2011–That’s right 2011.

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This post is out SO late! Let’s just pretend it’s Jan 1st…the first day of the new year… As I reflect on my roles of 2011, I can’t help but smile. I’ve had the opportunity to play SO many! The New Year began for me in my hometown in Arkansas, where instead of the glamor … Continue reading

Dutch Oven Cooking and Kayaking Adventure or Just Another Saturday in Arkansas

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Today I visited Lake Poinsett State Park in Harrisburg, AR for a workshop on Dutch Oven cooking. Hold your horses now, I will take you through everything I learned.                   So here is one of the awesome Park Rangers, Kathy, surrounded by examples of the different size–made for camping– dutch ovens. 8″, 10″, 12″, & … Continue reading

Pizza and Biscotti Wednesday (+ recipes)

Today I ended up doing some cooking.  Yes I spent hours in the kitchen and yes I have a ton of dishes yet to do, but it was worth it!

So a few days ago Shain (my man) made a roasted red pepper pesto modeled after one he  was served last week at the restaurant Brick Yard Cafe, in Bowling Green, KY. We decided this would be delicious on a homemade pizza. And so it starts. We love the pizza crust recipe from the book More Diners, Drive-Ins’, & Dives by Food Network’s Guy Fieri. This is from Pizzeria Luigi in San Deigo, CA.

Pizza Dough

1. Lightly olive oil 2 large bowls. Then in a medium bowl, place 1 1/2 cups of warm water and a pinch of sugar. Add 1/2 ounce of active dry yeast. Let the yeast activate for 2-5 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and 2 cups of flour and stir until blended. (I prefer anything but All-Purpose Flour. There are so many more healthy choices like wheat, bread flour, or any combo like half wheat, half oat or spelt flour.) Stir in another 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 Cups of flour until the dough is too stiff to stir with a spoon.

2. Divide dough in half and knead about 7 times. Shape into round balls and place into the oiled bowls. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place (maybe microwave) until dough doubles in size–about 30-60 minutes. Put dough in refrigerator for 1 hour after it rises to gain elasticity.

3. Preheat oven to 350F. If you have a pizza (baking) stone, heat that as well. If not grease a pizza pan or baking sheet. **(If you do not have a baking stone, I highly recommend getting one. I use it ALL the time. You can purchase for under $20. It makes pizza dough crispy and is great for all kinds of bread and biscuits AND cookies, biscotti, etc.)

4. Get out 1 dough and press out air bubbles with your finger tips. Then roll out the dough with a rolling pin to get the desired size and thickness. Transfer to your pizza pan or to wooden pizza paddle (To slide pizza directly to stone).

5. Spread on sauce. (In our case it was the roasted red pepper pesto.)   Add cheese and toppings. I went vegetarian by adding a beautiful orange/yellow heirloom tomato from whole foods market, banana peppers from my garden, and veggie shreds vegan mozzarella cheese. Cook about 15 minutes or until golden brown.

1. My banana peppers are being guarded by a giant garden spider! See her at the bottom? We named her Charlotte.                     2. Pizza before…

 

 

 

 

3. Hot out of the oven…YUM!

So delicious pizza was eaten about 4pm. It was a random early dinner time, but actually perfect because I am attempting to stop eating carbs everyday by this time. (This of course does not happen because I then decide to make biscotti for the first time).

 

Pecan, Walnut, and Almond Biscotti

(loosely adapted from Southern Living’s Farmer’s Market Cookbook)

1. Preheat oven to 350F. (throw in that baking stone again if you’ve got one) In a large bowl, combine 1 3/4 Cups of Flour (again I use anything but all purpose. Today I used half white wheat and half oat flour), 1/2 Cup yellow cornmeal, 1 1/4 tsp. baking powder, (I just switched over to Rumford’s Aluminum-Free), 1/4 tsp iodized fine sea salt, & 1 1/2 Cups of chopped pecans, walnuts, and almonds, toasted.

2. In another bowl, stir together 2 large eggs, lightly beaten (cage free organic if you’ve got them. You could also probably use an egg substitute if you wanted to make this vegan). 3/4 Cup sugar (I used 1/2 Cup organic sugar and 1/4 c Maple sugar), 1/2 Cup oil (I used smart balance omega 3 vegetable oil), and 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract. Gradually add to flour mixture, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened.

3. Divide dough in half. With lightly floured hands, shape each portion into 2 logs on your baking stone or greased cookie sheet.

4. Bake for 25 minutes. Cool logs 10 minutes.

5. Cut logs diagonally into 3/4in thick slices CAREFULLY using a serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion. (I used a one of those big long bread knives.) Return slices cut side down to baking sheet.

6. Bake for 7 minutes. Turn biscotti over and bake 7 more minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool completely. Yields 2 1/2 dozen.

So, the whole reason I even decided to make the biscotti was because I had these leftover pears from Farmer’s Market and figs from whole foods market and I wanted to cook them down and make something before they went bad. (And something different than a cobbler which I do lots of times).

So I rinsed, cut up and cooked a couple cups of figs, 4 small pears and a random old orange. I sprinkled lightly with organic sugar and put a tablespoon of smart balance butter spread and cooked them on the stovetop on low for 30min. I also added a Tablespoon of pectin to make it gel a bit and turned it into a poor man’s low sugar jam to put on my biscotti! Oh, if only I had some whipping cream…

And so goodnight–I still have a lot of dishes to do.

And finally, I begin…

Introducion

Hello there! I’m countygalcitygal. I wanted “naturegirl” but that domain name was already taken. My friends know me as Holland. I feel that I have a lot to say. I suppose that’s why the a person would start a blog. I want this to be a place where I can write and share things I am passionate about, things that can help change the world,  and things I am making (ie canned low sugar stevia peach jam, homemade bath bombs, etc). I imagine that I may be playing catch up for several posts on things that I’ve wanted to share over the past few months but had not yet started my blog but the eventual plan to post the cool things I do as they occur. After a two year adventure back in my hometown in Arkansas, I will be flying back to my other home, New York City, so it’s anyone’s guess what my blog will turn into then. It will be about my life in the city but my life is always about getting back to my roots, or back to nature, or however you want to word it. I will be figuring out how to get the most local produce I can and learning how to make my own organic protein bars while enjoying all the city has to offer (that I can afford). I plan for the fall to be a spiritual journey. I will get some kind of work to keep me afloat, but mostly I will be focusing on yoga. I will attend teacher training at Yoga to the People Oct-Dec and I can’t wait to delve in and attempt to truly live the lifestyle of a yogini (in NYC). I hope you enjoy taking this journey with me. I will teach you what I learn and look forward to learning from you as well. Namaste’

Moving on

On another note, I had all day off today! I sat outside in a lawn chair and read a book I found amongst my Grandmother’s things (She passed on this past May) I literally read this book in two days and I highly recommend it. “Getting Lucky” by Susan Marino. She is the founder of Angel’s Gate Animal Hospice in Long Island. It seems this book is being retired but there are still some copies on Amazon or you can write Susan and request one. The book tells the story of how the hospice was created (she converted her home and has 50-200 animals at any given time) as well as several special animals’ stories.  I have such a respect for this woman. She relies on donations and volunteers to stay afloat so check out the website at http://www.angelsgate.org.

It’s very interesting that I came across this book, too, considering we are caring for a little kitten we found who just lost his eye and we (I) have collect 3 other kittens (now cats) over the last year. I say collect, but each one quite literally found their way to me. One that I picked up in the middle of a road after his owners threw him out at a car wash, has cataracts but has finally gotten over the emotional trauma that used to make him pull his hair out. Wylie is the black and white one, Gregory is the gray one. He showed up in front of the garage one day as a baby kitten. The vet said he was the poster kitten for sickness, but after much medicine and TLC, he recovered. He lost his voice in the process though. But first there was Socks. She was crying a horrible cry behind a tree across the road from my house. She is a beautiful “tuxedo” cat who lived with us for about a year, before she got lost while staying with a friend while we went to Florida. This was so terrible and sad and we had thought she was gone for good, when a little miracle happened and the same person who lost her, found her sitting in a graveyard behind her house 2 1/2 months later. Unbelievable in so many ways. She is back at home with us now. So tiny Shogun was found 2 weeks ago and nursed back to health, but sadly lost an eye. I will post a pic when he is fully recovered. So many animals for me to miss when I leave Arkansas. That’s definitely a con. The dogs loved that I sat outside with them today…Lucky (also crazy because that’s the name of the book I read!) and her kids, Brooklyn and Phantom. This is Brooklyn at my feet. It’s not ladylike, but it’s pretty cute.