Sugar overload – oops!

Strawberry cookies

Sugar. Sugar. Sugar. Sugar.

That is running through my head right now at full speed. Know why? …… I just ate six cookies.

One thing I knew when I started Pig Dog Farm & Bakery was that I’d have to try any new recipe – and old ones just to make sure the quality is still there. What I don’t think I fully realized is that because there are a variety of ways to make a cookie – that I’d have to eat each variation to find the perfect one.

Today, I wanted to try out a strawberry cookie idea and also a St. Patrick’s Day idea. I started with my base sugar cookie recipe and divided it. The first 12 were for a snickerdoodle order for today – but I had the other 12 to play with.

So, I took half (six cookies) and added strawberry puree. The other half (another six cookies) I added green food coloring.

St. Patrick’s Day cookies

I am very happy with the strawberry cookie – though I think it could have a stronger strawberry flavor. The green cookies – were great because they were the normal recipe, just green.

Then, came the frosting dilemma. Do I use buttercream? Nah, too sweet… Cream cheese? Maybe… Plain? People don’t want a plain cookie… Lemon glaze? Ohhh… are we on to something?

Either way though…in order to know which is best…you have to taste them. Hence me eating six cookies already today.

I still have not decided which cookie combination is the best – so I’m going to make my husband be the guinea pig when he gets home.

Have an idea for the frosting? Let me know! Comment below.


Making cookies…in a jumbo muffin tin?

What?! You don’t have to bake cookies on a cookie sheet?

Nope. You don’t. Shocking, I know.

In my quest to create the best peanut butter cookie a home cook can make, I decided to try baking them in a jumbo muffin tin! (turns out other people have thought of this, too…)

Surprisingly…or not surprisingly…these make really delicious cookies that don’t spread out too much.

My peanut butter cookie recipe has no butter. Just peanut butter, sugars, an egg, vanilla, baking soda and a teensy bit of flour. So, in the science of it, these are very likely to spread.

The muffin tin keeps them from spreading and helps the baking soda rise even more. It is amazing.

If you’ve never used a jumbo muffin tin to bake…I highly recommend you try it. You will have to check, check and triple check your cookies as they bake so you don’t burn them – or make them over browned on the bottom. But, let me tell you… it works.

Chat with ya next time on the next new baking hack I discover!

(Also, thank you to my mother-in-law who got me the jumbo muffin tin. Love ya!)


Spring flowers getting ready for full bloom

Yellow daffodil

Spring is my favorite season. Everything gradually wakes up from the winter nap and pops of color fill the world. Around this time in South Carolina, some early flowers start to bloom – giving a peek as to what is ahead.

Right now, in my yard, I have calendula, petunias and daffodils.

Spring flowers getting big!

Soon, there will be tulips, irises and Hyacinth. I can’t wait for them to pop.

I’ve also got some seeds started for late spring/summer flowers including multiple kinds of sunflowers, a variety of zinnias, marigolds, cosmos and strawflowers. This will be my first year with strawflowers and I can’t wait to see how they’ll do. I also have an abundance of lilies and dahlias that I am looking forward to this year.

So, I ask, what are your favorite flowers? Have you had success in growing them? Let me know.


Potting up plants – what does that even mean?

Good Sunday morning!!! I’ve been busy already today potting up tomatoes and eggplant.

But what exactly does potting up mean?

When you start seeds in a smaller seed tray, the plants can only get so big and stay happy for a short time. Just as kids grow and need bigger shoes, plants grow and need a bigger space for their roots.

That’s why gardeners have so many plastic or biodegradable pots around. As the seedlings grow out of their first home, we “pot them up” to the next size.

For tomatoes, this also helps strengthen the stem. If you’ve ever noticed, there are what look like tiny hairs all over the tomato stem/stalk. When put in the dirt, those “hairs” create roots and help make the plant stronger. That’s why when you pot up or plant out tomatoes, you bury them deep, so those hairs help the plant grow strong.

There are some plants, like squash, however that you don’t want to start in a small seed cell. You want to keep the roots in tact until you plant them in the ground. Many people don’t pre-start squash plants because their roots are so finicky but I’m trying to out run the squash vine borer this year, so I started them early and am hoping for the best.

Some plants, you don’t want to start early in cells at all. Those include carrots and, for me, nasturtium. Both like to be direct sown and left alone to flourish.

Got any questions about starting seeds and potting them up? Drop me a note or comment below.


Testing recipes to make the perfect bread or cookie

New peanut butter cookie recipe testing

Before I even think about offering a loaf of bread or a cookie, I want to make sure it is the best.

When I first started thinking about selling homemade sourdough bread, I was making a full rye loaf that was inconsistent and didn’t stay fresh. Not good.

So, I found a new recipe. I made it dozens of times – tweaking as I made it each time to make it my own – before I was comfortable with the finished product.

Then, I gave some away. I had people try it and give feedback. Only after that long process did I put it out in the universe that I could sell it. And even since then, I’ve worked on my recipe.

There’s nothing worse than looking forward to something only to find it wasn’t what you thought you were getting.

I also like to try new recipes – and tweak them to make them my own. I do a lot of research before I bake anything new – including recipe reviews, ingredients the recipe uses and what’s the baking process. If you read enough recipes, you can tell right away if something seems off or if it just won’t taste good. You also have to tweak a recipe based on how you mix ingredients and how your oven bakes.

Snickerdoodle cookies

Because of this, there is an abundance of baked goods at my house that aren’t for sale yet. I like to give a sample to someone with an order that day – and ask for feedback. I’ve approved some experiments – and paused others until I can do more research.

That’s how I decided to sell the snickerdoodle cookies. I made up a batch and people loved them. I first used a King Arthur recipe and have since tweaked it to suit my tastes and how I like to do my cookies. I’ve even taken requests from people and now do a full whole-wheat loaf and a sandwich loaf.

Today, I tested out a new peanut butter cookie. The ones I make are good – and I’ve sold some already, but I want a more peanut buttery cookie that comes together easy and stays soft. You’d be surprised how hard it is to pack strong peanut flavor into a cookie.

As Pig Dog Farms & Bakery grows, I want to hear from you! What cookie or loaf of bread would you like to see? If you’re willing to go along with an experiment and give feedback, I’d be happy to try anything new. Let me know!

To get any of my current offerings – CLICK HERE.


A short peek at what’s growing on Feb. 21.

Feb. 21, 2021

There are only 30 days until the last frost here in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

30 days!!! That’s exciting.

I am ready for some warmer weather, growing tomatoes, blooming flowers and bees. I miss the bees. Today, I planted some sunflowers, cabbage and peanuts so they can sprout and be ready to put in the ground when it warms.

Even with all the seedlings on the porch, there are still many things growing, happily, in the garden right now. Here is a short video of just a few of the better-looking winter items.

Enjoy!


It is officially, official. The bakery is open.

Well, as it states above, this is real. We’re in business. If you read this post…well, Pig Dog Farms & Bakery is set.

I can’t believe it and I am so excited. We even have a new logo! Thanks to Design and Word for your hard work on it. I think it perfectly shows Piggy’s smile.

Right now, I am still working building customers and trying out new recipes, but things have already grown from when I first thought about the idea.

There are quite a few new varieties of cookies and I am now doing a loaf-style sourdough bread in addition to the round loaves.

Burned cookie of the left. Remade cookie on the right.

I’ve also had some fails… like not correctly making snickerdoodle cookies and having them burn on the bottom. OOPS!

In the future, I hope to have more direct customers and also set up at one of the farmers markets. Let me know which one in the Myrtle Beach area is your favorite! I like the Conway market and the one at Market Common.

If you’re in the area and interested in an order, you can see what I have HERE. I also can try a new cookie by request. Bake a cake by request and try a new style of bread. Just send me a note.


Winter gardening

A winter harvest

Today in Myrtle Beach, S.C. it is 39 degrees F and raining.

A typical winter day for us on the coast. It has been a bit rainier than normal, but not by much.
Even with the cold and rain, it doesn’t mean that gardening has stopped here. In our zone 8b, gardening is year-round.

Right now, I have lettuces, onions, peas, broccoli, mustard greens, 3 types of kale, cilantro, kohlrabi, pak choy, calendula, swiss chard, carrots, parsley, oregano, fennel, dill, collard greens, and garlic.

Carrots fresh out of the dirt

Under a cover, I have started radishes and spinach. In the seed starting area, I have tomatoes, peppers, marigolds, zinnias, eggplant, cabbage, broccoli and mustard greens. These, as they grow with heat mats and are moved in and out of the sun, will be ready for spring when the ground has warmed.

It was just last year that I bought the heat mats to start seeds earlier than March. It has helped get a jump start on the season. It also extended my season because the plants are ready to go and then new ones can be put in their place when they’re finished.

Collard greens with frost

Winter garden crops also need less attention. There aren’t as many bugs, it rains so you don’t have to water as much and the plants are hardier than delicate square or tomatoes.

However, that doesn’t mean they don’t need to be checked and fertilized. Because of the extra rain, nutrients in the soil can be washed away faster – so you’ve got to feed your plants. As Martha Stewart says, you have to eat and your plants have to eat.

So what can you do if you don’t live on the coast like me? Well, you can have a green house. You can have a cold frame or you can plant some herbs or smaller items on a sunny window sill. You can also enjoy a break from digging in the frozen, cold dirt and dream of spring and summer.

Camellia

Winter is a great time to plan and many gardeners also order their seeds during this time of year. If you’re craving winter vegetables and you’re not growing them – contact your local farmer. See what they’ve got in the fields right now. Because there are not many farmers markets in the fall and winter, buying some of their produce will likely help them out a lot.

Got questions about winter gardening? Send me a note or comment below.

Also, stay tuned this week for some exciting news!


Wait, she does cakes, too?

Italian Cream Cake with cream cheese frosting and pecans

Fun News! I am now taking custom cake orders. I’ve always loved baking cakes and usually only got to do it for birthdays, but now, I’m ready to bake for you!

Baking has always been something I love and turn to when I’m stressed.

I got into baking when I was about 8 years old.

It started by helping my mom make cookies. This is when I learned there is something about measuring and mixing together ingredients – and then eating a warm cookie out of the oven – that just makes me happy. I find it very relaxing.

When I was in my teens, I pretended I had my own baking show – whipping up cakes, cookies, waffles and kuchen. Kuchen is a German dessert that my grandma, great grandma and aunt taught me to make. It is a family favorite.

Now, more years that I like to admit later, I’ve decided to share these tasty goodies with you!

And boy, have I been busy. For the weeks of Jan. 18 and Jan 24, I have baked 27 loaves of bread and 11 dozen cookies. That is a heck of a lot, but I absolutely loved every minute of it – including waking up first at 4:15 a.m. to feed “Sally” my sourdough starter and then at 6:30 a.m. to get everything mixed up before my full-time job. I’m tired, yes, but happy.

If you’re interested in anything, please let me know! I have a new order page HERE.

I can also ship! I sent two dozen cookies to Bismarck, N.D. and a loaf of bread to Minot, N.D. and everything arrived in a timely manner and still tasting fresh. Just let me know – email at pigdogfarms@gmail.com.