The Garden Plot: Simply Put, Roots are Important

Roots, Putting Them Up

Red & white onions, pumpkins and delicata squash ready for storage.

If you did not (despite good intentions) plant carrots, beets, onions, garlic, etc… it’s not too late to enjoy them well into the winter. The majority of our locally grown root crops can be stored with ease for up to 8 months. The easiest ones I normally store are: winter squash, potatoes (sweet and regular), onions, garlic, carrots and beets.

Think about visiting a local farmer or farmers’ market and asking about their “seconds” (ones with blemishes) that they normally do not sell. You can often get storage crops really cheaply if you get it in bulk. With proper storage this will take you through the winter for all your veggie needs.

Here is the way I store the my roots: Read the rest of this entry »

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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]

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]

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