Archive | Spring 2015

RHUBARB RISING

csullivan_rhubarb_hires-4

BY LAURA SORKIN | PHOTOGRAPHY BY CAROL SULLIVAN

Rhubarb. The very name connotes a plant that is awkward and unsophisticated. At best, it is a marginal player among commercial crops, grabbing a modicum of attention in spring before strawberries steal its thunder.
Grandma and Aunt Myrna cook with rhubarb but, aside from their delicious pie, many can’t really summon up other uses for it. Some people can’t even seem to classify it, arguing whether it is a fruit or a vegetable. The leaves of rhubarb are not only inedible but toxic to humans in high doses. Furthermore, it is a space hog in the garden, grabbing up nutrients and light from its neighbors and refusing to budge for years.

Everyone is happy to see rhubarb show up in the market because it means spring is really here—but does anyone truly love rhubarb?

I do. I believe rhubarb has a myriad of uses in both sweet and savory dishes and is on the verge of being the next culinary darling. It will be the pomegranate of 2015, the new acai berry. I am such a believer in rhubarb that even after scaling back commercial crops on my farm, I have started about a quarter acre of rhubarb with plans to expand as the plants mature. In doing some research on it, I have discovered it has a storied history in Europe and Asia and new studies reveal it will have a hand (OK, a leaf) in saving the planet. It even has a role in the performing arts. Rhubarb may be unsophisticated, but I predict it will soon have its day.

For the record, rhubarb is botanically a vegetable but according to a New York court decision in 1947, since it is primarily used in pie, the United States has deemed it a fruit, scientific taxonomy be damned. (This was determined for tariff reasons since fruit and vegetable imports are taxed differently.) Originally from Asia, rhubarb was imported to Europe along the Silk Road and became a popular ingredient, particularly in England where it grows very well. In fact, an area of intense cultivation called the Rhubarb Triangle in West Yorkshire was recently awarded Protected Designation of Origin status by the European Commission, an honor given to such elite products as Parmesan cheese and Champagne.

Rhubarb came to the New World with the settlers and was established as they made their way from Maine to the Pacific. The largest commercial crops can now be found in Washington and Oregon, where the cool, moist climate is conducive to excellent growth. It remains a stalwart here in New England, however, and most gardeners will place at least one plant among their perennials since it is so easy and dependable.

The best way to propagate rhubarb is to dig up a mature, healthy plant and divide it. Since they need to be divided every three years or so, it is likely you can find a neighbor with a plant that she wants to cut back. Dig it up in spring when the soil is still soft and the leaves are dormant or small. You can try to be precise about your cut but the truth is you are going to have to whack at it with a shovel if it is a large root. Look for a section that has some buds protruding and slice away. Replant the root section in rich soil, filled with compost, giving it two feet in either direction and cover until just the buds are poking through. Water well and fertilize in a few weeks.

csullivan_rhubarb_hires-2I have a few rows from divisions but since I planned for about 200 plants, I also attempted growing them from significantly less expensive seed last spring. I planted the seeds in an organic growing medium in late February and kept them well watered until they came up 10 days later. I did my best to keep them in enough sunlight in the house until I transferred them to the unheated greenhouse in April. They were planted out into the field in late May and most of them held on for the season.

Being my first time from seed, I didn’t know what to expect but was gratified to see how much growth they put on in their first year. Nevertheless, I won’t be able to harvest the plants from seed for three years, whereas the ones propagated from divisions should be ready in a year or two.

The use of rhubarb in pies and cakes is well known but it is also a delicious addition to drinks. It is one of the few disclosed ingredients in the Italian aperitif, Aperol. With cocktails making a big comeback, Aperol is showing up in well-stocked bars again and its parent company, Campari, has released a premixed version of the Aperol Spritz, made famous during Hemingway’s time. If you want to create your own cocktails, start by making a simple syrup infused with rhubarb by boiling rhubarb, water and sugar together and then straining it. Use the syrup in lemonade, plain seltzer or with puréed strawberries for an afternoon treat. Add all of the above with rum to make it an evening treat.

I would be remiss if I did not mention again that the leaves of rhubarb contain oxalic acid, which is toxic and should be cut off and left behind in the garden. Also, do not eat the stalks after a hard frost as the oxalic acid will travel from the leaf down the stalks as it dies back. If a little bit of leaf ends up in the pie, however, do not worry. It is estimated that it would require about 11 pounds of leaves to accumulate a lethal dose for the average-sized human being.

The natural acids in the stalks that make you pucker are also quite powerful, measuring a pH of 3.2 (that’s vinegar territory). The upside to that fact is that rhubarb pulp is known to be a very good cleanser. David Boyden of Boyden Winery in Cambridge, VT, reports his stainless tanks are never so clean as when he finishes producing a batch of rhubarb wine.

Scientists at Yale University have recently discovered an even more important application of rhubarb’s peculiar makeup. When CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) were banned in 1996 due to their proclivity to cause holes in the earth’s ozone layer, the U.S. was left with huge stockpiles of CFCs, which no one knew what to do with since they are not easily reduced to more benign components. Chemists from Yale discovered that mixing the CFCs with the sodium oxalate found in rhubarb leaves would safely and economically reduce the CFCs to a harmless carbon compound, table salt and sodium fluoride. A marginal player? Try superhero.

Lastly, you may be curious how rhubarb is involved in the performing arts. It has long been a useful bit of dialog in movies and radio. If one is cast as an extra, say at a party, the players are sometimes instructed to say back and forth to each other, “Rhubarb, rhubarb” which sounds, in aggregate, like indistinctive background conversation. This has nothing whatsoever to do with its qualities as an ingredient but, as … Read More

Continue Reading

Think Spring!

REVIEWS BY KRISTINA SEPETYS

A bunch of new spring titles we’re anticipating as eagerly as that first spring daffodil! These are books and recipes to inspire you to get outside and into your gardens, to breathe deeply and revel in the fresh, earthy smells of springtime and to nourish your health and wellness. Tend the land, sow your seeds and use these stories to make plans to make the most of your harvest!

NOURISHING-HOMESTEAD-CoverThe Nourishing Homestead: One Back- to-the-Land Family’s Plan
for Cultivating Soil, Souls and Spirit

By Ben and Penny Hewitt
(Chelsea Green, 2015)
Writer Ben Hewitt was raised in northern Vermont in a two-room cabin on a 160-acre homestead. He eventually bought 40 acres of his own with his wife, Penny, in Cabot, where they built their own house, powered with a windmill and solar photovoltaic panels and carved out a small-scale hill farm. There, they homeschool their sons; keep cows, pigs, sheep and chickens; and maintain extensive gardens. They also keep a small orchard, forage for wild edibles and make the most of their harvest by processing meat, making butter and fermenting, drying and canning produce. They share the fruits of their traditional labors by preparing nutrient-dense foods for themselves and their immediate community. Ben Hewitt uses the term “practiculture” to describe his family’s work with the land and the practical life skills and philosophies necessary to create a thriving homestead, like raw-milk production, soil remediation, wild crafting, and bio nutrient-dense farming, permaculture and agro forestry. In this spirit of sharing, their latest book offers an engaging combination of personal narrative and how-to instruction to encourage others to build satisfying, permanent and nourished relationships to the land, nature and to one another. Although their experience and knowledge is deeply informed by their life on their particular piece of land in bucolic northern Vermont, they offer practical ways to grow nutrient-dense food on even a very small plot of land in any location and to think about it as part of ecosystem.

ancient-grainsSimply Ancient Grains
By Maria Speck
(Ten Speed Press, 2015)
Boston-based Maria Speck, a food writer and self-taught cook with a life-long passion for ancient grains, is the author of the much-decorated Ancient Grains for Modern Meals. In her latest book, she makes cooking with ancient grains faster, easier and more intuitive with a collection of nourishing recipes using grains like black rice, red quinoa, golden kamut berries and other ancient grains, most of which are gluten-free. Her family-friendly dishes are Mediterranean-inspired and delicious, with dishes like Farro Salad with Roasted Eggplant, Caramelized Onion and Pine Nuts; and Red Rice Shakshuka with Feta Cheese. An excellent reference and a fine source for healthy, nourishing and satisfying grain-based dishes.

SPROUTED-BOWL-CoverThe Sprouted Kitchen Bowl and Spoon:
Simple and Inspired Whole Foods Recipes to Savor and Share

By Sara Forte and Hugh Forte
(Ten Speed Press, 2015)
Nothing says ease and comfort like a meal in a bowl, whether that meal is a salad, midday snack, warming bowl of soup, hearty dinner, or rich dessert. In this follow-up to her successful James Beard Award–nominated first book, The Sprouted Kitchen, blogger Sara Forte serves up 100 recipes for vibrant, nutritious dishes combining vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins served up in a single bowl. While ingredients and preparation varies from easy to somewhat more complex, the resulting fare is simple and casual. With beautiful photographs by her husband, Hugh Forte, it’s a visually appealing collection of healthy, easily prepared, recipes well-suited to spring produce, like Eggs and Green Harissa-Spiked Asparagus, Capellini with Roasted Cauliflower, and Cocoa Nib Pavlovas with Mixed Berries, as just a sampling of the many dishes and combinations.

MY-NEW-ROOTS-CoverMy New Roots:
Inspired Plant-Based Recipes for Every Season

By Sarah Britton
(Clarkson Potter, 2015)
Sarah Britton, a holistic nutritionist and popular blogger with ties to Canada and Copenhagen, where she worked in the NOMA test kitchen, considered one of the best restaurants in the world for its emphasis on wild and foraged foods in its menu. Britton strongly advocates cooking with fresh, locally grown produce, even in environments where those options may seem limited. Her debut cookbook shares 100 of her favorite plant-based recipes, all beautifully photographed. Britton and her blog have attracted legions of followers—vegetarians, vegans, paleo followers and gluten-free gourmets alike—eager to try her adaptable, easily managed and very healthy dishes. My New Roots assembles many of these recipes and describes the techniques to best prepare foods to draw out their healthful and most delicious properties. Follow the rhythms of the growing seasons with dishes like Savory Spring Hand Pies, Thai Style Coconut Soup with Zucchini Noodles, and Beet Party with Orange and Pine Nuts, Raw Cashew Yogurt with Maple and Blackberry; Grain-Free Hemp Tabbouleh; Sparkling Mint Melonade; Apricot Rhubarb Clafoutis; Vanilla Rose Apple Cider; and Raw Mint Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches. All of the recipes are vegetarian, most of them vegan and many of them gluten-free.

DELICIOUSLY-ELLA-Cover-Deliciously Ella:
100+ Easy, Healthy, and Delicious Plant-Based, Gluten-Free Recipes

By Ella Woodward
(Scribner, 2015)
London-based Ella Woodward writes the very popular food blog Deliciously Ella. In her late teens, Woodward was diagnosed with a rare illness, Postural Tachycardia Syndrome, a breakdown of the autonomic nervous system and a condition she attributes to a poor diet and too much refined sugar. The illness kept her bed-ridden, in chronic pain and plagued by heart palpitations and headaches. When conventional medicine failed her, Ella decided to change her diet. Literally overnight, the self-taught cook gave up meat, gluten, dairy, refined sugar, chemical additives and anything processed, and taught herself to make whole-food, plant-based meals from unprocessed ingredients. The effects were immediate. Her symptoms disappeared, her energy returned, and she was able to stop medication. Her cookbook is a guide to stocking the pantry and preparing healthy, satisfying plant-based eating with recipes that are uncomplicated, easy to follow and prepare. From Homemade Baked Beans with Giant Hash Browns, Beetroot Carpaccio, Fries and Ketchup, to Apple and Blackberry Crumble, Sweet Potato Brownies, Beetroot Chocolate Cake with Coconut Icing, the book includes new recipes and some of her classics.

FOOD52-GENIUS-CoverFood52 Genius Recipes:
100 Recipes that Will Change the Way You Cook

By Kristen Miglore
(Ten Speed Press, 2015)
If you enjoy food writing and recipes, you probably know Food52, the award-winning online crowd-sourced food community and recipe hub. Executive Editor Kristen Miglore writes the James Beard Award–nominated and very popular Food Genius column found on the site. Each week, she features a favorite recipe from a well-known blogger, chef or food writer and identifies the “genius techniques” necessary to get the dish just right. The recipes aren’t terribly complex. And the techniques aren’t difficult, but they can really make a dish sing. For example, the secret to making Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Whipped Goat Cheese especially delicious is simmering the cauliflower in a seasoned broth before roasting. Marcella Hazan’s beloved Tomato Sauce with Butter & Onion doesn’t require an all-day simmer or heaps of garlic and herbs for its pure flavor. The genius is in the tomato preparation. They should be blanched, frozen, processed in a mill, or even harvested from a can. The book includes 100 foolproof recipes and photos of each finished … Read More

Continue Reading

The Farmhouse Kitchen

A GUIDE TO EATING LOCAL

Ramps and Robins, It Must Be Spring!!

BY TRACEY MEDEIROS

shutterstock_211441789A tiny harbinger of spring, the ramp pokes its leafy head out of the ground anytime from mid-March to early April, depending upon the region. Ramps, also known as wild leeks, are one of the first wild edibles to ripen every year. As soon as the winter’s snow disappears from sight, the plant makes a much-welcomed appearance.

In the South they are ready to harvest in March, while the rest of the country has to wait until April. The ramp is native to North America, its name coming from the word “rams,” or “ramson,” an Elizabethan term meaning wild garlic.

Ramps resemble the lily-of-the-valley. They usually have two or three bright green leaves which, when cut, or broken, give off the scent of garlic. A small white bulb, which grows below the surface of the soil, is attached to a stem with deep purple or burgundy tints. The entire plant is edible, and some folks opt to eat it raw. If this is your pleasure, here’s a word of advice: Ramps have a pungent onion flavor so you might want to avoid close contact with friends and family while snacking on these delights.

High in vitamins A and C, ramps may be effective in fighting colds and the flu. Ramps have the same capacity to reduce cholesterol as garlic. Mountain folk in Appalachia swear by their healing powers, and of course the plant’s strong smell lends to its odiferous reputation! Ramps are a member of the allium family, which includes onions, chives and leeks.

Over the last 20 years the demand for ramps has greatly increased. This is in part due to cooking shows and upscale foodie magazines, which have extolled the culinary delights of this plant. Chefs in big cities such as New York have given this Allium tricoccum star status on their menus and in their kitchens, thus increasing its popularity and worth.

Many people enjoy harvesting their own supply of ramps, using them in their home kitchens or selling them to restaurants, stores and at farmers’ markets. If you are interested in gathering your own ramps, here are a few helpful hints. Ramps like forested terrain that is shady and sandy. When looking for them, keep in mind that they are often found near rivers and streams since they like moisture. They often grow on the north side of embankments in small clumps. Tear off a leaf and you will be sure to recognize the ramp by its distinctive onion, garlicky smell. Remember to always positively identify any wild edible before ingesting it.

After harvesting, be sure to use your ramps quickly. The leaves can be refrigerated and will last for three to four days before they begin to wilt. The leaves have more garlic and onion flavor than the bulb. Ramps can be used in place of onions and garlic, just keep in mind that they are considerably stronger in taste so use a smaller amount when cooking. They may be added raw to salads or sandwiches, or sautéed in soups, sauces, burgers, scrambled eggs and omelets. Their uses are varied and depend upon the cook’s personal preferences and creativity.

The arrival of the ramp is cause for celebration in some areas. In the mountains of West Virginia there are festivals and events,which have been held for generations. Whole towns get together to cook up batches of ramps in various forms using time-honored recipes, celebrating its long awaited arrival with feasting and dancing.

There is concern in some circles that ramps may be over-harvested. As harvesters collect ever-growing quantities for big city restaurants, some wonder about economics versus sustainability. It takes six to 18 months for ramp seeds to germinate, while the plant needs five to seven years to produce seeds. In some areas such as Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee, ramp harvesting was banned in 2004, and in Quebec its sale has been banned since 1995. There the plant is labeled a “vulnerable” species.

It has been noted that folks either like ramps or hate them, but whatever the case their arrival heralds the beginning of spring and the end of another long, cold winter. As the robin greets us, so does the ramp, the tips of its leaves poking through the sun-warmed soil announcing to the world that spring has arrived at last!

shutterstock_193570790

 

Ramp and Pea Pesto

Makes approximately 2 cups

This pesto is delicious brushed on grilled corn on the cob, as a crostini topping, served over vegetables or fish or spread across pizza dough.

1 tablespoon plus ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil, or to taste, divided
2½ cups ramps, root ends trimmed, bulbs, slender stems and leaves cut into ½-inch pieces
1 cup frozen peas, cooked according to package, or fresh, blanched briefly in boiling water
½ cup coarsely chopped Marcona almonds
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

To make the ramps: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook ramps, stirring frequently, until wilted, about 2–3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, as the ramps are cooling, cook the peas. Remove from heat, drain and set aside to cool.

To make the pesto: Process the ramps, peas, remaining ⅓ cup oil, almonds and lemon juice in a food processor until desired texture is achieved. Spoon the pesto into a decorative bowl and fold in the cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Adjust seasonings with additional oil, and lemon juice, if desired.

Tracey Medeiros likes to keep it local and seasonal in her kitchen. 

Read More
Continue Reading

Here’s To Your Health

fish

Which Fish to Dish Up Now?

By Michele Jacobson | Photo by Brent Harrewyn

Fish has long been touted as a superfood, a brain food, and an all-around health food. This used to be unequivocally so, with no caveats regarding its safety. That was when our waters were cleaner, and the fish and seafood that came from them were purer sources of inherent nutrients.

It’s true that most fish and seafood are high in protein and low in fat. Oily fish contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) that can strengthen our brain cells and protect them from disease. These essential fatty acids also make fish an important anti-inflammatory food, a valuable addition to the western diet in this age of overly processed and inflammatory fare.

According to the Harvard School of Public Health, “There is strong evidence that eating fish or taking fish oil is good for the heart and blood vessels … eating approximately one to two 3-ounce servings of fatty fish a week … reduces the risk of dying from heart disease by 36%.”

The question then is, where to obtain the safest fish, unsullied by pollutants?

Environmental toxins such as methyl-mercury and PCBs taint waters worldwide. These contaminants lodge in the fat of the fish, which is also where the coveted omega-3 fatty acids reside. Briefly, methyl-mercury is a toxic heavy metal that, via the burning of fossil fuels, trash and medical waste, has contaminated waterways. PCBs are synthetic chemicals that were once used in hydraulic fluids and oils and are absorbed into the bodies of fish.

When bigger fish eat smaller fish, they accumulate greater concentrations of PCBs in their flesh, which can reach levels that are thousands of times higher than the PCB levels in the water itself. The risk to humans is impaired neurological development, posing the greatest potential threat to fetuses, infants and children, and pregnant women. However, methyl-mercury poisoning can affect everyone.
So you want to approach this wonder-food with caution, especially if you are feeding a child or yourself during pregnancy.

Federal, state and local governments issue fish consumption advisories when fish are unsafe to eat. Fortunately, Vermont waters have remained pristine and rank very low on contamination scales. This is a boon for both residents and the many visitors who come here to fish recreationally. Still, it’s best to check for restrictions based on fish species, as well as the location you are fishing in.

Even large species “wild” fish need to be monitored for their contamination levels. A great source for this information is the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which regularly updates guidelines on what is safe and sustainable to eat.

Canned tuna is the most widely eaten fish in the U.S. and the most common source of mercury exposure for Americans. Both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration recommend limiting consumption of conventional tuna, otherwise known as white albacore, to roughly six ounces per every 10 days for an adult. However, if you are a tuna fan, there is another option, and that is to avoid conventional tuna altogether. Instead, opt for light tuna. Light tuna is not an actual species of fish, but can include bigeye, skipjack and/or yellowfin. The catch consists of younger fish that have had less time to absorb methyl-mercury. Make sure to look for a label that says pole or troll caught, ensuring no dolphins were inadvertently killed in the fishing process, another concern for tuna eaters. The advisories for light tuna consumption allow for three times the amount!

For a long time, farmed fish were to be avoided because of overcrowded and unhealthy growing conditions. However, sustainably raised fish are now often a safer choice than wild-caught because conditions are controllable and have improved. There is no organic certification for fish or seafood in the U.S., based on the assumption that it is impossible to standardize conditions in open waters. There are other countries that do issue organic certifications, but bear in mind when you see these labels that their organic standards may differ widely from those in the U.S.

Non-fish eaters can still reap the health benefits provided by omega-3s! One alternative is to take a fish oil supplement. Today’s best option is sourced from krill, which is not contaminated as fish oil can be. Plant-based sources of omega-3s include flaxseed, walnuts, soybean and canola oils. These differ from the omegas in fish, but the body can partially convert them to EPA and DHA. All are beneficial to your health!

If you want to reap the substantial health benefits that eating fish and seafood can provide, you have to sidestep the obstacles and stay on top of the advisories. Remember that safety is not based on just the source, but also the species of fish. Paying close attention to these factors ensures that fish can remain a super healthy food in your diet.

Michele Jacobson is a nutritionist, author and GMO labeling advocate. Her favorite thing to do is write about the nutritional benefits of healthy whole foods.

Learn More

Here are four good online resources with good charts that can help you make the best decisions on which fish to eat.

For the Vermont Department of Health’s recommendations on which Vermont-caught fish to eat only in limited quantities:
healthvermont.gov/enviro/fish_alert/documents/fish_alert.pdf

An easy-to-use chart that helps assess the risk of mercury poisoning by fish species:
mercvt.org/PDF/fishadvisorycard.pdf

The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch:
montereybayaquarium.org/conservation/research/seafood-watch

Learn about tuna risks and regulations per the FDA and EPA:
nrdc.org/health/effects/mercury/tuna.asp

Read More
Continue Reading

Edible Voices

bharrewyn_ediblevoices_spring15_300dpi-1

“Eye on the Sky” Weather Guys

An interview with Mark Breen,

Steve Maleski and Lawrence Hayes

BY MARIA BUTEUX READE  | PHOTOGRAPHY BY BRENT HARREWYN

Most Vermonters are obsessed with weather, probably because we spend so much time working and playing outdoors. And when we want to plan our days, the “Eye on the Sky” guys provide us all the information we need … in exquisite detail.

Since the early 1980s, Mark Breen and Steve Maleski have produced the weather forecast from a small studio located in the Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium in St. Johnsbury. Their report is broadcast on Vermont Public Radio and published in several newspapers around the state. Lawrence Hayes joined the team as an intern in 2008 and then came on full time in 2013. All three men graduated from Lyndon State’s renowned meteorology program.

Here’s a glimpse into what’s behind those reassuring voices and that perfect elocution.

Edible Green Mountains: What are some of the challenges with forecasting weather in Vermont?

Mark Breen: What ISN’T challenging about it?! The varied terrain from mountaintop to lake shore, and the differences from the Quebec border to Massachusetts, always create curious, localized weather situations that I love to ponder and solve. It starts with the challenge of finding out what the weather is doing at the moment. By adding the influences of the winds, the mountains, the valleys, the ocean and the weather pattern, we might end up with a forecast that includes snow, rain, thunderstorms and sun, all in just a few hours.

EGM: Do the three of you ever overlap in schedules, or are you ships passing in the night (and day)? Who works which shift?

MB: I am the “early guy”—something that fits me, in terms of getting up WAY before the dawn even thinks of cracking. But my weather day blends into other Museum duties, including the planetarium and education after 8am. By then, Lawrence takes up the baton and runs with it the rest of the day. Friday finds Steve taking over for Lawrence, and then continuing through the weekend.

EGM: OK, so Mark is the early morning guy. What time do you leave your house and how does that shape your breakfast routine? Steve and Lawrence: Does your work schedule throw any unusual wrenches into your eating habits?

MB: I start my day at 3:15am, but my first few hours are spent at home on the computer. I grab a little juice, maybe a banana, some yogurt, or oatmeal as I work. Then I reward this early push with a mug of hot cocoa, blending Ghiradelli’s dark chocolate mix and one of a number of powdered cocoas from King Arthur Flour—Bensdorp is one of my favorites.

Steve Maleski: I just grab a quick glass of milk or an orange on my way out the door on Saturdays and Sundays to keep me going until my pilgrimage to Anthony’s diner.

Lawrence Hayes: I can’t take lunch until about 1. It’s hard to fit an off-site lunch excursion into the schedule so I usually bring some kettle chips in a sandwich bag and a cooler with an Amy’s Kitchen frozen burrito which I then nuke in the microwave. Milk or Sprite the usual beverage. Sometimes if I’m ahead of schedule I’ll go down to the corner deli and get an Italian sub, which they call “The Pagani.”

EGM: Does the weather ever influence your cooking or eating? For example, the forecast calls for a big snowstorm and you decide to hunker down at home with … or a heat wave in late summer, and your thoughts turn to preparing …

MB: I love cooking down venison bones when the weather is cold, making some kind of soup or stew. Heat wave in the summer: I’ve got a seven-layer Mexican dip that I scoop onto some corn chips.

SM: Winter: My dad passed on this great borscht recipe that I use every December to make a huge batch. I freeze individual quarts in old yogurt containers and on cold, windy nights I will take a container full, plop the contents in a sauce pan, and slowly heat it on my wood stove. Mmmmm. Heat wave in summer: Go to Parker Pie in Glover with my partner. She and I share a large Dave’s Salad.

LH: I’d say I have less of an appetite during the summer; the heat does that to me.

EGM: Describe an ideal day off.

MB: Waking up on a summer day with a fresh, ever-so-slightly moist breeze, reading for a little while with my mug of hot cocoa, then off to the golf course with my wife. Later on, we head down to the lake for a barbecue and an evening paddle in the canoe.

SM: Dawdle in bed for about an hour after waking up, maybe have a cup of coffee in bed and read a while. Fix a leisurely breakfast. Read some more—books, magazine articles. Soak up some sun for 45 minutes through a south-facing window. Take a nap. Read some more—I’ve got a pile of books to read that has been growing just a little faster than I can work through it for the past 10 years. In summer, do some lawn or garden work, if I’m at my house.

LH: Get up, make coffee, get in car, go on photo safari.

EGM: How about a favorite meal or eating tradition of the week?

MB: Making spaghetti sauce. I “learned” from my mother, with no recipe—only a general sense of aromas and flavors. It means I never make it the same twice, but I love the creative process and the anticipation when I slather it over steaming pasta.

SM: Every Saturday and Sunday I go down to the local diner, Anthony’s, for a late breakfast/early lunch. My favorite breakfast: 2 slices French toast or blueberry pancakes; scrambled or poached eggs; bacon or sausage; bottomless cup of coffee. I’m often open to specials—they’ve got a great cook, Keith, who comes up with some really creative stuff. Good food and great company with the regulars at the counter.

LH: Bison burgers topped with lettuce, tomato, onion and horseradish mustard; green leaf salad with diced bell peppers and celery, ground black pepper, sometimes a little sprinkle of cheese. My wife and I try to make this in time to break out the TV trays and eat while watching “Jeopardy.”

EGM: A few ingredients you always have on hand?

MB: Venison, salsa, chocolate, rosemary, oatmeal.

SM: Pasta. Simple and inexpensive; easy to work with.

LH: Elmore Mountain bread, trail mix, kettle chips, bell peppers.

EGM: How do you cook or eat at home?

MB: My wife, Sandi, and I cook together most of the time. Most meals are from scratch, or close to it. I don’t like the “pre-fab” idea of cooking, and the time spent just adds to the enjoyment of the meal.

SM: I cook very basically. Frozen or fresh veggies in season coupled with a pasta or meat serving. I try to have greens with any supper. Baby spinach is one of my favorites.

LH: In a very simplistic manner.

EGM: Any guilty food or drink pleasures?

MB: Takeout … Read More

Continue Reading

Facebook

Twitter