In the Garden

What’s Up Doc?

Things are humming! Some carrots are being harvested and work is continuing preparing the winter garden.

This one is for the National Museum of Carrots in Ottawa.

Preparing the soil and adding fertilizer.

Taking carrots home!


Approaching Pizza Perfection

Slowly,  slowly,  Mr. Mole’s Wood Oven Pizza is approaching perfection.  There is always room for improvement but the result is now “entirely satisfactory”- the crust is thin, crisp yet soft with a nice edge.  A small amount of simmered sauce, with some fresh Mozzarella, 24 month aged Parmagean and a bit of Swiss Gruyere for added creamy flavour.  Fresh oregano, sparse addition of very thinly cut zucchini, red pepper, mushroom, onions, and optional Ayrshire bacon.

Mole has concluded that the optimal oven temperature is 550-600F.  With a few rotations the pizza is perfectly done, nicely cooked through with a slight darkening.  He found that when fired up above 600 the pizza cooks too quickly.

Mole is now ready to host Queen Margarita should she be passing this way (and still is a pizza fan).

In the Garden

July is Humming!

The heat is finally here to give a friendly push to the plants at all three locations.  Teams are busy with weeding and watering AND prepping for the winter garden.

Bryan brings the winter garden manure.

Weeds away!

Shhh!  Don’t wake the carrots.

Prepping the winter garden.

Beans are climbing.

Ready for anything, anybody, anytime.

Southdown truckwash.

In the Garden

Little Deer Are Here

Watch out for these guys on the road!

Two little spotted deer and one small confused cat, not much smaller than the babies.  The changing colour of the drying grass seems perfectly timed to camouflage these little guys.  Spotted suits definitely the right fashion choice!


Sourdough Times

Breadcraft is coming along.  Experience has led me to some definite guidelines:

  1.  Starter must be strong, i.e. recently fed. What seems to work well is to feed about 50g of refrigerated starter in the evening with 100-125 g flour (mix white and whole wheat and or rye) and similar amount water.  Let sit at kitchen room temp (17-20C) overnight and put in “proofing box” (see # 4) in the morning for a few hours until significant expansion is evident (50-100% increase). I am experimenting with amounts of starter and baking cycle with the goal of not making more than I can use (and ending up with four jars in the fridge).
  2. Flour protein content  should be 12% +.  “Bread” flour has higher protein content 12-14%.  Plain flour might be as low as 11%, not good for sourdough.  Mills in Canada don’t’ seem as diligent as US companies such as King Arthur at specifying protein content.  Rogers Bread flour does list the protein content at 13-14%.  I have been using some of that with Rogers unbleached flour as well as Anita’s white flour, Anitas 50-50 bread flour blend and Anita’s whole wheat.  All these Anita flours say they are good for sourdough but do not specify the exact protein content on package.   I have also tried adding small amounts of “Bob’s Red Mill Wheat Gluten Flour”.  I am still undecided which protein level is optimal.  I need to try some Antia’s “Sprouted High Protein Flour” listed at 16% protein.
    Possibly my favourite bread so far is from the recipe for Anita’s Buckwheat Sourdough.   Delicious flavour.  If I can make that recipe perfectly with some added figs I might morph from Mole to the Cheshire Cat.
  3. “Autolysing” seems to help bread rise.   Autolysing just means mixing the flour with the water before adding the starter and salt and letting it sit for 1 or more hours.
  4. Proofing temperature is major factor with sourdough.  Most recipes give wait times assuming 25C.  Things move significantly slower at 17C, maybe half the speed.  My “proofing box”:  I discovered that the oven with a 50W incandescent light bulb on is about 25C- perfect rising temp and stable.
  5. Don’t over proof.  What is working well is a first proof (“bulk fermentation”) of 4-5 hours and the final proof after shaping of 2 hours.  When I let it sit longer the bread did not rise as well.
  6. “Retarding” the dough by putting it in refrigerator overnight works well.  Big advantage is that  bread can be baked in the morning at whatever time you want, also, the cold dough is much easier to handle and score.
  7. For optimal “Oven Lift” – The best baking method has been to preheat cast iron “Crueset” pot, drop the bread into it on some parchment paper and bake with the lid closed @450C for 20 minutes for “oven lift” then uncovering and lowering the heat to 375C for another 1/2 hour.

Crunchy crust, chewy inside, yummy all over. Too soon et.

In the Garden

Kundalini Garden

What a beautiful addition to the neighbourhood!  It is inspiring to see gorgeous new plots like this springing up  in reflection of peoples’ creativity, energy and inspiration.  A joy and wonder to behold.


Chocolate Almond Biscotti

The best almond chocolate biscotti of all time!.  They are crunchy, nutty and chocolatey in perfect proportions.   I hope I can give them to my son before I have eaten them all.

This is the recipe I followed more or less.  I used fewer almonds and added 70% chocolate.  And I used my Kitchen Aid mixer. Hope it wasn’t a critical variable but I used one jumbo egg and one small one.


Beginning to Feel Alot Like Junuary

ok, this has been altered a bit for effect.  I am just trying to keep my fingers from freezing. For the record, this is not the real forecast just feels like it right now.

Rain is good for gardens, wells, and the forest. Everything is very green.

In the Garden

The Miracle of the Bees and the Foxgloves

by Anne Stevenson

Because hairs on their speckled daybeds baffle the little bees,
foxgloves come out to advertise for rich bumbling hummers,
who crawl into their tunnels-of-delight with drunken ease
(see Darwin’s chapters on his foxglove summers)
plunging over heckles caked with sex-appealing stuff
to sip from every hooker its intoxicating liquor
and stop it propagating in a corner with itself.

And this is how the foxflower keeps its sex life in order.
Two anthers—adolescent, in a hurry to dehisce—
let fly too soon, so pollen lies in drifts around the floor.
Along swims bumbler bee and makes an undercoat of this,
reverses, exits, lets it fall by accident next door.
So ripeness climbs the bells of Digitalis, flower by flower,
undistracted by a Mind, or a Design, or by desire.


from: Little Foxes and the Fey

Folklorists are divided on where the common name for Digitalis purpurea comes from. In some areas of the British Isles the name seems be a corruption of “folksglove,” associating the flowers with the fairy folk, while in others the plant is also known as “fox fingers,” its blossoms used as gloves by the foxes to keep dew off their paws. Another theory suggests that the name comes from the Anglo-Saxon word foxes-gleow, a “gleow” being a ring of bells. This is connected to Norse legends in which foxes wear the bell-shaped foxglove blossoms around their necks; the ringing of bells was a spell of protection against hunters and hounds.

In the Garden


Sun, warmth and rain are doing their magic!