from maggie's farm       

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notes from maggie's farm

saturday, december 18, 2010

lagniappe

Lagniappe derives from New World Spanish la ñapa, "the gift," and ultimately from Quechua yapay, "to give more." The word came into the rich Creole dialect mixture of New Orleans and there acquired a French spelling. It is still used in the Gulf states, especially southern Louisiana, to denote a little bonus that a friendly shopkeeper might add to a purchase. By extension, it may mean "an extra or unexpected gift or benefit.  (via answer.com)
 

is there someone in your life you’d like to provide ‘an extra or unexpected gift or benefit’ this holiday season?  perhaps it’s the neighbor who carries your garbage bin back in along with his own.  maybe the dry cleaner that gets your shirt collars just the way you like them.  the postal clerk that wears a smile no matter the circumstance or holiday?  somebody who isn’t on your list of ‘usual suspects’ you’d like to show your admiration, appreciation,  gratitude towards.  nothing fancy, just a simple token that says ‘i appreciate you’.  how about something a little more intimate than a scratch-off or can of mixed nuts this year?

from maggie’s farm occasionally makes small batch products that are available for a limited time, only.  when they’re sold, that’s the last of them, due to seasonal availablility, sometimes, or to the whims of the producers, on occasion.  often we just want to try a product out for ourselves, and we pass the surplus on to you.  we keep these items off of our  farm fare menu because of their limited availability.  it is likely you,  or the person who is lucky enough to have you as a gift-giver, won’t be getting two of  any of these items.  it’s a personal touch, a special and unique gift chosen especially for that one person, that makes the holidays warm, from the inside out. 

v rosemary orange infused olive oil—we love this stuff.  such fresh, bright,  crisp flavors to brighten the heavier dishes of winter.  we’ve used it in marinades and salad dressings, blended with white wine vinegar or orange juice, a tad of dijon mustard (maybe some chopped shallots for good measure), and find it to be the perfect complement to pork, poultry, shellfish, and roasted veggies.  fresh baby spinach tossed with pretty slices of orange, walnuts, feta cheese and the vinaigrette mentioned...just a delicious antidote to holiday overindulgence.   add  some additional spice and seasoning for a perfect bread dipping oil (or have us do it for you—we’ll be happy to.) 

4.00/8oz   (we can also arrange to bottle it for you in a cruet for few dollars more—so pretty!  just ask.)

v eggplant caponata— caponata is a sicilian dish,  often used as a complement to seafood or main courses.  this cooked vegetable salad has roasted eggplant as it’s base, with tomatoes, celery, onions, red and golden bell peppers, all organically grown here on the farm, and  precious bits of herbs, spices, capers, and garlic.  we love to use it atop from maggie’s farm rosemary onion focaccia with a little cheese when we experience one of those frequent only-good-pizza-will-do cravings. 

4.00/half pint

v brinjal pickle relish—brinjal, or what the rest of the world calls eggplant or aubergine, is preserved here in the south indian style replete with garlic, ginger, brown mustard seed, coriander, cumin, chiles, and a touch of fenugreek.  use it to top grilled lamb or chicken,  with any number of indian daals,  to complement a goat, feta, or manchego cheese, or maybe a dollop to make that plain sandwich much more exotic.  a friend from india said it ‘tastes like home’ and that makes our heart sing....

4.00/half pint

from maggie’s farm loves the spirit of lagniappe.  that’s while you’ll find a ‘little something extra’ in every order you place with us.  let us surprise you!

tomorrow,  we kick turkey meatloaf up a flavorful notch or two, and cut your kitchen time considerably.  you’ll love the pretty little surprise in each slice.......

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friday, december 17, 2010

 

“Then the Whos, young and old, would sit down to a feast.
And they'd feast! And they'd feast!
And they'd FEAST! FEAST! FEAST! FEAST!
They would start on Who-pudding, and rare Who-roast-beast
Which was something the Grinch couldn't stand in the least! “

--from the grinch who stole christmas

during the comings and goings of the holiday season,  wouldn’t it be great to have a quick lunch for company that’s easy, yet still delicious and elegant?  how ‘bout a variation on the whoville theme,  with sliced roast beast and the newest seasonal offering from maggie’s farm, cranberry pear vanilla chutney with melegueta pepper? 

roast beast wraps with cranberry pear vanilla pear chutney with melegueta pepper

you will need:

v  your favorite large tortilla--whole grain is our favorite to use, here

v  cream cheese

v  sliced roast beef--we go for boar’s head london broil (but none of the preseasoned stuff.....bleh.) unless we’re lucky enough to have a little home-prepared roast beef.  fat chance of that during the holiday rush.

v  from maggie’s farm cranberry vanilla pear chutney with melegueta pepper

v  mesclun (we thought this stuff was illegal until we were set straight by the produce man) lettuce mix.  your mix should include frisee and arugula for the maximum festiveness.

allow cream cheese to come to room temperature.  layer ingredients onto tortilla in the following order:  cream cheese,  mesclum,  chutney,  roast beef, spread with another light layer of cream cheese to facillitate wrappage.  roll tortilla snugly and holding taut,  slice with a sharp knife into rounds the size of your choice-in half for sandwich size servings, or thinner for party fare. 

*more variations on a theme....... you can use any tortilla, though corn tortillas are not as pliable and maybe more frustrating than necessary.  rosemary-seasoned tortillas might be nice.  any soft cheese will do,  and if you have an extra stash of, say, goat cheese, or brie, use it!  you may also blend cheeses.  say you have a gorgonzola lover in your midst—blend some with your cream cheese.  it’ll be delicious.  not a roast beef fan?  try turkey, or ham, or any of the vegan substitutes if you’re so inclined.  you can also mix some fresh herbs in with the lettuce mix, or simply use a romaine, or spicy escarole, whatever tickles your fancy.  make it your own...it’s your kitchen, afterall. 

tomorrow....a few last minute gift ideas amongst our small batch, off-menu items.  a neat little gift or two that one is sure to not get two of!  it’s a lot better than another tie, we think. 

cranberry pear vanilla chutney with melegueta pepper—chunky, luscious, velvety, and not-too-sweet, this condiment is perfect for dressing up meats, serving on cheese plates, and stretching sandwich spreads in flavorful style.   having glazed ham for the holidays?  imagine the day-after sandwich,--a nice thick slice with a bit of arugula,  and this chutney spread on your favorite bread (maybe from maggie’s farm deli rye?).  a little bit of heaven.

 

we’ve made small batches of each so they’ve remained off the farm fare menu, and are available for a limited time, only—

4.00/half pint

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thursday, december 16, 2010

 

 

the charm of chutney.......continued

yesterday, we shared everything you could possibly want to know about chutney and much of what you never did.  you know where it’s from,  what it’s made from, and how it’s used in this century, and for many centuries prior, on this continent and at least a few others.  and as promised, today we very specifically suggest ways in which to update your culinary wardrobe with the goods. 

chutney is the stressed-out cook’s salvation in a jar.  just when you thought you couldn’t possibly come up with an original thought about chicken breasts, there you see it, that magic jar of chutney!  when your knife is dull and dicing, slicing, and mincing just seem to be too much work at the end or your day,  voila, chutney.  you want to impress a hostess, but it’s the holidays and your wallet’s light and time is tight, unhuh—chutney.  (i think this is the beginning of a from maggie’s farm song,  the likes of which might be sung at the top of our lungs around a saturday night, slightly boozy bonfire......we’ll keep you posted).  but you get the idea.  chutney is the culinary cousin of a string of pearls-- it won’t cover the whole body, but it gussies up a plain dress like nothing else ever can.   

let’s start with appetizers..............

chorizo chutney bites

v homemade crouton--see below

v mozzarella di bufala (often referred to as buffalo mozzarella or fresh mozzarella)

v spanish-style chorizo, sliced thinly

v your favorite from maggie’s farm chutney

v arugula lettuce

crouton—from a day-old baguette, slice horizontally in ½” slices.  drizzle olive oil over slices and toss in a bowl with salt, pepper.  spread in a single layer on a baking sheet.  bake in a 400° oven until crisp, turning once.  allow to cool on a rack  before assembling appetizer.

on your fresh, home-baked crouton, layer a few arugula leaves, a spoonful of chutney, a thin slice of mozzarella di bufala, and topped with a sliver of chorizo.  pop under the broiler for a minute or so, just until cheese begins to wilt.  let cool slightly before serving warm,  or at room temperature. 

*note-no fresh mozzarella?  you might try another mildly flavored cheese such as ricotta.  the look won’t be the same but it sure won’t be bad.  also, you may substitute pancetta, speck ham,  virginia ham,  or prosciutto if spanish chorizo is unavailable, however mexican chorizo, albeit delicious in it’s own rite,  is not a good substitute here. 

goat cheese and chutney bruschetta

v bruschetta –see below

v goat cheese (or feta, or camembert, or any other favorite soft cheese)

v your from maggie’s farm favorite chutney

v optional garnish—fresh herb leaf such as basil, oregano, rosemary, mint, or parsley

bruschetta-often bruschetta is the name used to refer to the topping upon the toasted bread slice, but bruschetta is actually the bread itself, traditionally grilled and subsequently rubbed with the cut surface of a clover of garlic.  here, we use the broiler and a touch of olive oil.  preheat oven broiler.  slice one baguette or narrow italian loaf of bread on the bias, into approximately ¾” slices.  place bread on sheet pan and broil until golden on both sides, around 2 minutes per side.  remove and rub each slice on both sides with the cut surface of a clove of garlic, halved.  brush with olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. 

upon the surface of your prepared bruschetta, spread goat cheese (or your chosen substitute), liberally.  (disclaimer:  this should not be construed as a political statement from maggie’s farm.  we can neither confirm nor deny our political philosophies, but will only say, where cheese is concerned, we’re liberal.)  top with a dollop of chutney.  if you wish a warm bite, you may pop this under the broiler for a moment, however it stands on its own as prepared.  garnish, optionally. 

gosh, we’ve only just begun!....tomorrow, chutney charms mains and sides on notes from maggie’s farm.

new! 

v cranberry pear vanilla chutney with melegueta pepper—chunky, luscious, velvety, and not-too-sweet, this condiment is perfect for dressing up meats, serving on cheese plates, and stretching sandwich spreads in flavorful style.   having glazed ham for the holidays?  imagine the day-after sandwich,--a nice thick slice with a bit of arugula,  and this chutney spread on your favorite bread (maybe from maggie’s farm deli rye?).  a little bit of heaven.

v mediterranean chutney--use it to dress up veggies or spreads simply by stirring a spoonful into your dish, or top bruschetta(fancy word for, um, toast) with it, perhaps a sprinkle of feta on top, pop it under the broiler, and BAM.....impressive appetizer in minutes.

we’ve made small batches of each so they’ve remained off the farm fare menu, and are available for a limited time, only—

4.00/half pint

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wednesday, december 15, 2010

what is chutney?

There was an Old Person of Putney,
Whose food was roast spiders and chutney,
Which he took with his tea,
     within sight of the sea,
That romantic Old Person of Putney."
Edward Lear, (1812-1888)

we were quite surprised to find a poem about chutney.  we’re giving ourselves a big pat on the back in fact, however we are concerned that the idea of roast spiders might turn you off to the charms of chutney.  we can’t speak with any authority on roast spiders, however we can say that we are truly charmed by chutney.  and we believe you will be, too, if you aren’t already.

chutney is similar in consistency to jelly, salsa, or relish and is used as a sweet and sour condiment.  chutney contains fruit and sugar, to give it it’s sweet notes, and almost all chutney contains a vinegar, and often onions and herbs, to give it it’s sour and savory notes.  the ingredients are mixed together and then simmered slowly.  chutney may have many variations of herbs and spices, including pepper,  and can range from mildly seasoned to hot and spicy. 

originating in india, chutney was imported to western europe in the 17th century.  european reproductions of chutney were often called ‘mangoed’ fruits and vegetables, as one of the most common fruits in chutneys is mango.  the word chutney derived from the east indian word chatni,  ‘to crush’.  this signifies the process by which chutney was traditionally made,  the ingredients crushed together with the use of a stone. 

like jams and jellies, chutney can be chunky or smooth.  in india, spicy chutney is usually served with curry and often with cold meats and vegetables.  sweet chutney is a pleasant addition to breads, or crackers and cheese, and can serve as a snack or small meal served as such 

some of the more popular ingredients for chutney, in addition to mangoes, are limes, apples, peaches, plums, apricots, tomatoes, lemons , eggplant, sweet peppers, and berries.  spices may include cloves, garlic, cilantro, mustard, cinnamon, ginger, cayenne pepper, chiles, tamarind, mint, and other herbs.  chutney is so diverse that it can be made with only a few, or several, of these ingredients to make a variety of flavors and styles of chutney.

chutney is usually eaten fresh in its native india, but as it has been westernized, can be found canned in most supermarkets.  in the united states and britain, offering chutney as a condiment is becoming nearly as popular as a jam, relish, or even ketchup.  chutney can be served at a formal dinner as a complement to meats, or at a casual picnic with crackers or breads.  whatever the occasion, chutney is a tasty, sweet and sour treat that is sure to please.

from maggie’s farm has two delicious chutneys to offer you this holiday season.  perfect for a hostess gift, or a last minute appetizer,  to enjoy with your own holiday meal,  or something for that one last person on your list who seems to have it all.  our mediterranean chutney  is chock full of antioxidant-rich vegetables like eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, cucumber, tomatoes, and sweet red, orange, and golden peppers.  and our just-in-time-for –the-holidays cranberry, pear, and vanilla chutney is sure to  displace the traditional canned sauce for good.  these versatile kitchen workhorses will become some of your favorite go-to tools  to transform ordinary to extraordinary.  in our next post, we will talk more about specific ways to do just that with entrees, appetizers, sandwich spreads, and more.  until then, remember that the key to stress free fabulousness in your kitchen begins with that well-stocked larder,  and chutney should definitely be a part of your culinary repertoire.

new!  cranberry pear vanilla chutney—chunky, luscious, velvety, and not-too-sweet, this condiment is perfect for dressing up meats, serving on cheese plates, and stretching sandwich spreads in flavorful style.   having glazed ham for the holidays?  imagine the day-after sandwich,--a nice thick slice with a bit of arugula,  and this chutney spread on your favorite bread (maybe from maggie’s farm deli rye?).  a little bit of heaven.

mediterranean chutney--use it to dress up veggies or spreads simply by stirring a spoonful into your dish, or top bruschetta(fancy word for, um, toast) with it, perhaps a sprinkle of feta on top, pop it under the broiler, and BAM.....impressive appetizer in minutes.

we’ve made small batches of each so they’ve remained off the farm fare menu, and are available for a limited time, only—
4.00/half pint
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tuesday, december 14, 2010

 

 

 

 

 

tamale time!

 

it’s time to think tamales here in texas, and beyond! from maggie’s farm is taking orders for this season.  we will be offering

v  pork and red chile

v  chicken and green chile

v  vegetable-with rice, black bean, spinach, and mushrooms

v  sweet tamales—pumpkin masa filled with

o   fruits and nuts (it’ll kick fruitcake to the curb this season!)

o   chocolate and raisin

12.00/dozen

 

we also offer two sauces for your tamales

v  chili sauce

v  green chile sauce

4.00/8oz carton

 

we will be making austin-area deliveries on thursday, december 16th and thursday, december 23rd.  please place your orders no later than the monday of the week in which you wish your tamales delivered

 

from NPR, December 24, 2009

 

Forget the fruitcake and nix the nog. In Texas, it wouldn't be Christmas without tamales. --Katie Hayes for NPR

While shoppers from Washington to Maine swarmed the malls the day after Thanksgiving, many Texans were lining up to order — or make — Christmas Eve tamales. The corn masa-and-meat bundles — individually wrapped in corn husks and then steamed — are part of the traditional Mexican celebration of las posadas, which commemorates Mary and Joseph's search for shelter before the birth of Jesus.

Rhett Rushing, folklorist at San Antonio's Institute of Texan Cultures, said tamales have been traditional Christmas Eve fare for centuries because they're portable, easy to store and inexpensive to make for large gatherings. 

Through the years, the preparation of the labor-intensive food became a social event, called a tamalada, as womenfolk from ranches across Mexico and what's now the American Southwest gathered to prepare the Christmas Eve feast.

"By the time the day was over and the tamales were made, the family would be caught up, the arguments resolved, differences aired," Rushing said. "It wasn't just about the masa and the meat. It was the love and the tears."

For San Antonian Gina Guereca, it's also about memories — preserving old ones and creating new ones.

"I never make tamales that I don't think of my mother. I was maybe in the fourth grade, and I can remember her in the corner of our little kitchen spreading hojas [corn husks] while my dad watched," Guereca, 43, recalled.

As a young girl, Guereca helped out with small tasks — cleaning the husks and preparing the chiles — before taking her place at the stove. Virginia De La Garza, Guereca's mother, concentrated on teaching technique, rather than a recipe.

"Anytime I asked how much, she would just say, 'un poquito,' ['a little'] or 'pruebalo hasta que sepa bueno' ['try it until you know it's right']," Guereca said, adding that her mother had no written instructions.

In the early 1990s, Guereca got her chance to be chief tamalera, or tamale maker, when she and her Marine husband, Simon, took the Texas tradition to Hawaii. At first, Guereca thought she could fall back on the experience of some older Hispanic wives at the Kaneohe Bay Marine Corps base.

But she quickly discovered that tamale-making was rapidly becoming a lost art. She was the only one of her group with any experience at all.

That Christmas, Guereca called her mom for some long-distance advice.

"I would call and ask for recipes, and she would say, 'Tu si eres mujer, mi hija,' ['You're a real woman, my daughter']," Guereca recalled. "My mom showed a lot of pride when I started making tamales."

Guereca now gathers her family and friends for an old-fashioned tamalada each year, in an effort to continue the tradition handed down by her mother.

This year, about a dozen friends and neighbors gathered at the Guereca home on the Saturday before Christmas for a daylong tamal-making party with music, food and plenty of gossip.

For Guereca, the work actually began earlier in the week when she started assembling the essential ingredients –- the corn husk wrappers and the pork, chicken, beans, chilies and spices that would be made into savory fillings.  The day before the tamalada, Guereca and neighbor Erin Clarkson cleaned the husks of fibers and dirt, put them into ice chests and covered them with water so they'd be clean and pliable. Later, Guereca seasoned the meats and pinto beans and started them cooking in Crock-Pots.

On Saturday, the Guerecas were at the molino, or mill, by 6 a.m. to buy prepared corn dough, or masa. By going to the molino — where the dried corn is ground and cooked to the right consistency, and the spices and lard are added –- they shaved hours off a process that still took more than half a day.

Marci Gonzales, whose father owns La Bandera Molino in San Antonio, said Guereca is one of an increasing number of working women who are trying to keep the art of tamal-making alive.

"Preparing the masa is the most time-consuming part," Gonzales said. Working women "want the tradition to keep going," and buying the prepared dough saves time and energy.

Back at home, the band of tamaleras formed an assembly line in the Guereca kitchen, with some of the cooks chopping — chilies, onion, garlic and meat — while another group prepared the bean, pork and chicken fillings, and others slapped the dough onto husks.

The whole time, you're not only working and making the tamales, but you're visiting with your friends and eating.

With Christmas music playing in the background, the group wasted no time catching up.

One of Simon Guereca's longtime friends had gone bald. Kids had graduated, friends had gained weight and others had gotten in shape.

Then, there was gossip. "We talked about golf, then, of course, Tiger Woods. Everyone had an opinion," Guereca said.

"A bunch of women sitting around — we're like hens," said Tammi Secrest, the Guerecas' next-door neighbor. "The whole time, you're not only working and making the tamales, but you're visiting with your friends and eating."

At the end of the assembly line, the men wrapped and labeled the different types of tamales — pork, bean, chicken — and Simon Guereca manned the bar. The jokes flowed as freely as the wine.

Later in the evening, the Dallas Cowboys kept the group entertained. By the end of the night, the group had made 60-dozen tamales. The bounty was divided, and each family took home a specially prepared Christmas Eve dinner.

It was past midnight when Guereca and her husband plopped into bed.

"It’s a lot of work, but it's fun. We talked about everything. It's kind of like being on The View, but we're not scripted," she said laughing, and then added, "I want to keep the tradition alive."

In 2008, Guereca finally put her collection of "how-to" instructions, photographs and recipes pieced from experience and books into a scrapbook that she gave to friends at the first tamalada after her mother's death.

"By enthusiastically embracing, sharing in and appreciating this centuries-old tradition that my mother taught me, you have helped me honor her memory," Guereca wrote on the scrapbooks.

Secrest, an Indiana native, said her first tamalada was a major culture shock, but she considers it an honor to be invited. "Getting a peak into what she grew up doing, her family tradition, was very special," she said.

Gabby Guereca, the Guerecas' 20-year-old daughter, said she'll carry on the tradition when she has her own family.

"It's a way I know we'll always keep in touch," she said.

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monday, december 13, 2010

 

 

“help!”  that’s how the voice message began.  my sweet friend had only a few hours until her party, the grocery store was jam packed and she hadn’t the fortitude to wrestle the crowd, and have enough cheer left for revelry.  and she was fresh out of ideas.  she did, however, have on hand a jar of from maggie’s farm cherry dessert sauce, which is quickly becoming our top seller.  tragically, i was unable to reach her prior to her party and have not heard the outcome of her dilemma. we pray she made it there fine.  it did, however, lead me to thinking others of us might find ourselves in a similar quandary over the next weeks.  so this, my sweet friend (who shall remain nameless due to privacy and litigation concerns.....) is what I would have suggested –and a few more ideas to simplify the answer to that question so often asked.............

‘what shall i bring?’

it’s times like these that try the party-goer’s soul.  we need a well stocked larder during the holidays so that in a moment’s notice, we can put together something impressive to the eye and mouth, and appropriate for the occasion.  and it would be especially nice if we could spend less than the entire day in the kitchen.  so the next time you’re at the store, pick up a few things to maximize your pantry and minimize the stressors of the season.  today, we’ll tackle a baked brie.  you’ll have picked up the brie, the cherry sauce, and the crackers well in advance (stocking that larder..good cooks!) and with little more than 15 minutes, you’ll be out the door with a bubbling dish of delicious in your hands, looking fabulous, i’m sure......

baked brie with cherry sauce

you’ll need:

a wheel of brie cheese *see note
a jar of from maggie’s farm cherry dessert sauce
some crackers

that’s all you need!  seriously,  simple and delicious in three ingredients.  and you’re a hit.  heck, even if someone else brings one, you’re still a hit!  we all love this stuff!  and that cherry dessert sauce is going to stand you head and shoulders above the pack, if i don’t say so myself. 

 preheat oven to 350°

in a lightly greased baking dish (i think a round tart-shaped, or pie pan is perfect for this), place your brie wheel in the center.  with a sharp knife, cut a circle of about 1/3rd  of the top surface through the rind, and remove.  you will just be removing the rind, and leaving the cheese (unless of course, you slip, oops!, and must then remove some of that brie from the knife with your finger, or in your mouth..such a pity.)  pour your jar of from maggie’s farm cherry dessert sauce over the top.  slip into your preheated oven and bake until the cheese ‘shell’ starts to bubble. depending upon your oven, probably won’t take more than 15 minutes or so. 

remove from oven, let cool slightly, surround with crackers, and off to your party you go.  room temperature is perfect for serving this gooey dish of  festivity.  (and if you find yourself staying home, it’s quite fine warm from the oven, too.  i know it would be impossible for me to resist!)

*note-- brie will last a very long time in your crisper.  just keep it in its original wrapping before it’s opened, or wrap it in foil afterwards.  you may also freeze brie.  softer cheeses can be frozen because of their higher moisture content.  hard cheeses will change texture.  the brie rind will disintegrate after freezing, however, therefore you may wish to bake the thawed brie en croute, or wrapped in dough (phyllo) so that it will retain its shape. 

from maggie’s farm cherry dessert sauce

5.00/half pint

 

throughout the days leading to Christmas, and beyond, we’ll talk parties, dinners, foods, and gifts, and definitely food gifts, each day, and try to help you shorten that list of holiday to do’s without breaking the bank, or losing your last thread of sanity.  tomorrow, we’ll share a few gift ideas for bosses, coworkers, the postman, host and hostesses, white elephant, gift exchanges, and those who already have it all, it would seem.  a satisfied tummy and happy tastebuds always fits the bill. 

happy holidays!
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monday,  december 6, 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

twas the night before finals

i count myself extremely blessed to be able to enjoy a new business, doing the work i love, while enthusiastically going back to school for what i like to refer to as my ‘late life second degree’.  as is so often the case, the second time around is so much more fulfilling than the first.  as a younger student, i was a single mom struggling with working, a full class load, and raising two lively daughters who needed my full attention.  now, things are different.  the goats and chickens (and dogs and cats and ducks and dust!) aren’t nearly as demanding of my time, and i happen to have a husband who makes darned sure that he does everything he can to support my efforts.    it seems love, (and finals) as the song goes,  actually is easier the second time (or maybe third, who’s counting?) around. 

what does this have to do with food, you ask?  well, we promise that later this week we’ll jump right into the thick of holiday things,  but finals week,  the second time around, is not without its familiarities and though we never let a monday pass without a post, some posts are more demanding than others.  tonight’s post, well tonight’s post is born on finals eve.  therefore, we share a poem, and following, a very quick finals week nosh that you may enjoy, whether you’re studying, or simply in the midst of the christmas rush.  it’s fast, easy, cheap, and chocolate.  what else can one ask for?

T’was the night before finals,
and all through the college,
the students were praying
for last minute knowledge.

Most were quite sleepy,
but none touched their beds,
while visions of essays
danced in their heads.

Out in the taverns,
a few were still drinking,
and hoping that liquor
would get their brains thinking.

In the SEU library,
i had been pacing,
dreading that last exam
i ‘d  be facing.

My classmate was speechless,
his nose in his books,
and my comments to him
drew unfriendly looks.

I drained all the coffee,
and brewed a new pot,
no longer caring
that my nerves were shot.

I stared at my notes,
but my thoughts were all muddy,
my eyes went a’blur,
i just couldn’t study.

“some pizza might help,”
i said with a shiver,
but each place I called
refused to deliver.

 

I’d pretty much concluded that

in science, I’m a fool

would my future depend upon

this one grade in school?

 

my head in my hands,

oh, I needed  help quick!

maybe a catnap

would do the trick?


when all of a sudden,
the  door was flung wide,
and patron saint put-it-off
ambled inside.

Her spirit was careless,
her manner was mellow,
she looked at the mess
and started to bellow:

“why should us students
make such a fuss,
about what those teachers
toss out to us?”

“on cliff notes! On crib notes!
on last year’s exams!
on wingit and slingit,
and last minute crams!”

her message delivered,
she vanished from sight,
but we heard her laughing
outside in the night.

“you’re going in with an a,
so just do your best.
happy finals to all,
and to all, a good test.”

 

Emergency chocolate dessert

will serve 6-8 for dessert, or one or two pre-final student(s) for an entrée.  (don’t judge!)

you will need:

one small box of instant chocolate pudding mix

one small carton of whipped topping

one half small bag of miniature marshmallows

one cup chopped pecans (or peanuts, or walnuts, or almonds, or no nuts, if you wish.)

one jar from maggie’s farm cherry dessert sauce

this is an emergency fix so details are scant, and rather unnecessary—just dump this stuff in a bowl, fold together, refrigerate, and revisit in an hour or so.  done! 

 

from maggie’s farm cherry dessert sauce

5.00/half pint

this, my friends, is a little bit of heaven.  a concentrated dessert sauce, a delicious dress-up over ice cream, scones, pound cake, and farmer maggie’s favorite—on a spoon.  try topping your yogurt or accompanying goat cheese. delicious.  for a lighter touch, thin with water, fruit juice, or our favorite, champagne!

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monday, november 29, 2010

what a time we had…..

did you just get the final dishes done?  admit it, it takes a long time to recover from the holiday.  we're still tired.  after the big dinner (which was sooo good this year, thank you, janet!)  there is still family and friends to entertain, football to watch,  shopping to be tackled (pun intended), and semester's end with which to contend.  like a very tall weeble, i roll around the house bumping into the things that need doing, the tree that needs decorating, the canning that needs completing, the boxes to be unloaded, the presents to be procured and posted, oh my!  there's a lot to do!  we can't just continue to moan contentedly about the fabulous dinner, can we?  we've got a season to get underway, without further ado.  

here, from maggie's farm, we can't abide waste of any kind, and in today's economy, i imagine neither can you.  it gives us great pleasure, after the biggest holiday meals, when we are able to utilize even the picked-over carcass of the bird for a warm- your-tummy-and-your-soul meal like the one we share, below.  for us, it is another of those traditions that goes without speaking, and it makes us very, very, content.  even if our team doesn't win.  (*sigh*.)  but that's another story.  (tear-stained recipe follows…….)

turkey and sausage gumbo

serves 8

what you'll need:

v leftover turkey carcass

v 1 large carrot, celery stalk, onion-halved and studded with 6 cloves, and a handful of fresh parsley

in a large dutch oven, cover all of the above with 3 quarts of water, season liberally with salt and pepper.  boil gently for about 1 ½ hours, or until remaining meat has fallen from the bone.  remove meat, reserve,  and strain remaining stock.  return to simmer.

v ¾  c bacon drippings, butter, lard, or canola oil (note: we often combine any or all.  extra virgin olive oil is not the best choice for cooking oil, here, due to the high temperature at which you will be making a roux.  and you will be making a roux!  if it's your first, fear not—it's not as tricky as you think.)

v 1 cup all purpose flour (we use unbleached, but bleached will do, if that's what you have on hand)

v 2 qts of reserved, warm turkey broth

v about 2 cups chopped turkey

v 1 lb smoked sausage, sliced

v  one jar from maggie's farm stewed okra with tomatoes (which includes all of the veggies and spices you'd usually spend an hour or so prepping—we just love easy, especially post-holiday dinner.  and this one, it's the big easy!)

v cooked rice

v garnish-chopped parsley, and/or green onions

v hot pepper sauce (tabasco, louisiana hot sauce, or crystal hot sauce are favorites) to taste (of course optional most places, but mandatory for us)

-in a heavy-bottomed pot, heat fat(s) until sizzling, then add flour.  stir.  stir.  stir.  keep stirring.  stir over medium high heat for what seems like forever, until roux has darkened to the shade of chocolate. it has to be cooked at a temperature high enough to brown the 'floury taste' from it, but if you don't attend to it, it will burn, and that will ruin your entire gumbo.  don't let it burn.  stir. stir. stir. (for more roux guidance, refer to http://http://neworleanscuisine.blogspot.com/2005/02/first-you-start-with-roux.html.  it's funny, too.)

-add warm turkey stock, salt and pepper to taste, dash (or ten) of hot pepper sauce (if using.  c'mon—use it!  put a little pep in your step!) and let simmer on medium heat for 30 minutes.

-add turkey, sausage, and from maggie's farm stewed okra with tomatoes, stir well, and allow to cook an additional 20 minutes at medium-high heat, or until sausage is heated through (it's smoked, remember, so it doesn't need a long cooking time, additionally)

-adjust seasonings and serve over cooked rice, garnishing with scallions and/or parsley, if desired. 

 

it's official.  you're a cajun cook.  at least for this one dish (i mean you've made a roux, for goodness sakes!)

               

from maggie's farm stewed okra with tomatoes

6.00/pint

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wednesday, november 24, 2010

when leftovers are king……….

funny thing about holiday dinners.  the hostess with the mostest has done loads of planning, cooking, tweaking, decorating, inviting, and making a beautiful meal that everyone will remember for years.  except for the hostess, that is.  because for every twenty-four hour period spent planning and preparing, there is not much more than a few hours of rest, and the meal that is eaten in about 20 minutes.  an exhausted hostess may not even remember sitting down to dinner.  she, or he,  may not have!  and that's when leftovers are king.  leftovers are the big chance for the hostess to enjoy his or her hard work to the utmost.  when, late in the day,  the kitchen is finally clean, the few remaining guests have fallen asleep in front of the football game,  there is a chance to steal a few quiet moments with the fruits of one's labor.  so it's important to treat yourself, well, hostesses.  as the centerpiece of your culinary pat on the back on a plate, is the turkey sandwich, and we will not disappoint with this beauty—, which we will name the 'leftover king'.

from maggie's farm leftover king

what you'll need:

v leftover turkey (or ham, or pork loin, or whatever you enjoyed at the main meal)

v cranberry sauce or relish (we'll be using from maggie's farm red chow chow, but, again, whatever you had at the main meal if you are all out of from maggie's farm red chow chow.)

v from maggie's farm sage pecan asaigo pesto

v provolone cheese (or the cheese you have on hand, or none, if you're out…the idea is to make it easy for you to nosh well)

v from maggie's farm rosemary caramelized onion focaccia, or whichever appeals to you most.

slice focaccia into wedges, then slice in half lengthwise.  brush outside with a light coating of olive oil.  spread pesto on one side (or both…yum), pile on turkey and cranberry whatever, top with cheese.  assemble.  press in a panini press for as long as it takes to see some melty cheese, or grill in a pan for same. you can put a heavy can on top of your sandwich to simulate a press, if you're so inclined.   if you have neither option, stick the sandwich, opened face, under the broiler until you see it come to life.  remove and assemble.

 

most importantly, serve this to yourself with the prettiest plate you have.  maybe with a glass of brandy.  maybe egg nog.  a cup of community® coffee,  big glass of iced tea, whatever makes you feel utterly pampered.  you reallllly deserve this moment.  enjoy.

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tuesday, november 23, 2010

relish the thought…..

i love the relish tray!  the first thanksgiving i spent away from home, as a young wife at the table of my in-laws, i should have gotten one great big, huge, obvious, hint that this was not where i would spend my golden years when, as i searched the table for the relish tray, a large jar of sweet pickles stood at a corner, an afterthough replete with a fork stuck in the middle, standing like a flagpost.  there flew an imaginary flag—you do not belong here!

 what was i thinking??  well, i was young and he was cute, and the rest is my history.  amen for history.  where were the olives?  the stuffed celery?  deviled eggs?  cranberry sauce?  and while we're at it, where the heck was the turkey?  ham? pshaw…we were a turkey family and here i had married into a ham family.  the handwriting (somewhat eligibly) was on the wall. 

did a little research on the relish tray and there are some pretty funny thoughts about the relish tray on the internet.  the censorship is ours….but not the typos and grammatical errors.  promise.

What the He(ck)  goes on a relish tray?

Have to bring a relish tray to xmas dinner is it just pickles or veggies too? did they ask me to bring this cuz I am a terrible cook? does anyone actually eat off the relish tray or does it just look good on a table? do I need a special tray?

          answers:

You should put on the trey anything that you think is appropriate and if anyone says anything about it boot them in the old wazoo

You could use any plate, platter, or tray as long as you make sure you get it back after the party

I can't believe you are old enough to swear but don't have a clue what a relish tray is. Make it up. See what happens. You seem more annoyed than anything else, why even bother going?

pickle chesese fruit

sorry, I don't know if can cook or not, but people enjoy relish trays, you can use carrots, pickles, cauliflower, radishes, peppers, olives,all kinds of good stuff. It usually served on a big round tray, you can buy them at Walmart or Target, etc

Don't forget the little serving forks for the tray....it'll show the hostess that you have a little class.

promise i didn't make any of that up.  we'd love to hear what's on your relish plate.  here, we have a lot of heirloom products we'll enjoy with our holiday dinners, as well as use to dress up the leftovers.  why don't you try a few this year, too? 

v  bread and butter pickles

oh yeah, just like grandma’s.  dress up your sandwich or burger, or indulge yourself with only a fork and the chilled jar, like we do.

v  red veggie chow chow

red cabbage gives this southern staple it’s pretty red-jeweled hue

v  sweet pepper chow chow

a festive blend including red , yellow, orange, and green bell peppers.  antioxidants!

v  orange pickle

this sweet /spicy/savory condiment is used often in indian and moroccan cuisines to complement meats and main dishes

v  apple and sweet pepper relish

a unique way to dress up your pork tenderloin like no one else’s.  toss it with cabbage and dressing for a quick cole slaw, too!

v  mediterranean chutney

 you may be familiar with chutney, which is an accompaniment used as a complement for meat, frequently, however it's uses are endless. use it too dress up veggies or spreads simply by stirring a spoonful into your dish, or top bruschetta(fancy word for, um, toast) with it, perhaps a sprinkle of feta on top, pop it under the broiler, and BAM.....impressive appetizer in minutes.

v  deli kosher dills

deliciously crisp and crunchy with a hint of onion and garlic.  you’ll be back for more—they’re addictive!

v  spicy pickled okra

with just a tinge of freshly grated horseradish, this tender-crisp pickle is great for brunch, in a bloody (or virgin) mary, that is!  a brightly-flavored eye opener

v  dill pickled turnips

another hard to find treat borrowed from middle eastern cuisine.  try with feta, olives, hummus, and tabbouleh for your own meza platter

we'd love to hear what will be on your relish trays this year.   tomorrow we'll be talking leftovers, and ways to make the very best turkey sandwich you've ever had.  happy preparations, friends.

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monday, november 22, 2010

all dressed up………

we spoke last week about dressing/stuffing, stuffing/dressing and i'm sure you've decided which one it'll be for you.  for us, here, from maggie's farm, it's dressing.  we have a yankee in the midst of us, but the yankee isn't cooking it, so we're going with dressing. no arguments.  that's it.  dressing. you know how southern women can be. 

we promised we'd get to all three types of dressings, rice (wild rice dressing with cherries and almonds), bread (sausage and kale thanksgiving dressing), and now it's time for cornbread dressing.  one of us spent quite some time in south louisiana, where cornbread dressing is very popular (and often families had two types, maybe even all three at holiday meals), so our cornbread dressing has a decidedly creole bent, but with a little, easy and quick twist to help out the harried cook.  one ingredient we use again and again.  it replaces about 8 different ingredients common in cornbread dressing, all in one fell swoop. you guessed it. pesto! 

from maggie's farm cornbread dressing

serves 8

v ½ carton from maggie's farm sage pesto (see note*)

v 1 stick butter

v ¾ cup each finely chopped onion and bell pepper

v ½ cup finely chopped celery

v ¾ lb chicken or turkey giblets, boiled gently until tender, then ground (preferably) or finely chopped

v 1 cup chicken, turkey, or vegetable stock

v 1tablespoon tabasco-type pepper sauce (we prefer louisiana, or crystal brands, here, if available)

v 5 cups finely crumbled cornbread

v 1 13oz can evaporated milk

v 3 eggs, whole, lightly beaten

preheat oven to 350°.

in a large skillet or dutch oven, melt butter, with onions, bell pepper, and celery, sautéing over medium high heat, until vegetables are wilted, about 8 minutes.  stir in giblets, stock, and pepper sauce.  cook, stirring frequently, 5 minutes.  add pesto, and toss to mix.  turn off heat.  add cornbread, milk, and eggs, stirring well.  spoon into greased 9"x13" pan.  bake for 35-40 minutes, or until browned atop.  allow to rest 5-10 minutes prior to serving..

*note: about the pesto-- ½ container at the minimum.  you can add up to the whole container and it won't harm a thing, just add more flavor (and more fat, but it's healthy fat!  extra virgin olive oil replaces the additional 2 sticks of butter the original recipes call for).  so, yes, we'll be adding the whole thing to ours.  but you decide what's best for your meal.

 

 funny how families, and the cultures to which they ascribe, are often broken down by "festivity food groups".  turkey, ham, or wild game, cornbread, rice, or bread, dressing or stuffing, mashed or boiled, whole or jellied.   we think it's the most fascinating thing about holiday dinners.  so many unique decisions made and handed down.  another thing we enjoy hearing about is the relish tray.  we call it the relish tray, but it often involves more than one dish, and there are must haves at many tables.  we'll talk about the relish tray, tomorrow.  on notes from maggie's farm.

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sunday, november 21, 2010

that's the spirit!

d

oes it seem as if we're putting the horse before the cart, here?  well, i don't know…..happen to hit the grocery store over the weekend?  if you did, you probably know it's crazy out there, and only getting crazier.  i can't imagine that thursday's pre-dinner giving-thanks prayers will include how much one appreciates the joy of fighting grocery store crowds prior to the meal.  unless of course you're the shopkeeper.  if not, this post may come in handy.

you might not be planning to serve any type of beverage other than tea or water, and that is certainly just fine.  in fact it would probably be considered poor form if you didn't offer water, and/or tea as the base of a beverage 'menu' for dinner, considering that there are so many preferences among guests.  just giving you options here.  if you are the type to enjoy a cocktail, perhaps you'll enjoy one as you prepare the dinner.  (one, I said, one.  after one, there go the rolls.  and the gravy.)  perhaps you'll enjoy one watching football after dinner.  and just maybe you'll enjoy one with a nice long, hot, soak in the tub at day's end.  of course your little treat doesn't have to have liquor in it.—we've included several festive 'mocktails', too.  finally, we've given you some ideas for wines to accompany dinner.  and we've done all of these with the help of those who know much more about these things than do we.  we're pretty darned good with iced tea, and pour a lovely glass of water…but we depend on the experts for 'most everything else. 

v two cocktails recommended by the nice lady at culturemob.com, plus several links to more—

http://culturemob.com/blog/thanksgiving-cocktails

Sparkling Pear and Cranberry Cocktail Recipe

This cocktail is made with icy Moscato d’Asti, which is sweeter than champagne but much lighter than the rich dessert wine also made from Italian moscato grapes. Just the right medium f or this fizzy drink, it adds flavor to the silky pear and tart cranberries. Serves 8

Ingredients

2 tablespoons dry cranberries
1/2 cup organic pear nectar
32 ounces Moscato d’Asti wine
8 small sprigs fresh rosemary

Directions

1. Put cranberries in a small bowl; add 2 tablespoons warm water. Soak until cool, about 15 minutes. Drain, pat dry, and refrigerate until serving.
2. Divide pear nectar evenly among eight tall champagne glasses. Add cranberries, and then gently pour the Moscato d’Asti into the glasses. Garnish each with a rosemary sprig.

Top Pumpkin Cocktail: Pumpkin Pie

This past month, Manhattan’s Haru Sushi was serving their variation of a pumpkin pie: a cool concoction that’s worth drinking in one gulp. Their Pumpkin Pie cocktail is a festive blend of wintry pear-infused vodka, fresh pumpkin puree, and Cointreau. Talk about revamping a classic.

Ingredients
1.5 oz. Pear-infused vodka (We used Absolut Pear Vodka)
1.0 oz. Pumpkin puree
0.3 oz. Cointreau
0.2 oz. Simple syrup
Splash of bitters
Nutmeg
Cinnamon

Preparation
Pour all contents in a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake thoroughly. Pour drink in a Cosmo glass straight up. Garnish with nutmeg and cinnamon.

v from the folks at ehow, tips for making mocktails, including a luscious recipe for a mock white russian:

 http://www.ehow.co.uk/how_2125132_make-mocktails.html

White Russian Mocktail

Things You'll Need:

  • Shot glass
  • Glass
  • Ice chunks
  • 1 shot non-alcoholic, non-sweetened coffee flavored syrup
  • 2 shots half and half or cream
  • Chocolate syrup
  • 2 shots half and half or cream
  • Glass
  • 1 shot non-alcoholic, non-sweetened coffee flavored syrup
  • Shot glass
  • Ice chunks
  • Chocolate syrup

    1.    Fill the medium-sized glass with chunks of ice.

    2.    Pour a shot of the non-alcoholic, non-sweetened coffee flavored syrup into the glass. Most of these syrups are colorless, so you may need to add a little chocolate syrup to the mixture in order to get the characteristic shade of a White Russian.

    3.    Throw two shots of half and half or cream into the glass. Stir with a swizzle stick.

    4.    Serve and drink immediately. This recipe makes a single, non-alcoholic White Russian

v thatsthespirit.com

http://www.thatsthespirit.com/en/wine/articles/turkey.asp

and, finally, tips on wine for dinner from the experts at thatsthespirit.com:

Red wine

Red wine typically stands up better to dark, meat-based gravies, usually served at the holidays, and alternative fare such as duck and game. The protein in the meat softens the tannins, creating a more balanced flavor.

Light fruity reds seem particularly attuned to turkey. Young reds of all types tend to have a layer of berry flavors, which offsets the heavier elements of a turkey dinner. Stay away from big Cabernet Sauvignons, and stick with lighter reds, like Pinot Noirs, fruitier Merlots and Shiraz.

Every year in November, Beaujolais Nouveau ("new Beaujolais") is the first wine to be harvested in the Beaujolais region of France. Made from the Gamay grape, this wine is fresh, fruity, light-bodied and has hints of cherry and plums with peppery finish. It complements holiday fare well, and as it can be enjoyed slightly chilled, it can be enjoyed by those who favor a white wine.

For those who like their red wines hearty and full of flavor, a Syrah/Shiraz can balance even the most flavorful and spicy holiday fare. The Syrah grape, originally from the Middle East, produces an aromatic wine tasting of blackberries and has decidedly peppery notes that many find delicious.

White wine

Almost any good white can be served with turkey, except of course, sweet dessert wine. Dry European whites have a clean palate and cleansing quality about them. Riesling, White Burgundy and most of the modern Italian whites would shine alongside a traditional holiday turkey dinner. If you're feeling experimental, go ahead and give some domestic white wines a try here as well. Light and crisp Chardonnays, along with most Sauvignon Blancs, will also work.

Sparkling wine

Yes, sparkling wine is great with food. The acidity and bubbles cut through the richness of most have sufficient weight and structure to stand up to a rich meal.

Pour this wine throughout the meal or finish with it as a delicious aperitif. Too many people leave this bubbly wine to New Year's Eve, where the flavors are lost to numb taste buds during a night of partying. Instead, pour a glass for your family and friends as a fitting end to a most delicious meal.

Dessert wine

Then there's dessert. With dessert favorites like pumpkin and apple pies, eating them with wine is easier than it might seem. Well-chilled late harvest Rieslings, Gewuürztraminer and Semillons, as well as Ice Wines, are great accompaniments to typical sweet, baked indulgences.

So basically we've written an excuse to break open a few different bottles of wine and place them on the table – adding to the pleasure of an already good day. So, why not make it even better?

Whatever wine you decide on, don't worry about the choice. As long as you are in the company of friends and family, with some good food and some great wine, people will enjoy themselves.

 

there you have it.  oh, yeah.  the recipe for iced tea is on the back of the box,  water is self-explanatory.

bottoms up!

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saturday, november 20, 2010

eat your greens, and your oranges

w

hen i was a little girl, my grandmother admonished my brother and i to always eat our carrots, and if we would do so, we would be able to see to her house.  i never missed the opportunity to eat boatloads of them.  and of course i tried my best to eat more than my brother at every opportunity lest he be the first to see to my grandmother's house.  he got glasses as a young boy, and i was sure he was faking his  vision issues to get ahead of me in the "seeing to granny's house contest".  he didn't know about the contest, but it was as real a contest as the one we had about who could get down to courtney c.'s house and back, on our bicycles, the fastest.  i had lost that one when i wiped out in her driveway.   busted my chin and had to go to the hospital.  stitches.  and i lost.  i couldn't stand it.  more carrots…i needed more carrots.  i tried to cheat on eye tests so i could get glasses, too, but alas, and so unfairly, found that i could not even cheat well.  i couldn't see to my grandmother's house, i couldn't beat my brother at the courtney c. bicycle race, i had a nasty, itchy scar, and i couldn't cheat well.  it was a real blow.  life was so cruel. 

come to find out, eating loads of carrots will not give you superhuman sight capabilities.  in fact if you eat too many, you may turn a lovely shade of orange, much like the unique color to which so many starlets, and some politicians, aspire these days. 

carrots do have a great, long list of virtues, however.  among their many virtues, they are loaded with beta carotene, high in fiber, help lower blood cholesterol, and are purported to reduce your risk of cancer.  there is nothing wrong with eating a reasonable amount of carrots, indeed there are many things right with them.  they help heal scars, too.

honey mustard glazed carrots

serves 8-10

v 24 carrots (like gold!), peeled

v 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

v kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

v 1 jar from maggie's farm farmhouse mustard

v 1tablespoon honey (make it local, for added benefit)

preheat oven to 400ºf

trim carrots, slicing thicker tops in half lengthwise,  and leaving lower halves whole.  slice diagonally into ½"thick slices.  toss them in a bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper.  transfer to a sheet pan (prepared with silicone cooking spray or a light brushing of olive oil) in one layer and roast in the oven for 15 minutes.  remove, toss in bowl with mustard and honey, transfer, again, to baking sheet, and roast an additional 5 minutes, until browned and tender.

season to taste and serve.

and guess what? life isn't so cruel, afterall. i wear glasses now!  big glasses with bifocals!  yay, me!  i still have that scar on my chin, but i love my brother.  

even though he cheats.

 

from maggie's farm

farmhouse mustard

400/half pint

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friday, november 19, 2010

dressing? stuffing? stuffing? dressing?

what’s the big difference?

w

ell, not much.  basically, stuffing is that dish that is ‘stuffed’ inside the bird and dressing is the same dish served alongside the main dish, however today it’s a matter of usage, and region, primarily.  northern cooks generally use the term stuffing, and southern cooks, dressing, whether inside or outside of the bird.  and then there is bread-based, rice-based, and cornbread-based dressings (yep, maggie is a southern cook) and most frequently, different regions have their favorites.  since they all involve carbohydrates, from maggie’s farm has no preference and loves 'em all. in fact, in our daily thanksgiving posts, we will visit all three.  (remember the wild rice dressing with cherries and almonds earlier in the week?)

today’s recipe is adapted from food network magazine

sausage and kale thanksgiving dressing

serves 8

v 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus additional for buttering the dish

v 1 pound sweet italian sausage, casings removed, crumbled

v 6 shallots, thinly sliced and separated

v ½ medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, diced

v kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

v 1 bunch kale, leaves trimmed from spines, chopped

v 1 loaf day old from maggie's farm rosemary caramelized onion focaccia, cubed (alternatively, you can keep out overnight to dry)

v 1 large egg

v 2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock

v 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese, plus additional ¼ c to top

preheat oven to 350°, butter 3 quart casserole dish

heat 1 tablespoon butter in large dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat.  add sausage and brown, about 6 minutes.  add shallots and butternut squash, season with 1 tsp each salt and pepper.  continue cooking until shallots soften, about 3 minutes.  add kale and toss to mix.  cover and cook until kale wilts, about 4 minutes.  add focaccia cubes and the remaining 3 tablespoons butter, toss ingredients together in pan and allow butter to melt.

whisk egg and broth in a bowl until smooth; stir in parmesan.  pour over bread mixture and cook until liquid is absorbed, approximately 1-2 minutes.  transfer to prepared casserole dish.  top casserole with additional parmesan cheese.  cook until golden and cooked through, approximately 40 minutes.  let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

vegan substitutions:   

v coconut oil for butter

v http://www.fieldroast.com/products.htm  or your choice of substitutes (i like smart brand but it has egg, so only suitable for ovo vegetarians)  for italian sausage

v two teaspoons of baking powder and a half cup of soy yogurt, OR two ounces of ener-g egg substitute, OR one teaspoon of yeast in a quarter cup of hot water for egg (1)

v brewer's yeast or parmesan cheese substitute for parmesan cheese

what makes this stuffing/dressing attractive is the inclusion of such nutrient dense vegetables, kale and butternut squash.  both loaded with beta carotene, kale is also high in fiber, lowers cholesterol and boasts over 1000% rda for vitamin k (yep, you read that right) and over 100% rda for vitamin c,  butternut squash is one of the few vegetables that are good sources of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.  so today….

eat your greens and your oranges!

tomorrow, even more orange with honey mustard glazed carrots

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thursday, november 18, 2010

brussels sprouts? delicious? really?

i

t wasn’t that long ago that i wouldn’t be caught dead eating brussels sprouts.  i found them bitter, and so, well, green. my precious mother was in the habit of cooking vegetables, canned usually,  frozen occasionally, and fresh, rarely,  until they were devoid of color and flavor, which she said was the midwestern way. until the age of 21, i thought broccoli was a yellow vegetable.  don’t get me wrong.  my mother is a talented, creative, woman who is known for sewing beautifully and having a home so clean you could eat off the floors, a skill that i did not inherit. her pot roast dinners make me swoon, and if i find myself needing a big dose of comfort food, nothing else does the trick as well. but my cooking prowess came from my father’s side, and was enhanced by the desire to eat healthy, fresh, foods that have retained their full flavor and nutrient value.  hence my attempt to find the good in all things, green.  introduce ina garten, aka the barefoot contessa, and the roasted veggie.  she introduced me to the alchemy of roasted vegetables and as you often do when you learn a new, delicious skill, i roasted everything in sight.  one day, on a lark, i tried roasting those little teeny baby cabbages, and a love affair was born.  i loved them simply, with lemon zest and sea salt and a sprinkling of olive oil.  ate so much of it i eventually became a bit bored, and needed a spark for my new love,  brussels sprouts.  so i went in search, and found plenty of unique recipes.  this one is one of my favorites.  i hope you like it, too.

roasted brussels sprouts with sun-dried tomato pesto

(adapted from eating well magazine)

6 servings, ¾ cup each

v 1 ½ lbs brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved

v 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

v ¼ teaspoon  kosher salt

v ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

v ¼ c from maggie’s farm sun-dried tomato pesto

v optional: 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts, crumbled goat cheese

preheat oven to 400?

lightly grease baking pan by brushing with a light coating of extra virgin olive oil.  toss brussels sprouts with remaining olive oil, salt, and pepper. roast for 10 minutes, stir to redistribute oil, and continue roasting until tender, about 10 minutes longer.  remove from oven and toss with pesto. cover to keep warm until serving.  optionally, top with toasted pine nuts and/or crumbled goat cheese.

v  to toast pine nuts, place in a small dry skillet and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes.  do not leave unattended—they are high in natural oils and can burn in a snap.

 from maggie's farm
 sun-dried tomato pesto                4.00/8oz container

eat your greens!

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wednesday,  november 17, 2010

little bites to fend off the hordes

not sure why, but it seems as though no matter the time of day, our guests are ravenous in the half hour or so before dinner is served.  the more ravenous, the more likely visits to the kitchen become, at five minute intervals, to inquire ‘when’s dinner?’.  the more frequent the visit, then, the more likelihood of small catastrophes,  like rolls burned, forgotten gravy, spilt milk, cross words, etc….what to do?  how to keep them out of the kitchen, without spoiling their appetites?

we love appetizers!  just a few bites proffered to keep the wolves at bay, long enough to tend to the final details.  we could make a meal of them any other time, in fact.  given the choice, we’d take a variety of small delicious bites at each meal.  the secret here is to keep it simple, neither stuffing the diner with heavy food, nor causing an extra day in the kitchen for yourself.  we have one word:  pesto!  today’s three small bites all involve pesto—it’s easy, it’s light, it’s flavors’ brighten the palate.  it’s a great thing.  we’ll pull together

v pesto stuffed mushroom caps

v game day pesto topped oysters

v parmesan pesto bread sticks

pesto stuffed mushroom caps

preheat oven to 350°

figuring four medium stuffed caps per guest (when serving the two other amuse-bouche listed), prepare mushrooms by removing stems, and wiping caps with a damp towel.  mushrooms do retain moisture, so you won’t want to soak them, but a quick dip and wipe down will clean them.  lightly spray cookie sheet with nonstick spray, or line with parchment paper.  line caps up, inverted, touching sides.  fill with from maggie’s farm pesto, being careful to stay within the cap, do not overfill. *see hint below.  sprinkle with fresh grated parmesan, and if you’re ambitious, a touch of lemon zest.  pop them in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until you see mushrooms are releasing some moisture.  remove tray, switch oven controls to broiler setting, allow to heat for 5 minutes, pop under broiler until cheese begins to brown.  remove.  plate and serve.  

v note on filling mushrooms—for a neat and ‘dripless’  presentation, try filling a small sandwich bag with pesto, squeezing down into one corner of the bag, snipping off a small corner, and using pastry bag-style to squeeze pesto directly into the middle of your mushroom cap.  as you are dispensing, dip the corner up and down (just like dairy queen ) for a flourish and a tiny peaked cap.  you can certainly use your pastry bag, but pesto is a strong flavor  that may linger and i prefer to save my pastry bag for, say….pastry.

 

game day pesto topped oysters

preheat broiler

 

this is a beautifully simple, but simply impressive mouthful.  figuring 3 to 4 oysters per diner (when serving with the two additional amuse-bouche listed),  prepare oysters as noted below (for shucking whole, fresh oysters).  alternatively,  have your fish monger prepare them for you.  using a pan with a lip of ½ to 1 inch,  fill with rock salt, and nestle oyster halves into the salt.  this will hold them firm and keep their juices from spilling.  top each oyster with a spoonful of from maggie’s farm pesto, either traditional, or asiago sage,  and slip under the broiler.  stay close!  when they smell delicious, remove.  your aim is to soften and slightly brown the pesto, leaving the blanketed oyster plump. 

v shucking oysters

place oysters in large tub or barrel with water and large chunks of ice until ready to serve (oysters will spoil quickly if not kept very cold).  to shuck, hold oyster knife in writing hand; hold oyster tightly in opposite hand with rounded side up and hinged part of shell in palm. (line your palm with a folded towel—this isn’t the most delicate operation)  insert end of knife between shells near hinge and twist to pry shells open partially. work knife blade around shells to sever hinge.  pry top shell off with hands and discard. work knife around oyster to release from shell. reserve as much oyster liquor as possible.  continue preparation, above.

 

pesto parmesan breadsticks

preheat oven to 400°f

ingredients:

v  1 (17.3-ounce) package frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed

v  ½  of 8 oz carton from maggie’s farm pesto, traditional or asiago cheese

v  1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

lightly grease a baking sheet.  on a lightly floured surface, unfold pastry sheets.  cut each sheet into 13 strips, about 3/4 by 10-inches apiece.  brush pastry sticks with melted butter, then spread pesto lightly atop.  gently twist pastry sticks, and place on a prepared baking sheet. bake for 12 minutes. remove to wire racks to cool. sprinkle warm sticks with sea salt (not much!  pesto is moderately salty from the parmesan, already) and freshly-ground black pepper, if desired.

and there you have it….keep your guests from nipping at your heels and you can take care of the final details—like a green vegetable to die for?  tomorrow’s post—roasted brussels sprouts with sundried tomato pesto.  my stomach’s growling again.   i need a breadstick.

from maggie's farm
pesto                4.00/8oz container
traditional walnut basil and asiago sage

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                         tuesday, november 16, 2010

~be my sweet potato, be my honey pie….

love me some sweet potatoes!  and they’re good for you!  sweet potatoes have scads of vitamin a, almost twice the recommended daily allowance, 42% of the daily recommendation for vitamin c, four times the rda for beta carotene, and when eaten with skin, more fiber than oatmeal.  all these benefits and only 130 calories for a medium potato.  today’s recipe for orange baked sweet potatoes is sweet and simple, too.  have I sold you?  ok. then let’s get crackin’:

orange baked sweet potatoes

serves 8-10

4-5 medium sweet potatoes

2 jars from maggie’s farm orange pickle (*you’re wondering what the heck orange pickle is, right? see note below) 

2 whole eggs

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

½ c pecan pieces

3 tablespoons brown sugar

optional: ½ cup amaretto(add one additional whole egg), and marshmallows, to cover, if you crave!

for our vegan friends, substitute coconut oil for butter, and one of the following ‘fixes’ for each egg:  two teaspoons of baking powder and a half cup of soy yogurt, OR two ounces of ener-g egg substitute, OR one teaspoon of yeast in a quarter cup hot water.

preheat oven to 350 °f

v scrub whole potatoes and roast with skins on approximately 30 minutes, or until soft

v while potatoes are roasting, prepare pecan topping.  combine butter, pecan pieces, and brown sugar with a fork, pressing ingredients into each other to create a streusel type mixture

v remove potatoes from oven when soft, and allow to cool until finger-touch ready, then pluck off the skins.  (i’m always looking for ways to get fiber in the diet so i often leave them on)

v mash potatoes in a bowl with orange pickle, whole eggs, and amaretto, if using. (remember that extra egg, too, you lush)

v transfer to a buttered casserole dish, top with pecan streusel topping

v cover with foil, and bake for 30 minutes, or until beautifully bubbly.

v if you are adding marshmallows, remove casserole when it has begun to bubble and uncover.  turn your oven to the broiler setting. top potatoes with marshmallows, pop under broiler, and watch closely as they brown to perfection. 

enjoy!

 

from maggie’s farm

orange pickle

4 dollars/half pint

* think spiced tea in chunky form—it’s a sweet orange/ meyer lemon chutney, in indian cuisine often referred to as ‘pickle’,  spiced with cinnamon, ginger, star anise, and a pinch of clove.  all those sweet potato spices thrown in for you.  it’s going to make you a sweet potato-making speed demon! 


tomorrow's post:  an appetizer or two..or three...........
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                                monday, november 15, 2010
                                        also starring.........

we love movies.  and in developing recipes for our own culinary productions, we've cast our main character, and now we're holding auditions for the supporting cast.  like all great movies,  no great production is carried by one star;  it's often a stellar cast of supporting actors that turns a good movie into an award winner.  this week, notes from maggie's farm is devoted to the supporting cast.  each day we'll feature one delicious side dish that will complement the amazing pesto roasted turkey we shared from last week's post, or perhaps your unique 'main star' be it ham, tenderloin, field roast, prime rib, duck, duck, goose, or even a vegetarian feast (we've got a few vegan/vegetarian tweaks up our sleeves).  today, let's tackle a creative, delicious take on rice dressing......

 wild rice dressing with cherries and almonds
 serves 10

  • 2 jars from maggie's farm spiced cherry concentrated dessert sauce
  • 5 cups prepared wild rice, cooked in chicken stock, drained, and rinsed in cool water
  • 1 tablespoons butter 
  • 1 large rib of celery, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots
  • 1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage or 1 teaspoons dried
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly milled black pepper
  • 1/4 cup stock, for optional reheating (see below)

Note: Vegan modifications include substituting vegetable stock for chicken stock, and coconut oil for butter.

Directions

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the chopped celery and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add the shallots and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the cherry sauce and simmer, stirring often, until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir the mixture into the wild rice, along with the almonds, sage, salt and pepper. (The dressing can be prepared up to 1 day ahead, and refrigerated. To reheat the dressing, melt 1 and 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter over medium heat in a large skillet or Dutch oven. Add the stuffing and cook, stirring often, until warmed.

You may use your dressing to stuff the turkey. Place any remaining dressing in a buttered baking dish, cool, cover, and refrigerate. To reheat, drizzle with about 1/4 cup broth and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes. If using as a side dish, alone, drizzle with 1/2 to 1 cup of stock before baking, as above.

from maggie's farm
spiced cherry concentrated dessert sauce
5.00/half pint

                            tomorrow, we'll tackle sweet potatoes.  yum!

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                                            monday, november 8, 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                             from maggie’s farm has a little magic for you………

so, we’ve got the turkey brined.  what?  you don’t have the turkey brined?  well let’s get you caught up.  read over last week’s post, below,  and you’ll be brought up to speed in no time.

now it's the big day, and we’ve procured, thawed, brined, and are ready to rumble.  begin by preheating your oven—325o , and draw your turkey from the brine, rinse well and pat dry.  no kidding.  really dry it.  dry that turkey off like it’s a small child, after bath.  you want the moisture in the turkey, not on the turkey.  ideally, you’ll place this bird on a roasting rack in a pan.  if you don’t have a rack, never fear, we’ll do what we do up here on maggie’s farm, all the time.  we’ll make due.  scrub, and peel if you wish, a bunch of carrots, a few stalks of celery (careful, here...these can overwhelm) and slice an onion (or 10, if you’re farmer maggie), strew them on the bottom of your pan and place your turkey atop.  voila.  roasting rack.  let your turkey rest, loosely covered, for thirty minutes to shake off the last bit of chill from the brine.

now remember you’ve brined your bird in a salt mixture, so no need to resalt.  repeat.  do not salt.  no salt.  salting unnecessary.  hide the salt shaker.  but, don’t hide the peppermill.  pepper your bird inside and out, and for the first little bit of magic, treat your bird, thusly:

working from the neck end, slide fingers under skin until you reach the end of the breast, being careful not to tear the skin; rub from maggie’s farm pesto under the skin.  fill the cavity with remaining pesto, rubbed into the cavity, an onion or two, quartered, a lemon quartered, and a small handful of parsley.  these things inside the bird, well, they aren’t part of the magic formula.  you can put anything you have on hand in here.  i mean within reason.  i don’t recommend, say, pork n beans, but you fabulous foodies, you get the idea.

now place your turkey, breast side up upon it’s rack, tucking the wing tips under the bird, crossing the legs at the ankles (like you learned in cotillion, perhaps) and tying them snugly with cooking twine, in order to keep your turkey moist, your aromatics from spilling from the cavity, and helping it retain its precious plump turkey shape.  proceed to magic step number 2:

using your squeaky clean fingers, swipe about a third of a jar of from maggie’s farm herbed butter that has been brought to room temperature, and massage your bird. slather the entire top of the bird because this is going to make your turkey golden, crisp, and beautiful!  reserve the remaining two thirds for basting.  tent turkey loosely with foil.  roast around an hour undisturbed, then baste every 30 minutes with herbed butter until your thermometer reads 125 degrees, which should be close to 3 hours, for a 12 pound turkey.  remove the foil; raise oven heat to 400 degrees.  continue roasting, uncovered, basting every 15-20 minutes with any remaining butter and pan juices, until thermometer placed in thigh registers 180 degrees, which should take an additional 45 minutes to an hour.  we like using the thermometer, in fact we couldn’t live without it,  because there are so many variables with unique ovens, birds, cooking methods, preparations and pans, that temperature is the most reliable method of determining doneness.  should the turkey skin begin to brown further than you like during these last minutes, tent with foil, and if pan should become dry, add liquid such as water, broth, or wine.  when your turkey has reached the proper temperature, remove from the oven, tent with foil, and let rest at least 30 minutes, no less, before even thinking of testing, moving, slicing, arranging, anything.  you’re going to be soooo tempted, but trust me, i’ve brought you this far and i’m not just torturing you—there is a method to this madness.  let that roasted bird rest.  it’s at work as it cools, redistributing its juices back into its muscle and tissue to be retained.  that bird that’s been carved straight from the oven? it will be sitting in a puddle of its own juice.  and that puddle is not where you want its juice to reside.

in the meantime, we’ll be finalizing the sides.  oh no!  we forgot the sides!  ok, no, we really didn’t forget the sides.  we’ll get to those details in the next posts, notes from maggie’s farm.

from maggie's farm pesto--traditional and sage pecan
4.00
from maggie's farm herbed butter--oregano garlic and fennel blackberry
2.50
 

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monday, november 1, 2010
let's talk turkey!

it's certainly time.  in fact, according to the store displays, we should have had this conversation say, in june.  and since then, we've gotten through fourth of july holiday soiree's, the beginning of school replete with back to school wardrobes, supply lists, bus or car, and school lunch logistics.  we've sat through countless election season ad's, and managed to design a costume for ourselves, or another, that is unique, clever, funny, ironic, not-too-scary, scary enough, makes a statement, makes no statement, takes no sewing, or is do it yourself, and won't break the bank to celebrate halloween.  or not.  perhaps you"ve enjoyed a harvest celebration instead.  whatever our schedules have included, we've had our first cool snap, and our favorite dish to usher in more temperate weather, and now....now......we've got even bigger planning to do!
it's thanksgiving season!

and without further ado, let's talk turkey.
it's the one dish that keeps cooks in a frenzy.  we do it so little, seems each season we learn anew.  for the past few seasons, we've turned to an ancient method of preparing turkey; brining. 

brining makes the turkey moist. why are brined turkeys so juicy? salt causes the meat tissues to absorb water and flavorings. it also breaks down the proteins, resulting in a more tender turkey. this means that--despite the moisture loss during roasting and the long cooking time--you end up with a juicy bird.  a
lso brining provides a "cushion" for the breast because the thigh needs to cook to 170 degrees to be done and the breast only 160 degrees.. so usually by the time the thigh reaches 170 then the breast is 180 and has the texture of sawdust. because of the extra moisture in the brined bird, it is still moist though at a higher temperature.  you've probably heard about brining if you're the 'cooking kind' , but if you haven't tried it, or thought it too complicated, rest assured that it's really quite simple and the results?  spectacular.   here's how it's done: 

how to brine a turkey

 

the real trick with brining is finding a container that's large enough to submerge the turkey, yet small enough to fit in your refrigerator. try a stock pot, a bucket, or a roasting pan; if you use a shallow roasting pan, you will need to turn the bird periodically so that each side rests in the brine. place the container on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator (so spills won't reach foods below).  if you really can't fit this into your refrigerator, and heaven knows around this time you'll be stocked full, you'll need to keep the brine at around 40 degrees.  you can accomplish this by placing your turkey in a trash bag, inside a clean cooler.  fill freezer ziploc-type bags with ice and/or gel packs (you don't want to put them directly into the brine as it will dilute the brine as it melts), monitoring your temperature and adding new ice, if necessary, to maintain the temperature. 

the basic ratio for turkey brine is two cups of kosher salt to two gallons of water. this should suffice for a bird of a weight around 12 pounds.  you can increase the amount of brine, keeping the same ratio.  some recipes include sweeteners or acidic ingredients to balance the saltiness. 

  • dissolve salt (and sugar, if using) in two cups of hot water. stir in remaining gallon plus 3 ½ quarts of cold water.
  • remove giblets and neck from turkey.
  • immerse turkey in brine and refrigerate for at least eight hours but no longer than 24 hours.

when you're ready to roast, pour off the brine. rinse the turkey well with cool tap water, and pat dry with paper towels.

tuck the wing tips behind the back and place the bird, breast-side up, on a roasting rack.

proceed with your preferred recipe, but remember that the turkey has already absorbed a significant amount of salt--any drippings that you use for gravy will already be salty, and no salt should be added to compound butters or spice rubs.

does it make the meat salty?
some salt is absorbed, but by following the guidelines the meat never tastes salty, just wonderfully well seasoned. you don't taste salt nor do you feel the need to salt the meat afterwards.

 

this is the basic brining recipe.  you can adjust it to suit your taste, adding herbs, aromatics, honey or maple syrup, brown or white sugar, or acidics.  i slice several lemons and add to the brine. 
now you'll go on to either seasoning your bird your tried and true way, or perhaps adopting a new method.  we'll talk about some of the newest techniques for roasting (or smoking, or frying) your bird on our next post.  meanwhile, go forth and 
conquer that bird! 
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monday, october 25, 2010
it rained on our parade, and  we’re still marching on!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   what a great time we had at the elgin hogeye festival this weekend!  we met the nicest new customers, worked with the best people, and learned valuable lessons on our first festival experience.
we want to thank all of the people who supported us.  big thanks to: 
 

  • kate, with katie jo’s boutique.  she encouraged our participation and was most helpful as we struggled through several obstacles (um, busted water main, electrical outage,   sleep deprivation, and more).  she is a delight to work with and from maggie’s farm is indebted to her for all of her help.  we were proud to be working hand in hand with the producer of austin’s award-winning cupcakes, among the  myriad of ways kate displays her unlimited talents.  she can do anything and everything!  and thanks to kate’s mom, too,  for her support on festival day.  that’s a hardworking clan!
  • the city of elgin, and the promoters of the hogeye festival were a joy to work with from beginning to end.  they were always generous with smiles, help, support, and free lunch!  the festivalgoers  were a great crowd;  elgin has so much of which to be proud.
  • thank you to my sister and brother in law, wende and greg, for braving the elements and coming to support your family farmers.  put a real pep in our step to see your smiling faces.
  • and to those of you who tried, but were rained out, thank you!  there will be many ‘next times’ and knowing we have your support is sure to keep us going.
  • and after we were rained out, thank you to jerre, my ‘special mom’, for buying up the bread left over to donate to her school’s food drive.
  •  farmer maggie has to give a really special ‘shout out’ to farmer tom, without whom she could not have done any of this, and, incidentally, displayed amazing sales skills.  farmer maggie thinks she’ll do the cooking and leave the charm to farmer tom.
  • and lastly, but not at all least, you!, our friends, family, customers, supporters, and ‘fans’ for encouraging us each step along the way. 

 

    post- festival, we were reminded of the sally field acceptance speech at the oscar’s for norma rae, (if you, 1)are old enough to remember, or even know what I’m referring to, and/or 2) can remember that long ago) ‘".you like me, you really like me!"  although our day was cut in half by the rain, we were received warmly and were successful in selling most of what we brought in that short time.  we are so encouraged!  we are grateful!  we are blessed!  and we are cooking and planning, planning and cooking, and coming to a neighborhood near you, soon!   

of course in the meantime......we deliver!