Friday, March 29, 2013

Seed starting with kids

Regardless of how many times experienced parents tell me something I don't want to hear and it comes true, I never ever ever learn. I've been told by many parents of the horrors of toddler eating (lack of eating?). I remember my son being a baby and an amazing vegetable eater and being so pleased, smug really, that I had such a good eater. And he was a great a baby. They are not joking about the terrible twos! there can be so many levels of terrible! Even now, as a three year old, bargaining to eat veggies is sadly in the regular repertoire of parenting tricks.

Two major things seem to help my son eat veggies:
1) Helping to cook the meals.
2) Growing the veggies.

His first vegetable eaten after a particularly long and stubborn fresh vegetable fast last summer was a sungold cherry tomato plucked off the bush at our summer CSA. How he had managed to resist those warm orange globes of sweet and tangy juice the first few weeks of harvest, I will never know, but watching him pluck another and another and pop them into his mouth made me happy we had chosen to do a CSA despite our crazy year.

This year, I have been waiting for seed starting season since the first seed catalogs came in January. Though the vegetable garden will not be our main priority this year, I have big plans. Dreaming big is never a problem of mine.

Seed starting is more of a mental prep for the gardening season. I don't yet have grow lights, and I have a baby tearing through the house, including the room with the best light. I will be surprised if half of our seeds make it out to the garden. But there is something magical about watching that tiny sprout push its two tender leaves through the soil. And starting seeds, explaining what we are growing and what we will use them for is part of the process that connects our three year old with the food we serve. Now that we're figured out healthy food processes with him, our eleven month old is getting to the stage of refusing veggies. And so it begins. Again.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Homemade Pizza Dough

We eat a lot of pizza at Chez Neff. And by a lot, I mean at least once a week, sometimes more. We also have a lot of bread, ala Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. You can use their bread dough to make pizzas, and while the resulting pizzas taste excellent, the dough is extremely wet, and so not at all easy to work with. After multiple pizza disasters of the magnitude where you find dried sauce and cheese on cabinets doors days later....i ended up just buying pizza dough at the store for awhile.

You know what's cheaper, and better? Making your own!

It was time for an actual pizza dough recipe.

I like this recipe because the kitchenade does the work, you get two pizzas worth of dough (I freeze one), and its ready in under two and a half hours, which is doable for a work night. Enjoy!

Homemade Pizza Dough

2.5 cups of bread flour or all purpose (I sub in up to half wheat flour)*
1 Tbl sugar
2 Tbl extra virgin olive oil
1.5 tsp salt
2 1/4 tsp rapid rise yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water

Dump all of the ingredients into the stand mixer. Mix/knead with the dough hook for 10-12 minutes. Dough should be a nice elasticity ball, if not add a bit of flour. Separate the dough into two balls to rise, unless you're planning on making one super huge pizza.

If your house is a balmy 65 degrees like mine in the winter, you will need to create a warm place for the dough to rise. Preheating the oven at 225 for five minutes and then turning it off works pretty well.

*If you like big crusted pizza doughs, use bread flour. If you prefer more of a flatbread, use all purpose.