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Monthly Archive for September, 2011

Veggie Garden 2011 Update #2

Here it is mid-September and I hardly have anything to show for all the hard work put into this year’s garden. It’s been a very disappointing year in terms of garden bounty. Despite all the extra feeding and watering I’ve done, the extreme heat and extra dry conditions in St. Louis this year have done considerable damage. Flowers dropped off  and fruit didn’t set in mid-summer. Now fruit is finally forming but it’s getting cool and wet. Out of the four years I’ve put in a veggie garden this is by far the worst year for yield. Even my herb garden has been effected by the weather conditions of 2011. I hope this isn’t an indication that global warming has progressed to the point that these weather conditions are here to stay. I’m hoping that’s not the case!

The following photos were taken 3 days ago:

garden1 sept 15 2011

garden2 sept 15 2011

garden3 sept 15 2011

garden4 sept 15 2011

A single habanero pepper

garden5 sept 15 2011

A paltry amount of jalapeno peppers

garden6 sept 15 2011

One butternut squash which may not mature

garden7 sept 15 2011

One of the few puny Cherokee Purple tomatoes

garden8 sept 15 2011

garden9 sept 15 2011

garden10 sept 15 2011

Pineapple tomatoes which are smaller than normal

garden11 sept 15 2011

My sickly asparagus plants

garden12 sept 15 2011

The zinnias tolerated the 2011 summer fairly well

garden13 sept 15 2011

The fading wildflower garden

garden14 sept 15 2011

The herb garden showing meager basil and a barely alive tarragon plant

The game plan for next year is to move the herb garden to a new location that gets more sun. Also, I’m considering building a permanent structure which will totally enclose the veggie garden w/a  chicken wire fence (even above the plants). That may be the best solution to the ongoing battle w/ the squirrels and other critters that seem undeterred by the current fence!!

Hoping for better days to come…


Eight Grain Boule

A delicious bread for the upcoming week!

eight grain boule 1

eight grain boule 2


1/2 cup 7 grain blend (I used Bob’s Red Mill brand)

1/2 cup toasted rolled oats 

3 cups all purpose flour

1 cup wheat flour 

1/4 cup olive oil

1/1/4 cups plus 1/4 cup tepid water

2 teaspoons salt

1  tablespoon active dry yeast

cornmeal for dusting pizza peel


1) Place yeast in a large bowl and pour 1/4 cup tepid water over the yeast; let sit until it becomes foamy (about 5 minutes)

2) In a seperate bowl mix together the flours, 7 grain blend, rolled oats and salt

3) Add olive oil and remaining 1 1/4 cups tepid water to the yeast

4) Slowly add the flour mix to the yeast while using your free hand to incorporate the flour and yeast

5) Place the dough on a floured surface and knead for 8 to 10 minutes (add more flour a little bit at a time if dough is too sticky)

6) Form dough into a ball and place back into the large bowl (dust the bottom of the bowl w/ flour before placing dough into it); dust top of dough ball w/ flour and cover bowl w/ plastic wrap (I use a shower cap that I got from a hotel – it fits snugly over the bowl)

7) Let dough ferment (i.e., first rise) for 1 1/2 hours at room temperature (if your kitchen is too cold, place bowl in unlit oven w/ the light on – the temperature is usually 70 degrees F). The dough should have at least doubled in size when ready to shape

8) Remove dough from bowl and form dough into a ball (boule) shape, dust top w/ flour, cover w/ plastic and let rise for 45 minutes (i.e., second rise)

9) Meanwhile,  preheat oven and pizza stone to 450 degrees F

10) When second rise is complete, slash top of boule w/ a serrated knife

11) Slide boule onto pizza stone, then mist sides of oven w/ water (I use a spray bottle) and quickly close oven door; for the first 2 minutes of baking, mist the sides of the oven every 30 seconds – this delays crust formation and allows the bread to rise rapidly and evenly

12) After 20 minutes reduce temperature to 375 degrees F and rotate bread front to back for even baking; bake for another 15 – 20 minutes

13) Remove bread from oven and tap the bottom; if it make a hollow sound it’s ready!

14) Allow bread to cool completely on a cooling rack before slicing

Baker’s notes: I love this bread! The crust is crunchy, the crumb is tight and textured w/ all the extra grains. I slice the entire boule,  seal it in a freezer bag and pop it in the freezer. When I want to toast some up, I just take what I need, reseal the bag and pop it back in the freezer (a great trick my mom showed me to keep bread fresher)!

Happy Cooking!!