Dent de Lion on the Dinner Plate

Baking & Brewing with Dandelions

For as long as human history has been recorded, the common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) has been used as food and medicine across the globe. While not native to this continent, this nutritious golden flowering plant arrived with the European colonization of the 1600’s and is now commonplace in lawns and meadows across North America. In the spring, the dandelion is one of several common wild edibles foragers look for to supplement their dinner plates. Grow Forage Cook Ferment has a helpful list, which includes, of course, DANDELIONS!

Looking through the lens of dandelions, interests in culinary arts, pastry arts, baking, and even home brewing can be supported. Within these interests, lessons in chemistry and math are implicit, while the art of taste and texture is an explicit driving force as highlighted in this video.

Learn how to identify and properly harvest dandelion leaves, flowers, and roots this year, and give them a go in your own kitchen too. Try a recipe for Dandelion Lemon Cupcakes to support an interest in pastry arts, or if you prefer baking, check out this recipe for Dandelion Leaf Bread. Or put on your chef hat and pair Dandelion Fritters with a Dandelion Leaf Salad to experiment with the textures and flavors found within the culinary arts.

If you’re interested in beverages, this Dandelion Root Coffee Recipe can set you up with a warm brew, or learn about the art of fermentation by making Dandelion Mead or Dandelion Fennel Kombucha! Read the rest of this entry »

Oak & Acorn: Everything’s Coming up Apples!

Apple Season in New England

There are so many ways in cooking and baking with apples. You can make pies, jellies, cakes, donuts, apple cider and even use them in savory treats.

It’s September in New England and almost autumn which means one of many things, it’s apple season time! For many of us in New England, once we start to see those “pick your own apple” signs, it means a new season of change is coming. In fact, September 22 is the official Autumnal equinox. The full moon this month is so close to the Autumnal equinox that is actually called the Harvest Moon. The Harvest moon gives so much light that it’s said that farmers coined the term because so much extra light was given during this time that farmers had more hours in their day to harvest crops.

When I was a kid growing up in the South, I was one of those people who dreamed of autumn in New England. Any time, I would see a painting or a photograph, it seemed all so dreamy to me… and now here I am living in small town New England with my wonderful six year old!  Read the rest of this entry »

Family Apple Pie Recipe from Iconic Red Lion Inn

Apple Pie for the Holidays
with Executive Chef, Brian Alberg of The Red Lion Inn

Apple Pie is an American staple. First brought to the colonies in the 16th century, the pie has gone through several alterations over the centuries to become one of the most popular desserts in the country. There are almost unlimited ways to create an apple pie and Executive Chef Brian Alberg of The Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, MA, has an Apple Pie recipe that is delicious! Read the rest of this entry »

The Popover: Featured Holiday Recipe from The Red Lion Inn

Download recipe (pdf)

Rosemary Popovers
From The Red Lion Inn

The popover has been popular for centuries. Well, at least Yorkshire pudding, its predecessor from England, has. Yorkshire pudding has been around since the 17th Century, although it has evolved considerably.

The first ever recorded recipe for Yorkshire Pudding appears in a book, The Whole Duty of a Woman in 1737 and listed as ‘A Dripping Pudding’ –  the dripping coming from spit-roast meat. “Make a good batter as for pancakes; put in a hot toss-pan over the fire with a bit of butter to fry the bottom a little then put the pan and butter under a shoulder of mutton, instead of a dripping pan, keeping frequently shaking it by the handle and it will be light and savoury, and fit to take up when your mutton is enough; then turn it in a dish and serve it hot.”

Most American popovers today are not flavored with meat or herbs. Instead, they have a buttery taste. Chef James Beard, anointed the “dean of American cookery” by the New York Times in 1954, has argued that the resemblance between Yorkshire pudding and popovers is purely coincidental and that the popover recipe has changed several times before becoming the recipe that it is currently used by today’s cooks.

Popovers have been called puff pops, Portland popover pudding and Laplanders – from the name of nomadic Swedish reindeer herders. Also called the Dutch Baby and Hootenanny Pancakes, these delicious dough puffs are appropriate to eat with any meal.

This light and hollow pastry made from egg batter is typically baked in muffin tins. When cooked, the batter “pops” over the top of the muffin tin, which is how the popover got its name. Usually served alongside meat dishes at lunch or dinner, popovers may be served as a sweet, topped with fruit and cream for breakfast or with afternoon tea.

The following Red Lion Inn recipe of Rosemary Popovers is rooted in the British tradition using animal drippings as a base to create depth of flavor. The piney distinctive aroma of rosemary provides a delicious accompaniment to any roasted meat. Enjoy during the holidays or at any time of the year when a crispy, soft, flavorful roll hot out of the oven will do.


Brian Alberg

Executive Chef and Director of Food & Beverage at The Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, MA, Brian is a staunch supporter of the local food movement in the region, establishing strong relationships with regional farmers and food producers. Brian is the founding chair of Berkshire Farm & Table and serves on the board of the Railroad Street Youth Project.

Community Cookie Contest at Berkshire Museum

Let’s Bake Cookies! Berkshire Museum to Host Cookie Contest During Holiday Season
Saturday, December 8th in Pittsfield

Baking cookies with your kids can afford parents a chance to share family their history through recipes while working together as a team in the kitchen practicing math and literacy skills!

Does your family have a favorite and treasured holiday cookie recipe that has been passed down through the generations? Show it off by entering your family recipe in the Berkshire Museum’s cookie contest! The event, which is part of a launch celebration for local author Gina Hyams’ Christmas Cookie Contest in a Box: Everything You Need to Host a Christmas Cookie Contest, will be judged by museum visitors and the recipients of each People’s Choice Award will also get a free family museum membership and a copy of the book!  But just participating with your kids alone is an award that can’t be matched!

Families (and individual participants) are asked to bake 4 dozen of their favorite cookie, an endeavor that requires family cooperation and teamwork and provides an opportunity to practice kitchen skills (as well as the basic math and literacy that recipe-following calls for). For an added educational bonus, try featuring as many locally grown and/or produced ingredients as possible, like milk, eggs, butter, maple syrup and honey, and talk as a family about the benefits of eating and buying local.

Inspired to do your own cookie contest yet? The book includes everything a family needs to host their own event, and offers ideas, resources, and more for hosting a cookie contest on any scale! Contests can be held just for fun at family holiday gatherings, used as a fundraiser for a community organization, and more. The contest and book launch will take place on Saturday, December 8th at 2:30pm at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, MA. To enter the contest itself, contact Craig Langlois at 413-443-7171 ex 13, or

[Photo credit: (ccl) Iryna Yeroshko]

Tuesday Market in Northampton to Host Pie Contest: Kids Invited!

Youth Invited to Participate in Tuesday Market’s Annual Pie Contest in Northampton
Tuesday, Sept. 11th, 2012

Kids ages 13yo and younger interested in culinary arts and local food are invited to bake their favorite fruit pie using local ingredients to submit to the Tuesday Market annual Pie Contest happening next Tuesday, Sept. 11th.

Are your kids precocious in the kitchen? Northampton’s Tuesday Farmers’ Market is holding their annual pie contest, and there’s a special category just for kid-made pies (ages 13yo and younger)! The event benefits the market’s Food Stamps x2 program, which provides community members with SNAP benefits the opportunity to buy delicious and healthy local food straight from local farmers. Entrants may submit fruit pies only, and there are special categories for gluten-free pies and most beautiful pie, too!

Baking a pie is a great way for food-enthusiastic kids to learn and/or practice kitchen skills, including basic math and literacy. Utilizing local foods (berries, apples, peaches, milk, butter, or maybe even local flour!) in a pie can also help to connect children with the network of local food that surrounds them – they can learn about the farms that each different food comes from, and maybe even visit to buy fresh milk or pick apples.

Along with connecting kids to the community, taking part in the contest is a way to help them learn skills for a sustainable, self-sufficient lifestyle. They can learn to appreciate the value of local food, and will begin to acquire the skills necessary to utilize local food to its fullest potential. Visit CISA and Berkshire Grown for farms in Western MA.

Not interested in baking? Just stop by the market to taste some pie!

Entries in the contest should be dropped off at the market (behind Thornes Marketplace in the open space next to the parking garage) between 1 and 2:30pm, and judging will begin at 3, with the kids’ category being judged at 5pm. Steve Herrell of Herrell’s ice cream will be scooping up delicious flavors to accompany pies, too! Yum! For more information, visit

Looking for inspiration? Check out Pie: 300 Tried-and-True Recipes for Delicious Homemade Pie or Fresh Fruit Pies, Tarts, and Galettes: Every Recipe has a Gluten Free Alternative. And why not take this opportunity to learn about history both through and about pie with Pie: A Global History (The Edible Series).

Baking and Architecture Meet Literature in the Berkshires

Lenox Library’s 7th Annual Gingerbread House Competition: Storybook House

Families, groups and individuals are invited to participate! Click on the image to download poster. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Think of your favorite book. Now imagine the house that you think the characters from that book might have lived. Now, imagine that house is made out of gingerbread.

You just designed an entry for the Lenox Library’s gingerbread house contest!

This year’s theme is “Storybook House”- entries can be anything from a traditional gingerbread house a-la Hansel and Gretel to a delicious gingerbread Hogwarts! There will be prizes for many different categories, and after the entries are judged they will be auctioned off to raise money for the library and its programs. This is a great opportunity to practice basic architectural (and baking) skills and exercise your creativity! Deadline to enter is Nov. 16th. More information is available at

Blueberry Bake Off with Local Blueberries

Get the Kids a Cookin’ for the Blueberry Bake Off
Hosted by the CISA and Greenfield Farmers’ Market

Gluten-free Blueberry Cake (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Gluten-free Blueberry Cake (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

On Saturday, August 1, CISA and the Greenfield Farmers’ Market will host a contest featuring desserts made from locally grown blueberries. Participants should drop off their blueberry creations at 9am that day. No need to pre-register. A CISA staff member, a local farmer and other judges will determine the winning recipe. A $50 Greenfield Farmers’ Market gift certificate and a CISA Community Membership valued at $60 will be awarded to the winning entry; a $25 market gift certificate and a CISA tote bag will go to the runner up. Look for entry details soon on the CISA website and at the Greenfield Farmers’ Market.

Discovering Gingerbread Houses

by Sienna Wildfield

Hartsbrook Winter Fair 2007-8

Gingerbread houses at the Hartsbrook Fair in Hadley, MA. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Every year I send my parents a gingerbread house for their solstice dessert party, complete with their last name iced on the front door. The door with their name is left for the host and hostess, but by the end of the evening, their guests have demolished the rest of the house, leaving behind little red hots and coconut snow. It’s become a fun tradition. If you’re looking to make a gingerbread house for the holidays, check out A Charming Candy Cottage over at where Kari von Wening, the owner of Takes the Cake Bakery in Pasadena, CA, gives instruction on how to make your very own. Included in the instructions are a shopping list, template and an illustrated tutorial.

Gingerbread House Auctions at Hartsbrook (c) Hilltown Families

Gingerbread houses at the Hartsbrook Fair in Hadley, MA. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

At the Hartsbrook Winter Fair in Hadley, MA, they always have an auction of gingerbread houses (and libraries, castles, churches, windmills …) that the families have made (photos featured with this post are from the auction). Structures that can be made out of gingerbread are only limited by your imagination. Over at they give directions and a template on how to make a gingerbread sleigh. On they give instructions on how to make an A-Frame, Colonial, Saltbox, and Side Gable houses. And if you really want to get inspired, on there are over 400 photos posted to the Gingerbread House Showcase.


Another option to making a gingerbread house is to make a miniature graham cracker house. Every one in the family can make and decorate their very own. offers instructions on how to make this miniature version, as does with a few photo images.

Gingerbread houses at the Hartsbrook Fair in Hadley, MA. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)


If you or your kids have allergies and want to make a gingerbread house, check out Only Sometimes Clever’s gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free and peanut-free gingerbread house recipe, or you can buy an allergy-free gingerbread kit from


I’ve put together a list of cookbooks for families interested in making their own gingerbread creations at home. If you do make one, take a photo and send it our way to share with our readers:

Read the rest of this entry »

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