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Archive for the ‘kid meals’


Zucchini-Cheddar Muffins 0

Posted on August 22, 2011 by crankycheryl

What kills me is that when I consult this blog as a record of my days, it’s going to look like I did practically nothing this summer.

Friends, I did everything this summer.  The boys and I have been out and about, camping and playing and exploring. We’ve read a ton and seen movies and visited family and friends.  I’ve been cooking up a storm.  Canning, freezing, snacking, everything.

I’ve been working, and even (sound the trumpet) am preparing to start a brand new full time job with the University of Vermont’s Center for Sustainable Agriculture.  (Which, let’s face it, I wouldn’t jinx by advertising in advance, except the director has called and gotten my social security number and birthdate to get my paperwork started, so I’m pretty sure it’s true.)

I’ve written articles and emails and lots and lots of copy for a variety of projects.  Just not here, somehow.

Ah well.  We’re here now.

Among all of these other things, I had the good fortune to be able to provide the food for a friend’s brunch on the day after his summer wedding.  They had friends and family coming from all over the country, and they wanted to show off Vermont’s great food with a big Green Mountain brunch feast.

We got planning, and I scored some help from a friend who’s a NECI grad, and we spent a couple of days making all manner of piecrust and waffles and slicing fruit and making currant lemonade and steeping fresh mint for iced tea.  And maybe the most humble-appearing item of our line-up were these muffins, more like scones because they were so rich.  And containing zucchini because Pike said, “Well, it’s summer in Vermont.  We’ve got to have zucchini there.”  Which is totally true.

These muffins are so buttery, cheesy and good that they would have deserved to be on the menu anyway.  Just today, weeks later,  Z. helped himself to one right out the freezer from the few leftovers we’ve still got.  He would have eaten it that way, but Greg took pity and got him to thaw it in the toaster oven first.  Good.   Good either way.

Zucchini-Cheddar Muffins
Makes about 12
Adapted from Joy of Cooking

  1. Preheat an oven to 350.
  2. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin and set aside.
  3. Whisk together in a bowl:
  • 3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 4 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
       4.   Add and toss to separate and coat with the flour mixture:
  • 1 c. shredded zucchini
  • 1 c. shredded cheddar
  • 1/4 c. chopped scallions
  • 3 T. chopped fresh basil (we had purple, so that’s what I used)
      5.   Whisk together in another bowl:
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 c. buttermilk or yogurt
  • 4 T. melted unsalted butter or vegetable oil
       6.  Add to the flour mixture and mix with a few firm but gentle strokes, just until the dry ingredients are moistened.       (Let the batter stay lumpy.)   Scoop into cups of pan, then bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out     clean.  Let cool in pan for a few minutes, then enjoy while a little warm, or else cool on rack.

 

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Adorable Empanadas, or How I Scored a Princess Bat 3

Posted on February 19, 2011 by crankycheryl

Z.’s kindergarten teacher saw that I was making empanadas on a Facebook post, and asked if I might come in and do them with the class.  They were wrapping up their five-senses unit, and a hands-on cooking activity seemed a fun way to use those senses.

If you’re not familiar with them, empanadas are little turnovers popular in South America and parts of the Caribbean.  The crust is flaky like a pie crust, though just a bit more doughy.  Often filled with spiced ground meat, they can also contain vegetables, beans, even sweet fruit fillings (think portable pie).  I let Z. pick the flavor (potato and cheese) and started the planning.

The constraints were time and food safety, and the desire to give them a good product that they could succeed at while feeling proud of.   (If you’ve ever cooked with a group of kids you know that they can feel cheated if they don’t have something substantial to do in the creation of the food.)

The solution was to prepare the filling and crust ahead of time, and to leave out the raw eggs or anything that could be dangerous if a kid found himself sampling the ingredients raw.   Easy.  So, with my bag full of dough and filling, I arrived for the activity, we talked about how we use our senses to see the food we’re making, and listen to its crunch or sizzle, and smell its delicious smells.  Then we washed hands thoroughly (I’ve seen what these people do with those hands) and off we went.

Potato & Cheese Empanadas
About 20 turnovers

The Filling

Mix together thoroughly:

  • 4 c. leftover mashed potatoes
  • 1 c. shredded cheddar
  • 1/2 c. butternut squash puree (totally optional, but I have a reputation to maintain)
  • 3/4 t. salt

Set aside.

The crust

1.  Place in a large bowl or food processor:

  • 6 c. all purpose flour
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 2 t. salt

Stir or pulse until combined, then add:

Pulse or mix until mixture looks like coarse crumbs.  Drizzle over the top:

  • about 1 1/4 c. water

Pulse just a few times or mix gently with fork until dough is just dampened enough to gather into a ball.

2.  Divide into ~20 flat disks, each with a piece of parchment or wax paper between them.  Refrigerate for an hour, or until you’re ready to proceed.  N.B. – If you do make this ahead of time, make sure you give the dough an hour at room temperature to get it to a workable consistency before proceeding.

Construction

1.  Preheat oven to 400.

2.  Take each disk one at a time, and roll it or press it into a circle.  In our class we distributed a piece of parchment to each kid, which is worth bringing in if your fabulous teacher doesn’t have it right at hand.

Press the dough (or help the kids press the dough) into a circle.  The shape doesn’t matter terribly, but it should at least have even edges and be symmetrical so it will fold over and seal neatly in an upcoming step.

3.  Take a rounded tablespoon of the filling, and put it just below the center of the circle.  Kids will need help with this as they’ll be likely to put too much filling on for it to close up properly.  How you deal with that is up to you – it’s not a bad idea to let kids learn some food science by seeing what happens when they make different cooking choices.  On the other hand, it’s nice to let everyone succeed in a class setting.

4.  Fold over the dough from top to bottom and seal by pressing.  If your dough is at all crumbly, dipping your finger in water and running it along the edge can help the edges sort of glue together.  Use a fork to crimp the edges, and then place each on an ungreased baking sheet until they’re all completed.

5.  Poke each with a fork two or three times.  Then give them an egg wash by beating

  • an egg or two with a little milk or water and then brushing on the top.

Then we had to run, run, run our empanadas to the kitchen to have them baked before pizzas went in the oven for Pizza Day.  You don’t mess with Pizza Day.

5.  Bake for about 15 minutes, until nicely browned.  Let cool for a few minutes (or the amount of time it takes to run back up the hall to your classroom) and then cut in half and eat.

What we found was that about half the kids were willing to try them, and most of those loved them.  Z. was too conflicted by the warring emotions associated with having me in the classroom and just couldn’t manage eating a new food too.  But one of his friends especially loved them, and that’s how I got my very own Princess Bat.

Swoon.

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Miso Roasted Roots & Friends 1

Posted on February 05, 2011 by crankycheryl

At my last winter CSA share pick-up, I had gotten some of these hairy beauties:

A note suggested that they might be best roasted, and that their main winter-storage claim to fame may be that they aren’t at all sweet.  Since, like every aspiring Vermont winter localvore, I’m craving variety this time of year, in the bag they went, where they joined beets, rutabaga, turnips, potatoes, onions, garlic, carrots and parsnips.  And met up with more of the same at home.

There were a lot of them, and something had to be done.

You may know that I think that roasting is one of the very nicest things you can do to a vegetable.   It intensifies flavor and caramelizes sugars, and can be done to just about everything (not leafy vegetables, generally).   Plus it’s a good straight-forward way for a lazy cook like me to end up with some building blocks and variety for the meals of the coming week.

Facing off with the pile of roots and squashes, I decided to roast beets by themselves, butternut squash by itself, and then do a savory tray (potatoes, salsify, rutabaga) flavored with miso, and a sweet tray (carrots, parsnips, turnips) just plain with olive oil and salt.

My approach is a bit convoluted, but not at all fussy.    The goal is to let everything cook for as long as it needs, while being in the kitchen as little as possible.

Here’s how I did it.  Of course, use what you’ve got and make it how you want it.  Maybe you’re planning Italian food and would do garlic and some oregano instead of miso for a savory variety, or want to throw onions onto either tray, or toss them with some teriyaki sauce.  Go for it.

A Trio of Roast Roots, Plus Squash

1.  Preheat oven to 400.   Oil three rimmed baking sheets, and get out one baking dish with an oven-proof, snug-fitting lid.  Get out two large mixing bowls and set aside.

2.  Beets

  • Wash but don’t peel (isn’t this fabulous?) as many beets as can fit in your lidded baking dish in one layer.  Put on the lid and put them in the oven (it’s okay if it hasn’t preheated all the way).  They will need to cook the longest, one-two hours depending on size.

3.  Savory Miso-Roasted Roots

Prepare the salsify:

  • Put 2 T. lemon juice into a medium bowl and add water nearly to top
  • With the lemon-water right at hand, peel and slice 3-4 salsify roots crosswise into chunks about 1 1/2″ long and put immediately into the water bowl to prevent discoloration.

Put it all together by placing in one of the large mixing bowls:

  • 2-3 large potatoes, scrubbed, peel left on, cut into 1 1/2″ chunks
  • 1 rutabaga, peeled, cut into 1 1/2″ chunks
  • the salsify, drained well
  • 2 T. miso paste
  • 2 T. olive oil

Mix thoroughly with your hands, then spread the whole thing out on one of the baking sheets and set aside.

 

4.  Sweet Mix

 

  • 3-4 carrots, scrubbed, peels left on, cut into 1 1/2″ – 2″ chunks crosswise
  • 3-4 parsnips, scrubbed, peels left on, cut into 1 1/2″ – 2′ chunks crosswise
  • 1 turnip, peeled, cut into 1 1/2″ chunks
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1/2 t. kosher salt

Mix thoroughly with your hands, then spread the whole thing out on one of the baking sheets.

Put both baking sheets in the oven.  Cook for about 30 minutes, stirring once or twice if you think of it.  They’re done when a fork easily pierces a chunk.  The carrots and turnips are the slowest cookers here, so they’re good ones to test.

5.  Butternut Squash

Cut in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds and put them in a colander.  Put the squash cut-side-down on the remaining baking sheet.   If your oven is big enough, you can go ahead and put it in now, or else wait until you take out the mixed trays.  This also cooks for about 30 minutes, or until very soft.

6.  Don’t Forget the Beets

When everything on a tray is done, check on the beets by poking the largest one with a fork.   Cook for a while longer if it’s till very firm, and when it is tender, go ahead and turn off the oven.  Leave the beets in there until the oven cools down, then remove and peel them – the peels will slip off in your hands.

If you’re feeling ambitious you can also go ahead and rinse, dry, oil and salt those seeds and put them in the oven once you turn off the heat.  If you do it right when the heat goes off, there’ll be enough warmth to toast them but not enough to burn them.

7.  Using Your Delicious Vegetables

  • Eat them as they are.
  • Puree the butternut squash and turn it into this soup, or you could mix it with some cream and broth and add in some of the other vegetables and some meat or beans for a heartier version.
  • Add pureed butternut squash to baked goods, waffles or the life.
  • Save pureed squash for a fabulous souffle that I’ll be posting this week
  • Slice beets and put them on salads
  • Save beets for the beet-rhubarb recipe I’ll be posting this week
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Pumpkin-Cinnamon Swirl Bread 1

Posted on October 14, 2010 by crankycheryl

We’re blessed with a whole flock of new babies in our lives, and that means baking for the new parents. There’s a simple rule I follow in providing food for new parents of second and third children:

Give them delicious and healthy food their older children will eat without whining.

This way, the parents can feed their firstborn, and snitch a bite or two and receive just enough nutrients to survive another round of round-the-clock babycare.

E.  & Z. & I had a lovely version of this when we popped in at Great Harvest recently.  It’s near where we’ve started martial arts classes, and it takes all the bribery and threats I can muster to get my #1 son there.  I definitely credit Great Harvest’s sugary offerings and riding toy collection with my being able to bamboozle him to the dojo last week.   And the bread was so good that even in my traumatized state I was inspired to go home and make some of our own, which we then gifted to some of the new parents in our lives.  It’s like a cinnamon roll in loaf form, and reasonably healthy-ish as far as these things go.

Pumpkin-Cinnamon Swirl Bread
Bread adapted from Joy of Cooking
Filling adapted from The Weekend Baker
Makes one loaf

1.  Stir together in a large bowl:

  • 1 c. bread flour
  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 package (2 1/4 t.) active dry yeast
  • 1 1/4 t. salt

Add and stir very well:

  • 1 c. very warm water
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. pureed pumpkin, acorn, or butternut squash

2.  Add 1/4 c. at a time, mixing by hand, or a hand-held blender:

  • 3/4 – 1 c. bread flour

Add flour until the dough is moist but not sticky.

3.  Turn your oven to 350 degrees for exactly one minute and then turn it off.

4.  Knead for 10 minutes, either by hand or in some fancy machine with a dough hook, until the dough is smooth and elastic.  But set the timer and don’t cheat your dough, even if it seems nice and elastic before you’ve kneaded for the whole time.  Then coat a large bowl with oil, place the dough in it, turn it over once to coat it, then cover with a damp tea towel.  Let rise in the oven (make sure you’ve turned it off!) for about 45 minutes, or until doubled in volume.

5.  While the dough is rising, prepare the cinnamon filling.  Beat together in a large bowl with a handheld mixer on medium speed until very thoroughly combined into a thick paste:

  • 1/2 c. packed brown sugar*
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar*
  • 1/3 c. unbleached flour
  • 2 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 c. (4 T.) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 c. applesauce or apple butter

6. Preheat oven to 450.   Grease a standard (6-cup) loaf pan.  Punch down the dough, then stretch it out into an oblong about the width of the loaf pan and about 12″ long.  Leave a 1″ border on one short end, then spread the cinnamon filling to about 2″ from the other end, going to about 1″ from the sides of the dough.  (You can freeze any leftover filling or put it on your oatmeal or mix it into cookies.)

7.  Roll up the dough as tightly as you can, beginning on the short end with the filling that comes closest to the edge.  Tuck and push as you roll to get the neatest loaf possible.  Place in the loaf pan and bake for 10 minutes, then turn oven down to 350 and bake for 30 more, or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped.  Remove loaf to a rack and let cool completely.  Eat within three days, or freeze for up to two months.

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Best Freaking Apple Pie Ever 4

Posted on September 24, 2010 by crankycheryl

First: if you’re here in northern Vermont too and are after apples, you must go to the UVM Hort Farm.  If you have even an iota of apple love or food geekiness, you will fall in love with the shed and its many, changing varieties of apples and how folks from all walks of life come through for their $1/lb. apples.  And not just any apples, but many that you can’t get in stores, from the organic and IPM orchards in which UVM grows different varieties to test for various traits.

I went a little crazy, which I’m sure you’ll find hard to believe, and found myself leaving with 18 pounds of fruit, with a sample of each posed here.

Starting from the red spotty one and going clockwise, that’s Speckles (NY-75414-1), Arlet, Silken, Gala, Jubilee Fuji, NY-74828,  and in the middle must be CQR 12-t-50.

And then it was sometime around then that we got an invite to an Apple Pie Fest for a friend’s birthday.  A contest, even, with prizes for all who entered.  E. isn’t terribly into cooking these days, but I grabbed him long enough to get his votes: sweet or savory crust?  Double or single crust?  I got out all sorts of aromatic spices and let the boys choose which we’d use, and after a lot of sniffing we settled on cinnamon.  So traditional it was.

We got out the excellent Cooking with Shelburne Farms and gave their recipe a whirl.  It was the best pie I’ve ever made.  Maybe it’s because I was in teaching mode and explaining why this thing is cold and why we pulse in the liquid just so as the crust is coming together and so I was actually following directions.  The directions are a bit long, but just follow them and you too will be in for a fall treat.

Apple Pie
Adapted with permission from Cooking with Shelburne Farms

Makes one 10-inch pie (I doubled and made two, which was perfect for both our weekend parties)

Crust:

1.  Place in the freezer to chill:

  • 1/2 c. milk

2.  In a food processor, pulse together:

  • 3 c. unbleached all-purpose flour (we used 2 cups white and 1 cup whole wheat pastry)
  • 2 T. white sugar
  • 1/2 t. salt

3.  Cut into small pieces and then work into the flour with six short pulses:

  • 6 T. cold vegetable shortening (we used the non-hydrogenated palm oil kind)

Repeat with:

  • 2 sticks cold unsalted butter

Pulse a few additional times, until the mixture is pebbly with small bits of the butter still visible.

4.  Pour:

  • 1/4 c. chilled milk

through the food processor tube, and pulse three or four times.  Add the rest of the milk one tablespoon at a time, with short pulses, just until the dough starts to come together (it won’t do so like bread dough does, and it’s better to under-work your crust than overwork it so err on the side of under-mixing it if you’re unsure).

Get out two plastic bags or two large squares of plastic wrap.  Turn the dough out into a large bowl and gather it together in two equal balls.  Flatten them slightly into round disks, place in bags or wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450.

The Filling

5.  Peel, core and slice:

  • 3 lbs. (6 – 8 large) apples

Given our Hort Farm adventure, we used a mix of Arlet, Speckles and Galas.  Pie apples are a matter of much debate, with very strong preferences given for particular varieties.  Use what you like.

Toss them with:

  • 3/4 – 1 c. packed light brown sugar
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 2-3 T. unbleached flour (add 2 T. and then see if you seem to have extra-juicy fruit and add the additional T. if necessary)
  • 1/4 t. salt

6.  Unwrap one chilled ball of dough and place it on a large, lightly floured surface.  With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the ball from the center out until the dough is in a circle about 1/3″ thick and about 13″ in diameter.  If there are cracks and tears as you roll, go ahead and patch and pinch together to repair.

Use a thin metal spatula to nudge the dough around the rolling pin, and lift it to the pan, patching it as necessary.  Fill it with the apples, mounding them in the center.  Top with:

  • 2 T. slices of butter

6.  Roll out the second ball of dough in the same way as the first.  If you like, you can create a vent in the crust by using your favorite cookie cutter to remove a small shape from the center.  Brush the edges of the bottom crust with water, and then lay the top crust on top the same way the bottom one was moved.  Leave a 1/4″ overhang all around, trim the excess with a sharp knife as necessary and crimp the edges.

7.  Brush the top lightly with milk, cut vents if you decided not to remove the cookie shape in step 6, and sprinkle all over with sugar.  Set on a rack in the lower third of the oven and bake for 25 minutes.

8.  Lower the oven temperature to 350 and move the pie to the lowest setting in the oven.  If the edge of the crust is browning too fast, use a long thin piece of foil to protect only the edge.  Bake for another 25-30 minutes, or until the top crust is golden-brown and the apples are soft when pierced.

Remove from oven and let cool.  Then you can bring it to a party, where it can join a stellar line-up of pies, and maybe it too will win the “Tastiest Pie” medal.

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Chickpea, Corn & Smoked Cheddar Wraps 0

Posted on September 23, 2010 by crankycheryl

There’s a part of me that loves this time of year as the height of the harvest draws to a close.  The wild ride of summer is a fun romp, sure, but I like the slowdown, how there’s time to stop and appreciate the things that are coming ripe more slowly.  The apples, now.  The tomatoes that have stopped stampeding in from the garden or farmer’s market.  I feel a little less desperate to ENJOY EVERYTHING AT ITS PEAK RIGHT NOW WITH AS LITTLE ADORNMENT AS POSSIBLE!

Phew.

In this very seemly spirit, here’s a yummy vegetarian dinner that makes use of what’s in season in a completely reasonable way.  And you can make it the rest of the year too, with frozen corn and the best tomatoes you can get your hands on.

Around these parts, wraps are one of the few foods that I can make that E. and Z. will both eat in one form or another, and that the grown-ups can actually enjoy.  These were especially successful for Z., who shredded his wrap and made careful little petit fours with avocado slices, caramelized onion, avocado and cheese.

Chickpea, Corn & Smoked Cheddar Wraps
Makes 8 wraps

1.  Have 8 wraps or tortillas warmed and ready, wrapped in a tea towel that’s very slightly damp and in a very low oven.

2.  In a large skillet, heat until rippling:

  • 2 T. olive oil

3.  Add:

  • 1 c. chopped onion (I cut mine fairly fine, you can do yours as you like)
  • 1 c. chopped red pepper
  • 4 purple tomatillos, cut into quarters (optional)

Cook until very soft.

4.  While onion mix is cooking, prepare other ingredients for wraps.  I like to put them all on one large plate for the middle of the table where everyone can help themselves to what they like.

  • 4 oz. smoked cheddar, sliced thinly
  • 1 juicy tomato, cut in half and sliced thinly
  • 2 cups of lettuce, cleaned and torn into small pieces if large
  • 1/2 c. cilantro, cleaned and coarsely chopped

5.  When onion mix is well-cooked, stir in:

  • 2 cups drained cooked or canned chick peas
  • kernels from 4 ears fresh corn

Cook until heated through, then place mix in serving bowl.

6.  Put together wraps with a couple tablespoons of the chickpea mix, and whatever other ingredients you like.

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Maple Cornbread 4

Posted on September 17, 2010 by crankycheryl

I grew up with my mother’s copy of the Vegetarian Epicure, a classic source for soups and breads and vegetarian food from back in the days when no one was scared to cook with a boatload of cheese and butter.

In a pinch the other day, I turned to the newer edition for a cornbread recipe and now have my new favorite.  Moist, very slightly sweet, just the right density, and lovely for your fall go-with-soup needs.  We had it with an impromptu squash soup as a first round, when E. ate no soup, but did help himself to 6 pieces of this, warm and buttered.  It was hard to argue.

Maple-Kissed Buttermilk Cornbread
Adapted from The New Vegetarian Epicure
8 servings

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a 12 x 15 baking dish and set aside.

Sift together:

  • 1 cup unbleached white, or white whole-wheat, flour
  • 1 1/2 c. cornmeal (if you’re in Vermont, maybe give Nitty Gritty a whirl)
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 3/4 t. salt

In a separate bowl whisk together:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/3 c. buttermilk
  • 3 T. maple syrup
  • 2 T. melted butter or olive oil

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir just until the lumps are gone.    Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 – 35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool for a few minutes, then cut into squares and serve.

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Children of the Corn 4

Posted on August 25, 2010 by crankycheryl

Is it just me?

Wouldn’t you expect that your children and their two friends could stay at the petting zoo and playground for two minutes while you ran to get them a bottle of water since the poor little darlings were thirsty?

And if they had to run wild in the minutes you were gone, surely you’d think they could continue on with the petting zoo animals, or climbing the wooden tractor, or running across the wide, safe, open field.  What child of reading age would cross an acre, pass the “CLOSED” signs, and enter the corn maze?

This place, by the way, is a big old actual maze with paths that swirl around in traditionally confusing and re-doubling ways.  It wasn’t terrifying at 3:00 p.m., but I sure as heck wouldn’t want to be there after sundown.   I’ve seen the horror movies and I know what goes on.

Still, you and your younger child yourselves entered the forbidden rows, yelling for the trespassers and were at last reunited, after telling the offending three children that they were in TROUBLE and had ONE MINUTE to find their way to where you were (because if you tell people to do something impossible while YELLING, the laws of physics will change to accommodate your wishes), and then the farmer showed up to yell at them too.

So there we were with glaring adults and big-eyed children.  I was waiting for the finger-pointing and the meltdown and I was ready to dish out some Very Serious Consequences.  But that was when E. said, “Listen.  It’s my fault.  I went in and they came in to get me out.  I didn’t know I wasn’t allowed.”  The farmer looked at me and I think realized they were in much more trouble on the homefront than they were with the farm.  He asked, “So now you know you did something wrong?  And if I had a cable across that row you wouldn’t have gone in?  We want to make sure you’re safe, you know.”

I don’t know what you would have done but for me it was to give the children a hug.  And then we shared our first cider donuts of the season sitting around a picnic table talking about how to decide what’s allowed and what’s safe, about how smart it was to stay together and keep each other okay.

In the end it was one of those golden moments when our children show us the beautiful people they’re becoming, even if there’s plenty of crazy along the way.

And then we went home to make a dinner of our first 2010 local apples, some good Cabot cheddar, and a pile of crackers, since I had no energy left for cooking.  On the way, E. said, “Mommy, you know it’s not really my fault.  They should have signs showing how to get out of that place!  Can you believe there was only one picture of the whole thing?!”

Indeed.

And now that we’ve recovered I want to share with you this pure summer harvest celebration of a recipe that we enjoyed last week after a much less adventurous visit to our CSA farm.  It was Z.’s idea to mix, “corn … and cheese … and broccoli and water … and I’ll stir it all up!”  I’m sure he was thinking something more mudpie-ish, but to me it sounded like chowder, and that’s what we made.

Cheesy Corn Potato Chowder
About 6 servings

1.  Remove the kernels from:

  • 3 ears fresh corn

and set aside.

2.  Heat until rippling in a large sauce pan:

  • 2 T. butter or olive oil

3.  Adjust heat to medium-low, and add:

  • 2 cups diced potatoes, with peels unless you really hate them
  • 1/2 cup sliced carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion

Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until carrots are softened, and onions are starting to brown gently.

4.  Stir in and mix very well:

  • 1/2 t. salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup flour (substitute your usual thickener if you’re going for gluten-free)

Then pour in, 1/2 cup at a time, and bring to a simmer while stirring.

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup water

5.  Stir in and cook at a low simmer just until broccoli turns bright green, about 3 minutes:

  • 2 c. shredded cheddar cheese (I use Cabot 50% reduced fat cheddar)
  • 1 cup finely chopped broccoli (or substitute spinach or chopped chard)
  • the reserved corn

Heat through, and serve.

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Czech Plum Dumplings 4

Posted on August 15, 2010 by crankycheryl

The Vermont plums are in, and they are damned good.   So good that I find myself leaving the farmer’s market each week of their short season with far more than I really need or have plans for.  Which was what was happening a couple of weeks ago when I ran into a friend who told me about her old neighbor who made dumplings with the plums that grew in her yard.

Of course the word, “dumplings” piqued my interest.  So with quarts of plums at the ready, I went home to find a recipe.  Here’s what I found, and have so far made two batches – one to freeze for winter, and one we ate fresh with grilled sausage and a great deal of delight.

Plum Dumplings
Adapted from AllRecipes.com
The original recipe’s yield says 25, but 20 seems to be closer to the truth

1.  Peel, quarter, boil until tender and then mash:

  • 2 large or 4 small potatoes

2.  While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the plums.  Slice in half:

  • 25 prune plums (Who knows?  Maybe you’ll get 25 out of the recipe and will actually need each one.  If not, you’ve got sugary sweet plums as a snack, so it’s a low-risk situation.)

Remove each pit, and sprinkle a bit of sugar into the spot where it was.  Place plums in a bowl while you prepare the dough.

3.  Make the dough by sifting together:

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 t. powdered lemon peel
  • pinch ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Make a well in the center and add:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter
  • 1 cup mashed potato

Mix together with a wooden spoon until too hard to stir, and then knead until very smooth.

4.  Flour a cutting board well, and roll out half of the dough to 1/4″ thick.  Use a glass or biscuit cutter to cut out 3″ or 4″ rounds.  (Work fairly quickly so the circles don’t dry out.)  Place one round on the palm of one hand, rub the circle’s outside with a sugared plum to moisten the dough.

Stretch and seal the dough around the plum, trying your best to avoid any holes in the dough.  (If you do end up with a hole, just grab a scrap from the board and patch it.)

Repeat until all dough is used up, gathering and re-rolling as many scraps as you can.  (To freeze at this point, place in a single layer on a well-floured cookie sheet and stick in the freezer until hard, and then put in a container or bag.)

5.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and gently place dumplings in the water and boil for about 10 minutes. (Add about 4 minutes if you cook from frozen.)

6.  In a large sauce pan, melt together over medium-low heat and stir until warm and thick:

  • 1/2 c. unsalted butter
  • 1  c. brown sugar or your favorite jam or marmalade (we were lucky to have some peach butter bubbling away on the stove and so used that)
  • 1/4 c. bread crumbs to thicken if you like.

I’d like to come up with some brilliant summation here, but I’m a bit distracted as I’m here with a 5-year old here who insists it’s my birthday (it’s not) and that I have to go off to a party with Batman, a plastic dinosaur and some wooden milk.  You, on the other hand, should get yourself some plums and eat them in any way you can think of.

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Charlotte Berry Farm 6

Posted on July 31, 2010 by crankycheryl

Ah, blueberries.

My friend Robin tipped me off that she had heard that Charlotte Berry Farm was worth a try.  “$2 a pound and nearly organic,” went the rumor.  I packed up the boys and we went to check it out.

We arrived on a recent perfect summer day to just a few cars in the parking lot, a sign that said, “We’re glad you’re here,”  and a purple and rainbow boat that sure looked like it was there for kids to play in.

Things were looking pretty good.

Then we went inside, where I confirmed Robin’s information: pick-your-own blueberries cost $2/pound, and they’re grown using Integrated Pest Management practices.  The boys’ eyes got huge when they saw the corner of the farm building that was set up with books and toys, including an enormous box of Legos.  They settled in there, which the lovely person staffing the counter said was okay, and I got a flat and went out into the field.

The berries were so abundant that it took just about an hour to pick 10 pounds (all Bluejays).  And it was a pleasure doing so among the tall bushes that screened the sun from beating down on me.  While I was there, a big group from a local camp wandered through; shouting, “Jackpot!” when they found a big branch of berries.  E. & Z. wandered out to find me, and then went back to play.  I followed them a little while later, and treated them to a creemee.  What you need to know about this treat is that the farm juices the berries that are in season and flavors their ice cream with it, which is how I got this:

And then we went home, where I made a big old batch of jam, froze two batches of pre-measured-for-pie fruit, and ate berries all afternoon.  And given the reaction everyone around here is having to the jam, I think we’re going back next week to do it all again.

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    Cheryl Herrick's brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life. All original content (written, graphical, recipes or other), unless otherwise noted, is © and/or TM Cheryl Herrick. All rights reserved by the author. Want to reprint a recipe? Just get in touch and ask.

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