Adventures in Hugelkultur

                                                               Punkin says: "I love hugelkultur!"

                                                               Punkin says: "I love hugelkultur!"

Back in April, we decided to start putting in drought-tolerant garden beds in our yard. This long bed, built with a base of logs and sticks and then topped off with dirt, held in moisture very well despite a long, hot Texas summer.  Click here to read about our spring/summer hugelkultur adventures!  We've also included a step-by-step guide to building a hugelkultur bed of your own.

Whole Wheat Rolls

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(If you want to print this recipe, and not the entire blog, just click on the "Whole Wheat Rolls" title of this post to save yourself some paper!)

We experimented this week with making rolls out of our Honey Whole Wheat Bread with Flaxseed & Millet.  A big thank you to the fabulous members of Sarah's knitting club for the positive feedback on this recipe!  These rolls make perfect summer sandwiches...just slice in half and fill them with the salad of your choice.  For the rolls, we left out the flaxseed and millet the bread recipe calls for, and instead added about 1/3 cup of amaranth. This gives the rolls a nice nutty texture.

Here are the steps:

1.  Make up our bread recipe, as usual.  If you need a refresher on kneading dough, there are lots of pictures here.

2.  When you're ready to bake the dough, instead of forming into loaves just pull off golf-ball-sized pieces of dough and shape them into little rolls.   

3. Bake them on a tray or pizza stone at 350° F for 18-24 minutes.  Just watch them carefully towards the end of the baking time to make sure they don't burn.

4.  Allow to cool on a wire rack, and enjoy!  Makes about 2 dozen rolls.  

A Truly Inedible Recipe...For Skunk Odor Removal, That Is

Last night, our dogs went on their usual trip to the backyard before bed, and evidently took a detour to Nature's Perfume Counter while they were at it.  Now, there are many lovely perfume labels in nature: Infusion d'Honeysuckle.  L'Eau Parfumee Rose.  Calendula Blossom.  Sadly, our dogs went for a rather generous free sample of Eau d'Mouffette.  Ugh.  

Chris consulted The Google while I wrangled two smelly canines into the shower.  Have you ever smelled freshly-sprayed-skunk-smell up close?  It's nauseating.  All you want to do is eradicate it, immediately and forever.

Thanks to some wonderful expert advice (you can click here to read the full article from about.com) we got the smell out, although in retrospect it would have made more sense to conduct the whole procedure outdoors.  The master bathroom still faintly reeks, although the dogs smell good as new.  

So here's the ticket to getting Eau d'Mouffette out:

  1. In a large plastic bucket, mix up to a quart of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide, NEVER a stronger percentage (we had about 1/3 of that left over, but it worked fine) with 1/4 cup baking soda and 2 teaspoons liquid dish detergent.  We sort of splashed in a lot of both...we were in no mood to hunt down the measuring cups with that SMELL in the air!  Run some lukewarm water (we used about a quart) into the bucket, and mix it all up.
  2. Grab your (still dry) dogs, and some rubber gloves (you don't NEED the gloves but your hands will smell like skunk afterwards if you don't put them on.)  Scoop up handfuls of the foamy mixture in your bucket and rub it into your dogs' DRY fur.  AVOID THE EYES. Our dogs got sprayed full in the face, so the smell was concentrated around their little faces and on their chests/front legs.  Just rub the foamy mixture in really well, then let it sit for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Just like the shampoo commercials: rinse (with lukewarm water), suds up, repeat.  Do this process as many times as it takes for the smell to go away, or until you run out of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide and patience. For us, it took two rounds of the process to get rid of the stench.  

And you're done!  You know, once you dry the dogs off, wash the towels, spray the entire house down with air freshener (if you forgot and bathed them indoors), sorted out why the skunk was in your backyard in the first place (for us, it seems to have been snacking on the compost pile), and finally scrubbed the skunk smell off yourself in the shower.

Our cats would just like to point out, briefly, that this sort of thing never happens to cats.  A cat would NEVER trap a skunk in a compost bin and then stand there barking madly at it, all the while being doused in foul odors.  Perish the thought.



Pancakes for Breakfast, Anyone?

Something about buttermilk pancakes just hasn't been playing nice, at least not in our kitchen. Our buttermilk pancake recipe hasn't been turning out consistently good results, so we nixed it from our online collection...however, we'd like to recommend a different one!  It's from the Silk website (maker of almond and soy milks), and calls for a delicious mixture of almond milk and honey.  The pancakes we've made from this recipe have turned out consistently golden, puffy and crowd-pleasing, without a whole heck of a lot of effort (or dirty dishes).

To get the recipe you can click here.  We use 100% whole wheat flour when making this recipe, and sweeten with honey.  We've made these pancakes with both unsweetened almond milk and vanilla almond milk, and both times they've turned out just fine.  If you're cooking for a crowd, we'd recommend investing in a decent electric griddle, which will let you make more pancakes at a time and give you a more consistent heat surface to work with.  Otherwise, Lodge makes some wonderful cast iron skillets that will help evenly distribute the heat, even from a cranky electric coil!