very quickly, but it was a bit UN-manageable. We may plant a single one next year. We did several kinds of TOMATOES but were only happy with the tiny Sweet 100 Cherry Tomatoes The larger white and red variety just didn't do anything. I was surprised how tall the TOMATO Vines got. I plan on building a Bamboo Terrace to support them better for a greater crop next year. My Stepmom Pam taught me about Canning this year and I hope to do some of my own next year. We tried PEPPERS, however I think the seeds were just too old. 

October 2014:
We are already seeing progress with the LETTUCE and SPINACH we seeded 2 weeks ago.

Looking towards Spring 2015:
We have saved the seeds from our crops that did well in 2014 so that we can try to be self sustaining in NOT having to buy new seeds or plants next year. I also hope that by seeding from the previous years crop, we will grow a better crop from repeating this process. 

New for next year I am considering doing Raspberry and Blackberry Bushes, as well as Rhubarb and Garlic. 

Sheen and I will post more gardening blogs as new things grow.

Here are a few of the catalogues I am currently browsing: 

Meow (Goodnight)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Who has time to be an Artist...and being an Artist.

 Well, I was recently informed that my old friend and next door neighbour +RobertPlummer has been handing out my blog address to people who were interested in one or more of my various Arts. Guess it's time to post something to all those peoples who may be looking me up to see what craftiness I have been working on.

  Since moving to The Forge, I have actively worked towards spending more time to the "Artist" thing. I have dabbled in numerous creative outlets ie. Beaded Jewlery, Steampunk/Chainmail Jewlery, Painting, Music, Guitar Hot-Rodding and other things yet un-dabbled in. Maintaining ALL these hobbies has been impossible due to something called having a 'Job' that pays something called 'the Bills'

  I have decided to accept the fact that I have a short attention span in regarding any specific creative endeavour, and just roll in the direction of my rollercoaster life.

   what am I doing right nao?? I have been putting my physical and mental efforts into Gardening and creating a renewable lifestyle. It's October 1st and my garden is far from dead. I planted Spinach and Lettuce, both of which will grow through the Winter months. Life happens and in this life I have to eat, so I am getting back to my Heritage and delving into the "Earthy Arts" with tasty plants. I have hobbied plants for many years, and now having the space here at The Forge I have had the ability to have numerous flora. Jade has been a favourite of mine and I easily have more than 12 Jade Bonsai from 1 starter plant 3 years ago.
 on left is the original

 Bedroom window: Jade and other Succulents.

   I'm all about sharing, so if you want a shoot of some plant or seeds for something or have a how-to question, just let me know. I plan on doing allot of indoor seeding will surely have plenty to share.

    Sorry.  I haven't made anything in months, I have a roommate and less space to work in, so supplies are packed away, but easily accessible if the mood strike me. That doesn't mean that I have nothing to show. I have over 20 pair earrings, and 20 necklaces ready to hang around your neck. Feel free to contact me about what's available. I will endeavour to post pics soon.

      I have made progress on the "Steampunk/Relic Telecaster. The original neck from the guitar was defective and I had to acquire a different neck to complete this. I Have an 80's Peavey Strat that I took the pickups and pickguard off of to complete another guitar. It already has an 'old' look to it.  Not sure if I'm happy with how it fits, so I may have to thrift shop another guitar for a suitable neck.

    Again, Sorry. Just not feeling it. I have maybe 12 paintings left still on my walls. You can find images on previous posts and on facebook albums.

If you want to see some cool photography.

2014 Gardening Year 1

  It's October 1st and my garden is far from dead. I recently planted Spinach and Lettuce, both of which will grow through the Winter months. Life happens and in this life I have to eat, so I am getting back to my Pennsylvania Dutch Heritage and delving into the "Earthy Arts" with tasty plants. I have hobbied plants for many years, and now having the space here at The Forge I have had the ability to have numerous flora. Jade has been a favourite of mine and I easily have more than 12 Jade Bonsai from 1 starter plant 3 years ago.

   Realising that I'm have a relatively green thumb, I have decided to spend some of this 'hobby time' into something tasty and renewable. GARDENING!!! Like most things I do, I have just jumped right in and seemingly 'make it up' as I went along.

   My stepmom Pam has been gardening for many years so I always keep up what she is currently doing and spinach and lettuces are her staple winter plants, so I am doing likewise.

 I will be making a cover for my Winter Veggies. the bamboo is to create a template and frame. I am thinking of just making an 'A Frame' tent for this.

   Also I have created a bamboo shelter for my Mint plant and creating enclosures for the Lemon Balm Mint and Strawberry shrub. The Lemon Balm Mint was dug from my Father's yard. I trimmed back the Swiss Chard and will see how long it continues to grow.

 A Minty Gazebo in the making.

 Swiss Chard
Lemon Balm Mint

   One of the reasons for the Mint Gazebo is to give myself a limit for hao far I will allow it to spread. Mint roots heavily and can quickly spread and take over surrounding areas. I have already dug around the box and pulled the roots out of the ground. These roots can be snipped and replanted elsewhere. I would happily give some snips to anyone who wishes to grow their own mint.

Trying to get it to intertwine it into the bamboo to help keep it together.


Sunday, June 1, 2014

2 Guitars become some sort of Stringed Monster

  Since my first guitar. (A Fire Engine Red Aria Pro II that I purchased from my at the time high school bestie's younger brother.) I have altered/upgraded/modified/manipulated almost every guitar I have ever owned. Come to think of it, I took apart allot of my Star Wars toys as a kid too. So I like to tinker on things.

  Today's Hatchet Job is the combination of 2 separate guitars into one really quirky 6 string with left-over parts to sell on eBay. It's a win/win scenario.

  I recently picked up a bright Yellow Davison Strat copy at the local Cashies next to the post office I use for eBay shipping. Originally I purchased it because I thought it was a 3/4 size guitar. Local rap/rock guy Mani Nigitar, wanted one for his 2 year old daughter. At first glance it looked like a cheap Strat and with a price tag of $39.99, it seemed to be what I was looking for. I didn't bother plugging it in for I knew I would be giving it the 'ol once over before passing it on, so as long as the body was good, it was a done deal.

  I get home to my studio farmhouse and park it in the corner with a Tele that I'm in the process of relic/steampunking. The Tele is in pieces so I didn't realise at first that it's essentially the SAME SIZE. Am I so dim that I can not tell the difference?

  I take it upstairs to where the rest of my guitars reside. I put it on the rack next to my everyday guitar. An Ibanez 7 string. Hmmm.. The yellow special was dwarfed in comparison to the one I play all the time. So in my hands it did seem like a toy.

  Well Roz wanted a 3/4 for his girl, so now it seems that I have just purchased myself a new toy.
  Yellow and white just seems to boring for me. The blue on black design of my 90's Peavey Predator wasn't doing it for me either. Re-arranging parts just seemed the obvious choice in this dilemma.

  Upon disassembling both guitars I discovered that 'ol yeller is a slightly shorter scale legenth so I am unable to put the Maple neck on it.
  Yea, the green strap definitely is going on this guitar.
  The frets are in dire need of a good redress and I need to drill some holes to match the "slightly larger" Peavey Pick-guard to the Davison body. Otherwise It's strung and tuned to "Drop C" in 432 and I'm enjoying my new toy. I'll do the neck/fret work on my next day off. The body is slightly smaller and a more comfortable fit while sitting in my chair watching documentaries on ancient history. After over 20 years of photography it's become relatively impossible for me to take a "Normal" picture of anything. So I will leave you with this...
If this link works, It should take you to the Facebook album of this project. There are a few more images than there are here. Also subsequent images of further progress will be uploaded there. 
When I feel that it is "Finished" It will be available for purchase. Feel free to inquire about this or any other thing you see posted on my blog.
 Everything Is Art and Everything Is For Sale


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Purple Velvet Guitar.

 A project started more than 2 years ago. Got a Jackson Guitar real cheap, and decided to make a project out of it. Years ago when I was a young aspiring glam metal guitarist. I had covered a Jackson with Crushed Red Velvet. I didn't do a great job of it, but it was still really cool looking for awhile. I wonder where that guitar is today. Here is the progress of my current Jackson. I also have a Squier Tele that (is also in pieces) looks coppery...

This will be finished by Monday.