Oak & Acorn: Healthy Comfort Foods

Healthy Comfort Foods that Kids Love

Wondering what to do with butternut squash? How about a healthy version of a kid favorite… macaroni & cheese!

Comfort foods are something we start to crave as it starts to get closer into the winter months. As it starts to get lower and lower in temperature, it’s easy to fall for the idea of having comfort foods we had as kids, or a hearty soup with warm bread to warm our bellies.

I recently went to our community garden with my six-year old and noticed the drastic change from how it looked months ago. Months ago there were cages full of tomatoes, strawberries and long stalks of corn among other things growing in gardens…not to mention very colorful flowers popping up everywhere. Now, you mostly see plots with winter and root vegetables covering ground space and of course, lots of kaleRead the rest of this entry »

Oak & Acorn: Kale Chips for Kids (and their Adults too!)

Garden Snacks, Kids and Kale

Kale also is really beneficial for our health. It’s high in Vitamin A, C and K. It’s high in calcium, rich in iron and packed with antioxidants… and make delicious cheesy kale chips! (Photo credit: Leslie Lynn Lucio)

It’s mid-October and things are starting to dwindle down in our plot at the community garden. We’ve been very well nourished from all the vegetables and herbs that we have grown. We have made so many jars of tomato sauce and have dried lots of herbs for the winter months. We have also eaten countless meals from the food we have grown. Western Massachusetts has such healthy and amazing soil that the things we plant always seem to promise us a good harvest. In return, we give great appreciation…

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Dinner Ideas: Local Beets & Fennel Salad

Roasted Beet Salad

Check your local farmers’ market or organic produce section for a selection of sweet & colorful beets! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

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.

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Mushroom Barley Soup

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. 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.

♦ Print Recipe: Mushroom Barley Soup [V/Vg/NF] . Stock instructions.

Vegetarian (V) | Vegan (Vg) | Nut-Free (NF) | Gluten-Free (GF) | Wheat-Free (WF)| *With Moderation


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alice Cozzolino

Alice has been co-owner of The Old Creamery since 2000.  She and her partner and spouse, Amy, have lived in Cummington since they built their home in 1986.  Alice and Amy are very deeply connected to their land; they grow a lot of their own food, eat well (especially during the growing season), feed many friends and loved ones and preserve as much food as possible.  Rarely a day goes by that they don’t say “Aren’t we blessed to live here?” Feeding people feels like a calling to Alice.  She was brought up with her Italian Gram and her Dad putting something wonderful to eat in her mouth and saying “Here, eat this.”  Nothing brings her greater joy than feeding people that she cares about or people that are in need of kindness and nurturing.

[Photo credit: (ccl) Jessica Spengler]

Hey Y’all… Alice is Bakin’ Up Some Southern Biscuits!

Southern Biscuits Enjoyed with Local Western MA Ingredients

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 frozen fruit and a drizzle of  maple syrup. Use Vermont-grown Nitty-Gritty Grain Company unbleached flour for a truly local feast!

♦ Print Recipe: Biscuits [V/NF]

Vegetarian (V) | Vegan (Vg) | Nut-Free (NF) | Gluten-Free (GF) | Wheat-Free (WF)| *With Moderation


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alice Cozzolino

Alice has been co-owner of The Old Creamery since 2000.  She and her partner and spouse, Amy, have lived in Cummington since they built their home in 1986.  Alice and Amy are very deeply connected to their land; they grow a lot of their own food, eat well (especially during the growing season), feed many friends and loved ones and preserve as much food as possible.  Rarely a day goes by that they don’t say “Aren’t we blessed to live here?” Feeding people feels like a calling to Alice.  She was brought up with her Italian Gram and her Dad putting something wonderful to eat in her mouth and saying “Here, eat this.”  Nothing brings her greater joy than feeding people that she cares about or people that are in need of kindness and nurturing.

[Photo credit: (ccl) Steve Mohundro]

Indian Potato Fritters for Dinner Tonight!

Indian Potato Fritters

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 farmers’ 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 farmers’ 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. Amy’s mother 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.

♦ Print Recipe: Potatoes Bonda [V/Vg/NF/GF/WF]

Vegetarian (V) | Vegan (Vg) | Nut-Free (NF) | Gluten-Free (GF) | Wheat-Free (WF)| *With Moderation


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alice Cozzolino

Alice has been co-owner of The Old Creamery since 2000.  She and her partner and spouse, Amy, have lived in Cummington since they built their home in 1986.  Alice and Amy are very deeply connected to their land; they grow a lot of their own food, eat well (especially during the growing season), feed many friends and loved ones and preserve as much food as possible.  Rarely a day goes by that they don’t say “Aren’t we blessed to live here?” Feeding people feels like a calling to Alice.  She was brought up with her Italian Gram and her Dad putting something wonderful to eat in her mouth and saying “Here, eat this.”  Nothing brings her greater joy than feeding people that she cares about or people that are in need of kindness and nurturing.

[Photo credit: (ccl) Kirti Poddar]

Comfort Food: Roasted Sweet Potato Lasagne

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.  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!

♦  Print Recipe: Roasted Sweet Potato Lasagne [V, NF, GF*]

Vegetarian (V) | Vegan (Vg) | Nut-Free (NF) | Gluten-Free (GF) | Wheat-Free (WF) | *With Alteration


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alice Cozzolino

Alice has been co-owner of The Old Creamery since 2000.  She and her partner and spouse, Amy, have lived in Cummington since they built their home in 1986.  Alice and Amy are very deeply connected to their land; they grow a lot of their own food, eat well (especially during the growing season), feed many friends and loved ones and preserve as much food as possible.  Rarely a day goes by that they don’t say “Aren’t we blessed to live here?” Feeding people feels like a calling to Alice.  She was brought up with her Italian Gram and her Dad putting something wonderful to eat in her mouth and saying “Here, eat this.”  Nothing brings her greater joy than feeding people that she cares about or people that are in need of kindness and nurturing.

[Photo credit: (ccl) David Lifson]

A Quick, Cozy & Nourishing Meal For the Winter Months

Quick and Cozy 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 cozies up to the woodstove enjoying a nourishing, delicious meal and each other’s company.

♦  Print Recipe: Simple Couscous [V/Vg/NF/GF*/WF*]
♦  Print Recipe: Spicy Chickpeas [V/Vg/NF/GF/WF]

Vegetarian (V) | Vegan (Vg) | Nut-Free (NF) | Gluten-Free (GF) | Wheat-Free (WF) | *With Alteration


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alice Cozzolino

Alice has been co-owner of The Old Creamery since 2000.  She and her partner and spouse, Amy, have lived in Cummington since they built their home in 1986.  Alice and Amy are very deeply connected to their land; they grow a lot of their own food, eat well (especially during the growing season), feed many friends and loved ones and preserve as much food as possible.  Rarely a day goes by that they don’t say “Aren’t we blessed to live here?” Feeding people feels like a calling to Alice.  She was brought up with her Italian Gram and her Dad putting something wonderful to eat in her mouth and saying “Here, eat this.”  Nothing brings her greater joy than feeding people that she cares about or people that are in need of kindness and nurturing.

[Photo credit: (ccl) Rachel Hathaway]

Kettles Full of Apple Chutney!

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, VT, 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.

♦  Print Recipe: Apple Chutney [V/Vg/NF/WF]

Vegetarian (V) | Vegan (Vg) | Nut-Free (NF) | Gluten-Free (GF) | Wheat-Free (WF)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alice Cozzolino

Alice has been co-owner of The Old Creamery since 2000.  She and her partner and spouse, Amy, have lived in Cummington since they built their home in 1986.  Alice and Amy are very deeply connected to their land; they grow a lot of their own food, eat well (especially during the growing season), feed many friends and loved ones and preserve as much food as possible.  Rarely a day goes by that they don’t say “Aren’t we blessed to live here?” Feeding people feels like a calling to Alice.  She was brought up with her Italian Gram and her Dad putting something wonderful to eat in her mouth and saying “Here, eat this.”  Nothing brings her greater joy than feeding people that she cares about or people that are in need of kindness and nurturing.

[Photo credit: (ccl) Clara S.]

Two Fall Soups for Chilly Autumn Nights

Fall Soups

Tomatillos at the Burgy Farmers’ Market in Williamsburg, MA. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

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.

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 autumn air, prepare a big pot of this soup and enjoy the richness and abundance of our local food blessings.

Vegetarian (V) | Vegan (Vg) | Nut-Free (NF) | Gluten-Free (GF) | Wheat-Free (WF)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alice Cozzolino

Alice has been co-owner of The Old Creamery since 2000.  She and her partner and spouse, Amy, have lived in Cummington since they built their home in 1986.  Alice and Amy are very deeply connected to their land; they grow a lot of their own food, eat well (especially during the growing season), feed many friends and loved ones and preserve as much food as possible.  Rarely a day goes by that they don’t say “Aren’t we blessed to live here?” Feeding people feels like a calling to Alice.  She was brought up with her Italian Gram and her Dad putting something wonderful to eat in her mouth and saying “Here, eat this.”  Nothing brings her greater joy than feeding people that she cares about or people that are in need of kindness and nurturing.

Cabbage: Stuff It, Roll It, Pickle It!

For the Love of Cabbage

Check local co-ops and farmers’ markets for freshly harvested cabbage and late summer produce for your next family dinner! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Stuffed Cabbage & Garden Tomato Sauce

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 late summer 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, prepared with 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.

Egg Rolls

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. 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.

Cabbage Lime Pickle

I saw many expressions of wonder and awe at the sight of the HUGE local green cabbages near the Old Creamery Co-op’s register these past couple of weeks.  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.

Vegetarian (V) | Vegan (Vg) | Nut-Free (NF) | Gluten-Free (GF) | Wheat-Free (WF)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alice Cozzolino

Alice has been co-owner of The Old Creamery since 2000.  She and her partner and spouse, Amy, have lived in Cummington since they built their home in 1986.  Alice and Amy are very deeply connected to their land; they grow a lot of their own food, eat well (especially during the growing season), feed many friends and loved ones and preserve as much food as possible.  Rarely a day goes by that they don’t say “Aren’t we blessed to live here?” Feeding people feels like a calling to Alice.  She was brought up with her Italian Gram and her Dad putting something wonderful to eat in her mouth and saying “Here, eat this.”  Nothing brings her greater joy than feeding people that she cares about or people that are in need of kindness and nurturing.

[Photo credit: (ccl) Dana Moos]

6 Variations of Pesto for Family Dinner

Pesto and Variations

The large leaves of Napoleon basil make great sandwich fillers! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

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!

♦  Print Recipe: Pesto and Variations [V/GF/WF]

Vegetarian (V) | Vegan (Vg) | Nut-Free (NF) | Gluten-Free (GF) | Wheat-Free (WF)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alice Cozzolino

Alice has been co-owner of The Old Creamery since 2000.  She and her partner and spouse, Amy, have lived in Cummington since they built their home in 1986.  Alice and Amy are very deeply connected to their land; they grow a lot of their own food, eat well (especially during the growing season), feed many friends and loved ones and preserve as much food as possible.  Rarely a day goes by that they don’t say “Aren’t we blessed to live here?” Feeding people feels like a calling to Alice.  She was brought up with her Italian Gram and her Dad putting something wonderful to eat in her mouth and saying “Here, eat this.”  Nothing brings her greater joy than feeding people that she cares about or people that are in need of kindness and nurturing.

Early Summer Veggies: Sugar Snaps & Radishes

Sauteed Sugar Snaps and Radishes

Fresh radishes and asparagus at the Williamsburg Farmers’ Market. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

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. 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.

♦  Print Recipe: Sauteed Sugar Snaps and Radishes [V/Vg/NF/GF/WF]

Vegetarian (V) | Vegan (Vg) | Nut-Free (NF) | Gluten-Free (GF) | Wheat-Free (WF)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alice Cozzolino

Alice has been co-owner of The Old Creamery since 2000.  She and her partner and spouse, Amy, have lived in Cummington since they built their home in 1986.  Alice and Amy are very deeply connected to their land; they grow a lot of their own food, eat well (especially during the growing season), feed many friends and loved ones and preserve as much food as possible.  Rarely a day goes by that they don’t say “Aren’t we blessed to live here?” Feeding people feels like a calling to Alice.  She was brought up with her Italian Gram and her Dad putting something wonderful to eat in her mouth and saying “Here, eat this.”  Nothing brings her greater joy than feeding people that she cares about or people that are in need of kindness and nurturing.

[Photo credit: (ccl) Dana Moos]

3 Recipes from the Spring Garden

Spring Garden: What to do with Chives, Rhubarb & Asparagus

I enjoy matching different herbs, fruits, and flavoring ingredients with different types of vinegars. I most often use white wine vinegar and cider vinegar (our own homemade), sometimes red wine vinegar, and occasionally brown rice vinegar. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

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.

♦  Print Recipe: Chive Flower Vinegar [V/Vg/NF/GF/WF] 

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.

♦  Print Recipe:  Rhubarb Sauce [V/Vg/NF/GF/WF] 

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.

♦  Print Recipe: Asparagus Risotto [V/NF/GF/WF] 

Vegetarian (V) | Vegan (Vg) | Nut-Free (NF) | Gluten-Free (GF) | Wheat-Free (WF)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alice Cozzolino

Alice has been co-owner of The Old Creamery since 2000.  She and her partner and spouse, Amy, have lived in Cummington since they built their home in 1986.  Alice and Amy are very deeply connected to their land; they grow a lot of their own food, eat well (especially during the growing season), feed many friends and loved ones and preserve as much food as possible.  Rarely a day goes by that they don’t say “Aren’t we blessed to live here?” Feeding people feels like a calling to Alice.  She was brought up with her Italian Gram and her Dad putting something wonderful to eat in her mouth and saying “Here, eat this.”  Nothing brings her greater joy than feeding people that she cares about or people that are in need of kindness and nurturing.

[Photo credit: (ccl) Dana Moos]

What to do with Fiddleheads?

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.

♦  Print Recipe: Fiddlehead Arugula Salad [Vg/GF/WF] 

Vegetarian (V) | Vegan (Vg) | Nut-Free (NF) | Gluten-Free (GF) | Wheat-Free (WF)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alice Cozzolino

Alice has been co-owner of The Old Creamery since 2000.  She and her partner and spouse, Amy, have lived in Cummington since they built their home in 1986.  Alice and Amy are very deeply connected to their land; they grow a lot of their own food, eat well (especially during the growing season), feed many friends and loved ones and preserve as much food as possible.  Rarely a day goes by that they don’t say “Aren’t we blessed to live here?” Feeding people feels like a calling to Alice.  She was brought up with her Italian Gram and her Dad putting something wonderful to eat in her mouth and saying “Here, eat this.”  Nothing brings her greater joy than feeding people that she cares about or people that are in need of kindness and nurturing.

[Photo credit: (ccl) Dana Moos]

Maple Dessert to Follow a Spring Dinner

Maple Flan

We were given some fresh eggs by a friend with chickens. 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!

♦  Print Recipe: Maple Flan [V/NF/GF/WF] 

Vegetarian (V) | Vegan (Vg) | Nut-Free (NF) | Gluten-Free (GF) | Wheat-Free (WF)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alice Cozzolino

Alice has been co-owner of The Old Creamery since 2000.  She and her partner and spouse, Amy, have lived in Cummington since they built their home in 1986.  Alice and Amy are very deeply connected to their land; they grow a lot of their own food, eat well (especially during the growing season), feed many friends and loved ones and preserve as much food as possible.  Rarely a day goes by that they don’t say “Aren’t we blessed to live here?” Feeding people feels like a calling to Alice.  She was brought up with her Italian Gram and her Dad putting something wonderful to eat in her mouth and saying “Here, eat this.”  Nothing brings her greater joy than feeding people that she cares about or people that are in need of kindness and nurturing.

[Photo credit: (ccl) matuko amini]

GIVEAWAY: In the Breakfast Nook with the Kids

Share a Recipe and Win a Breakfast Giveaway Package
Including Groceries, Coffee & Maple Syrup

Are there recipes that have been passed down in your family that have a story that you share with your kids at the breakfast table, like Maple Pumpkin Muffins or your grandmother's Buckwheat Pancakes? Whatever your morning breakfast or brunch fare might be, we invite you to share it with us here on Hilltown Families. Share a recipe and be entered to win a fabulous package (valued at $185) to get your family in the kitchen cooking breakfast or brunch together! Deadline to enter to win is Wednesday, March 28th by 7pm (EST).

How does food bring your family together?  Maybe you enjoy cooking with your kids, sharing family meals together, shopping for locally grown and/or produced foods, exchanging stories at the kitchen table… however it is that food interweaves into your family one thing is certain, food has a way of bringing families together both in the kitchen and around the table.

This maple harvest season Hilltown Families is inviting our readers to share their favorite breakfast recipes with us for a collection of recipes and stories we are putting together for a new project we’re working on called Seasons at Our Table.  Share your favorite recipe and be entered to win a fabulous package to get your family in the kitchen cooking breakfast or brunch together (details below)!

Are there recipes that have been passed down in your family that have a story that you share with your kids at the breakfast table? Maybe your mother had a Ukrainian Crepe recipe passed down from her grandmother, or your in-laws have taught you how to make Beignets you love to drench in local Maple Syrup.  Or maybe there are new recipes you share with your kids that someday might be passed along to your grandkids? Maybe together you like to steam up a classic Boston Brown Bread for breakfast with a unique twist, Blueberry Buckle at the height of blueberry season with fresh whipped cream, or an Italian Frittata with eggs from your backyard flock for brunch… Whatever your morning breakfast or brunch fare might be, we invite you to share it with us here on Hilltown Families!

ENTER TO WIN: Share a recipe and be entered to win a fabulous package (valued at $185) to get your family in the kitchen cooking breakfast or brunch together! Hilltown Families has partnered with three local businesses to help make the morning breakfast hour easy and enjoyable with your family. Our giveaway package includes a gift certificate to shop at  River Valley Market Co-Op in Northampton, an amazing gift box from Dean’s Beans coffee, and maple syrup from Dufresne’s Sugar House. Deadline to enter to win is Wednesday, March 28th by 7pm (EST).

Here’s the full story of what you can enter to win:

River Valley Market Cooperative (Northampton, MA)

River Valley Market is a cooperative grocery store in Northampton devoted to supporting local farmers and food producers! Open to the public daily from 8am-9pm with a great selection of fresh, local and organically grown foods from fresh produce and dairy to fresh meat and cheeses. Some of the special things you will discover in the aisles of this grocery store are friendly helpful staff, a fabulous selection of house made sausages, a deli with a salad and soup/hot foods bar that also serves up hot and cold sandwiches made to order, a natural supplements department, hundreds of foods in bulk, and fair trade chocolates and coffees. River Valley Market is located just off I-91 exit 21. www.rivervalleymarket.coop

GIVEAWAY: River Valley Market is offering Hilltown Families readers a chance to win a $50 gift certificate to shop local for your family meal! (Value: $50)

Dean’s Beans (Orange, MA)

Social activism, ecological responsibility, and great coffee meet at Dean’s Beans, a family-owned certified organic, fair trade coffee roaster. Offering fair priced, great tasting products that support peaceful social change, Dean’s Beans is characterized by an unyielding commitment to ethical business practices, people-centered development, and sound ecological practices. The quality of their products is a reflection of the quality of life of our farm partners. The health and strength of their communities are integral to our success. We design and fund grassroots development projects in the villages where we buy our beans. To read about these projects please visit our website at www.deansbeans.com.

GIVEAWAY:  Dean’s Beans is offering an amazing gift box which includes a 12oz. bag of Moka Sumatra, a 12oz. bag of Peruvian French Roast Decaf, a Putumayo CD with music from the coffeelands, Javatrekker: Dispatches from the World of Fair Trade Coffee written by Dean Cycon, Dean’s Bean Travel Mug, a Large Dean’s Beans T-Shirt, a 12 oz. bag of Organic Hot Cocoa Mix, a 12 oz. bag of Organic Baking Cocoa, a 24 oz. bag of Organic Sugar, and a pound of Dark Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans. (Value: $85)

Dufresne’s Sugar House (Williamsburg, MA)

Located in the beautiful hilltowns of Western Mass, Dufresne’s Sugar House has been making award-winning maple syrup for four generations. That’s over 100 years of sugaring experience!  The Dufresne family works for the maple sugaring season all year round, practicing sustainable forest management, and harvesting  their syrup with a smoke-free, wood-burning evaporator.  They offer three grades of 100% pure and natural maple syrup, along with maple candy, maple cream, maple sugar block and Indian sugar.  Their maple candy make great table/party favors and all maple products are available for both home and commercial use, shipping out daily to customers from MA to California. Find out more about Dufresne’s Sugar House at www.berkshiremaple.com.

GIVEAWAY: Dufresne’s Sugar House is offering 2 quarts of their finest maple syrup! (Value: $50)

HOW TO WIN

Your chance to win a breakfast giveaway package (valued at $185), including a $50 gift certificate to shop at River Valley Market Co-Op in Northampton, a gift box from Dean’s Beans coffee, and maple syrup from Dufresne’s Sugar House, is as easy as 1-2-3 (4)!  To win simply:

  • CONSIDER INVITING YOUR FACEBOOK FRIENDS TO SHARE THEIR RECIPES TOO by selecting the Facebook icon below,
  • SHARE YOUR FAVORITE RECIPE(S) YOU LIKE TO MAKE FOR/WITH YOUR FAMILY BREAKFAST/BRUNCH HOUR in the comment field below and be sure to tell us your
  • FULL NAME (first/last), where you
  • LIVE (TOWN/STATE) (must include your town to be eligible), and
  • ACCURATE EMAIL (we never share your email address).
  • From our favorite entries (so make them good!) we’ll randomly draw a winner and share their name below.

IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline is Wednesday, March 28th by 7pm (EST).

[Photo credit: Muffin (ccl) Dennis Wilkinson]

Two Recipes to Celebrate the Simple Pleasure of Cooking

Local Food Heaven

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, Mary, 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 Taproot Commons Farm milk in Cummington), 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, 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 and Potatoes Anna, to celebrate the simple pleasure of cooking freshly harvested food, prepared simply, and enjoyed with loved ones. Simple Blessings.

♦ Print Recipes: 

Vegetarian (V) | Vegan (Vg) | Nut-Free (NF) | Gluten-Free (GF) | Wheat-Free (WF)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alice Cozzolino

Alice has been co-owner of The Old Creamery since 2000.  She and her partner and spouse, Amy, have lived in Cummington since they built their home in 1986.  Alice and Amy are very deeply connected to their land; they grow a lot of their own food, eat well (especially during the growing season), feed many friends and loved ones and preserve as much food as possible.  Rarely a day goes by that they don’t say “Aren’t we blessed to live here?” Feeding people feels like a calling to Alice.  She was brought up with her Italian Gram and her Dad putting something wonderful to eat in her mouth and saying “Here, eat this.”  Nothing brings her greater joy than feeding people that she cares about or people that are in need of kindness and nurturing.

[Photo credit: (ccl) Mike]

3 Soup Recipes for Winter

Soups to Warm Your Tummy on a Cold February Day

French Onion Soup, a delicious dish to bring warmth and richness to your family dinner on a cold February night!

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 month’s soup recipe is Corn, 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; 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!

♦ Print Recipe: Corn, Bean and Winter Squash Soup [Vg/WF/NF]

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 Old Creamery from Wendolowski Farm in Hatfield, MA 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 dreary February days. I know the perfect thing to bring warmth and richness  to February … 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 Old Creamery over the weekend, so we’ll have a fresh salad to add to our meal. When Amy and I are finished stacking wood, 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.

Print Recipe: French Onion Soup [V/GF/NF]

CHILI CON CARNE

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.

♦  Print Recipe: Chili Con Carne [WF/NF]

Vegetarian (V) | Vegan (Vg) | Nut-Free (NF) | Gluten-Free (GF) | Wheat-Free (WF)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alice Cozzolino

Alice has been co-owner of The Old Creamery since 2000.  She and her partner and spouse, Amy, have lived in Cummington since they built their home in 1986.  Alice and Amy are very deeply connected to their land; they grow a lot of their own food, eat well (especially during the growing season), feed many friends and loved ones and preserve as much food as possible.  Rarely a day goes by that they don’t say “Aren’t we blessed to live here?” Feeding people feels like a calling to Alice.  She was brought up with her Italian Gram and her Dad putting something wonderful to eat in her mouth and saying “Here, eat this.”  Nothing brings her greater joy than feeding people that she cares about or people that are in need of kindness and nurturing.

[Photo credit: (ccl) Sandee Bisson]

Q&A: How to Serve Up a Surplus of Garden Veggies

Like This!

QUESTION AND ANSWERS

Basil on top of fresh heirloom tomatoes with a touch of olive oil and sea salt! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Is your garden or CSA loading you up with fresh veggies? Are the heirloom tomatoes coming in yet? What’s your families favorite summer dish made with fresh local produce?

  • Marianne Bullock responds: Caprese salad – mozzarella basil tomatoes & salt and pepper!
  • Nancy Cavillones responds: Farro salad with mozzarella and tomatoes, or feta and zucchini!
  • Swansea Benham Bleicher responds: Braised kale (with tamari, garlic, and olive oil).
  • Laura LeClair Grace responds: Bermuda salad with green beans and Cipollini onions.
  • Sienna Wildfield responds: We have so much kale! Swansea’s recipe is just what we need! – Other than pesto, what to do with a bumper crop of basil?
  • Alisa Blanchard responds: We throw it on top of a dough with some olive oil and a little cheese and call it pizza.
  • Nancy Cavillones responds: You can also freeze basil to use later!
  • Meggin Thwing Eastman responds: Check out my blog for loads of recipes using local, seasonal produce: happyvalleylocavore.blogspot.com.
  • Alison Platek Webster responds: Zucchini bread… especially when you find one of those giant baseball bat ones hidden in the garden!
  • Shoshona King responds: Tonight we’re having Ratatouille.
  • Dana Pilson responds: Charred corn/zucchini/scallion/garlic scapes/tomato/whatever else is around salad! Put some oil in the pan, let the corn and zucchini cook (covered) for 5-8 minutes. The sugars will caramelize! Then add all other veggies and saute til done and delicious.
  • Swansea Benham Bleicher responds: Love basil on top of fresh tomatoes with a little mild dressing (say Newman’s Own style…)
  • Share your suggestion below.

These are all great suggestions! We should make our favorite summer veggie dishes and have a community potluck!  Anyone up for organizing?

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