How to start planning for your garden.

Tomatoes did really well last year

Gardening is in my blood, well at least I like to think so, it took me a long time to get my green thumb, but I would always see my mom tending her garden and I always thought it be cool to have my own one day. Contrary to popular belief you can learn how to garden, you don’t have to be born with this mystical power to keep plants alive. I hate to admit this but I have killed many a plant, but I learned that it’s all trial and error. Eventually you’ll find your groove and discover that your green thumb has been there all along.

Now with that being said, it’s probably best that you do your research before planting your garden. First you have to figure out which zone you’re in, then you have to decide what you want to grow. Our first real year of having a garden we grew what we bought from the store, lots of tomatoes, basil, carrots, and thyme. Over the years we have expanded to more plants than that. This year I want to branch out and try to grow some more heirloom varieties, so I did some research and found two new seed companies that had some interesting variety of seeds. I really want to make sure that I have a high germination rate this year and decided to spend a little more money on seeds this year and not just rely on what’s available at the grocery store.

I chose these companies because other people I follow have used them and have had great success. One seed company that I’m using is Seeds Now and they have really great information and tools to help you have a really successful grow. The other site I decided to order from was Baker Creek Seeds. With me taking my photography more seriously, this year I wanted to grow funky produce that would be visually interesting. Their site has so many cool varieties of vegetables that it was hard not to want to buy them all. My wishlist on this site is definitely a mile long. Expect to see a lot of still life pictures of funky vegetables this year.

Things to consider…

  • Decide where to put your garden. Whether you’re planning to have a small herb garden, or a large crop you have to figure out where you’re going to put it. You have to take in to consideration how much sun does this spot receive, and how you’re going to water your plants.
  • Choose what to grow and order your seeds. This is where you want to refer to a grow zone chart and make sure that what you want to grow, will actually grow. You don’t want to grow a tropical plant when where you live has really harsh winters. Once you get your seeds check to see which ones you can start indoors, it’s often best to start your plants indoors when possible, this will insure that your plants will thrive during the growing season. Your plants will need to be harden off before you place them in their permanent home outdoors.
  • Decide where to put your plants. You want to make sure that you plant all your full sun plants in spots that receive 6 or more hours of sunlight. Also you want to make sure you’re not blocking any other plants from getting sun, for example don’t plant a bean pole in front of your tomatoes that need full sun. It’s also good for your plants to have company, this is called companion planting. When you pair up certain types of plants they help to keep away pest and encourage growth, plus it helps your garden look pretty. I like to use the growing guides here to figure out where I’m going to place my plants. The Old Farmers Almanac also has a plant growing guide that you could use as well, but it’s a 7 day trial. It looked really convenient for figuring out where to plant, but I like fussing over my hand drawn diagrams.
  • Prepare your soil.   You will need to amend your soil. I like to add compost to my raised garden beds to help add nutrients back in to the soil. Your soil should smell earthy and should be a rich dark brown color.
  • Waiting to plant at the right time. I know that whenever I get my seeds, I get really anxious and want to start planting them right away, but over the years I’ve learned that it’s best to wait until the appropriate time. Sometimes I will label the seed packets in bold to remind myself when to start them.
  • Plant the seeds according to their directions. Almost all seed companies will give you instructions on how to germinate their seeds and what conditions are best for each plant. It’s important to follow these instructions correctly, this will be a determining factor in making sure that your seeds pop.
  • Weed regularly. This is the part that I hate the most and I’m often guilty of not doing. You don’t want to let this chore go for too long, that’s why it’s best to do it everyday. Mulching and adding a layer of compost on top help to suppress weeds as well.
Watermelon blossom

A couple more pieces of advice…

  • Start small and don’t be to over ambitious. This is something that I’m definitely guilty of (especially this year with my she shed) I bite off more than I can chew and end up with really poor crops.
  • Grow tomatoes or basil if this is your first time growing anything from seed. I’ve always had luck with these plants, they’re very easy to grow especially for beginners. Another good plant to start with are beets, they have a short grow period and are ready to harvest within 45 days, this is nice if you’re an impatient person.
  • Don’t let not having a backyard stop you from having a garden. If you can’t have a backyard garden, you should have at least a container garden, either on your balcony or near a south facing window. There are so many thing you can grow in containers from vegetables to herbs and the best part you don’t have to deal with weeding!
  • Gardening is about patience. It’s easy for an antsy person either to get bored or forget about plants, so make sure you set reminders on your phone to water/feed your plants when you have to.

Really just try to have fun and most of all just enjoy the process. I promise you it’s not that hard. Happy planting!

String Beans topped with Chorizo

String beans have to be my favorite vegetable. It was the one vegetable growing up that I didn’t have to be forced to eat. Although my dad never forced me to eat anything, which in a round about way made more of an adventurous eater, go figure.

I made this side dish for Christmas and it was fantastic. But I have to admit that it did not come out of thin air. The recipe fairies did not bless me with this recipe, this dish came out of necessity. I have this nasty habit of not putting all the ingredients on the grocery list and often I have to think of something on the fly. The original recipe called for bacon, but I forgot it (seriously who forgets about bacon? only me!), however we had some leftover chorizo and I thought that would be a great substitute. The smokey notes from the chorizo compliments the string beans well. Plus if you’re someone who need an incentive to eat your veggies, this dish is perfect. It’s nice getting those bits of chorizo every so often.

String Beans topped with Chorizo

Ingredients

2 ounce chorizo, sliced

1 lb. string beans

2 cups chicken broth

salt and pepper

Directions

In a dutch oven on medium heat, cook chorizo until crispy, rendering out all the fat. Remove the chorizo, leaving the fat at the bottom, and place on a paper towel lined plate.

Now add string beans and chicken broth to the empty dutch oven, bring to a simmer and cook for 20-25 minutes, until broth reduces by half. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Chop chorizo and garnish string beans with chopped chorizo.

Swedish Tea Ring

Happy New Year everyone! I hope that all of you guys are off to a good start so far. I know I am and I’m ready to go for this year. I have so many things in plan for this year, but I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag just yet, I want to make sure that everything is in place before I make any official announcements. All I can say is that I’m really trying to put more effort into playing a bigger part in my community.

On another note I’ve been baking like crazy (did you see my stained glass cookie experiment?) and I’ve really been digging into some of my vintage cookbooks lately. I came across this recipe in an old Fannie Farmer book. It sounded like this really elegant bread, but to be honest it tastes (my version) just like cinnamon raisin bread. If you leave the raisins and the cinnamon out, it tastes just like regular white bread. It’s very similar to a brioche. The one thing that I changed about this recipe is the use of nuts. I left them out simply because I had none, but you can certainly add them if you wish.

It’s best eaten toasted on the stove top with a little butter.

Swedish Tea Bread

Ingredients

1/2 cup melted butter

2/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 1/4 cups hot milk

1 package of dry yeast, or 2 1/4 teaspoons of active dry yeast

1 egg, well beaten

1 teaspoon almond extract

7 cups white flour

1/2 cup melted butter

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon cinnamon

3/4 cup raisins

1 egg mixed with 1 teaspoon of water (egg wash)

Directions

Mix the butter, sugar, salt, and hot milk in a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment and let cool to lukewarm.

Stir the yeast into 1/4 cup warm water and let it stand for 5 minutes to dissolve. Add the dissolved yeast, egg, almond extract, and 3 cups of flour to stand mixer, until completely mixed. Add 3 more cups of flour and mix well. Turn on to a lightly floured counter, knead for a minute or two (dough will be very sticky) let rest for 10 minutes.

Gradually add the remaining flour to the rested dough by kneading the bread by hand to incorporate the remaining flour. Knead until smooth and elastic. Put the dough in a large buttered bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place until double in bulk.

After the dough has risen, punch it down, knead it for a minute or two, and divide it in half. Roll and shape the first piece with your hands into a long thin roll. Using a rolling pin and an unfloured board, roll it into a thin rectangle, about 7 x 16 inches. It will stick to the board but may easily be lifted with a knife.

Spread with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon, and raisins. Starting with the long side, roll like a jelly roll. Trim, if necessary and join the ends to form a ring. Place on a buttered parchment lined baking sheet and make perpendicular cuts, with scissors about 1 inch a part and then spread open, so that one side falls flat. Repeat with the other piece of dough. Cover and let rise to almost double in bulk. Using a pastry brush, brush egg wash all over the top of the loaves. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until deep golden brown, rotating halfway through.

As usually let me know how this recipe worked out for you and leave a comment below!

Crinkle Cookies

These have to be Santa’s favorite cookies.  They are so incredibly good. It’s like a cookie and a brownie made a baby and then rolled it in powder sugar. They taste like the best of the brownie, you know that chewy top layer that’s all shiny. They are an absolute hit in my house and I know they will be in yours. 

I modified this recipe from America’s Test Kitchen. I just used what I had on hand and they still turned out pretty delicious. I made mine a little under baked because I like my cookie gooey. I also use salted butter, I know every recipe tells you to use unsalted butter because you never know how salty it’ll make your recipe. But my thought is that if you use your normal brand of butter anyway all it will do is enhance the flavor of whatever you’re trying to make.

Sorry for the short blog post this week. It’s Christmas time and we are busy with all the holiday activities. I’m also trying to get a little mentally organized for the year a head. I have so many new goals and ideas for this blog that I’m really excited for the year to come.

Crinkle Cookies

Ingredients 

1cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour

½ cup (1 1/2 ounces) unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 ½ cups packed (10 1/2 ounces) brown sugar

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 ounce semi-sweet chocolate chips

4 tablespoons  butter

½ cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar

½ cup (2 ounces) confectioners’ sugar

Directions

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in bowl.

 Whisk brown sugar, eggs,  and vanilla together in large bowl. Combine chocolate and butter in bowl and microwave at 50 percent power, stirring occasionally, until melted, 2 to 3 minutes.

Whisk chocolate mixture into egg mixture until combined. Fold in flour mixture until no dry streaks remain. Let dough sit at room temperature for 10 minutes.

 Place granulated sugar and confectioners’ sugar in separate shallow dishes. Working with 2 tablespoons dough (or use #30 scoop) at a time, roll into balls. Drop dough balls directly into granulated sugar and roll to coat. Transfer dough balls to confectioners’ sugar and roll to coat evenly. Evenly space dough balls on prepared sheets, 11 per sheet.

Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until puffed and cracked and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft (cookies will look raw between cracks and seem underdone), about 12 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. Let cool completely on sheet before serving.


Fig and Cashew Babka

I was going to do a whole month of cookies but this Fig and Cashew Babka is just too good not to share. I got the idea of this flavor combination from Worcester bakery BirchTree Bread Company. They’re this awesome restaurant that’s located in Crompton Place. If you’ve never been there, do yourself a favor and go. There are so many cool shops there, it’s a perfect spot for some retail therapy.

Anyway, I digress…BirchTree has this amazing scone that was made with fig and cashews. It was so good that my son who’s a notoriously picky eater preceded to eat all of mine. But I don’t blame him, the sweetness from the figs was a perfect pairing with the cashews. In my recipe I use salted cashews because I can never get enough of a salty and sweet combination. I also decided that this flavor pairing would be awesome in a babka and holy crap I was so right. Even the first one that I made (that I burned) was really tasty. This is a perfect breakfast bread, really tasty with a nice cup of tea.

A word to the wise, these babkas are a two day affair, be sure to make these when you have time to be at home.


Fig and Cashew Babka

Makes 6 mini loaves

Ingredients

Dough

5 1/2 cups all purpose flour

2 1/4 teaspoons rapid rise yeast

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup of sugar

3 large eggs

1/4 cup of water

4 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon salt

16 tablespoons butter (soften but still cool)

Filling

10 ounces fig spread

8 ounces cashews

Glaze

1 egg

1 tablespoon water

sugar

Directions

For the dough: In a medium bowl, whisk together 4 1/2 cups of the flour and the yeast; set aside. In the bowl of a standing mixer, whisk together the sour cream, granulated sugar, eggs, water, vanilla, and salt. Add the flour mixture (do not stir in) and, using the dough hook, knead the mixture on low speed until the ingredients are evenly combined, about 3 minutes. Increase the mixer speed to medium-low and continue to knead until the dough becomes smooth, about 8 minutes longer, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally. (The dough will be very wet.)

With the mixer running on medium-low, slowly add the butter, 1 piece at a time, waiting about 15 seconds between additions. After the butter has been added, scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue to knead the dough on medium-low until the dough forms a very soft ball, about 15 minutes longer, adding the remaining 1 cup (5 ounces) flour, 2 tablespoons at a time, until the dough is no longer wet and it clears the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. (You may not need all the flour; the dough should be very soft and sticky.)

Scrape the dough into a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 10 to 24 hours. (Because of the high butter content, the dough will rise only slightly.)

Turn the cold dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into an 18 by 24-inch rectangle, about 1/16-inch thick, with the long side facing you.  Then microwave fig spread for about a minute, then spread over the dough leaving a 1/2-inch border around the dough. Then sprinkled chopped cashews over the fig spread.  Then taking the long edge and roll into a taut cylinder. Pinch the seam closed to secure.

Cut into 6 equal pieces. Then take a cut piece and cut that piece lengthwise, then take lengthwise cut pieces and twist around each other. Then take the twist and create circle tucking the ends in. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough. Place the twisted babka and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.  (You will need to use two baking sheets, 3 babka on each.) Let dough rest for 1-2 hours.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Make glaze. Whisk egg and water together with a fork to make an egg wash. Then using a pastry brush brush egg wash over babkas, then sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until they turn brown and internal temperature reaches 190 degrees. Be sure to turn baking sheet half through to ensure an even bake.

Let babkas cool completely and then enjoy.

*Recipe for dough modified from America’s Test Kitchen.

Stained Glass Window Christmas Cookies

Christmas time is here and we are baking up a storm. Right now my favorite thing is to bake is cookies. Cookies make me immediately think of the holidays. I thought it be fun to make ornament cookie this year. I’ve always wanted to make these stained glass cookies. Every year I would see them floating around Pinterest and I would buy all the ingredients and then I would eventually just eat the Jolly Ranchers

But this year I decided that I am actually going to make them and they turned out really great. Next year I may even decorate the whole tree in edible decorations. 

I got the recipe from the Fannie Farmer cookbook for a sugar cookie. Then I bought some snowflake cookie cutters. I was lucky that I found these ones that came in all different sizes. You can use any two, you just want to make sure that one is considerable smaller that the other. I used crush blue Jolly ranchers to fill the center of the cookie, then used a toothpick to fill in the small little corners. You want to be careful not to fill it up to much or they will bleed, you also want to use a pastry brush to brush away any shards of candy off of the top of the cookies. Another helpful tip is to make sure that this cookie dough is chilled for at least an hour, overnight would be better. Also you don’t want to forget to use a piping tip to cut out a hole at the tip of the cookies, this way you’ll be able to string a ribbon through so you can hang them on your tree. 

Stained Glass Window Christmas Cookies

Makes 50 cookies

Ingredients

1 stick of butter

3/4 cup of sugar

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon milk

1 1/4 cup flour

Pinch of salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

10 blue Jolly Ranchers, crushed

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream the butter then gradually add the sugar beating until light. Add the egg, vanilla, and milk, and beat thoroughly. Mix the flour, salt, and baking powder together, add to the first mixture, and blend well. On a lightly floured surface shape mixture into a disc, then wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for at least an hour, overnight will be best.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On well floured counter roll out chilled dough  1/8 of an inch thick. Using snowflake cookie cutters cut out snowflakes, then  place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Next take a smaller cookie cutter and cut out the center of a cut out cookie. Then take a piping tip and cut a whole out of the tip of the snowflake. Now fill the cut out center with crushed Jolly Ranchers, use a toothpick to evenly spread the candy and to fill in the corners, if needed use pastry brush to wipe off candy shards.

Bake for 8 to 11 minutes, until edges start to turn golden brown and center has melted and started to bubble. Let cool completely before removing from  cookie sheet. Then use ribbon or kitchen string to hang on tree or simply just eat.

Let me know how this works out for you you. Please tag me in your photos if you post anywhere on social media I would love to see what you made. 

Life as a Maven

Have you ever had an online friend that you met in real life and they turned out to be even better in person? Well that happened to be the case when I finally met fellow blogger Timna Nwokeji. I’ve been following Timna for years on her blog Life as a Maven.  We’ve been meaning to get together for forever and we finally had a chance to get together and explore Worcester. We decided to meet and walk around Kelly Square.

On her blog she talks about travel, fashion, of course food. She is based out of Lowell and she is often found giving tours around town introducing new people to Lowell’s finest cuisines and trust me Lowell has a ton. We have that in common where we love where we live and we discuss the importance of being involved in your community.

Timna moved to Lowell about 12 years ago and can never imagine living anywhere else. “If we (her and her husband) were to move, it would be the next town over,” said Timna. She explains to me how she loves the mix of cultures that make up Lowell, between the Cambodian, Latin, and African communities, as the saying goes: there’s a lot to like about Lowell. However, Lowell has seen better years but it is currently experiencing  a revitalization. Timna started her blog so that people would change their perception about Lowell. Timna now sees the revitalization taking place and feels pride that she took part in that.

 

Lowell like every other cool town before it is facing gentrification. Timna explained to me how there are new boutique apartment buildings being built with a skywalk directly to the train station, and how there are restaurants and shops attached directly to the lobbies. Essentially you could live in Lowell without ever really experiencing it, which to me is the highest sin of gentrification. If you’re going to be the reason why rent goes up, at least experience the neighborhood-all the good, the bad, and the ugly. 

I appreciate how Timna did not shy away from the fact that Lowell has its dodgy areas. She believes everyone who loves Lowell understands that it’s a work in progress. Which lead us to the discussion of how do we revitalize a city without ruining its soul? In Timna’s opinion (quite frankly mine too) people need to get out and vote. “By being involved in the community. By voting, going to community meetings and gatherings.”

She also gives the general advice for people to go out and try new foods from other cultures, to get out of your comfort zone, and to travel.  This is why she blogs about traveling even if it’s just a two-hour drive outside of your town. In her opinion you need to get out of your own town, it helps to gain perspective on life. Her own travels have taught her to find the beauty in every town.

Her upbeat and knowledgeable perspective on life are one of the many reasons why I’m excited to watch her continuing journey as a Maven.

You can catch Timna over at her blog LifeasaMaven.com and you can also sign up for her food tours here. 

The Fay Club

Fitchburg is known to be an unsavory town, a title that I think is unjustly given. The Fay Club is trying to change this perception of Fitchburg one meal at a time. The Fay Club is an upscale members only restaurant that’s proving that you don’t need to be in Boston to have an high end experience. I was fortunate enough to be able to sit down with head chef Derek Brooks and we talk about food, family, and what the Fay Club is bringing to the community.

I have always been intrigued by this place. It’s like they’re an open secret right in the middle of downtown Fitchburg. I was always curious, who were these elite people who get to dine in this club? It turns out that they’re people like you and me who just like to eat well. And eat well they shall because the kitchen at The Fay Club is in very good hands. Chef Derek Brooks is now head chef and the food him and his staff are producing feels progressive but familiar, in a way that feels like home.They achieve this by using local ingredients in some new and inventive ways.

When we first met he immediately began to tell me about the building. You could tell he was really proud of where he worked, and he should be, because the place is beautiful. It’s covered in handcrafted wood and there are intricate carvings all over the fireplace mantels, each room feeling more grand than the last. In each room there are different stained glass windows and each window gives its specific room a different vibe.

This building was built in 1884 and with a building this old it’s bound to have its spirits and I ain’t talking about the booze. I guess you can say the building is hauntingly beautiful and it has a long, deep history. There’s a lot of stories about the original owners and all the tragedy that they faced. I will not get into some of the tragedies that happened here because that’s in the past and we are focusing on the present.

Chef Derek served me two separate courses showcasing the variety of selections that’s on their menu. He presented me with an applewood smoked bacon cheeseburger with fries made in house. It was super delicious, the burger being juicy and full of flavor with the smokiness from the bacon helping to enrich the flavor of the burger.

The other dish was a was puff pastry filled with roasted acorn squash and topped with a soft cow’s milk cheese and then garnished with apple slices. It was lying on a bed of arugula and cranberries and tossed in a champagne vinaigrette. That was delicious as well. The acorn squash was super sweet, the pastry was flaky and the combination of textures and flavors gave way to a super tasty course. This dish actually inspired me to cook with acorn squash because this was the first time I’ve ever had it and this dish made me wish I would’ve had it sooner.

As I stuffed my face the chef and I conversed about family, work, and what landed him at the Fay Club. He has a long history with food, starting with his grandmother cooking for him when he was kid. He mentioned how he noticed how well she seasoned all her food and how that simple step made her food better than everyone else’s. He studied culinary arts and then worked at various restaurants even opening his own food truck at one point. After that the opportunity to work at the Fay Club opened up and he took it. The main reason he took the position is because he wanted to see The Fay Club succeed. With this club being a Fitchburg institution he wanted to make sure that it continued to do so while ushering in a new generation of members. Another reason he decided to take over the kitchen here was because the hours are less grueling and his fiancée works there as well. It really is a family affair, besides his fiancée working there he feels as though his kitchen staff is family. Which I can understand because when you’re in the trenches with your staff, after a while they start to feel like family.

But family or not his staff knows that he expects nothing but the best from them and he refuses to cut corners. When I asked who some of his culinary influences were he mentioned Marco Pierre White and how he took a page from his book when it comes to running his kitchen. His staff knows that he expects the best from them and they respect him enough to bring their A game to the kitchen, and it shows.

I would suggest finding a member to this club and beg them to treat you to dinner here. Better yet you should find a member and have them sponsor you to become a member. Then you’ll be able to enjoy this building and the delicious food that this kitchen serves. This experience that I had at The Fay Club definitely confirmed my thoughts that Fitchburg has great things going for it, you just have to know where to look.

Highland Farms

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To be a cook it means to buy and cook meat, and that means we have a choice to make. We can certainly buy the meat that’s available at the supermarket but it’s nice to have the option to buy from local farmers who raise their livestock in the most ethical way possible. That is why I’m so happy that we have Highland Farms right here in Lunenburg. I recently used some of their meat in my meatball recipe and some of their apple butter in some of my other recipes. All of these dishes would be nothing without these great main ingredients, so I was curious to find out more about the people who produce them. I was lucky enough to be able to get in contact with Maureen from Highland Farms and she was gracious enough to take me on a tour of their farm and she let me and my crazy toddler invade her family’s space while she was preparing food for a Growing Places food demonstration about baby food. This is just one of the many things this family does for their community but we will get more into that later.

The folks at Highland Farm pride themselves on raising livestock in the most humane and responsible manner. Even though their livestock will eventually become food, they still treat each one as though they are their pets. This is proven by the way they name each one and know all of their personalities. They know who’s shy and which ones love attention.  You can certainly tell that all of their animals are happy, when I met their newest baby cow Mocha he was bouncing with joy from side to side looking to be pet and loved.

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When I asked about how they feel about these animals meeting their eventual fate, Maureen expressed how they didn’t necessarily feel sad. The one way Maureen says that they make peace with the eventual death of their “pets” is knowing that they are fulfilling their destiny and being used for what they were meant for. One thing that I also appreciate is that their girls fully understood the fate of these animals, which I think is important when you’re a person who eats meat. As someone who consumes meat it’s important you know about the process. It makes you mindful not to waste it because this animal gave its life to become your meal.

Maureen and her husband Jonathan decided to start raising their own food after having concerns about what was being put in their store bought meats. So to ensure that their family was getting the best meat possible they decided to raise it themselves. However, the only financial way possible to do this was to raise enough livestock so that they are able to sell some to the local community as well. They choose to only sell in Lunenburg because they are extremely conscious of their carbon foot print and want to make sure that theirs is small as possible. It also keeps the product more affordable for you the consumer and for the farmer to produce.

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However, while Maureen was explaining some of the finer points of farming and raising livestock, our conversation kept getting interrupted by incoming texts and calls to her cell phone. All of which were donations for the recent fundraiser she helped put together  for Cherry Hill FarmCherry Hill Farm is a local dairy farm who’s iconic red barn just collapsed a few weeks ago. With all the outpouring of love and support for the Macmillan family who owns Cherry Hill farm, our conversation quickly turned to why Lunenburg is such a great place to live.

When I asked Maureen why she loves Lunenburg so much she used the word enchanting and I couldn’t agree more. She went on to explain that the way the people of Lunenburg  come together in times of crisis and in pain but also in joy and celebration really makes this a place where you want to live and raise a family.  You can tell that Maureen has been raised in Lunenburg because of the way she helped organize the fundraiser for  Cherry Hill Farm. Maureen having grown up with this family helped to organize an event at Hollis Hills Farm so that they could rebuild, and in true Lunenburg fashion the whole town came out to support. It seemed almost everyone from town came out to  donate and help whatever way they could. But it’s people like Maureen who live in Lunenburg that make this town so great. All I know is that if she treats her livestock as half as well as she treats her friends, then the meat their family farm produces is the best, most ethically produced meat that I ever had.

If you would like to purchase their meat you can purchase it at the Lunenburg Farmers Market currently being held inside the Dragonfly Cafe on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. You can also purchase other Highland Farm goods there as well. If you would like to join their CSA it’s best to call directly at 978-790-6436 or if to message them directly through their page on Facebook.

The Blood of Laveau the cocktail

2018_10_26_0755Happy Halloween! This is our absolute favorite holiday around here. I love being able to dress up and be somebody else for the day. Every year I come up with about twenty different costume ideas, but I never end up doing any of them. I always end up being whatever Jameson wants me to be, but this year is a bit different because I actually got a chance to create my own costume. I decided to be Marie Laveau because I love New Orleans and she’s a New Orleans icon. I really wanted to be a powerful woman this year and thought it be great to be Marie because not only was powerful but she was mystical and magical as well.

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It was incredibly easy to pull together this costume, with most of my costume items coming from my own closet or from the thrift store. And once I pulled it together it made me wonder why I hadn’t done it before. So in the spirit of Halloween and easy costumes I decided to make an easy cocktail to go with my easy costume. This drink was inspired by the color red and blood (cue sinister laugh), I added a sugar rim for garnish because why not add to the sugar rush that is Halloween. All you do is shake all the ingredients together and pour it in a sugar rimmed glass. Instead of using lime as the adhesive for the sugar rim I used grenadine so that it would turn the sugar rim red. Can you tell that I have a theme going on with this drink?

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I hope that your Halloween is fun, spooky, and safe.

I would love to hear how this recipe works for you, so be sure to leave me a comment.


The Blood of Laveau

Ingredients

1 ounce vodka

1/2 ounce grenadine

3 ounces pomegranate juice

Granish

1 ounce grenadine

1/4 cup white sugar

Directions

Place ice in a large cup or cocktail shaker, pour vodka, 1/2 once grenadine, and pomegranate juice over the ice. Cover cup or cocktail shaker and shake well.

Pour remaining grenadine in a shallow dish and pour sugar on a separate plate. Take the rim of the glass and dip it in the grenadine, then roll the now grenadine covered rim in the sugar. Make sure to cover the whole rim.

Pour the drink into the garnished glass.

Enjoy!