My brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life.


Valentine’s Day Meringues 0

Posted on February 12, 2011 by crankycheryl

They’re pink, they’re sweet, they’re simple and light as air, and they’re my entry for the City Market We Love Local Food Dessert Recipe Challenge.

City Market is acceptng entries until 2/20 and you should feel free to go ahead and enter, but don’t make anything better than this because I want to win the year of maple syrup, okay?

A couple of notes in advance:

  • Make sure you’ve got parchment or silpat sheets ready ahead of time.  You really need the easy-release feature for meringues.
  • Have a roasted beet around and this will come together very quickly.
  • For the purposes of striving for an extra-beautiful picture, I decided I was going to try to make really beautiful meringues and went to the trouble of loading up my pastry decorator-tube thing and attempted to pipe out shapes.  I didn’t get better results than I do just using a spoon, but you should give it a try if you want.

Naturally Pink Meringues
About 30 meringues

1.  Preheat oven to 250.

2.  Have ready:

  • 1 medium roasted beet, pureed until exceedingly smooth with 2 T. maple syrup
  • 1/2 c. maple syrup

3.  Beat until they stand in firm peaks:

  • 6 egg whites
  • 1/8 t. cream of tartar
  • tiny pinch sea salt
  • (optional: 1 t. vanilla or rosewater)


4.  With the beater still going, add in:

  • 2 T. beet puree, one tablespoon at a time
  • maple syrup, in three slow pours

Beat well until well incorporated and a lovely shade of pink.

5.  Drop by heaping tablespoons on parchment-covered baking sheets.  Place in oven and turn heat down to 225.  Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, then turn off heat and leave in oven for several hours (I always leave them in over night).

Gently remove and store in a covered container for up to 2-3 weeks.

The Chickens, Part 2 8

Posted on July 25, 2010 by crankycheryl

There are no pictures or descriptions of animals actually being killed in this post.  But I’ll tell you the rest of what happened when we brought the chickens from Paula’s Williston farm to the slaughterhouse in Morrisville.

The boys and I got an early morning start, but arrived at Paula’s a little late, and the round-up was underway.  Paula’s daughter and her friend were shooing the chickens towards the adults, who were putting them 2 or 3 to a box and the boxes in the cars.

I was not good at herding chickens, but did show a quick aptitude for finding stinging nettles while trying to coax the birds in the right direction.  The boys were hanging out with Ventura the turkey (his day had not yet come), and the beautiful egg-laying birds, but kind of got into the spirit of laughing and getting these flappy big monsters into boxes.   The birds were 8 or 10 weeks old (the two batches were in their pasture together), and enormous, looking too heavy for their legs and kind of thumping from side to side as they ran.   As I was tucking them into their boxes all I could picture was me on the interstate with huge angry roosters flapping around my head, boys crying and trying to escape.

At last we were packed and off we went.  The birds occasionally made some inquisitive noises.  Z. said, “Don’t worry – nothing bad is going to happen little birdie,” to which E. replied, “They’re on their way to BE KILLED!  Something VERY bad is going to happen!”  His brother shushed him and told him not to say that because it would scare the birds and that wasn’t nice.

We arrived at Morrisville’s Winding Brook Farm, which I’d always been curious about as I see their meat on lots of local menus.   We pulled in to the small parking lot in front of their barn, and spotted the Ag. Dept.’s mobile slaughterhouse, a regulation-looking white trailer with the door open and a guy with a long rubber apron moving around inside.    The plan had been to drop off the birds, but instead we stayed to help, and before I knew it Paula was handing the birds in one at a time.

E. & Z. found a place they could bounce on a big piece of wood, and visited the guinea fowl and calves.  There was another family there, who we started talking to.  They were waiting for a goat they had purchased to be processed, and the little girl who was with them joined our group’s kids.  The girls gathered around Paula and petted and kissed each chicken as it was handed over.

While we were there, all sorts of people were coming and going.  Men in button-down shirts stopped in to talk for a minute; I assumed they were managers or buyers for local restaurant accounts.  Then another family came in, three men and a young-ish girl, speaking an Eastern European language.  One of the men pulled out a whetstone and long knife and started sharpening it.  I asked if they did their own butchering, maybe for halal meat, which they said that they did.  The knife-sharpener said they were there for a lamb, and asked if I could help by holding its legs since his friends refused to.   (I pondered whether I could, decided I probably would so as not to be a hypocrite of a meat-eater, but we left before it was an option.)

After the last bird had been handed in, we followed the kids around on a tour of the farm, cooing at goats and piglets and peacocks and all sorts of farm critters.

We left for a few hours, visiting some of my favorite Lamoille County food spots – Bee’s Knees, Applecheek Farm, and Elmore Roots Nursery (which was closed, but I spotted several things of interest, including native ginger).

Then it was back to the farm to pick up our processed birds.  The butchers gave Paula a big vacuum pack of necks, one of hearts, and then started handing us the vacu-packed chickens.  It cost $172 for butchering 35 birds, including extra ice to chill them to a safe temperature.  (They told us that the price goes up when the weather’s hot.)

And now here are 10 of them in the freezer.  I’ll let you know what I end up doing with them.

Dandelion Greens, Potato & Egg Breakfast 0

Posted on April 09, 2010 by crankycheryl

The spring greens are up and I am a weed-picking fool.  Would you join me please?  Seriously – just go outside and pick a pile of dandelion greens before the flowers bloom and leave thgreens terribly bitter.  Then you’ll wash them very carefully.  Maybe even a soak in a water-bath with 1/4 c. of white vinegar in it.  Keep rinsing and soaking until they’re clean enough for you. (Over here, that was 4 times.)

Then you can go ahead and make yourself a breakfast worthy of a spring celebration.

Dandelion Greens, Potato, & Egg Breakfast, with or without Bacon
Serves 2

Wash repeatedly until clean:

  • 4 – 6 c. dandelion greens

If you want to eat bacon, cook until desired crispness and then remove from pan:

  • (For a vegetarian version heat 3 T. olive oil until rippling)


  • 2 large potatoes into medium cube.

Saute in oil or cook in bacon grease over medium high heat, until browned, then cover pan with a lid and cook for about 20 minutes or until done.

Add to pan and cook until greens are wilted:

  • those dandelion greens you washed so well
  • generous sprinkle of kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste

Scramble and then add to pan:

  • 4 large eggs

(Vegan? Mash up and add  1 package of firm tofu instead.)

Cook until eggs are done (or tofu is heated through).  Scramble together.  If using bacon, crumble and mix in.  Serve with your favorite hot sauce.

Green Wraps & Chocolate Guinness Cake for St. Patrick’s Day 0

Posted on March 17, 2010 by crankycheryl

Filed under the category of “Things My Children Ought to Have Liked but Instead Were the Cause of Great Consternation and Caterwauling” are these wraps that were yummy, simple, adorable, healthy, made with nearly all local ingredients, and a fun twist on St. Patrick’s Day. Dangit.

I had meant to make Green Eggs & Ham for Dr. Seuss’s birthday earlier this month but never seemed to have all the ingredients at the same time.  Then fresh spinach arrived from a friend’s CSA share, and off we went.

Green Egg Wraps with Bacon
Makes about 6 wraps

Place in a blender and puree the heck out of:

  • 2 cups of fresh spinach leaves, well washed, stems removed
  • 2 eggs

Pour the egg-spinach mixture into a medium bowl and beat in:

  • 4 eggs
  • salt & pepper to taste

In the meantime, cook:

  • 8 strips of bacon (a couple of extra never hurt)

And warm up:

  • 4 or 6 whole grain wraps

I do both of these in one easy, lazy step by placing the bacon on a rack on a broiler pan that fits in my convection oven and broiling it for 10 or so minutes, until it’s as crispy as we like.  At the same time, I place the wraps on top of the oven.  They end up just warm enough and I’m not fussing with extra dishes or labor.

While the bacon’s going, cook the eggs in a skillet until set.

Into each warm wrap, place:

  • 1 slice of cheese (we used Muenster)
  • 1 piece of bacon
  • a couple scoops of green eggs
  • favorite add-ins: tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, hot sauce, jalapenos, whatever you like.

Then wrap ’em up and serve.

For dessert we made Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Guinness Cake.  It was great, and I even lucked out and found some cream cheese frosting in the freezer to thaw to put on the top.

However, I would note that when a recipe calls for a 9″ springform pan, it really and truly doesn’t mean an 8″ springform pan.  Not that that’s a mistake you would ever make.

James Beard House Preview Dinner 3

Posted on February 02, 2010 by crankycheryl

[March 24 update: Here’s the link to the album from the event itself.   Is it wrong to feel smug when I see a “What Item Do You Wish You Could Try?” poll having been to the preview?]

So I lucked out and heard about the all-star team of Vermont chefs rehearsing the meal they were fine-tuning for their upcoming trip to Manhattan’s James Beard House just before it sold out.   It was a heady line-up:

A little giddy with my score, I called my mother, who certainly deserves to get an occasional call from me that doesn’t end up with her baby-sitting her wild grandsons.  We made plans to go, and before I knew it the day had arrived.

So we got dressed (even in a dress, even eyeshadow, even lipstick):

And off to Richmond we went.  We got there just ahead of the crowd, and caught sight of the prep going on in the kitchen, all looking both energetic and calm.

I had been tweeting with Chef Mark Timms, who had nicely told me to pop in to the kitchen to say hi.  Since it seemed safe, I ducked my head and did, and caught a picture of the first course he was preparing:

I scooted out to the reception, where these soon appeared – Chef Timms’ take on the Caesar salad, with the rolled wafer with a dab of shredded romaine, anchovy foam, parmesan ice cream, and parmesan cheese tucked into the bottom.  Though I heard one person refer to it as “ice cream from the fish shack,” I was taken by the whimsy, the presentation, and the juxtaposition of the strong and soft flavors, and thought it was both fun and interesting.

Though I didn’t have the light to get a good picture of it (don’t worry: a Free Press photographer was there and I hear they’ll be publishing photos in a week or so, when I’ll link to them here), another hors d’ouevres stand0ut was crostini with Red Hen bread, Jasper Hill blue (Bayley Hazen, I assume), thick-cut bacon, and a drizzle of honey.  There was also a lovely little take on the BLT:

And this amuse bouche, with beef tartare (or was it carpaccio), topped with a fried cornichon:

Then we sat down for the meal, right after the batteries in my camera (allegedly freshly charged) completely died.

I probably shouldn’t even post the pictures, which are so terrible.  Maybe you could join me in pretending they’re relics from a 1960’s newspaper society section.  Or if you could just back up from your computer 5 or 6 feet and squint, I think you’d see that they’re pretty reasonable.

Anyway, this was Chef Steve Atkins of the Kitchen Table Bistro‘s Heirloom Squash Soup with Roasted Sun Chokes, Misty Knoll Chicken, and Spiced Cream. I’ll admit that I had stifled a yawn when I saw a winter squash soup on the menu, but I found it revelatory, subtle, just lovely.  The squash was sweet and deep and delicate, the chicken a perfectly light and tender addition, and the sliced sun chokes added just the right touch of tooth to the dish.

And Flounder, Rutabaga Puree & House Cured Guanciale by Chef Rogan of Verde (Chef, if you’re reading this, we didn’t spot the turnip greens mentioned on the menu).  The guanciale was delicious, and the rutabaga puree was delicate and sweet.  I would have gladly eaten a plate of the two of those.

Though I’m not a crazy lobster buff, I was excited about the next course: Maine Lobster with Hen of the Wood Mushrooms, Winter Squash, and Cider Brown Butter by Chef Eric Warnstedt of Hen of the Wood.  And it was sumptuous, with each ingredient perfectly shown and in the barest bit of the sweet brown butter broth.  When we had finished the course, I had to sit quietly for a few minutes to think about what I had just eaten.  Oh my.

Next up was Cavendish Quail with Pork Belly, Greens, & Cider Glaze by Chef Sean Buchanan of Solstice.  Mmmm … pork belly.

And then Deconstructed Beef Wellington that Chef Mark Timms of Topnotch was presenting with Pickled Tongue, Oxtail, a Demi Cube, and Virtual Egg. I couldn’t imagine what the virtual egg would be, and wondered if they had forgotten to do some kind of substitution because the dish clearly had a wedge of hard-boiled egg on it.  But Chef Mark is a wizard of molecular gastronomy, and the egg turned out to be a white made of various cheeses, and the yolk a frozen tomato foam.  Really nice, though maybe more “trompe l’oeil egg” than virtual.  Beneath the egg garnish were layered duck liver pate (the chef told us he couldn’t get the beef heart he had wanted to use for this part), thin savory crisps, pickled tongue, oxtail, and a cube of demi glace on top.

Even for meat-eaters, there could be an ick-factor with this offal that we don’t normally eat.  But as I explained to my boys when I was telling them about the meal today, the more we eat all the parts of the animals who die for our consumption, the fewer animals get killed.  Is it really grosser to eat all the parts that we safely can rather than throw out everything that we can’t turn into chops or stew?  Of course not.

I know Chef Mark will be tweaking this one, and I’m looking forward to learning what the final version will be like.

And then we ended with the Kitchen Table Bistro‘s Chef Lara Atkins’ Open Faced Coffee Chocolate Sundae, Candied Almonds, Vanilla Anglaise.  We didn’t know if we’d be able to eat one more bite after all the rest, but yes we did rally, and ate every bit of this.  Though it might have been nice to end with a simple citrus sorbet to follow all those flavors, Chef Lara put the bracing coffee flavor in front of this, and it really did shine.

It was a fun and convivial evening.  The Kitchen Table staff were terrific hosts, and the fact that Team Vermont donated the proceeds from the event to the Vermont Campaign to End Childhood Hunger made it all even better.

Vermont’s an awfully fun place to be in the food community, with a prestigious (maybe proto-prestigious) event like this is open to the public, and priced accessibly, and with the chefs coming out to meet the diners and even seek feedback.  If there’s one thing I would change, I would have liked to have seen local ingredients highlighted on the actual printed menu.  It would have been fun to have any farmers or cheesemakers introduced if their items were featured, especially since we Vermont localvore types so appreciate that farm-consumer connection.

Stay tuned as the team prepares for their trip to Manhattan on March 22.  Oh, to be the onsite blogger … and with a camera that works.

Dinner from the Freezer: Roasted Chicken & Mediterranean Vegetables 0

Posted on January 15, 2010 by crankycheryl

By the time the locally grown salsa ingredients were ripe last year, I had already grown completely sick of canning.  After the strawberry jam, the blueberry jam, and the apricot jam, even the thought of washing the jars and the lids and rings made me shudder.

But then it was late summer and the bounty was in and I was confronted with the memory of running out of homemade salsa mid-winter.  I faced off with a countertop full of fresh-from-the-CSA pick-up onions, tomatillos, and plum tomatoes in September, but just couldn’t rally.  Sighing, I stuck them in bags and containers in the freezer with the hopeful thought that I’d get around to making salsa over the winter.

I have not made salsa this winter.  It’s made me sad on occasion, but it turned out to be good news when we had a friend over for dinner last night and I was able to grab those frozen containers, defrost them, and then with CrankyGreg turn them into something really good.

Oven-Roasted Chicken with Mediterranean Vegetables
Serves 4

Pat dry:

  • 8 chicken thighs

Mix together in a bowl:

  • 1/2 t. kosher salt
  • 1 t. fennel seeds (lightly crushed with a mortar and pestle, or the back of a spoon if you have time)
  • 1/4 t. cayenne powder
  • 1/2 t. lemon or orange peel
  • 1/2 t. garlic powder

Rub the chicken with the mix, and set aside.

Preheat oven to 400.

Here’s the list of what we used.  Pick and choose as you like.  Either chop fresh into 1 1/2″ cubes (large because they’ll shrink as they cook), or thaw frozen:

  • 4 plum tomatoes
  • 3 c. tomatillos
  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 bulb fennel
  • 2 small zucchini
  • 2 cups  green beans
  • 2 large onions

Coat a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil and spread the vegetables in a single layer.  Mix in with a wooden spoon or your hand:

  • 1/2 t. kosher salt
  • 4 cloves sliced fresh garlic

Now it’s time to stop and assess the situation:

  • Are you starting with fresh vegetables and chicken?  If so, place the chicken pieces skin-side up on top of the vegetables and put in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until the juices run clear when you pierce a thigh with your knife.
  • Are you starting with thawed frozen roasted vegetables like we did?  If so, put the chicken on a greased baking sheet and cook for 20 minutes, then add the pan of roasted vegetables and cook for 20 more.  You could even put the chicken on top of the vegetables and pour the pan drippings on top if you want to get crazy.

On the side, we had baguette from August First, and some good red wine.

And then dessert was Ben & Jerry’s Karamel Sutra ice cream floated in a chocolate stout.  (I’m not mentioning which one only because it was far too bitter/hoppy to be perfect for the job.  Had I looked into it more, I’d have ended up with Magic Hat Howl or Guinness or something else milder.)  Why is this picture so much bigger?  Because I like it.

And then I fell asleep on the couch.

Braised Short Ribs with Bright Vegetables and Dark Beer 2

Posted on October 25, 2009 by crankycheryl

apple butter short ribs 009In the cool weather I rely on two basic cooking techniques: roasting and braising.  These are essentially opposite processes.  The former relies on high-temperature dry heat, creating caramelization and intensifying individual flavors of ingredients.  Braising is slow and moist, all about the slow exchange of flavors as liquid is drawn out of and then returns to the food being cooked, creating more complex flavors that keep recombining and enriching throughout the cooking time.

Molly Stevens points out in her excellent “All About Braising” that home cooks tend to think of braising as complicated and unfamiliar.  But many classic dishes are created this way (think coq au vin, osso buco) that it’s really not that far afield.

For vegetarian readers tempted to toss the idea aside because it seems so meat-focused, I’d point to the excellent braised root and winter vegetables and the transformation they undergo when treated to this slow and gentle process, like this cabbage.

But it’s true that braises transform the humblest cuts of meat into something delectable.  These too-often wasted “budget cuts” become simply wonderful.  And perhaps the very best thing about braising is that each dish’s leftovers are invariably better than the original.  Go ahead and double the amount you want to eat the first time around so you can take advantage.

All this is why my ears pricked up when I heard Erik from Wells Family Farm talking about how he had something that was “only” $4 a pound at our CSA pick-up a couple of weeks ago.  (The link to their Vermont farm is here, but the site is under construction).  Words like “only” and “economy” often mean “perfect for braising” when it comes to meat prices, as I was delighted to have confirmed.  So I picked up four pounds of short ribs, thinking of Stevens’s book and knowing I’d find something great to make.

When I got home with that week’s vegetables (the last of the mild and hot peppers, tomatoes, some potatoes, along with the rest), and the ribs, I put together this braise, using the cookbook’s clear steps.  It’s a warm and deeply flavored fall dish that’s perfect for cool evenings.

Short Ribs with Bright Vegetables and Dark Beer
Technique adapted from Molly Stevens
6 servings, depending on the ribs

  • 4 lbs. (more or less) beef short ribs
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 3 T. olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions
  • 3 cloves (or more) garlic
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, cored and chopped into 1″ cubes
  • 2 green tomatoes (or substitute tomatillos or just more red ones), cored and chopped into 1″ cubes
  • 4 medium waxy potatoes, peels left on, chopped into 1″ cubes
  • 2 poblano peppers, roasted, seeded, peeled and cooled, cut into 1″ squares (optional)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 c. dark beer (I used Magic Hat’s Fall 2009 Odd Notion, a chocolate stout, which was delightful.  You can put the whole beer in if you like, or you can sip a little as you drink, like I did.)
  • 1 c. strong stock or water
  • 6 c. lacinato kale or Swiss chard, coarsely chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 300.
  2. Trim any excess fat from the ribs.  The ones I bought were already trimmed, so I skipped this.  Be careful to leave the “silverskin” or connective tissue between the ribs.
  3. apple butter short ribs 002Salt the ribs and place on a plate.  Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot (it must have a tight-fitting lid and be completely ovenproof) until rippling.    Place one rack of ribs in pot and cook over medium heat until browned on the side that’s down, letting the meat stay still for 3 or 4 minutes, and then turning.  Repeat and then remove to plate, repeating for all the ribs.
  4. If there is more than enough fat in the pot than is needed to coat the bottom, drain the fat from the bottom of the fat and then add just enough back to provide that coating.
  5. Add the onions and cook for 2 minutes, then the chopped garlic.  Cook until lightly translucent.  Add the peppers, tomatoes/tomatillos, potatoes.  Saute until lightly browned.  Add salt and pepper, about 1/2 t. of each to start.  Add bay leaves.
  6. Place ribs on top, then pour beer and broth over.  Bring to a boil, then place the lid on top and put the pot in the oven.

Here’s a fascinating video of boiling vegetables, in which you’ll see that I brought said vegetables to a boil before returning the meat to the pot.

Vegetables for Braise, Boiling from crankycakes on Vimeo.

7.  Set a timer for two hours.  Cook for about 2 1/2 hours in total, gently turning the meat every 45 minutes or so.  If the liquid is boiling vigorously, turn down the heat 10 or 15 degrees.   When the timer goes off, add the kale or chard and sprinkle with kosher salt.  Replace the lid and place back in the oven to finish cooking.

8.  The last steps are up to you.  Molly Stevens might recommend that you remove the meat and vegetables to a plate while reducing the liquid and removing excess fat.  We didn’t end up with lots of fat on top and just wanted to eat, so I plated it up after just letting it sit for 10 or 15 minutes.  We opened up a bottle of East Shore Vineyard’s Cabernet Franc (since the last beer was in the food), which was a great fit.

The leftovers, predictably, were just wonderful a couple of nights later.  I cut the meat off the bones and cubed it before reheating, then wrapped the meat and vegetables in crepes with a little chevre.  Awfully good.  Z. ate two and didn’t seem to even notice how many vegetables he was eating.  His brother, after rejecting the cheese and apple butter crepe I had made for him, ended up with a smoothie.  Everyone was happy.

Tantrums, Steve Martin & Homemade Pasta: Midway Thru the Localvore Challenge 4

Posted on September 22, 2009 by crankycheryl


[originally posted at]

When people were first telling me about eating local, I liked when I heard about this concept of “wild cards,” which meant that, yes, the food would be essentially what was grown within 100 miles, but that I could make exceptions.  Like coffee.  Olive oil.  Bananas.  Chocolate. Maybe citrus.  Probably spices.

The list kept growing.  I began to get like Navin in The Jerk:

I don’t need anything except this.

[picks up an ashtray]

And that’s it and that’s the only thing I need, is this. I don’t need this or this. Just this ashtray.

And this paddle game, the ashtray and the paddle game and that’s all I need. And this remote control. The ashtray, the paddle game, and the remote control, and that’s all I need. And these matches. The ashtray, and these matches, and the remote control and the paddle ball. And this lamp. The ashtray, this paddle game and the remote control and the lamp and that’s all I need. And that’s all I need too. I don’t need one other thing, not one – I need this. The paddle game, and the chair, and the remote control, and the matches, for sure.

And this.   And that’s all I need. The ashtray, the remote control, the paddle game, this magazine and the chair.

[walking outside]

And I don’t need one other thing, except my dog.

[dog barks]

I don’t need my dog.

There were just too many things I would have started to negotiate for, yes, even for just one week, so I tried to simplify.   We picked the most essential things: peanut butter (all of us), frosted shredded wheat (6 y.o.), canned peaches (4 y.o.) and coffee (me, but it really is for the greater good).  And the rest, to the best of our abilities, is food “grown by our neighbors.”

It’s providing limitless Fascinating Explanations and Interesting Facts, like:

I see from how you’re lying on the floor screaming that the butterscotch pudding isn’t what you wanted.  You probably wanted chocolate, right?  Well, did you know that chocolate comes from a big yellow fruit?  And that that fruit – it’s called cacao – only grows in very warm places?  Did Mommy ever tell you about when she went to live in a tent in a place called Belize and helped harvest chocolate in the jungle …

Riveting stuff, I assure you.

But for many of us, the food day was pretty darn good.  It was those yummy waffles with maple syrup for breakfast (mine was burnt and slathered with homemade jam before being wolfed down on the way to a.m. drop-offs), Does’ Leap goat Caprella, Plum Hill farm plums, and homemade-with-Gleason-Grains whole wheat sourdough bread for grown-up lunch.

Dinner was homemade-no-machine-needed whole wheat pasta for dinner, also made with Gleason Grains bread flour, cooked, drained, buttered, and tossed with Vermont Butter & Cheese chevre, wilted swiss chard, and halved grape tomatoes from the garden.  Some of us had the aforementioned butterscotch pudding for dessert, while others elected to have pure localvore temper tantrums instead.  We go on.

A Localvore Nod to National Butterscotch Pudding Day 1

Posted on September 19, 2009 by crankycheryl

With incredible good fortune and nearly incalculable odds, National Butterscotch Pudding Day and the EatLocalVT challenge have converged.   How better to celebrate than to make a Vermont version of this homey and comforting dessert, no?

Just do be sure to use everything local you can get your hands on, if you please.

This version is adapted from David Leibowitz, who melted my heart with this intro on his original post:

One decision I refuse to let you make is to be one of those people that wants to press plastic wrap on top of the puddings to avoid that delicious, chewy skin that forms on top.

If you don’t like pudding skin, why are you eating pudding in the first place? That’s the best part and you don’t want to be in the category of a big loser.

Now, do you?


Maple Butterscotch Pudding
Serves 4-6

  • 4 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted
  • 1 c. maple sugar, maple syrup, or brown sugar if you must
  • 3/4 t. kosher salt
  • 3 T. cornstarch
  • 2½ c. whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons whiskey (optional, and I’m thinking about that apple brandy I hear that Shelburne Orchards has in its still once it’s ready)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Whipped cream for serving.

1. Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan. Add maple sugar and salt, then stir until the sugar is well-moistened. Remove from heat.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch with about 1/4 cup of the milk until smooth (there should be no visible pills of cornstarch), then whisk in the eggs.

3. Gradually pour the remaining milk into the melted maple sugar, whisking constantly, then whisk in the cornstarch mixture as well.

4. Return the pan to the heat and bring the mixture to a boil, whisking frequently. Once it begins to bubble, reduce the heat to a low simmer and continue to cook for one minute, whisking non-stop, until the pudding thickens to the consistency of hot fudge sauce.

5. Remove from heat and stir in the whiskey (if using) and vanilla. If slightly-curdled looking, blend as indicated above.

6. Pour into 4-6 serving glasses or custard cups and chill thoroughly, at least four hours, before serving.  Top with whipped cream, if you like.

Photo from MyBakingHeart, Creative Commons license.

Green Mountain Salad Nicoise with Maple-Brined Chicken 0

Posted on September 17, 2009 by crankycheryl

0909091735(2)So we’re reading Charlotte’s Web and tonight I got to read this aloud while trying to maintain composure, thank you very much E.B. White:

… The sheds and buildings are empty and forlorn.  The infield was littered with bottles and trash.  Nobody, of all the hundreds of people who had visited the Fair, knew that a grey spider had played the most important part of all.  No one was with her when she died.

What the hell?  That’s a chapter ending?  Like, “Night, night babies, give Mommy a smooch!  That’s right, the story’s hero died alone in a g.d. abandoned fairground!  Well, good night!”

Good gravy.  I was trying to gently introduce my kids to the circle of life, not send them into an existentialist depression.

Then, after some quality time with a few tissues and a review of my belief system, I hustled downstairs to get to work.  This Saturday is the launch of the EatLocalVT 100-mile challenge, and part of my blogging means bringing a signature dish to the potluck kick-off event.  This is a dinner salad I created just for the challenge, involving nearly 100% local ingredients and based on a few Nicoise-inspired salads I’ve had over the years.  There are a few steps, but they’re all simple, and the results are pretty delicious.

Note: The brining process does take 3 1/2 hours, so do get an early start.  If you must, you can skip it.  But try not to because it’s good.

Green Mountain Salad Nicoise with Maple-Brined Chicken (or maple-marinated tofu)
Serves 4

For chicken:

  • 1/4 c. kosher salt
  • 1/4 c. maple syrup
  • 1/2 t. lightly crushed fennel seeds or fresh fennel fronds
  • 1 tray ice cubes
  • 1 c. cold strong coffee
  • 2 c. cold water
  • 4 chicken legs or breast halves, bone in and skin on

Place all the brine ingredients in a bowl or pot large enough to accommodate them plus the chicken, and stir around well with your hand until well-mixed and the salt dissolves.  Add the chicken, then refrigerate for 3 hours.

(If you prefer tofu, take one pound of extra firm tofu, and press it for about an hour.  Marinate it in about 1 cup of vegetable broth, with 2 T. maple syrup, 2 T. coffee, and crushed fennel seeds or fronds, then bake it in a 350 oven for about 25 minutes, turning midway through.)

For the salad:

  • 10 cups salad greens (I used napa cabbage for the version depicted above)
  • 4 medium beets, peeled and cut into 1 1/2″ dice
  • 4 medium potatoes, cut into 1 1/2″ dice (you can peel if you want, but I don’t)
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped into 1″ dice, seeded if you prefer
  • 1/2 c. olive or safflower oil
  • 4 c. green beans, ends trimmed
  • 4 hardboiled eggs, cooled and peeled and cut into half lengthwise
  • Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Rinse and dry the salad greens and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 400.
  3. Toss the potatoes with a generous dollop of the oil and place on an oiled baking sheet.
  4. Repeat with the beets, keeping each vegetable in its own area.
  5. Sprinkle with salt and bake for 20 minutes.
  6. Remove tray from oven, turn over with a spatula, and slide down to make room for green beans.
  7. Toss the green beans with a bit of oil and then roast them for 15 minutes.
  8. Remove vegetables from oven and let cool.


Whisk together until completely blended:

  • 1/2 c. olive or safflower oil
  • 2 T. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 T. maple syrup
  • 1 T. Dijon mustard (optional)
  • 1/4 t. kosher salt

Finish the chicken:

  1. Remove from brine and pat dry.
  2. Place on oiled baking sheet and bake in preheated 400 oven for 30 minutes or until juices run clear when the thickest part of the flesh is poked with a knife.
  3. Remove from oven and let rest for a few minutes while you:

Compose the salad

Place the salad greens on each of four plates.  Arrange beets, potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, and eggs however you like them.  Add the chicken (or tofu), drizzle with dressing and enjoy.

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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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