Sharing Our Knowledge
Alice's Recipe - Curried Greens and Eggplant
Aaah, the season of bounty. Harvesting and preserving are in full swing up at our homestead. Today we harvested three types of green beans, shallots, shiitake mushrooms, onions, basil, tomatoes, eight types of braising greens, okra, fava beans, peas, wheat, garlic, raspberries, blueberries, black raspberries, squash, broccoli, cucumbers, dill, lemon balm, anise hyssop, comfrey, and chocolate mint. We made dill pickles, raspberry fruit leather, blueberry fruit leather, lemon balm tincture, and calendula oil. We dehydrated shiitake mushrooms and hung to dry many bundles of herbs and several sheaves of wheat. We’re planting the last of our summer crops to ripen in the fall and early winter. We’ve got another couple of months to put up enough food to keep our winter diet nourishing, varied, and delicious.
But now is the time to enjoy the bountiful array of foods out our back door. Try this recipe for Curried Greens and Eggplant for a quick and delicious side dish. Our eggplant is ready to harvest, and we certainly have a great choice of wild and cultivated greens. Enjoy time harvesting in your gardens or supporting any of our local farmers, and enjoy time preparing a great meal for someone you love. These days are precious. Today I soaked up the sun, took delight in the songs of the birds, marveled at the stunning blue of the indigo bunting, reveled in the cool breeze, gazed at the ever-changing clouds, took pleasure in the aromas both inside and out, and enjoyed the fabulous flavors fresh from our farm. (8-9-13)
(Click here for the recipe.)
Alice's Recipe - Roasted Beet Salad
Wow, what a wacky growing season this has been! The extremes we've been experiencing are challenging. From drought to flooding, cold to heat and heat to cold, the conditions this season have been erratic and stressful to the plants. Our local farmers need our support to weather difficult growing seasons. Look for locally grown produce at locally owned markets and frequent many of the area farmers markets.
Despite the rivers that were flowing in our garden paths a week ago, our garden is producing beautifully. We've been eating loads of salad greens and radishes, and about fifteen different types of cooking greens. The strawberries and peas are coming on strong now. Lots of herbs have been enhancing our meals. Garlic scapes are ready, we still have a few stray asparagus stalks, and the rest of the garden is looking promising for abundant harvests. Here's a recipe for Roasted Beet Salad. It uses several types of vegetables and herbs that are showing up at area farmers markets.
If you have beautiful ingredients that you're trying to figure out what to do with, nab me the next time you see me wandering the aisles at the Creamery. One of my favorite games is “Recipe Improv.” Someone tells me ingredients that they have, and I suggest ways to use them. Sometimes I even surprise myself! My real-life, real-time version of that game is when Amy wanders in from the garden with armloads of gorgeous, just-harvested vegetables and fruits and I prepare a feast for us and whoever is joining us at our table that night. The possibilities are endless, and the results are spectacular.
Nourishing meals made from fresh, beautiful ingredients grown with respect for the earth and with gratitude, meals prepared with love and shared with friends and family -- life doesn't get any better than that for me. Enjoy the sun, rain, heat, cold, and whatever else gets tossed our way and remember to support our hardworking local farmers. I hope to run into you soon. (6-28-13)
(Click here for the recipe.)
Alice's Recipe - Mixed Vegetable Curry
Yahoo! Local foods are beginning to trickle in! It's a wonderful feeling, after a long day of hard work in the garden, to have supper with a little hint of the abundant bounty of just-picked garden foods soon to grace our table. We're planting seeds and tender little seedlings, trusting that they will transform into delicious food for our family, friends, and loved ones over the next year. But while we invest the hours of tender loving care, and hope that the weather cooperates and that the critters that like to share our harvest leave some for us, we have small harvests to sustain us until we feast. We're now picking greens, asparagus, perennial herbs, last year's parsnips and leeks, violets, and a few other odds and ends.
Now is a good time to use up the remaining stored and preserved fruits and vegetables from last autumn. Tonight I'll prepare a Mixed Veggie Curry, accompanied by Coconut Basmati Rice, Dal, Pear Chutney that we canned last fall, Raita prepared with sunchokes from our garden (instead of cucumbers), and a nice pot of my famous Chai to finish the meal. We'll light a candle and think of our Creamery friends and family (as we do every day and night!). (5/17/13)
(Click here for the recipe.)
Alice's Recipe - Pasta with Rich Mushroom Sauce
We heard spring peepers! The first butterflies are emerging! The bluebirds and song sparrows and yellow-bellied sapsuckers are here singing their beautiful songs, drilling for sap, finding bugs in our yard, and acting frisky looking for mates. With their presence, I can trust that spring is really here. The nights are still cold enough to build a fire, but the sunny days are so gloriously perfect that we don't mind being cold in the evening.
We work on cutting next winter's supply of firewood in the late afternoons, working up a great appetite as we go. Amy has been staying outside mulching trees and cleaning out gardens until the last bit of daylight disappears. She comes in cold and ravenous, so I've been preparing meals that more resemble our hearty winter fare than the lighter spring foods we typically eat this time of year. This is one of our old favorites, Pasta with Rich Mushroom Sauce, decadent and delicious. The crusty bread I baked earlier today and a salad of just-picked salad greens with some wild greens mixed in will give us a quick, hearty, nourishing, and delicious supper. We'll light a candle, put our first blooming daffodil in a vase on the table, and bask in the memory of the joyous time spent on our land. (4-19-13)
(Click here for the recipe.)
Alice's Recipe - Mushroom Barley Soup
I wake up in the morning thinking of the billowing steam from maple sap boiling. I love going to sugar houses to see the dramatic plumes of steam rising, to smell the sweet maple aroma, to taste the first of the season's delicate, delicious syrup…to experience the promise of spring again. My seasonal rhythms are tied to sugarin'; it marks the final gasps of winter and the arrival of daffodils and forsythia and fruit tree blossoms and spring greens and warmth and sunshine.
But this year winter isn't quite letting go. This morning it's 20 degrees, the flakes are flying furiously, and spring feels a long way off. So when I think of what's for supper, my desires still lean toward hearty, winter foods. Tonight we'll have Mushroom Barley Soup. We still have some oyster mushrooms from the grow-your-own kit that we got at the Creamery! I'll bake a loaf of rye bread, roast some delicata squash, and cook some of our frozen shell beans with our garlic and fresh rosemary from our indoor plant. Amy will make a salad from just-picked fresh and crisp mixed greens from a friend's hoop house (thanks, Penny!), with the last of our stored carrots and Jerusalem artichokes and red cabbage, and we'll be reminded that we'll soon be eating more and more nourishing local foods. And after a meal like that we'll be fortified to go shovel some more snow…again! (3-8-13)
Recipes - Hurricane and Sazerac
This week’s recipes come from Co-op member-owner and weekly email compiler Bill Latimer.
One of our country’s great celebrations culminates next week on Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday. My mind drifts back to the early ’70s when I first made the acquaintance of that unique place named New Orleans, and its signature cocktails. I was working in Miami that winter and living in the city’s Coconut Grove section; well, living in my bedroom on wheels, a ’64 Ford Econoline van parked in a friend’s driveway. On not much more than a whim, I decided to sell the van and anything that wouldn’t fit into a duffel bag and stick out my thumb. Destination? Mexico City, where I had but one stop in mind, its famous National Museum of Anthropology. I figured I’d go on from there to explore the country’s pyramids and rich history.
So on a blinding sunny day soon after, I hitchhiked up US Route 27 in interior Florida with only Mexico in mind. After a day of one short ride after another, I was about to crawl off into a nearby cemetery to unroll my sleeping bag (I figured no one would bother me there) when a sun-faded Oldsmobile with Saskatchewan plates pulled over. I hopped into the backseat. The two young Canadians in front told me they were on their way home after a Brazilian adventure to procure a bag of uncut gemstones. Hmmm, okay. Then they told me they were making a detour on the way home, to New Orleans. “Tomorrow is Mardi Gras!” the driver shouted. I replied, “I’m with you. It’s on my way.”
We drove all night, got to Louisiana in the wee hours, and pitched a tent in a Slidell campground for a couple hours’ sleep. Shortly after first light, it was on to New Orleans and one of the craziest days of my life. But, alas, those tales will need to wait for another day. (And I did eventually make it to that Mexican museum and the pyramids; likewise, those stories are for another time.)
Oh, yeah, almost forgot: this is the recipe column in the Creamery Co-op’s weekly email newsletter! Okay, then: click below for the recipes for two New Orleans cocktails: the Hurricane and the Sazerac. Laissez les bons temps rouler! (2-8-13)
Recipe - Blueberry Brunchle
This week’s recipe comes from Co-op member-owner and Board of Directors member Susi Westwood.
My mother-in-law, Carolyn Westwood, created several recipes to use the abundance of blueberries and maple syrup that her farm produced. This is one of the family favorites and a dish that I like to take to potlucks. Most people hear the ingredients and give me a skeptical look, but if they are willing to try it, they usually comment favorably. Carolyn called it Blueberry Brunchle, so I guess she considered it a good brunch dish. (1-25-13)
(Click here for a link to the recipe.)
Alice's Recipe: Potatoes Bonda
Amy and I were in local food heaven! We were visiting her folks on the Gulf Coast of Florida. It is incredulous to everyone that I chose to go to every farmer's market within two hours, rather than go for another walk on the gorgeous, tropical-blue-water-white-sand-almost-empty-of-people beach. We did all spend a lot of time together in the woods and salt marshes, watching birds and enjoying the tropical beauty, but if it was a farmer's market day, the family knew they'd lost me. We ate just-harvested strawberries, oranges, grapefruit, satsumas, eggfruit, red limes, lettuce, mesclun, collards, kale, chard, tatsoi, broccoli, green beans, carrots, red and yellow peppers, chilies, tomatoes, potatoes, garlic, onions, and every kind of fresh herb. Mary graciously shared her kitchen with me, and I joyfully prepared meals from fresh foods grown by farmers that I enjoyed meeting. Simple pleasures. I was in bliss.
Now we're back in snowy Cummington, and I have to say I'm happy as a lark. My local food choices are limited, but I love our seasons, our land, our foods here. We're using up our supply of stored foods, so tonight's dinner choices are potatoes, onions, sweet potatoes, winter squash, turnips, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, leeks, carrots, and beets. That's enough variety for this Hilltowns girl! We'll have a multi-ethnic menu with sweet potato gnocchi (recipe coming in the future!), roasted Brussels sprouts, snow-covered kale, and today's recipe, Potatoes Bonda, an Indian potato fritter.
We look forward to seeing you all at the Creamery, on the customer side of the counter! Feel free to ask for recipe ideas or food advice any time you see me! (1/18/2013)
(Click here for the recipe.)
Recipe: Limpa Rye Bread
This week's recipe comes from Co-op member-owner Kathryn Jensen of Cummington.
This recipe uses the Tassajara Bread Book method to make a traditional Swedish bread. Its use of anise rather than caraway, along with the orange peel and cardamom, gives the bread a heavenly aroma. (To read a 2003 New York Times article about the classic Tassajara Bread Book of 1970, click here.) (01-11-13)
(Click here for the recipe.)
Karen's Recipe - Pasta Carbonara
This week's recipe comes from our co-op general manager, Karen Doherty.
If anyone asks me, "What is your 'go-to' recipe, when you are tired and famished but a sandwich just won't do? When you need something warm and substantial, that takes only moments, and you know everyone you make it for will fall in love with it instantly?" Here's what I'd say, without a moment's hesitation: "Pasta Carbonara!" It is all that. And perfect for those December nights when you've been running the kids to evening school performances, or last-minute shopping, or cross-country skiing all day, or caring for a sick friend. Ingredients are usually found at hand, so here it is in all its delicious, simple weeknight glory! This is a family favorite I hope you enjoy! (12/5/12)
(Click here for the recipe.)
Recipe - Spicy Oven-Baked Chicken
This recipe is a real oldie. It's from nineteenth-century New England and comes via A Taste of Freedom's Way, by Jane Trask Rosen and Daniel Rosen, a 2006 publication of Freedom's Way Heritage Association. The organization is the planning agency behind the federally recognized Freedom's Way Heritage Area, a group of forty-five towns and cities in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. To get the cookbook (which includes Colonial recipes for codfish balls and tasty eel) and to learn more about Freedom's Way, click here.
Most New England farms did not keep chickens prior to the mid-1800s. They were troublesome to raise, being prey to foxes and wolves. And they were not able to survive the cold winters: barns were too chilly, as early families used their precious wood to heat their own houses, not to keep their livestock warm. But by the time of the Civil War, many of the predatory animals had been eliminated from the woods, and a family farm might have chickens running around the yard. With game still plentiful, and other farm-raised animals, such as pigs, providing meat, chickens were valued mostly for their eggs. By the time one found its way onto the Sunday dinner table, it was often an older bird, so that a common method of cooking was the slow simmer in a pot filled with liquid. This recipe combines chicken with Massachusetts's own bright fruit, the cranberry, and produces a zesty gravy similar to a barbecue sauce. In today's kitchen this would be cooked in the oven. (12-19-12)
(Click here for the recipe.)
Judy's Recipe - Pumpkin Date Nut Bread
This week's recipe comes from Judy Bowerman, one of the Creamery Co-op's superb bakers.
With seven children, my mother always had her hands full during the holidays. One of her many preparations was to make cranberry bread as a thank-you gift for our school teachers. Since each of us had numerous instructors, she would end up producing a small bakery sum of sweet bread. When my three daughters were young, a friend gave me her favorite holiday recipe: Pumpkin Date Nut Bread. This robust, sweet, and slightly spicy bread has become the staple of my own version of my mother's tradition. I initially baked countless loaves for my daughters' teachers every holiday season. Now that they are young adults, they continue the custom by sharing with friends.
This pumpkin date nut bread has received rave reviews over the years. About a decade after my friend had given me the recipe, she was at my house eating a freshly baked slice and said, "This is really delicious-could I have the recipe?" She was amused and delighted to learn that she herself had given it to me years before.
This large recipe makes eight small loaf pans or three standard size loaf pans. Enjoy! (12/12/12)
(Click here for the recipe.)
Alice's Recipe - Spicy Chickpeas and Simple Couscous
The diminishing afternoon/evening light seems to get my stomach rumbling for dinner much earlier than our usual late night dinner hour. When I tune into my natural rhythms, my body yearns for meals earlier and sleep much earlier than I am accustomed to. I look forward to tuning in more deeply this winter, listening to and responding to the internal callings that are in sync with the external cues, and finding the rhythms that are just right for Amy and me this winter.
But some nights we get home when it’s dark, we’re tired and hungry, and we want nourishing food on the table quickly. On these nights we turn to Spicy Chickpeas and Simple Couscous, adding a green vegetable for a complete dinner. This is our standard quick meal, often on the table in 20 minutes from the moment we begin thinking about dinner. Amy gets the fire roaring in the woodstove, I cook supper, and in less than a half hour, we’re cozied up to the woodstove enjoying a nourishing, delicious meal and each other's company. (11/28/12)
Bill's Recipe - Cranberry-Pecan Pound Cake
This week’s recipe comes from Bill Latimer, who compiles this weekly email and works one food-prep shift a week at Creamery.
Full disclosure: I’ve never made this cake. However, I know several people who have made it, including my mother, and I’ve enjoyed my share (or more) of it over the past couple of decades.
In the early ’90s, I worked at a couple of small-town weekly newspapers in the eastern part of the state. Twice a month or so, I’d drive down to the Cape, where my mom would cook and bake up a storm for her five “kids” and spouses and ten grandkids and anyone else they cared to bring along for Sunday supper. She made sure to make a lot, so that everyone had something to take home. I’m not talking about some snacks or a to-go plate—no, I often drove the 97 miles back up Route 495 with the back seat crammed full of baking dishes of Mexican chicken and lasagna, tubs of buttered veggies and rice and mashed potatoes, plates of brownies, whole and partial cakes and pies—not to mention a shopping bag or two of canned and jarred goods.
Quite often, I’d bring the “imported” baked goods to the newspaper office the next day, for which the staff loved (and hated) me. One Monday it was Cranberry-Pecan Pound Cake. It was a big hit, so much so that Ann Levison, the editor of one our papers, had me get the recipe and then published it in the weekly “Harvard Gourmet” column. Soon after, my mom was bowled over when she saw the paper and received a $25 paycheck. I asked her how she liked seeing an old family recipe in print. Her response? “What do you mean, ‘family recipe’? I tore it out of the Cape Cod Times years ago!” (As promised, full disclosure.) I guess all family recipes have to start somewhere. (11/28/12)
(Click here for the recpe.)
Emmy's Recipes - Red Lentil Soup and Coconut-Cilantro Chutney
This week's recipes come from longtime Creamery cook and baker Emmy Howard.
This being the week before Thanksgiving, I considered offering a recipe for a holiday treat or for my favorite part of the Thanksgiving feast (creamed onions, in case you're wondering). But on second thought, I decided what I really wanted to write about is the day before Thanksgiving, when you're up to your elbows in pie dough and cranberry sauce, with hours of cooking still ahead and you need a quick, simple meal that will serve as a sort of appetizer for the next day's feast. Red Lentil Soup is the perfect answer: preparation is easy, cooking time is short, and the result is deliciously savory, yet not too rich. Red lentils are among the fastest-cooking and most digestible of legumes, especially when combined with herbs and spices that increase digestive "fire."
For a light meal, try the soup alone. For a more complete meal, serve the soup over basmati rice, along with Coconut-Cilantro Chutney--a recipe I learned from Ayurvedic cooking teacher Amadea Morningstar while I was studying to be an Ayurvedic Doula. (11/14/12)
Annette's Recipe - Tofu Scramble
This time of year when it gets dark early and I walk home, I might be lucky enough to see a few stars pop out as I reach the top of Potash Hill. Just another five minutes away is our little house, warm and snug. When Steve arrives, we visit for a bit and then I jump up and announce, “Time to make dinner!”
People often ask me if I cook when I get home and I say yes, but after a full day of cooking at the Creamery, dinner is always something simple.
Tonight it’s Tofu Scramble—easy, delicious, and full of protein. Once it’s in the pan simmering, the rest is easy: rice and a vegetable. This makes great leftovers too. Sometimes I’ll have it on toast for breakfast or rolled up in a tortilla with salsa. Yum!
Steve isn’t a vegetarian, but he looks forward to the evening meal when this is on the menu (oftentimes at breakfast I’ll tell him what’s for dinner; he thinks that’s pretty funny).
So give this recipe a try. You and yours might love it! (11/7/12)
(Click here for the recipe.)
Peri's Recipe - Snickerdoodles
Snickerdoodles are a yummy cookie I make occasionally at the Creamery. Don't let the name fool you, though: they are no relation to the famous candy bar (not a hint of chocolate or peanuts in these treats). Snickerdoodles are an old-fashioned cookie with a slightly sandy texture, chewy and buttery with a hint of cinnamon. Isaiah, son of our deli’s Toni, and a familiar and loved presence at the Creamery, waits patiently for the day they are made. He loves them! They are my husband's all-time favorite, too. Try them; they may become your new fave! (10/31/12)
(Click here for the recipe.)
Alice's Recipe - Roasted Green Beans
My food desires are strongly leaning toward the richer, heartier foods that my body craves in the colder months. We're still eating lots of greens fresh from the garden, but we find ourselves preparing foods that cook longer on the stove top or that roast at high heat in the oven (the extra heat is great this time of year!).
We fed the Old Creamery Co-op Board members these little taste treats, Roasted Green Beans, at their meeting this week and had a couple of requests for the recipe. We tend to steam or stir-fry our fresh-from-the-garden beans and use this recipe for the less tender off-season beans. They're delicious any time of the year with any beans on hand! They go well with most any dinner menu, make a delicious appetizer offering, and are great for snacking. (10/24/12)
(Click here for the recipe.)
Alice's Recipe - Broccoli with Olive Oil & Garlic
I love to see what’s remaining in our garden after the first hard, killing frost. It’s refreshing, in an odd sort of way, to have fewer choices, to narrow my focus when considering what to cook for supper. My beloved Uncle Mike, my dad’s older brother, was a wise man. One of his favorite proclamations was, “You young people! You’re like mosquitoes in a nudist colony! You want to have all the choices and you want to have it all!” That’s what I feel like during the summer months, intoxicated by the choices and greedy to enjoy them all; I want to prepare a symphony for every meal. But this time of year, my focus narrows and I can prepare simpler compositions.
This week in our garden, the small broccoli florets are bright green, crisp, and sweet (even raw). It’s one of our most often prepared vegetables, so versatile and delicious. Simply prepared Broccoli with Olive Oil and Garlic is one of our favorites; it’s nourishing, quick, and delicious. It goes with most any menu. (10/17/12)
(Click here for the recipe.)
Alice's Recipe - Apple Chutney
When our vegetable garden begins slowing down, we begin apple season. We harvest our own apples, visit friends who have apple trees, and gather apples from wild trees and abandoned orchards. It’s apple time early in the morning before work, late at night when we return home, and on our day off. We dry dehydrators full of apples and line our shelves with many glass jars full of delicious apple rings. We freeze and can loads of apple sauce. We make tray after tray of apple fruit leather. We press and freeze dozens and dozens of jars of cider. And there’s still apples in baskets and boxes scattered about the kitchen and dining room. Our favorite apple final resort? Apple Chutney! We can a couple kettles full of apple chutney in jars and eat it all year. It adds a special flair to a quick rice or quinoa or couscous dinner when we get home late at night.
If we haven’t gathered enough of our own apples we supplement them with Scott Farm apples. Their 626-acre farm in Dummerston, Vermont, boasts more than 70 varieties of ecologically grown apples. They are helping to restore rare and endangered varieties not found elsewhere in our region. Their apples are diverse, beautiful, and delicious. We sell them at the Creamery; it’s an honor to be able to offer foods from so many amazing farmers in our area in this abundant harvest season. (10/10/12)
(Click here for the recipe.)
Alice's Recipe - Cream of Mushroom Soup
Sometimes we’re stubborn Yankees: we hold out for as long as we can before building our fall fires. If we find ourselves waking up shivering we know it’s got to be a cooking day, to generate some precious heat. I poked a toe out of my warm nest this morning and knew it was a soup day. Amy just harvested the most gloriously beautiful, perfect shiitake mushrooms (from our FIVE-year-old, still-producing logs!), and our farmer buddy Sy brought us more king stropharia mushrooms, and we have local cream in our refrigerator, so it’s going to be Cream of Mushroom Soup for dinner tonight. As the recipe says, this really is an elegant soup. It begs us to slow down, pick an autumn bouquet, light a candle, and savor each delicious bite. So be it! (10-3-12)
(Click here for the recipe.)
Alice's Recipe - Roasted Mashed Squash with Maple Rum Glaze
(Editor’s note: The recipe this week is from the archives, but timely still. The calendar page turns on Monday to October, bringing us the thick part of autumn and then Halloween--and not that far ahead, Thanksgiving. But you can try this recipe now with the great variety of winter squashes from several area farms now available at the Creamery. Enjoy!)
Our Thanksgiving celebration usually includes 15 to 20 family members and friends of all ages, several dogs, walks in the fields, wood stacking, music and singing, laughter-filled game playing, and nonstop cooking from dawn to dusk. We include traditions from our many families, honoring not only what we are creating together, but also the richness of what has created each of us. I am filled with gratitude for the countless meals that my mom prepared, meals that nourished and nurtured our family. I am filled with gratitude and awe for the feasts that Amy's mom continues to prepare that nourish and nurture so many of us; everywhere she goes, hungry friends and family follow, and we are all filled with her love and with her delicious food. This time of year, Halloween, when the veil between the world of the living and the world of the deceased is thin, I feel the presence and love of my mom and dad as strong and steady as the gentle drum of my heartbeat. And during this season of thanks, I feel the presence and love of my other mom and dad, of my extended family and friends, of this Hilltown community, and I feel the abundance of the blessings in my life.
One of our favorite Thanksgiving dishes to share is Roasted Mashed Squash with Maple Rum Glaze. (9/26/12)
(Click here for the recipe.)
Alice's Recipe - Tomatillo and Fresh Corn Soup
We plant LOTS of tomatillos. One of our staple breakfasts is fried eggs, over easy, with salsa verde and Monterey jack melted on top. We can (and use!) dozens of jars each year. We also dehydrate tomatillo slices for winter use. If we’ve preserved all the salsa verde we want, and we still haven’t had our first hard frost, the tomatillos keep producing like crazy and we look for new and exciting recipes. A couple of autumns ago, our friend Madelaine (cook extraordinaire!) prepared what has become one of our very favorite recipes, Tomatillo and Fresh Corn Soup. The combination, and balance, of sweet, sour, and spicy is fantastic. I’ve messed around with the recipe, which originally came from Deborah Madison’s Field of Greens cookbook.
When Amy and I freeze our corn for winter use, we freeze some of the water used to cook the corn, and even some of the cobs, to use in this recipe. Enjoying this soup on a cold, snowy, winter’s night brings back a vivid taste of these precious autumn harvest days. (9/19/12)
(Click here for the recipe.)
Alice's Recipe - Mediterranean White Bean Soup
There’s a great variety of fabulous ingredients growing in our gardens right now. Beginning in September here in our hilltowns, the abundant garden harvest feels like it happens on “found time.” We know our first frost can happen at any time, wiping out huge swaths of our precious vegetables and flowers overnight. So we like to prepare and enjoy a banquet, using as many of the vegetables in our garden as possible, every opportunity we get. Mediterranean White Bean Soup uses eleven ingredients that we harvest fresh from the garden. When we add in the five vegetable side dishes that accompanied our supper tonight (green beans, potatoes, pattypan squash, tomatoes, and cucumbers), our meal earns the title of fresh harvest banquet. So the next chilly night, after a glorious day in the crisp and cool September air, prepare a big pot of this soup and enjoy the richness and abundance of our local food blessings. (9/12/12)
(Click here for the recipe.)
Alice's Recipe - Honey Glazed Turnips
Without even trying, my food tastes change with the weather, with the seasons. A couple of weeks ago, I was residing in summer, settled in, at home. The tomatoes and basil, the corn, the peppers and eggplant were familiar friends. Now as I enjoy those "high summer" treats, I feel as if I'm visiting that taste terrain. I'm standing at the shoreline between summer and autumn, and my tastes are migrating to the cooler weather foods. My first impulse is to build a meal around root vegetables and grains, with smaller bits of the hot weather delicacies as accompaniments.
Today's tastes have turned to turnips! Last week, Amy and I were given a cherished jar of Cummington Fair award-winning honey (congratulations and thanks, Keith and Alice!). Its amber beauty is a joy to look at, but it is calling out to us to be tasted and appreciated. Although our garden turnips will be more flavorful in a few more weeks, Amy noticed that a few really needed to be harvested. So for lunch today we'll have two of Amy's favorite side dishes, Honey Glazed Turnips and some quickly sautéed swiss chard. We'll fix a plate with sliced tomatoes, salt, and balsamic vinegar. I'll also sauté a freshly picked leek and some treasured, local king stropharia mushrooms (available at the Creamery, thanks to our mushroom-growing buddy, Sy) in butter and olive oil, add a bit of cream scooped from the top of our local raw milk (from Taproot Commons Farm), and simmer until slightly thickened. I'll make some fresh pasta, pour on the mushroom cream sauce, and top it with some parmigiano reggiano and salt. We had this for supper several nights ago and swooned with delight. Another local feast! (9/5/12)
(Click here for the recipe.)
Alice's Recipe - Thai Coconut Soup
This time of year, Amy and I eat very simple foods that bring out the best of the amazing ingredients (freshly harvested produce) that are at our fingertips. This is true Italian peasant food—great, fresh produce, prepared simply with plenty of olive oil (or butter), fresh herbs, and salt complemented by cheese, crusty bread, and rice or pasta. But sometimes I have a hankering for something jazzier—a bit exotic, perhaps unfamiliar, even exciting! It has to be something quick, nourishing, and comforting. There's one dish that always satisfies, Thai Coconut Soup.
Full of wonderful, crisp vegetables, a comforting stock, and alluring flavors, this easily prepared soup is perfect when our food desires wander from our familiar Mediterranean terrain to the exotic East. Feel free to substitute the vegetables with others that are ready from your garden, farmers market, or CSA share.
I'm going to prepare some for us tonight with our garden vegetables (were any of you lucky enough to buy lemongrass starter plants at the Creamery this spring from Windy Ridge Farm? a great way to use some of the flavorful stalks!). I'll serve it with spicy peanut-sesame noodles and crisp, fresh cucumbers. Quick, delicious, and inspiring, it will be a perfect ending to this stunningly beautiful day. (8/29/12)
(Click here for the recipe.)
Alice's Recipe - Cabbage Lime Pickle
I saw many expressions of wonder and awe at the sight of the HUGE local green cabbages near the Creamery’s register the past couple of weeks (only $1.99!!). Peri, our pastry chef, swore there were babies in some of them; I saw a few ears lingering close to the impressive cabbage heads, listening for murmurs from within the folds of leaves.
We've harvested beautiful heads from our garden. After we put up a few jars of lacto-fermented sauerkraut, eaten lots of slaw, stir-fried cabbage with other garden vegetables, stuffed plenty of leaves with rice filling and red sauce, made and frozen lots of egg rolls, then I begin to wonder what to do next. When I run my cooking class series, the Indian cooking session is always the most popular. We prepare 15 or so different side dishes. When we sit down to enjoy our feast after the class, the favorite dish is often Cabbage Lime Pickle. This is a fresh-tasting side dish that fits with many different menus. It's a good way to use up a lot of cabbage, and the leftovers store well. It’s a simple and quick recipe. (8/22/12)
(Click here for the recipe.)
Alice's Recipe - Italian Green Beans with Pine Nuts and Bread Crumbs
We're harvesting the most tender, delicious green beans this summer. We grow many different types of beans. The long, thin, tender French filet beans are our favorites. We lightly cook them and then sauté them with butter, salt, and pepper for the simplest garden great. We grow many “regular” beans to transform into one of our favorite winter treats, Dilly Beans. We preserve as many jars as possible, because it seems to be the favorite gift among family and friends.
We freeze edamame soybeans right in their pods and snack on them all winter (a great homegrown protein source). One of our very favorite garden treats is frozen shell beans. We pick the pods, bursting with fully developed seeds, shell them, blanch them, and eat them all winter. Sometimes we cook them in vegetable stock (or water) with olive oil, garlic cloves, and salt until tender. Other times we cook them with frozen garden corn, butter, salt, and pepper with a little cream added at the last minute. Italian borlotti beans and tongue-of-fire are our two favorite varieties. Lastly we grow several varieties of dry beans such as black turtle, kidney, and jacob's cattle. After the pods have dried on the plants we harvest them and shell them over the next couple of months, after the busy harvesting and preserving time. Such a variety of culinary uses!
Here I offer you a recipe for Italian Green Beans with Pine Nuts and Fresh Bread Crumbs. I'm going to savor these last weeks of summer and all that the garden offers us these precious August days! (8/15/12)
(Click here for the recipe.)
Recipe - From the Archive
As summer becomes a smaller and smaller block on the calendar, we offer this week a blast from the past, just in time for making the most of the remaining season. Last August, Rachel Maddow graced us with her presence at our Co-op fundraiser. She also graced Alice with her recipe for the perfect Mojito, written on the back of Alice's name tag. Those of you who know Alice's renowned drinking prowess (an ounce or two of wine per month!) will more fully appreciate this: Alice said that she would most certainly make and drink Rachel's mojito within the following month. Hmmm, could this now be an annual rite?
(For the Mojito recipe, please click here.)
Alice's Recipe - Tyropitas
I cooked at Rowe Conference Center for fourteen years before we began our Creamery lives, and I had the privilege of working with my friend Margaret Woodside for most of those years. I learned so many things from Margaret, but the two that stand out most in my mind are learning to make French bread (so basic, but so rewarding and versatile), and learning to work with phyllo dough. We made tyropitas (three-sided phyllo packets), and Margaret taught me the lost art of flag-folding, a very important and respected skill in her generation (coming of age in the World War II era). We prepared a delicious savory filling, and we rolled the small triangles together until the movements were rooted in my brain, in my eyes, in my hands. Margaret and I rolled thousands of tyropitas over twelve years. Since then I have rolled tyropitas for funerals, weddings and anniversary celebrations, births and birthday celebrations, post-surgery recuperations, and everyday nourishment. Now Noël, one of our Creamery cooks, prepares them for our deli. Vary the filling according to what is in your refrigerator or garden, but carry on the tradition! (8/1/12)
(Click here for the recipe.)
Alice's Recipe - Coconut Basmati Rice
I love the entire line of Lotus Foods heirloom rice varieties. Their website, one of the most interesting I've ever visited, opens up a vast world. Those of you who have heard me speak about food know that I talk quite a lot about terroir; I consider it to be all of the factors of the natural world that have influenced the breadth and depth of what a particular food becomes. I include the quality of the rain water that falls on the crops, the minerals present in the soil, the sun that shines on the land, the types of weeds present (and in the case of milk from grazing animals, the types of pasture plants that they eat), and the thoughts and feelings of the hard-working people who are growing the food. I can taste salty sea air, hear the laughter of the farmer, and smell the aroma of wild herbs growing nearby. Yes, I do have a great imagination, but I also do believe that all these factors influence the flavors on my plate. Wandering through the Lotus Foods website, I learn about the hard-working farmers growing the different types of rice, the natural environment where each is grown, the nutritional composition, and many recipes to bring out the best in each variety.
I offer you one of the most often prepared recipes in my household, Coconut Basmati Rice. This recipe would be great with many of the varieties of Lotus Rice, particularly the Madagascar Pink, Jasmine, Mekong Flower, and Volcano Rice. Check each package and adjust the cooking time for that particular variety. Coconut Basmati Rice is quick, simple, nourishing, comforting, and a versatile base for a wide variety of side dishes (any type of protein, vegetable side dishes, chutneys, salsas, and pestos). Let me know which of the rice varieties are your favorites, how you prepared the rice, and what you served with it. I look forward to hearing some new ideas from some of you creative cooks out there! (7/25/12)
Alice's Recipe - Pesto and Variations
The drought, deer, and heat have slowed down our garden quite a bit, but the list of chores is still long and the available time is still short. We find ourselves creating quick meals from the garden. Pasta with one of many possible pestos is a standard. We have a great variety of greens in our garden, and we’ll make pesto with combinations of basil, arugula, cilantro, mint, chard, spinach, purslane, chickweed, garlic scapes, and parsley. Here is a basic Basil Pesto recipe, along with many ideas for variations. We make a quick salad and a cooked vegetable with whatever the garden has ready. Tonight we'll have stuffed baby pattypan squash, heaps of blanched broccoli sautéed with olive oil and garlic, and a salad with mixed lettuce leaves, anise hyssop, cherry tomatoes, salad turnips, beets, carrots, cucumbers, and a little hard-boiled egg or local cheese for protein. We'll cook up a delicious, nourishing meal in less than a half hour, counting harvest time! (7/18/12)
(Click here for the recipe.)
Alice's Recipe - Chicken Soup / Chicken Noodle Soup
I've gotten a couple of requests this past week for a Chicken Soup recipe. So many of us are struggling with respiratory infections right now. This soup is nourishing and delicious. Our gardens are supplying us with young versions of most of the ingredients needed for this soup. We sell Bionaturae organic egg noodles at the Creamery; they are delicate and flavorful, perfect for this soup.
Amy's out picking raspberries for us to make jam, so I think biscuits (a conduit for the fresh jam) are in our future today! It's another glorious day to be outside in the warm sunshine. We'll catch up on some garden maintenance chores; plant another round of beans, beets, and carrots; harvest more chamomile, mint, and lemon balm to dry; and maybe even lay in the field, stare at the clouds, and daydream. Enjoy the sun, and pray for rain. Happy cooking, and happy daydreaming to you all! (7/11/12)
(Click here for the recipe.)
Alice's Recipe - Polenta, Soft and Firm
The season of plenty has arrived early this year. Every day, our garden is offering us many choices. I love having some standard recipes as foundations for a variety of toppings. Pasta is the easy choice for many of us. But I also love polenta this time of year. I can serve it immediately after it has been prepared, in the soft stage, and put a garden-fresh, saucy, stew-like concoction in the center of it. The ingredients can vary to match what's ready in the garden. A shaving of parmigiano reggiano adds the finishing touch to catapult the dish to excellence.
If I haven't used up all the polenta, the next day I've got firm polenta to play with. Grilled or pan-fried is an excellent choice. I like a topping of melted cheese and pesto. One of my favorite combinations is cilantro-cashew-pesto with fresh mozzarella, but the possibilities are endless. Our dinners for the next couple of months tend to be symphonies, with many just-picked garden side dishes all playing their part in creating a beautiful and delicious, fantastic, fanciful feast. Enjoy the bounty! (7/4/12)
(Click here for the recipe.)
Alice's Recipe - Corn Chowder
I woke up this morning to chilly, mid-40s air and thought it would be a good day for soup. I’ve been loving the super-early corn season this year. It’s the earliest we’ve ever had fresh corn for sale at the Creamery. I try to enjoy this seasonal treat in as many forms as possible. Fresh corn salad (with avocado, lime juice, cilantro—a future recipe!) and fresh corn chowder are two of my favorites.
So today I’ll prepare some fresh Corn Chowder, and we’ll add plenty of just-picked side dishes from the garden. We’ll have our first broccoli, sugar snap peas with butter and salt, greens with garlic and olive oil, and salad with shell peas, fennel fronds, anise hyssop leaves, violet flowers, radishes, cucumber, and some hard-boiled eggs. Some quickly prepared cornbread or biscuits will round out the meal and keep it simple enough to get a good, long day in the garden.
Today we’ll harvest and dry lots of herbs for winter tea: chocolate mint, lemon balm, anise hyssop, red clover blossoms, and chamomile flowers are all ready to pick. We’ll also harvest motherwort and Saint John’s wort for tinctures. The season’s bounty is rolling in; what a joy to try to keep up with it! (6/27/12)
(Click here for the recipe.)
Alice's Recipe - Sauteed Sugar Snaps and Radishes
I’ve so enjoyed the first of this season’s local cukes. At the Creamery, we have the first tomatoes and the first cukes, picked fresh from the Fydenkevez Farm in the valley. I peel the cukes, cut off big chunks, and generously salt them before popping them into my mouth and singing praises. I love the crisp freshness and the bright flavor. Add sliced or chopped tomatoes cut into chunks and drizzled with a bit of aged balsamic vinegar and sprinkled with a few fresh basil leaves and salt, and I’m transported. These are the moments I’ve been waiting for, longing for, since last autumn.
From our own garden, we’ve been getting lost in the sugar snap pea patch, sitting out and stuffing ourselves full of the plump, crisp, sweet treasures. The radishes have also been excellent this spring. I’m reminded of a recipe I’ve used in my Indian cooking classes, Sautéed Sugar Snaps and Radishes. This dish is fabulously fresh and flavorful. We have plenty of local sugar snaps and radishes at the Creamery. Give this simple dish a try and let me know what you think. (6/20/12)
(Click here for the recipe.)
Alice's Recipe - Cream of Asparagus Soup
Just when I thought the asparagus was gone for the season, more shoots emerged from the moist soil to grace our dining tables. I’ll offer you one last asparagus recipe for this luxuriously long picking season this year. It was quite chilly this morning, so I woke up thinking of soup. Here’s a simple, rich, delicious recipe for Cream of Asparagus Soup.
It’s time to head to the garden for the remainder of the afternoon. We’ll plant ten different kinds of beans (snap, shell, and dry); cukes; summer and winter squash; the rest of the brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, and kale; some herbs and flowers; and maybe some sweet potatoes. The sun is shining, there is a lovely breeze, and I’m joining Amy for our 33rd year of growing food to feed ourselves and our loved ones. Life is precious; blessings are abundant. (6/13/12)
(Click here for the recipe.)
Alice's Recipe - Pan-Fried Asparagus with Besan Bits
Although this has been a challenging year for us to get our gardens planted, it has given us a gloriously long asparagus season. On our garden Wednesdays, Amy and I have been more thoroughly drenched and more impressively, completely caked with mud than any season I can remember. But we’ve known that we’ll enjoy asparagus every post-garden-day supper as a reward for many weeks now.
Today we’ll be planting eight varieties of potatoes and the first ten varieties of bush beans, pole beans, shell beans, and dry beans. For the potatoes, we’ve hauled carts full of compost, dusted wood ash, dug trenches, and cut comfrey leaves to lay in the trenches. After our lunch of freshly picked spinach baked into a casserole with hard boiled eggs and a little shredded cheese, we’ll bury the potato tubers, plant the bean seeds, and anticipate a delicious dinner. I think we’ll try something a bit different tonight for our asparagus treat, and build a meal with an Indian theme. Here’s the recipe for Pan-Fried Asparagus with Besan Bits. Besan is chickpea flour (yes, of course it’s available at the Creamery!). We’ll add some coconut basmati rice, dal, and plum or apple chutney (that we preserved last summer) for a quick feast. This whole meal will be prepared in a half hour, a great meal after a long and satisfying garden day. (6/6/12)
(Click here for the recipe.)
Alice's Recipe - Chive Flower Vinegar
I begin the season of preparing herbal vinegars with Chive Flower Vinegar. We pick handfuls of beautiful, spiky purple chive flowers. We pull the petals off some of the plants to decorate our dinner salad, but the rest get stuffed into a mason jar, covered with apple cider vinegar that we made last fall, and left to brew for a few weeks. We taste it each week, and when the flavor is full and pungent without being overbearing, we strain the vinegar, pour it into small bottles, and look forward to that cold, wintery day when we open up the chive flower vinegar, drizzle it onto winter greens, and remember this day of warm sunshine. (5/30/12)
(Click here for the recipe.)
Alice's Recipe - Rhubarb Sauce
Rhubarb is another one of those seasonal foods that mark the passage of time for me. My mouth waters when I imagine that first bite of the tart, pucker-inducing stalks, cooked down into a thick and delicious Rhubarb Sauce. I know that when I make pancakes with rhubarb sauce for Amy we’ll be planting root crops and greens and trees and shrubs later that day. I know we’ll be planting our last seeds in the greenhouse. I know I’ll swat more black flies than I can count. I know we’ll be preparing garden beds and dreaming of the first fresh peas eaten right from the garden in just a few short weeks. I know we’ll spend the day outside, eat a very late supper, and go to bed tired and happy. I love these days that are tied to seasonal rituals, tied to the rising and setting sun, as familiar as the turning of the hands on a clock but oh so much more joyful and meaningful. (5/23/12)
(Click here for the recipe.)
Alice's Recipe - Asparagus Risotto
One of the joys of seasonal eating is the appearance of those cherished foods that last only a few weeks. I eat them many times each week and never tire of them. I savor each bite, knowing that their presence is fleeting. I enjoy asparagus for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and leftovers as snacks. I love asparagus blanched, roasted, sautéed in eggs or stir-fry, in soups, and especially in risotto. Risotto with asparagus and risotto with porcini mushrooms are both marriages made in heaven. I offer you my version of this Italian classic dish, Asparagus Risotto. (5/16/12)
(Click here for the recipe.)
Alice's Recipe - Salad Dressing, Times Two
Every day now I jump up and down with excitement when our local farmers bring in their just-picked goodies! Tonight I’ll be cooking up some Holiday Brook Farm baby bok choy with shitake mushrooms, roasting and blanching asparagus from Fydenkevez Farm (third night in a row!), and making a great big salad. I’ll use Holiday Farm mixed salad greens and salad turnips, and our last few carrots, beets, and sunchokes in storage from last fall, along with some cranberries we dried and dilly beans we canned. I think I’ll throw in some hard-boiled eggs (local of course) and local cheese for protein and call it a meal. This week, I offer you recipes for two of my favorite salad dressings, Balsamic Vinaigrette and Poppy Seed Dressing. Now, out to the garden to dig and plant! (5/9/12)
Alice's Recipe - Potato Leek Soup
We’re all trying to make sense of our weather this spring, but after a couple of weeks of wishing for air conditioning, we’ve been running fires in our woodstove most nights. Our thirsty garden has been soaking up the abundant rain this past week, and even after the rain the soil is beautiful and workable. So today we’ll plant onions and leeks; broccoli, cabbage, kale, and brussels sprouts. We might even get our potato trenches dug and planted.
It’s damp and cold, so I think it’s a soup day today. We’ll need warmth and nourishment after digging in the cold soil. Amy began sorting the remaining potatoes stored from last season to see which ones have sprouted nicely for planting. There are actually still some good potatoes for cooking, so tonight for supper we’ll have Potato Leek Soup. We’ll pick some greens from our greenhouse, and add some of the beautiful fresh greens from Holiday Brook Farm and Windy Ridge Farm that are for sale at the Creamery. We’ll bake some crusty bread to serve with one of the most delicious treats in the universe, Meredith Bay Marinated Feta, back for sale at the Creamery after almost a year of importing problems. This is a great day off: muddy pants, dirty hands, a garden full of freshly planted vegetables, and a delicious supper; it couldn’t be much better than this! (5/2/12)
Alice's Recipe - Stuffed Grape Leaves
It was a nice surprise to see our delicious chocolate mint sprouting from the ground already this spring. The flavorful and pungent leaves are my favorite in many of my recipes using mint. We also dry quite a lot to use for tea all winter. Fresh mint makes me think immediately of two things: grilled lamb and stuffed grape leaves, two dishes where mint is an essential ingredient. I offer you my recipe for Stuffed Grape Leaves, one of my most requested catering side dishes. This is a great dish to bring to a party or to prepare and have in your refrigerator for ready-made snacks. (4/25/12)
Alice's Recipe - Fiddlehead Arugula Salad
One of the most joyous culinary moments of the year for me is the arrival of the season’s first fiddleheads. It’s among the first of the “just-picked” cooking rituals that will continue to unfold until late autumn. Each year I repeat the simplest of preparation techniques for my first fiddleheads of the season: blanch (cook in boiling water) for 4–5 minutes; drain well; sauté briefly with butter or olive oil and salt. Simple, elegant, and delicious. Then I move on to soups with fiddleheads. Last week, Amy and I were inspired to create a new dish, Fiddlehead Arugula Salad. We wandered the aisles of the Creamery and gathered ingredients that “spoke to us.” We found some fresh and crisp arugula, organic hazelnuts that had just arrived (now less expensive than many of the other nuts), perfect ricotta salata cheese from Italy, and some Cattani white balsamic vinegar and aged Castello d’Este balsamic vinegar that had just been featured in our vinegar tasting. With the addition of a couple of other standard Creamery ingredients, we prepared a stupendously delicious salad! We enjoyed it so much, I’m going to prepare it again for lunch today.
Alice's Recipe - Veggie-Grain Burgers
I live in a strange world, the world that exists within the boundaries of my skin … the world I call AliceLand. We each have our own unique inner world. I’ve come to realize how much of my inner world is shaped by food, and particularly by growing food. AliceLand has five seasons: I call them Ready, Set, Go, Restore, and Balance.
Ready: the time when we ready the land and plant the seeds. Set: the time that we maintain, weed, care for, anticipate. Go: the time of harvest and preserving. Restore: the time to restore the buildings, the tools, the trees and shrubs, the body. Balance: the time when the pressing chores are mostly done and snow hides from view the chores that aren’t done—it may be an illusion, but it allows the hibernation, the inner quiet.
Ready came early this year! And today, my day off, I’m chomping at the bit to get my hands in the dirt. But I also want to prepare a nice day-off dinner for Amy and me. We have little bits of cooked rice, cooked beans, veggies, cheese … these all need to get used. Eureka! One of my favorite, quick recipes to use up tidbit of grains, beans, and veggies: Veggie Burgers. Feel free to swap ingredients in the recipe to match what’s in your fridge, and enjoy this quick, nourishing, and delicious entrée.
Alice's Recipe - Crispy Semolina Crackers
I love the dawning moments in life, when something that has been out of my field of awareness suddenly becomes visible, when something that I hadn’t thought of as an option becomes possible. A few years ago I was preparing for one of my cooking classes, Food Gifts for the Holidays. I was brainstorming ideas for foods that could be prepared from scratch and given as gifts. I already had quite a list for my students, including foods as varied as Chocolate Truffles, Herb Vinegars, Hot Chocolate and Hot Chai Mixes, Beer Mustard, Pancake Mix, and even homemade origami boxes to hold the homemade goodies. Something was missing, and I thought, “What about crackers? We all love crackers!” After experimenting, I came up with this recipe that is now one of our favorite treats.
Head to the Creamery, try one of our fabulous cheeses (ask Alice or Peter for advice), make these crackers, and enjoy a rare treat.
Alice's Recipe - Maple Flan
We were given some fresh eggs by a friend with chickens. As our Co-op board member Sylvia discusses below in her Product Pick, the variety of colors, shapes, and sizes invite inspiration. Hmm … we have some Taproot Commons Farm raw milk to use up. Amy’s going to be happy tonight! Whatever we have for dinner, we are going to end our meal with creamy, delicious Maple Flan. Everything is local except for the vanilla and the sugar for melting into caramel. I love maple syrup in custard instead of white sugar. Besides being local, it offers a rich flavor and creamy texture. The custard is slightly softer, but we prefer it that way. Give it a try and let me know what you think. Now, it’s out to the garden! We’ll be sowing tomato, basil, broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, and kale seeds indoors after dark tonight, but now it’s time to soak up the glorious sun and warmth. Climate change is bringing us plenty of odd and disturbing weather, but the sun sure feels good. Enjoy!
Alice's Recipe - Good Old Tomato Sauce
We all have foods that we turn to for comfort. They have powers that are beyond their deliciousness and nutritional value. They have extra-ordinary powers from associations, perhaps to people who loved us, to times in our life that were simpler, to cherished memories of loved ones gathering to celebrate life’s joys. I could just pull out one of our canned jars of thick and rich garden tomato sauce for tonight’s dinner.
But today I need a bit more. I need the ritual of preparing the food, the aroma as the sauce simmers all afternoon, the childhood memory of salivating in anticipation of that great moment when I could sneak into the kitchen with a scrap of bread to dunk in the pot of simmering sauce, dripping down my chin as I savored the first taste. And the auditory memory of hearing the metallic scraping of the food mill as my dad and I swapped churning the mill while my mom poured more tomatoes into the hopper. So I’ll open some jars of our canned garden tomatoes, fetch some of our stored onions and garlic, sharpen my knives, and welcome the presence of my ancestors, my deceased parents, and my brother and sister into our kitchen today. And I’ll bask in the comfort. Here’s my recipe for Good Old Tomato Sauce.
Alice's Recipe - Linguine with Onions and Cannellini
The fresh Florida fruits and vegetables we enjoyed last week while visiting Amy’s mom and dad are a delicious, vivid memory, but as we drove home to ice-encrusted calf-deep snow, it became vividly clear that we were back to our beloved Hilltowns and would need to come up with a nice stored-garden-food menu to welcome us home. A simple dinner of Linguine with Onions and Cannellini, along with some of our still delicious, multiple-colored carrot sticks, grounded us in the goodness of our Hilltown lives. In place of the cannellini beans in the recipe, I used our frozen Italian shell beans for a local food feast.
Today we sow seeds, and I fill with glorious anticipation of the wonders that our hard-working gardening bodies and the fertile earth will create. I imagine the many meals we’ll feed to our friends and loved ones as we sow the seeds of onions, leeks, shallots, 24 types of sweet and hot peppers, eggplant, celery, parsley, artichokes, and 25 types of tomatoes. Although I can’t see our cherished garden through the snow, I can imagine the beauty and richness that will soon be visible, and my mouth waters for that first bite of that first sweet and juicy red-ripe tomato. Mmmm……
Alice's Recipe - Kale with Olive Oil and Garlic
I was like a kid in a candy store, or, as my Uncle Mike used to say, “like a mosquito in a nudist colony”! I spent Saturday at Sarasota Farmers Market, buying bags (my own cloth bags of course!) of just-picked produce from local organic farmers located in Southwest Florida. I came home with sacks of oranges (several varieties), grapefruit, limes, and lemons. I got just-picked strawberries (not as good as our local berries), local honey, beautiful large tomatoes, and sweet-like-candy cherry grape tomatoes. I found new red potatoes, garlic, onions, gold beets, green beans, and broccoli. Then I went crazy with the greens and herbs, buying just-picked arugula, rapini, baby bok choy, mesclun, red boston lettuce, kale, Chinese greens, basil, parsley, cilantro, and dill. I went to the seafood stall and purchased some just-caught shrimp and headed home to cook!
Amy’s mom has been very gracious sharing her kitchen with us, and we’ve been cooking up a storm. Mary makes us their favorite breakfast of all sorts of local fruits cut in to a huge bowl, plain yogurt (we brought some of Amy’s yogurt made from Cummington Taproot Commons Farm milk), grapefruit, toast, butter, and honey. The first day I marinated the shrimp in olive oil; freshly squeezed orange, lime, and lemon juices; garlic; and all the fresh herbs, then seared them in a hot frying pan (in the shell), flipped them after a minute or two, browned them on the second side, then added a little of the marinade, put a lid on the pan, and braised them for a couple of minutes. We’ve had several types of fresh salad, greens raw and cooked, potatoes anna (recipe from a couple of months ago), tomato and cucumber salad, fresh pasta with our garden tomato sauce that we brought from home, and Mary’s delicious strawberry desserts. The fish that Dick (Dad) and Brett (Amy’s brother) caught last week was featured in tonight’s dinner.
We’re in local food heaven. Although we love our stored root vegetables back home, it’s been incredible to eat fresh greens and so many types of just-picked veggies. I offer you the simplest of recipes, Kale with Olive Oil and Garlic, to celebrate the simple pleasure of cooking freshly harvested food, prepared simply, and enjoyed with loved ones. Simple Blessings.
Alice's Recipe - Baby Bok Choy with Shiitake Mushrooms
We stumbled upon this recipe when we came home late one night and looked in the refrigerator to try to satisfy our hunger. Those of you who have seen our refrigerator know that you usually open the door with trepidation because the abundance of food is in danger of tumbling out. But this was a rare moment, a spacious moment. Among little tidbits of condiments and lots of dairy products, we found baby bok choy and shiitake mushrooms. Okay, we’re in business … a little stir-fry! I reached for the olive oil … WHAT??? No olive oil in our household??? Impossible!!! “Well, it sounds a little strange, but let’s try butter,” we said to each other. We kept it plain and simple and quick and discovered a marriage made in heaven. Try this recipe for Baby Bok Choy with Shiitake Mushrooms when you want a delicious 10-minute side dish. These flavors seem made for each other. Amy loves this on top of pasta with a little extra olive oil tossed in. It’s comforting and scrumptious. Add some quinoa and a salad and you’ve got a 30-minute meal that is delicious, nourishing, and beautiful.
Alice's Recipe - Miso Vegetable Soup
During the last few weeks at the Creamery, many dozens of people have entered with the tell-tale glassy eyes and an achy-exhausted look on their faces. Although the trees and plants show their signs of dormancy, the “nasty bugs” have been thriving quite well. We’ve sold a lot of throat lozenges. We forget that sometimes food can be the best medicine to keep us well and to restore and heal our bodies when we’re not.
When Amy felt the “baddies” nipping at her heels, she asked for her favorite not-feeling-well brew, Miso Vegetable Soup. This is a simple soup, comforting and nourishing. I thawed some of the vegetable stock we made from the trimmings of our garden vegetables. We grow our own shitake mushrooms in the summer and dry the surplus. I soaked a bunch in hot water to reconstitute them, chopped up some of our stored onions, carrots, and cabbage, and made this soup. I used South River Miso, an extraordinary miso made right in Conway by Christian and Gaella Elwell. I added some Japanese somen noodles for a little extra heartiness. We both savored the flavors as we sipped from our steaming cups and took in the healing. I’m making us another pot today. Be Well!
Alice's Recipe - Chocolate Ganache Tartlets
New chocolates are arriving daily in preparation for our Chocolate Tasting this Sunday, February 12. I’ve ordered many new chocolates and am looking forward to the pre-chocolate-tasting chocolate tasting, when I become acquainted with all the new discoveries! I am also looking forward to the post-chocolate-tasting “conundrum,” when I try to figure out what to do with all the open bars of chocolates. Oh what a problem to have to solve!
I offer you a recipe for Chocolate Ganache Tartlets (and a variation, fresh fruit tartlets). When I have small bits of many different chocolates, I either make the world’s best chocolate chip cookies (Amy’s favorite … every bite is different!) or an awesome batch of ganache. This simple dessert is a great way to use up some of this delicious ganache. I make extra tart dough and freeze it, so I am ready to prepare a quick, beautiful, and delicious dessert any time. Ganache Tartlets are a great ending to just about any meal, a lovely addition to a special lunch, or a spectacular snack any day of the week!
As I ponder Valentine’s Day, a day to celebrate love (isn’t every day?!?), I thank all of you for your kindness and support. I celebrate this community, and all the love that fills my heart.
Alice's Recipe - Cozzolino-style Artichokes
All through my childhood, my mom would prepare great banquets for our holiday dinners. There were 3 components that never wavered. For dessert, we always had roasted chestnuts and tangerines (these were pre-clementine days!), and the dinner always featured Cozzolino-style Artichokes. My dad's mother, the matriarch of our extended Italian family, had the unenviable task of teaching all 3 of her non-Italian daughters-in-law how to cook. Gram embodied love; we always joked that she could live without food or water if we all surrounded her with our love. One way she expressed that love was through cooking; I feel honored to joyfully carry on that family legacy.
My whole life I have had an unusually intact sense of self-worth and I owe that to artichokes. Artichokes were one of the first foods I ate as a child, and they quickly became my favorite food. I was the youngest child, and the entire family took great joy in my enjoyment of artichokes. The heart was the coveted prize (no metaphor intended, but metaphor certainly noted!), and I was always the first to clear out all of my artichoke leaves and get to the heart. My siblings and other family members began giving me portions or all of their hearts because no one could match my intense enjoyment; it was more fun to watch me eat them. I took in the nourishment of the heart in every way and enjoyed every last minute and every last bite.
Here's the recipe for Cozzolino-style Artichokes. Whenever I prepare them for extended family feasts, I always share or give away my heart. After all, it's a family tradition and it sure worked for me!
Alice's Recipe - Biscuits
Here's something you can make for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a snack...how versatile is that! Biscuits are great any time of day. They taste best slathered with butter, and even better with local honey or your favorite fruity jam. When I first met Amy, my choice of bread to go with any meal was a crusty Italian/French-type bread or a dense, whole grain loaf. Amy grew up in the south, and the way to make a southern gal very happy is to make the very best biscuits imaginable. Brown and crunchy on the outside, moist and flaky on the inside; this was my goal. I quickly became an expert, and in the process I also got hooked on this delicious treat.
I make them in the same amount of time it takes the oven to pre-heat, so it's a quick addition to any meal. For breakfast, they're out of the oven in the time it takes to set the table, fry the eggs (local of course!) and light the candle. For lunch or dinner, I make them after I get a pot of soup on, chill them in the refrigerator to make them extra flaky, and then bake them right before serving. Our favorite afternoon snack is hot biscuits, soft butter, sweet jam (from our own fruit), and a smoothie with yogurt that we make from Cummington raw milk (Taproot Commons Farm), blended with our own frozen fruit and a drizzle of Tessier’s maple syrup. Now that we have Vermont-grown Nitty-Gritty Grain Company unbleached flour (yes, available at the Creamery!), it truly is a local feast!
Alice's Recipe - CBS Soup
Winter is finally upon us (where is the snow?!?), and it's time for some hearty, warming, comforting foods. I enjoy cooking soups when it's cold outside because they often take quite a while to cook (helping to heat our house!), I often bake bread to accompany the soup (helping to heat our house!), and they usually don't require a lot of attention so I can tend to chores like carrying in firewood (actually heating our house!). I could make a different soup every day of the year and still not run out of ideas for variations. I can match a soup to virtually any ethnic cuisine, to any combination of ingredients that I have on hand, and to suit any taste preference.
This week's recipe is Corn, White & Black Bean, and Winter Squash Soup, better know by its’ fans as CBS Soup. This soup is hearty enough to serve as a lunch or dinner main course, but versatile enough to serve as a side dish with a wide variety of entrees. Try substitutions if you don't have all the ingredients, or add other vegetables that you have on hand. We make this soup entirely from our own preserved garden vegetables; the root vegetables and squash are in storage, the tomatoes are canned, the black beans are dried and the white beans are frozen. Now, if Amy could just grow us some olives, we could press our own olive oil! Well, we can't grow everything here in our hilltowns, but in this bitter cold it's nice to raid the pantry and freezer and remember the bounty of summer. Enjoy, and stay warm!
Alice's Recipe - Chili con Carne
The snow has fallen and the shoveling has commenced! Winter is finally here and I have the pleasantly sore muscles to prove it. Amy and I love our hilltown winter lifestyle. We love cutting firewood, splitting wood, stacking and moving and re-stacking logs. We love shoveling snow. We love snowshoeing and sitting inside watching the snow fall and watching the icicles grow and morph before our eyes. We love building blazing fires and huddling up to our hearth. We even love walking from the car to the house late at night after a long day’s work, plowing our way through thigh-deep drifts that have blown onto our carefully shoveled path. The snow and ice that cling to our boots and pants is like a badge of honor…we may be getting older but we’re still tough!
And when we are ready for dinner after our winter work-outs, we yearn for hearty food to satisfy a bold hunger. Our plates and bowls will be filled with rich and substantial vegetarian fare, but I offer you omnivores a robust recipe for Chili con Carne. I’ve used my mom’s recipe as a starting point, but I’ve included a few ingredients and techniques to offer more depth and flavor complexity. Enjoy the challenging chores of winter in the hilltowns, and treat yourself to a great meal after the work-out.
Alice's Recipe - Chocolate Sauces
In preparation for Valentine’s Day, I offer you recipes for a trio of chocolate sauces: Ganache, Chocolate Sauce, and Hot Fudge Sauce. Try them in as many imaginative ways as you can dream up! Chocolate sauce is always my choice for icing on a cake (also chocolate, of course), for topping on frozen desserts, for spreading on bananas or other fresh fruits, or for dipping into straight up. Use your favorite chocolates to make the best sauces.
Alice's Recipe - Cranberry Chutney
Amy and I ended our visit to the Cape by stopping by Cape Organics Farm in E. Harwich. I mentioned this farm in an email about 6 weeks ago, after we sent Kimberly Longey (our Board president) to fetch some freshly harvested organic cranberries. Upon her return, she said with a twinkle in her eye (and an obvious untold story), "when you two go to the Cape you've got to stop by and meet Leo and his family and see his farm." Well we did, and what a great time we had.
Leo and Andrea, and their daughter and mother run quite an amazing place. We were welcomed by a cow, a bunch of sheep, and a whole bunch of goats, all happily grazing in a harvested cranberry field. The goats seemed particularly happy to be eating the scrubby leftovers, the sheep were all piled on a huge pile of discarded cranberries, and the cow was happily scratching itself on a wooden post. A horse wandered over to check us out, we first heard and then saw the pigs over on the edge of the field, and then heard and saw the chickens and turkeys on the other side of the harvested cranberry field. And of course the dogs, a very playful cat (we engaged in a great game of chase with a three foot peacock feather), and to top it off Amy spotted a female Oriole in a tree right next to where we parked. We hadn't even met the farmers yet!
We waited for Leo and his daughter to return from a cranberry processing demonstration, while his wife and mother busily sorted our berries in their work barn. Leo guided us to the barn and proudly showed us his many decades old processing machine, beautifully constructed of wood and brass and copper. The berries bounce along a huge wheel with wooden treads; the twigs, leaves, and spoiled or shriveled berries drop off, and the sound ones bounce along to a wooden chute, where Andrea and Mom hand sort all the berries, pulling out any that are less than perfect (yep...the sheep and chickens are anxiously awaiting another delivery!) Family farming done the same way that it has been done for several generations. It was a beautiful site, a most enjoyable visit, and you can buy their delicious freshly harvested, hand-sorted berries right here at the Creamery!
When Amy and I stand in our Thanksgiving dinner circle before we sit down to our feast, holding the hands of some of our loved ones, we will send our gratitude to all of you for being part of our Creamery lives, for your support, your kindness, and your presence in this remarkable Creamery. We are blessed and we thank you.
Alice's Recipe - Crepes with Pears and Bananas
I sit in the dim light on this shortest day of the year, enjoying the quiet. I enjoy this time of darkness, of turning inward, of reflection and intentions, of generosity and kindness. As many of us plan to gather with family, friends, and loved ones, I offer a little sweetness. Here's a simple and delicious dessert recipe for Crepes with Pears and Bananas.
When I was 20 years old, I spent 4 months traveling in Western Europe using a student railpass. We found inexpensive lodging or camped, and had no extra transportation costs, so there was enough money to eat REALLY well, from open-air markets and hole-in-the-wall restaurants. My taste buds were awakened to many new cuisines. I had several jobs immediately after I returned; my favorite was working for a French woman, making crepes in her Cambridge apartment, 4 pans at a time on her tiny stove, so she could freeze them and sell filled crepes at festivals. She shared her crepe recipe, passed down through several generations of her Parisian family. Here’s her recipe for the best-ever crepes. For dessert, fill these crepes with fruit or chocolate; for dinner, make savory fillings with spinach, mushrooms, or chicken, all in a creamy sauce. Versatile, reliable, and delicious!
As in those dawning moments in Europe discovering new foods, as in the amazing good fortune to find a job that paid me to make delicious crepes in someone's home, food continues to hold that special place in my life, in my heart, in my soul...full of awe and mystery. As startling as the beauty of falling snowflakes, as comforting as the smile of a kind cashier greeting you across the counter at the Creamery, as enticing as the moment a chocolate truffle begins to melt on your tongue, this season holds the potential for many wonders. We wish you many wondrous moments, and hope that you share some of them with us at the Creamery. Ad all of us at the Creamery thank you for the sweetness that you bring to our lives.
Alice's Recipe - French Onion Soup
Amy and I have used the last of our stored garden onions. I tracked down some local onions for us to sell at the Creamery from Wendolowski Farm in Hatfield and I bought about 25 pounds to bring home to get us through the next couple of months. Aahhh … the onions! I’ve been looking for inspiration to pull me from the dreariness of this February day. I know the perfect thing to bring warmth and richness to this day … French Onion Soup. This is my vegetarian version of the classic recipe. Even without the beef broth, this is a deeply satisfying, soulful dish. I tucked away some of the local mesclun and arugula from Equinox Farm that we had for sale at the Creamery over the weekend, so we’ll have a fresh salad to add to our meal. When Amy and I are finished stacking wood today, the warm hearth will beckon us, the steaming soup will nourish us, the crisp salad will lift us, a candle will offer light, and flowers will remind us of the ever-present joys.
Alice's Recipe - Hearty Vegetarian Stew
Here's a great cold weather favorite, Hearty Vegetarian Stew. This stew has a deep, robust flavor; some die-hard meat-eaters swear this has beef in it! The combination of mushrooms, red wine, and deeply caramelized onions creates a rich and thick stew. This stew has minimal preparation time; , make a big pot and bring a pint or two to a few people who are feeling stressed or ill. You'll be rewarded with their gratitude.
Alice's Recipe - Pasta Possibilities
When I am planning a special meal, I engage in a process that feels like a combination of meditation and writing poetry. I think about the people I will be serving, about the foods that are at hand, and about the space where the magic will happen. I clear my mind of all else, and focus. I find the connections, and I look for elements that will spark the imagination, that will meld many distinct flavor notes into a harmonious meal, that will express the essence of the ingredients. I am already daydreaming about menus I am planning for the weekend of January 27-29, when Amy and I will be the guest chefs at Rowe Conference Center (http://rowecenter.org/events.php ) for two workshops: Christian McEwen presenting "Ordinary Joy: The Necessary Art of Slowing Down" and Daniel Botkin, Ellen Ogden, and Holly Wescott presenting "All Aboard the Farming & Gardening Revolution". What a great opportunity to bring my best creativity to a group of people for a whole weekend, and to create menus that highlight local, delicious, and nourishing foods.
This week, I offer you a group of recipes that captures the spirit of this creative process. This is a make-your-own, build-your-own extravaganza of pasta possibilities! Fresh homemade pasta is the meditation (if you don't have a pasta rolling machine, roll and cut the pasta by hand). The trio of pasta fillings and the trio of sauces are the creative expressions. I sometimes make all the fillings and all the sauces and prepare a banquet. Get in touch with your inner Italian and have a blast!
Alice's Recipe - Potatoes Anna
For many days, we enjoyed our Thanksgiving leftovers; each repeat meal of the same delicious foods brought back the memories of a joyous time spent with loved ones. Although this crazy weather has me thinking of light, summery foods, the heartier foods that we have enjoyed this past week have triggered my craving for humble, substantial winter fare. Predictably (as it has been for 50 years?!?), the mashed potatoes (with delicious Miso Gravy for me) was the side dish that I continued to crave day after day. This year they were exquisitely prepared by our 15 year-old niece Xin-Xin and they reminded me how rich and satisfying are the simple pleasures. Potatoes that we have grown and harvested, prepared by Xin who stepped up many notches this year (responsible for the mashed potatoes AND most of the turkey carving!!), and eaten by all at the table with gratitude. So I offer you this classic potato recipe, one of Amy's and my favorites, to enjoy when you need to be reminded of the richness of simple pleasures,
Alice's Recipe - Rapini with Olive Oil & Garlic
Food is a central part of my life, of my identity; this is not news to those of you who know me. If I have a purpose in being, a mission, it is to feed people. Two incidents greatly deepened my awareness of this fact. The first was when I looked through the photo albums of my parents’ trip to Italy, around 15 years ago. My dad and his twin brother, their older brother and their three wives, went on a family history trip to the homeland. When they returned home they said the trip was fantastic, and that when I saw them they would share their sightseeing photos with me. I can't say that I was astonished looking at the photos, but it certainly did explain to me who I am more than most any other moment in my life. The albums were comprised of photographs of every single course of every single meal that every one of the six of them ate during their trip, with an occasional photo of a museum, archaeological ruin, or other landmark. Okay, now I understand more about who I am and why!
The other incident happened a couple of years later. I suddenly awoke from a dream. The entire dream had lasted about 5 seconds. In the dream, I am feeling vividly euphoric...the most intense joy I've ever experienced in my life. The dream is comprised of me exuberantly singing out "Rapini, rapini, rapini!!!". I awoke with the exuberance of the dream still lingering. Besides planting a seed for my love of opera, the dream helped me realize more deeply my joyful associations with food. So let me share a simple, delicious, satisfying recipe for
Rapini with Olive Oil & Garlic. Serve it alongside your favorite pasta dish, with some crusty bread, olive oil for dipping, a robust red wine, and Italian opera playing in the background.
Alice's Recipe - Roasted Mashed Squash with Maple Rum Glaze
My internal navigator is very confused about which season we are in! Someone said yesterday that their minimum/maximum thermometer for the past 3 weeks had a high of 86 degrees and a low of 21 degrees...wow! Halloween arrived dressed up as a winter solstice snowstorm, today the sun is bright and warm, the snow continues to melt, and I remind myself that Thanksgiving will be upon us in a flash. I will offer some of my Thanksgiving feast favorites these next few weeks.
Our Thanksgiving celebration usually includes 15-20 family members and friends of all ages, several dogs, walks in the fields, wood stacking, music and singing, laughter-filled game playing, and non-stop cooking from dawn to dusk. We include traditions from our many families, honoring not only what we are creating together, but also the richness of what has created each of us. I am filled with gratitude for the countless meals that my mom prepared, meals that nourished and nurtured our family. I am filled with gratitude and awe for the feasts that Amy's mom continues to prepare that nourish and nurture so many of us; everywhere she goes, hungry friends and family follow, and we are all filled with her love and with her delicious food. This time of year, Halloween, when the veil between the world of the living and the world of the deceased is thin, I feel the presence and love of my mom and dad as strong and steady as the gentle drum of my heartbeat. And during this season of thanks, I feel the presence and love of my other mom and dad, of my extended family and friends, of this hilltown community, and I feel the abundance of the blessings in my life.
And this gratitude makes me want to cook, so let's see what's for dinner tonight. Our garden is still loaded with great food, but Amy is out there with a snow shovel to find it! There is kale, brussels sprouts, and broccoli emerging from the drifts, so our meal tonight will be built around these. I think we'll add one of our Thanksgiving favorites, Roasted Mashed Squash with Maple Rum Glaze, and cook up some quinoa and some of the dried beans we grew in our garden for tonight's feast. Enjoy!
Alice's Recipe - Roasted Sweet Potato Lasagne
Amy might be a southerner by heart and spirit, but she and I are yankees by practice; we light our first fire as late into the season as we can bear. This necessitates cooking on as many burners (we have 8!) and in as many ovens (we have 2) as possible when we are home and awake for more than a couple of hours. Fortunately, we still have a lot of food preservation happening, so on Wednesdays the burners are going full tilt, along with two heat-producing dehydrators. We are warm while we joyfully put up food to feed us through the rest of the year. But we still try to prepare our meals with heat-generating potential in mind.
We dug the last of our sweet potatoes, and these precious few coveted tubers are beckoning our culinary creativity. Aha! One of Amy's favorite entrees...Roasted Sweet Potato Lasagne. It requires a nice long burner time to caramelize some onions, and TWO turns in the oven...one to roast the potatoes and one to bake the lasagne. Perfect. I prepare this recipe by making or buying fresh egg pasta sheets. If you're not feeling up to the challenge of making fresh pasta, ask Alice to find you some of the fresh (frozen) egg pasta sheets from Vermont Fresh Pasta that she keeps stashed in the Creamery freezer; they're available for purchase. This delicious entree begs to be presented with candlelight and soft music, and in the company of cherished friends. It will open doors to conversation and camaraderie. Trust me...you'll see!
Alice's Recipe - Stuffed Winter Squash
Despite our balmy holiday weekend, my taste buds are craving the heartier foods of autumn. This time of year we're still quite busy harvesting the last crops from our garden, drying apples and pears, pressing cider, and putting the gardens to bed. Amy doesn't like to have a Wednesday go by (our day off when we actually get to cook and eat a supper at home) without winter squash on the menu. This week's recipe, Stuffed Winter Squash, is a hearty main course, or smaller portions could be served with another entree. I suggest rounding out the menu with cooked greens, raw carrot sticks with a nice bean dip, and a nice fall root crop such as turnips or beets. Pick a cool evening, build a little fire in the wood stove, snuggle up on the couch, pour some wine, and enjoy the abundance of blessings in this harvest time of year.
Alice's Recipe - Wild Mushroom Ragout
I have to admit I swooned. And what was at the receiving end of my heart-stopping, eyes-at-half-mast, sweaty palms swoon? The door to the Creamery swung open, and in walked....an armful of OYSTER MUSHROOMS! Glistening, full of vibrancy and life, and waiting patiently to be transformed into a delicious dinner. They were gathered in the wilds of Cummington with care and respect, and brought right to our Creamery to offer to you. Aahhh...life is good.
Okay, how to prepare this delicate treat. I close my eyes and look in my mind's eye at our kitchen at home. In my mind, I peer in to the refrigerator, scan the counters, and there I see it...our very last two tomatoes, now perfectly ripe. With our last sprigs of basil I compose a symphony in my mind. Wild Mushroom Ragout with freshly made pasta (or maybe soft and creamy polenta...I'm not sure yet), crusty bread, just picked Swiss chard and broccoli florets...I smile and swoon again. Life is good.
Alice's recipe of the week: Beets with Shallot Cream Sauce
Wednesday is the day that Amy and I spend away from the Creamery each week. Today is full of plans for harvesting, dehydrating, canning and freezing the abundance of treasures still in our garden. We manage to sneak in 2-3 garden-based meals during the day. Breakfast was fried eggs (local, of course!) with melted jack cheese, salsa verde (tomatillo sauce from our garden) and corn tortillas. We often only manage to get one more meal in amidst the fullness of our Wednesdays, but Amy has set the intention of eating: steamed potatoes with fresh herbs; roasted winter squash; green beans; roasted beets; steamed broccoli; swiss chard; and honeyed turnips. And we usually can't resist some of the fresh garden tomato sauce that we make every Wednesday to can or freeze. It sounds like we'll need two more meals today! The snacks in between will be dehydrated kale with olive oil and garlic (an awesome, crunchy snack), the apple ends from the dried apples, and the husk cherries that don't make it in to the dehydrator (Alice's favorite snack). The standard Wednesday afternoon break is a fruit smoothie with our own frozen fruit and our fresh made yogurt that Amy makes from Taproot Common Farms' delicious raw milk. Amy will drink fresh borage tea and we'll both enjoy some apple cider. Wow, I'd better get out to the garden so that we have time to eat all this wonderful food! Here is the recipe for Beets with Shallot Cream Sauce, one of our favorite side dishes. Build a meal with several garden-based side dishes and enjoy a harvest feast. And if you are in the Creamery on a Wednesday and don't see us, you'll know what we're up to...full of joy and contentment in our garden and kitchen.
Alice's Recipes - Braised Fennel and Braised Leek
Although the days are turning colder and the trees are appearing more like beautiful skeletons than lush and colorful shade providers, our garden is still feeding us very well. This week Amy and I harvested the rest of our red and yellow peppers and assorted chilies; a couple of artichokes; the remainder of the sweet potatoes; a few last delicious green beans, shell beans, and dry beans; the last picking of basil; gorgeous fennel bulbs; a few straggler tomatoes; summer and winter squash; another picking of apples for drying; and a few last, soggy raspberries. Still going strong are leeks, kale, broccoli, chard, Brussels sprouts, carrots, beets, and assorted greens. We'll joyfully eat out of the garden for a few more weeks without dipping in to our preserved goodies.
Last week, on our day off, I made some Braised Fennel as one of the dishes for our supper. Amy was so ecstatic about this dish that I thought I'd share the recipe with you. I've also included Braised Leeks, because it is made the same way. It's a great dish for this time of year. They're both easy to prepare, a bit unusual, and oh so delicious. Give them a try and let me know what you think.
Alice's recipes of the week:
The weather is softly leaning toward autumn. Though my garden is full of summer's light and fresh bounty (tomatoes, peppers, basil, zucchini, greens, beans, and dozens of other August delights), my appetite begins to lean toward hearty fare. This Italian-inspired rendition of Eastern European Stuffed Cabbage fits the bill for this seasonal transition time. If I make this during tomato season, I prepare Fresh Garden Tomato Sauce. Add a salad out of the garden or farmer's market, a freshly picked flower bouquet (even roadside wildflowers work great), invite a couple of friends, turn on some soft jazz (perhaps Avery Sharpe or Charlie Neville or Swing Caravan!), light a candle, and enjoy life's pleasures. (Click for recipes)
Fall Egg Roles
As Amy and I headed out to the garden last week to see what was for dinner, we passed our shitake mushroom logs. The weather for us humans has been dreadful, but mushrooms couldn't be happier! We saw an abundant flush of perfect shitake mushrooms. Hmmm... Let's see what goes with that. We found some beautiful Chinese cabbage, dug a few carrots, grabbed a few of our onions and garlic that we are curing, picked some of the shitake mushrooms, and made some fabulous egg rolls. (Yes, you can get the wrappers at the Creamery!) If you have any leftover cooked rice, you can make some great Fried Rice (add a scrambled local egg, sauteed diced onion, celery, and carrot, a little tamari and a dash of toasted sesame oil). A little stir fried broccoli from the garden and it's a feast. What a joy to build a meal around the abundant vegetables and fruits growing in our garden. Food picked fresh, full of life and nourishment, shared with people I love...life doesn't get any better than this.
Irene Aftermath Chowder
Did Irene leave any corn standing in your garden? This recipe for Southwestern Corn Chowder is a great way to use the last of our wonderful crop of fresh corn and fresh tomatoes. The cool evenings are turning my attention to soups, stews, and chowders. Add a salad made of fall spinach, tart local apples, crisp cucumber and red pepper, and hard boiled eggs (local of course!). Make a dressing with apple cider vinegar and olive oil (1 part vinegar to 3 parts oil), a little maple syrup, a dab of mustard, salt & pepper. Pick up a loaf of freshly baked bread or bake some biscuits or corn bread. Invite some friends over for lunch, sit outside in the sun, listen to the birds, and enjoy life. (Click below to download)
Potato Leek Soup
Amy and Dmitry dug the rest of our potatoes last week; they're curing for winter storage right now. We always set aside the small, split, and cut potatoes to use first. Looking at our hail-storm bedraggled leeks made me think of Potato Leek Soup. Along with that recipe, I've included instructions on making homemade vegetable stock. Make a big pot and bring some to a friend who needs comfort or healing; this soup is nourishing and delicious. When we grow and use local foods, prepare delicious food, and help care for people in need, we are part of sustaining this community we all cherish.
Quinoa Salad with Vegetable Stock
Quinoa is a wonderful grain to eat all year. It is quick to prepare, nourishing, and oh so delicious! I always prepare it with homemade vegetable stock. The flavor is nutty and very distinctive. The texture is fluffy, somewhat chewy, and delicate, all at the same time. It can be cooked and served hot or cold, and goes well with a myriad of other ingredients. Here is a recipe for Quinoa Salad that includes the last of this season's fresh corn and tomatoes. Add salad and cooked greens for a quick and delicious meal. This dish keeps well, so plan on enjoying it for several days. (click here for recipes for quinoa salad and homemade stock.)
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
One of our most revered deli offerings, and most requested recipes, is about the most unlikely choice I would imagine. If you were to ask a random group of 25 people what their least favorite foods are, I'll bet Brussels sprouts would be mentioned at least half of the time! Yet our Roasted Brussels Sprouts have a wildly enthusiastic and loyal following. We've had "confessions" from many of the fans: truck drivers eating them cold like candy while they're driving; college professors keeping some in their desk to snack on when no one is looking; and self-professed vegetable haters who can't get enough of them!
So here is this simple recipe for a nourishing, delicious and quick side dish to serve with most any meal. Amy and I still have a lot of Brussels sprouts from our garden; I think we'll have some for dinner tonight! I'll make potato leek soup (with our potatoes and leeks, vegetable stock that we froze from our garden, and a splash of High Lawn heavy cream), roasted beets with shallots (both from the garden), and some freshly baked bread. We'll cozy up to the wood stove and dream of this year's garden!
Summer Recipies from Alice's Cooking Classes
What a fabulous time of year for those of us who love to eat! Local produce is abundant, colorful, and beckoning to us to gather friends and family and prepare a feast. Here are a few ideas from my cooking class titled "Italian Sides". Add a fresh salad and some crusty bread for a banquet. When I think of preparing a meal this time of year, (in the words of my beloved Uncle Mike), I feel like a mosquito in a nudist colony! Amy gathers some of everything that is ready in our garden and we prepare a symphony. I try to create a menu that balances many colors, many textures, and some menu items with deep and hearty flavor profiles along with lighter side dishes. We gather with friends and family, pour our love in to the food, and enjoy life at its' best. Mangia!
Rachel Maddow's Perfect Mojito
Rachel Maddow graced us with her presence on Saturday, August 20, 2011, for our Co-op fundraiser. She also graced Alice with her recipe for the perfect Mojito, written on the back of Alice's name tag. The Creamery now carries Rachel's favorite brand of rum so we can all prepare this great drink. Those of you who know Alice's renowned drinking prowess (an ounce or two of wine per month!) will more fully appreciate this. Alice has said that she will most certainly make AND DRINK Rachel's mojito within the next month. No audience allowed, but sure to be entertaining! Maybe Amy will report back.
The Old Creamery Sustainability Library
The Hilltown Sustainability Library is on the quiet second floor of the Old Creamery. The Library is a collection of books, videos, and other resources related to living locally resilient and ecologically responsible lives on our beautiful home planet. We have a great selection of farming and gardening books and back issues of farming magazines. There are field guides to local plants and animals and books on ecology, green building, solar energy, plumbing, wiring, carpentry, country living skills, raising animals, canning and preserving, childbirth, health, and much more.
There are also numerous books addressing important current issues including climate change, fossil fuel dependency, ecological values, our food choices, land preservation, and intentional communities. We have a small selection of children's books and are looking for donations of more. Bring your cup of coffee along and sit, relax, read, read, read.
This Library is a true community effort. All books have been donated by our neighbors. We have room for at least another thousand books, so if you have relevant books on sustainability topics, we welcome your contributions.
The labor for insulating, painting, and plastering the room that houses the library was donated by local volunteers from the Hilltown Sustainability Group. Ralph Timberlake of Plainfield built our beautiful shelves and tables from wood logged on his land.
The library is open seven days a week during store hours, except for occasional closings to allow community groups to use the room as a meeting space. Ask our cashier for directions or the key if the door is locked. The library is open to everyone and operates on a self-checkout system that is explained on a sign at the checkout desk. Please come in and browse.
Gain a fuller appreciation for.....
Achieving sustainable community, and for that matter a sustainable world, raises a lot of questions. We want to use this space to help you find answers, and to stimulate community-wide dialog around these and many other questions. Click on the subject that you want to explore.
What is Global Warming doing to our oceans? (view this stunning movie)
Rideshare (using Western Mass. Craig's List)
Give us your ideas for additional areas to explore.