• Sounds of Fall

    Until I lived up here, high on our hill in Vermont, I thought fall was just a season–really more of a harbinger of winter than anything. But New Englanders really do it up right with their pumpkins and squash and hot mulled cider, making fall a pleasant stopover in the oncoming march towards the cold, dark days. Every season seems to surprise me up here: I wonder if the greens were so green last year in the spring, if the days were always so bright and luminous in the summer, and did fall always sound like actual falling leaves? We've had a week of Indian summer days that have lured me back onto the deck. I sit and listen as the birds chirp merrily and the chipmunks and squirrels scurry about their business. The background is that of a gentle soaking rain, leaves first falling one or two at a time, then sounding more like someone is shaking handfuls of them onto the backs of their fallen brethren.

    We got home the other night after dark and I stopped suddenly after getting out of the car. What was that sound? My husband laughed and reminded me it was just the leaves. I'm sure I will forget until next year when I wonder why the leaves seem so alive. I'll delight in them again even though it means winter draws close.

  • Quick Update

    My big news is that I have an article out in the fall issue of Culture. You can see clips of it here and here. It's always exciting to see my recipes in print alongside my very own homemade breads (I bake them just for the shoot!). Take a look at the recipes and if you make them, let me know how they turn out. There are actually four recipes in the print issue–now don't you feel like hunting down the glossy version and taking a peek?

    If you live near Bennington, VT, please come visit me at the farmers' market on Saturdays and Tuesdays until the end of October. I'll be standing out there shivering unless someone stops by to chat with me! Find me on twitter for updates on what I'll be bringing.

  • Coming to terms with summer’s end

    The arrival of September is bittersweet. The beginnings and endings of the days grow chilly and leaves start to flash color in isolated spots. I start to crave hot dinners again, soups and stews and hearty casseroles. Squash appear in all of their multicolored glory at the market. I start to feel a sense of dread in the pit of my stomach: partly because fall means winter is next, and partly because the glory of summer is so fleeting. I am a squirrel, gathering whatever I can from the garden and drying and preserving it as fast as I can. I dried lots of tomatoes and herbs…I made pickles…I made pickled peppers…I froze raspberries…I made black currant jam….and still there are apples, pears, and grapes to preserve.

    I am curious how others segue from the season of plenty to the leaner months ahead. I ask farmers what they’re doing to get ready. One woman told me about the pestos she makes, the peppers she roasts and freezes, and the tomatoes she puts up. She smiles as she tells me about making pasta in January and topping it with roasted pepper pesto that she froze mixed with a smidge of cream to make a quick sauce. She told me how decadent it made her feel and how it was a little taste of summer.

    I feel better. I realize the work that I’m doing now is a gift to my future winter self who is dreaming about spring and fresh green shoots. I won’t remember the fleeting strawberries, only the abundance of tomatoes that I’m still able to enjoy when the snow is falling.

  • Housekeeping and Market Dates

    Hopefully, you are signed up for my spiffy newsletter and just received the August edition, full of news about preserving, marmalade sales, and when I'll be at the market. If not, let me give you the August dates when you can find me at the Walloomsac Market: Tuesday 8/9, Saturday 8/13, and Tuesday 8/16. Then, I won't be back until Saturday, September 3rd.

    My time off is due to cruising in the Caribbean with my husband's family. I know, you're thinking that I have a tough life! But really, the time off will re-energize me and therefore benefit you in terms of inspired pastries when I return! I have lots of ideas for candy for this fall: fruit jellies, caramels, chocolates, and all sorts of things that just don't do well in the heat and humidity of July and August. I am loving summer produce right now (have you tasted the local corn?!?), but in the far, far reaches of my mind, there are visions of squash and pumpkins. Come visit in the next two weeks, or I'll see you in September!

  • Dangerous Raspberries

    [caption id="attachment_986" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="These beautiful berries caused me a lot of pain."][/caption]

    New Englanders like to exaggerate. On a nice day in June, they like to scare you with tales of how it snowed two feet on the same day when they were kids. So, when I heard about the perils of poison parsnip, I filed away the information but wasn't terribly concerned about how it might affect me. Yes, I heard that contact with its sap caused blistering and painful rashes, but I didn't know until last week (when I was forced to do further research) that the scars from the rashes can last for years. I didn't know that two things have to happen in order for a reaction to occur: contact with the plant juices and then immediate exposure to sunlight. These two factors created a perfect storm of problems for me last week while I was picking wild raspberries along our road. I was excited about how prolific the fruit has been this year, and even the wild bushes have been producing bowlfuls of bright, juicy berries that I've been baking with and freezing. It's been hot here lately, so I've been skipping out every morning in shorts and flip flops (you can see where this is going!). Apparently, I got some sap on my ankle, and by Friday morning, I had a purple-brown streaky burn and my foot and ankle were swollen. Grossly swollen, like my foot could witness its own weather patterns and have its own zip code. It's made it difficult to bake and do my market stuff this week, and it pulled the plug on me hiking with my husband on his Long Trail journey. I guess I'm a believer now...I certainly won't take poison parsnip for granted again, although I still don't believe in two feet of snow in June.

  • A Week Off

    Here's what I was up to last week. Yes, it was a double tart day. I hope people got what they wanted because I am taking off this Saturday! I'm headed down to Pennsylvania to visit with family and to take a little side trip to Hershey Park. I will be at the Tuesday market tomorrow, but as for Saturday, savor these pictures until next week!

  • Feeling Green

    My irises were amazing this year. They finally finished blooming last week, but the peonies took over for them just in time. I've been picking strawberries this week from our own garden as well as from the local pick-your patch to make jam. Growing things are in full swing around here.

    I don't have any pictures at all from last Saturday's market. That was because it absolutely poured! It rained so hard that my table (under the tent) was full of water in about half an hour. I usually take care to set everything up, but I settled for selling my pastries out of the containers I brought them in. It looked like I was selling Tupperware. The good news is that I'll be there again this week–and the weather looks quite a bit better. Come see me for savory scones, rye turnovers filled with Swiss chard and chevre, hazelnut espresso meringues, and strawberry cake!

  • Kitchen Love

    I realize that I've been slightly neglectful over here, leaving quick notes on the run. That's because I've been having fun in the kitchen. I'm playing with different grains and flours, still inspired by Good to the Grain, and layering flavors like crazy, challenged and encouraged by The Flavor Thesaurus. Rhubarb was in season; I preserved, making a jam with a hint of rosewater, a vanilla bean-brown sugar dessert sauce, and a savory chutney. Roses are now blooming and strawberries are blushing red. Being as I sold out of strawberry jam last year, I'm gearing up to pick and preserve mass quantities this time. I preserved the essence of roses in three different ways: two rose-infused sugars and a rose petal-fragranced vinegar. Intrigued?

    If you're checking in on me to see if I'll be at the market this week, I will! There will be classic currant scones, savory local Swiss chard turnovers, salted caramel tartlets, meringues, buckwheat cocoa nib sandwich cookies, and lots of other goodies. Come visit if you're in town!

  • June 4th Market

    The good news is that there will be some great produce this Saturday at the market: lots of salad greens, starter plants, beets, and even the first of the tomatoes and strawberries! The bad news is that I won't be there. Please go and support your local farmers, and I'll be back with more sweets and delicious edibles next week!

  • Yes!

    I will be at the farmers' market tomorrow, May 28th! There will be toasted coconut meringues, rhubarb galettes, and rich bittersweet chocolate tartlets. I'll be taking next week off (June 4th) so visit tomorrow to get your fix.

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