Category Archives:Crafting on the homestead

Homemade Pizza- Dos and Don’ts

One night after eating another frozen pizza, my husband informed me, “I don’t think we should eat frozen pizza.”

I took that to mean, “I don’t ever want to eat frozen pizza again.” So the next time we were going to eat pizza, I decided I would make it myself.

What he really meant, “We have been eating pizza too much lately.”

Since that miscommunication, I have been making pizza from scratch (except the cheese), and have learned a few dos and don’ts of pizza making that make homemade pizza pretty darn good.

The Equipment: DO consider buying a pizza stone and pizza peel

We have used both the special nonstick, “holey”, metal pizza pans and a pizza stone. The crust crisps up so much better on a stone than in a pan. Plus a pizza stone can be used for crisping the crust of artisan bread that can be made from scratch at home.

DO use plastic wrap instead of a towel to cover dough while rising

The dough recipe I use contains yeast so there is a rise time (my recipe says 30 minutes). Usually with all the other prep I do, my dough sits longer. In that time, I have had the top of the dough start to dry out. With plastic wrap instead of a towel, the moisture stays in the bowl, and then I don’t have dry bits in my crust while rolling out.

The Dough: DO use flour to roll out dough before placing on the peel

I prefer to roll out my dough than to toss it. However, if I rolled my dough on the peel with cornmeal, the meal would just get pushed into the dough causing the dough to stick once all the toppings were on. Now I roll my dough out with a bit of flour before covering my peel with corn meal.  This method also helped to reduce the amount of corn meal I had to use to get the pizza off the peel.

The Cheese: DON’T use pre-shredded cheese

I can’t stress this point enough. Just last week I made a pizza just as I normally do, but all I had was packaged shredded mozzarella cheese that I had been using for other recipes. When we sat down to eat the pizza, I was wondering why the pizza tasted off. Turns out it was definitely the cheese, because the next week when I bought a 5 lb block of mozzarella and shredded it, my pizza tasted amazing again!

Fresh shredded cheese is the key.

The Sauce: Up to you

We make our own pizza sauce, usually from our garden tomatoes or canned diced tomatoes, but when I first started making pizza at home I used canned pizza sauce.

A few things we have noted:

  • cooking the sauce before putting it on the pizza helped meld the flavor of the spices
  • adding some sugar sweetened it just enough
  • the canned diced tomatoes are usually too large so you may have to put the chunks in a processor or cut them before putting together your sauce

Weaving 101- Beginning a new chapter of craft

With some new babies on the way, one being my own, I’ve been feeling quite crafty! About 2 years ago my Super-Crafty grandma traded two bags that she created for a 4 heddle loom. After she had the loom for a few weeks, she informed me that I would be receiving this machine!

She hasn’t been able to work on her loom in over a year, so my time has come.  One weekend I spent about 15 hours, trying out the next addition to my fiber crafting. The best part was the loom was already prepped (warped) for weaving.

When using a loom, warping takes the most time and preparation in the process. Having a table top tape loom that I use for reenacting the Revolutionary War, has giving me a little experience warping.

You have to keep all the strands of thread under tension which can be tricky when putting thread through all the components of the loom.

So for this trip to grandma’s house, I was practicing different weaving patterns in towels to see what I liked. I also tried out two different fiber combinations, one in linen and one in cotton. The linen didn’t create as tight a weave (even when doubling the thread), however, this can be beneficial for absorbing more liquid. I finished two towels in linen, and started a third towel in cotton. The cotton pattern was looking great. I also doubled up the turquoise to thicken the pattern a little.

I look forward to getting the loom moved to my house! And I semi-look forward to warping my first project on that loom.

Dyeing to share this with you- Part 2

With flowers in full bloom, I spent a lot of time investigating my pasture and the ditches for plants to use for dyeing wool.

As I was doing my research, I realized I need to get things prepared before the wild flowers of summer and fall come in.

One of the things you need for dyeing is a mordant: “a translator that speaks both the language of the fiber and the language of the dye. It functions as a chemical bridge, binding to both the dye and the fabric more effectively than ether can bind to the other” (pg 18 of Harvesting Color).

There are commercial mordant powders you can buy, but I chose to make my own iron mordant.

According to Ms. Burgess’s recipe, iron mordant requires rusty objects, water, and vinegar.

I used an Oberweis milk jar, 6 cups of water, 6 tablespoons of white vinegar, and 1 pound of rusty nails.

After 11 days, I am still not happy with the amount of iron that has been added in the water.

I waited another 7 days to see if more iron would be drawn into the water. It took about 2-3 weeks for the rust to really come off and into the water.

Wow! 25 pounds of flour!

Upon moving to a remote little town, one bar- two churches- a post office, we had to rethink our grocery shopping strategy. Even the nearest fully stocked grocery store is about 20 minutes away. Shopping in bulk became a necessity.

If you told me a few years ago that I would be going through 25 pounds of flour every month, I would have thought you crazy. But here we are, on our way to become more self-sufficient! Not only has our quality of food improved, but also the cost of groceries have gone down. Although it may seem like mere pennies, the cost of sandwich bread ($3-4), hamburger buns ($2-3), brat buns ($3-4), and pasta ($1-3) add up.

Here’s a list all of the things I made with this particular sack of flour.

3 Pizza crusts

4 Pasta Dinners

 

7 loaves of sandwich bread

48 cupcakes and 1 smash cake

2 double crust pie crusts

5 brat buns

7 Dinner rolls/hamburger buns

 

Having made all of these items, I have concluded that I can’t go back to buying certain baked goods from the grocery store. Hamburger and brat buns are especially ones that I can’t buy. The time it takes to make them (8 mins kneading, 10 mins rest, shape and rest another 40 mins, 15 in the oven), is well worth the freshness and flavor without added preservatives.