Monthly Archives: April 2016

In the Garden {April 2016}

In the Garden {April 2016}

In the Garden {April 2016} | InAnOrchard

This week all other plans were laid aside.  Every moment I could spare was spent in the garden, planting, weeding, marking rows, and tidying up.  Last weekend’s rain provided the help I needed to get the last of this summer’s planting done.  The giant weeds were pulled out, the rows carefully marked, and hundreds of flower seeds were planted.
In the Garden {April 2016} | InAnOrchard

The boxes are looking beautiful right now.  My English Roses are in full bloom, and I have jars of them sitting all over the house.In the Garden {April 2016} | InAnOrchard

In the Garden {April 2016} | InAnOrchard

The blooms are much bigger this year and definitely more plentiful.
In the Garden {April 2016} | InAnOrchard

My one disappointment this spring is the slowly growing sweet peas.  Last spring my roses and sweet peas were blooming at the same time and they made a stunning pair!  This year I think they will be totally out of sync.
In the Garden {April 2016} | InAnOrchard

I plead with them each morning, “Come on darlings, grow a little faster, show me your colors.”  They pay me no mind.In the Garden {April 2016} | InAnOrchard

My gardening companionIn the Garden {April 2016} | InAnOrchard

She is always hunting for ladybugs and worms.In the Garden {April 2016} | InAnOrchard

This January Miss E and I scattered poppy seeds in the Dahlia and Rose beds.  I wanted some color during the months when the beds look so sparse, plus it helps keep the weeds out of the raised beds.  They are just now starting to bloom.  I love the color and texture of the foliage as much as I love the poppies themselves.In the Garden {April 2016} | InAnOrchard

A few vegetables have made their way into the garden this year.  Miss E was keen on having some edible things growing and I obliged her (but not without a little selfish hesitation).  She planted a row of heirloom “rainbow carrots” on the very edge of the flower patch.  She checks each and everyday to see if they have sprouted.  We also have two happy tomato plants that were gifted from a sweet neighbor.
In the Garden {April 2016} | InAnOrchard

My little garden imp abandoned me for a ride on the four-wheeler with her daddy.
In the Garden {April 2016} | InAnOrchard

 

The dahlias are starting to fill out and a few even had some tiny buds on them!  The sunflowers and cosmos from last year’s garden have re-seeded and I love the random look the garden is beginning to take on; like it has a whimsical personality of it’s own.

In the Garden {April 2016} | InAnOrchard

I have a few more Yarrow starts that I need to tuck in somewhere once they are big enough, and I have another packet of Bachelor Buttons to plant in a few weeks.  Trying to space the planting out a bit.

In the Garden {April 2016} | InAnOrchard

In the Garden {April 2016} | InAnOrchard

The 2016 season is off to a lovely start, with many more delights to come.  I hope you’ll visit again

~April

Playing with Sourdough

Playing with Sourdough | InAnOrchard

I’ve always enjoyed baking bread, even when I was a young girl.  I loved the taste of homemade bread so much that I taught myself how to bake it when I was just 13-years-old.  Over the years, I’ve made countless loaves of traditional white bread, Focaccia bread, dinner rolls, pizza dough, and honey wheat bread.  But this past winter I started tinkering around with sourdough baking.  I’ve been intrigued by sourdough for so long now, reading lots of recipes and articles, and I’ve watched way too many clips on Youtube.  I finally knuckled down and made my own starter from scratch.  I used the King Arthur Flour, sourdough starter recipe and I followed it to the letter.

The Week that Was | In An Orchard

It worked perfectly!  I did as they recommended and began my starter with rye flour (the wild yeasts and good bacteria like the heavier, more nutritious flours and that helps jump-start the starter) and by day three I had lots of gassy bubbles in my starter jar!  I was so ridiculously happy about it I walked all over the house showing it to Justin and the kids.  ”Look! Look!  I’ve got bubbles!”   After I got the starter going with the rye flour I switched and began to feed it whole wheat flour.  Eventually, (after I knew I had a nice colony of wild yeasts going strong) I converted my starter to white flour.

I’ve kept it fed and happy ever since (it’s about three and a half months old now).  Some weeks I leave it out on the counter and feed it daily, but on busy weeks I stick it in the fridge and mostly ignore it.

Playing with Sourdough | InAnOrchard

One of my favorite sourdough recipes so far has been King Arthur Flour’s Buttery Sourdough Buns.  I love this recipe! They are so soft and tender with butter swirled in the middle and then brushed on top right before serving.  They have a more subtle sourdough flavor than a traditional sourdough loaf.  The brilliant thing about these roll is you can add what ever you want to the middle; think of it as a type of savory cinnamon roll.  I’ve added garlic infused butter with grated Parmesan cheese to the centers.  One of the people who commented on the original recipe, said they had added caramelized onions and Gruyere cheese to their buns.  Doesn’t that sounds insanely good!?
Playing with Sourdough | InAnOrchard

I’ve made this recipe a half dozen times now and I’ve tweaked it just a little.  I increased the yeast to 4 teaspoons, and instead of spreading melted butter inside the swirls I used very soft butter.  Using the softened butter instead of melted butter, made it easier to roll the dough into a spiral shape.  I also made the mistake of rolling my spiral too tight the first time and the rolls didn’t rise properly.  They baked up so dense.  As frustrating as it was to loose an entire batch of rolls, is was an easy mistake to remedy.

Playing with Sourdough | InAnOrchard

The one element of baking with sourdough that I had to adjust to, was measuring my flour by weight instead of volume.  Most of the time when I bake I use measuring cups for my dry ingredients, but I’ve found that most sourdough recipes need more precise measurements.  Getting the dough properly hydrated is important and I ruined a batch because I added too much flour.  I stole Justin’s small digital food scale and I use it to measure out my flour in ounces.   I haven’t had any trouble since I started weighing the flour.

Playing with Sourdough | InAnOrchard

I hope I’m not scaring you.  It’s a friendly recipe I promise!  It makes 18 of the most delicious dinner rolls you’ve ever eaten.  So soft and tender with just the perfect amount of tang.Playing with Sourdough | InAnOrchard

I have yet to tackle any artisanal bread like baguettes or boules; I’ve stuck with simpler recipes like dinner rolls, sandwich loaf bread, and these amazingly good waffles!  I found the recipe herePlaying with Sourdough | InAnOrchardNext on my list of sourdough recipes to try is this Roasted Garlic Rustic Sourdough Boule.   I think I’m up for the challenge ;)

If you’re interested in experimenting with your own sourdough starter I really do recommend  King Arthur Flour’s sourdough starter recipe, as well as their article about maintaining and using your starter. And if you’d like to be completely inspired by an amazing baker you should check out Alchemy Bread Co’s Instagram feed.  Bonnie’s bread is gorgeous!  She carves beautiful designs in the top of her sourdough boules, and she shapes the most interesting baguettes I’ve ever seen.   Oh, and if you have any sourdough recipes you love or any tips I’d love to hear them!

Happy Baking!  April

 

We Ran Away

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchard

We Ran Away | InAnOrchardWe ran away together.  To the sleepy little town of Mendocino which is happily situated between the towering coastal Redwood forests and the rocky shoreline of the Pacific Ocean.  It is a town full of Inns, weathered water towers, tiny shops, paths lined with dark Cyprus trees, and one small cemetery with tilting headstones that looks so lovely in the last of the evening light.

We ate leisurely breakfasts, attempted to sleep in (which neither of us is very good at these days), walked under Redwoods next to winding creeks, read library books, stayed up late eating chocolate covered pretzels and watching movies, took so many pictures, wandered around the Mendocino headlands, and three days later came home to our 4 favorite little people.