Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Last night my husband and I went to Hank Shaw's book tour dinner at Craigie on Main in Cambridge.  We had a wonderful dinner which was a tasting menu of various dishes all made with duck...something.  Fish poached in duck fat, duck croquettes, duck consomme, the list went on and on.  Unfortunately for me, several of the dishes had juniper* in the seasoning but the chef was very creative in coming up with something I could eat that was similar.  My husband got the full experience, I was a bit envious!  The food was amazing, creative, unusual; it incorporated wild mushrooms, chickweed garnishes, autumn olives - all sorts of things a forager appreciates!  Hank said he wanted to show how high-brow wild and foraged foods could be and he couldn't be more right.  He and the chef came up with dishes that were sublime.

(*I am allergic to juniper.  Yes, I know.  It's really strange.  And not usually an issue.)

Meeting Hank was fun.  I have to admit, I'm a fangirl.  At least I didn't "squeee!" when he arrived at our table.  He signed both my cookbooks (Duck, Duck, Goose and Hunt, Gather, Cook) and we chatted a bit about foraging for mushrooms and some of his recipes.  I got up the courage at the end of the night to give him my blog address, written, rather appropriately, on my old fishing license that I found in my purse.

So, Hank, if you're reading this, thank you for being an inspiration in the kitchen and the outdoors, for some really terrific recipes that I've enjoyed making and eating, and for making wild food accessible to so many people.  It was truly a pleasure to meet you.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Dealing with the Perishables First

Since I still had food left over from last weeks' share and came home with even more, I am working through the perishable food as quickly as possible.  Last night we ate the lettuce, some of the arugula, radishes and peppers, plus some of the brussels sprouts.  I also made that tomatillo salsa yesterday, using up the tomatillos, cilantro, and chili peppers.  Today I made another batch of eggplant caponata and another batch of that hot pepper sauce.  It seems today's batch was even hotter than the last.  I used fewer chilis and more banana peppers, and there was one super huge jalapeño in there as well.  I think there was some cross pollination of the banana peppers and the habaneros at the farm, as the banana peppers were orange and red and occasionally more habanero shaped.  So I guess it's fitting that both habaneros and banana peppers were used in this sauce.

I also needed to clean up the garden today as it's supposed to freeze tonight.  That consists of draining all the hoses and shutting off the water, emptying the rain barrel, and getting all the plants off the roof.  The miniature Meyer lemon tree came inside (but far away from Mocha's constant nibbling) and the rest of the veggie plants got tossed over the side of the house.  It is so satisfying to dump them off the roof!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Last Farm Share of the Season

It's always a little sad to say goodbye to the farm for the winter.

Today was the last pick up and I came home with lots of food.  A half-peck of apples, a jar of honey, popcorn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, watermelon radishes (so pretty!), peppers, bok choy, arugula, onions, daikon radish, celeriac, kuri squash, brussels sprouts (five STALKS), tomatillos, hot peppers, cilantro, parsley, sage, and lettuce.  My sister-in-law took the cabbage, butternut squash, and garlic in addition to her half of the other things.  We decided I would keep all the tomatillos and hot peppers to make more salsa verde and more of that hot pepper sauce and then just give her half. I tackled the salsa verde first.  By combining the tomatillos I had last week with today's I had 3 pounds which allowed me to scale the recipe up for a change.  I ended up with 3 pints of salsa; 2 jars will go to Steph and I'll keep one.

For dinner we had pan seared salmon (cooked over sautéed cabbage, allowing me to use up another head of cabbage, I have 3 left), plus brussels sprouts, and a nice salad with the lettuce, arugula, bell pepper, watermelon radish, and dried cranberries.

Thanks to everyone over at the Food Project for another great year!  See you in June!

Living Dangerously?

Puffballs before cleaning
Puffballs after cleaning 
Last week at the stables I saw shaggy mane mushrooms.  Nothing else looks like them.  Many had already turned inky with age, so I was certain they were correct.  All week I debated if I should try again with the wild mushrooms.  My last 2 attempts both resulted in tingly lips and I felt like that was the end of it.  But still I wondered, especially if I could eat wild mushrooms in restaurants.  I decided to go for it.

Yesterday I was at the stables and picked a bunch of small shaggy manes - I tried to get the smallest, youngest ones I could because they don't last long and I wanted to test one out ahead of time before I used them in something.  While I was wandering around the back field I found a bunch of other mushrooms:  alcohol inky caps, which I did not pick, and gem studded puffballs, which I did.

Last night I tested the shaggy mane by boiling it and eating a few pieces.  No tingling.  This morning I peeled and sautéed one of the puffballs and sampled it.  Also no tingling.  Encouraged, I thought about making a meatless stroganoff with the two mushrooms together.  After getting the whole thing to a simmer, my husband scoffed at it and said, "It is nothing like stroganoff.  Why don't you just call it soup?"  Soup it is.
Shaggy Manes, starting to turn inky

Shaggy Mane and Puffball Soup

Puffball mushrooms, peeled and cubed
1 onion, sliced thinly
2 T. butter
2 T. flour
1 quart vegetable stock
Diced shaggy mane mushrooms
winter savory
salt and pepper

Sauté the onions and the puffball mushrooms in butter, add flour and continue to cook for a minute.  Add the stock and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, until thickened.  Add the shaggy manes and spices, simmer.

Pretty tasty!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Messy But Hopefully Worth It

Today I tackled all those peppers.  I had about 3 pounds of green and red bell peppers and 5 poblanos, mostly from the farm but a few were from my roof garden.  I didn't want to make a relish again, so I decided I might try roasting and pickling them.

The roasting part is easy enough, but the peeling and slicing is rather messy.  I kept the red, green and poblanos in separate bowls in an attempt to make nice layered arrangements with the red and green peppers.  The poblanos fit into a half-pint jar with some of the onions and garlic from the brine.  I tried to get all the others into my remaining 3 half-pint jars, and that just didn't work.  I had to switch to pint jars and I ended up with 2 pints of somewhat jumbled red and green peppers.  Oh, well!  This was from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, page 317.

Friday, October 18, 2013

I Found Enough Energy

And made 6.5 quarts of applesauce, using 1.5 pecks of apples, 2 cups of white sugar and 1 cup brown.  That's enough applesauce to fill my larger pot almost up to the brim, and the smaller one to just overflowing.  (I know this because I started with the smaller one.  You get the idea.)

This uses up all the apples I've stockpiled.  Still to go:  tomatoes (when I finally have an entire day, not sure when that's going to be), about 3 pounds of peppers with which I'm still not sure what I'll do, beets, 5 heads of cabbage, that pumpkin that needs to be roasted, regular cranberry sauce (no rush on that one) and I have another quart of tomatillos but no cilantro, and a few poblanos that need to be roasted (maybe with the pumpkin?).  So much to do....

Hot Pepper Madness!

Props go to my brother-in-law who procured a recipe for me for hot banana pepper sauce.  He gave it to me a few years ago with a jar of said sauce, which was hot and thick and wonderful on meats.  Yesterday in the farm share I got to pick a whole quart of hot peppers and, when I saw there were banana peppers, got to thinking about this recipe.  However, since I didn't have the 36-50 peppers the recipe called for or, for that matter, enough mustard (it calls for a quart!), I scaled a bit, and changed a few things.

Hot Pepper Sauce

4 banana peppers, 3 habaneros and 10 chilis. Yum.
Roughly 10 banana peppers (see photo, I improvised)
4/5 cup French's mustard
4/5 cup white vinegar
1 + 1/5 cups sugar
3/5 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cold water

Slice off the tops of the peppers and then grind them, seeds and all.  (I found this was easier if I added some of the vinegar to the blender.) Put this mixture in a pot with the mustard, vinegar, sugar and salt.  Bring to a boil.  Mix the flour and water in a bowl and add to the sauce, stirring.  Cook for 5 minutes until the sauce thickens.  Process for 15-20 minutes in water bath canner.  Let rest for 5 minutes before removing from the canner.  (This made about 3.5 cups.)

I also made a cranberry habanero chutney using this recipe.  I doubled the recipe and in the place of the habanero jelly I added 4 minced habaneros (seeds removed) and in place of the jalapeños I added 1 green bell pepper.  This made 7 cups of chutney, a good addition to my gift stash.

I am planning on doing more today but now I'm tired and all my pots need washing, so I think I'm going to rest a bit and see how I feel.  I have to work until 2 am tonight so I might want to conserve my energy!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Roxanne's Fabulous Caponata

When I dropped my canning entries off at the fair, I met a fellow canner, Roxanne.  She was entering tons of unusually flavored things:  gingerbread jam, limoncello jam, and an eggplant caponata, just to name a few.  I got to talking with her about it because I'd been looking for a way to can eggplant and she very generously shared her recipe.

Well, her caponata won first place in its division and seeing that inspired me to try to make it.  I won't reprint the recipe here, since it's not mine, but it has tomatoes, eggplant, olives, celery, onion, and capers in it.  I added green bell pepper since I have a lot of those, too.  It made 7 cups and a little bit.

Congratulations to Roxanne, and that wasn't the only ribbon I saw with her name on it!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Arugula and Bresaola Quiche

My parents were coming for brunch and I improvised a quiche for the occasion...

Arugula and Bresaola Quiche

1 leek, sliced thinly
2 cups arugula, chopped finely
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
about an ounce of mocetta bresaola (pancetta or cooked bacon will do), cut into bite sized pieces
3 eggs
1 cup half and half
shredded cheese, about 1 cup
salt, pepper and nutmeg

First I made a pie crust for a single-crust pie, tossed my pie weights in and baked it for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees.  While that was baking, I sautéed the leeks in a little oil, then added the arugula and stirred it until the arugula was wilted.  I took it off the heat, added the vinegar and the bresaola and tossed.  In a bowl I beat the eggs, added the half and half, cheese, and spices.  When the pie crust was ready, I put the leek-arugula-bresaola mixture in and poured the egg mixture over the top.  This was baked at 375 degrees for 35 minutes and it was terrific!

Saturday, October 5, 2013


Seedless Red Raspberry Jam
"Other" Grape Jelly

Rose Hip Jelly in the "Other Jelly" category

Happy Donna!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Salsa Verde

Yesterday's farm share was full of lovely autumn things:  a sugar pumpkin, an acorn squash, tomatoes, parsnips, turnips, beets, arugula, peppers, potatoes, garlic, tomatillos, hot peppers, green beans, parsley, cilantro, and a few things I didn't even pick up (bok choy, flowers, eggplant, mustard greens, and so on).  I'm getting behind on my canning projects so took a few minutes this morning to make that tomatillo salsa again, but since I used a green chili pepper I can officially call it salsa verde.

Since I only had a pound of tomatillos I cut the recipe in half and now have 2.5 cups of salsa in the canner.  I used the immersion blender to make it smooth after it simmered for 10 minutes.

Still in the works:  I have about 5 gallons of tomatoes frozen, waiting to be sauce.  I have slightly less than a peck of apples in the fridge, also waiting to be sauce.  I think I have enough beets to make a batch of pickled beets.  I still haven't heard from the farm where I get my Elberta peaches and I'm beginning to think I won't.  That's OK.  At some point I'll roast that pumpkin and save it for pie.  I have eggplants and peppers and greens from my mason and I have peppers from my own plants to harvest and do something with.  What I'm lacking right now is time.

There are 3 more weeks in the share, and hopefully then I'll finally catch up!