Sunday easy livin’…

We took a trip down to West Chester to pick up some seasonal items to plant in the new vegetable garden. Our timing probably could have been better – it’s still hot and we’re off on to the West Coast on Thursday – but when ya have a new toy, ya gotta play.

We have several different greens, beets, and garlic in the ground. The garlic will just set there over the winter. The beets and greens are definite fall crops. Beets. This should be interesting because Victor has always disliked beets – well… of the canned variety, anyway. I’m thinking a roasted beet soup when it’s cooler. And a way to can them without pickling… We shall see.

In the meantime, we’re setting up a sprinkler so Donna – our Nonna-sitter – can just turn a faucet while we’re gone.

I was off work early on Saturday, so I made a biga – an Italian starter for bread – and baked fresh bread on Sunday after we got back.


  • 1/2 tsp active dry yeast (or 1/10 package fresh yeast)
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 1/4 cup water (room temperature)
  • 3 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Stir the yeast into the warm water and let stand until creamy – about 10 minutes.  Stir in the remaining water and then the flour, one cup at a time.

Mix with the paddle attachment on the mixer at the lowest speed about 2 minutes.

Remove to a slightly oiled bowl, cover, and let rise at cool room temperature for 6 to 24 hours.  The starter will triple in volume and still be wet and sticky when ready.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

While that was sitting on the counter, I made a pot of sauce.



No recipe. It just has all sorts of stuff in it – onions, garlic, roasted red peppers, ground beef, roasted eggplant, fresh and canned tomatoes…

Ya just make this stuff. Really. Throw things in a pot, let it all simmer, and serve it over spaghetti. Really.

And then the bread.


The Pane Pugliese really is one of my favorite rustic Italian breads. Crusty crust, light, tender crumb. Bake some! The recipe comes from my favorite Italian Bread Book, The Italian Baker by Carol Field. Buy a copy – you will not be sorry!

Pane Pugliese

adapted from The Italian Baker by Carol Field

  • 1 packet dry yeast (or 1/2 package fresh yeast)
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 3 cups water; room temp
  • 1 cup biga
  • 7 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp salt

Proof the yeast in the warm water. Add 1 1/2 c water and the biga, mix till blended. Add flour and salt, mix till dough comes together and pulls off the sides of the bowl. Knead 3-5 minutes in a mixer, longer by hand. Dough will be very soft and elastic. Let rise about 3 hours, shape into 2 small round loaves or 1 big flattish one. If you have baking stones, place loaves on baking peel or on baking sheets sprinkled corn meal. Let rise about 1 hour. Preheat oven to 450°, and 10 minutes before baking flour the loaf tops and dimple them with your fingers. Bake 50-60 minutes for big loaves, 30-35 minutes for small. Tap the loaves to test for doneness (hollow=done) and cool on a rack.