A Pizza Dough Recipe

Day 94 of 365

It’s pizza season, and I love it. It’s the time of year when the tomatoes and peppers and onions are ready in the garden, and I make homemade pizzas with the freshest ingredients. I love homemade pizzas because they are not only delicious but also most of the ingredients are from the farm. It’s the cheese I have to buy at the store. We have no dairy from our farm. If we were younger, we would definitely have goats. But we are not, so I buy the cheese.

I wanted to share the pizza dough recipe because it’s so good and not too much work at all. You just have to plan and start it early in the morning to make sure it’s ready for cooking in the evening. I hope you enjoy and hope you will be able to make rounder pizzas than I can. I always say my cooking is a bit ugly, but it’s very delicious.

*This recipe is adapted from Alana Chernila’s pizza dough recipe in The Homemade Pantry.

Pizza Dough


6 cups all purpose flour (you can also mix this up and use some combination of wheat flour; we grind some wheat flour to mix with the white flour, but the total us about 6 cubes give or take depending on your flour)
2 and 1/2 cups warm water
4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
4 teaspoons olive oil (plus some oil for greasing your bowl)


In a very large mixing bowl, add your water, sugar, and yeast. Mix the ingredients a bit and let them sit for 5 minutes. When the yeast is bubbly in five minutes or so, add your oil and salt and then add the flour a couple of cups at a time. Mix and little and then add more. Keep going like this until you have added all of your flour. Once the dough is good and thick, flour your hands and then dig into it. You will form it into a ball and then knead it for about five minutes.

I have just one giant bowl, so I pull out the dough and set it aside and then wash the bowl. I then dry the bowl completely and then use olive oil to grease the bowl. Add your ball of dough, flip it, and then cover your bowl with ling wrap or a wet flour sack towel. It’s important that the dough does not dry out. Put the bowl in a warm place. In the summer, most everywhere is plenty warm. In the winter, you will need to place it near a stove or in an oven set to proof.

Let your dough right for about 10 hours. The longer the better. This recipe makes two very large pizzas or three medium pizzas.

To make your pizza, cut your dough into two or three pieces and roll them into circles. Add your sauce, cheeses, and then whatever fresh ingredients you prefer.

Cook in a very hot oven (about 450 degrees) for about 15 to 20 minutes for the larger pizzas and less time if you are making three pizzas. I check on mine often. Essentially, I just try to make sure the edges are golden brown and the cheese is bubbly.

Versatile Berry Muffin with Crumb Topping Recipe

Day 77 of 365

Raspberry season in hanging on in our part of Maine, and I have been making everything from raspberry smoothies to jam to muffins. I think my favorite are these muffins. They are beautiful and yummy, and my family and friends seem to love them. I adapted this recipe many years ago from several recipes, and I think they are just about perfect.

One of the things that is most perfect about them is that they are versatile. Right now, this recipe makes delicious raspberry muffins, but in a few weeks, I’ll make blueberry. And, after that, I’ll make apple.

These muffins are one of the many ways we eat from our farm or other local farms. And, I swear, they are so good they will make your heart smile.

Ingredients for Muffins

1 ½ cup of flour
¾ cup of sugar
½ tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ cup canola oil
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
almost ¾ cup of milk
1 ½ cup raspberries, blueberries, apples, or other fruit you love.

Ingredients for Topping

½ cup light brown sugar
⅓ cup flour
1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup soft butter


In a large bowl, mix all of your dry ingredients for the muffins together. Add the wet ingredients and be careful on the milk. It really does need to be a little less than ¾ cup of milk. After you mix the wet and dry ingredients, fold in your berries. Fresh berries are best, I think, but frozen works too.

For the topping, mix the sugar, flour, and cinnamon. After you have mixed those well, add ¼ cup of the soft or melted butter. The topping should be crumbling just a bit, so if it’s too moist, you can add a dab more of brown sugar or flour.

Put into a 6-muffin or 12-muffin pan and bake for 15 to 16 minutes at 375 degrees. This could be a little longer for the larger 6-muffin pan. Test with a toothpick. If it comes out clean, they are ready.

As soon as they are cool enough to work with, remove from the muffin pan and cool on a wire rack.

It’s a mad world, so I make jam.

Day 17 of 365

This has been my motto for some time. I had wanted to make jam for years before I was finally brave enough to try it. My great grandmother was a master jam maker, so jam is nostalgia and everything that is right in the world to me. And, right now, as the world gets madder and madder, I am really clinging to the jam.

You should have seen me the first year learned how to make jam. I think I must have made 80 jars. I sent them to friends and family all over the country. I just kept on and on making jam. I realized at some point that I was making it to deal with my anxiety, but the process really seemed to help me. On top of this, when I see people taste some jam that makes them smile, it feels like I have done some good in the world.

I feel so helpless otherwise. I write to my Congressional representatives on the regular. I have found that my letters are getting angrier and angrier, but what changes? Nothing.

So I keep making jam.

Last week, I decided to try to combine a few recipes and make my own kind of jam-jelly spread. It might sound like a strange recipe, but it is a little bit of heaven on toast. I made several jars as treats for our CSA customers, and my son said, “I’m not going to let this leave this house.” He loved it!

Since some did leave the house, I am making another batch this weekend and wanted to share my recipe with you.

After surveying my brilliant friends for advice, I call this recipe Rhuberry Jem with Vanilla Bean. It’s strawberry and rhubarb, part jam and part jelly (hence the “jem”), with a touch of vanilla bean. I’ll have to make another post and just share the recipe. But, tonight, any readers who follow me are getting my backstory with jam making. If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading. And, without further ado, here’s how you can make your very own Rhuberry Jem with Vanilla Bean.

Rhuberry Jem with Vanilla Bean


2 cups rhubarb juice (instructions below)
2 cups puree from fresh strawberries
1 package SureJell low-sugar pectin
4 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean

*You will also need 3 to 4 large or 6 to 7 small jam jars, and my favorite for gift-giving are these tiny tulip jars from Weck and a fine strainer or cheesecloth for making the rhubarb juice.


To make the rhubarb juice, you will need about 7 or 8 stalks of rhubarb. Cut them up into small pieces and put into the blender. You may have do this in two turns, so as to not overwhelm your blender. I had to do this with my old blender. Add about 1/2 cup of water each time and blend. After each blend, filter the blended rhubarb through the strainer or cheesecloth into a bowl or giant measuring cup. You will have to squeeze to get the juice out.

After you complete the rhubarb juice, remove the stems and blend about 24 ounces of strawberries in your blender. You want it to be a full puree, very smooth.

Combine your juices to make a total of 4 cups. It’s okay if the balance is not perfectly 2 cups of each, but you want to aim for pretty close.

Put the juice into a large pot (small and medium pots are dangerous for making jam) and bring to a simmer. It’s at this point that I scraped out the oily insides (the seeds) of the vanilla bean and add the insides into the mixture. Gradually add the sugar, stirring as you go. Next, add the SureJell. Make sure it is mixed in well. I use a whisk to make sure I get it all mixed in. I also had a few vanilla bean seed clumps I had to scoop out and give a little extra work with the whisk and put them back in.

Let the whole concoction simmer on a medium to medium-high heat for about 10 minutes. Keep a close eye and do not let it boil over. If it starts to, turn down the heat immediately.

At this point, your “jem” is pretty much made. Just ladle the yummy concoction into your jars and let it cool. If you like, you can water bath the jars and can have this treat many months from now. I did this extra step, but if you plan to eat it sooner, it is just fine in the refrigerator without being “canned” for many weeks.

The best part though is to wait until it starts to thicken but is still warm. Dip in your spoon and enjoy that warm coziness. I always try to give a taste to my son at this point too. It’s his favorite too!


I have a very quick Ruby and Kate update. Ruby is doing well, except that she was pretty upset when I forced her to walk around and take a break today. She settled down after a few minutes, and I could see it was really good for her to walk around and stretch her legs a bit–and use the bathroom. Moms need a break too. Kate was a struggle. I cleaned up her dog crate, put some eggs in there for her, and moved her out of the chicken coop into her very large and luxurious crate for baby hatching. She did not like this a bit! In fact, I don’t recall a broody hen ever being this upset about the move, and I have been doing this for years.

When I went to check on Kate one last time, she wasn’t even on the eggs and was pouting at the back of the crate. This may not work. I have moved about 20 or so broody hens in my years of doing this, and I’ve never seen one not get back on the eggs within a few hours of the move. I put one of the eggs under her tonight, couldn’t even find the other, and am trying to be hopeful. It may be that she’s just not going to do this, so I will give her one more day. If she just doesn’t want to do it, I’ll enlist Jane.

Orange Is the New Dinner Color (+ a recipe)

by Nicole Walker (guest blogger)

It was one of the battles my sisters and I usually hold. When my sisters and I get together, we choose a theme and have a contest to see who wins or who kills the guests by over stuffing them with too much food.

In June, we played Battle Yellow. I should have written down what we made because I forget the details of most battles. I think I made Elote. Valerie (my sister) painted a cake with gold flakes. Paige (my sister) made popcorn which, of course, won because popcorn is everyone’s favorite food group.

But this October visit, we planned Battle Orange. Paige stayed home in Salt Lake with the dogs since she had to work. We were all supposed to have driven to Mexico but Erik’s (my husband) passport didn’t show up in time for us to get our money back on the house we rented. Good thing we canceled. His passport arrived on Saturday–what would have been the last full day of our trip. Still, we made do here in Flagstaff, visiting Page Springs winery and eating dinner at Shift.

On Saturday, I wanted to host my friend Beya and her family, so my dear friend could meet my dear sister. Beya is mostly vegetarian, but she’ll eat fish sometimes. I saw the Arctic Char at Whole Foods. It’s a little pinker than orange but close enough. I had egg whites at home. We had mangoes. Butternut squash. Frank’s hot sauce. Oranges. Orange cheddar cheese.

Besides the Arctic char, we bought nothing besides carrots, cream, and chicken wings, which we sent our now-driving daughters to the store to pick up. My point? I didn’t leave the house except to watch Max’s football game all day Saturday, and yet Val and I made an pretty fine dinner for 11 for $32 plus whatever stuff we had in the house.

It turns out orange is the easiest color of food to imagine a menu. We’ve done Battle Green–which was also pretty easy. Battle White was great fun but trickier. I made hamachi crudo (again, remembering nothing else). Battle Blue was the hardest one because, as I shucked Blue Point oysters, I also shucked my own hand. Valerie took me to the ER even though she tells all of us she doesn’t do Emergency Rooms on the weekend, so you had best be careful. Battle Citrus was probably the winner. Paige made an excellent citrusy Cosmo, and Val made lemon capellini with caviar. I made duck with an orange sauce.

But the Battle Orange required very little effort of imagination. Butternut squash–what can we make? Ravioli with butter sage sauce. Mangoes and oranges? Add some jalapeno, onions, avocado, and strawberries and make a salsa topping for the Arctic Char. Of course, Valerie won with the Buffalo wings She cooked them in the oven for almost two hours, then she tossed them in a bucket of butter and Frank’s hot sauce. Beya, as a vegetarian, didn’t eat the wings, but they were the first to go. She has two teenage boys.

For vegetarians, I almost always make a souffle, so why not make a souffle? I already had separated egg whites in the fridge. The girls brought home the carrots–which are orange. Cheese is orange. Eggs are yellow and white, but we can work with that. I made a souffle from mostly memory.

The ravioli was the big project. I had to climb up and over the fridge to summon the pasta machine. I don’t make pasta nearly enough. Why don’t I? A holdover from Keto days? Flour all over the kitchen? Probably time, but with this recipe, it’s so easy. I stole the whole kit and kaboodle (I originally wrote cat and caboodle) from the Internet, as one does. I didn’t read until just now that the lady who makes this freezes half of the ravioli and the sauce is only enough for 4. But actually, I didn’t read how much sage-butter sauce to make. I just put a stick of butter in a pan, as I did for the souffle. I had planned to make an orange beurre blanc for the Arctic Char but sometimes, a stick of butter in every other portion of the dinner is enough.

Butternut Squash Ravioli



  • 1 ½ cups Semolina Pasta Flour
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose Flour
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt


  • 2 ½ lbs butternut squash (peeled and roughly chopped)
  • 8 whole garlic cloves
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon dried sage
  • salt and pepper (to taste)


  • 4 tablespoons butter ((½ stick))
  • 10 whole fresh sage leaves
  • ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese



  • Combine all pasta ingredients and mix together to make a stiff dough. Knead by hand or in a stand mixer with the dough hook on medium low speed for 10 minutes or until dough is elastic. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and let rest for at least 20 minutes. On a lightly floured surface roll out to desired thickness and cut as desired.


  • Toss the squash with the garlic in a bowl with just enough olive oil to evenly coat everything. Roast on a baking sheet at 400oF for about 45 minutes until soft. Remove from the oven and mix in a food processor to combine – slowly pouring additional olive oil into the mixture until the consistency is smooth. Add parmesan, dried sage, and salt and pepper, to taste. Use this filling to make the ravioli.


  • Combine butter and fresh sage leaves in small sauce pan. Heat over low heat for at least 15 minutes to infuse the butter. Then, increase the heat just a bit (take care not to burn) and stir continuously until the butter browns slightly and the sage leaves crisp. 


  • Use a ravioli press to add and seal one teaspoon of filling in between each pasta sheet. Dip finger in water and wet edges of pasta before adding second sheet to allow for a nicely sealed ravioli. Use a roller, gently pressing down, to seal them up. Be sure to heavily flour the outside of your pasta to enable easy release.
  • Boil the ravioli in plenty of salted water until just done. This will only take a short time! The ravioli will float on the surface of the water when they are finished. Carefully remove and drain. Serve with sage butter, a sprinkle of toasted pine nuts, and a generous amount of grated Parmesan cheese.


 recipe makes 6 dozen ravioli

  • To cook: toss the ravioli in salted boiling water for just a few minutes until they float.
  • To freeze: line a baking sheet with parchment paper and add a single layer of the homemade ravioli. Set in freezer and once completely frozen, they can be added to a resealable plastic bag. Be sure to squeeze out as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn.
  • Making the pasta: I prefer an even mix of semolina flour to all-purpose flour. It gives the pasta great texture and chew, plus it’s insanely easy to work with. The addition of olive oil to the dough can be tasted in the final pasta – YUM! You must kneed your pasta dough for a solid ten minutes. If you want to do this by hand, more power to you, but pasta dough is not a soft dough like bread dough, so you’re in for a workout. I highly recommend using your Kitchenaid mixer. You have to be sure to cover the dough and allow it to rest. This process allows the gluten to do whatever gluten does to make pasta wonderful.
  • To roll out the sheets of pasta dough to make your homemade ravioli, you can roll it on the counter by hand, but I highly recommend using a pasta roller. I’ve used the KitchenAid pasta attachments before, and while they certainly are easy to use, there is something so satisfying about rolling pasta dough in a quality made in Italy pasta roller. Just be sure you use enough flour to avoid any sticking in your pasta machine.
  • When forming the ravioli, be sure to have floured all of your dough generously so that it releases easily from the mold.
  • Sauce amount – Since I typically don’t cook all of these ravioli (I cook some and freeze the rest), the amount of sauce in this recipe is perfect for my family of four. If you’re planning on cooking ALL of the ravioli at the same time, you may want to double or triple the sauce amount.

If you made it to the end of the recipe, fine reading work, friends. You have been indoctrinated in the 14-page essay before the recipe. Also, because I’m not a pure plagiarist, I linked to the original ravioli recipe. But one of the goals of this blog post is to get you to Valerie’s mustard-selling website, The Curvy Spoon, because Battle Mustard is coming, and we want you to be prepared.

The Exhausted Parents’ Guide to Roasting Pumpkin Seeds

by Heidi Skurat Harris, guest blogger

Every year, I take my son to pick a pumpkin at a local church fundraiser. He uses two criteria for selection:

  1. The pumpkin must be perfectly round and unblemished.
  2. The pumpkin must be perfectly clean.

As anyone familiar with pumpkins knows, those criteria make the perfect pumpkin as common as the Great Pumpkin.

This October 16th, 2021, we found the perfect pumpkin in about 20 minutes. In truth, we found it in the first 5 minutes, but we had to look at all of the rest of the pumpkins (and some twice) before my son could, with confidence, select said pumpkin. I tried to convince him to pick a lumpy, gnarly pumpkin that looked really cool, but apparently because I’m in my mid-40s, I don’t actually know what “cool” means.

(I mention the date because I would like credit for taking the boy pumpkin hunting a full two-weeks before Halloween while there were still a lot of pumpkins to choose from, which almost never happens.)

For the remainder of this blog, I will call the perfect pumpkin Phyllis and my son Darby.

Darby clocks in right at the 25th percentile for height and weight on the pediatrician chart. He can still fit into some 4T clothes and has trouble meeting the height requirements on fair rides.

He’s a little guy.

Phyllis, on the other hand, would clock in at 75th percentile for weight and height at the gourd doctor. If she were a cat, she’d be a chonk. If she were a Starbucks drink, she’d be a trenta–a full 31 oz. of pumpkin spice love. 

She’s a hefty girl.

I paid by circumference, so by my estimates, Phyllis was approximately $10 more expensive than a grocery store pumpkin with similar qualities. But I shop local.

Phyllis and her favorite reading material–photo courtesy Heidi Skurat Harris

Pumpkin carving is an activity that  parents both cherish and dread. It’s the fall version of egg dyeing at Easter–fun in theory but the clean up makes you thankful that you don’t have to do it again for another year. My kids pester me to do it for about two weeks leading up to the event and then lose interest about 2 minutes into the work because “This is hard!” and “I HAVE PUMPKIN ON MY HANDS! GET IT OFF RIGHT NOW BEFORE IT DESTROYS ME!!!”

The first step in our pumpkin transformation is scooping out the guts. Unlike human guts, Phyllis’s guts are delicious (unless you’re a zombie, and then the former are more satisfying).

While Darby is slashing at Phyllis (supervised, of course), I bake Phyllis’s delicious innards, in particular, her little pumpkin children. My favorite part of Halloween is not dressing up or handing out candy. My favorite part is roasting pumpkin seeds. I have often thought about buying 12 pumpkins just to get the seeds, but the carving…

Here’s how I roast pumpkin seeds. It’s not an old family recipe that reminds me of my grandma Hattie’s house and her checkered apron. You’d probably get about a dozen better recipes just by Googling “roasting pumpkin seeds.” But it works for me and probably will for you as well.

Recipe for Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

1. Rinse all the pumpkin intestines off of the seeds in cold water. Like dealing with your Uncle Bob at Thanksgiving dinner while he tells the same story he told last year, seed rinsing takes time and patience. And just as you won’t be able to stop Bob before he gets to the dicey part of his story, you won’t get the seeds fully clean, and, in either case, it really doesn’t matter.

(At this point, you can brine them with salt and water at a boil for 10 minutes, or you can just be lazy like me and skip this step.)

2. Dry the seeds.

3. Season the seeds. Because I am, according to my children “basic,” I use olive oil and salt. You can get fancy, though, and use paprika, black pepper, cumin, garam masala, rosemary, thyme, pumpkin spice, or cinnamon.

For a lower sodium version, you can season them with the tears of your children when their Phyllis-o-lantern doesn’t turn out exactly like the photo on the pumpkin carving instructions.

4. Bake the seeds. I always forget what temperature and what time to bake them for, and every year I promise to write it down and don’t. I have a gas oven, and I bake them slowly at low heat (300 until they’re crispy, flipping once). You know your oven better than I do. So set some heat and watch them until they are done, which will be at least 20 minutes.

5. Let the seeds cool.

6. Store the roasted seeds in a bowl with a tight lid on a high shelf so your kids won’t sniff them out and eat them all in 10 minutes.

My roasted pumpkin seeds are best served with pumpkin ale or spiced cider or a glass of white wine or red wine or, let’s face it, pretty much any beverage that makes you feel better about scraping pumpkin innards off your ceiling fan.