Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Sourdough Pizza Crust

Today Sourdough Pizza Crust was on my menu for dinner.  I was kind of wary about trying a different pizza recipe on my family, because we have a tried and true version from my mother that I grew up on... but I decided to throw caution to the winds, and give this recipe a whirl.  I was incredibly amazed at how FAST this came together... and how AWESOME it tasted, and how EASY it was to make.  Makes me wonder why I waited so long to get on the sourdough pizza bandwagon?!

First you start with an active sourdough feeder.  I had just "fed" my sourdough a couple of hours earlier, and had it in my oven with the oven light on to keep it warm.  It was bubbly, and ready!

After adding only oil, flour and salt (find recipe here), in just a minute or two, the dough looked and felt like pizza dough.  The recipe said it should sit for 30 minutes to relax.  But - I wasn't relaxed, kids were hungry, and the oven was hot at 500 degrees, and so after letting the dough sit for about 10 minutes... it was time to move on to the next step - forming the dough on the pizza pan.

After placing a bit of olive oil on my pizza stoneware, the dough rolled out like a dream.

The recipe called for baking the pizza crust first for 7 minutes to cook the crust before adding the toppings.  Then you take out the pizza, brush the top of the crust with olive oil, and add your toppings.

Then it goes back in the oven for another 5 minutes or so, just until the cheese has melted, is bubbly and lightly browned.

This is the second pizza I made - my kids only like pepperoni, and I like to add extras to mine. Tonight I added pineapple, green onion, basil, and green pepper.  Sometimes I like to add olives as well.

And the finished pizzas.  All told - from the time I started making the dough, until we ate the pizzas - 45 minutes!  No kidding!  I've never made homemade pizzas that went that quickly!

One last look at the sourdough pizza before it was devoured... and it was really so good!

Two things that impressed me about this pizza:

1) The crust was not at all doughy.  Many times when making homemade pizza, it is hard to get the crust to be crisp and done without any "doughy" parts, especially when adding lots of toppings.  This crust was not like that at all.  It was perfectly done!

2) Making the sourdough pizza went so fast that I couldn't believe they were ready to eat in 45 minutes!  When your sourdough starter is bubbly and ready to go, sourdough pizza can happen in a hurry, which is a huge benefit!

Overall - a huge thumbs up for sourdough pizza... if you haven't jumped into the sourdough world yet - you really need to!  I'm always willing to share sourdough starter if you live handy to me, or you can purchase your own through the Cultures For Health website (which is where I purchased mine)... and it comes with very handy instructions, and tons of recipes available on their site.

I used the Cultures For Health sourdough pizza recipe, and you can find it here.  I doubled the recipe, as the recipe only called for one pizza crust.  One pizza crust just won't work in this house. If I'm going to put forth the effort to make pizza, I like to make lots, because pizza makes tasty leftovers!  (I'm already looking forward to lunch tomorrow!)

My kids - who are quite honest, and share exactly what they think about new recipes -  gave the sourdough pizza a thumbs-up, and I agreed.  It makes me happy to know just how quickly the sourdough pizza comes together, and beyond that - how good it is for you, with amazing flavor as well.  It will be on our dinner menu again - very soon!  

Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Glorious Sunrise with the Song of the Geese

Since we have had such a foggy, rainy weather pattern the last few weeks, when the sun comes out - so does everyone else!  No one wants to be inside when the sun is out and sharing its glory with us.

This past Saturday, I woke up to a beautiful covering of snow, just enough to cover everything, and I knew it wouldn't last.  I got up to let the dogs out, and considered going back to bed to sleep some more (since it is the weekend you know!),  but then I looked outside and saw this!

SNOW! And Roger wasn't too sure about it!

Oh what an amazing sunrise!

The dogs were just about as excited as I was to see the snow!  All our snow disappeared weeks ago, and it is only February - and even as I saw the snow, knowing it wouldn't last, we decided to make the best of it!

The dogs began to play, romp, and roll in their excitement of the fun white stuff!

Oh the great thoughts dogs must have...

I wonder if they were enjoying the sunrise, as I was?

Such beauty abounded on this glorious morning!

Amazing colors!

Annie immediately began to roll her nose in the snow...

She found a tennis ball and she and I began playing in the snow...

Isn't she just darling with the dollop of snow on her nose!

Our darling snow princess!

Roger was enjoying the snow himself, perhaps not as much as Annie, but he was happy about it all!

Roger enjoys eating the snow more than anything!

Because the day had such promises ahead (how could it not after that glorious sunrise!), I poured my coffee into a disposable cup, quickly dressed, and headed down the road with my camera in tow...

Loved seeing the snow covered roads and trees - after all, it is still February!

The sun's rays were gallantly pushing through the fog.

Off to the northeast, the fog was still hanging low over the mountains.

Loving the gentle rays of the sun shimmering as they pushed through the fog.

As I continued my drive, the sun and de-icer put out by the snow plows was already at work, melting away the snow.

I followed the path of the river as it wound between the mountains...

Oh the beauty of it all!

I couldn't help but marvel at the brilliant color display playing out before me, and the silent stillness of the water.

What a treat I was enjoying!  The sun, clouds and sky as a backdrop against the majestic mountains... sheer joy I tell you!

I took so many pictures of the color display - and now I can't decide which are my favorites.  I will try not to bore you with too many!

But it was such a glorious experience to see the unfolding beauty in the skies, that I couldn't help myself.  Each picture seemed more beautiful than the last one!

 The stark beauty of the trees outlined by the water below...

The long range zoom lens on my camera was able to capture these ducks as they waded in the chilly water yards away from me.

See that little outlet above in this picture - that is how far away the ducks were - and how fun it is to play with a lens that can capture detail from such a distance!

There was just a light dusting of snow on the landscape - just enough to bring sparkly joy into every place you looked!

There were so many geese out early this morning, and their calls to each other I'm sure spoke certain gloom about a crazy lady holding something long and black in her hands - beware - beware - I could almost hear them say to each other....

Even the weeds had a certain beauty that I couldn't pass by!

As I tried to get closer to the ducks and geese - they didn't understand that I just wanted to watch them.  As soon as I got closer to them, they would swim away...

At last, I was able to get a close zoomed in picture of these lovely quacking souls!

Loving how the trees are reflected in the still cold water.

And now the clouds!

The geese just were not happy with me out there - at all.  Fly, fly away - danger, danger, danger, I'm sure they were calling out as they flapped their wings and squawked at me...

Here is a short video that I took of the amazing sunrise and the geese who were filling the air with their voices (be sure to turn your volume up).

Such gentle still beauty abounding everywhere!

 I loved how the water was picking up the contrasting colors of the sky and trees around it.

These two geese had landed alongside the road and decided to cross it.  I was hoping no cars would come around the bend, as I watched them navigate their way across the snowy road.

 The still serene peaceful beauty of it all so early in the morning was music to my soul!

 Even weeds sticking up out of the water had a certain beauty to them...

 Rich colors abounding on every hand...

Majestic mountains standing tall to the north...

With their still snow-covered peaks glistening, and beckoning in the bright sunshine...

 The water reflecting, catching, and sharing the exhilarating views from above...

... The geese enjoying their cold habitat, talking loudly among themselves...

 I enjoyed watching them through the zoom lens of my camera as they played in the cold waters.

Here is a short video clip taken with my zoom lens, I apologize for the wiggle - I did not have my tripod with me... be sure to turn your volume up, and ignore the clicking sounds from the camera as I adjust the changes in lighting.


 After listening to the song of the geese, and watching the sun complete its ascent into the sky... I drove a little farther down the road and stopped to walk down this trail for a short distance... as it was such a pretty day, and I wasn't done exploring.

This trail actually winds around and just past the pond where the geese were landing, and there was a whole different perspective here.

I walked the trail a short distance and saw this log rolled up against two other trees, creating the perfect place for a short rest after the climb up the side of the mountain.

 The view up here was great.  I can imagine how lovely this all looks in the summer when it is green with wildflowers waving in the breeze.

As I enjoyed the stillness and quiet - there were no geese on this end of the pond - this friendly robin came out to visit with me.

He (or she) was happily chirping away, twittering here and there, looking for breakfast, I suppose.

Oh how lovely it is to see a robin in February - spring surely must be here!

 He flew away a short distance to perch on the scrap pile of brush, and sang a beautiful song.

I soon realized that time was passing when my kids called me with breakfast concerns.  Time had passed so quickly as I had been entertained by the sunrise and the geese, but it was time to get home, and get back on track with the rest of my day.  I certainly enjoyed every minute of my time this morning watching the brilliant sunrise while the geese entertained me with their morning song. Moments like this are rare and wonderful, and when you find them, you savor and enjoy them knowing they are fleeting, moving quickly, but find yourself refreshed and renewed in the wake of realizing they have passed.

I pray that your day may be blessed with sweet moments of precious beauty that stir your soul and cause you to praise the Creator by which this beauty was made that we enjoy.    :)