Tag Archives: The Book

Honey-Vanilla Roasted Pear Recipe, Fresh From the Farm

35b. Honey Roasted Pears SM 4Maybe the best thing about being a cookbook author is that some of your own favorite recipes are, well, in a book! You completely forget about something, and then maybe the season rolls around and the memory of it floats back. But instead of rifling through a pile of magazine clips or trolling the internet, all you have to do is open your own cookbook to find the recipe.  (This is particularly helpful to absent-minded me, as my own record keeping system has deteriorated over the years.)

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Lately, recipe-memories have been bombarding me. Something about the end of summer and the start of fall really makes me want to cook, plus we have so many fruit-and-vegetable odds and ends migrating from the farm stand into the house. Mostly the recipes coming to mind are ones (not surprisingly) in the Indian Summer and Early Fall section of Fresh from the Farm: A Year of Recipes and Stories. In fact, some of my favorite recipes in the book are in that section–Winter  Green Market Meatloaf; Roasted Beet “Jewels” with Cranberries, Toasted Pecans & Balsamic Butter; Mac ‘N Cheese with Kale, Goat Cheese & Sundried Tomatoes; and Indian Summer Minestrone with Late Tomatoes and Beans, which I’m definitely going to make this week.

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And now Roy is picking pears for the farm stand. Which means I’m getting the discards, ones with a blemish or two. I got this idea in my head that I might make pear butter out of them. I began looking at various recipes and then decided not only that the process was too time-consuming, but also that I wasn’t entirely sure how much pear butter Roy and I could consume.  Probably very little, I realized. Finally the memory light bulb went off and I thought, don’t I already know the perfect easy and delicious thing to do with these pears? Yes, of course. Roast them. With honey and butter and vanilla. A là Fresh From the Farm. So good.

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The recipe I developed for the book goes one step further and uses the pears in a totally groovy dessert that showcases the pears on a pillow of ginger mascarpone cream on top of a giant soft molasses cookie (photo above). Yep. That is a mighty good recipe, I will tell you, but in the interest of time, you can just make the Honey Vanilla Roasted Pears and you’re good to go, with or without vanilla ice cream. (I also developed a variation on this recipe for Martha’s Vineyard Sea Salt’s website. I used maple syrup and crystallized ginger instead of honey for roasting the pears, and then paired them with vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce, and sea salt, of course.)

I thought I’d share the Honey-Vanilla Roasted Pear Recipe with you today in case you’ve lucked into a bounty of quickly ripening pears (or just have a few from the grocery store—this isn’t a big quantity recipe!). And then, if you like them, you can find the entire cookie dessert recipe in Fresh From the From!! Sneaky me. Some of my brain cells are apparently still firing, even after this summer.

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Honey-Vanilla Roasted Pears

We like to roast our no-name Bartlett-look-alike pears (very sweet and delicious), but an iconic Bosc makes a lovely shape when roasted, too. I think using pears that are on the smaller side is best with this method; you’ll need to extend the baking time a bit for bigger pears. Be sure to baste frequently with the pan drippings, and add a bit of water to the pan if juices are burning. The roasted pears are delicious on their own, but also great with vanilla or ginger ice cream. Caramel sauce or chocolate sauce and a sprinkling of sea salt are nice finishes, too. To serve with Molasses Crinkles and Whipped Ginger Mascarpone Cream, see p. 233 of Fresh from the Farm: A Year of Recipes and Stories.

Makes 6 roasted pear halves

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2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for baking dish

3 small firm-ripe pears (6 to 7 ounces each), peeled, cored, and halved

Kosher salt

2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

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Heat the oven to 450°F. Choose a 1 1/2- to 2-quart shallow baking dish (oval is nice) that fits the pear halves comfortably but does not leave too much room around them. Butter it lightly. Arrange the pear halves, cut side up, in the baking dish. Sprinkle each with just a pinch of salt.

Melt the 2 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the honey, the vanilla, and a big pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until the honey has loosened and the mixture is warm. Use a small basting brush to brush the tops of the pears with some of the honey butter.

Bake the pears for 10 minutes, baste again with some of the honey-butter (rewarmed to loosen if necessary), and bake for 10 minutes more. (If your pears are on the larger size, bake for 5 to 10 additional minutes on this side.) Gently turn the pears over, baste with some of the butter and some of the pan drippings and cook for 15 to 20 minutes longer, basting after 5 minutes and again every couple of minutes. (When you baste, be sure to “wash” the bottom and edges of the pan with the pastry brush to prevent burning. If the pan is getting too dark, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of hot water and “wash” the pan juices again.) Cook until the pears are nicely browned all over and caramelized around the edges (you can peek underneath with a very thin spatula). Let them cool for 5 to 10 minutes in the pan and then transfer to a plate. (If you let them cool completely in the pan, the sugar will begin to harden and they may stick.) Eat right away or keep well covered in the fridge for up to several days.

 

Throwback Thursday: How to Cook a Baby Artichoke . . . Plus Post-Blizzard Travels with Susie

artichoke blog 1Apparently, there is a “glut” of artichokes in California right now. I love that word, “glut.” It has a nice thwack to it; plus it must be derived from the best of the seven deadly sins, gluttony.

So we’re very happy for California. (Note, there is no cynical tone in my voice. I just couldn’t be more thrilled that here on the East Coast—actually, one of the very most Eastern parts of the East Coast—we had a blizzard yesterday. Whee! Certainly Farmer enjoyed it.) Honestly, we are happy because we know that California will be sending some of these artichokes our way very soon. They’d better, lest we have to travel out there and get them ourselves.

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Meanwhile, I have been trolling through old photos and blogs to put together two presentations for my next travels (more on that in a minute). And I came across these baby artichokes (top) and my favorite method for cooking them (see recipe below). I’m hoping the “glut” includes baby artichokes, because I could eat a plate of these for lunch right now. Baby artichokes are really easy to prepare and so delicious. While we’re waiting (I just visited the Ocean Mists website—lots of good info there—and discovered that babies may be a few weeks away), you can get some excellent ideas for using standard-sized artichokes from Russ Parsons, Food editor of the LA Times. Here’s his recent piece that includes 12 artichoke recipes. (I want to make the fries!). And, as always, FineCooking.com comes to the rescue with more than two dozen artichoke recipes to browse through.

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I know a lot of you who read the blog actually live in California, so just to be clear—I love you! But now I’m going to focus on Montana. And North Carolina. Yup, in a week or so, I’ll be traveling to Montana to participate in Zone 4 Magazine’s spring Plant to Plate event at Chico Hot Springs Resort. I can’t wait! I’m going to do a cool tip demo and give a talk about how to cook all kinds of veggies—from baby bok choy to Swiss chard to beets. Plus a little Fresh from the Farm storytelling.

When I’m not on deck, I’m going to be sneaking around to observe all the cool growing seminars on things like grafting tomatoes, building a green house, and growing fruit trees. If you live in the area, I believe there are still a few tickets left (call 406-586-8540; dates are April 8 and 9.) I can assure you that it is going to be an awesome event, as Dan and Andra Spurr, the Editor and Publisher of Zone 4 Magazine, are old friends from our days together at Sailing World and Cruising World magazines, and they are super-organized and on the ball.

From Montana I fly directly to North Carolina for my 30th (yes 30th!) reunion at Duke University, where I am honored to be a featured speaker on Friday, April 11. I’m going to tell the story of my “career change” and how Fresh from the Farm came to be! It should be gorgeous in Durham by then—I’ll get to enjoy a real spring for once. I only wish Roy and Libby were going to be with me, but it’s just too much time away from farm and school this time. And I am certainly hoping I won’t be flying through any blizzards on this adventure.

But before I go, I have a few seedlings to tend to, some peas to plant, and some artichokes to track down.

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Brown-Braised Baby Artichokes with Lemon Herb Pan Sauce

Serve these over creamy polenta or a small serving of fresh fettucine for a lovely veggie supper. For a variation, cook a little bacon, ham or pancetta in the pan before cooking the artichokes; remove and crumble on at the end. Toasted almonds or hazelnuts would be good with these too. Baby artichokes vary in size—I have seen the same size box packed with 9 artichokes sometimes, 12 another. This recipe will work for 9 medium-small baby artichokes (2 to 2 1/2 oz. each). If your artichokes are very small, you can use 10 or 11 of them, as long as they fit in one layer across the bottom of the pan with the shallots. Be generous with the fresh herbs here.

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1 1/2 lemons

9 or 10 baby artichokes

1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

4 small shallots, halved and peeled (or 2 medium or large, quartered)

Kosher salt

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

1 to 2 tablespoons mixed fresh tender spring herbs such as chives, parsley, mint, tarragon and/or chervil

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baby artichoke prep

Cut the whole lemon in half. Squeeze and drop the two halves into a medium bowl filled half-way with water.

Cut the stems off the artichokes at the base. Working with one artichoke at a time, peel away all of the outer leaves until you are left with a mostly lemon-limey colored artichoke (it will be somewhat cone-shaped) with the top third still being a light green. With a sharp knife, cut about 3/4 inch off of the top, and, with a paring knife, clean up the stem end just a bit (don’t remove too much; that’s the tasty heart). Cut the artichoke in half lengthwise. Rub the cut sides of each piece with the other lemon half and drop the artichoke halves into the lemon water.

In a 10-inch straight-sided sauté pan that has a lid, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter with the olive oil over medium heat. Arrange the artichoke halves (with whatever water still clings to them) and the shallot halves (both cut-side down) in one snug layer in the pan. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Cook, without stirring, until the bottoms of the artichokes and the shallots are well browned, 7 to 8 minutes. (If the heat on your stovetop is uneven—or the burner isn’t level, like mine—rotate the pan so that the bottoms get evenly browned.)

Pour in the chicken broth and cover the pan, leaving the lid slightly askew so that some steam escapes. Simmer gently, turning down the heat if necessary, until the broth is reduced to a few tablespoons, 12 to 14 minutes. Uncover, add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon butter, and squeeze the other lemon half over all.

Sprinkle most of the herbs over and stir gently until the butter has melted. Remove the pan from the heat, and stir again, scraping up any browned bits if possible. Taste for salt and immediately transfer the artichokes and the pan sauce to a serving platter. Sprinkle on any remaining herbs.

Serves 2 as a veggie main dish with polenta or noodles, or 3 as a side dish

 

Snowbound in DC with my Sister and Skylie

DSC_3278_01If you have to be stuck in a snowstorm, your sister’s cozy house is probably the best place to be. (No that’s not it in the photo above–more on that in a minute!)

I am, of course, homesick. It is no secret that I’d rather be on our little farm with my peeps than anywhere else. But I promised myself that I would work hard on promoting my new book, hence the travel this spring.

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Wouldn’t you know it, the first place I go, a snowstorm comes and I can’t get home. But honestly, I don’t see my sister much and the snow is so bad here in Virginia that even she did not have to go to work today. So Eleanor and I are here puttering and working and hanging out with her adorable 12-year-old Australian Shepherd, Skylie. It really is very nice. Plus, I got to sleep in and not rush off to do anything.

That’s a good thing because I’m pretty tired after the two fabulous book events this weekend at La Cuisine and the Dupont Circle Farmers’ Market. Tired, and also over-stimulated, as all weekend the brain cells where my childhood memories live have been flashing like so many firecrackers on the Fourth of July.

DSC_3214_01I started out the trip by visiting my parents for a night in the small Delaware town where I spent my summers. Driving past miles of farm fields on the way to see them, I realized how much that landscape left its imprint on the positive/pleasure synapses in my brain. No wonder I’m a farmer now.

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And seeing my parents was just the start of a tidal wave of supportive old friends and family who rallied to come to my book events or help me out. I gave my mom (right) an assignment—to make Libby’s Lemon Blueberry Buckle—for one of the events. She took it very seriously, and Dad even went out to buy special containers to transport it. (It was delicious.) I also asked Dad to pick us up some farm supplies that I could bring home with me. A giant bag of seed starting soil was waiting in their driveway when I pulled up.

DSC_3286_01Saturday at La Cuisine, we had so much support from friends and family that we sold out of books! My godmother Shirley, her daughter Lynda, and her daughter-in-law Babs came. My Aunt Randi and my cousin Kari. Cookbook author friends Domenica Marchetti (with me at left) and Cathy Barrow (aka Mrs. Wheelbarrow). And Washington Post Deputy Food editor Bonnie Benwick. Old friends and former neighbors. Vineyarders. People who rode the Metro from the other side of town. AND an entire contingent of my sister’s friends who she runs with (literally runs, as in marathons)—so great! I couldn’t believe it. (Below, left to right: Courtney, Jen, Erin, Eleanor (sis), Martha, and Shawna.)

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photo_01On Sunday my cousin Kari (right) spent the day helping me at the market. I don’t get to see her much either, so that was especially nice. And no sooner had we set up then who walks up but dear old friends Kathy and Peter Jahn, who had kindly transported my Mom and Dad’s best friends Bran and Jim Johnston, Carolyn and Charlie Pardoe, and Sheila Lindveit down to the market by squeezing them all into a Volvo stationwagon. Even Kathy and Peter’s daughters Charlotte and Viveka came. All to a market event that was a bit chaotic, thanks to a surprise visit from chef José Andrés who had a film crew and a mysterious entourage with him that turned out to be a group of Spanish musicians disguised as chefs who performed a pop-up music video in the market!

All I can say is that I was darn grateful to be in my hometown this weekend and am so appreciative for all the support. Especially from my sister, who’s not only put up with me living with her these past several days, but has also provided me with flawless directions to get around town. My biggest fear when doing events away from home is that I will get lost and not arrive on time.

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DSC_3256_01The other reason my memory was firing away was the city of Washington itself. Growing up, I used to take the bus downtown, or drive with my sister when she got her license, and walk around to all the monuments and museums. The architecture (and texture) of the city is captivating. There is a limit on building height in the city, and with the open parks and statues and lots of 19th century buildings still intact, there is an antiquated aura to the city that also feels personally nostalgic to me. I got a chance to kill some time on Friday while I wandered between a meeting with the food folks at The Washington Post and Eleanor’s office at DC Metro, and I stumbled upon a new favorite, the National Building Museum. The cool façade features the frieze (pictured above) which wraps around the building and depicts marching Civil war soldiers. (Photo at top of blog is also of this historic building.)

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I can’t wait to bring Libby and Roy here on my next visit. I’d better starting warming Eleanor up now to the idea of staying with her. We’ll try not to come in snow season so we don’t overstay our welcome! 

Susie On the Road: A Visit to DC, My Hometown, March 1 & 2

DSC_3123I’m saddling up the horses and heading off to America this week. Actually, driving down to spend a night with my parents in Delaware, then a weekend with my sister Eleanor in Virginia. Leaving Roy alone at the farm with 500 chickens, a farm dog, a frisky kitten, and a lot of eggs to wash. Not to mention about 600 farm chores to start on now that the weather is (sort of) breaking. Lucky Roy.

Hopefully I will manage to pick up some farm supplies while I am off-Island.

Though I hate to be away, I’m looking forward to seeing my family, and of course, my official business for this trip is book promotion, and I can already tell that a visit to DC, my hometown, is going to be swell.

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On Saturday from 2 pm to 5 pm, I’m going to be at the very fabulous La Cuisine cookware store in Old Town, Alexandria, Virginia. (The Old Town Boutique District is serious shopping, folks, in case you need an excuse to get out!). I’ve admired Nancy Purves Pollard and her store (mostly from afar in my years away from Washington) for her one-of-a-kind collection of high-quality cookware and cooking ingredients. I’m just afraid of what I might buy while I’m there. I hear she has amazing coffee, too.

lacuisportraitsmNancy and I have cooked up a scheme to serve a selection of yummy recipes from Fresh From the Farm. Nancy’s going to make the Curry-Coconut Butternut Squash Soup and the Southwestern Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Farmstand Veggies. And I am going to make the Rustic Roasted Tomato Tarts and the Christmas Slaw with Slivered Pears, Cranberries, & Pecans. I’ve even enlisted my Mom to make Libby’s Lemon Blueberry Buckle! (That’s Nancy on the left in the photo at right, with co-workers Val and Larissa and rescue dog Carina.)

While we’re serving tasting samples (I’ll be at the store from 2 to 5 pm), I’ll be signing books, of course, and offering some tips about how to keep a simple, well-stocked pantry for making delicious veggie dishes. I’ll share advice on some favorite tools, as well. (Nancy will have a stash of Fast, Fresh & Green and The Fresh & Green Table available in addition to Fresh From the Farm–at 20% off!–so if you’ve got gifts to buy, this is a good opportunity.)

On Sunday, I’m off to the Dupont Circle Farmers’ Market from 10:30 to 12:30.  I’m excited that my cousin, Dr. Kari Evans, is going to hang out with me at the market, while I do a recipe demo, offer tastings, and sign books. The Fresh Farm Market folks have a program called “Chef at Market,” and I tried to get down to participate in it 3 years ago. Now I am finally making it, though admittedly March is a tricky season. (I will be there, polar vortex or not.) So we decided to pick a fresh, simple, colorful recipe to anticipate the first radishes of spring—it really won’t be too long, now.

9781600859045I have to say, the May Day Radish and Parsley Salad with Lemon and Ginger has the most delicious dressing and really is versatile enough to serve all year-round.  I know because I made a batch yesterday to judge how many portions I will need for the market. I remembered loving this salad when I developed it, and fortunately, my memory wasn’t warped! Of course, I got into a little thing with crystallized ginger while I was developing recipes for Fresh from the Farm, so I actually had to rein myself in and quit using it after a few recipes. It’s an amazing ingredient in vinaigrettes, because the sugar dissolves and the ginger remains spicy, so there is both a nuanced flavor and interesting texture to the dressing.

Yesterday I ate a good deal of this salad right out of the bowl, and then I threw some blood orange segments into the rest (I had half of a blood orange leftover from another test) and wow—loved that color and flavor. Ate the leftovers with roast pork last night.

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While I was photographing the salad, I got photo-bombed again by Barney the kitty. He moves like lightening and goes from floor-to-food-dish in a matter of seconds. He is fascinated with recipe testing.

1621945_10152217617255801_1847068504_nIf you would like to make the radish salad, I urge you to click on over to the Fine Cooking website, where the recipe is now posted as part of a collection from Fresh from the Farm. (Feel free to add blood orange segments!) I am feeling particularly grateful this morning to my beloved magazine for the lovely review they’ve published in the April/May issue, and online. Check it out online, but be sure to pick up that new issue of Fine Cooking on the news stand—it’s one of the best I’ve ever read. Grilled cheese, twice-baked potatoes, tagines, meringues, quick ideas for baby spinach, ham, barbequed shrimp—Oh my!

Hope I can catch up with some of you in DC, but bear in mind I’ll be in Chicago mid-March and Montana and North Carolina in April. (Click here for schedule.) Then it’s home for the spring and summer. Roy will be glad, to say the least.

 

 

Blue & White and Read All Over: A Blizzard & A Book Party

DSC_2934The snowflakes that began to fall Saturday afternoon were particularly pretty—billowy and crisp and determined. They came on fast and steady, only an hour before we were due to pile all the food in the car and drive down to Bunch of Grapes bookstore. The forecast had said rain first, starting around 6. It was not even 2 o’clock and it was snowing.

Canceling the Fresh from the Farm book party wasn’t an option. Bunch of Grapes in downtown Vineyard Haven (a nice walking town) would stay open through any snowstorm, anyhow. I had made five different recipes to taste, and we’d sent all kinds of invitations out for the event. Both the Martha’s Vineyard Times and the Vineyard Gazette (as well as the Point B Realty blog) had published nice articles during the week about the book, the farm, and the signing event.

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As Roy drove, I let those little negative thoughts come into my head, “Oh, no. No one will want to come out in the snow!” I said to Roy. And he chastisted me. “You wait. You’ll see.”

By the time Dawn Braasch stood up at the front of her bookstore to introduce me, every chair was full and folks were standing around the bookcases. I saw so many friendly faces, and I realized it was very bad of me to underestimate what an incredible community I stumbled into almost six years ago now. Not only did all these folks come to the event, but they withstood listening to me jabber on while a torrent of snowflakes fell outside the big glass windows behind me! Well, at least it was cozy inside (nothing like stacks of books to make you feel safe and warm), and there was food—and wine. But I still have to say thank you (here on sixburnersue is a good place, as I know some of you who were there will be reading this) to everyone for coming out in a snow storm.

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DSC_2910Thinking about all this, I walked around the farm on Sunday morning with my camera. The “blizzard” did not leave us 14 inches—maybe only 6 to 8. And more importantly, it didn’t blow out power, though it did leave a lot of branches down. It also left a plucky aquamarine sky and a cool blue reflection everywhere I looked.

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DSC_2920Beautiful or not, the winter is wearing on everyone. But all over the Island, and I’m sure in lots of other small communities across the snow-splattered country, there are gatherings like the one we had on Saturday, where the lights are on, the hugs are forthcoming, and the snacks are abundant.

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And when all else fails, curling up at home on the couch with a good book is an antidote to all those icicles and chapped cheeks. After the event, a friend of mine, who had bought her 12-year-old daughter her first cookbook at the signing on Saturday, posted a picture of her daughter stretched out on their couch, reading Fresh from the Farm. Looking at that photo, I felt so privileged to be the author of a little girl’s first cookbook. What an honor! I hope that sweet girl has many fun and delicious cooking experiences ahead of her. But I’m pretty sure she does.

DSC_2879 P.S. If you are looking for a signed copy of Fresh from the Farm, please visit or contact Bunch of Grapes. If you want a personalized copy, I can sign it at Bunch of Grapes and they will send it to you, no matter where you are.

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 Photo above courtesy Barbara Welsh

 

 

 

 

It’s Pub Day! Celebrating Fresh from the Farm with a Winter Green Market Meatloaf Recipe

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This is it—Fresh from the Farm: A Year of Recipes and Stories is now officially published, as of this morning. Yippee!

I have no idea what this actually means. But I just learned that pub dates are apparently always on Tuesdays. Who knew?

My secret source revealed that the “pub” date is a date set in order to back up and create a “release” date, when the books begin to ship from the distribution warehouse. The scheduling masters try to work everything out (considering distance-to-travel, etc.) so that most of the books are in most of the outlets they’re supposed to be in by the “pub” date.

I like the idea of hundreds of boxes of Fresh from the Farms hopping on trucks and traveling far and wide to get to their destinations.

DSC_2568So to celebrate their safe arrival, I’m offering up what really and truly is one of my favorite recipes in the book—Winter Green Market Meatloaf. I named it that because I first made it with the goodies I got at our Winter Farmers’ Market—including onions, carrots, kale (yes, kale), local feta cheese, and local ground pork and beef. The meatloaf is terrifically moist and tasty, and the sauce on the outside has a great zing to it.

I also chose this recipe, because of course, it’s February, and meatloaf makes a little more sense than say, a corn sauté, or a strawberry crisp. But the cool thing about Fresh from the Farm, which is arranged seasonally in three sections, is that it spans almost the entire year, and the recipes in the fall section (like the meatloaf) are plenty appropriate for mid-winter, too.

I made the meatloaf yesterday so that I could take pictures of it (it’s not photographed in the book), and wound up sending half of it off with a couple of newspaper reporters who were here visiting the farm and talking with me about the book. (We have our big author event at Bunch of Grapes bookstore this Saturday at 3 pm, which I’m really excited about. Libby will be here and able to come with us, and I’ll be cooking up a storm this week to bring along plenty of recipe samples.)

For me, pub day is exciting, but considering the travel and the radio spots and all the other efforts coming up to promote the book, there’s no easing back. I am just looking ahead with an eye towards keeping my energy level up—while Roy and I also seriously begin to prepare for the growing season. Yikes. And while at first I thought it was a little strange to bring a book like this out in February, now I am really thankful that it gives me the window of opportunity to promote it this spring by doing some traveling before the farm gets really busy. Next stop: Washington, D.C., my hometown: A great event at La Cuisine on March 1, and the Dupont Circle Farmers’ Market on March 2. Maybe I’ll see some of you there!

Enjoy the meatloaf, and by the way, if you really want to make somebody happy on Valentine’s Day, this is a decidedly comforting way to do it. You could serve these mashed potatoes with it, or even the crispy smashed potatoes.

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Winter Green Market Meatloaf Recipe
 
Yes, there’s actually kale in this incredibly moist and flavorful meatloaf. (Feta cheese, too!) Tossing the veggies and plenty of garlic into the food processor makes a finely minced mixture perfect for lightening up meatloaf. I always eat at least a nibble of this warm out of the oven, but resting for a few minutes is a good idea; it will be easier to slice. It’s also delicious leftover, reheated or even cold, pâté style. Recipe copyright Susie Middleton, 2014, from Fresh from the Farm: A Year of Recipes and Stories (The Taunton Press, 2014.)
Author:
: main dish
Serves: 4 to 6
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup fresh breadcrumbs (about 1 English muffin)
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 large carrot (about 3 ounces), coarsely chopped
  • 1 small onion (about 4 ounces), coarsely chopped
  • 4 large cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 small serrano pepper, cut into 3 or 4 pieces
  • 2 cups (packed) coarsely chopped kale (about 2 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound 80 to 85% ground beef
  • ½ pound ground pork
  • 3 ounces crumbled good-quality feta cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons (lightly packed) chopped fresh oregano
Directions
  1. Heat the oven to 350°F. Line a large rimmed heavy-duty baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Put the breadcrumbs and milk in a small bowl and mix. Let sit. In a small bowl, whisk together the ketchup, Worcestershire, brown sugar, soy sauce, and Dijon.
  3. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the carrots, onions, garlic, serranos, and kale. Pulse until very finely chopped, scraping down the sides as necessary to incorporate the kale.
  4. In a medium (10-inch) nonstick skillet, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the chopped veggies and ½ teaspoon salt. (The pan will be crowded.) Cook, stirring, until gently softened and very fragrant, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool (about 10 minutes).
  5. In a large mixing bowl, combine the veggies, beef, pork, feta, egg, several grinds of pepper, the oregano, ½ teaspoon salt, the breadcrumb mixture, and 3 tablespoons of the ketchup mixture (reserve the rest for brushing on the loaf). Using your hands, mix all of the ingredients together thoroughly without mashing too much. Transfer the mixture to the baking sheet and shape into a long, narrow loaf about 9 inches long and 4 inches wide. Spoon the rest of the ketchup mixture down the length of the top of the loaf and gently spread or brush it over the sides.
  6. Bake the meatloaf until an instant-read thermometer registers 160° to 165°F, 55 to 60 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

 

Please note: The terrific finished food photos in the collage at top were taken by Alexandra Grablewski for Fresh from the Farm: A Year of Recipes and Stories (The Taunton Press, 2014).

 

New Video, New Logo, New Ducks—New! New! New!

screen shot back and front covers

Waiting for a new book to come out is anxiety-producing, at least for me. T minus 30 days and counting for Fresh From the Farm. Until the official pub date (Feb.11), that is. But actually, the very first advanced copies have arrived at The Taunton Press in Connecticut, and one is on its way to me via Fed Ex. So this morning I have been clicking on and off the Fed Ex tracking site, following the package. (It’s currently in Middleboro, Mass.) Even if it gets to the Island tomorrow, that’s no guarantee it will get to me. But if I keep tracking it, once I see it’s on-Island, I could always go over to the airport, where the Fed Ex office is, and terrorize them, hoping not to get arrested. But I’d have to beat Roy over there, as he’s the one who told me to call them this morning! He’s excited too. (Screen shot above is galley of front and back covers).

corn fieldBiding my time, I walked a few laps around the cornfields out back (each is about the length of 5 or 6 football fields, so the fact that I am circling is not too obvious.) That took care of some of my energy.

So now I am back to my desk, doing “my job”—the only job an author with a book coming out in a month can do: Working on promotion. Honestly, it’s not nearly as much fun as writing the book, as I hate having to put myself out there. But I am fiercely determined to do what I can with this book. (The whole getting-to-write-books-for-a-living thing is huge incentive. And that all goes away if your books don’t sell well. Hence, you get off your butt and promote yourself. Right, Susie?)

This time around, putting myself out there also meant doing a promotional video. As with a lot of things, it had to come together pretty quickly last fall before the vegetables all went away. But that was a good thing, as it didn’t give me time to fret, or do things like hire a makeup artist or wardrobe consultant. (It’s a farm, after all and it is what it is!) But the whole experience was very positive because I did it with two wonderful friends, Katie Hutchison and Chris Hufstader. Thankfully, this wife-and-husband duo has experience filming and editing videos. (See architect Katie’s many talents on her website. And here’s a video Chris worked on as part of his job in communications with Oxfam America, which takes him all over the world.)

Now I have finally managed (overcoming my technological limitations) to get the video to go live on YouTube and here on Sixburnersue. (You can watch the short version by clicking below, or the longer version, which includes more about the food in the book, in the sidebar of the blog, at top right.)

I’m also happy to report that some nice early press has come in for Fresh From the Farm already, including a recommendation from Country Living magazine in the February issue (see p. 10!) and a mention on this list of Ten Exciting Books to Look For in 2014 from Wall St. Cheat Sheet.

I’m planning some fun book signing events in Washington, D.C. and a bunch of other places so please visit my events page to stay posted. I’ll soon have a date for a great local event at Bunch of Grapes Bookstore, too. By the way, if you are a social media person, please visit and like my FaceBook business page, Susie Middleton Cooks, and follow me on Pinterest and Twitter @sixburnersue. (Sorry, I had to ask—just doing my job!)

Unsaved Preview DocumentBook or no book, life moves forward on the farm, and there are, in fact, new things here to celebrate, too. The first is our very own Green Island Farm logo. Roy and I wanted something very simple and iconic (an egg!), and my old friend and former Fine Cooking Art Director/now-fine-artist Steve Hunter was incredibly accommodating and refined our thoughts for us. (Tilting the egg was his idea, which I love, and which is very Steve.) We picked the blue-green color of our Aracauna eggs because, of course, it is so pretty. So there you have it. Tee-shirts to come!

And lastly, we have 5 new additions to the farm—ducks! These beautiful creatures—three black Indian Runner ducks and two Welsh Harlequins—are a belated birthday present for Roy, who grew up with ducks and has wanted some here on the farm for awhile. It was Libby’s idea to get them for his birthday (which was in December, but the weather has stalled us). And our dear friend Elizabeth Packer at Springmoon Farm made the whole thing possible.

ducks square

Last weekend, while Libby was here, we all (including Farmer) piled in the car, popped a hay-lined dog crate in the way back, and drove down to Liz’s place in Vineyard Haven. We got a chance to see all the beautiful birds that she and her daughter Lucy Thompson are raising, included Royal Palm and Red Bourbon turkeys (gorgeous), peacocks, and several kinds of ducks and chickens.

DSC_1437We wrangled the ducks (4 females, 1 drake) into the crate and into the car, and Farmer hung over the back seat the whole way home, wagging his tail. Back at the farm, Roy unloaded them into their new pen, where they paraded around and around like a proper flock. Lovely.

Lastly, not to be outdone by a book, the farm got its  own piece of press (its first) courtesy of Martha’s Vineyard Patch, a couple weeks ago.

Now if we could just get Farmer on the cover of Lab Monthly, I’d feel really good about all our promotional efforts around here. With his bad teeth and crooked ears? Not happening.

 

 

Sleepless on State Road, Plus Twenty Reasons to Buy Cookbooks for Christmas

Lately I have been waking up in the middle of the night. I have trouble falling back asleep, so I play the alphabet game that Libby, Roy and I do on the ferry rides back and forth from Falmouth. It takes on a different guise every night. Sometimes I start naming our (ever-increasing) chicken coops in alphabetical order—an idea we’ve thought of to help identify the groups of chickens. So far we have the Aquinnah Ladies, the Beach Road Babies, and the Chilmark and Chappy Chickens. I have imagined a future of 26 chicken coops (God forbid!) with names that go all the way up the alphabet to Menemsha and No-Man’s Land and Quitsa and Wasque, too. These are all places on the Vineyard, of course.

The other night I got tired of naming chicken coops (but not tired enough to fall asleep) so I began to make lists. Lists of my favorite recipes in my first two books. Okay, I will just have to be honest and admit that I did fall asleep partway through this task, so it works. I hope, of course, this doesn’t mean that thinking about recipes is boring—I prefer to think of it as comforting and satisfying! (Actually, I got kind of boggled by all the choices and couldn’t quite make up my mind.)

I thought of this because I get asked a lot—especially on radio—what my favorite recipes in my books are. Of course everyone knows you’re not supposed to play favorites with your own children, but, um, recipes aren’t really children so I think it’s okay.

Also, I have been thinking a lot about shopping locally for Christmas and about supporting independent bookstores. This is really a make-or-break time of year for brick-and-mortar bookstores, so it is extra-important to patronize them. (On the Island that means Bunch of Grapes in Vineyard Haven, and Edgartown Books in Edgartown, where I will be signing books on December 8.) Besides, for whatever few extra dollars you spend there (which then goes into the local economy), you get the free experience of browsing in a cozy, friendly bookstore—looking at all those books, seeing friends, perhaps having a cup of cider—and just enjoying the whole experience.

So in that spirit (and because I feel guilty that I sometimes don’t promote my own books as much as I should—ah, but that’s a whole other story!), I’m giving you 20 reasons (10 each from Fast, Fresh & Green and The Fresh & Green Table) to visit your local bookstore, buy cookbooks for holiday presents, and have something to think about and savor if you wake up at night during the stressful holiday season! Here goes (And let me tell you, in the end it was NOT easy to narrow down to 10 for each!):

Top Ten Favorite Recipes from Fast, Fresh & Green:

  • Sweet Potato Mini-Fries with Limey Dipping Sauce and Spiced Salt
  • Harvest Gratin of Butternut Squash, Corn, and Leeks
  • Caramelized Plum Tomatoes in an Olive Oil Bath
  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Orange Butter Sauce
  • Vanilla and Cardamom Glazed Acorn Squash Rings
  • Braised Fingerlings with Rosemary and Mellow Garlic
  • Corn Sauté with Chile and Lime
  • Bacon and Rosemary Sautéed Brussels Sprouts and Baby Bellas
  • Crisp-Tender Broccoflower with Lemon-Dijon Pan Sauce and Toasted Parmigiano Bread Crumbs
  • Grill-Roasted Bell Peppers with Goat Cheese and Cherry Tomato Dressing

  Top Ten Favorite Recipes from The Fresh & Green Table:

  • Chile Rice with Green Beans & Toasted Pecans
  • Spaghetti with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes & Spicy Garlic Oil for Two
  • Grilled Zucchini, Bell Pepper, Goat Cheese & Grilled Bread Salad
  • Warm Winter Salad of Roasted Root Fries
  • Spicy Noodle Hot Pot with Bok Choy, Ginger, Lime & Peanuts
  • Crisp Red Potato Patties with Warm Asian Slaw & Limey Sauce
  • Savoy Cabbage, Apple, Onion & Gruyere Rustic Tart
  • Warm Wheatberries with Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Toasted Walnuts & Dried Cranberries
  • Walk-in-the-Woods Grilled Pizza
  • Potato Galette with Rosemary & Two Cheeses

 

A Radio Tour and One Very Special Garden

This week I started my “radio tour” to promote The Fresh & Green Table. I do this from home, which is very cool because I do not need to dress up, put on makeup, cook tasting samples, or make ferry reservations.

In fact, except for the 15 to 20 minutes I’m on air (and the fact that I have to pay very careful attention to the special Google radio calendar the PR folks have set up for me so that I don’t miss a time switch), I can still forge ahead with all the projects I’ve got swirling around at home.

The biggest challenge so far is getting Farmer not to bark (usually when a farm stand customer comes down the driveway) or play with his squeaky toy while I’m recording. I have to sit in the living room with the land line and the book in my lap (no multi-tasking for those few minutes), but Farmer doesn’t quite understand that I haven’t plunked down on the couch to play with him. Most of the spots so far are in the morning so I try hard to not only get the harvesting and farm stand set-up done before hand, but to also get Farmer’s special field walk in, too.

Still, radio is fun—especially if the hosts are engaging—and I enjoy it. But we’ll see how I feel after a few weeks since I’m supposedly on the hook for 15 to 20 hours of this, which my friend Katie kindly pointed out adds up to between 60 and 80 radio spots! Yikes. I’ll post a partial schedule of spots on the home page here, as I will be on all over the country.

We are still madly trying to keep up with things in the garden—especially the tomato staking, turning beds over for second season crops, watering (rain is nonexistent), weeding, and pest warfare. But every time I let myself go out there (it’s so hard to concentrate on all my desk work and recipe deadlines when the garden is calling), I feel like I’m entering the Magic Kingdom. I continue to be fascinated and amazed by little seeds germinating, blossoms turning to fruit, berries ripening; how it all happens when you’re not looking is the essence of the magic show.

To that end, the very best thing I did all week was to help Libby plant her garden. At long last, we finally got every other bed and path laid out, shaped, planted, mulched, irrigated, etc. so that we could concentrate on her little plot. Since the new part of the garden tumbles down a gentle slope, we laid out the beds running across the slope, but with a big center path cutting through them down to the lower gate. We worked down one side of the slope, making beds as we went, and then came back up the other, which left us with the last bed actually right back at the center of the garden—where the hoses, the buckets, the tools, and our feet usually meet. There Libby’s garden came to rest. I am so glad of this, as originally it was planned for the bottom of the garden—a place that seems very far away now. I love the idea that her space is right in the thick of things, and that amidst all these business-like rows of market vegetables lies a comely patch of flowers and seedlings with a lovely little brick path right up the middle of it.

Libby laid the bricks and chose her garden stars from a stash of tomatoes I saved, from a trip to the nursery to look at flowers, and from some of the existing rows of veggies. From the beginning she’s had her eye on the Bright Lights Swiss Chard—especially the pink stalks–and in fact has been nursing a “sick” chard  in a small “plant hospital” she created several weeks ago. Despite the heat, we successfully transplanted that chard and another, as well as some cosmos for her flower row. She also picked out a pale pink primrose and a stunning candy-striped geranium at the nursery. We sowed carrot seeds (her favorites), several kinds of lettuce, and a few Ring of Fire sunflowers from a seed packet Dad picked up. She chose a Sun Gold and a Juliet plum tomato to plant (she’s hoping to bring her mom plum tomatoes later in the summer), and best of all, at the nursery we found one of those charming Alpine strawberry plants with the teeny tiny strawberries dangling off it. We gave that a place of honor right between the carrots and lettuce. The two chards flank the entrance, which is marked by a very cool glass-embedded cement stepping stone that she and I made from a kit her grandmother Peg (Roy’s mom) thoughtfully gave her last Christmas.

I wasn’t sure at first how excited Libby was going to be about having her own garden. She is, first and foremost, an animal and living-creature lover. (Dad got her a butterfly net last week and she trailed around with this all over the place.) I thought to myself that maybe I was just trying to hand the keys to the Magic Kingdom over to her for selfish reasons. But I watched her enthusiasm build as she realized the garden really and truly was all hers. I watched her run to the truck when Dad pulled into the driveway and drag him out to see the garden. I listened to her ask if we could go out and finish planting the second day. And I listened to her (a girl who holds her emotions close) say, “This is so awesome.” More than once.

While we were planting and chatting, she told me, out of the blue, that she plans to be the first woman president of the United States. But first she is going to be a veterinarian, she said. I had to smile, because only that morning I’d been giving her a little spiel (while we were playing Gardenopoly and she was raking in the money, as usual) about her future, how she should be sure and look after herself, develop special skills and a good career, work hard and save her money, etc. etc. I know, I know, she’s only nine.

But tomorrow she turns 10. And four days later I turn 50. And from where I sit, I see a very smart little girl with an entire world of possibilities and opportunities ahead of her. And while I know that I have Grace and luck to thank for many things, I’ve also pursued what I love with a passion and never shut the door on learning. I’ve had amazing teachers along the way who’ve taught me the thrill of planting the seed and watching it grow—no matter what kind of “garden.” It’s an honor to get to pass that thrill on.

One Thing At a Time

Yesterday, Farmer escaped his harness, Houdini-like, and galloped down State Road against oncoming traffic with me running behind him shouting and waving. (He’s okay.)

I drove to Connecticut and back for a meeting on Tuesday.

I planted 50 tomato plants last night.

Roy hurt his back lifting a staircase (don’t ask). His clients want to move into their remodeled house in two weeks.

Our friends Scott and Angie came and helped us with the garden and the farm stand last Sunday because they could see what we couldn’t: We needed help.

Today a farm stand customer, a lovely lady who I barely know, came down the driveway with a loaf of challah bread she had baked for the Jewish Sabbath (which begins Friday evening) and wanted to share with me. A very special kind of challah called Chernowitzer, named for a once beautiful Austrian (now Ukrainian) city devastated in World War II, its many inhabitants sent to Auschwitz. Farmer and I ate two slices of this amazing bread for breakfast.

My new book was officially released this week (early). My publisher, Chronicle Books, pushed the date up after the positive review from NPR and went ahead and ordered a second printing.

I went down to Bunch of Grapes bookstore to sign 50 copies.

The Splendid Table excerpted this recipe (Greek Spinach-Salad Pasta with Feta, Olives, Artichokes, Tomatoes and Pepperoncini) from the book, and suddenly blog posts popped up all around from folks making the salad. Amazon put The Fresh and Green Table on its June list of editors’ favorite cookbooks.

I am developing recipes and taking pictures for a new project.

Every morning, I harvest chard, arugula, lettuce, baby bok choy and greens for the farm stand. I pulled the first carrots this morning. The peas—hundreds of them—are just days away.

The peppers and eggplants are not in the ground yet. Many beds to weed and mulch. Irrigation is a bad word. New chicken pens for both ladies and girls still to be built.

I ran into my friend Mary in the post office yesterday. She is a landscaper and garden designer…on Martha’s Vineyard…in June. Yikes. “Everything’s compressed. It’s like there’s no time, it’s all just a little too much. But at the end of the day here we are. So lucky.”

Yes, lucky. And when it all seems like a lot, I take it a little at a time. And I have Farmer to remind me to take it easy and pay attention.

I cinched up his collar extra tight and let him sniff all the daisies he wanted on our walk through the field this morning. (He slept on the bed last night, too. ) A warm soft breeze and bright sunshine made us both stop for a minute and look around. A turkey hen crossed our path with her single baby toddling behind her.

We walked home past the garden gate that Scotty built, stopped to pee on Roy’s potatoes (sorry!), checked on the blushing blueberries, and smiled at the shovel left speared on a mound of dirt. Shovels remind me of my Dad. Always. I know what he’ll be doing on Sunday, and it won’t be sitting down, waiting for the world to come to him. Thanks Dad. It’s all good, even when it’s all a bit much.