Spring Herb Pizza with Burrata

Spring Herb Pizza

May. Always a hard month to be sure.  Long hours in the garden, tending and planting and yet nothing has quite come to fruit yet.  I look longingly at my little tomato plants, herbs and peppers as I mist them in the early mornings, begging them to grow and bear fruit and be bountiful.  I wander pensively by the fruit trees, watching the blossoms fall, critiquing each branch; is it stable, will it hold the apple, the apricot, the cherries that are yet to come?  It’s a lot of waiting, dreaming, watering and weeding; preparing for what is coming.  Sometimes I simply cannot wait though. I am impatient and I want to have a treat from my little backyard garden. I try to resist but alas, I can only be so strong.  So last Friday night I pulled out the flour, the yeast and warmed the water to the familiar temperature. I mixed and kneaded the dough and set it aside to rise. I wandered the yard as the yeast did the work, turning my head to the sun leaning into its warm embrace.  I lay on the grass and watched the sun set and the birds come to roost nearby, singing the hour by quickly.  I came in and cut the round warm dough into two, set one in the fridge for another day and started rolling out the dough. I rolled, I tossed, and I stretched it into a circle and lay it gently on cornmeal.  I pulled the penultimate jar of last year’s tomatoes from the pantry shelf, popped the top, mashed a few down with some salt and spread it on the pie. Then outside I went; scissors in hand and a smile on my face.  I snipped my little herbs, leaf buy little leaf. The purple oval of the sage, the shaggy flat parsley, the tiny oregano, the tinier thyme, the Genovese basil and the Thai basil.  I walked inside holding them in my hands like jewels and spread them on top of crimson red sauce.  Then to the fridge for some fresh burrata and parmesan to finish it off before into the oven it went and 12 minutes later: the first bite, hard work and satisfaction to be sure, went down bite after bite and in my stomach grew the excitement of what was to come.

Spring Herb Pizza Spring Herb Pizza Spring Herb Pizza

Spring Herb Pizza

Spring Herb Pizza

Spring Herb Pizza

Spring Herb Pizza Spring Herb Pizza

Pizza Dough – You will need:

  • 3 ½ cups bread flour – plush more for kneading
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 ¼ cups water – at 115 – 95 degrees
  • 1 pouch active yeast
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil – plus more for rising

How to:

  • Mix dry ingredients together and pour in warm water slowly, until dough combines knead in kitchen aid or on floured surface for about 5 minutes
  • Place in oiled bowl in a warm place a let rise for 1 hour
  • Separate into two half’s, rub with olive oil and let sit for another 10 minutes
  • Preheat oven to 500
  • Roll out one half of dough on a floured surface
  • Throw and pull dough until it reaches about a 14-inch circle
  • Repeat with second ball or refrigerate for up to one week – freeze for 3 months
  • Add toppings of your choice or
  • Mash three canned, stewed tomatoes with salt and spread on the dough
  • Slice burrata and grate parmesan and arrange on top of sauce
  • Add clippings of herbs – oregano, thyme, basil, sage and parsley
  • Place completed pie on a pizza stone or baking sheet with a light covering of cornmeal underneath
  • Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown

To having patience when you need to and satisfying your cravings when you can,

Marcella Rose

Spring Herb Pizza




Summer in a Jar – Strawberry Freezer Jam

Summer in a Jar - Strawberry Freezer Jam

Let those December winds bellow ‘n blow, I’m as warm as a July tomato.

Peaches on the shelf

Potatoes in the bin

Supper’s ready, everybody come on in

Taste a little of the summer,

Taste a little of the summer,

You can taste a little of the summer my grandma’s put it all in jars.

 

Well, there’s a root cellar, fruit cellar down below

Watch you head now, and down you go

Maybe you’re weary an’ you don’t give a damn

I bet you never tasted her blackberry jam.

Ah, she’s got magic in her – you know what I mean

She puts the sun and rain in with her green beans.

What with the snow and the economy and ev’ry’thing,

I think I’ll jus’ stay down here and eat until spring.

 

When I go to see my grandma I gain a lot of weight

With her dear hands she gives me plate after plate.

She cans the pickles, sweet & dill

She cans the songs of the whippoorwill

And the morning dew and the evening moon ‘n

I really got to go see her pretty soon

‘Cause these canned goods I buy at the store

Ain’t got the summer in them anymore.

 

Peaches on the shelf, potatoes in the bin

Supper’s ready, everybody come on in, now

Taste a little of the summer,

Taste a little of the summer,

Taste a little of the summer,

My grandma put it all in jars.

Let those December winds bellow and blow,

I’m as warm as a July tomato.

– Canned Goods, by Greg Brown

That’s right, with the summer months upon us it’s time to start canning up the magic. Now is the perfect time to be putting fresh strawberries in jars and freezing them for long cold winter nights to be slathered on fresh baked sourdough bread and eaten by the fireside with cups of warm tea. When I put in the call to my mom to see if I could use her famous and legendary Strawberry Jam recipe on the blog, she laughed as she said “Marcella Rose of course you can! It’s not mine! It’s from the box of liquid pectin!” But she, with all of her motherly wisdom, still bestowed on me the way to make it always turn out perfectly. Here are the tips: only use the ripest strawberries, only use fresh lemon, don’t mess with the sugar it’s a lot yes but you eat it sparingly like honey so don’t fret, oh and listen to Greg Brown while making it.

This jam is seriously the best; it captures the perfect taste of ripe strawberries because you don’t cook it into jelly. Now because of that, it needs to be stored not on a shelf but in the freezer or in the fridge. It stays beautifully pourable in the freezer too so don’t fret, at home we often take it from freezer to toaster and back and it needs no defrosting time. It’s truly the most beautiful thing I jar, jeweled; red and gleaming, “Summer in a Jar” to be sure!  Place a little piece of fabric on the lid before you screw on the jar ring and what a perfectly perfect hostess gift for all those summer parties and BBQs.

Summer in a Jar - Strawberry Freezer Jam Summer in a Jar - Strawberry Freezer Jampink vintage bowls make the world a better place Summer in a Jar - Strawberry Freezer Jam Summer in a Jar - Strawberry Freezer Jam Summer in a Jar - Strawberry Freezer JamSummer in a Jar - Strawberry Freezer JamSummer in a Jar - Strawberry Freezer Jam

Summer in a Jar - Strawberry Freezer Jam

Sure-Jell Certo Recipe

Makes about 4 cups Jam

You will need:

  • 2 pints strawberries, washed stems discarded and crushed
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 pouch Certo
  • Sanitized and washed jars and lids – get fresh tops

How to:

  • Crush strawberries with a potato masher, leaving some fruit chucks
  • Spoon in 2 cups of strawberries to a bowl with 4 cups sugar
  • *Note: reducing sugar will yield no jam, (don’t jam up the process, use the sugar)
  • Allow sugar and strawberries to sit for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • Then stir pectin and lemon together and add to fruit and sugar mixture
  • Mix constantly for 3 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved
  • Pour into prepared jars allowing a ½ inch of space at the top
  • Allow to sit at room temperature for 24 hours
  • Then refrigerate for up to 3 weeks or freeze for up to a year

 

It’s jammer time!

Marcella Rose

Summer in a Jar - Strawberry Freezer Jam

Challah

Fresh Hot Delicious Challah

There is a magic to fresh bread.  There is something eternally warm and welcoming about its taste, the mouth feel and oh the smell.  It is the smell of pure bliss and utter hospitality.  I used to work on a ranch in the summers cooking three square meals a day for hungry cowboys and ranch hands as well as teaching manners to the little cowboys that ran around in the fields all summer, free as woodland elves.  It was there in the starkly beautiful wild country of Nevada, among the sage and the pine… and the cows, where I really learned to cook.   Yes, my culinary birth was one by flame and long hot summers of trial and error; errors that the hungry crew were either kind enough not to mention or too hungry to care.  My mom of course had taught me all the basics and she was set on my mental speed dial, on the old tethered rotary phone by the ranch kitchen, where I would sometimes need to make very expensive long distance phone calls mid-meal, sending out an SOS to her landline where she always picked up and trouble-shot the lumpy gravy or the burnt tomato sauce (note; start fresh with the gravy if you can, always adding in hot liquid to the cornstarch or flour and mixing until smooth before pouring in. Unless you have an emulsifier then use that and poof creamy gravy, also don’t scrape the burnt sauce in the pan just carefully ladle the top ¾ of the sauce into a new pan that has a heavier bottom for long hours of simmering on the stove).  Of course those calls were only made when the head chef had left little me in charge, otherwise Susan (the ranch wife) in all of her glory and wisdom was there by my side.  Helping me knead, teaching me about sourdough starters, showing me the ways and enchantment of a well stocked pantry.   We made bread daily and it was the best part of each day for me.  Waking up with the sun, pulling on the apron, cotton strings wrapped around twice to tie in front, the flour catching wind as cup by glorious cup full is scooped into thick potted bowls.  Breathing new life into the yeast with warm water and a watchful eye, drops of thick olive oil and the slap of dough on wooden tables, then a silhouette in the warm window, a flour cloth covered bowl back lit by the morning sun and a moment of pause until we knead once again then wait once more.   Then it’s thrown and shaped, long brush strokes of whisked egg, a knife dragged across the top and into the vintage Wedgewood where it warms and darkens, the wonder of bread is complete.

I don’t make bread every day anymore but the rhythm of the process is always there, waiting quietly to be put to work.  So I want to share one of the easiest bread recipes with you my readers: Challah.  This bread is eggy and full of loft, it’s wonderful to sop up soup or sauces with and with a slight sweetness even better with honey and butter slathered on top.  It really shines, dipped in eggs, milk, and cinnamon then grilled into the most perfectly perfect French toast.

Fresh Hot Delicious Challah

Farm Fresh Eggs

Fresh Hot Delicious Challah

Fresh Hot Delicious Challah

Fresh Hot Delicious Challah

Fresh Hot Delicious Challah
Fresh Hot Delicious Challah Fresh Hot Delicious Challah

You will need

  • 11 ozs or 320 grams* water
  • ¾ cup or 85 grams Turbinado** Sugar
  • 1.5 Tablespoons dry yeast
  • 3 ½ cups or 800 grams flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon good flakey salt
  • ½ cup or 60 grams oil

*When baking it is best to measure with a scale if you own one, if not I have included the conversion for you

** Simple recipes like this with only a few items demand quality, so use fresh pastured eggs, fine olive oil, raw sugar and the best salt you can find.

How to:

  • Warm the water to 95-115 degrees and stir in the sugar
  • Pour yeast in, let sit for a few moments for the yeast to bloom
  • Pour mixture into a kitchen-aid with a hook attachment and add flour, salt and oil
  • Lightly beat eggs and add into mixture
  • Mix low incorporating for about 4 minutes then increase speed for 4 more minutes
  • (If you do not own a KitchenAid, get one! But until then, stir in bowl until too hard to handle then kneed for at least 8 minutes)
  • Take dough (it will be moist) and kneed on a lightly floured surface for a minute forming a ball
  • Then place dough ball into a lightly oiled bowl
  • Cover with a warm moist towel
  • Let rise until doubled in volume; about 45 minutes
  • Then divide dough in half and each half into thirds
  • With your hands gently roll and stretch each third into a long log
  • Gather the tops of three of your logs and pinch together then braid until you reached the ends and pinch together
  • Repeat with the other three logs of dough
  • Place both loaves on a parchment lined backing sheet cover with warm moist towel and let rise once again – about 45 minutes
  • Preheat oven to 400
  • You know dough is ready with you pinch it with your finger and it instantly bounces back!
  • Brush with egg mixture and sprinkle with your choice of topping and bake for 10 minutes, lower the oven to 350 and bake until golden and beautiful about 8 more minutes.
  • Slice, eat, enjoy!

To all the Challah back girls and goys,

Marcella Rose


Fresh Hot Delicious Challah



Dandelion Seed Necklace – a wish in a jar

Dandelion Seed Necklace – a wish in a jar

I have been thinking about my mother a lot recently.  Yes, mother’s day is coming (it’s on May 10th FYI) but it’s not the holiday per say, that is making me contemplative.  It is simply that my mom is amazing.  My thoughts lean toward her each passing day of my adulthood and I think of her more and more.  I appreciate her more and more and yes, even love her more and more.  My parents always told me growing up that you don’t get to choose who your family is.  This is a very true, sometimes harsh reality for a majority of the population.  For someone with no choice in the matter at all, I certainly lucked out.  My mom was able to stay at home with us as we grew up; one of the greatest treasures, biggest sacrifices and most lavish gifts I will ever receive is that every day, my mom was there.  She woke us up every morning and was there when we came home from school every afternoon.  She didn’t do everything for us. Oh no, she helped us learn how to be self-sufficient, taught us to cook, to do laundry, to be respectful, to sew, and to generally be productive little people and no, not for an allowance.  We did these things under her guidance not for money, but because we were a part of a whole; a member of the household, these were our responsibilities.  She taught me that each day I can make the world a better place by participating and taking pride in what I do.

While she made us into little, accountable people who grew up to be capable adults, she also indulged our fantasies.  We could always use the couch as a fort; I mean what else is a couch for?!  Of course we could use the National Geographic Magazines as stones during an epic hot lava game; what else would work better?  She even dug a 5 foot deep by 6 foot wide hole in the tough Nevada dirt and covered it with wooden beams for my brother to have a fortress.  All boys need a hideout after all.  She would make us high tea when the weather turned nice… we would walk home from school to find her out in her luscious garden surrounded by quaking aspen, her long chestnut curls in a loose ponytail, table covered with a floral cloth; tea and cakes and scones all set out.  She would call to us asking if we would join her and under the shade of the trees with the smell of blossoming flowers on the wind, she would ask about our day as she poured tea.  She would listen, really listen, as her motherly hands lumped sugar and poured cream into each little tea cup with care and once we were done sharing, she would tell us stories.  Sometimes she would reach down and snap off the stem of a dandelion.  She would hold it up to our little faces and say, “close your eyes, make a wish, and blow.” It’s something her grandmother always did and this time of year, when the little seeded fluffs start to sprout up in my lawn, I look at them and smile. Then with a deft hand, snap the stem, bring it to my face and hear my mom whisper, “make a wish,” and I wish that I will be the kind of mother my mom is one day, and I close my eyes and blow.

Dandelion Seed Necklace – a wish in a jar
Dandelion Seed Necklace - wish in a jar
Dandelion Seed Necklace – a wish in a jar Dandelion Seed Necklace – a wish in a jar Dandelion Seed Necklace – a wish in a jar Dandelion Seed Necklace – a wish in a jar Dandelion Seed Necklace – a wish in a jar
Dandelion Seed Necklace – a wish in a jar

Dandelion Seed Necklace – a wish in a jar

Here is a little craft to make with those beautiful dandelions, a wish-in-a-jar necklace. A perfect gift for this mother’s day or for anyone out there that could use a wish or two.

You will need

  • Little cork-topped vials, I got mine on amazon.com
  • Thin jewelry wire
  • Necklace Chain
  • Dandelion seeds

How To:

  • Pull off the seeds from the dandelion and place in vials, using tweezers if you need to
  • Take jewelry wire and shape into a loop twisting the two ends together, trim short
  • Push the twisted ends of the jewelry wire into the cork top leaving just the loop showing
  • Thread your necklace chain through the loop
  • Push your cork back into the vial

To wishes,

Marcella Rose Dandelion Seed Necklace – a wish in a jar