Category Archives: The Cookbooks

Roasted Beet Jewels with Cranberries, Pecans & Balsamic Butter—A Festive Recipe Preview from Fresh From the Farm

RoastedBeetJewelsPg.205Tomorrow is Christmas. Oh boy. And, in one month, I will hold the first copy of my first-ever hardcover book in my hands. I am doubly excited. This could be a problem, as I’m not known for containing excitement well.

When I was three years old, I woke up in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve, put on my green velvet party dress (backwards, buttons down the front), and threw up all over myself. I thought I heard Santa on the roof. (Why I put my party dress on, I’m not sure. But apparently I was quite feverish—sick enough that the doctor had paid us a house-call earlier that day—so perhaps I got the dress-up part confused with Easter morning.) At any rate, I’m sorry to say that’s not the extent of the damage I did as a child during peak moments of excitement. (Graduation from elementary school involved pinning myself accidentally under a folded up ping-pong table. I’m not kidding.)

DSC_9957So my wise and wonderful publishers at The Taunton Press, who know how excited I am about Fresh from the Farm, have given me permission to publish a recipe from the book, just in time for Christmas. Whew.

So I will spare you any more childhood stories and get right to it. I’ll just tell you that I picked something easy and festive (with a pretty picture!), even though it is kind of an iconic Susie-type vegetable side dish recipe, the kind of thing you readers of Fast, Fresh & Green and The Fresh and Green Table will find familiar. But Fresh From the Farm has so much more—everything from tostados and burritos to pot roast and meat loaf to French toast, coffee cake, and cookies (all still inspired by the veggies and fruit that we grow). But since Christmas (and deep winter market/CSA season) is upon us, I thought I’d share something that could just as easily go on the holiday table as be part of a weeknight winter supper. (And use up some of those beets in the veg drawer. Although, in case you don’t know, beets are one of the better keeping winter veggies—wrap them in dish towels and put in open plastic bags and they’ll retain some moisture longer.)

FFF small image for webHere you go. I hope you have a peaceful and relaxing and delicious holiday. I wish I could give you the real book for Christmas, but alas, you and I will have to wait patiently. (You patiently, me not so much.) At least you can order Fresh From the Farm now if you like. (If you need it, all the ordering info is on the homepage of sixburnersue.)


If you like beets, check out these other recipes on sixburnersue as well.


Roasted Beet “Jewels” with Cranberries, Toasted Pecans & Balsamic Butter

DSC_3632_1This easy and delicious side dish is a great way to introduce people to roasted beets—or beets in general. You’ll love it too, because the small-diced beets cook in only 25 minutes—no boiling or long slow roasting here! This is just as great to make with summer beets as fall beets, and would be delicious with roast beef, roast chicken or crispy duck. I like to use a mix of red and orange or yellow beets if I’ve got them, but for a variation, you can also make this by substituting carrots for half of the beets.

Serves 4

1 1⁄2 pounds beets (preferably half red and half golden), topped and tailed but
not peeled

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

1 tablespoon fresh orange juice

1 tablespoon seedless red raspberry jam

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1 1⁄2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces and chilled

1⁄4 cup very finely chopped dried cranberries

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

1⁄2 cup chopped toasted pecans

Small fresh parsley or mint leaves, for garnish (optional)


Heat the oven to 450°F. Cover two heavy-duty sheet pans with parchment paper. Keeping the red and golden beets separate (if using both colors), cut them into medium-small dice (no more than about 1⁄2 inch). Put each color in a bowl and toss with 2 teaspoons olive oil and 1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt. Transfer each bowl of beets to separate sheet pans and spread in one layer. Roast until the beets are tender and shrunken, about 25 minutes. (Rotate the baking sheets to opposite racks halfway through cooking for more even cooking.) Transfer to a mixing bowl.

Put the orange juice, raspberry jam, and balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir or whisk continuously (don’t walk away!) until the jam is completely melted and the sauce is slightly more viscous (it may be steaming but it should not boil), 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately add the cold butter. Swirl the pan until the butter is melted and the sauce is slightly creamy. Add the cranberries and thyme and stir. Pour and scrape the balsamic butter with the cranberries over the roasted beets and mix and toss gently. Add most of the pecans and stir gently again. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with the remaining nuts and herb leaves (if using).

PHOTO CREDIT, TOP PHOTO: Alexandra Grablewski; styling by Michael Pederson



A New Cookbook, with A Side of Memoir: Fresh From the Farm, by Susie Middleton (yup) — coming soon!

Keeping a secret for more than a year is hard, you know. And I can’t say that I didn’t hint here and there—I couldn’t help myself. But now, with only about 5 months to go until pub date, it’s the right time to let the cat out of the bag. Otherwise I might bust. So…here goes: I have written my third book! Okay, so maybe that doesn’t sound so monumental or exciting when you see it written down on paper (or read it on a screen). But I have to tell you, this book rocks. It’s totally awesome.

Here’s why:  It’s called Fresh from the Farm: A Year of Recipes and Stories, and yes, you guessed it, the “farm” is our farm, Green Island Farm. And not only is this book a cookbook (125 recipes), but it’s a story too—the story of how the little farm came to be. (So, yeah, I got to write the story, so I’m pretty psyched about that.) Now add more than 100 photos of the farm and absolutely gorgeous finished-food photos to go with the recipes (Thank you, Alexandra Grablewski). Just for good measure, add an appendix of farm design ideas (by none other than RR). And put all that in a 256-page hard cover book. And then thank The Taunton Press (and especially my editor Carolyn Mandarano) for deciding to publish this book—and executing this cool concept so assuredly. (Breathe, Susie. Really, this is all so fabulous, as my friend Katie would say, so I get a little worked up.) There are even a bunch of my own photos in the book—woo-hoo!

Fans of Fast, Fresh & Green and The Fresh & Green Table will be happy to know that the seasonal recipes in Fresh from the Farm are just as carefully crafted and cross-tested as in my first books. (Thank you Jessica Bard and Eliza Peter.) And while each one makes happy use of a veggie or fruit we grow on the farm (or eggs, of course), this time I got to do everything from breakfast to dessert—and even meatloaf! Here are a few teaser recipe titles:

Roast Parmesan Crusted Cod with Baby Potatoes, Bell Peppers, Onions & Thyme; Chinese Grilled Chicken and Bibb Lettuce “Wraps;” Spicy Thai Shrimp and Baby Bok Choy Stir-Fry; Grill-Roasted Fingerlings with Rosemary, Lemon, Sea Salt and Fresh Corn Vinaigrette; Farmhouse French Toast with Backyard Berry Syrup; Libby’s Lemon Blueberry Buckle; Lobster Salad Rolls with Fresh Peas; Curry-Coconut Butternut Squash Soup; Baby Kale and Blood Orange Salad with Feta and Toasted Almonds; Autumn Pot Roast with Roasted Root Veggie Garnish; Honey-Vanilla Roasted Pears. 

So you can see that Fresh from the Farm is firmly in the cookbook camp. But as you make your way from early spring to late fall, from Bibb lettuce and fresh peas to blueberries and butternut squash, you’ll also be traveling through the first couple years of our garden-to-farm journey. (The text runs around the recipes on every page.) How we landed our little farmstead, how we started with 8 chickens and wound up with 550 laying hens, how Farmer came to be the Farm Dog, and how a hoop house, a free tractor, and four acres sealed our fate.

I won’t tell you any more now. Don’t want to spoil the fun you’re going to have when you get this gorgeous book in your hands! But I will try to give you a few more details in the upcoming months. But for right now, believe it or not, you can already pre-order Fresh from the Farm on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. It’s also listed with the Indie booksellers, and since we love to patronize independent bookstores, I’d encourage you to go ask your bookstore to pre-order it for you if you like. Or you can just be patient and wait until February 11, 2014. But I wouldn’t know anything about patience!

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.

Beauty and The Book

Yesterday two good things happened: I spotted the first pea blossoms in the garden, and my new book, The Fresh & Green Table, was chosen as one of NPR’s Top Ten Cookbooks for Summer, 2012. You might wonder that I put those two things in the same sentence, that I seem to weight them equally on the make-your-day meter.

Honestly, I did dance around my office when I saw the NPR list—I was very excited. Two years ago, Fast, Fresh & Green received this same honor, and I couldn’t believe my second book would also get a nod. I have tremendous respect for the reviewer, who is very thorough, so this is something to be proud of. (For anyone wanting to write a cookbook—or another cookbook—you’d be well-advised to read the list of 7 questions she asks herself when considering new books.) She had a ginormous stack of books to look at and to cook from this season, too.

I didn’t dance around the garden when I saw the pea blossoms. But my heart sang. Sheer beauty. It’s hard to describe—the complex emotions that come from pausing on a quiet, foggy morning to witness this crazy miracle of nature. There’s an element of relief, too, knowing you’ve managed to coax something along, that you’re actually growing food that you can eat and feed to others, too.

There’s a much less romantic reason to be grateful for good reviews and pea blossoms in the same breath. Quite simply, I know if I can sell books and sell peas (though neither actually makes me much money and both take an enormous amount of energy), then I can continue to get away with calling what I do a career, or a job, or something official. Ha! When really I’m just having fun. Some time back I decided that life is too short not to enjoy what you do every day. Sure, there are tradeoffs, but as long as I can keep this (old) roof over my head, I’m good.

The farm stand opens tomorrow!

And Now For the Sequel! Coming Soon, Susie’s Second Book, The Fresh & Green Table

“Never look a gift horse in the mouth.” A goofy saying maybe (definitely something I could hear coming out of my mother’s mouth), but who can argue with the message: When good stuff comes your way, be grateful, and don’t question it.

Something good came my way at the end of the summer of 2010. Fast, Fresh & Green, my first cookbook, had hit a high note, fresh off the presses earlier that spring. It found an enthusiastic audience (that’s all of you—talk about gratitude!), prompting my editor at Chronicle Books to call me up one day in August. We had a nice chat while I sat in the parking lot of Alley’s General Store, watching the President’s motorcade go by, on his way to the “summer” White House.

My editor asked me if I thought I might have a “main-dish” Fast, Fresh & Green up my sleeve. I told him I’d definitely been thinking about all the ways to move veggies to the center of the plate, and that I could work up a proposal for him. “You do that,” he said. Alrighty then. Yeah, just in case I was wondering what I was going to be doing with myself for the next several months (!)…the upshot of that conversation, and several that followed, was that I signed a contract to write a “sequel”—due in February (2011). It was October by the time we actually signed on the dotted line, but fortunately I was well underway with recipe testing, since I had gotten a hint that the deadline would be short and I knew that completing a cookbook in that window of time would mean an all-out sprint.

But just because you turn in a book manuscript in February doesn’t mean you get to hold a finished book in your hands by spring time! Doing a book right—great photography, solid copy editing, careful and creative design, and lots of proofing and fitting—takes time, and then the book has to go to the printer. In the meantime, a particular seasonal “release” date is chosen for the book, a date when the bulk of the first printing will have arrived in the warehouse and will be ready to ship out. At several points during this whole process, the author gets to see (and make edits to) the updated manuscript. And at each stage, the author gets a stronger and stronger sense of what the finished book will look like, which is very exciting. (Especially for me this time around, as The Fresh & Green Table is stuffed with beautiful photographs by San Francisco photographer Annabelle Breakey, like the couple I’ve included here.)

But while I’ve had a good idea about how my book is shaping up at every step of the way, the process has been puzzling to other people (like my mother, sister, best friend, and oh, a few others) who are anxious to see the book. So I am very happy to now say that though The Fresh & Green Table is still months away from its official pub date (June 20, 2012), it has, in fact, gone to the printer, and is therefore available for preorder on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Indie Bound (please support independent bookstores whenever possible!). And likely there will be some sneaky early copies let loose, perhaps like the copies of Fast, Fresh & Green that Anthropologie displayed last time around. And just yesterday, my favorite PR and marketing guru guys at Chronicle Books gave me the thumbs up to start promoting The Fresh & Green Table (see beautiful cover above). Yay! So, first, please do me a favor and hop on to Facebook and “like” my new page “Susie Middleton Cooks.” I’m going to phase out the Fast, Fresh & Green Facebook page now that there will be two books! You can also follow me on Twitter @sixburnersue.

Okay, now for the good stuff—what’s in the book? The short answer is this: Main-Dish Salads, Hearty Soups, Veggie Pastas, Frittatas & Savory Bread Puddings, Gratins & Galettes, Rustic Tarts, Sautés, Ragouts, Pizzas (Baked & Grilled), Main-Dish Grains, and even a chapter on sides for veggie main-dishes, like polenta, popovers, and pilafs. Every chapter focuses on two or three types of dishes (that feature veggies in a big way) that I think you can easily add to your repertoire—by following the detailed recipes I’ve given you until you begin to improvise on your own. I chose each of these kinds of dishes to showcase veggies because they are broadly appealing (especially to non-vegetarians, though most of the recipes are meatless) and because they are the kinds of things I’ve learned to cook over the years that make me giddy with joy. (Grilled Pizza—my number one favorite!) To me, cooking from scratch has to be fun and full of “a ha! moments.” I think this—the fun and delicious factor—is the secret to convincing folks that vegetables can star at the center of the plate.

I also had a blast pairing vegetables with “bridge” flavors and other main-dish ingredients to help bring veggies into focus in important ways without turning folks off. Dishes like “Warm Wheatberries with Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Toasted Walnuts & Dried Cranberries” and “Chile Rice with Green Beans & Toasted Pecans” as well as “Seven Treasure Roasted Winter Veggie Tart” and “Spaghetti with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes & Spicy Garlic Oil” do this particularly well. (I promise everything in the book is not roasted!) But my very favorite chapter (softie as I am when it comes to all things leafy) is the Main-Dish Salads. For winter, I pair roasted veggies (yes!) with hearty greens; for summer I pair grilled veggies with lighter greens. And always with interesting vinaigrettes and fun extras like grilled bread. The result? Recipes like “Warm Winter Salad of Roasted Root “Fries” with Shallot & Sherry-Maple Vinaigrette” and “Grilled Zucchini, Bell Peppers, Goat Cheese & Grilled Bread with Double-Tomato Dressing.” Yum.

I need to stop there as I am getting hungry, but there is so much more to tell you about The Fresh & Green Table, and I promise I will post about it (and preview a recipe or two) in the coming months. In the meantime, yes, preordering is something to be grateful for!

So Much for the Simple Life: A Second Book & A Date with Martha Stewart

I moved to Martha’s Vineyard three years ago for a Simpler Life, and I got it. Granted I wasn’t any Paris Hilton, but I did have a lot of pointy-toed high-heeled shoes and frilly skirts. These days, I am most comfortable (and most often) stomping around in my muck boots and my blue jeans. For me, these boots have come to symbolize the freedom and peace I feel on the Island.

This past Saturday was a great example of what I love about my new life. We woke up, pulled on our boots, and trotted over to the Ag Hall (the big barn-like structure where the Fair and lots of other cool local events are held) to check out the indoor Winter Farmers’ Market. (We live right across the street from the Ag Hall now.) The indoor market, only in its second year, has already worked itself into the fabric of the year-round community, and it’s a great place to go to see friends, get a cup of coffee and stand around the fireplace, maybe buy a bar of Island-made goat soap or a quart of Island-made yogurt or even a piece of Island-made chocolate. And there are veggies like nobody’s business, since our warm Island fall extends the growing season right through to December. I restrained myself and walked out with only one bunch of beautiful turnips. (On a typical Saturday morning in my old life, I’d be in the car racing up and down Route 1 or I95, trying to cram in errands I couldn’t do during the week.)

So I was going to blog about the market and the turnips this week, but then, since there was an even cooler event that happened Saturday night (at the Ag Hall again, of course), I thought for a moment I might write about that! Our local nonprofit, Island Grown Initiative, held a pig- and chicken-roast fundraiser called “Local Meat is Good to Eat—But There’s More to Life than Chicken.” The group, which has been very successful in introducing a mobile poultry processing unit to the island (and increasing the number of chickens raised here), has received a state grant to do a feasibility study for a potential USDA four-legged humane slaughter facility on the Vineyard. The fundraiser was planned as a way to bolster the grant money. The food was amazing, but the community spirit even more affecting. IGI had expected 150 to 200 people—and 400 members of the community showed up! (And $12,000 was raised.) I felt really proud and grateful to be part of that community. But truthfully, showing up at a delicious pig roast for a good cause might fit well with my idea of a simpler life, but what these folks are doing for the farming (and entire community) on this Island is anything but simple. But that’s the way life goes; the good stuff only comes with hard work and a fair dose of complication.

So ultimately, after procrastinating on writing this blog, I decided not just to focus on the market or the fundraiser. Because life, no matter where you live and how you approach it, is never all that simple. This is very much on my mind right now for two reasons.

First, a month or so ago, I was asked to write a new book—quickly. The publishers of Fast, Fresh & Green, Chronicle Books, were so happy with this first book of mine that they figured why not publish a follow-up book (sort of a sequel—though I keep thinking that I hope this one is better than Jaws 2!) in the Spring of 2012. So I gave them a proposal for Fresh & Green for Dinner, a collection of vegetable-driven main dishes, and lo and behold, I got a February 15 (2011!) deadline. Yikes. This of course, is both great and scary at the same time. And anything but simple. I am now pushing myself at a pace that I don’t really like—working day and night to get recipes written, developed (which means several tests on my part), cross-tested, and edited. (Grilled pizza, anyone?) I’m feeling just a little bit like I did in my old life—speedy (though that could be from all the coffee I drink). But that’s okay. Because I’m grateful that I have a job (crazy as it is) that lets me live where I want to—in this beautiful place.

Secondly, there’s another not-so-simple reality to being a cookbook author: Publicity. And when you get an opportunity to appear on a national TV show—especially one that’s hosted by a fabulous cook—you don’t say no. So on the morning of Wednesday, November 24—the day before Thanksgiving—I’ll be standing next to Martha Stewart, telling her (like she doesn’t already know!) and a live studio audience, about quick-roasting vegetables. It’s a prime spot for a cookbook author, since Thanksgiving is the number one cooking holiday, and I’m excited that I’ll be able to talk about something that really is easy to pull off on Thanksgiving. (Quick-roasted vegetables can pop in the oven after the turkey comes out and cook in the amount of time the turkey needs to rest.) I’ll be cooking the popular Vanilla and Cardamom Glazed Acorn Squash Rings, and yes, turnips! (Roasted Turnips & Pears with Rosemary-Honey Drizzle), as well as Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Orange Butter Sauce, all from Fast, Fresh & Green. (You can get the first two recipes online here, from a recent article in Martha’s Vineyard magazine.) If you want to watch, I’ll be on the 3rd and 4th segments (the show starts at 10 a.m. on the Hallmark Channel and I believe repeats at 1 p.m. Oops–no I’m wrong about that. It repeats at 2 pm that day. The 1 pm show is a repeat of the day before!). Roy and I will be taking Libby down to New York for the night, and the two of them will get to be a part of the live audience (and maybe visit backstage, too!). Somebody is pretty excited, let me tell you…

In the past, I dreaded TV appearances. But I’m in a different spot now and am really anticipating this with joy, not in small part because I know my friends and family will share in the excitement. But also, the producers of The Martha Stewart Show are real pros, and I feel lucky to be on a quality program that values home cooking. So while it wasn’t in my plans to get on the ferry, drive down I95, and put on my public face (no pointy-toe shoes, though) the day before Thanksgiving, I’m there. It was, afterall, a simple decision.

Fast, Fresh & Green is Here–and I Couldn’t Be More Thrilled

Theoretically, I am a jaded editor and writer. I’ve been in the publishing business a long time. (I got my first job at Seventeen magazine when I was 21 years old.) So you’d think that writing a book would be no big deal to me, right? Wrong.

The day I held the first copy of Fast, Fresh & Green in my hands, I nearly cried I was so thrilled. It was beautiful and charming and there was that silly voice of mine all over the place, coaxing people into the kitchen to have fun. Somehow, my publisher, Chronicle Books, managed to let Susie be Susie, all the while infusing the book with their uniquely fresh design sensibility, making it feel so relevant, so very 2010, so luminous. A more grateful first-time author you couldn’t find.

That was back in January, when I got two copies of the book in the mail, straight from the printer. Because of the weird ways of publishing, I don’t actually have any more copies yet. My author copies will be shipped when the book “officially” leaves the warehouse to head for bookstores this Wednesday, April 28.

But (and like I said, this is weird stuff), the book started shipping from Amazon early last week, and Friday afternoon, the book reached #1 in the Vegetable category (and even hovered under 500 in the total books ranking for a few hours!). Now everyone knows that the Amazon rankings don’t really mean anything, but does that stop me from being proud? And does it mean I’m not excited about the new 5-star reviews that are up there from folks saying they’ve already found a place for Fast, Fresh & Green on their cookbook shelf of “favorites?” Of course not—I’m human. And heck, you only have a first book once, so why not totally give in to the thrill.

The book is also out early in Anthropologie stores all over the country and in Canada. This really tickles me, as I bought many of the props for the photos in the book from Anthropologie, just because I love their sensibility. It also tickles me because friends and family members have been spotting the book in their local Anthropologie and emailing photos of the displays to me. Which leads me to this: You don’t just write—or publish—a book in a vacuum. Your friends, your family, your professional colleagues—they offer so much support and encouragement as you go along that the book really becomes theirs, too.  They’re just as proud as you are, so they should share in the excitement. That’s why I feel like it’s important to spread the good news around when it comes along, whether I do that by Facebook, on Twitter, on, or with a simple email.

To be honest, this good news doesn’t just “come along.” Promoting a book is actually more work, and involves more people, than the actual writing of a book, and I have an incredible team at Chronicle Books, my friends at Fine Cooking magazine and, the good people at Edible Communities, and an enthusiastic group of independent booksellers on my home turf of Martha’s Vineyard to thank profusely. (Bunch of Grapes bookstore in Vineyard Haven is kindly staging an author event for me on Friday, May 7, to officially “launch” Fast, Fresh & Green on the Island. Wherever you live, be sure to patronize your local independent bookstore!).

In honor of official publication week, I thought I’d post a few of the incredible photos in the book and one of my favorite recipes. The photos (above) were taken over a four-day period in my home by fabulous photographer Ben Fink. Food stylist Michelli Knauer prepared and styled the food for the camera with the help of Safaya Tork. I planned and propped each shot, bought the ingredients, and worked with Ben and Michelli during the shoot to get the best results possible. And of course all of the food for the camera was shot exactly as the recipe was written (no fakery), and none of those recipes would be as good as they are without the efforts of my terrific cross-tester, Jessica Bard.

Publishing a book is a lot of work (and not the ticket to riches as many folks believe), but it is a thrill, plain and simple. Especially the first one—though I hope to find out what it feels like to be a second-time author, too!


Sweet Potato “Mini-Fries” with Limey Dipping Sauce

These oven fries are addictive, even though they don’t get as crisp as deep-fried sweet potatoes. I cut them into little sticks and sometimes serve them straight off the sheet pan (with more salt) to guests gathering in the kitchen. They always disappear quickly. The easy little limey dipping sauce is also great with grilled fish, crabcakes, and steamed asparagus.


1 pound unpeeled sweet potatoes (about 2 small)

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt, more for seasoning

Spiced Salt (recipe follows)

Limey Dipping Sauce (recipe follows)


Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. Line a large (18- x 13- x 1-inch) heavy-duty rimmed sheet pan with a piece of parchment paper. Cut the sweet potatoes crosswise on a slight diagonal into 3/8-inch-thick slices. (If the sweet potato is very narrow at one end, you can cut slices at a very sharp angle at that end.) Cut each slice (along the longest side) into sticks between ¼- and 3/8-inch wide. (They will only be a couple inches long.) Put all the sticks in a mixing bowl and combine thoroughly with the olive oil and the 1 teaspoon salt. Spread the sweet potatoes out in one layer on the baking sheet, making sure to scrape all the oil and salt from the bowl onto them.

Roast for 20 minutes. Using a spatula, flip the sticks over and continue cooking, flipping once or twice more, until the fries are nicely browned (some in spots, some all over), about another 10 minutes. Sprinkle some of the Spiced Salt or more kosher salt (be generous and do not skip this step!) on the fries, toss well, and serve with the dipping sauce.

Serves 3 to 4

Limey Dipping Sauce


1/3 cup mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

½ teaspoon finely minced garlic

a pinch of kosher salt


In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, the lime zest, the lime juice, the garlic and a pinch of salt. Whisk well to combine. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes to let the flavors blend.

Spiced Salt

This keeps in a tightly sealed container for several weeks.


1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon paprika


In a small bowl, stir together all of the spices.