Upgraded Pigs In A Blanket


The plan was to make Pigs In A Blanket for the Super Bowl. Our guests brought more than enough food to go around, so the dough stayed in the refrigerator until today:

190205 pigs in a blanket

The upgrades (relative to last time) included using better (beef) dogs, substituting milk for much of the water in the dough, and adding an egg wash on the outsides of the blankets.

The recipe:  500 g AP flour, 100 g water (20% of flour weight), 200 g milk (40%), 10 g salt (2%) 1/2 tsp instant yeast. Let rise in the refrigerator 1-3 days. Roll out into a thin sheet and cut into 6″ x 6″ pieces. Roll each piece around a pre-cooked hot dog and slice into 1″ lengths. Brush with egg wash. Bake at 400F for 25 minutes.

In the future think I may either swap out the rest of the water for milk or add an egg to the dough. Overall though these worked well as a vehicle for mustard. I thought they were better than decent, and I thought they could have been better.

There was also some leftover dough scraps and egg wash. I rolled the scraps out thinly, brushed with the egg wash, and topped with sesame seeds, powdered garlic, and powdered onion. Baked at 425 for 20 minutes. They made for a nice “extra” bit of goodness.

I’ll have to keep experimenting. I’m ok with that.

Instant Pot Shredded Beef


We have a new toy in the kitchen for 2019 — an Instant Pot. The pressure cooker is a form of cooking that I’ve never been exposed to. I thought it would be a good idea to start super simple:  Shredded Beef Tacos. I used the Saute function to brown 1.5 pounds of top round that had been cut into 1-2″ cubes. The meat was removed and diced onions were cooked until translucent. The meat and onions went back into the pot with 1 cup of water, 1/2 cup of salsa, and 1 package of Taco Seasoning of indeterminate vintage. I set the Instant Pot to 50 minutes of pressure cooking and walked away.

I think that’s one of the “odd” things about pressure cooking — there is no “open the pot, taste, stir” going on. Everything goes into a black box and comes out the other side. It’s going to take some getting used to.

But really, the point of this blog post is this:

190108 shredded beef

I find shredding with two forks to be messy and tedious. The internet suggested either a slicing blade on the Cuisinant (top feeding and letting gravity do the work) or the paddle attachment on the KitchenAid. The paddle attachment seemed a little more controllable so I went that route. The picture above is the beef cubes after about 10 seconds at low speed. Clean-up took less than two minutes.

I Wish I Would Have Known About This Years Ago!!!

As an added bonus, the pressure cooker kept the beef nice and moist, if anything there was a little too much liquid at the end. I reduced the liquid somewhat with the Saute feature before returning the meat to the pot.

Overall it was a fairly easy first experiment with the new toy. The only real not nice surprise was just how much smoke happened while sauteeing the beef. Everything else was simple and straightforward. There’s definitely tons of room for improvement — the more “correct” cut of meat to use for Shredded Beef  is Chuck, not Top Round. Using good herbs and spices would have made a huge difference too.

Still, easy weeknight tacos with easy cleanup. It’s a great start.


Potato Pizza


If there is a “traditional” Potato Pizza I think it features Yukon Gold potatoes and rosemary. Some versions include onion. Some will peel and/or pre-cook the potatoes, others do not. More than one recipe on the internet utilizes ranch dressing.. which, whatever. For dinner last night I wanted to target “simple, unfussy, and what I imagine to be traditional”.

We have parsley growing in the salad table that’s been begging to be used as an ingredient in things, so parsley made it onto the pizza as well:

181210 pizza

The Dough (with baker’s percentages):  300 g bread flour, 190 g water (63%), 6 g kosher salt (2%), 9 g diastatic malt (3%), 9 g extra virgin olive oil (3%), instant yeast. I used 1/2 tsp yeast and allowed for more time. On a weeknight I’d use 1 tsp yeast to speed things along.

The Potatoes:  2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes. Boil for for 15-20 minutes. Let cool and peel. Slice thin either with a mandolin or knife (I used a knife). Mince as much rosemary, onions, and parsley as is desired — I wound up with about 1/4 cup in total. Toss the potatoes with enough olive oil to coat then toss with salt and the minced mixture. Coat the top of the pizza with a small amount of oil. Top the pizza with the potato mixture.

Bake at 500F for 12-14 minutes, or until nicely browned. Finish with grated parmesan.

This close-up photo has a vaguely red tint for some reason. I never let food photography stand in the way of eating for very long:

181210 pizza slice


I was pretty happy with this pizza. It’s really sort of another take Onion-Potato Focaccia (2010(!) post here), or Rosemary Focaccia (2014 post here),  or Berenbaum’s Rosemary Focaccia Sheet (2013 post here).

The 2010 post uses volume measurements instead of weights. That was my go-to recipe for a crowd for years. I may need to give that one another try this winter.

Happy Holidays!


Buttery Cheesy Breadsticks With Even More Cheese


I made Buttery Cheesy Breadsticks again, this time for Thanksgiving:

181122 cheesy breadsticks

This time I used a lot more cheese than in 2017. I pressed as much as I could onto both sides before twisting.

The recipe was basically the same as this post from March 2017. The changes were:   (1.) I used a mix of cheddar and gouda instead of the 2017 version that used parmesan. (2.) 800 grams of flour this time, the other measurements were scaled up to keep the same ratios.  (3.) Cheese on both sides. (4.) I  baked them in the oven 25 minutes, rather than 20. The breadsticks had better color this time as a result.

Note:  Putting 800 grams of a fairly stiff dough into a Kitchenaid mixer probably voids the warranty. I finished the kneading by hand because the mixer was clearly struggling.

So:  More cheese. Better color. If you look closely at the picture you’ll see “frico” hanging off of the sides of many of the breadsticks. People love frico. I probably could have just brought frico to the party instead and it would have been devoured regardless.

2018 Container Garden Recap


It felt like the overall garden yield was a little low this year. That’s sort of true, though we didn’t we weigh the beans we harvested. As a flat guess the beans must have represented somewhere around 30 pounds, and they blocked the tomatillos from being as productive as they could have been. The yearly totals:

Year Yield, Pounds
2013 228.0
2014 269.4
2015 282.5
2016 194.3
2017 238.6
2018 195.5
Average 234.7

That feels about right. A somewhat below average yield by weight for the year. The weather didn’t really cooperate and there was some user error involved with the placement of the beans. Overall most everything ripened more than usual, so even if the yield was a little light the end result was basically a win.

The Recaps:

The Peppers:  We grew two boxes (12 plants total). The pepper boxes fell over mid-season and we lost a few that way. We’re not going to use Ultomato cages on the tomatoes or peppers anymore — too many failures.

180909 peppers

9 Carmen,  17.7 pounds:  Almost two pounds per plant is a very acceptable output relative to what we’ve seen historically.  Our Average Per Pepper Plant through 2016 was 1.9 pounds. An average year with riper than average fruit. Sign me up!

2 Jimmy Nardello, 1.8 pounds:  A decent yield for a very nice frying pepper.

1 “Hot” Pepper, 0.7 pounds:  The plant was mislabeled at the Seattle Tilth Plant Sale (one of two mislabeled plants this year, which is a record for us. Usually it’s zero or one). The fruits have the appearance of somewhat smaller Serrano. They’ll go into the freezer with the other Serranos.

The Marketmore Cucumbers, 31.2 pounds:  One box, 4 plants.  About half of the cucumber trellis wound up being buried by the beans. Overall the cucumbers had better “shapes” than most years and maintained the good shapes for later into the season. For yield comparison – In year one we harvested 56 pounds from one box, every year since has been been between 28 and 44 pounds. I’m perfectly fine with 2018’s yield and quality.

The Tromboncino Zucchini, 14.3 pounds:   One box, two plants. Last year the yield was 3.8 pounds because I screwed up and planted too many plants. In other years 20-26 pounds has been the norm. I think the Tromboncino really didn’t like the weather this year, though we did have a lot less mildew than usual on the leaves. A couple of more decent sized zucchini and the harvest would have been about average.

The Tomatillos, 24.9 pounds:  Two boxes, 4 plants. The tomatillos we sort of buried by the beans to the point where at mid-season one of the two boxes was giving up. Historically, 12-20 pounds for one box seems about normal. It wasn’t a total washout, and we have lots of roasted tomatillo puree in the freezer.

The Tomatoes:  We got one mislabeled tomato which as a best guess was a Hungarian Heart. Overall the tomatoes ripened really well this year. For reference, 10-20 pounds per plant, or 30-40 pounds per box is about the normal yield:

180909 harvest

Oregon Spring, 28.4 pounds:  One box, two plants. As usual, the Oregon Springs were early producers and provided a good tasting tomato with a good overall yield.

Paisano, 16.8 pounds:  1/2 box, one plant. We tried these as a “twist” on the usual Romas. I think the flavor and color was a little less intense than the Romas. However, they were heavy enough to collapse the Ultomato cage. We may grow these again, though I’d also be ok with just giving up that space to more Romas or something else. They shared a box with –

Taxi, 5.2 pounds:  1/2 box, one plant. Historically we’ve gotten ~25 pounds per plant. I think maybe the Paisano out-competed them somewhat and maybe the Taxis didn’t love the weather and maybe they were a little buried and maybe didn’t get enough human attention.

Hungarian Heart, 5.1 pounds:  1/2 box, one plant. Bleh. We didn’t pick them. We didn’t particularly like the taste. The yield was poor. Moving on, these shared a box with –

Cherry Bomb, 5.9 pounds:  1/2 box, one plant. We tried these as a substitute to the uber-sweet Sun Gold. We loved the taste of the Cherry Bombs! The yield could have been better, though I’m inclined to overlook that due to the taste and try them again next year.

Black Krim, 19.5 pounds:  One box, two plants. The Black Krims were really late this year, though they all ripened. The yield was a little low for a full box, but that’s been an ongoing theme for this entire blog post. We love them so we’ll grow them again next year.

Roma, 23.9 pounds:  One box, two plants. The romas had an excellent year from the ripening and taste standpoint. The yield was down..

The Unweighed:

The Basil:   It started slowly, but when it got established it did quite well. We harvested aggressively and it responded by getting even healthier. We also made a point to do the final harvest before it got bitter. Learning!

The Beans:  We grew two boxes of Fortex beans and one box of Rattlesnake (after I couldn’t find the Cranberry seeds.) I lightly fertilized all the beans to start the year and we got handfulls and handfulls of the Fortex all summer. The season-end Fortex and all of the Rattlesnakes were saved for dried beans. We also grew Maxibel bush beans in one whiskey barrel. Overall it was more beans than we need. Next year will probably be one box of Fortex and one of Rattlesnake, and we’ll grow them on the north side of the trellises so that they don’t bury other plants.



Visit Dave at Happy Acres Blog, host of Harvest Monday.


Pigs In A Blanket And Drying The Bean Harvest


A week-night game night with hot dogs in the refrigerator. That meant it was time for Pigs In A Blanket!

181014 pigs in a blanket

(Clockwise from top left:  Gloomhaven top left, Beverages top right, Arty Mustard bottom right, Napkins bottom left.)

The dough was just a quick pizza dough with a little extra oil — around 6%. I rolled the dough out thin and cut it into five pieces. I laid a hot dog on each piece and wrapped the dough around the dog. Then I cut the rolls into about 1″ pieces. Baked at 425-450 for 25 minutes.

The end result was exactly “fine”. I think next time I’ll try adding an egg or some sugar to the dough to make it more interesting. Changing out the hot dogs for a sausage with more character would help as well. Still, as “proof of concept” it was good. And it was easy and quick to do. Eaten with enough mustard I didn’t really notice the absence of real flavor in the dough.

(Previous Pigs In A Blanket post here.)


The final bean harvest happened this week as well. We grew two boxes of Fortex beans and one box of Rattlesnake beans. We’ve been harvesting the Fortex beans all summer, to the point where at year end we have more Rattlesnake beans than Fortex:

181014 beans

Now how to dry them? Window screens, with Gatorade bottles as “spacers”. They’re situated right next to a heater vent:

181014 drying racks

The top layer is the Rattlesnakes. The bottom layer is the Fortex. Seems to be working ok.


Visit Dave at Happy Acres Blog, host of Harvest Monday.


Container Garden Update — September 24, 2018


It’s been cool, cloudy, and raining. Tomatoes are leaping onto the ground, the basil is done, and the cucumbers are looking weirder and weirder. That means it’s time to do The Final Harvest Of The Year. The boy cat had to investigate:

boy cat harvest 180924

The dining table is also “his spot”, so I’m not sure he was impressed.

A close up:

180924 close up

(L-R back)  Carmen peppers, Paisano tomatoes, Carmens, Black Krim tomatoes.  (L-R front)  Tray 1: Hungarian Heart tomatoes, Cherry Bomb tomatoes, peppers that were mis-marked and might be Serrano or an equivalent, and a Trombincino zucchini. Tray 2: Cucumbers destined for cucumber water, Jimmy Nardello peppers.  Tray 3:  Romas.

I don’t think the yield was quite up to standards this year, but overall everything ripened pretty well, which isn’t a bad trade-off. Of course, we’re not quite completely done as there’s still these:

180924 garden

Beans. At this point we’re just letting them go to see how many big dried beans we’ll get. We didn’t weigh the beans but I’m betting their weight would pull the yearly total to about normal. Next year though we need to put them on the north side of the trellises rather than the south sides where they suck up all the sun.

More post-mortem to come.


Visit Dave at Happy Acres Blog, host of Harvest Monday.

Container Garden Update — September 9, 2018


The 2018 growing season has been highlighted by sudden and dramatic changes in the weather. The most recent change has been from sunny and hot to cloudy and rainy.

The oak tree thinks Fall Is Coming:

180909 oak

The garden agrees that Fall Is Near. Most everything is getting scraggly. Compare the picture below to the post two weeks ago. It’s a dramatic difference:

180909 overview

A closeup of the front row of tomatoes — this will be the last year we use Ultomato cages for anything heavy (total fail for the box on the right):

180909 tomatoes

The Cherry Bomb and “Hungarian Heart” box. We purchased the “Hungarian Heart” at Tilth, though it was labeled as Violet Jasper. A later phone conversation with someone at Tilth has placed these as “Hungarian Heart” as a best guess. They’re heirloom, and they’re late. There are still a few on the vines. We’ve harvested a couple of them. At this point I’m just hoping they’re not going end up as a complete bust:

180909 tomato

The peppers are doing well. Pictured are Jimmy Nardello and Carmen:

180909 peppers

The Fortex and Rattlesnake pole beans are slowing down, but they still look mostly healthy:

180909 beans

We’re going to get one more Tromboncino. Note the Fortex beans still cruising along in the back:

180909 zucchini

Tiny arugula (with big parsley) living on the middle level of the salad table. The salad table dries out fast, so I wanted to wait for the 80-degree and sunny weather to abate somewhat before starting seedlings. Hopefully we’ll have something to harvest between now and February:

180909 arugula

Yesterday’s harvest. Top tray has Black Krim tomatoes, Cherry Bomb tomatoes, and a few Carmen peppers. On the left are Roma. On the right are Pasiano tomatoes, Oregon Spring, and Taxis:

180909 harvest


A Caprese with three types of tomatoes (Black Krim, Roma, Hungarian Heart) and a few pepper strips for variety:

180909 carpese


Visit Dave at Happy Acres Blog, host of Harvest Monday.


Container Garden Update — August 26, 2018


The odd summer weather has continued. The air has been extremely smoky since the last post up until a few days ago. Now it’s overcast and cool.

We harvested the last of the tomatillos. It came to about 15 pounds:

180826 tomatillo

We harvested the tomatillos at least in part because the beans were taking over. Next year we’ll grow pole beans on the north side of the trellises, not the south side. This view is from the south. Two boxes of beans basically took over the trellis to the left and the trellis to the rear:

180826 beans

In the next picture the pole beans are on the north side of the trellis, with Tromboncino in the foreground. This approach was by far the better idea. They’re actually playing nicely together:

180826 zucchini and beans

We didn’t weigh the beans this year, but I’m guessing they more than made up for the somewhat lower than expected cucumber and tomatillo harvests. (L-R) Carmen peppers and cucumbers, Tromboncino, Fortex beans:


The Rattlesnake beans. We’ll see how well they size up before the frost:

180826 rattlesnake beans

The tomatoes are winding down. The Taxis and Paisanos on the far left of the photo have uprooted their cage — it was Ultomato stakes stuck into the EarthBox. I think we need to invest in a few more robust cages:

180826 tomatoes

A close up of the harvest. It rained and many of the Oregon Spring tomatoes split. They’re much bigger than usual this year. The one sheet tray has about 10 pounds of tomatoes. The cherry tomatoes are Cherry Bomb, which we’ve really enjoyed. The peppers are Carmens (large) and Jimmy Nardello. The “oops I trimmed the wrong vine” tomatoes will be fried. They’re mostly Taxis:

180826 harvest 2


Visit Dave at Happy Acres Blog, host of Harvest Monday.


Container Garden Update — August 12, 2018


The warm, sunny, 80ish degree weather is continuing. Fall is just around the corner and the garden is showing signs of wrapping it up. The tomatillos in particular need to be harvested since the plants are going downhill fast. We also found one “bad” leaf on the basil plant. By now we’ve come to realize that means it’s time to really start harvesting basil like there’s no tomorrow.

Here’s the basil box after we cut out about 1/3 of it and spread the bounty around the neighborhood:

180812 basil

Both of the pepper boxes fell over this week — onto the basil. They’re both really leaning, so we just spun one of the boxes around so that they could lean on each other for support:

180812 peppers

I think maybe something more substantial than Ultimato cages may be required in the future.

The Rattlesnake pole beans have basically taken over the trellis intended for tomatillos:

180812 beans

Some of the tomato vines are breaking under their own weight:

180812 tomato

We did get three “harvests” this week, plus about 10 pounds of pole (Fortex) beans. Here are Oregon Spring tomatoes, tomatillos, and a relatively photogenic cucumber:

180812 harvest1

5 pounds of tomatillos:

180812 harvest2

We should be able to fill another 3-4 sheet trays with tomatillos in the next few days.

Finally, some of the weeks’ tomatoes.

180812 harvest3

(L-R) Taxi, Black Krim, Oregon Spring, Roma, more Fortex beans.

We should see a deluge of ripening fruit the next couple of weeks. It’s definitely going to keep us busy.


Visit Dave at Ourhappyacres, host of Harvest Monday.