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

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Supercool Food Day Giveaway 9

Posted on August 26, 2010 by crankycheryl

It was just one of those quirky and fun Vermont food days.   As Greg was getting some work ready for the Art Hop, I was scurrying around getting ready for an alfresco potluck dinner party tomorrow.

I had a fabulous score over at Resource: various used candle holders that would stand up to the wind, a few small rustic things for holding flowers, some canning jars, and this:

Then it was over to City Market for olives and wine for our dinner’s Mediterranean theme.  Right there behind the cheese counter where the olives hang out was Dave, cheesemonger extraordinaire.  And with Dave was a very nice looking person with a cooler who was giving Dave samples to try.

“Hi Dave.  Whatcha trying there?” I subtly asked.  I got to have a sample of Dancing Cow Lindy Hop (rich, sweet, and musty in a very pleasant way; Dave said it’s like a good authentic Stilton) and Plymouth Original (mild and fresh), both of which are fabulous Vermont cheeses that made me want to have an entire lifetime to devote to pondering terroir and the mouthfeel of the milks of different animals.

Then it was time to go collect our monthly delivery of our Applecheek Farm meat CSA share.  When I pulled into the parking lot at Bluebird Tavern, who’s nice enough to serve as the rendezvous spot, I found this little friend on a thistle pulling out seeds just like a goldfinch should.

And though I was forced to cancel dinner with friends tonight in order to attend an emergency meeting (more on that soon), this all left me in a pretty good mood.

So how about a give-away? Leave a comment here about what summer foods are making you happy by, say, September 1, and to enhance your vegetable slicing pleasure I will draw a name at random and send a Very Lucky Reader their very own vintage Feemster’s Famous Vegetable Slicer, as long as you promise to be much more careful with it than the picture on the box suggests.  Seriously: you must promise this.

Bouillabaisse Bash at the Intervale 5

Posted on June 14, 2010 by crankycheryl

This is Rebecca.  She works at the Free Press, and is the fabulous sales rep who we work with at the Scuffer.  Which was where we ran into each other when she asked me what I thought of bouillabaisse.  I like bouillabaisse a lot.

Did I want to come along to the Bouillabaisse Bash that Bluebird Tavern, Dedalus Wine Shop and winwin events were putting on that Sunday and that the Free Press was sponsoring?  I was available, oh yes indeed.

The event’s plan was a simple one: celebrate the season the way it’s done in Provence – with fabulous rosé wines and bouillabaisse.  There would be live music, it would be in the barn at the Intervale Center, and that was that.

So on Sunday, I put on a fabulous new summer dress, settled the wild boys down with crankyGreg, and headed to the Intervale.  Going down the hill, I screeched into Gardener’s Supply to pick up something to deal with the voracious army of slugs and snails that are walloping my garden.  F’ers Naughty gastropods.

From there it was over to the barn, where the lovely Anna and Lara were staffing the registration wagon.  People, if you see these faces greeting you at an event, you’re in the right place.

Then it was inside to hit up Jason from Dedalus for one of the four rosés he was pouring.  I started with the Ermitage he’s holding in this picture, and had a favorite in a rosé of Pinot Noir that I finished with.

People were wandering in and through the barn to the lawn behind it.  Here are Suzanne Podhaiser from Seven Days talking with a Emily Betz of Bistro Sauce and a friend.

Before too long, it was time to eat.  A buffet line was set up around the Bluebird event tent, where the bouillabaisse was simmering.

First we grabbed a plate from the stack and got a tong-ful of salad.

Then around the corner to olives …

and gougeres

and bread slices to spread with saffron aioli (or was it rouille?).

Then this nice guy handed over a bowl of soup.  (There’s Sue from Bluebird behind him and to the right.)

Then we sloshed our way inside to eat up.  The first bite was heavenly, a breath of saffron and fennel and ocean.  The soup was full of fish and shellfish:  mussels, scallops, clams, whelks, periwinkles, crab, cod, pollock and something and something.  But things got positively rapturous when we put the aioli-topped bread in the broth that was left in the bowl and let it soak up the flavors.   Traditionally, the seafood and broth are eaten separately like this, and it was easy to see why.  Absolutely rich and light and briny and aromatic.  Wonderful.

We had a second bowl, plotted making off with the unguarded aioli sitting on the table, and then August First’s Phil and Jodi danced.

Another lap around turned up the table where the folks from the Freeps were hanging out.

And then it was time for me to get home, where – fabulous dress or no fabulous dress – it was time to get on with the slug-killing.

Strawberry-Honey Jam 9

Posted on June 15, 2009 by crankycheryl

bread and jelly 002Allow me to start with what is not included in this post:

  • How I brought my children to a hot field on a sunny day with milk in sippy cups, but no water at all.
  • How Z. clung to my leg and whined and pleaded to go home, insisting we hold hands every time I took a step.
  • How I went to pick a week too early, knowing we’d be away for the peak berry-picking weekend, which resulted in twice as much work for half the results.  And a sunburn.
  • The growing awareness of how so many of these allegedly golden, wholesome childhood moments I seem so hellbent on providing are like this.  Sigh.

Regardless, we are completely out of last year’s jam, and I heard that the call had gone out that strawberries were ready.  So off we went to Adam’s Berry Farm in Burlington’s Intervale, at which we can pick our own organic strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries.  (For blueberries, I’m also especially fond of Owl’s Head, which has an astonishingly beautiful hillside setting and live music, even if its berries aren’t organic.)

june 007One double bedtime, some serious lolly-gagging, and seven pounds of berry-cleaning later, I was getting ready to can.  Well, truth be told, I was trying to talk myself out of canning because it was 11:00 and I wanted to go to sleep.  But I had washed the berries and couldn’t trust them not to spoil, and there was no way I was letting all that suffering be for naught.

I pulled out the Pomona’s, a citrus pectin that’s activated (i.e., is able to gel your preserves) with the addition of the calcium powder that’s included.  I know some serious jam-makers who don’t like its texture, but I think it makes great stuff.  Plus it doesn’t require a crazy amount of sugar (in fact, you don’t really have to use any), and you can double or triple batches, unlike with many traditional recipes.  Isn’t flexibility nice?

strawberries and chicken 002Strawberry-Honey Jam

About 5 pints

  • 8 cups of strawberries, cleaned, with stems removed, and cut into halves or quarters, depending on how chunky you want the results.
  • 1 cup honey
  • peel from 1/2 organic orange, or 1/2 t. dried
  • 4 t. Pomona’s pectin
  • 4 t. calcium water made from packet included with pectin

Wash and rinse jars, lids and bands.  Some boil everything, and some say this isn’t necessary.  Whichever way you decide to go, do that and then keep in hot water until ready.

Place water in boiling water canner deep enough so that it will cover the jars you’re going to fill once you put them in.

Mix calcium water according to package instructions and set aside.

Put berries, orange peel, and calcium water into stockpot and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Stir pectin into honey.  As berries are approaching a boil, look at the texture and either leave as is, or use a potato masher to smooth out chunks as desired.  When berries are at full boil, vigorously stir honey-pectin mixture in for 1 – 2 minutes, being sure to stir hard enough to dissolve the pectin.  Bring to a boil, then remove from heat.  Remove orange peel if using large pieces.

Fill prepared jars to 1/4″ of top, wipe around the rim with a wet cloth, then place on lids and bands.  Carefully strawberries and chicken 007place jars into boiling water, and boil for 5 minutes.

Place on a rack to cool.  In the next little while you should hear the slight snap of the lids sealing completely, which will let you know that they’re ready to store.  To test the seal, tap on them.  If they move or wiggle at all, just keep in the fridge and use within three weeks.

This jam is delicious.  Like fresh strawberries themselves, bright and sunny and not overly sugary.  My mom (and you know how moms are always the most objective of critics) said it was the best strawberry jam she had ever had.  It may be immodest, but I agree.  What a treat it’ll be if that taste lasts into the depths of winter.  And by then, I’ll have forgotten the rest.

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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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