Saturday, August 18, 2012

Easy Peasy Peach Croissants

I'm almost embarrassed to post this recipe it's so easy.  Almost.  But it's SO good and the end results are SO pretty to look at I can't resist!  

This is another recipe from the Savory Sweet Life cookbook, which I would have glossed right over for the time being had Alice not featured it in her weekly cookbook club.  And just in case that wasn't incentive enough, the timing of her feature coincided with the debut of local peaches here in western Massachusetts.  Enough said.  Off to the store I went to purchase a package of frozen puff pastry.  

You begin by thawing one sheet of frozen puff pastry.  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Cut the peaches in half (my peaches were on the small side so I used three peaches) remove the pit and cut the peaches into slices.
Roll the puff pastry sheet out on a lightly floured surface and cut into four equal square pieces by cutting the sheet in half vertically and horizontally.  Take one square of puff pastry and rotate it so it looks like a diamond.  Place peach slices across the center of the diamond from left to right.   

Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, then grab the top and bottom corner and bring them to the center, pinching them together to seal them.  Repeat this process with each of the remaining squares and peach slices.

Place the croissants on the baking sheet.  Brush the puff pastry with an egg wash.  Bake for 25 minutes, or until the croissants are golden brown.  I topped mine with coarse sugar (because coarse sugar on top of nearly any baked good makes it better). 

I imagine these would be good with any sort of fruit filling.  I know I'll be making them with apples in a few weeks and would also like to try them filled with chocolate!

This is a great recipe to have on hand when you have overnight guests.  It's quick, simple and yields impressive results!

 Bon Appetit!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Orzo with Zucchini

So my dilemma this morning is figuring out whether I should make double chocolate zucchini bread OR lemon poppy-seed zucchini bread.  Perhaps a loaf of both?

Meanwhile, I've been meaning to share this recipe for orzo with zucchini (and CHEESE) with you!  Since we're in the height of zucchini season here in the northeast, I figured there's no better time than the present, so here you go!  

This recipe came from my friend, Kathryn, a few years ago and has become a 'regular' in our household.  You can use any type of cheese.  I've made it with good (imported) parmesan, goat cheese or most recently with Misery Mountain cheese from Cricket Creek Farm.   It's simple, hearty and delicious!

Orzo with Zucchini

1/2 lb. orzo
3 T. or so olive oil
a lot of zucchini: five or six small ones, two or three large ones, or even more
1 yellow or white onion, finely diced
1 c. or so grated/shredded cheese of your choice (the original recipe calls for parmesan, but I've used goat cheese, parmesan, or local farmstead cheese),salt and pepper to taste (I like to use Borsari and fresh-grated pepper.  Borsari is produced by one of my childhood neighbors, you can read more about that here.)

Mixing orzo, zucchini and cheese

1. Cook orzo according to package directions.
2. Grate the zucchini on the large holes of a box grater. Squeeze out excess water.
3. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Saute grated zucchini and onion over medium heat until well-cooked and beginning to brown (be patient, this will take a while)
4. Combine cooked orzo with cooked zucchini and onions. Stir in cheese.

Serving it up!

Bon Appetit!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Cabbage and Beet Borscht

I know I've posted before about how I don't like cucumbers, and now I have to rag on another vegetable:  beets.  They taste like dirt.  There, I said it.  Their sweetness just makes the dirt-flavor more pronounced.  They're what I imagine a mud pie would taste like.  Yuck.

But, a lot of people like beets.  They're beautiful.  We get them quite frequently in our CSA share.  And I'm not one to give up--there has to be a way to prepare these that will be better than palatable.  Something I'll think is good.

And I may have found that recipe.  Cabbage and beet borscht.  My mother-in-law likes borscht, and she was coming over for dinner so I figured I'd use up my dreaded beets on a meal I knew at least one person would enjoy.  I scanned around the internet looking for a recipe, and ultimately settled on this one since I also had a head of red cabbage sitting in the fridge from the CSA.

I followed the linked recipe from Allrecipes pretty closely (except I omitted the optional caraway seeds, and vegetable quantities were approximate based on how much I had on hand).  It appears to be a near-clone of the Borscht recipe from The Moosewood Cookbook, a cookbook that is sadly lacking from my bookshelf.  Perhaps this will be the impetus I need to finally add The Moosewood Cookbook to my collection!

End result was a soup where the beet flavor was tamed from "dirty" to "earthy".  I can live with earthy.  I mean, I wouldn't want to eat this borscht every day, but for the times when we get beets in our CSA share, well, this isn't such a bad way to use them up!

Zucchini Bread Bake-off

I had the fun task of being one of the "blogger's choice" judges at Fat Moon Farm's zucchini bread bake-off.  The other two judges were Kathi from The Full Fridge and Andy from My Untangled Life.  It was fun to meet other bloggers who are passionate about food and cooking!

I made a loaf of the double chocolate zucchini bread Jules posted the other day.

It was good--certainly didn't disappoint.  I didn't have espresso powder so I subbed a teaspoon of cinnamon--I'd probably use more in the future as you couldn't taste the cinnamon.  Also, like Jules, I sprinkled some coarse sugar on top, because, well, I thought that was a FINE idea!

But, my favorites of the day were a lemon poppy zucchini bread and a banana zucchini bread--I hope they end up sharing the recipe as anything I think is better than chocolate, you KNOW it has to be good!  Those were the two breads us three bloggers chose for the "bloggers' choice" awards.

**EDIT TO ADD--Here's a link to the Fat Moon site about the event, with links to recipes!

And here are the real winners--all of us who got to try all the delicious zucchini bread!  Thanks, Elizabeth at Fat Moon, for planning this fun event!

And check out the lovely flowers they gave me!  Aren't they beautiful?? 

A lovely afternoon, and one of the many reasons why I enjoy eating locally and getting to know local farmers and producers!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

100 ways to serve Peanut Coconut Sauce

Our posts have been a wee bit scarce the past couple of weeks, but that doesn't mean we haven't been cooking!  I've got a few recipes I can't wait to share with you.  

Several weeks ago I posted this recipe for noodles with peanut sauce. Since then, this peanut sauce, which keeps well for a couple of weeks in the fridge, has joined the ketchup, mustard and mayo in the condiment shelf, so I thought I'd share some of the many ways we've been serving it up.

You've heard me wax poetic about Alice Currah's Savory Sweet Life Cookbook (which is the source of the aforementioned peanut sauce recipe).  She also has an AMAZING recipe for Thai Marinated Grilled Chicken Skewers (which sounded a lot like Chicken Satay to my undiscriminating palette).  One night I found myself with a pork shoulder steak on hand from Holiday Brook Farm.  SO, I whipped up a batch of Alice's marinade and poured it over the pork steak so it could 'do its thing' overnight.  We grilled the pork over indirect heat (lighting alternate burners on our gas grille and placing the meat over the unlit burner).  I served it with sauteed snow peas (also from Holiday Brook Farm) and Alice's Coconut Rice, which is out of this world (and also good with Peanut Coconut Sauce drizzled on top). 

Here's the recipe for the marinade, which I followed to a T.

1/4 cup soy (Okay, I told a little white lie above - I actually used Tamari to make this gluten free.) 
3 Tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 Tablespoons oil
1 Tablespoon curry powder
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon finely minced fresh ginger 
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

Whisk all the marinade ingredients together in a bowl.  Pour over meat, covering it well.  Place in fridge (covered) to marinate for at least 1 hour or as long as overnight.

For the rice cook enough rice (I prefer jasmine rice here) to yield 4 cups.  As the rice is cooking, set a large, nonstick frying pan over medium heat.  Add 1 cup shredded, sweetened coconut and stir frequently until most of the flakes are aromatic, toasted and browned (3 to 4 minutes).  Immediately transfer the rice to a large bowl.  Add the warm rice to the bowl, and mix the rice and coconute continuously with a wooden spoon for 2 to 3 minutes, until the rice has change dcolor from white to light brown.

A week or so later, we were experiencing a wicked heat spell here in the northeast.  I couldn't bring myself to cook indoors and decided to put the leftover Peanut Coconut Sauce and Nappa Cabbage from our CSA share at Holiday Brook Farm to good use.  I chopped the cabbage and shredded a few carrots on top for a splash of color.  I grilled a couple of boneless chicken breasts and cut them into chunks, then tossed them into the cabbage/carrot mixture.  Added a few toasted, sliced almonds and some fried mung bean threads.  Poured some Peanut Coconut Sauce on top and voila - dinner was served!  Even my other half, who would normally balk at the idea of having salad for supper really enjoyed this! 

And finally, the recipe for which this sauce is intended.  Thai Marinated Grilled Chicken Skewers.

I again used the  marinade recipe above, but only had time to let the chicken 'soak' for an hour.  Then I grilled the chicken for 8 to 10 minutes turning the skewers over half-way through.  Serve with Coconut Rice and a salad - YUM!

I know I *promised* 100 ways to serve Peanut Coconut Sauce and I've only shared three, but honestly, there have probably been 97 additional servings right off the spoon.  This sauce is THAT good.  So do yourself a favor and try it soon!

Bon Appetit!

Friday, July 27, 2012

double chocolate zucchini bread

This blog post is dedicated to my friend, Adrienne.

Wednesday night Holiday Brook Farm held their first CSA member potluck.  It was a wonderful night filled with great friends and fantastic food - not only do farmers know how to grow food, they also know how to transform it into a gastric delight!  I'm still trying to figure out why my grilled eggplant doesn't taste *that* good ('that good' referring to the eggplant I consumed prior to the arrival of fresh goat cheese on the scene, when I promptly plopped a dollop on top of a slice of grilled eggplant, rolled it up and proceeded to eat it with my bare hands).  

Within a day or two of finding out about the potluck dinner, I received an email from my friends at King Arthur Flour sharing this recipe for double chocolate zucchini bread. Fast forward a couple of days and I'm at the farm picking up our weekly vegetable (CSA) share and lo and behold zucchini was amongst the offerings.  My fate was sealed.

I followed the aforementioned recipe exactly, save for a sprinkling of coarse sugar on top (because let's face it, coarse sugar on top makes most any baked good better).

The bread was a hit and honestly, you would never know there was zucchini tucked inside!  It simply adds moisture to this delectable dessert.  I'll be making this again in the days ahead so I can share it with the gals at work.  I may also have to put a slice aside for my friend, Adrienne, who took her zucchini bread 'to go' Wednesday night, only to have a certain member of her household, who shall go unnamed (but who happens to be her marital partner), eat every last bite!

Tip:  It took nearly 80 minutes for my bread to finish baking and next time, I'll line my pan with parchment so I can remove it from the pan with ease.   

I'm already looking forward to the next potluck.  Farm life is soothing to my soul and eating amidst the crops and livestock are particularly so.  As we drove down the driveway that evening, my son asked, 'are we going to do this again'?  And for a moment in time, all was well in the world.

Bon Appetit! 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Blueberry Mint Lemonade Slush

It's not big news to say it's been a hot summer here in New England.  It's hot.  Oppressive, even.  I'm not particularly keen on hot days--I'm more of a spring or autumn gal.  But, as much as I'd like to, I can't just huddle inside buildings with air conditioning.  I feel compelled to bring the kids out from time to time.  Which is why you'll find me at zoos or amusement parks or blueberry patches on 95 degree days, when I'd much prefer to be hiding in a cave (note:  I took the kids on a cave tour two weeks ago.  Half of which required walking around outside on a 90+ degree day.  The inside part of the tour, though, was a nice place to recover.  I hated to leave!)

When it gets too hot, I like to make a cold drink.  While blended coffee drinks have long been my go-to favorite, they're not exactly kid-friendly.  So I decided to make a lemonade slush the kids and I could all enjoy.

As I mentioned in my last post, I recently took the kids blueberry picking (yes, when it was over 90 degrees out!), so this recipe continues with my trend of throwing some of the 6 and a half pounds of blueberries we picked into nearly everything I make.  But no worries, blueberries go great with lemonade, so it's a good match.

And let me explain why I'm throwing mint in everything.  I have a lot of mint in my garden.  Well, that was a shorter explanation than I thought I'd need.  Oh yeah, and I really like mint.  That's the other reason.  But if you aren't faced with an overabundance of mint and/or you aren't particularly a mint fan, feel free to leave it out.

I like my slushy drink thick enough to eat with a spoon.  You could make yours more of a drink by adding more water/using less ice.  Or do what I do:  start out with a thick slush and bring it outside.  Before you know it, it'll be largely melted!


  • Lots of ice
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (or more to taste)
  • 1/4 cup sugar (or more to taste)
  • 1 cup water (or more or less to taste)
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries (it's okay to use fresh if that's all you have.  As soon as I pick blueberries, I throw a ton in the freezer as we mostly use them for smoothies so we always have plenty of frozen blueberries)
  • Couple of mint leaves (maybe 10 or so)


Fill your blender about 3/4 full with ice.  Add all the other ingredients.  Blend until slushy.  You'll probably have to stir it a few times between blending.  If it's too thick and the ingredients just aren't getting pulled into the blade, add some more water, 1/4 cup at a time.

Taste and adjust lemon or sugar quantities to make it more tart or sweet, if necessary.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Blueberry Salad Dressing

The kids and I went and picked 6 and a half pounds of blueberries yesterday.  It didn't even take long, the picking was that good. 

Oh, I'll make blueberry pie, and blueberry muffins, and blueberry pancakes, and blueberry smoothies.  Not to worry!  But we'd just picked up our CSA share and had a huge head of lettuce, not to mention other salad fixin's.  So salads it is for the next few days.

I've been trying to make more of my own salad dressings. I've found a couple of really great HFCS-free, artificial color- and flavor-free options for salad dressing at the grocery store.  But, it's just so easy to make salad dressing.  And I can jazz it up how *I* like it.  And only make enough for a day or two, instead of having bottles sit in the fridge for months.

It's quick, easy, and delicious.  The hardest part is cleaning the food processor after dinner!


  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon (remember to zest the lemon BEFORE cutting and juicing!)
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon agave nectar
  • ~4 or so mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt to taste (optional)


Add the blueberries, lemon zest and juice, apple cider vinegar, agave nectar, and mint leaves to a food processor.  Blend it all up.

Drizzle in the olive oil while continuing to food process.  Stop when it's salad dressing-y.

Serve over the salad fixin's of your choice (I had lettuce, arugula, cherry tomatoes, and radishes from our CSA, plus some avocado and sunflower seeds.  Then I threw in a handful of extra blueberries--believe me, with 6 and a half pounds in the house, I'm putting blueberries with every meal!)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Turn the ordinary into the extraordinary!

As my friend, Sally, said - 'When you have quality ingredients, even a simple meal tastes like a masterpiece'.  Such was the case when I found myself with a fresh loaf of oatmeal bread from Cricket Creek Farm, plus a head of fresh-picked leaf lettuce and pastured pork bacon from Holiday Brook Farm on hand. It was clear to me that my lunchtime mission was to prepare a BLT;  once I accepted this mission, I set off to pick up a lovely heirloom tomato from Berkshire Organics.

Now the realization that I had these ingredients on hand coincided with my desire to try the Baked Brown Sugar Bacon recipe in the Savory Sweet Life cookbook. I've been a big fan of baking bacon for quite some time.  It's the no-mess, set-it-and-forget-it method!  Normally, I would line my jelly roll pan with foil, lay the bacon in the pan and bake for 20 to 30 minutes at 375 degrees until the bacon is nice and crispy. 

For this recipe, you preheat the oven to 400 degrees and place a wire rack on top of a rimmed baking sheet (I used my standard jelly roll pan).  Toss one pound of bacon slices with 1/4 cup of brown sugar in a medium bowl.  then lay the bacon slices on the wire rack and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until crisp.
Note:  If desired, you can add 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne powder to the brown sugar for some added heat.

While the bacon was baking, I toasted two hardy slices of farm-fresh oatmeal bread.  Once everything was done, I assembled my masterpiece.  I slathered one slice of toasted bread with mayonnaise (which I'm going to try making myself with farm-fresh eggs one day soon)!  I topped this with with several leaves of lettuce, two generous slices of heirloom tomato, four slices of brown sugar bacon, followed by another piece of toasted bread.

PERFECTION!  The perfect combination of sweet and savory and oh, so satisfying goodness.  Fresh, local ingredients really DO make a difference.  In so many ways.

Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tomato, Basil and Cheddar Egg on a Bagel

Sometimes I get home from the Westford Farmer's Market with so much delicious food, I don't really need a recipe.  I just eat things raw, or lightly steamed or sauteed.

Today was one of those days.  I just threw a few things together in a couple of minutes, and it was perfection.  Everything was fresh and flavorful and I didn't need to fuss.  An everything bagel from Bagel Alley, cherry tomatoes, eggs, and basil from Dragonfly Farms, and farmhouse cheddar from West River Creamery.  When you have quality ingredients, even a simple meal tastes like a masterpiece!


  • 1/2 of an everything bagel (or bagel flavor of your choice)
  • Couple of cherry tomatoes, sliced into 3 or 4 pieces (or a slice of a regular tomato)
  • 4 or 5 basil leaves
  • 1 egg
  • butter
  • salt and pepper
  • A few thin slices of cheddar (or other cheese of your choice)


Toast bagel.  Top with sliced tomato and basil.

Meanwhile, melt a little butter in a small skillet over medium heat.  Crack one egg into the pan.  Fry until done to your liking (over medium for me).  Season with salt and pepper.

Place fried egg on top of the tomato and basil.  Put the cheddar slices on top of the egg--the heat of the egg will melt the cheese slightly.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

My favorite smoothie recipes

Smoothies are my 'go to' meal in the morning.  They're quick, easy and delicious!  Oh, and they're portable too!  I take mine with me in the morning as I run out the door after getting everyone else off to daycare, school or work.

The key to a good smoothie (aside from using fresh ingredients) is a great blender.  I have a commercial grade Waring bar blender, which I love.  It has served me well for many, many years.  You want a blender that's able to crush that ice into a smooth, delectable treat or else your smoothie won't be a smoothie.*

Most of the time, I don't have a 'recipe', per say for my morning smoothie.  I just toss in whatever fruit I happen to have on hand, add a little yogurt, raw honey, ice and blend.  Some of the results have been more pleasing to the palate than others, 'though honestly, I've never met a smoothie I didn't like.

Here are a few of my favorites!

Peach AlmondEnergy Smoothie from courtesy of Cate. Sweet and savory at the same time, this almond-butter and peach energy smoothie is a good choice for breakfast, dinner, or both. These ingredients make two servings; share with a friend, refrigerate half for later (but not longer than 24 hours), or halve the recipe.

1/4 cup almond butter
2 cardamom pods or 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 1/2 cups pure water
1 cup frozen peaches (I always use fresh)
1 to 2 teaspoons agave syrup (I more often than not use raw honey)
1/2 cup ice

Blend everything except ice until smooth.  Add ice and blend again.

Chocolate-Almond Smoothie chocolate for breakfast, does it get any better than this?  Seriously, this smoothie is SO satisfying.
1 ripe banana
1 cup milk (I use raw milk, but use whatever you normally drink)
1/4 cup almond butter (sometimes I'll substitute peanut butter in place of the almond butter)
1 tablespoon honey (I use raw, local honey)
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup ice

Combine all ingredients, except ice in a blender, and blend until smooth.  Add ice and blend again.

Ginger Berry and Oat Smoothie -*this is an 'un-smooth smoothie' courtesy of Real Simple magazine.  Oats really add 'substance' to a smoothie on those days when you need a little something more.  
1/4 cup old-fashioned oats (I've been known to use steel cut oats, which work fine, but create a more 'textured' smoothie.)
1/2 cup frozen blueberries (If you don't have frozen blueberries on hand, don't sweat it, fresh will do just fine.)
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon fresh, grated ginger
1/2 cup ice

Place oats and 1/2 cup water in a blender, let soak until oats have softened (about 15 minutes).  Add blueberries, yogurt, sugar and ginger; blend until smooth.  Add ice and blend again. 

My original intent was to stop here, but one of my recent smoothie experiments was SO tasty, I just have to share it too!  It all started with some cherries that were a bit past their prime.  I pitted them and tossed them in the freezer with the intent of using them in a smoothie at some point in time.  (I do this quite often with fruit that gets buried in the rotter my crisper.)  Here's the step by step of what happened the next day.

Cherry-Banana Smoothie
3/4 cup of frozen, pitted cherries
1/2 cup of milk (I used raw milk; use whatever you normally drink)
1/4 teaspoon of almond extract
1 banana (if they're frozen, all the better) 

Combine all ingredients, except ice in a blender, and blend until smooth.  Add ice and blend again.

There are SO many fresh, local fruits available in our region right nowThe possibilities are endless?  What are some of your favorite smoothie recipes?

Bon Appetit! 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Yummy Yogurt

A little over a year ago, I began drinking raw milk.  I had been on the fence about this for quite some time (there are a lot of fear mongerers out there when it comes to raw milk and well, I'm a worrywart by nature).  The tipping point came when I found out that I actually grew up on raw milk, which came to us in glass bottles from a neighbor's cows. 

Now I should confess, I'm not much of a milk drinker.  At least I wasn't.  I didn't really like milk. At least I didn't think so...until I tasted my first glass of nice, cold, raw milk.  DELICIOUS!  I was hooked and never turned back.  The laws on selling raw milk vary from state to state.  In MA, dairy farmers can obtain a license to sell raw milk to consumers on farmYou will find a list of farms that sell raw milk here (along with a list of the benefits of raw milk).

While I may not have been drinking a lot of milk a year ago, I was consuming it in yogurt form.  I would pack a container of Greek yogurt in my lunch on a daily basis and add a healthy amount of yogurt (or Kefir) to my morning smoothie.   The cost was adding up, as was my guilt over tossing all of those individual yogurt containers into our landfill (they aren't recyclable here).

SO....I began to Google homemade yogurt recipes.  It's a simple process, really.  But it did take me some time to get the incubation part down.  I tried using my crockpot (there are many people in the blogosphere who've had great success with this method, but my end result was repeatedly more of a smoothie consistency vs. the sour cream consistency I was aiming for).  

I finally invested in a Yogotherm, which I purchased at the Cricket Creek Farm store.  After trying several different starter yogurts, I also purchased this starter from the New England Cheesemaking Company.  It yields a slightly sweeter (and I use that term loosely), nice, thick yogurt.

With the proper tools, I've been consistently making homemade yogurt on a weekly basis.  Here are the steps I follow.

Heat 1/2 gallon of milk to 185ºF, hold for 5-10 minutes then cool to 112 - 115ºF (you do not want to exceed 120ºF here or you will kill off your culture). I used a enamel-coated cast iron dutch oven to heat my milk. It heats evenly and I've found if I place a few ice cubes in the pan to 'chill' the bottom before I begin making yogurt, it prevents the milk from sticking.  I use a quick-read thermometer to monitor my temperature.  It's what I have and it works!  At 185ºF, the milk will begin to froth like this.

Pour into Yogotherm. Add 1 packet starter culture, let rehydrate 2 minutes then stir.  Cover and let set on the counter for approximately 6 hours or until thickened to desired consistency (the longer you let it go, the more tart it will be). 
Place yogurt in fridge to chill before eating.  Once you begin scooping it out, the whey will be released from your yogurt.  You can strain the yogurt through butter muslin for a couple of hours in your fridge, you can gently pour the whey off OR stir it right into your yogurt.  If you strain or pour it off, don't dump it down the drain!  Here are 16 ways you can use that whey.  

Once it's chilled add fruit, vanilla, maple syrup, honey or whatever your heart desires to your yogurt and enjoy!

 Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Give me a P(ea)!

One of the rites of summer in my house is to make risotto with the first farm-fresh pint of shell peas in our CSA share (I've also been known to break down and use sugar snap peas - you can read about that here).  Another favorite summertime combo is snow peas and pasta tossed with peanut sauce.  (Okay, I would eat liver if it was doused in peanut sauce...what's your point?) 

Last week, the pickin' was good at Holiday Brook Farm and the boy and I picked a pint of snow peas in minutes flat.  That same boy then proceeded to eat half the pint of snow peas in minutes flat.  Sigh.  I know, I should be happy about this, but I had plans for those peas!  I was determined though.  I've made many a peanut sauce over the years, but couldn't wait to try the recipe for Peanut Coconut Sauce in my Savory Sweet Life cookbook.

I adore peanut sauce.  So much so, that I was tempted to forego the peas and noodles and just drink it straight from the quart jar in which I'm storing this sauce.  But then I wouldn't have a local, garden-related post to share with you.  So I proceeded, with my measly supply of peas in hand (just how measly will become evident in my 'reveal photo' below).

I followed Alice's recipe exactly, 'though I couldn't find the Chaokoh brand coconut milk that she recommended;  I used Native Forest brand instead.  And I substituted Tamari sauce for Soy so it was gluten free.  Here's the step by step.

Peanut Coconut Sauce - makes almost 2 cups
One 13.5 ounce can coconut milk
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce (or tamari sauce)
1 1/2 teaspoons red curry paste

Combine the coconut milk, peanut butter, brown sugar, soy sauce and red curry paste in a saucepan and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes stirring occasionally.

Cook's note:  Use this sauce over grilled meat, vegetables, steamed rice, or your favorite pasta dish.  It will keep for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. 

I tossed the sauce with some rice pasta (linguine to be exact) and a handful of snow peas and served it as a side dish with roasted chicken.  Delish!

I asked two of the girls at work if they wanted forced two of the gals at work to try my leftovers and they both asked for the recipe if that's any indication of how good this is!

We'll be drinking this from the container eating this a lot!   Let me know what you think if when you try it.

Bon appetit!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Cooking Away My CSA

When most people hear the term 'CSA' their thoughts turn to fruits and (more likely) vegetables.  That's certainly how we began our love affair with CSA's.  But CSA's aren't confined to produce. Some farms include the option for shareholders to purchase shares of eggs, homemade bread, meat, cheese, fruit, flowers or other farm products along with their veggies. Sometimes several farmers will offer their products together, to offer the widest variety to their members. For example, a produce farmer might create a partnership with a neighbor to deliver cheese to the CSA drop off point, so that the CSA members can purchase farm-fresh cheese when they come to get their CSA share. Or a farm may create a standalone CSA for meat, flowers, eggs, or cheese, etc. 

As I mentioned above, we initially joined a vegetable CSA.  My son was four at the time.  Having grown up in a rural area where my parents raised and preserved every jar of jam and jelly, chili sauce and spaghetti sauce, pickles and applesauce and.... (you get the picture) pretty much everything we consumed, I was overcome with the desire to at least expose him to freshly grown produce.  I wanted him to know where fruits and vegetables really comes from and to taste the fresh goodness of organically grown, local produce. Next stop - Holiday Brook Farm in Dalton.  It wasn't long thereafter that Holiday Brook Farm began their meat CSA and we immediately signed up for a monthly pork share too.  We've had a fabulous experience there (just ask my son who ate half our allotted pint of self-picked snow peas last Saturday before I could even get them home).  
Last summer Cricket Creek Farm in Williamstown began a cheese CSA featuring their handmade cheeses and offered the option to pick your share up at Holiday Brook Farm.  Cheese?  Are you kidding me?  Sign me up!  
A few months later, I converted to raw milk (that's another post for another day) and began making the trek to Cricket Creek on a regular basis for their sweet, creamy, Jersey and Brown Swiss milk.  So when they expanded their cheese CSA last winter to include raw milk and meat - you guessed it, I signed up!  They've continued to expand and modify their CSA in an attempt to meet their members needs.  They now offer bread, dairy, meat, ground beef and egg options, in addition to cheese, of course!

But enough of me waxing poetic.  Let me show you some of the delicious goodness that abounds in the Berkshires (and quite possibly where you live too!).  These were all taken in the past week.  Yes, we eat good here!

I hope these images will inspire you to eat good too.  And support your local farms in the process.

Bon Appetit!
Strawberry shortcake with berries from Nourse Farm
courtesy of Berkshire Organics
Boneless pork chop from Holiday Brook Farm
and asparagus from Smiarowski Farm
Grilled Burger with ground beef from Cricket Creek Farm
and sauteed snow peas from Holiday Brook Farm
Morning coffee with fresh 'cream'
(off the top of this bottle of raw milk from Cricket Creek Farm)
Raisin bread toast with fresh farmstead butter
from Cricket Creek Farm
Tom's frittata made with farm fresh eggs from
Cricket Creek Farm and amazing breakfast sausage
from Holiday Brook Farm


Monday, June 18, 2012

Garlic Scape Pesto Pasta Salad

I almost always serve garlic scape pesto over gnocchi.  I love gnocchi.  I love how it stands up to the garlic-y garlic scape pesto.  It's perfect together, if you ask me.  But, the best gnocchi in the world is from Fior d'Italia. They sell at Farmer's Markets all over the region, but I just haven't caught them yet this summer.  It's early, and most markets open this coming week.  So no gnocchi in the house.

But I had garlic scapes.  What to do?  I decided to make a cold pasta salad with garlic scape pesto.

I've previously posted a garlic scape pesto recipe, though quite honestly, I don't really follow a recipe any more.  Just toss into the food processor:  garlic scapes.  Drizzle in extra virgin olive oil and pulse until broken down.  Add in herbs of your choice.  This time I did fresh basil (lots) and mint (just a few leaves--it's a strong flavor so just use a few for a really interesting undertone).  Drizzle in some more olive oil and pulse some more until the herbs are broken down.  Add a ton of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  Add more olive oil if you need.  Toss in a little salt and pepper and a splash of lemon juice.  Whiz it all up again, adjusting any ingredients if necessary.  I hate to give quantities, since it really depends on how many garlic scapes you start with.

Anyway, what I'm really posting here is a recipe for garlic scape pesto pasta salad, so I'm just going to assume you've followed the instructions above, or followed the link, or made your own scape pesto.   Oh, especially because I should note that due to nut allergies in the house, we do a nut-free pesto.  You might be nuttier than us, though.  Knock yourself out!  Throw in walnuts, or pine nuts, or whatever nuts you want.  I'm jealous.


Pasta of your choice.  I used orecchiette today.
Prepared Garlic Scape Pesto
Diced avocado
Any other veggies you have around or think would be good in a cold pasta salad
Squeeze of lemon
Extra freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Prepare pasta according to package directions.  Rinse in cold water after cooking and transfer to a large bowl.

Stir in enough garlic scape pesto to get everything nice and green and coated.

Add some diced avocado and cooked corn.  Plus whatever other veggies you think go in a pasta salad.  Some cherry tomatoes would have been nice, but I didn't have any.

Squeeze some lemon on top and gently stir it all together.  Garnish with some Parmesan cheese.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Pea Shoot Omelets

I've been trying to get to Fat Moon Farm each Thursday afternoon for their farmstand.  Not always an easy task, as Thursday afternoons are piano lessons, and make up t-ball games.  But, it's worth the effort.  Last week, I got there too late--all that was left was pea shoots!  But, as I always say, when life gives you pea shoots, make pea shoot omelets!

1 portabella mushroom
1 small onion
1 big handful of pea shoots
Olive oil or butter
Herbs of your choice (I picked some parsley and chives from the garden).  Optional--use a tablespoon or two, or none
2 eggs (per omelet.  I had enough filling for two omelets)
Splash of milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Diced tomatoes (optional)
Cheese (optional--I wanted to use goat cheese, but turns out I didn't have any.  So I tossed on a little shredded cheddar)

Dice the portabella mushroom and onion and saute in olive oil or butter until soft, about 10 minutes.

Wash the pea shoots.  Coarsely chop into pea shoots.

Mince the herbs.

Add the pea shoots and herbs to the pan with the sauteed mushroom and onion.  Stir, then turn off the heat.  The warmth from the pan/burner will finish cooking the pea shoots and herbs--you really just need them wilted.

In a measuring cup or small bowl, whisk the eggs with a splash of milk and salt and pepper to taste.

Place a small skillet over medium low heat.  Melt about a half tablespoon of butter, swirling around the pan.  In general, I'm not a big fan of non-stick cookware, but I have one skillet that I use just for scrambled eggs and omelets.  If anyone has tips for making omelets without non-stick, I'd love to hear them!

When the butter is melted, pour the eggs into the pan.  As the sides begin to set, use a rubber spatula to loosen the edges.  Continue cooking until the top is almost set.

Add a good sized scoop of the mushroom/onion/pea shoot mixture to one side of the omelet.  Top with diced tomato and cheese if you're using.  Use a rubber spatula to fold the other side of the omelet on top.  Let cook for an additional minute or two, then remove to a plate.  Top with a little extra filling if you'd like.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Rhubarb Rhapsody

Last week, I was going along my merry way, just minding my own business when schwoop an email update from Smitten Kitchen landed in my inbox.  This was no ordinary update; a mere glance at the subject line caught my immediate attention - rhubarb snacking cake.  

Described as 'Part buckle, part streusel cake and part crumb bar', I was hooked before I could measure out the first scoop of sugar. In the meantime, to make sure I didn't 'miss out' on such a delectable delight, one of my colleagues forwarded the aforementioned email update to me at work.  (Conspiracy anyone?)

Lucky for me, Sunday was pretty iffy weather-wise.  SO, I whipped up a rhubarb snacking cake for my culinary focus group (aka - the gals at work) to determine whether this recipe was a keeper blog worthy.  The mere fact that you're reading this right now is a quick summary of their feedback. 

I followed Deb's recipe exactly, except I used farm fresh cinnamon butter from Cricket Creek Farm for the crumb topping (in lieu of butter and cinnamon).  

The rhubarb was from my brother-in-law's patch, the eggs were from Cricket Creek Farm and the flour was from King Arthur.  Here's the step-by-step.

1 1/4 pound (565 grams) rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch lengths on the diagonal
1 1/3 cup (265 grams) granulated sugar, divided
1 tablespoon lemon juice (psst, skip ahead and zest it for the cake before you cut it)
1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces or 115 grams) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 large eggs
1 1/3 cups (165 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/3 cup (80 grams) sour cream

1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (50 grams) light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick, 2 ounces, or 55 grams) unsalted butter, melted

Make the cake: Preheat your oven to 350°F. Coat the bottom and sides of a 9×13-inch baking pan with butter or a nonstick cooking spray, then line the bottom with parchment paper, extending the lengths up two sides. (It will look like a sling). Stir together rhubarb, lemon juice and 2/3 cup sugar and set aside. Beat butter, remaining sugar and lemon zest with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at at time, scraping down the sides after each addition. Whisk together flour, baking powder, 3/4 teaspoon table salt and ground ginger together in a small bowl. Add one-third of this mixture to the batter, mixing until just combined. Continue, adding half the sour cream, the second third of the flour mixture, the remaining sour cream, and then the remaining flour mixture, mixing between each addition until just combined.

Dollop batter over prepared pan, then use a spatula — offset, if you have one, makes this easiest — to spread the cake into an even, thin layer. Pour the rhubarb mixture over the cake, spreading it into an even layer (most pieces should fit in a tight, single layer).
Stir together the crumb mixture, first whisking the flour, brown sugar, table salt and cinnamon together, then stirring in the melted butter with a spoon or fork. Scatter evenly over rhubarb layer. Bake cake in preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes. The cake is done when a tester comes out free of the wet cake batter below. It will be golden on top. Cool completely in the pan on a rack.

Cut the two exposed sides of the cake free of the pan, if needed, then use the parchment “sling” to remove the cake from the pan. Cut into 2-inch squares. 

Oh and while we're talking about rhubarb, Maple Valley Creamery is currently offering Taft Farm rhubarb ice cream.  It has the subtle taste of rhubarb in a yummy cream base. Try it while you can buy it!Local peeps will find it at Berkshire Organics

Bon Appetit!  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Strawberry Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

Strawberry season!  What can I say, strawberries are one of those things that you can get all year in the supermarket, but it's just not worth it.  Nothing compares to in-season, just picked strawberries.  I'm starting to see local strawberries pop up in more and more places.  I picked up a quart of delicious tiny, slightly tart strawberries from Springdell Farm in Littleton yesterday.  Besides just eating them plain, one of my favorite things to do is add them to a salad.  Especially with the slightly tart berries like I got from Springdell.  And that's not a complaint--I love when the berries have that touch of sour to go with the sweet.  It's a great match for a vinegar-y salad dressing.

So here's a recipe for strawberry vinaigrette salad dressing.  I'm not going to give you a "recipe" for salad--just add your favorite salad ingredients.  I will, however, suggest you add some crumbled bleu cheese.  It's a great match with the strawberry flavor.  I picked up some of my favorite local bleu cheese:  Great Hill Blue.  Yum!  And I also like to include some sliced berries in the salad as well.  Delightful!


1 cup whole strawberries, hulled
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 to 1/3 cup red wine vinegar (depends on how tart you like your dressing--I've been known to dress a salad with straight vinegar, so I like mine vinegar-y!)
Fresh thyme (lemon thyme if you have it)--about 1 tablespoon of leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon sugar (optional--I forgot it this time and didn't miss it, though as I've mentioned, I like a really tart dressing)


Add all ingredients to a food processor.  Whiz it around until it's salad dressing.  Drizzle over your favorite salad.

Monday, June 4, 2012

We're on facebook!

We've just set up a facebook page!  If you're on facebook, head on over and "like" us.  You know, if you want to :)

We'll be posting notifications when we've published new recipes, and sharing some of our old favorite recipes when the ingredients come in season.

Thanks for reading and hope to see you there!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Scrumptious Cardamom Ginger Scones

There's a local restaurant that makes these heavenly cardamom ginger scones. Every time I'm in their neighborhood in the morning, I just *have* to stop in and grab one to go.  So, when I picked up our CSA share from Cricket Creek Farm last week and saw fresh cardamom butter in the fridge, I immediately knew it was going to be a part of my allotted dairy share.

It was raining yesterday, so I spent some quality time with my friend, Google, and lo and behold came across this recipe for cardamom ginger scones.  Be still my heart, I knew what I was doing first thing Sunday morning.

I followed this recipe exactly, although I *may* have been a bit liberal with the chopped, crystallized ginger.  I love ginger; you can never have too much ginger.  If you adore this rhizome as much as me, be liberal with your ginger too.  You'll thank me for it later.

Oh, and don't be alarmed by the yellowish color of the scones in the picture above.  The recipe calls for brushing the scones with an egg and sugar wash before baking.  We eat nothing but farm fresh eggs from free range chickens (also from Cricket Creek Farm) and their yolks are noticeably more yellow than eggs you buy at the grocery store.  This is due to their diet (the yolks are thicker and richer tasting too)!  After I brushed the unbaked scones with an egg and sugar wash, I sprinkled coarse sugar on the top of my scones. I'm a big fan of the rustic appearance it creates and the crunch it adds to baked goods.

This recipe says it yields 12 scones.  I ended up with a baker's dozen, so was able to enjoy one with my coffee while I packaged up a dozen to take into work tomorrow.  That is if they all make it that far.

This one's a keeper.  I've got some more cardamom butter, which I'm going to freeze.  I'll be making these again. 

Bon Appetit!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Rhubarb Dal

Yum.  Rhubarb.  I'm late to the rhubarb game--I don't think I'd ever tried rhubarb growing up.  But, I've grown to love the sour/sweet taste in the past few years, and that it's one of the first local foods available each spring here in the northeast.

So, when I was cruising around the internet looking for rhubarb recipes, I came across this dal recipe from Mark Bittman with a suggestion to add rhubarb.  Hey, I'm game!  I love lentils; I love dal!

End result was a truly delicious meal.  The rhubarb added a nice, not at all overpowering, zing to the dal.  Adding this to my rhubarb recipe rotation!

Made a lot of subs to the recipe based on what I had.  So here's my version:


1 cup dried red lentils
1 cup chopped rhubarb (about one large stalk)
2 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground ginger (ack!  I was out of fresh ginger--I'd probably use fresh ginger as the original recipe calls for, though the ground ginger wasn't bad)
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
Vegetable stock (or water) to cover
1 large onion
Coconut oil or olive oil for sauteeing
Butter (optional)
Cooked rice (optional)


In a large stock pot, combine the dried lentils, chopped rhubarb, garlic, and spices.  Add enough vegetable stock (or water) to cover by about 1 inch.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook, partially covered, for about 30 minutes until lentils and rhubarb are tender.

Meanwhile, thinly slice the onion.  Add to a large skillet with coconut oil or olive oil and cook over medium low heat until caramelized (it'll take about a half hour, so get it in as soon as the lentils start!)
To serve, place rice (optional) and dal in a bowl, top with a pat of butter if desired, and then with caramelized onions.