Tag Archives: food

food!

oh lovely food…  Spring has finally arrived, and it is my favorite time of the year to shop for local food.  The farmers market is full of baby greens, flowers, swiss chard, broccoli rabe, young kale and a variety of lettuces… fresh cheeses aged through the winter, and meats from our local farms… I am excited about the cooking season and thought I would put together a photo blog of some of my creations and my favorite ingredients to add on to as the season progresses.  Soon it will be heirloom tomatoes (my favorite), onions, garlic and potatoes..pumpkins, squash… and then another winter will be upon us..

Enjoy the season, happy cooking!

~click on a picture to scroll through each image…

Our last Christmas, just the two of us.

We are only a week or two away from multiplying into a three family unit… the last nine months have been quite slow to pass, but now that I am nearing my 39th week of pregnancy, I feel like things are finally coming to a close and a new chapter of life is about to begin.  So for Christmas this year, we decided that we would spend the day alone, peacefully together, as just the two of us, one last time.

We awoke early to the smell of cinnamon and vanilla (everybody should wake up to this smell everyday, I am sure it would save the world if it were so).  I had prepared a blueberry french toast in my crock pot the night before that had slowly baked through the night…  It was delightful.

As we sat, sipping orange juice, Colin with his mimosa, and eating blueberry french toast, we decided that the day would be spent as follows:  breakfast, open presents, lay in bed, go for walk, take pictures, burn away negativity, pet horses, eat lunch, watch movie, eat dinner, eat desert, snuggle, go to bed… The perfect day.

I had spent some time earlier in the week coming up with a fantastic menu for the day~

Lynn’s Christmas Menu

lunch: Caramelized balsamic onion, thyme and fig goat cheese tartlet with honey medjool dates.         Shrimp Cocktail.

Dinner: seared Tenderloin roast with soy balsamic onions, crispy hen of the Woods mushrooms, brown butter sweet potato, and garlic butter stuffed artichokes.

Dark chocolate tart with whipped cream.

The day turned out to be a special, beautiful day together, one that will be remembered as our last Christmas, just the two of us…

Colin’s mother had sent us a few gifts to open…  I received a lovely blue crystal necklace that I adore, and Colin got this precious custom-made, needle felt gargoyle daddy holding a gargoyle baby (every year, she gives him a gargoyle for Christmas)… He will perch on a shelf above the crib, watching over our little one.

We decided that it was time to take some pregnancy pictures… finally.  After all of the picture-taking we do, we had yet to spend anytime snapping away at my pregnant belly.  So Without further adieu- the following photo collage is filled with “Lynn’s last week of pregnancy” photos.  It was the perfect day for a walk, and we choose a path that runs through the notoriously famous “sleepy hollow” woods that just happen to be near our house.  These are the woods where the story of the headless horsemen, and Ickabod Crane come from.  They definitely do have a spooky, mysterious vibe.

We had prepared a little “burning ceremony” earlier in the morning for our walk.  Each of us wrote down on little pieces of paper, the things that we most want to separate ourselves from, negative things that have or do affect us~  that no longer have a place in our lives.  We stashed them in a tin and headed out into the woods to find a place to burn them away and leave them behind.  On our walk home, we felt a bit lighter.

The horses were happy to see us and to have their soft, velvety noses pet for a few moments before we headed back inside for an afternoon of AMAZING food, our sweet kitties and each other.  I forgot to snap a photo of our desert… so in your mind, at the end of this collage, place a vision of the best chocolaty goodness you can think of and that is what we had for desert.

I put together this photo collage to remember our last Christmas together as just the two of us.  You can view as a scroll-through slide show with captions if you click on any image.

Wild Caught Meets Locally Grown.

It’s hunting season here in upstate NY, which means on any given morning if your up and out early enough, driving along any remote country road, you might be able to spot a bearded man with a neon orange cap heading into the woods…  Usually sporting a riffle or a bow.hunter

Personally, I have always had mixed feelings about the sport of hunting… I grew up with a father who hunted, and a grandfather that is primarily remembered for his woodsmen aptitude. As a child, I was accustomed to the sight of a deer hanging from the tree in our front yard each fall, and I remember very early on the first time I tasted venison.  My father prepared it with a simple flour, salt and pepper coat in a pan with butter and onion.  It was unlike any other meat, and once a year, for a brief time, we would have it in our home.  But years later,  I took a vow of vegetarianism…  For nearly eight years, I swore off any and all meat for no reason other than for my love of animals.  Now, in my 30’s, I include meat in my diet and have found a healthy balance for my love of nature and the food that it provides. Knowing just how food is processed, and where it comes from has become the key factor in my relationship with food.  In my opinion, It is a connection that too many people have lost touch with.

This year, a friend of mine and avid hunter,  offered me some venison to take home. Throughout the years, my friend and I have had many conversations about hunting and the mixed feelings I have always had about the sport.  We would talk about our mutual respect for animals and the relationship we have with them, in such opposing ways.  But through these conversations, I have come to realize that hunting is a kind and even necessary part of the life cycle, that the food the hunter brings home from the woods is the purest way to receive it, and that our mutual respect for the animal is more common than I knew.   After accepting the venison, I felt the need to honor the meal that this meat would provide my husband and I with the perfect selection of seasonal ingredients that I could find locally and as minimally processed as possible.

I found a farm store not too far from my house called The Berry Farm store.  This is a fully self-sustaining farm store that features locally made products from honey, candles, baked goods, and a grocery full of locally grown produce and meats.  It is also the home of a very friendly cat who can be seen roaming the grocer isles, napping in window boxes and greeting customers at the front door.

fat sleepy cat

fat sleepy cat

While shopping, I met a man named Joe who was overly interested in helping me find the things I was looking for.  Soon, I discovered that he was the owner of the store and before I knew it, he had offered to take me on a tour of his greenhouses.

tour of green houses

tour of green houses

As we walked through each hoop shaped green house, filled with a variety of vegetables, herbs and flowers, he explained the energy they use to run the green houses and store…a combination of solar and geo-thermal energy supply this little market with more than enough power to be self-sustaining.  He talked about the struggles and benefits of being a small-scale, eco-consious farmer, just how frightening it is to be a farmer in todays agriculture, and how difficult it has become to work around the Monsanto label.  Here, in this rural little town, a man plays classical music all day long to a green house full of micro greens. He looks down at his seedlings with a smile and an obvious appreciation for this process of life, while somewhere else, a corporate industry (Monsanto) is trying to put a patent on our seeds and genetically modify our food.  I will continue to support Joe.

music for the seedlings...

music for the seedlings…

I finished my afternoon of shopping for the perfect ingredients and decided on what my menu would be for the evening…

A wild mushroom encrusted venison tenderloin, with a pomegranate cream sauce,  a winter greens gratin, and thyme roasted new potatoes….My sister in law had suggested the winter greens gratin a while ago, and I thought it would fit nicely with the venison.  A sweet pomegranate cream sauce with the wild mushroom crust sounded like the perfect pairing, and some simple roasted potatoes… I couldn’t wait to get started.

It was a lovely cooking process that my husband and I enjoyed together.  He told me stories of growing up with a grandfather who was also an avid woodsmen and we talked about the hunter, as if we were there with him, imagining what it must be like.  To wake before dawn, to sit in the cold crisp morning, listening for sounds, silent and still, searching for shadows, and finally taking aim on an unsuspecting animal…  We talked about the sadness of the life that is taken, and the necessity for it just the same, how some people can do it without a second thought, and others could just never.

And then, we celebrated our evening with food that was carefully and thoughtfully given to us, wild and locally produced.

Below is a collage of my shopping trip, a greenhouse tour, and the evening of cooking with these wonderful ingredients.  

miso hungry

Today, I share with you, a unique recipe that is worth giving a try…

Miso maple sweet potato tacos with caramelized onions & sweet chili coconut sauce

The champion of this dish is the Miso, a traditional Japanese staple made from fermented beans, rice or barley.  It is salty and savory, earthy, rich and briny, unlike any other describable flavor.  Commonly used as a soup base, it can also be used as a glaze or marinade for meats and vegetables.

South River Miso is an American Miso maker from Conway, Massachusetts that uses traditional Japanese methods to produce Miso.  I picked up a 3 year aged, red barley Miso from them and it is just wonderful.   Not only does this unique, flavorful food taste unlike anything else, it is also ridiculously good for you!  Packed with active cultures that help in the digestive process, essential amino acids, protein, minerals and vitamins… this super food has been studied for centuries.  If you have never cooked with Miso before, give it a try!

Ingredients you will need:

For the Marinade:

  • 2 tbsp Miso
  • 3 tbsp real maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar

For the Tacos:

  • 2 sweet potatoes, chopped into bite size pieces
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • 2 cups of chopped romaine lettuce, or any green you like
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • corn tortillas

For the Dressing:                                                     

  • 2 medium green chills
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup of fresh basil
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • small amount of ginger root
  • two scallions, trimmed
  • dash of salt and pepper

Mix the Miso, the maple syrup and the apple cider vinegar together.  In a bowl, toss the chopped sweet potatoes and the miso, maple, vinegar mixture together.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

in a frying pan, heat the butter and olive oil together for several minutes.  Add the onions to the pan, cooking on medium heat until they are translucent and starting to brown (about ten minutes.)  Lower the heat to a med/low setting and sprinkle the sugar over the cooking onions, continue to cook them for several more minutes until the onions are coated in the sugar and caramelized.

Mix the caramelized onions in with the marinating sweet potatoes. Now, spread the potatoes and onions onto a baking sheet, put them into your 350 degree oven. Let them bake until the potatoes are fork tender and the miso marinade has browned the potatoes (about 1/2 hour)- you will want to toss the potatoes once while they are baking as not to burn the sugars in the marinade.

In the mean while, prepare the taco filling and chill coconut sauce. If you haven’t already, chop your lettuce and avocado and set aside.  In a food processor, toss in all of the ingredients in the “dressing” list and blend until it makes a smooth and creamy sauce.

When the potatoes are done, you can prepare your tacos! Place a couple scoops of the miso maple potatoes and caramelized onions onto a corn tortilla, a handful of lettuce and avocado, and top off with the sweet chill coconut sauce. These tacos are decadent, flavorful, and put quite a spin on a hum drum week of left overs and repeat meals.  Not to mention this is a 100% vegan meal with amazing healthy benefits! I served these tacos with some eggplant bites, tossed in panco breadcrumbs and olive oil, baked until crispy and golden brown.

Chocolate Cream pie….

This morning, as Colin and I lay in bed discussing what adventure we should embark on today, we decided that we would go on a pursuit to find the ingredients for, and produce a MIND BLOWING meal for this evenings dinner.  The day was hinting to be a rainy one, as the wind rustled the leaves outside and the grey sky let us know that a day inside of cooking would be the perfect way to spend our Saturday together.  We debated on what this meal should  be for quite some time, discussing the potential of poultry, beef, fish or vegetarian…. Low and behold, by the influence of Julia Child and the thought of crispy chicken skin, we chose a pan seared chicken with a creamy wild mushroom sauce…

and then desert came into the debate. Chocolate cream pie! Yes! Not the kind that you can find at a road side diner, the kind that resembles a big fluffy, yokey cool whip cake with a hint of chocolate syrup flavor.. bleckk! No, we will make the real deal, a smooth dark chocolate cream pie.. made with eggs and cream and butter…

Julia, Chocolate cream

We are quite happy with the local variety of grocers available to us where we live. I think that where and how your food comes to you is just as, if not more important, as eating it! I want to know that my food was grown by somebody, ideally a happy somebody, who loved and cared for the earth as it grew, who didn’t inject it with super vegetable hero powers. and I want to ensure that this somebody continues to grow happy vegetables, EVEN if I have to pay 50 cents more for them.

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We drove out to the Hawthorn Valley Farm Store in Ghent NY, and the REAL FOOD co-op in Chatham where we were able to find all of the ingredients we needed for the day.  Hawthorn Valley Farm is a Biodynamic farm that is part of a not-for-profit organization dedicated to agriculture, education, and the arts. It is a Waldorf school for children as well as an organic, self sustaining farm. The REAL FOOD co-op in Chatham is a member run food cooperative that supports local agriculture. The folks that work in these stores are kind, unique, and beautiful people.  If your cashier doesn’t look at least as happy as the one in my pictures…your not shopping at the right places!  Milk and cream, eggs that came from happy chickens and a giant Amish butter roll… Stone ground wheat flour, Himalayan salt, fresh vegetables, dark chocolate, dry vermouth…

On the way home, the radio announced that there was a tornado warning in effect for our county. By the time we got home,  the wind was wild and the rain was so heavy I worried about the thin glass windows we have cracking!  Colin turned on some music to help drown out the storm, and we began our lovely process to the sound of wind swaying the trees outside, and Van Morrison.

rainy day

We tackled the pie first- making a dough, folding cream, chocolate, butter and sugar together at the right temperatures.  I used a mix of milk and dark coca chocolates, and a heavy cream from some happy cow that lives in my neighborhood. This was  my first chocolate cream pie I ever attempted to make, so we fumbled a bit- but as Julia Child would say- “Nothing is too much trouble if it turns out right, and nothing is learned if no mistake is to be made”

and then, our main entrée needed to be prepared… A secret for you culinary-challenged folks… if you want your chicken to have crispy, golden brown skin- you have to pat it dry before you pan sear it.  Otherwise, it will just steam in it’s own juices.  I used chicken breast on the bone, with the rib side cut off, seasoned with lemon juice, thyme, salt and pepper.  just before the chicken goes into the hot pan… give it a good pat down. and happy searing.

For the sauce… oh… cream, butter and vermouth, you belong together!  A mix of shiitake and button mushrooms, some fresh parsley and some roasted mini brussles with shallots and pearl onions… now pour that goodness over your chicken, and watch out…. this was one MIND BLOWING meal! The cream sauce was heavenly, the crispy chicken was perfect and the roasted mini cabbages were divine!

and the pie… oh the pie!  It turned out exactly what we had set out to accomplish today.  It was beautifully decadent.  Silky smooth, rich and creamy… the way a chocolate cream pie should be!

Colin was quite content tonight as we settled in for an evening movie. What a wonderful day spent with my husband, searching for the perfect food, for the perfect meal.