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Archive for the ‘Pancakes and Waffles’ Category
Sunday, May 5th, 2013
A week ago about this time I was sitting on the back patio at the Lakeview Inn in Greensboro, Vermont reading books on foraging (for an upcoming post on my Portland Press Herald blog The Root) and getting a bit of sun. Cathy and Scott Donnelly, the trusting owners (who I have yet to meet) had left the place and a jar of Gummy Bears (do they know my not so secret obsession with that candy??) in my hands. I’d spent the past day and a half enjoying Hardwick and vicinity and was happy and relaxed.
Last fall, while having coffee with my friend SL we got to talking about bees (my friend A keeps his hives at her home), when an acquaintance of hers leaned over (it’s that kind of friendly coffee shop) and told us about this article he’d read recently on a guy in Vermont making vodka out of honey. My interest peaked I went home and promptly Googled the story. There it was…Caledonia Spirits & Winery, producers of handcrafted spirits including a vodka distilled from honey wine and gin made from local grains and flavored with local honey. I don’t remember exactly how the next few weeks played out, but in a nutshell I decided it would be a good next story for me to write about for the Huffington Post (all things crossed, it will publish in May) so I reached out to the company and somehow got hooked up with Andrew Volk , Owner, Portland Hunt & Alpine Club, Maine and a semi-official representative for Caledonia Spirits, who met me for coffee (I don’t know about you, but I get more done when drinking coffee) to talk about Caledonia’s unique place in the spirits world. It was then/there that Andrew (who along with his lovely wife Briana, are two of my favorite people in Maine’s food/drink world) and I hatched the idea for what would become the first of the Hush, Hush Parties (see here and here). We’d bring Todd Hardie, the founder of Caledonia Spirits, to Portland, Maine for a house party at which Andrew could work his magic with Todd’s spirits and I could do the first of a couple interviews with Todd.
Todd Hardie is a gentle soul with a brilliant mind and a heck of a lot of energy. He’s an advocate for Vermont agriculture, a lifelong beekeeper, and graduate of Cornell Agriculture School. When we met we talked about bees, sustainable beekeeping practices and the phenomenal amount of information a beekeeper is constantly trying to process to be responsible, Lewis Hill (a mentor to Todd and pioneer in Vermont’s plant nursery business), Hardwick (ag central in Vermont’s Caledonia County, which Todd seeing as a healthy and invigorating community chose as the base of his business), and how vodka is made (yours truly had no idea it could be made with anything other than potatoes).
By the time Todd left, I’d committed to return to Hardwick, VT (my third trip in a little over a year) for a tour of the distillery on the banks of the Lamoille River.
Fast forward to late April, when I pulled into Caledonia Spirits just as Todd and crew were unpacking from the day’s farmers’ market. Todd gave me the basics on the art of distilling and explained the distillation cuts – head (beginning, discarded), heart (what is drinkable), and tail (end, discarded). He explained it’s less chemistry than artistry and intuition. *My upcoming article in the Huffington Post will focus on Caledonia’s distillation process.
After a brief tour of the 10,000 square foot distillery, and look in on his hives, Todd and I climbed in his truck and bounded over to Vermont Soy, an organic soy milk and tofu processing plant run by his good friend Andrew Meyer. This is a person who looks at what his friends and neighbors are producing and if they have a byproduct tries to figure out how it can be turned into a value added product. Andrew’s business partner, Todd Pinkham, was taught how to craft authentic tasting soy foods by food functional Chinese scientist Dr. Guo., at the University of Vermont. Meyer and Pinkham share the noble belief in creating healthy food systems that support local economies and sustainable agriculture. I tasted almost everything and loved the soy puddings (look for “Soyummi” in orange or blue & white containers) and his brand new smoothies made with Coconut Milk so much I borrowed a cooler from Todd to cart some back till I could make sure the local Whole Foods Market carries them (note, Barbara and/or Shannon if you are reading this NUDGE NUDGE get anything/everything Vermont Soy in the cooler section please, pretty please w/ yummy stuff on top).
Since I had arrived late we moved quickly to get me situated at the inn before heading to Todd’s home he shares with Tanya, who should you be fortunate enough to be invited to a meal at her table accept basically just rearrange your entire schedule so you can sit there and eat her food. We ate (because I’m eating pork on very selective occasions now) an Asian inspired pulled pork Tanya made from a pig she and Todd had raised and had slaughtered on their property, along with a fresh salad made up of greens from Hardwick’s amazing Buffalo-Mountain Co-op. I had second helpings of both. Then, they invited me back for breakfast and sent me to the hotel with a large jar of honey.
Back at the ginormous inn (each room opens up to a new room, each worth of a spread in Country Living) I met up with a couple interns from the Cellars at Jasper Hill, who I thankfully found out were staying on the third floor = I would not be all alone in a country inn with all the doors unlocked. Additional bonus of staying with super sweet interns from the place that makes my favorite cheese (Cabot Clothbound), turns out if you are nice one of them will bring you some cheese in the morning. This combined with the eight hours of sleep I’d just gotten for the first time in months officially made it one of my favorite places on earth. p.s. no cell service, yay!!!
Post breakfast (pancakes, maple syrup produced by a family friend served in a gravy pitcher and bacon – my first pork bacon ever wow from their recently dearly departed pig), Todd and I were off. Morning service at a country church in Craftsbury, a couple miles from Pete Johnson’s vegetable/greenhouse operation. The minister paraphrased Kurt Vonnegut, brought up gun violence in our culture, the death of Medgar Evers, the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King being imprisoned in the Birmingham jail, and the idea of serving milk and Oreos in communion (hello, I liked this church). From there, a second cup of coffee at a terrific general store (in my opinion Vermont may safely lay claim to having the best general stores) where I found seed packets designed by kids and the entire Ben & Jerry’s ice cream collection of flavors, as well as my second cup of coffee for the day.
Fully caffeinated, we headed to Pete’s. Ben Hewitt, who wrote The Town That Food Saved (in my opinion, as important a read to anyone interested in local food systems as anything Michael Pollan has written), about the great strength’s of Hardwick’s food system (within a 10-mile radius of town you can find High Mowing Organic Seeds, Highfields Center for Composting, Claire’s (started as a community-supported restaurant), Jasper Hill and numerous vegetable farms including Pete’s Greens). Here’s Ben’s first impression of Pete Johnson “He was wearing tall rubber Muck boots, dirty (and when I say “dirty,” I mean dirty) blue jeans, and a similarly soiled Carhartt jacket. His fly was down. His hair (dirty blond, of course) was unruly to an extreme that should have been impossible without the benefit of an open-cockpit airplane.” This is why I love Ben’s writing – it’s so descriptive and intelligently styled. Anyway, my first impression of Pete was after I’d childlike given some thought to grabbing onto one of any of his greenhouses and hanging on for fear someone would remove me. Give me a greenhouse and I’m a happy gal. Had the day not been so beautiful I might have fought harder. His rows of greenhouses – they go and on and on, which is probably a good thing since his farm feeds several hundred people between the farm’s Good Eats CSA and booth at the local farmers’ market. Anyway, he was in his tractor and somehow when Todd first introduced him I didn’t realize who it was (mind full of coffee and greenhouses). A few minutes into conversation the bulb overhead turned on and I figured out who he was. Looking back I can see Ben’s description, but mine was simply of a person with a big passion for growing things and feeding people. It’s very easy for me to understand why someone would want to have his/her person in the dirt day in and out. My happiest days are when I’m filthy, carrying around chickens, gardening, and taking a break by the hives watching the honey bees bring pollen into the hive. Nothing compares.
We left Pete and his brother to deal with tractor issues and headed to Bar Hill, a 256-acre natural area owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy and maintained by dedicated volunteers such as Todd Hardie. The vistas inspired novelist and environmentalist Wallace Stegner, who wrote about the view from Bar Hill in his popular novel Crossing to Safety. Barr Hill is also featured on Caledonia Spirits labels.
After a quick drive by of Jasper Hill’s famous facilities I was on my own….to sit in the sun. Life just doesn’t get much better.
When I go back for an event this summer I’m shopping at Pete’s Greens farmstand and hiking Bar Hill. Then I’m going to sip gin and tonics made with Todd’s gin.
For more information on Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom I’d recommend the attractive and informative book Kingdom’s Bounty: A Sustainable, Eclectic, Edible Guide to Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom by Bethany M. Dunbar.
Here’s a link to a nice article in Edible Green Mountains on Caledonia Spirits.
Caledonia Spirits are available in Vermont, Massachusetts, New York (Manhattan, Hudson Valley, and Long Island), New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. You can also purchase them online in 32 states. From May through October, Caledonia Spirits has a booth at several farmers markets including Burlington and Montpelier. The distillery is open for tastings and tours Monday through Saturday 10am to 5pm.
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Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013
Upon my return from the Hudson River Valley, I had a couple days to catch up on work/homestead stuff before hitting the road for my next excursion….The Coombs Family Farms Blogger Maple Weekend. I’d assisted with the organizing, and some of my favorite people were going to be there so…with little sleep I essentially tossed stuff into a bag , picked up coffee (aka NASA injected fuel from Starbucks) on the highway and hummed my way to Logan Airport.
Here’s what went down from there…
After a few hugs at the airport….Rebecca (p.s. check out her Flour Bakery’s Coconut Macaroons post), Matt, Joy and I met up with Joanne Chang (she is so nice & I cannot wait for her new cookbook coming out next month) for a tour of the South End location of Flour Bakery and to pickup some yummy baked goods. My special treat was a Homemade Raspberry Seltzer (aka the most delicious thirst quenching drink ever and can anyone say Homemade Oreos…OMG OMG OMG).
Another trip to the airport and Jen (check out her gorgeous, thoughtful post on our trip here) and I were back with the gang plus Ellen at Barbara Lynch’s The Butcher Shop for dinner. By the time Ashley and her family joined us (after a harrowing parking ordeal courtesy of Boston) we had a long table full of boards of sausages, pâtés and terrines made in house. *One of the reasons The Butcher Shop is one of my favorite restaurants, is because of Chef Lynch’s attention to detail and her enthusiasm for producers (to the extent that she’s visited farms, developed relationships w/ certain farmers, fishermen…). The restaurant works with several farms in the surrounding states, and sources much of their raw meat from Brown Boar farm in VT and Burn Shirt Valley farm in MA. *The Pickled Vegetables and Marcona Almonds were lovely with the Parmesan!
Later that evening, after a snowy drive on quiet roads we arrived at the Chesterfield Inn B&B in New Hampshire. In my room I put up my feet and sat by the fire. Toasty!
Breakfast at the inn (oh you know pancakes, eggs, fresh fruit..lots of pure maple syrup), then off to a small sugarhouse in Guilford, VT, that Arnold Coombs cousin Ted operates (they have about 800 taps and a wood fired evaporator). When Arnold was four or five years old he would help Ted’s father tap trees near his house. Arnold’s family’s sugarhouse in Wilmington, VT boiled sap from over 26,000 trees. In the early 1970s, Arnold’s dad moved into a sugarhouse in Jacksonville, VT near Arnold’s childhood home, and they tapped about 800 trees with buckets. Some of those trees were tapped by Arnold’s great and great-great grandfathers (Arnold is the seventh generation in the industry).
If you’ve ever been to a sugarhouse and stood by an evaporator you know how wonderful that steam rising up out of it is – sweet, mapley ..comforting. I’d like a machine to reproduce that in my home every night. Ted welcomed us in, engaged us in conversation, talked about building up the fire, his years sugaring. I spend a lot of time with farmers, and what I always focus on are their hands – those beautiful lines, marks, smudges that define their hardworking days in and out for month on end. Ted’s were well worn and spoke of character, history, New England sugaring. He showed me how the evaporator sits up and the back doors to the sugarhouse only go down to about one’s ankles to allow more air in to help get the fire going. I wish everyone who enjoys pure maple syrup could meet people like Ted and Arnold, so they could appreciate how much physical labor and smarts goes into that golden bliss.
Being as we were visiting during the middle of their sugaring season (it was just getting going further north in Canada), we got to tap trees, gather some sap and boil maple syrup. We also got to eat Sugar on Snow!!
Sugar on Snow
Dill pickles are served to cleanse the palate.
Another tradition, donuts…for dipping! Cindy Finck made these, she’s a great cook and baker who works with Arnold. They’ve been family friends for years.
Next up…the Coombs Family Farms Maple Candy Kitchen in Brattleboro, VT. We saw maple candy being made and packaged by hand. (Let me tell you, so we’re clear…chocolate covered maple candy is about the sweetest…nicest…thing anyone could gift you – Cindy had some waiting for each of us in our rooms.) This is one of three (soon to be two) maple candy factories.
Maple candies ready for packaging
The crash course in sugaring took us to Bascom Maple Farm (Arnold is the Director of Sales and Marketing of Bascom, which is run by his childhood friend Bruce Bascom) in Alstead, NH. Bascom boils sap from about 75,000 taps (and purchases a great deal more from producers in New England and Canada), is the leading supplier of bulk maple syrup & bulk maple sugar, and is the largest distributor of sugaring equipment in the country.
As part of Bascom and Coombs commitment to sustainable maple forestry, they maintain and practice a sustainable forest management plan. They use tree-friendly health spouts, and never jeopardize tree health by over-tapping – two taps per average-sized tree is their maximum. They also use energy-saving reverse osmosis that reduces their energy consumption by 75%.
Low impact vacuum tubing helps them protect the fragile root systems of the trees. The vacuum tubes can carry the sap from thousands of trees to one central holding tank, reducing the need for roads to collect sap from buckets, and so minimizing the compacting of soil that can wreak havoc on tree roots and cover vegetation that healthy forests need to thrive.
Our minds full we stopped at L.A. Burdick in Walpole to caffeinate before heading back to the inn. We rested, recharged, and enjoyed a delicious dinner courtesy of Arnold including Maple Walnut Bread and Savory Muffins, Grilled Salmon with Maple Sugar Dry Spice Rub and Cinnamon Maple Butter (delicious!!), and a variety of dessert options.
More on our Sunday adventure at King Arthur Flour to come…. ox
p.s. Books I recommend for those who want to learn more on Sugaring:
Maple Sugar:From Sap to Syrup: The History, Lore, and How-To Behind This Sweet Treat by Tim Herd
Maple Sugarin’ in Vermont: A Sweet History by Betty Ann Lockhart
Suggestions on serving pure maple syrup from The Official Vermont Maple Cookbook 3rd edition: on hot cereal, on grapefruit or other fruit (I like this when broiled), on plain yogurt, on ice cream, in a milk shake, in coffee or tea (you haven’t lived till you’ve had a maple latte), poured over a butternut or acorn squash, in stir fry dishes (heck, yes), and baked in bread or muffins (don’t have to tell me twice). *Personally, I think it’s also delicious in granola mixes and in sugar form sprinkled on bacon and baked for 10-15 minutes..holy cow!!
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Thursday, December 27th, 2012
This is really a Part One of Toasts, with Part Two publishing tomorrow. Coming out of the holidays I’m departing what has essentially amounted to a two month sugar binge, and to “survive” ten months mostly free of sugary confections I need some seriously good comfort food. Anyone familiar with April Bloomfield’s cooking knows she’s about the best place to start for that. Bloomfield is best known as the restauranteur (her more or less quieter partner is Ken Friedman) behind The Spotted Pig (cue Jay-Z) and The Breslin at New York’s Ace Hotel. Her newish book (it was published in April) is more cookbook than biography, which at first disappointed me. I wanted the ultimate chef = broad (she makes Gabrielle Hamilton look like a fraud) to tell us her story from time with Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray at The River Cafe to her years as a Michelin chef. My disappointment didn’t last long once I discovered the cookbook is chock full of delicious recipes (“Tomatoes Stewed with White Wine and Saffron” and “Swiss Chard with Olive Oil” – hello!) that won’t cause cardiac arrest (currently my favorite Bloomfiield item is the Breslin’s Fried Peanut Butter & Banana Sandwich with Bourbon & Vanilla). Here’s my favorite recipe from her book so far…and yes this is as right for breakfast as for dinner. ox
Toasts with Ramp Butter and Fried Quail Eggs from April Bloomfield’s A Girl and Her Pig
A scant 1/4 pound ramps, roots trimmed (because these are only available seasonally I used leeks)
11 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
Maldon or another flaky sea salt
3 whole salt-packed anchovies, rinsed, soaked, and filleted, then finely chopped
1 Tbsp finely grated lemon zest (from about 2 large lemons)
1 1/2 tsp freshly squeeze lemon juice, or more to taste
A few gluts of EVOO
Dried pequin chilies or red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
Eight 1/2-inch-thick diagonal slices from a baguette, toasted and cooled
8 quail eggs (I substituted with backyard chicken eggs)
Pile the ramps on your cutting board so the bulb ends line up. Start by thinly slicing the bulbs, working your way toward the green leaves. After you’ve sliced the purple stems and reached the greens, make your slices even thinner. Gather the sliced bulbs and stems into a little pile. Set the greens aside for the moment.
Put 1 Tbsp of the butter in a saute pan and set it over medium-high heat. Once it melts and froths, add the sliced ramp bulbs and stems (along with a five-fingered pinch of greens) and a sprinkle of salt. Cook, stirring often, until the ramps have a hint of brown, 2 minutes or so.
Scrape the ramps into a bowl and add the remaining 10 Tbsp butter, the anchovies, lemon zest, lemon juice, a glug of olive oil, a few crumbled chilies, and, if you fancy, a few twists of black pepper. Mash, toss, and stir the mixture with a fork or wooden spoon just until everything’s nicely mixed. Give the reserved ramp greens a brief chop, then stir them in. Have a taste. You should taste the gentle onion flavor of the ramps, a good bit of umami-saltiness from the anchovies, and brightness, not tartness, from the lemon. You might want to add another 1/4 tsp salt or another brief squeeze of lemon. (You can refrigerate the butter for a day or two in a bowl, or roll it into a log, if you’re feeling fancy.)
Slather the toasts with the ramp butter (you’ll have extra butter; reserve it for another day).
Pour a glug or two of oil into a nonstick pan just large enough to hold the eggs comfortably (you can also fry them in 2 batches) and set it over medium-high heat. When the oil is barely smoking, crack the eggs into the pan. You should hear splitting and sizzling when you add them. Cook them until the whites are set and golden brown at the edges, but the yolks are still runny, about a minute.
Top each toast with a quail egg and add a little spinkle of salt.
Yield: 8 servings
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Monday, January 2nd, 2012
I love pancakes. They are my ultimate comfort food.
Flipping Pancakes 101: The ideal time to flip a pancake is after you see bubbles cover the surface, but before they pop. Flip! The second side should take 1/3 – 1/2 the time to cook as the first side. Make sure both sides are at least slightly browned = more flavor. *I LOVE maple syrup so I pour a tad on before putting the pancakes on the plate. **GUESS WHAT – check out the February issue of Country Living for my friend Monica’s article on Coombs Family Farms. She’s a brilliant writer and Susan Sugarman’s recipes are just about to die for – I mean her pancakes are even good cold. Once I get my hands on a copy I’ll share a recipe with you. This pancake recipe from Breakfast Lunch Tea: Rose Bakery by Rose Carrarini is really good. The book is a treasure trove of elegant comfort food and the pictures are fun. I love Rose’s introduction and her profile of the producers. This is a take to bed cookbook!
ps. Do you like the cover? A friend and some designers and I debated about it. I think it is eye-catching!
Classic Pancakes from Breakfast Lunch Tea
1 cup milk
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted, plus a little for cooking
1 1/4 cups plain (all-purpose) flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp caster (superfine) sugar
4 tsp baking powder
Maple syrup and your choice of fruit, to serve
In a bowl, beat the eggs with the milk and melted butter. Put aside. In another bowl, sift together the flour with the salt, sugar and baking powder. Pour the egg mixture into the flour and stir very lightly until the wet and dry ingredients are just combined. Rub a small frying pan with a little butter, heat the pan to hot and pour in 3-4 Tbsp of batter. Tilt the pan so that the batter covers the base evenly and turn the heat down to medium. Cook until a few bubbles come to the surface and then turn the pancake over. Cook for about 1 minute. Continue making pancakes until all the batter is used up, adding more butter as necessary. Serve immediately, as pancakes are best eaten hot, with maple syrup and fruit.
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Wednesday, December 14th, 2011
Just before Thanksgiving, friends returned from Asheville, North Carolina and gifted me a copy of the Tupelo Honey Cafe cookbook. They know me well! I sat down, opened the book, and began turning pages to see what I would want to cook from this new book. After 20 minutes I could have marked nearly every page. This would not be the kind of cookbook I would take to bed with me, but the kind I would wake up to on Saturdays when figuring out what I need at the market. The recipes in this book are inventive, but not complicated. They use accessible ingredients, are easy to follow, and generous.
So, while I might fault the publisher for using poor layout (except on the cover, I like that) and photography and not telling the story of the Cafe, the talent behind the folks in the kitchen at Tupelo Honey Cafe shines through in Peach Fennel Salsa, Coconut Sweet Potato Bisque, Buttery Cracker-Baked Oysters with Remoulade (heaven!!), and Chicken Apple Meat Loaf with Tarragon Tomato Gravy (count me in!!). Oh, um and the Sweet Potato Pancakes with Peach Butter and Spiced Pecans (that recipe I promise to post down the line).
I’ve had Asheville on my mind for a while, having been pretty much everywhere in North Carolina but there. I only need enough time to eat a couple meals at Tupelo Honey Cafe, climb, hike, attend a poetry slam or two, check out the art deco architecture, and visit George Vanderbilt’s gorgeous and very famous Biltmore Estate…not that I have thought a trip there through or anything.
Well, that’s not going to happen this winter, so I guess I’m okay cooking from the book and daydreaming (I seem to be doing a lot of that lately – thinking about all the places I want to spend time). This past week I’ve had a couple guests to my home who I’ve fed Blackened Chicken PotPie (the recipe makes two pies) and who seemed happy about it, polishing off their plates and in one case even going back for more. I just finished the last piece, sigh. Thank you B+EM!
Blackened Chicken PotPie from Tupelo Honey Cafe : Spirited Recipes from Asheville’s New South Kitchen
4 (6-oz) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp canola oil
4 Tbsp Blackening Spice (recipe follows)
2 cups chopped Vidalia onion (about 2 large onions)
2 cups chopped celery (about 8 celery ribs)
2 cups peeled and chopped red potatoes (2-3 large potatoes)
2 cups peeled and chopped carrots (about 4 large carrots)
1 cup diced poblano pepper (about 2 large poblano peppers)
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup coconut milk
2 Tbsp minced hot cherry peppers
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 3/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Pie Dough (enough for 2 pie crusts)
Preheat a cast iron-skillet on high heat. Rub the chicken breasts with 2 Tbsp of the canola oil. Coat the breasts with the spice mixture. Place the chicken in the hot skillet and cook quickly, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Remove the chicken from the skillet and transfer to a bowl to cool.
Preheat the oven to 400. Heat the remaining 1/4 cup canola oil in a large heavy-bottomed pan over high heat. Add the onion, celery, potatoes, carrots, and poblano pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes, until the poblano is just tender. Decrease the heat to medium and stir in the flour until well combined, cooking for about 3 minutes, or until just thickened. Add the stock, coconut milk, cherry peppers, Worcestershire, thyme, salt, and pepper and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the mixture is thickened. Cut the chicken into 1-inch cubes and add to the filling mixture, along with any chicken juices left in the bowl. Mix all the ingredients until well combined.
Butter 2 (9-inch) deep-dish pie pans. Roll out 4 (10-inch) pie crusts. Place a crust in each pan. Pour the chicken mixture into the pans and top each with another round of dough. Crimp the edges of the pies with a fork. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until golden brown.
Makes 2 pies; 8 servings.
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp powdered onion
1 tsp powdered garlic
1 tsp dried thyme (I used fresh, because that is what I had on hand)
1/2 tsp oregano
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and use as blackening spice for poultry, fish, or beef. Makes 1/2 cup.
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Monday, September 19th, 2011
One of the best things I’ve ever done is Second Line in Central City, New Orleans. Second lining is when you walk and sometimes twirl a parasol or handkerchief in the air behind a brass band parade. I had a red and peacock feathered fan (faux), and thank everything because it was HOT that day!
Here is how I did it. 1. Church is optional, but you would be foolish to not attend a service in Dillard University’s Lawless Memorial Chapel (where members of the Beecher Memorial Congregational United Church of Christ are currently attending while their church is being rebuilt). The music was amazing. Perhaps you’ve heard the expression “their voices lifted us up”…that about hits the nail on the head here. Wow. Oh, and people hug. I have not been to church in years, frankly because the one in my hometown had a pretty nasty minister (he did not like children). Here I felt welcome and loved and had fun.
2. Eat and drink, you will need nourishment before second lining. Do not pass the opportunity to eat at Lil’ Dizzy’s. This place has the best french toast I have ever had in my life. In my life. I needed to repeat to drive that point home. The fried chicken, grits, buttered vegetables, and home fries are also very good. My friends enjoyed their made-to-order omelets. I don’t even know where they source their glasses from, but they are huge. I could only drink 1/2 my iced tea (did I wish I had that with me later). It must have held a quart. The only thing as good as the food? The company – Amanda, Cheka, and Cely from the NOAAM event. Cely’s mom/Cheka’s grandmother was even there and she was terrific…I’ll never forget her telling us how she walked out of her second floor window onto the ground after Hurricane Betsy demolished her home. Cely brought the journal she kept in 2005. I’m sharing a picture with you. It belongs in a museum. People thought they were going to be back in the city by the next day. Imagine rescheduling a meeting and then a week later the building you were supposed to have the meeting in is no more and the attendees are living in shelters in other states.
3. You find the band, get more water, and hang out till things get moving and then you get moving. Oh, great advice from Amanda – note where you parked your car and then take a cab back to it. Have fun, and stay hydrated. It’s a blast!!!
4. If this is your first time second lining and/or you are visiting New Orleans go to Frenchmen Street for some live music and cold drinks. Amanda and I recovered from the heat and our 45-minute (it was all fun!) cab wait at the Spotted Cat. Terrific joint/dive with room for dancing and a long bar where cocktail and beer are served – of course! Make that another Pimm’s Cup please. If I lived in New Orleans that place might well by my hangout.
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Thursday, August 11th, 2011
Blueberries and eggs from a local farm. Maple syrup from Arnold Farm Sugarhouse near Jackman, Maine.
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Thursday, May 19th, 2011
Not just for your cookbook Serve Yourself: Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One, from which I enjoyed (cooking and eating/devouring) your Swiss Chard, Bacon, and Goat Cheese Omelet…but for having the brass to take single out of the back room and put her/him out front.
Let’s start with being single and then I’ll share your recipe (it must be shared, though I encourage everyone to purchase this book – Joe is a great writer and it’s an easy to carry/use book with helpful tidbits and fun stories).
I love that the impetus of the book was a “not too personal” Facebook comment to one of Joe’s “Cooking for One” columns by a woman who insinuated “The pleasures of the table are so (much more) satisfying when shared.”
My single friends in the big cities (Paris, Manhattan, and Los Angeles) have their share of single moments, but they also have terrific support systems of other (thank you Ms. Jones) singletons to catch a 7:00 p.m. film with on a Friday night and order Chinese takeout (the fact that they have Chinese takeout kills me – the single worst/only thing about living in Maine no decent Chinese food). In Maine everyone has another person with whom they have created a unit, and if you are not paired up I swear you get the hmmm look of what’s wrong with you. I’ve had clients do it, friends ask what’s wrong, had my singledom compared to a brain aneurism, and then of course going to the drive-in movie theatre means asking the divorced friend, his kids and girlfriend if they have plans on Saturday night. Being single in Maine is too often equated with something being wrong with you…it’s like a disease. Then, and this is the worst, there is the fix-it-up-it “friend” who shows she cares by inviting you (because you are single) to a birthday party for a guy you don’t know with the promise that there will be great chefs and food, and instead you get a drunk guy yelling at you that hey you’re the single one here to meet my cousin….who you see and instinctively know could not be less for you if you or he tried. Friend no more? That’s another story.
My long ranting point is being single in Maine can suck, but you know I think it bothers a lot of other people a lot more than it does me. I enjoy life, love my friends who are part of a couple and/or family, live family moments with them, get to push their children around in strollers and attend their bday parties (= I get to spend time in the children’s section of a used bookstore skimming those beautiful classics for gifts), and …I also do whatever I want. I’m the only one I have to answer to (though my dog and cat get fussy and now that I’m a homeowner that barn might have a few “words” from time to time and certainly my surfboard, which is about to drive itself to the beach if I don’t get my act together but soon). I want to spend a week wherever I can, I want to eat chocolate and peanut butter for a late breakfast I can, spend an afternoon laid out on the floor with books and magazines…can….
Of course I would love to have someone to share moments with, make me smile, make smile, cook and eat with, wake up and start days with, end days with, and someday a long (but not as long) time from now rock back and forth with on the porch. Thing is, the love and companionship I want and feel I deserve is not so easily found. It’s not something I’m just looking to check off on a life’s list. It is something I know will be easy and hard, and when right so worth it. I’m not a match.com kind of gal (kudos to those who find love and partnerships there). I’m not necessarily the marrying kind either. I just want a lot more happy days than sad and difficult ones. I want more than someone to sit next to on the plane and in the car. What I want is like a tall stack of the lightest pancakes with a tad of confectioners sugar and fresh maple syrup accompanied by a fine cup of black coffee and some freshly picked berries. Or beignets after a bicycle ride one early New Orleans morning. Unlike what those Americanized romantic comedies try to push down your throat, happy endings are about as likely as beginnings and middles unless you are a supermodel and then my guess is you have your pick of the script.
So, since I’m not going to have any great romance right now and haven’t had for some time (though I’ve had great moments) I’ve recently committed to owning a home (something I always thought I’d do with a man, and am adjusting to doing without for now anyway) and started to learn to cook and bake, because good meals make me happy. I love cooking for friends in their homes and mine; it is such a gift to shop for and then cook and sit down to a table with people you love. Joe gets it and I’m so glad he dedicated a book to it – those of us who more nights than not are cooking for ourselves. Thank you Joe xoo!!
Swiss Chard, Bacon, and Goat Cheese Omelet from Joe Yonan’s Serve Yourself: Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 or 3 Swiss chard leaves
1 slice bacon, cut into 1/4-inch slices (I used turkey bacon)
1 small shallot lobe, thinly sliced
1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 ounce soft goat cheese, cut into small pieces
In a small bowl, whisk the eggs to combine and season generously with salt and pepper.
Remove the Swiss chard leaves from the stems, and discard the stems or save them for another use. Stack the leaves, roll, and thinly slice. (You should have about 1/2 cup lightly packed leaves.)
Set a small skillet, well-seasoned cast iron or nonstick, over medium heat, and scatter the bacon and shallot in the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is crisp and the shallot slices are lightly browned and tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the Swiss chard and cook until the chard is wilted and shrunk, stirring occasionally, another few minutes. Transfer the chard-bacon mixture to a plate.
Return the pan to medium heat and pour in the olive oil. When it shimmers, pour in the eggs, swirling and tilting the pan so that the eggs fill the pan. Let the eggs cook undisturbed until the bottom is just set, 1 to 2 minutes. With a spatula, carefully lift one edge of the eggs and tilt the pan so that the loose eggs run underneath.
Scatter the chard-bacon mixture on one side of the omelet and top with the goat cheese. Use a spatula to quickly lift the omelet from the other side and fold it over.
Transfer the omelet to a plate, and eat.
Top image from the lovely, as in wrap your arms around virtually and hug tight, Le Love. Bottom photo Joe Yonan’s site.
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Saturday, February 26th, 2011
A few weeks ago my friend Annie gave me some of her 100-year-old sourdough starter gifted to her and dutifully being shared (isn’t that what you do with starter that old – share it, keep it alive…). I fed it (think edible pet), then I thought I killed it, saved it (woo ha!), and finally found a way to use it (this pancake recipe) without (yet) purchasing that dream Le Creuset dutch oven (for baking no-knead bread). Thankfully, Annie has a blog and she keeps all the information about caring for and using one’s sourdough starter in several easy to understand posts.
This is the quintessential Maine breakfast. Today, after another snowstorm swept through (or more hung out for a long time) yesterday and having shoveled out (once again, though this time with the help of a very nice neighbor from Kenya who shoveled far better than I)..well this breakfast was exactly what I needed.
Blueberry Sourdough Pancakes from the March, 2011 issue of Vegetarian Times
*I am not including the magazine’s recipe for Shortcut Sourdough Starter so you will have to (a) purchase the magazine for $4.99 or visit Annie’s site and see if she will sell you some (she was for $10). Of course, you might already have some and/or know someone who does. This recipe is simply meant to give you a delicious way to use it. xo
1 1/4 cups Shortcut Sourdough Starter (or Sourdough Starter)
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
3/4 cup warm milk (I substituted with Original Rice Milk)
2 Tbsp sugar or honey (I used Maine honey)
3 Tbsp butter or nonhydrogenated margarine, melted (I used Kate’s butter from Maine)
1 large egg (I sourced from a Portland, Maine area farm)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups fresh blueberries (collected from a Maine farm this summer, froze, defrosted some)
Stir together the starter, 3/4 cup flour, milk, and sugar (or honey) in medium bowl. Cover loosely, and let sit overnight.
Whisk in the butter and egg the following morning. Combine remaining 1/2 cup flour with baking powder, baking soda, and salt in separate bowl. Stir flour mixture into batter, adding 1/4 cup more flour if needed. Stir in blueberries. Let sit 5 to 10 minutes.
Heat griddle or skillet over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and coat with cooking spray. Pour about 1/4 cup batter per pancake into skillet. Cook 1 to 1 1/2 minutes on each side, or until golden.
Yield: 16 4-inch pancakes (this is what the magazine suggests, I believe it is about 1/2 that unless you want small pancakes).
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Thursday, February 24th, 2011
I do not normally pickup special “best of” issues of magazines, but thankfully an exception was made when one evening I spotted Fine Cooking’s Breakfast issue. Chocked full of tips (making the best pancakes, perfect eggs), menus, and recipes it will remain accessible in my growing cookbook area (overflowing bookcases, shelves, and boxes in the corner of the kitchen and at the top of the stairs to the loft). The cover features French Toast Chocolate Sandwiches, I mean come on how can you turn that down? Breakfast to me is a meal best eaten morning, noon, and night. Why limit oneself when there are ample opportunities to enjoy champagne cocktails, croissants, and omelets? With that in mind…let’s get to one of my favorite recipes in the issue…think potato pancakes only a little sweeter. I paired one of these goodies with Florida grapefruit and eggs over avocado (dribble a little ketchup on and SO SO good).
Parsnip Pancakes with Caramelized Onions and Sour Cream from Fine Cooking’s Breakfast issue
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp unsalted butter (for vegan version use Earth Balance)
1 large or 2 small yellow onions, thinly sliced to yield about 2 cups (I used red onion, because that is what I had on hand)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. small to medium parsnips (about 6 medium), peeled (if very thick, halve them lenthwise)
1 medium leek, white part only, finely chopped (to yield about 1/2 cup)
1 large egg, lightly beaten (see this site for vegan alternatives)
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
Sour cream, for garnish (I used Tofutti’s Sour Cream – did not love it)
In a medium skillet, heat 1 Tbsp each of the olive oil and butter over medium heat. When the foam subsides, add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft and golden, 20 to 25 minutes; reduce the heat if they brown too quickly. Season with salt to taste and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, bring 2 quarts salted water to a boil. Add the parsnips (cut them in half if they don’t fit in the pan) and cook for 3 minutes. Drain, run under cold water to cool them quickly, and drain again very well. Grate the parsnips in a food processor fitted with a medium grating disk (full disclosure, and you can see this in the photo…I used the wrong blade). In a medium bowl, combine the parsnips, leek, and egg. Stir in the flour, 1 tsp salt, and 1/8 tsp pepper.
In a 10-to 12-inch heavy skillet, heat the remaining 2 Tbsp oil and 1 Tbsp butter over medium-high heat until the foam subsides. Shape the parsnip mixture into 4 equal balls. Put them in the skillet and press on each with a flat spatula to make a cake about 3 1/2 inches wide. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until browned on one side, 4 to 6 minutes. Turn the cakes over and brown the other side, 4 to 5 minutes. Flip to recrisp the first side, about 30 seconds. Drain briefly on paper towels and then serve while hot, garnished with a large dollop of sour cream and the caramelized onions.
Yield: serves 4.
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