Homemade English Muffins

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My baking cravings have continued as we dig deep into the end of summer, so last week I decided to try a new recipe: English Muffins. And this recipe did not disappoint. The muffins didn’t come out exactly like the store bought kind (less holes, not uniform in shape or size), but the flavor and texture were wonderful! We enjoyed them plain with a little butter and as part of an egg/breakfast sandwich. Both ways they definitely had the wow factor. The last muffin was highly sought after to say the least! An added bonus, they are also super easy to make. It was a perfect mid-week breakfast treat.

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Whole-Wheat English Muffins

What You Need:

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (or 1 packet)

4 tablespoons/60 grams unsalted butter

1/2 cup plain greek yogurtP1070572

1/2 cup milk

1/2 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup whole-wheat flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Cornmeal, as needed

 

To Make:P1070573

In a small bowl combine the yeast and 1/3 cup warm water. Allow yeast to dissolve, about 5 minutes.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter and pour into a large bowl. Whisk in yogurt, milk, honey, salt and the yeast/water mixture. Add flours and baking soda and mix until well combined.

Cover the bowl and let it rest for 1 to 1 1/2 hours (until dough has doubled).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly dust a small baking sheet with cornmeal (set aside).

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet (medium high heat) and melt 1 tablespoon butter. Using a 1/2 measuring cup, drop batter into skillet to form muffins. It is okay if they aren’t round, but try to make sure they form a nice mound. Repeat until you have 3 muffins for the first batch. Reduce heat to low. Cover skillet with lid orP1070576 baking sheet and cook 3 to 5 minutes,  bottoms should be golden brown. Flip muffins and cook (covered) an additional 2 to 4 minutes or until the other sides are golden brown. Place muffins on prepared baking sheet.

Repeat for the second batch (3 more muffins) using remaining batter and another tablespoon of butter.

Bake muffins for 6 to 9 minutes and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from The New York Times.

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Container Gradening: food at my finger tips

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This year, for the first summer in I don’t know how long, we didn’t move. We stayed put. And this seemed like something worth celebrating, so I planted.

I have been dreaming about a garden for years and the stars finally lined up this summer. We would be in one place long enough to plant and enjoy the harvest. I have such wonderful memories of gardening (or at least eating out of the garden) as a kid. Summer snack time was grabbing snow peas off the vine as we ran past in the back yard.  And I have longed for this feeling of stepping out your door and finding fresh food ready to eat.

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This spring, after we cemented our plans to stay put, I started planning for a garden, with only one major obstacle left- space. We are renters, which means, we don’t really have a yard of our own, but we have a porch that gets full sun and this is where I set my sights. Container gardening. I seem to have picked a popular moment to catch hold of this trend as magazines and websites are touting this small scale type of gardening so finding information, suggestions, and advice was easy. It is all pretty basic. Gather some large containers or pots that drain well, fill them with high quality soil, and plant crops that do well in a confined space. Most types of veggies seemed to fit into this category, and after some debate, we decided on snow peas, tomatoes, peppers, and herbs.

To fill our containers, we attended the May Market and National Public Gardens Day hosted at Phipps Conservatory in the city P1070560(Pittsburgh, PA). It was fun to stroll through the vendors, chat with farmers, and select the plants we would be growing this summer. We picked out three types of tomatoes (a small red for sauces, zebra striped green, and purple), a sweet red pepper plant, two types of basil (curly purple and baby leaf), and oregano. We also planted cilantro and snow peas from seeds.

The porch is right off our living room and I have found that I love watching the progress of the plants as much as I like the harvest we have gotten so far. I gravitate towards the french doors that open out onto the porch several times a day, and I have noticed that my husband does the same thing. We have become garden watchers.

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I loved the excitement of spring and early summer as the fern like stems of the cilantro broke through the soil and as our tomatoes plants began reaching up and over the railing on the porch towards the sun in wild, lanky branches. The basil soon filled and overflowed from the pot and oregano stretched out leafy tentacles as we reached deeper into summer. Our giant cone shaped peppers have been teasing us with deep green for a month and it felt like we such a victory when last week when they finally started shifting into a rusty and then bright red. We will eat pepper soon!P1070556

When my cousin’s daughter came to stay with us for a few days, I saw this excitement and wonder at how our food grows spread through her. She loved “harvesting” basil and oregano. Snipping off pieces with scissors and them pulling the leaves off to scatter on her personalized, homemade pizza. There is so much wonder in watching things grow.

For the most part, our garden, so far, has been a success (knock on wood), if for no other reason than the joy we get from watching it grow and the handful of things we have eaten already- basil, cilantro, oregano, tomatoes. But we did have some failures: the snow peas burned up and one of our tomato plants looks like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree, a shriveled stick with one lonely tomato. Lessons learned for next time.

But for now, I am truly enjoying the green out my window and the fresh tomato I have sitting on my counter for tonight!

Happy Summer 🙂