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


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

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.

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.

Blessed Silence Sunday 2

Posted on August 02, 2009 by crankycheryl

Dinner last night: black-bean jalapeno nachos with roasted zucchini & carrots.

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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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