Growing Organic Potatoes

Growing Organic PotatoesI don’t have a green thumb, but thankfully when it comes to things like growing organic potatoes and tons of other produce, my mother, sister and brother-in-law do.

Two weekends ago it was time to start digging up the potatoes in the big garden on the homestead. My mom’s a seed-saver, which means she carefully keeps seeds from the produce she’s grown (mostly heirloom and all organic) to use for planting the next season’s crops.

Digging up organic potatoes by hand

In this case, all the potatoes in these rows are from just a few russet, white and red potatoes she kept and planted. There are various machines you can use to unearth the potatoes (which ideally grow just a couple inches under the soil), but my mom pulls hers out by hand – or by pitchfork.

Voles eating organic potatoesMy urban farmer sister, Josie, happened to be visiting from Brooklyn this weekend, so she was giving some of the odd-looking potatoes a once-over.

Some had a greenish hue, which means they grew exposed to light. You don’t want to eat those – they become toxic and can give you an upset tummy.

Other potatoes had been chewed on. Yes. CHEWED. The spuds with bite marks were completely underground (a little deeper than the un-gnawed ones), which means whatever was eating them also had to live underground. The culprits? Well, we don’t know for sure, but my sister believes them to be voles, which are little mouse-like rodents.

The good news is, when you have inedibles pulled from our garden, they don’t go to waste. Some scraps head to be composted, but many get delivered to the chickens – which they LOVE.

Chickens eating organic potatoesConvenient, right?

My mom planted only a handful of potatoes. When all’s said and done, and each row was unearthed, we ended up with a bounty that weighed in at over 100 pounds. ONE HUNDRED POUNDS! Just from a few organic potatoes.

I love sustainability.

Spring House Manor Farm Visit

A couple weekends ago my husband and I were invited to visit Spring House Manor Farm, about 10 minutes away from our old house in Frederick. The owners of the farm are Abby and Tony Brusco, ALSO known as the owners of Hometown Harvest (blog sponsor and organic+local grocery delivery service extraordinaire!).

Spring House Manor Farm

The Brusco family moved out to Spring House Manor Farm a little over a year ago, and they wanted to share the experience with me and fellow blogger Rachel. The farm’s property is stunning, backing up to the watershed and full of lush, green pastures.

It was quiet, serene and only a stone’s throw from downtown Frederick. Perfect, right?

A group of 12 of us (including the Brusco kids) gathered to tour the small farm, complete with chickens, a family garden and big plans for moving the Hometown Harvest offices and warehouse to a chunk of their acreage in the next couple of years.

We ate a large farm-style dinner outside under a tent, adjacent to the beautifully restored farmhouse and the small orchard. Two of the recipes (lasagna rolls and summer couscous salad) were inspired by recipes on my blog – a terrific surprise!

Hometown Harvest Farm Lunch

Rachel, who grew up in the city, wrote a really great recap of our visit here (complete with lots of photos), and since I’m still getting our house in order after the move to my parents’ farm and don’t have time to write a longer post (yes…it has happened!! More to come….), I’d suggest you visit hers for all the details. We had a tremendous time!

Hometown Harvest is a blog sponsor, which means I’m being compensated for things like spreading the word about what they do. Interested in learning more about their delivery service in Maryland, Washington DC and Virginia? Click here for all the details!

Seared Shrimp with Whole Wheat Pasta

Whole Wheat Shrimp Pasta

I’m a big fan of pasta.

Like, I could eat it just about every night if given the chance.

The other evening we needed a quick dinner thrown together after a busy afternoon of dance practice, a lacrosse game, errands and work. Pasta’s great because most of the time the entire meal can be cooked in 20 minutes or less, from start to finish.

I also had a slew of beautiful veggies from my Hometown Harvest delivery that screamed, “PASTAAAA!!!!”

Seared Shrimp with Whole Wheat Pasta

So, naturally I whipped up a quick seared shrimp with whole wheat pasta (angel hair, to be exact), and as part of the sauce I sauteed organic sliced cremini mushrooms and green onions, and then topped the whole thing off with a sprinkling of fresh basil and diced Roma tomatoes.

And Parmesan. Love Parmesan.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Seared Shrimp with Whole Wheat Pasta
 
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Delicious, easy and quick weeknight dinner!
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 bag frozen raw jumbo shrimp, thawed and peeled - tails removed
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt + 2 tablespoons for the pasta water
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 6 oz whole wheat angel hair pasta
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup sliced cremini mushrooms
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 1 Roma tomato, diced
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil
Instructions
  1. Set a large pot of water with 2 tablespoons of salt on the stove to boil.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle the shrimp with 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Add the shrimp to the skillet, and let them cook for 3 minutes on one side. Flip them, and continue cooking for another 2 minutes. Remove the shrimp to a plate lined with a paper towel.
  3. Add another tablespoon of olive oil and the butter to the skillet. Once the butter has melted, add the mushrooms, ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Saute them for 2 minutes and then add the green onions and continue for another minute.
  4. Add the angel hair pasta to the boiling water and cook it for 3 minutes. Meanwhile, add the milk to the mushroom mixture, turn the heat up a little and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, add ¼ cup Parmesan, and continue cooking until the pasta is finished - the sauce will reduce a bit.
  5. Drain the pasta and toss it into the skillet with the mushroom sauce. Add the shrimp, tomatoes and basil, and continue tossing it gently until the pasta is coated. Serve with the remaining Parmesan and a loaf of crusty bread!

Disclosure: Hometown Harvest is a blog sponsor, which means I’m compensated for spreading the word about what they do, my experiences and the deliveries I get. Interested in signing up? Click here and make sure to tell them I sent you! All opinions are my own, and I only work with brands whose missions I support!

Easy Homemade Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

I started making all of my own pizza dough last year after watching my sister and soon-to-be brother-in-law make theirs the past few years during our family vacations at Smith Mountain Lake.

Lemme tell ya, homemade pizza dough is crazy simple to make. EASY-PEASY. (Even though I know lots of people think otherwise.)

While my usual recipe calls for all-purpose flour, this month I’m following the #HH30Days Real Food Challenge, so I made an easy homemade whole wheat pizza dough (with only 5 ingredients!) instead.

whole wheat flour

After mixing the yeast with warm water (140°F to be precise, but I prefer to just use my wrist – not hot, but very warm), I just let it sit for about 10 minutes until the mixture starts to look kind of foamy.

whole wheat pizza dough yeast

Then, I let my KitchenAid + dough hook do all the kneading work for the next 10 minutes. This is followed by 30 minutes of rising (mixing bowl is covered with a towel and set in a warm oven that I’ve let preheat to 170°F and then turned off), one punch-down, re-kneading by hand for a minute, and then more rising for about 15 minutes.

whole wheat dough rising

I always roll our pizza dough out to a thin crust, and this works especially well with whole wheat pizza dough which can get too chewy if it’s really thick. (My personal opinion, anyway.)

whole wheat pizza dough rounds

When it’s about 1/8″ thick, and baked in a super hot oven, this whole wheat pizza dough turns into a deliciously crispy chewy crust that keeps me fuller longer than its traditional all-purpose counterpart and can also withstand lots of fabulous toppings.

whole wheat dough rolled

This recipe makes 8 personal-sized pizzas, so I’ll use 4 immediately, and then freeze the remaining 4 for the next time we’re having pizza. The frozen dough thaws out nicely overnight in the fridge, but I’ve also thawed them in the microwave when I’ve been in a pinch!

Easy Homemade Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

Here’s the finished pizza, baked at 500°F for 4 minutes and smothered with fresh mozzarella. I’ve also topped mine with local organic crimini mushrooms and organic scallions from our last Hometown Harvest small fixed bag – YUM!

And, there you have it: easy homemade whole wheat pizza dough (with only 5 ingredients)!

Easy Homemade Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Easy homemade whole wheat pizza dough recipe made with only 5 ingredients!
Author:
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 1-1/3 cups very warm water (about 140°F)
  • 3-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 170°F. As soon as it's done preheating, turn it off.
  2. Combine the yeast and water in the bowl of a KitchenAid (or similar) mixer fitted with a dough hook. Let it sit for about 10 minutes or until you notice it starts to look foamy.
  3. After mixing the flour and salt together in a separate mixing bowl, add it to the water and yeast, turn the mixer on low for 30 seconds, and then increase the speed to medium-low for another minute longer. When the ingredients have come together, increase the speed to medium and drizzle in ¼ cup of olive oil. Let the mixer continue kneading the dough for 10 minutes; the dough should look smooth.
  4. Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and shape it into a ball. Coat the dough ball with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, place it back in the mixing bowl and cover the top of the bowl with a towel. Set the covered mixing bowl in the warm oven for 30 minutes. Remove the dough (it should have almost doubled in size), use your fist to punch it down, knead it by hand for a minute, reform the dough ball and then set it back in the warm oven (covered) for another 15-20 minutes.
  5. Cut the dough into 8 equal sized pieces for individual pizzas (if you're going to freeze some, just place them in a freezer-safe zip top bag and throw them in the freezer at this point). Roll each pizza to ⅛" thick, top with sauce, cheese and other toppings, and then place it atop a pizza stone that's been preheated to 500°F. NOTE: I leave the pizza stone in the oven and use a pizza peel coated with cornmeal to slide my prepped pizza dough onto the stone.
  6. Cook the pizza for 4 minutes, or until the cheese is melty and the edges are golden. Let the pizza cool for a minute before slicing and devouring!

Disclosure: Hometown Harvest is a blog sponsor, which means I’m compensated for spreading the word about what they do, my experiences and the deliveries I get. Interested in signing up? Click here and make sure to tell them I sent you! All opinions are my own, and I only work with brands whose missions I support!

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