From our friends at KING ARTHUR FLOUR: Crispy Cheesy Pan Pizza
Out of all the styles of pizza, we’ve chosen Crispy Cheesy Pan Pizza as our 2020 Recipe of the Year.
With its crispy golden edges, gooey layer of cheese (right to the edge!), and thick yet delicate crust, it has a texture and taste that make you want more. Plus, the crust has just five simple ingredients: it’s easy to pull off in a home kitchen.
Our recipe incorporates four baking “tricks.”
An untraditional, nearly no-knead method of folding the dough creates airy pockets in the crust. An overnight refrigerated rest allows the dough time to develop maximum flavor. Baking in a cast iron pan makes an audibly crispy crust for your flavorful assortment of toppings. And finally, the unique layering of cheese beneath the sauce acts as a barrier to minimize sogginess.
1/3 to 1/2 cup (74g to 113g) tomato sauce or pizza sauce, homemade or store-bought
freshly grated hard cheese and fresh herbs for sprinkling on top after baking, optional*
Weigh your flour; or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess.
Place the flour, salt, yeast, water, and 1 tablespoon (13g) of the olive oil in the bowl of a stand mixer or other medium-large mixing bowl.
Stir everything together to make a shaggy, sticky mass of dough with no dry patches of flour. This should take 30 to 45 seconds in a mixer using the beater paddle; or about 1 minute by hand, using a spoon or spatula. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to gather the dough into a rough ball; cover the bowl.
After 5 minutes, uncover the bowl and reach a bowl scraper or your wet hand down between the side of the bowl and the dough, as though you were going to lift the dough out. Instead of lifting, stretch the bottom of the dough up and over its top. Repeat three more times, turning the bowl 90° each time. This process of four stretches, which takes the place of kneading, is called a fold.
Re-cover the bowl, and after 5 minutes do another fold. Wait 5 minutes and repeat; then another 5 minutes, and do a fourth and final fold. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest, undisturbed, for 40 minutes. Then refrigerate it for a minimum of 12 hours, or up to 72 hours. It’ll rise slowly as it chills, developing flavor; this long rise will also add flexibility to your schedule.
About 3 hours before you want to serve your pizza, prepare your pan. Pour 1 1/2 tablespoons (18g) olive oil into a well-seasoned cast iron skillet that’s 10” to 11” diameter across the top, and about 9” across the bottom. Heavy, dark cast iron will give you a superb crust; but if you don’t have it, use another oven-safe heavy-bottomed skillet of similar size, or a 10” round cake pan or 9” square pan. Tilt the pan to spread the oil across the bottom, and use your fingers or a paper towel to spread some oil up the edges, as well.
Transfer the dough to the pan and turn it once to coat both sides with the oil. After coating the dough in oil, press the dough to the edges of the pan, dimpling it using the tips of your fingers in the process. The dough may start to resist and shrink back; that’s OK, just cover it and let it rest for about 15 minutes, then repeat the dimpling/pressing. At this point the dough should reach the edges of the pan; if it doesn’t, give it one more 15-minute rest before dimpling/pressing a third and final time.
Cover the crust and let it rise for 2 hours at room temperature. The fully risen dough will look soft and pillowy and will jiggle when you gently shake the pan.
About 30 minutes before baking, place one rack at the bottom of the oven and one toward the top (about 4″ to 5″ from the top heating element). Preheat the oven to 450°F.
When you’re ready to bake the pizza, sprinkle about three-quarters of the mozzarella (a scant 1 cup) evenly over the crust. Cover the entire crust, no bare dough showing; this will yield caramelized edges. Dollop small spoonfuls of the sauce over the cheese; laying the cheese down first like this will prevent the sauce from seeping into the crust and making it soggy. Sprinkle on the remaining mozzarella.
Bake the pizza on the bottom rack of the oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and the bottom and edges of the crust are a rich golden brown (use a spatula to check the bottom). If the bottom is brown but the top still seems pale, transfer the pizza to the top rack and bake for 2 to 4 minutes longer. On the other hand, if the top seems fine but the bottom’s not browned to your liking, leave the pizza on the bottom rack for another 2 to 4 minutes. Home ovens can vary a lot, so use the visual cues and your own preferences to gauge when you’ve achieved the perfect bake.
Remove the pizza from the oven and place the pan on a heatproof surface. Carefully run a table knife or spatula between the edge of the pizza and side of the pan to prevent the cheese from sticking as it cools. Let the pizza cool very briefly; as soon as you feel comfortable doing so, carefully transfer it from the pan to a cooling rack or cutting surface. This will prevent the crust from becoming soggy.
Serve the pizza anywhere from medium-hot to warm. Kitchen shears or a large pair of household scissors are both good tools for cutting this thick pizza into wedges.
Tips from our Bakers
Our base cheese of choice is a block of low-moisture mozzarella, coarsely grated. Want to experiment with different cheeses? Choose those that melt well: Fontina, cheddar, Jack, provolone, Gouda, and Muenster are all good candidates.
Want to add your own favorite toppings beyond red sauce and cheese? Vegetables or meats should be cooked before arranging them in a single layer atop cheese and sauce. Feel free to experiment with other sauces, too; pesto or white sauce are great alternatives to tomato. One hint: To avoid potential sogginess, stick to the same quantities and layering process for sauce and cheese listed above.
For an extra hit of flavor, sprinkle freshly grated hard cheese (e.g., Parmesan, Asiago, Romano) and/or fresh herbs (oregano, basil, thyme) over the hot pizza just before serving.
If you’re serving the entire pizza (no leftovers) right away, you can serve it right from the pan if desired. We don’t recommend using a knife to cut the pizza in the pan; it might mar your cast iron’s surface. Instead, after loosening the edges, use a spatula to partially lift the pizza out of the pan, then cut a wedge using a pair of standard household scissors or kitchen shears. Remove the wedge and repeat until you’ve cut and served all of the pizza.
Feeding a larger group? Double all the ingredients in the recipe and follow the recipe instructions as written, dividing the dough into two pans (mix and match from the choices listed in step #6 above).
Planting Seeds! Spring Is Sprung – Time to Get Busy Outside…
From Our Friends At The Sierra Club Magazine-
As an urban farmer for the past 20 years, I have seen interest in urban farming wax and wane. During economic good times, it’s often treated as a novelty—“Oh look, this lady has goats in her backyard. How cute!” During, say, a recession or a pandemic, though, the thought process shifts: “Look, this lady has goats in her backyard. Let’s get some too!”
Going to the grocery store in the time of COVID-19 feels like an act of desperation. What if you could cut down on hours spent braving masked lines and spend more time traipsing through your own safe backyard to pick some kale for dinner? I’ve always found that growing my own food feels liberating, but these days, it feels urgent.
Much to my chagrin, over the course of good economic years, I got rid of my rabbits, then my goats, then my chickens, and finally, two years ago, my garden. When I moved into a North Oakland duplex with a concrete driveway and wild backyard, I didn’t even try to grow stuff at my new house. I figured I could just buy eggs and vegetables.
Then the coronavirus hit
Sheltering in place, I could suddenly see all the possibilities around me for gardening; it rekindled that spark to grow my own food again. Following are nine ways to get your COVID-19 victory garden off the ground.
Watch the sunlight
Your most important consideration? How many hours of direct sunlight your garden will get. To get a good yield from tomatoes, kale, zucchini, eggplants, peppers, and potatoes, you will need at least six hours of direct sun on your plants. Firing up my new COVID garden, I spent a few days taking note of where the longest stretches of sunlight hit the driveway. Then I placed raised beds—horse stock tanks, drilled with holes on the bottom and filled with potting soil—in those areas.
Some crops don’t mind fewer hours of sunlight: lettuce, herbs like parsley and mint, spinach, and beets greens. But these plants still require at least four hours of sunlight. So I planted a few stock tanks with lettuce and herbs in a shadier corner of my yard.
My point is, before you dig or place raised beds, watch the sun move across your property—and this includes porches, balconies, and windowsills—for a few days. If there’s a sunny spot, think about how you can plant something there.
Expand your vegetable bed options
If you have a backyard with plentiful sun, and you know the soil is free of lead, I recommend you start in-ground beds—it’s how we tamed our wild backyard. I took pieces of wood and staked each corner to make three three-foot-wide, 10-foot-long beds. Then I dug into the bed-to-be, turning over soil and pulling out weeds and other debris so that the bed was simply fluffy-looking soil. Then I added three to four inches of finished compost to each bed and worked it into the bed with a broadfork. My soil looked pretty dark and rich, with plenty of earthworms—a good sign. But if your soil is sandy or pale, you will need to add more compost.
Lead in soil is one of the biggest problems facing urban agriculture—leafy greens and root crops uptake heavy metals in the soil into their tissues, so if you grow these vegetables in heavily leaded soil, you may be eating lead in your salad. Currently, the soil labs that test for heavy metals are closed, so if you haven’t tested your soil and want to grow leafy greens and roof crops, you are better off building raised container beds.
Growing in large containers:
If tilling up a backyard isn’t possible, there are other options for making beds. Be sure they’re at least 18 inches tall (deep-rooted crops like tomatoes need that much space) and use a mix of compost and potting soil that has good drainage. If you build beds out of lumber, use two-inch-wide solid wood, redwood if you want them to last. Another quicker option is to use stock tanks. The best ones for planting are made of galvanized metal, four to six feet long and three feet deep. Be sure to drill drainage holes at the bottom of these with a 3/8 drill bit. Add sand, rocks, or busted up pottery to the bottom to aid drainage. If stock tanks are sold out in your region, get a few galvanized metal trash cans. One trash can is great for growing one full-size tomato plant, four kale plants, or a medley of herbs. When gathered together, the trash cans can even look beautiful. Oscar-the-Grouch chic!
On windowsills, you can grow herbs like cilantro, mint, bunching onions, and basil in pots. Your pot size will be dictated by your windowsill size; most sills can hold a four-inch pot. Choose pots with drainage holes, and fill with potting soil. (I’ve also seen people use those red plastic beer cups to great effect, with a hole stabbed in the bottom.) Be sure to put a drip catcher under your pot. If your windowsill is especially hot, you might need to water daily. Snip the herbs as they grow. Another option is to set up a table at a south-facing window and arrange plants to grow there.
On balconies, you can use larger-sized containers. You can usually find free five- or 15-gallon black plastic nursery containers. If beauty is important to you, used glazed pots. Half wine barrels are also rustic and cute. People tend to want to crowd lots of plants into one container, but for a five-gallon pot, plant only one cherry tomato, or three herb plants, or one zucchini. These will need to be watered regularly—during a hot summer, that means at least every other day.
Grow what gives a good yield
To get the most nutrition out of your garden beds, I recommend growing greens, lettuces, herbs, and bunching onions all year round. These crops allow for multiple harvests over time and can be planted from seed. If you have extra room and loose soil, plant carrot and beet seeds. In the summer, the most productive vegetables are tomatoes, zucchini, and pole beans. For a family of four, I would suggest planting at least three tomato plants—one cherry, one a “canner” like Roma or early girls, one beefsteak or another slicer for eating fresh on salads. That same family would do well to have two zucchini plants and two cucumber plants. With beans you’ll want to “succession plant”—plant first seeds April 30, another patch May 15, another row May 30, and so on, so you’ll have beans to harvest all summer long. Don’t bother with garlic, corn (unless culturally significant), onions, leeks, or cabbages. These tend to take a long time to grow and are readily available at the store. If you have extra space, try growing pumpkins and winter squash.
To reap calories and a sense of fullness during these challenging times, go for potatoes. You can just use store-bought ones: cut into halves or quarters and wait for five days until the wetness calluses over. Then plant into trenches and cover shallowly. Continue to mound soil around the plant as it sprouts up. I’ve even planted potatoes in stacks of milk crates lined with newspaper and covered with potting soil. The potato plant grows out of the holes in the milk crate and makes a nest of potatoes in the milk crate. Not huge yields, but something.
If your goal is to eat more fruit this pandemic, you’re better off planting berry bushes, not fruit trees. Raspberries and strawberries planted right now will give you quite a few berries by the fall. But choose wisely—blueberries are usually a disappointment in terms of yield and require tons of water. Fruit trees won’t provide fruit for the first three years, but in the event that pandemics become a regular thing, and/or food scarcity increases over the next few years, it might be a smart idea to plant a few fruiting trees.
Get adventurous with seed variety
Thanks to a sudden surge in veggie gardening, seeds are already getting difficult to secure—a number of seed companies are scrambling to meet demand. Be patient; they will get you your seeds eventually. And pro tip: Don’t be picky when you order. Try purple pole beans if they don’t have Kentucky wonders. If they’re out of standard-shape zucchini seeds, go for the pattypan zucchini. Also, I have noticed that Asian vegetables tend to have better germination; plus they simply grow faster. Try Chinese cabbage, bok choy, or gunsho choi sum, an amazing-tasting Asian broccoli.
Also, many regional seed banks are stepping up and getting seeds into the communities they serve. Look into your local seed bank for a possible seed hook up.
Buy starts for warm-season crops
I like to buy starts for things like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. These are hot-weather crops that need to be started in a greenhouse to really thrive. Luckily, most areas have local plant propagators who sell to hardware stores, farmers’ markets, and nurseries. You are better off planting seeds for crops like beans, peas, squash, and cucumbers directly into the ground.
Know that seed-saving is advanced
Seed-saving, while amazing, takes a lot of time, and takes up garden space too. The original plant must be an open-pollinated variety—you won’t have success growing crops from seed from hybrid plants. But there are some easy crops to save seed from: cilantro, parsley, peas, and beans. If you’ve got an open-pollinated variety of tomatoes (most heirlooms are), you can save seed from them in the fall.
Don’t skip the flowers
Given the times, we might be inclined to skip the flowers and solely grow edibles. But I would argue that flowers are just as important as food crops. First of all, they provide food for our pollinators—and since we need these insects to pollinate our edible crops, why not entice them into your garden? Top pollinator attractors include borage, sunflowers, and lacy phacelia. Second, some flowers act as companion plants—marigolds, for example, ward off nasty nematodes in the roots of tomato plants.
Finally, beauty is important for our mental health
So plant some cosmos or sweet pea seeds, sunflowers, or bachelor buttons this spring. A simple bouquet of home-grown flowers on your kitchen table is a reminder that the earth loves us and that we are of this earth. In these trying times, this might be the most important truth to keep in mind.
As always, Johnson’s Sierra Lifestyle Team is here for you
Our web site is full of information for you whether you are looking to buy real estate, sell real estate or looking for information about the community, https://sierralifestyleteam.com/.
The Nevada County Real Estate Market In the Time Of Covid-19!
What’s up with the Market?
We’ve talked to many folks recently who give thanks that we are fortunate to live in Nevada County for lots of reasons, among them the low number of COVID 19 cases here and our ‘natural’ social distancing since we are already spread apart much more than urban environments. So, we give thanks!
Here is a snapshot of Nevada County RE activity:
What do those Numbers Mean!
Homes for sale are up 7.8% May vs April, but down 25% against a year ago. Homes Sold are flat May vs April, but down 38% vs a year ago and Homes Pending are up 180% May vs April, but down 19% vs a year ago.
We think, given all the challenges of the shutdown, those numbers look pretty good. The reality is that Real Estate in Nevada County is relatively healthy. Full time hardworking agents are busy. We are working with sellers to prepare homes to go on the market now and in the coming months.
And we are showing homes to prospective buyers, who, in this environment are not out there unless they are serious. No looky-loos!
What about prices, you say. Prices are up 10% May vs April, and up 3% this April vs a year ago. Prices are supported somewhat by less inventory, but we think it is the attractiveness of Nevada County especially during the time of pandemic. Our county is simply a safer place than others.
Days on market are a bit better, with houses selling 8% quicker this year vs last year and 19% quicker May vs April. Average of 81 DOM.
What about the future outlook?
It seems a no-brainer that Nevada County is more attractive than ever. We have seen for quite a while lots of Bay Aea folks moving here for the stellar lifestyle Nevada County delivers. Couple that with attractive home prices relative to the Bay Area, and now heightened sensitivity to safety, we are ripe for a significant boom as conditions normalize.
Johnson’s Sierra Lifestyle Team is working, here the assist you, and practicing safe social measures consistent with government, county and National Assn. of Realtors guidelines.
Open House will be virtual until safe conditions pertain. Showings will be conducted two clients at a time in the house, masks/gloves worn and we will utilize sanitizer on surfaces we cannot avoid touching (such as handrails, doorknobs, etc. We will travel in separate cars to maintain social distance. No tha1t does not mean we don’t like you ☺ We look forward to hugging days again!
We decided to learn how to make bread. First challenge was finding flour, but once we did, we made this simple hearth bread thanks to the King Arthur Flour folks. Really not hard to do and tasty! How to make a simple hearth bread, below.
Hearth bread: the name brings to mind an ancient kitchen fireplace, its blackened stone interior ready to bake one crusty loaf after another, doesn’t it? While very few of us bake bread in a fireplace hearth oven these days (or its modern counterpart, an outdoor stone oven), crusty/chewy “hearth bread” is still very much within our reach.
With very little necessary skill beyond knowing how to knead dough (or using a stand mixer to do it for you), hearth bread is accessible to just about all of you out there.
What is hearth bread, exactly?
It’s a crusty, chewy loaf made from the simplest of ingredients and baked directly on a baking stone or on a baking sheet, rather than in a loaf pan. Since our version of Hearth Bread is a “straight” dough (as opposed to one using some kind of starter, like sourdough), its flavor is mild: a hint of yeast, a touch of wheat, the perfect complement to main dish, soup, or salad.
You can make sandwiches with this bread; its sturdy texture means it’s especially good for panini, French toast, and grilled cheese. Toast it for breakfast; or let it dry out and make it into breadcrumbs, bread pudding, stuffing, or croutons. Looking for an all-purpose loaf? You’ve found it.
If you’re a seasoned bread baker, the following illustrated directions for making this bread will be old hat to you: mix, knead, let rise, shape, let rise, bake, enjoy.
But if baking bread is a new endeavor for you, following the directions carefully is your key to success.
Pulling these loaves out of the oven, you’ll feel the pride of accomplishment that hearth bread bakers have been basking in for over 10,000 years.
How to make hearth bread
This Hearth Bread recipe graced the back of our all-purpose flour bags for years; we daresay it’s given millions of bakers the confidence to tackle yeast bread. Are you ready to give it a go? Here’s what you’ll need:
A brief note on commercial yeast: active dry and instant
You’ll commonly find active dry yeast in three-pack strips on your supermarket shelf. This recipe gives you the option of using active dry yeast but not so-called “rapid” yeast — so pay attention to what you grab.
Instant yeast is more commonly available online than at the grocery store, and usually comes in a 1-pound bag. Considering a pound of instant yeast costs $5.95, and 3/4 of an ounce of active dry in packets runs about $1.99, it’s worth your while to spring for instant; it’ll stay good in your freezer for years.
You may have heard that yeast needs to be “proofed,” which means dissolved in warm water before using. This was a necessary step a few decades ago, but commercial yeast’s manufacturing process has changed: these days, you can simply mix either active dry or instant yeast with the rest of your bread’s ingredients, no proofing necessary.
“What?!” I can feel your angst, all of you who learned to bake bread back in the day. “You HAVE to dissolve yeast before you use it.”
If you choose to proof your yeast, mix it with 1/4 cup (57g) of the lukewarm water from your recipe plus a pinch of sugar, and wait 10 to 15 minutes; it should expand as shown above, which means it’s good to go.
Actually, you don’t have to dissolve yeast before using it. In fact, the one and only time I’d suggest doing so is if you question your yeast’s viability: maybe you’re using an expired packet, or the last little bit from a dusty old jar. In that case sure, go ahead and “prove” that it works by dissolving it in water to see if it comes to life. Otherwise, save yourself some time and skip this step.
OK, back to the recipe. Hearth bread dough is easily prepared by hand. Or if you have a stand mixer, go ahead and use it. A bread machine set on the dough cycle is also a good choice; simply let the dough go through the complete cycle, then shape and bake as directed below.
To make the dough by hand
If you decide to make the dough by hand, mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl, starting with the smaller amount of flour (5 1/2 cups, 663g). Mix thoroughly until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, adding more of the flour if necessary. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface to knead.
Fold the far edge of the dough back over on itself towards you. Press into the dough with the heels of your hands and push away. After each push, rotate the dough 90°. Be firm with your motions — but not so “firm” that you mash the dough onto your work surface and it sticks. This whole process may be a little messy, but don’t give up — practice makes perfect!
Fully kneaded dough is soft, smooth, and a bit bouncy.
Repeat this process in a rhythmic, rocking motion for 5 minutes, sprinkling only enough flour on your kneading surface to prevent sticking. Let the dough rest while you scrape out and grease the mixing bowl.
Baker’s tip: If your hands become unbearably sticky while kneading, “wash” them with flour instead of water. Water will just make your hands stickier; instead, grab a couple of tablespoons of flour and rub your hands vigorously. The sticky dough will turn into dry bits and fall off, so do this over your compost bin or a wastepaper basket.
To make the dough using a stand mixer
Place all of the ingredients in your stand mixer’s bowl, using the smaller amount of flour. You’ll want to reduce the amount of water to 1 3/4 cups (396g), since you won’t be using any extra flour on a kneading surface as you do when kneading by hand.
Mix all of the ingredients using your mixer’s dough hook until everything comes together, with no patches of dry flour remaining in the bowl.
Sticking with the hook, knead the dough at medium-low speed for about 7 minutes, until it’s smooth and just barely sticking to the bottom and perhaps the sides of the bowl.
Baker’s tip: When washing a bowl in which you’ve made sticky yeast dough, use cold water. Hot water will “bake” yeast dough right onto the bowl, rather than floating it off. Once the bowl is clean of dough, rinse it in hot water to finish.
Two batches of dough, one made with proofed yeast (left) and the other with yeast mixed directly into the dough without being dissolved in water first. After 90 minutes, the direct-mix dough (no yeast-proofing) has clearly risen higher than the proofed-yeast dough.
Let the dough rise
Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl or other container large enough for it to at least double in size. Cover with plastic wrap or your favorite reusable cover and place in a warm, draft-free place (your turned-off oven works well) until the dough doubles in size, about 1 to 2 hours.
Shape the dough
Gently deflate the dough, and move it to a lightly greased work surface.
Baker’s tip: Why a greased work surface, rather than floured? The more flour you add to the dough at this point, the drier your bread will be. A quick spritz of cooking spray onto the table is all it takes to keep dough from sticking as you shape it.
A bench knife and scale are two of the bread baker’s best friends.
Cut the dough in half; a digital scale is helpful if you want two equal-sized loaves.
Shape each half into an oval Italian-type loaf, or a longer, thinner French-style loaf. Here’s the best way to shape your dough: Working with one piece of dough at a time, gently pat it into a rough rectangle. Grab a short side and fold the dough like a business letter (one short side into the center, the other short side over it). Use the heel of your hand to press the open edge of the “letter” closed, then gently pat and roll the dough into the shape of your choice. Repeat with the remaining piece of dough.
Place the loaves on a baking sheet lined with parchment (if you have it) and generously sprinkled with cornmeal or semolina. The cornmeal or semolina are optional, but give the bottom crust lovely crunch.
Baker’s tip: Why choose semolina over cornmeal? It’s true cornmeal is more readily available, but semolina doesn’t burn and potentially become bitter like cornmeal might.
Drape the loaves with greased plastic wrap or a reusable cover. I use wide, heavy freezer wrap, since it covers the entire baking sheet and isn’t as liable to stick to the rising dough as thinner wrap.
Let the loaves rise
Let the loaves rise for about 45 minutes, until they’re noticeably puffy but definitely not doubled in size. They should be larger, but not feel at all fragile or “marshmallow-y.” This dough is a fast riser, so keep your eye on it.
Toward the end of the rising time (which may be as little as half an hour in), start preheating the oven to 425°F.
Ready the bread for the oven
Brush or spray the loaves generously with lukewarm water. This step enhances the bread’s rise; if the crust dries out too quickly in the oven, it sets and prevents the bread from rising fully.
Use a sharp knife to slash the tops of the loaves two or three times diagonally. Use fast, aggressive strokes: SLASH SLASH SLASH, all in under 5 seconds, and you’re done. Slowly and tentatively dragging the knife through the dough won’t work.
Don’t be a scaredy-cat; really slash that dough, going a good half-inch in. The dough may appear to deflate a bit, but so long as you get it into the oven immediately it’ll pick right back up.
Bake the bread
Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake the bread for about 35 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and a loaf, when rapped on the bottom, sounds hollow. The interior temperature of the bread should register at least 200°F on a digital thermometer.
Three batches of Hearth Bread cooling in the turned-off oven.
Take the loaves off the pan and return them to the oven, placing them right on the rack. Turn the oven off and crack the door open several inches. Let the loaves cool in the cooling oven; this will make their crust extra-crispy.
Since this bread doesn’t include any added fat (the lack of fat helps account for its nicely chewy texture), it’s best enjoyed within a day or two of baking. I usually slice off what I’ll use quickly, then slice and freeze the rest.
For easiest access I package four or five slices at a time in plastic wrap, then place all the packets into a larger plastic bag and freeze. When I want bread I simply pull out and thaw one of the packets. Toasted or griddled, the bread will taste fresh as ever.
Baker’s tip: When making grilled cheese, if your bread always seems to brown well before the cheese melts, try this: Layer cheese onto your bottom slice of bread, then microwave briefly, just to soften the cheese. Add the top slice and fry. Oh, and try this: spread bread with mayo, not butter. Mayo spreads easily, browns evenly, and tastes great.
And there you have it: Hearth Bread, a loaf whose very simplicity — both in ingredients and technique — makes it one of the foundation recipes of yeast bread baking.
Here’s to bread…and life. Here’s to good health of all. We love you!
Alisa Johnson writes about coping positively with significant change afoot:
Oh, how you have shifted our way of life. Although we had heard Covid-19 was coming, I am not sure any of us understood exactly how this would play out. I am a mother of two. One of which has an autoimmune disease. She receives infusion therapy treatments on a regular schedule and is considered “high risk”, so the news for me started a month or more ago coming up with a plan to keep her as safe as possible. In fact, I was coordinating short term independent studies at home once we heard Covid-19 was headed to the US. But just one day after that the schools started to close and new information was coming at me. It felt like a whirlwind between being prepared and being panicked. So, what I did is what I know how to do best. I started planning. I got some extra supplies for my home. Nothing over the top, just enough for a few weeks. I made a plan for my kids to be home and limited contact with friends and family to safe distance. Then I moved to my business. I started putting things in place to continue business as normal. I had nine homes in escrow at the time, seven active listings and nine new listings prepping to come on market. Although plans were in place and I was taking precautions, I am known as the cautious or protective one, so preparing was not a challenge. Some things we started immediately: Lysol door handles and light switches, carrying gloves and hand sanitizer, keeping safe distances while touring and keeping doors open for fresh air in homes we toured. Then, out of no-where, we got the information handed down, “Stay Home or Shelter in Place” per the State. This was not an issue as I thought Real Estate would be essential. It is currently not. Escrow teams were moving to home offices and mobile signings only, county offices were going to E recording only and so many other little details that would likely bore you.
I had a choice.
Either stay home, watch movies and eat popcorn, or figure how to continue to serve my clients the best way I could while respecting the governor’s orders. So here I am working from home, having now closed four of those escrows successfully during this time and preparing to close the others. All our listings other than vacant land are in escrow and we are carrying on. We have made changes how we do signings for escrows and so far, that has been great. We have changed how we “hand off keys” to new owners and handle property access for inspections. 100% of our work is handled online. I have started working with upcoming listings, providing online consultations, using technology to meet via video calls, or having owners upload me videos or pictures of their home so I can continue to offer market value reports and take listings that will go live later in April/May. Sellers also have extra time to get their home in top shape to be the best -looking property online when we do list!
What do I miss the most?
The interaction! I had to say good-bye to clients moving out of area over the phone, or over six feet apart with no hugs goodbye. I miss my team being in the office chatting almost daily and collaborating. Going forward our service to our clients might be coming across on a different platform but the core of who we are and how we do business is not changing. Technology is our friend and every day I am learning more tools to best serve my clients in the ever- changing world we live in.
HomeSmart & Our Team Institutes Significant Protective Measures!
Real Estate Update –
Real Estate is now listed as an essential business. Some tasks can be accomplished out and about, including showings, while observing the strict guidelines below. We are working primarily from our home offices, working on real-estate listings and buyer activities virtually as much as possible. In instances where it is necessary to show homes in person, we are observing state and local, CDC & HomeSmart guidelines detailed below:
The Big Question: May I Go Back to Work?
The Short Answer in The Counties We Primarily Operate as of 04/03/20:
El Dorado County:NO
***Operating in the unrestricted counties are on a AS-NEEDED, LAST RESORT basis.
See below for more details.
A MAP TO GUIDE YOU:
What are the recommended best practices that must be followed in all circumstances?
Showings should be done virtually, if at all possible.
All activities should be completed electronically, if at all possible.
Only a single agent and no more than two other individuals are to be in a dwelling at the same time during a showing. If other persons are necessary for a showing, they should wait outside or in their vehicles to observe the social distance guidelines.
Sellers are to be advised that they should not be present within a dwelling at the same time as other individuals. Sellers are to be advised that they may remain on the property or in the common area of an HOA but not in the dwelling unit itself while agents, buyers, inspectors or others are viewing it. If a seller insists on remaining on the property, that seller is to agree to the terms and sign the declaration (see below) that is required for persons entering the property.
Agents should read and understand the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on how to protect yourself. This is critically important!
Any persons on the property must agree to adhere strictly to the social distancing guidelines at all times by remaining at least six feet apart per the recommendations established by the CDC.
Any person entering a property shall provide by declaration that to the best of their knowledge, they are not currently ill with a cold or flu; do not have a fever, persistent cough, shortness of breath, or exhibit other COVID-19 symptoms; have not been in contact with a person with COVID-19; and will adhere to and follow all precautions required for viewing the property at all times. All persons visiting a property will agree to wash their hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer prior to entry, and to wear disposable rubber gloves and a protective face mask, if one is made available. In addition, sellers must disclose to all persons who enter the property if the seller is currently ill with a cold, flu or COVID-19 itself, or has a fever, persistent cough, shortness of breath or other COVID-19 symptoms, or has been in contact with a person with COVID-19. Further, if anyone who enters the property is later diagnosed with COVID-19, the person who is diagnosed must immediately inform the listing agent, who will then make best efforts to inform everyone who entered the property after the person diagnosed, of that fact.
Sellers and buyers must be expressly made aware of the risks of showing and visiting properties: that it may be dangerous or unsafe and could expose them or others to coronavirus (COVID-19). Sellers and buyers must be advised of their responsibilities pertaining to COVID-19 protocols regarding social distancing and other CDC guidelines.
The agreement of the seller allowing any person entering onto the property or into the dwelling must be expressly obtained from the seller. Apart from marketing and pre-marketing activities, a standard purchase agreement grants the buyer broad discretion to conduct various inspections and investigations. The seller should be apprised of their obligations under the purchase agreement so that they enter into such agreements with a clear understanding of the attendant risks.
To the extent possible, the use of various third-party services providers for non-essential services must be avoided and, where unavoidable, the providers must agree to sign an agreement to follow CDC guidelines.
REALTORS® should follow the above protocols when conducting any in-person interactions, but should refrain from any non-electronic unsolicited marketing during the COVID-19-related declaration of emergency.
Brokers should consider extending listings and putting a hold on marketing activities or other accommodations for those who, for health or other reasons connected to the COVID-19 virus, wish to stop actively marketing their property for the duration of the governor’s stay-at-home order.
Unless absolutely necessary, communications with clients should be done via electronic means or by telephone. In person conversations should be minimized unless absolutely necessary.
Best practices related to entering a seller’s property:
Listing agents should not leave brochures and flyers in the property but instead utilize any showcasing or other marketing features available through one’s MLS system to highlight the property.
All showings are to be held by appointment only.
Discourage anyone who does not need to view the property from attending a showing.
Agents conducting the showing should meet clients at the property and not drive the client to the property, so as to minimize risk. Information relevant for the showing should be provided in advance to the clients electronically. Keep in mind that MLS rules generally require agents to have obtained seller’s permission for client to enter without the agent being physically present.
Consider limiting in-person, non-virtual showings to “serious” potential buyers, who are those who have provided verifications of funds and lender prequalification letters to show they are able to purchase the property that is the subject of the showing.
Let the seller know well in advance that there is an appointment for a showing.
If using a lockbox, be sure to disinfect the key, the box, and the doorknob prior to utilizing.
When using disposable gloves, be sure to put them on prior to entry and to dispose of them after leaving each property.
Ask seller to turn the lights on and leave interior doors, drapes and blinds open. If the property is vacant, agent should ensure these tasks are taken care of prior to the showing.
Refrain from touching any surface during a showing.
As indicated above and following the CDC guidelines, maintain a safe distance from anyone in the property by staying a minimum of six feet apart.
If the size of the residential unit makes it difficult to maintain the six-foot distance for all parties attending the showing, individuals may need to wait outside and come in the property one at a time, at all times maintaining proper social distance.
Bring your own sanitizers, and gloves — don’t rely on others to bring them. If hand sanitizers are unavailable, liquid hand soap for hand washing should be made available.
Follow suggestions in the CDC’s Cleaning & Disinfecting Guide and provide this information to your sellers, advising them to disinfect the property according to those guidelines after the showing is complete.
Discussions after the showing with the seller or clients should be conducted through electronic means such as email, telephone, Zoom or FaceTime, rather than in person, as maintaining a conversation while adhering to the social distance guidelines is difficult.
For HOAs, have the seller obtain a copy of any new rules that may govern showings of common areas or entry to the property.
The following activities are permissible within these guidelines if all of the above best practices are followed:
Listing presentations should be done virtually if at all possible.
Planting for sale signs or have a sign company install the sign at the agent’s direction.
Having contractors or workers make improvements to the property.
The written approval of the seller for all pre-marketing activities must be obtained by the listing agent. No third party can enter the property if they have not agreed to follow CDC guidelines. Even for contractors and workers, gloves and other protective gear are mandated, as is the declaration that they are asymptomatic and agree to follow CDC guidelines.
To assist you, C.A.R. has released two new forms: One is a Listing Agreement Coronavirus Addendum or Amendment (RLA-CAA) for sellers and listing agents to sign, and the other is a Property Viewing Advisory and Declaration (PEAD) that is to be given to and signed by the seller, buyer, agents and anyone else who will be entering a property.
Taking photography using a video-based system. Keep in mind that the usual copyright considerations governing photographic images still apply.
Staging and de-staging should be virtual, not physical.
HOA site inspections. The seller should check with the HOA to see what, if any, new rules may have been put in place as a response to COVID-19 and make sure that any inspections conform to those rules, or that consent of the HOA has been obtained for any exemption to those rules.
Showing properties by appointment only (including rentals) to individual parties, one set of clients at a time.
No open houses, broker tours or broker previews. A virtual open house or showing scheduled for a specific time may be permissible with the approval of the seller, however sellers should be advised not to be present during such a virtual open house, or agree to sign the declaration regarding being asymptomatic and to follow CDC guidelines during any such showing.
REALTORS® should NOT BE conducting any face-to-face marketing during the COVID-19-related declaration of emergency.
The written approval of the seller for all marketing activities must be obtained by the listing agent. No third party can remain unattended at the property. For all persons entering the property, gloves and other protective gear are mandated, as is the declaration that they are asymptomatic.
26 Mar Covid-19 and Market Comments
BRYAN LYNCH MARKET OBSERVATIONS – THE VIEW FROM PROPERTY APPRAISING
This past two weeks has been a whirlwind to say the least. Early on, it was simply at times a shock and overwhelming as the corona virus pandemic news became a reality. As we’ve settled into our new environment, I’ve been impressed by the resolve of so many people to adapt and adjust. I hope all are doing the best they can through this. If need anything at all, please reach out. We all need to support and rally around each other.
For those obtaining a loan, this week Fannie Mae provided some temporary alternatives to a traditional full appraisal. These include either a desktop and/or 2055 Exterior Drive By. This new information has many scrambling to determine how this will go in the near term. For the most part, I’ve continued completing interior inspections following the inspection screening guidelines that have circulated among my profession. I’ve been and will continue being proactive with safety precautions at appraisal inspections (keeping social distance 6 ft away from parties (occupant(s) have congregated in one room or waited outside in some cases), gloves/masks/booties, etc. Before any inspection, I’ve discussed the above and screened clients so all parties are comfortable before meeting. If this is not a viable option, an exterior inspection is option as well.
Regarding the markets, it’s far too soon to gauge how the corona virus will impact the real estate market (both short and long term). Some properties have been placed on hold, taken temporarily off the market, showings limited, etc. This is new territory for us all and only time will tell the story of the impact (if any) on prices, marketing time expectations, buyer pool, etc. It will be very important to analyze active listings and pending sales post crisis date to see if that begins to indicate the market direction. Closed sales prior to Covid-19 may not be the best indicator for current trends. Again, the crisis is a fluid situation and very important to monitor the most recent market data as real estate professionals. Time will tell.
Have you ever had a dream, and knew that there was no way it could be achieved, and then the
unexpected happens and in a way, a different way, your dream has been realized?!
My dream had always been to own a bed and breakfast, ever since the Bob Newhart show when they
ran that sweet little Vermont inn. I remember searching online for B&B’s to buy, all way out of our
budget and geographic location.
We found our dream home in Nevada County
Years later, kids all out and starting their own lives, we moved, on a whim to a beautiful property in a
small rural town in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada’s. That little town, Grass Valley, has changed our
lives. The house was modest, but the property was magical and something that we would never have
imagined owning. Situated above three large bass ponds, and 5 minutes to downtown, it was 7 acres of
true beauty. Being run-down, and weeded over, our imagination soared as to what we could do with this
The house was single level and a long ranch style shape. The 2-car garage had been converted into a
large room with a kitchenette, attached to a hall with laundry, 2 bed and a bath and it’s own entry
through the large room. The rest of the house consisted of another large great room, kitchen, master
bedroom, and bathroom.
We absolutely loved living there, and our grown children loved visiting us. Upon one visit, my son told
me I should Airbnb out half the house. I had no idea what he was talking about, but when he told me
that we could rent the rooms out nightly (like a bed and breakfast) and that there was a website called
Airbnb.com, that would advertise it, and take the bookings, my very first reaction was,” I can’t have
stranger’s living in our house!” But then, after further thought, I realized that was exactly what I would
be doing if I did have my own bed and breakfast!
Getting started with Airbnb
I did some research about Airbnb.com and found out that it originated from 3 college students in San
Francisco who decided during a large event in the city to blow up some air mattresses and rent out their
rooms because the hotels were full. They developed a website to advertise and such. Well, that is the
very short version, but now the company is HUGE and all over the world.
After doing some cleaning, decorating, buying new linens and getting it just right, I took pictures and
listed my house on Airbnb.com! Right away I got a booking. We named our site after our property’s
name, Three Ponds. Our first guests were from Japan on a trip through the US. They were so much fun,
and I wasn’t sure yet, just how much interaction I wanted to have with our guests. I let them use our
kitchen, and they actually made us home made sushi! At that time, we didn’t have a firm division
between their space and our house, and the only thing that divided us was a doggy gate.
It wasn’t long, and many bookings later, that we finally built a door between our space and theirs. We
were getting bookings after bookings and enjoying each one. The first month we made $800! We were
ecstatic! We now know that most guests want to be left to their own accord, so after checking them in,
we usually don’t see them again. We leave them breakfast goodies so they can cook their own. They
enjoy the property, fish, boat, relax and pretty much do what they want. We have had many return
guests, trying out the different times of the year. Most of our guests are here to visit family, attending
an event at the nearby fairgrounds, some passing through on a trip, some come for the snow activities in
the Tahoe region, and some even have made Three Ponds their destination!
How Airbnb works
What I love about Airbnb is that they have built their reputation and a user-friendly website. The guests
can request to book your room or apartment (has a built-in calendar) You can basically “screen” your
guest (even after Airbnb has verified ID and such) so that you know they are a good fit. You can read
their past reviews from previous hosts to warn you of past problems. They also have a chance to review
you and your place after their stay. Each review is blind to the other. They can’t see yours until they
review, and you can’t see theirs until you review them. They charge a small service charge to the host
and a larger service charge to the guest. You can price your space whatever you want, and change the
prices for special days, holidays, weekends, etc. You can block days that you don’t want anyone to book
which we use for family to visit. Airbnb also takes care of the transit tax to the county that they charge
Airbnb offers an incentive program called Super Host. To achieve Super Host status, you must meet
certain criteria and high reviews. The reward of being a Super Host each year, is we receive a $100
bonus to use at our own stays of any Airbnb of our choice. Many guests filter for Super Hosts, so you
also get way more bookings than others.
Why we love being hosts!
Other than changing out the rooms when guests leave, it pretty much runs itself! It’s a great way to earn
passive income! We have tripled our average income on the Airbnb since our beginnings.
The platform is based on trust, but backed by a multibillion-dollar company, and provides a million dollar
liability insurance to the host. It is worldwide and in Nevada County alone has over 200 Airbnbs.
I’ve read the horror stories also, and am a member of many different hosts sites, and after 4 years of
hosting and almost 400 guests, I can honestly say we have had little to no problems with our guests at
all. Maybe because we live right “next door”, but the positives, all the wonderful people we have met
and the fulfillment of my dream has made our experience with Airbnb one of the best things we have