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


The Tagine Less Traveled 1

Posted on November 10, 2010 by crankycheryl

I’m so excited that tomorrow is ECHO’s Food Less Traveled event.  And in celebration of this contest that will be judged not only on taste, presentation and overall experience but also the “food miles” that ingredients have traveled, I offer this fabulous recipe for the aromatic Moroccan stew.  The starring ingredients were from my BFF-ish food sources: beef from Applecheek Farm, a stubbornly alive cardoon plant from Red Wagon Plants, and garlic, onions, tomatoes, cilantro and potatoes from the Intervale.  The lemons, olives, olive oil, ginger and spices made this a lovely celebration of sultry Mediterranean flavors to spice up that good and local stuff.

Of course this would never be able to win a localvore contest, with so much food from afar on the ingredient list.  But it was a pretty darned delightful dinner for these delightful friends:

Plus it was a chance to get to the bottom of the age-old question, “What the heck is a cardoon?,” which is a question you yourself might want to answer if you like that anise-y flavor that artichokes have, or are interested in good, new easy-to-grow things.

Tagine with Beef, Potato & Cardoons
6 servings

1.  Clean 1 or 2 large bunches of cardoon, using these instructions.  Keep in lemon juice until ready to use, marveling at how the enormous pile of leaves resulted in this tiny bit of stems.

2.  Prepare these quick prepared lemons and keep aside.

3.  Heat in a Dutch oven until rippling:

  • 3 T. olive oil

Then add and brown well:

  • 1 lb. grass-fed beef, cut into 3- or 4-inch pieces

4. Add:

  • reserved cardoons
  • 1 onion, chopped medium
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or pressed
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 4 c. chopped potatoes, peels removed or left on, as you prefer.
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Stir very well, bring to a slow boil, then cover and cook over low heat for 1 1/2 hours.  Check once or twice to make sure it’s not completely dry.

5.  Towards the end of the tagine’s cooking time, chop and combine:

  • 1 preserved lemon, cut into quarters
  • 1/2 c. pitted kalamata or other pungent dark olives
  • 2 T. cilantro leaves
  • 1 T. flat leaf parsley

6.  Remove stew from heat, then stir in lemon mixture.  Let cool for a few minutes, then serve with couscous or crunchy bread.  Good!

Extra-Beautiful Summer Rolls 4

Posted on July 19, 2010 by crankycheryl

One day I’m going to give away my last super-easy recipe and you Crankies are going to realize that I’m not actually a terribly good cook, just one who’s willing to be adventurous with ingredients.

But I’ll risk coming one step closer to that moment by delivering the promised recipe for Summer Rolls with Edible Flowers that was featured in my Beautiful, Edible Blossoms workshop at Red Wagon Plants.

This is probably my favorite no-cook meal.  It feels like you’ve actually made something, but you haven’t worked too hard – and you don’t have to heat anything for it unless you want to.   You can decide what to put in them by what’s in your refrigerator – combine a protein (marinated tofu, leftover chicken, etc.) on a bed of something mild (lettuce, bean thread noodles, shredded carrots), a dash of something strongly flavored like fish sauce or umeboshi or tamari, all rolled up in the rice paper wrapper and you’re done.  Adding in edible flowers makes them beautiful enough to serve to Fancy Company, should you be in the mood for that.

The recipe below suggests using all pale ingredients for the filling so that the flowers are especially visible, but – as always – you should feel free to make ’em with what you’ve got.

Beautiful Summer Rolls
makes 8 (enough for a snack for 4)

  • 8 rice paper wrappers, soaked one at a time for about 15 seconds in cold water, just before you’re ready to make them
  • 4 cups bean thread noodles soaked in warm water for 10 minutes and then drained, and cut into smaller pieces
  • 1 cup thinly sliced light green lettuce
  • 1 cup diced marinated extra firm tofu, seitan, diced cold chicken, or other protein
  • 8 leaves cilantro or basil
  • ~1 T. fish sauce (or substitute lime juice or umeboshi vinegar or tamari)
  • 8 edible flowers (these pictured are with nasturtiums and violas, and if you don’t have access to any you can use some red leaf lettuce or anything brightly colored that you want to see)
  • sweet chili sauce, peanut sauce, fish sauce, or one of the traditional sauces on this page for dipping

Make by placing one soaked wrapper in front of you on a plate or cutting board.  Place about 1/2 cup noodles and lettuce, basil or cilantro and cubed tofu in a line on the wrapper. Drizzle over just a little bit of fish sauce or whatever you’re using.

Fold one edge over the filling, tucking the filling in so that you can roll tightly.   Place the flower to one side of the filling.

Tuck in the other sides, roll the wrapper, which will stick to itself, while using your fingers to compress the filling so it can be rolled fairly neatly.  Cover with a damp towel until the others are done, then serve with your preferred dip.

Shameless Me, Beautiful Food 2

Posted on July 10, 2010 by crankycheryl

Oh these?  Why yes, they are a most lovely food that I will in fact be including in my Beautiful, Edible Blossoms workshop next Saturday, July 17, 2010 at Red Wagon Plants in Hinesburg.  Still need to reserve your spot?  Give ’em a call at 802-482-4060.

Cross-Posting from Red Wagon Plants: 0

Posted on March 25, 2010 by crankycheryl

Inspired by Julie’s visit and emboldened by the sunshine, I went out to clear away some of the mess from last year.  I was rewarded with a peek at what’s coming up … just in time for a cold snap this weekend.

3-20-10 Dakin Bfast 001

There was the wintergreen, staying as bright as it’s supposed to.

3-20-10 Dakin Bfast 002

The first shoots of the soon-to-be inedible sorrel I mentioned last week.  I’m planning to harvest its first leaves for salad before I pull it out to replace with currant bushes.

3-20-10 Dakin Bfast 006

Oh, and look – some perky German thyme from RWP last year.  This is making a roast chicken more and more likely this weekend.

And as I was looking at the bare dirt, I had the sudden thought that I have no idea what is going on with it.  Julie, should I get it tested?  What should I do next to prep it?

Cross-Posting from Red Wagon Plants: The Garden Season Starts 0

Posted on March 16, 2010 by crankycheryl

[I’m excited to be doing some blogging over at Red Wagon Plants’ great site for the season.  I’ll cross-post here so you can read along with this season’s kitchen garden adventures if you like.]

Oh, my garden is perfect in March – all imagined blue blossoms and bursting red tomatoes and lush with shiny leaves.  I can picture it so well in these days before reality has arrived.  But still, I’m excited for the real thing, the dramas and surprises and smells and harvest.  And I’m looking forward to sharing my amateur garden adventures here on the Red Wagon Plants blog this season.

Last week Julie from Red Wagon came over to talk about our plans, and we took a stroll around my Burlington condo, looking at the remnants of last year’s garden that haven’t yet been cleaned and gotten ready for the season.  It isn’t pretty, but there’s all that March imagination – and there was Julie with her excitement and amazing knowledge.


We talked about my goals, and looked at the space.  Within a general theme of edible landscaping, I want to grow:

  • Beautiful plants that we can enjoy through the season.
  • More of the things I never get enough of through our CSA share (especially tomatoes).
  • Plants that will help with my gift-giving for the holidays.  Last year I made some crazy nasturtium liqueur and I want to do more with cordials from the garden.  Plus I’m aspiring to make hot sauce to share.

I showed Julie my challenging spots – the north-facing edge that faces our neighbors’ units where I grew red-veined sorrel last year (pretty leaves, but unwieldy and inedible).  Julie suggested currants, which will tolerate lots of shade, plus give us flowers and fruit.


We looked at the north-east corner where I don’t have anything except one gooseberry bush planted.  Julie wondered about making this shady spot a garden for pollinators – bees, birds and butterflies.  She pulled out her laptop and pulled up a long list of plants that could be in the shade.  We agreed on:

The longest side of my house faces east, which means a short day of direct light.  Last year, I had grown leeks (never got bigger than scallions), chard, kale, and other greens there, along with a big patch of nasturtiums.  After talking about what I wanted, we settled on:

  • Rhubarb (I’ve been interested in rhubarb for a while but because I have young children, I’ve been scared of the leaves that I had always heard were terribly toxic.  Last year I learned that it would take 10 lbs. of leaves to reach actual lethal levels, so I now can relax and allow it in the garden.)
  • Cilantro
  • Parsley
  • Dill
  • Bronze fennel
  • Bulb fennel
  • Chives
  • Chervil
  • Meadow rue

We walked around to the south, where we talked about taking advantage of the heat and light and growing pots of tomatoes and vines along a south-west wall, and putting in a container with:


So our plans are big, and the plants are growing.  Can’t wait to get started.

Warm Wishes 1

Posted on April 12, 2009 by crankycheryl

lacinata-kaleWith spring being such a tease, I’m finding myself pining for the warm weather.   I’m stubbornly planting seeds, though the wind is blowing cold and I refuse to admit that the white fluff puffing through the air is snow.  I’m picturing our summer evenings at the Intervale Community Farm, with kids in the sandbox and romping through the fields … the goat cheese we’ll pluck out of the cooler each week … the peas and strawberries we’ll be picking.

While I wait, I’m planting my own garden of pretty edible plants – kale and nasturtiums and curly cress and violas.  I’m waiting for the wild lamb’s quarters to appear so I can harvest it for soups and salads and quick sautees.

It’s coming, it’s coming, and in the meantime, here’s a fun recipe that I first came across in a Facebook posting from Julie Rubaud of Red Wagon Plants.  I hear some children actually eat it.  But it’s so good and virtuous that you won’t mind crunching it all up when they’re sitting across the table from you, stricken and with their little hands over their horrified mouths.

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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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