Oak & Acorn: Beet Brownies

Beet Brownies

If you are having a sweet craving but want to add a little healthy nutrition, try this recipe for Beet Brownies! [Photo credit: (c) Leslie Lynn Lucio]

Recently we had some rainy days, so we spent a lot of time doing activities indoors. Whenever we have days like that, we do things like play games, read books, do a puzzle and usually we end up baking a delicious treat or some yummy food together. I don’t like giving my six-year-old daughter Thu, too many sweets but I admit that I was the one craving a sweet really bad the other day that I decided we should bake something. While going through the kitchen, I saw some beets and thought that maybe we should give it another go to make some beet brownies.

Check out the recipe…

Q&A: Healthy & Vegetarian, Kid-Friendly Restaurants in the Pioneer Valley

QUESTION AND ANSWERS

In addition to this great list of reader recommended restaurants with kid-friendly vegetarian meal options, check our archived post, 18 Kid-Friendly Restaurants in Western MA! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Tara Winters of Williamsburg asks: “What are your favorite Pioneer Valley restaurants that offer affordable, healthy, vegetarian, kid-friendly meal options?”

Tara Brock Winters responds: “Awesome suggestions, and thank you for reminding me of a few we have not visited in a while. We are so lucky to have such great options in the Valley!”

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]

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]

Thanksgiving Stories for Vegetarian Families

Vegan Thanksgiving Stories for Children

Cynthia Mosher, VegFamily Editor writes: As an adult, it can be difficult to manuveur through the Thanksgiving questions and comments that inevitably present themselves from nonvegan friends, family members, and plain old strangers. For children, it can be even more difficult and cause them to question their vegan lifestlye. They can be delicate moments but therein lies opportunity for education, growth, and advocacy for them and for us as parents and family.

One of the best ways to prepare for holidays like Thanksgiving is through stories. Reading to your child or listening to him or her read is something all children love. Selecting a topic that can help your child appreciate the ethics of being a vegan will go a long way in reaffirming what they already know but are made to question again and again in our nonvegan world. Here are a few books specifically for the Thanksgiving holiday, plus a few others that are more general in topic, reviewed by Alissa Finley:

READ MORE:  Veganize Your Storytime: Books for the Littlest Vegans and Animal-Advocates

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