roasted butternut soup and soft pretzels

roasted butternut soup and soft pretzels

This recipe is from King Arthur Flour with some modifications.  I make my dough in a Kitchen-aid mixer with a dough hook.  I do finish the kneading by hand.


2 tsp instant yeast,  1 Tbs sugar, 1 cup warm water (100-105 F),  3 cups unbleached bread flour, 1/4 cup ground flax seed (optional, I like the taste and it’s good for my heart) , 1 Tbs olive oil (melted butter or any oil will work), 1 tsp salt


5 Tbs warm water,  3 tsp sugar,  2 tsp baking soda

Toppings: (optional)

pretzel salt or pearl sugar or cinnamon-sugar and melted butter.  I just sprinkle with sea salt.

Whisk together water yeast and sugar.  Add remaining ingredients and mix at low speed until dough is smooth and slightly sticky.  If it is too dry add cold water 1 Tbs at a time.  Knead by hand on a lightly floured surface, form into a ball. Place into a bowl with 1-2 Tbs olive oil and roll-around till ball is coated. Cover bowl with dish towel and let rest in a warm spot about 30-40 minutes ( dough should double in size).

Deflate dough (punch it), on a lightly floured surface Divide into 8 pieces.  Roll each piece into a 20″ rope. Shape each rope into a pretzel.

Mix together Wash (water, sugar and baking soda) in a shallow bowl.  Carefully dip into wash flipping to coat all. Place pretzels on to a backing sheet ( I lightly sprinkle sheet with corn meal).  At this point if I remember I sprinkle with sea salt.  They may be placed into a preheated 400 F oven now,  I like to let mine rest before I bake them for 10-20 minutes to get a softer pretzel.

Bake in a preheated 400 degree F oven for 12- 15 minutes until golden brown.  Remove and brush with belted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar ( I don’t do this).

This part might not be good for my heart, but it tastes SO GOOD.  I melt a half stick of butter to dip my warm pretzels in.  These are great with any soup.



When I first put the young chickens out in their coop,  I would lock them in for most of the time for a week.  This was so they would learn that the coop was safe and that it was where you go at night to sleep.  They learned this lesson with very little problems.  But, now that the weather is getting nice, they have decided to sleep in the run on the high roost.  OK, by me, the run is secure, chain-link dog run with chicken wire buried 18 inches in the ground.  I say they are camping out.  They did sleep in the coop the night we had a very close and severe thunder storm.

Chickens roosting for the night in the run.  5/22/13

Chickens roosting for the night in the run. 5/22/13

One of my favorite movies is “Julie and Julia”, part of the reason I blog.  For Christmas last year my mother-in-law gave me a new copy of “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” by Julia Childs.  I should add that it is now a two volume set.  I’m not going to “cook my way through it” like in the movie but I will cook from it.  So last Monday I had a lot of fresh asparagus that was to be supper.  I made (I’ll use the english name) an Asparagus Mold from Julia Childs famous cook book.  It was great, fresh asparagus and backyard fresh eggs.  I didn’t follow the recipe exactly, but, close enough.  My wife says I never follow any recipe exactly.  She liked it too. Sorry the picture isn’t great and I should have taken a picture before I served some of it.  The whole mold looked very impressive.  Just my opinion.

Asparagus mold from "Mastering the Art of French Cooking"

Asparagus mold from “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”



The Ashland, MA public library is starting an eight part fim series on food and health starting this Thursday the 11th of April.  The first film is “Genetic Roulette”, all films start at 7:00 pm.

We are what we eat.

Here is a link to the Friends of the Ashland library site about the series.

Hope you can go to some of them.  Well, those of you who read my blog and live within driving distance.


I’ve stated before that the 3rd reason I got chickens was the fresh eggs, now that I’ve been getting fresh eggs for almost 6 months I might have to move them up in status.  The eggs are amazing, and when I run out, I know there will be more next morning.  Like magic.

The first egg was a surprise.  The chicks came home April 4th, 2012, one day old, six little yellow fuzzballs. So when Jasmine laid the first egg on August 4th, my wife and I were very surprised.  Four months was just too early.  I had blocked off the nesting boxes so the chickens wouldn’t roost in them and Jasmine was making a fuss out in the leaves behind the shed.  Looked like she was trying to make a nest around her.  I went back a little later and this is what I found.


Jasmines first egg 8/4/2012

I opened up the nesting boxes and two days latter an egg appeared in the nesting box.  Then the eggs started coming. One-a-day, two-a-day, three-a-day ——— till we got to five-a-day.  The ladies (I have five hens) produced five eggs a day almost all fall.  On thanksgiving day our 500th egg was laid.  Amazing.  We are over 700 eggs a week ago and still producing.

With the colder temperatures and the shorter days there are more days with 4 eggs than 5.  Still very impressive.

“Mother Earth News” had an article on free-range eggs vs commercial eggs.  What I got out of it was that my eggs may contain:

  • 1/3 less cholesterol
  • 1/4 less saturated fat
  • 2/3 more vitamin A
  •  2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
  • 3 times more vitamin E
  •  7 times more beta carotene

than commercial eggs.  Lets see if we can set up a link to this article.  “Meet Real Free-Range Eggs”

Yesterday we got 4 eggs, here they are.


Two of the ladies lay large eggs, two lay regular eggs and Mini lays small eggs.


The Ashland Public library for some time has been showing documentary films with subjects about Global Warming, Climate Change, Nutrition, Our Food Supply and others. Last Tuesday they showed “Genetic Roulette” .  It was extremely sobering and thought provoking.  If you can, I would recommend seeing it. Maybe your library has a copy or might even do a showing for the general public.  If you have children, grandchildren, are pregnant or hope to be, I strongly recommend that you see this film.

Then you should write a letter—oops– send an e-mail to your congressman, senator, president and the FDA, thanking them for looking out for your health.


Up-date:  I felt very guilty telling you to contact your various representatives and not contact mine.  So I e-mailed my congressman, senators and the white house.  Thus far,I have received back  an automated response from  Senator Kerry’s office. Nothing else.

Here is a link to find your representative.

Here is a link to find your senator.


I received this action alert from NOFA about  a Monsanto Rider being considered in congress.


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