Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Caught red-handed!

Apparently, Charlie likes spicy micro-greens.  Or he's just getting really desperate.  But I know the feeling. It feels like spring will never hit Upstate New York this year.  I've packed and unpacked my winter boots three times now.

In the meantime, I'll think happy thoughts of the season to come...

For now, all we can do is wait.  Hang in there!


How are you making the best of it??

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Maple-y March

Aaaaaand.... we're back to winter.  March is such a back-stabber. But, as much as I am TOTALLY ready for Spring, if I'm going to get "stuck" eating more comfort foods to warm up these winter-weary bones, they might as well be sweet and delicious.

If you didn't already know (and you're a bad guesser) it's maple season!

And Albany is a prime-location to be in during maple season, because most maple syrup is produced in New England, and our neighbor, Vermont, is the top producer.  This means we are pretty much surrounded.

Not such a bad thing, since maple syrup is a natural, versatile, delicious, and healthy sweetener.
In fact, it's loaded with vitamins and minerals, including calcium, and contains less calories per tablespoon than cornsyrup [fact].

And if you're feeling adventurous, check out one of the area maple syrup producers for a tour and to buy local products.  There are plenty of them out there, but my favorite, of course, is Sweet Water Maple Syrup by the Hay family out in Cobleskill.  Matt's been super busy tapping and boiling the last couple weeks, and they're having a tour this Saturday for anyone interested in viewing the process (or just stocking up on delicious syrup and candy).

Be creative with your syrup... and enjoy our own local sweets :)

Thanks, Hays!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Recipe Win: Split Pea Soup

Spring is aaaalmoooost here.  

Ok, not quite that here.  No flowers yet, but the snow mountain outside my window is slowly shrinking into a snow hill.  It's a tease, though, because I don't want to wear my coat, but 45 degrees is still chilly.  And tomorrow it's supposed to rain, so 45 will feel pretty cold.

So... it's still soup weather.  I can live with that.  But, I better show you this soup before it's too late!

I actually made this a few times during the winter but I just couldn't seem to get it right.  Remember the Recipe Fail?

Recipe Win!

If you're like me, and need to force-feed yourself vegetables, then soup is a good way to get them in you quickly and painlessly.  And it's a great warm-up on a chilly, rainy day. Pea soup is perfect for these occasions.

Wait! Don't stop reading!

You might not consider yourself a fan of split pea soup, but I want you to ask yourself... have you ever really tried it?

Because it might surprise you.

I never thought I liked it until it was placed in front of me at one lovely little Italian restaurant in Binghamton.  I gave it a try, and it was delicious!  Mine isn't quite as amazing as that, but it's pretty yummy-- trust me.

Split Pea Soup

1 large carrot, chopped
1 large celery stalk, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
3 (ish) garlic cloves, minced
1 white potato, chopped
1 cup dry split peas
2 bay leaves
2 bouillon cubes of your choice (I used chicken, but you could use veggie if you want to make this vegan)
lots of water

1. At the bottom of a large pot, drizzle a bit of oil and begin sauteing your onion, celery, carrot, and potato.  When they begin to soften, add the garlic.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
2. Add the peas and fill the pot to about 3/4 with water (6-8 cups).  Bring to a boil.  Throw in your bay leaves and bouillon.
3. Turn the heat down and simmer for a long time, 1-2 hours.  It may get really thick (you know the saying "thick as pea soup?") so add water when necessary, a cup at a time-- you can always add more, but you can't take it out! You'll know it's done with the peas get soft and break apart.
4. If you like it rustic, eat it just like this.  But I like a smoother texture, so I give it a whiz with my immersion blender, for a silkier soup.

Serve with a little cheese, croutons, or crunchy bread.  Yum!  A little goes a long way. For a soup, this one sticks with you, so it makes for a great lunch. (Fiber, anyone?)  AND it's all veggie, so it's super duper good for you.  It's cheap and easy, just takes a little waiting time, but well worth it in the end (and it's freezable!).

Now's the time to use up all of those wintery things in your cabinets and basement (like root veggies and dried beans) to make room for all the freshies coming our way! Yay!  Look out for asparagus and spinach, first to shoot up.

It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot 
and the wind blows cold:  when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.  

Charles Dickens

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

New in Town

I apologize for how late I am on this.

A few months ago, a new supermarket arrived in the Capital Region.  It's taken me a while, but finally, I got my butt there.  And I have to say, it was a pretty awesome experience.  You know, if you're really into grocery shopping.

Located on Route 9 in Latham, the FreshMarket boasts a huge selection of premium produce, meats, and other food products.  I'll let my pictures do the talking.


Grind your own nut butter!

Verdict?  Pricey, but a good place to get something special.  Planning a dinner party?  Come here.  Their meats and appetizers look amazing.  I can't wait to experiment with their selection of curries.  And everything looks beautiful down to the last detail so that it's a very pleasant-- dare I even say fun-- shopping experience.  Very different from shopping at Price Chopper.  It's definitely worth a visit.  Be sure to make it a stop in your near future.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


The last few weeks have been a roller coaster.  More than anything at this moment, I am appreciating my awesome co-workers-- I'm going to savor the next few months with you.  As well as dedicate this post.

As I've said before, one of the really cool things about where I work is that I have easy access to some really fresh (and sometimes unusual) ingredients. You know I love to experiment with ingredients.  Whether it's farm-fresh goat cheese or pure maple syrup.

Or....duck eggs, courtesy of Andrea.

For your information, duck eggs are very similar to chicken eggs, except they have a bigger yolk.  If you have access to these big beauties, they're great to bake with because the extra yolk makes your goods extra moist.  However, you need to be an experienced baker in order to know how to adjust your recipe to account for this extra moisture (and I am not).  Sadly, I overcooked my cookies a bit.  But otherwise they came out pretty good.

Fresh from the duck.

Look at the size of that yolk!

Extra-moist chocolate chip blondie bars.  And a glass of milk.  In a pint glass.  Just like when we were kids.  (Just kidding, mom!)

Interestingly, duck eggs have a... ducky flavor.  This recipe for chocolate chip blondies only calls for one egg, so only the most perceptive eaters noticed a difference.  But Andrea did say that recipes that call for a lot of eggs don't work well because the duckiness gets overpowering.

Thanks, Andrea!  And bakers, keep your eyes peeled for duck eggs.  I'm not sure if you can buy them anywhere... I haven't seen them... but I bet you have friends with ducks.  Doesn't everyone?

"Truly great friends are hard to find, difficult to leave, and impossible to forget."