Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I hope that this past weekend brought you love, happiness, and holiday cheer.

Carols on a real piano... (with only a few mistakes...)

...maybe it even brought you your very own can of alcohol-infused whipped cream...

The cookies and sangria may have gotten a little out of control....

And by now, you're probably all tuckered out.

It's okay, Christmas has a way of doing that.

 Enjoy your last week of 2010!!  I know I will :)

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from The Green Scene.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Last-Minute Gifts

'Tis the season.  But, you're probably tired of the mall (or just avoiding it, like me).  Even so, it's possible you still need a few more gifts.  And maybe you want to be more creative than usual.

Giving gifts with a local touch is a unique way to recognize the holiday spirit, whether you're giving to an out-of-towner or a fellow townie.  It means you thought about it a little bit, and veered off the beaten path (i.e. Crossgates Mall Road).

Need some help?

If you have access to a local co-op, making a gift basket of specialty items is a fun present for anyone.  Throw in some New York wine and cheese, and it's extra special!  (Honest Weight in Albany has fantastic cheeses, and the Little Falls Community Co-Op sells beautiful Amish baskets, meaning a one-stop shop!)

Finger Lakes Wine (Seneca Lake, NY)

 Amazing Real Live Food Company cheese 
(available at Honest Weight)

 The people around you, like friends and co-workers, often practice hobbies that may serve your purpose.  Look for baked goods, crafts, maple syrup, or natural toiletry products  (Homemade soaps are especially nice for the lady on your list.)

Hay Maple Syrup, Cobleskill, NY

Hand-made natural soaps (lotions, lip balms) by P. Maniscalco, 
Cobleskill, NY
(highly recommended by me)

Or at the very least, shop at a small business.  There are plenty of local chocolatiers, florists, jewelry makers, tea and coffee companies, etc. that could use your business as much as you could use their one-of-a-kind goods.
Loose tea at Nova Mae Cafe in Bennington, VT

Or, make something yourself!  Bake up a batch of cookies, a pie, or some bread.  A little love makes everything taste extra good.

I say you can still make the pumpkin bread.  OR... homemade gingerbread anyone??

I'm sure you'll come up with something perfect :) Good luck and Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Breakfast for Dinner

My face is still numb from my filling at 11AM this morning.   :(

After choking and cheek-biting my way through lunch, I decided to have pancakes for dinner.

Of course, I used Bisquick.  Who doesn't?  This post isn't so much about the pancakes, but what I used on top.

Really, I've just been waiting for an excuse to make pancakes, ever since I splurged on this:

Yes.  REAL maple syrup.  And not only is it real (which tastes completely different from fake), but it was made right in Cobleskill by someone I work with.  Double awesome.

So I stirred up my Bisquick, adding some cinnamon because it's yummy.  (For the record, I used Byrne Dairy milk and Cottonhill farm eggs, as well as some flax from the co op, so there's some local in there.)

Then I fried about the best darn batch of pancakes I think I ever made.  I'm getting a hang of this cooking thing.

I highly recommend real maple syrup, and while you're at it, you might as well get it from the Hay family.  Their bottle says "The World's Best," and I think they might be right...

** Look for them to be selling syrup again around March. I also hear there's tours...

Monday, December 6, 2010

Holiday Specials 2: Sangria

It's Monday... time to start planning for the weekend!

Who doesn't need something to look forward to on a snowy, blustery Monday, filled with hyper freshmen, and bookended by dentists and cats wearing cone collars?

Long story.

Well, the holidays are fast approaching, and I, for one, am more than ready for par-tay (or two).

Minus the sambuca, we are not a family of drinkers.  But it's still nice to have a festive drink on the table.  Accordingly, my mom has concocted a fun autumnal sangria for the holiday season.

First cut up your fruit.  Bite size pieces work best: if they're too big, they overpower your glass.  We used one apple, one orange, and a handful of cranberries.  Put it all into a pretty pitcher.

Pour in a bottle of wine.  We've experimented with a few different ones, but a sweet red wine tastes best (like a New York red).  The sugars mix well with the fruit.  Then top this off with some cranberry juice.  (You can control the strength of your sangria depending on how much juice you cut it with.)

Let it sit for a few hours... the oranges really spice the wine, and the apples suck it all up.  The cranberries just make it look wintery.  You could even mix it the night before, except don't put the apples in until a little before serving.  (The oranges make it better with time, but the apples start to get a little funky.)

Enjoy it in pretty glasses with friends and food.

A party in a pitcher

Have fun and be safe :)

“Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” 
Charlie Brown
A Charlie Brown Christmas

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Holiday Specials 1: Artichokes

You know it's a holiday when the Sambuca comes out.  And I don't mean my kitty.

Also known as Sambuca.

Besides sambuca, there's a couple other "specials" that only appear around the holidays in our house.

It's not particularly artichoke season; I think we mainly eat them around the holidays because they're expen$ive, but we allow those kinds of splurges for the holidays.

I'm not sure what the feeling out there about artichokes is, but let me tell you, if you roast any vegetable with garlic, olive oil, and parmesan cheese, it's going to be delicious.  So in case you're interested, here's how to make them, on location at Grandma's house.

You have to start by cleaning them and snipping the prickly edges (artichokes are a type of thistle).  Then boil them for about an hour to soften them up (it might take less time with fewer artichokes, but we made eleven...)

While they're boiling, thinly slice your garlic (we used three cloves for our large batch), and your parmesan not as thin-- and try not to eat it all as you go...

Then line them up in your pan and stuff them.  You only want a piece or two of garlic for each 'choke, but be liberal with the cheese... who doesn't love them some melty parmesan!  Also, put a couple ladle-fulls of the boiling water at the bottom to keep them moist as they bake.

Grandma demonstrates the stuffing.

Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle your salt and pepper, and then bake in the oven at 350 until the edges are dark and the cheese has melted.


In case you're a super novice: to eat them, pull off the leaves and eat the tender ends (as well as the fillings) until you're down to the heart. Then scrape off the pricklies and eat the juicy base.

** Dedicated to my Dad, who is a computer MacGuyver. <3

Monday, November 22, 2010

This One is for Grannies

One of the things I love about cooking, is that most of my favorite recipes are my favorite because of the people they remind me of.

My great grandmother passed away when I was only six, but even so I still remember so much about her, and miss her. ("Dan-ee-ellllle.")

There are many things that remind me of her: one of them is baked apples.  I remember her kitchen, and the warmth, and the smell, and how the apples looked a little ugly, but tasted so sweet and smooshy and good.

So last night, after a freeeeezing weekend of horrible eating (but still craving warm dessert), and missing my family, I decided a baked apple would be healthier way to warmth and comfort than a batch of cookies.

I cored my apple, being careful not to cut all the way through, then filled the insides with old-fashioned goodness: a scoop of butter, another scoop of brown sugar, some cinnamon sprinkles, and dried date pieces.  (I said it was healthier, not healthy.)

Then in the oven it went at 400 for about 10-15 minutes.

I took the apple out when it got juicy and melty looking, and then scooped on some Skinny Cow ice cream for a cheater's pie a-la mode.

It's a good way to use up some old apples that need using up.  And, to remind of you of being six years old and barely seeing over your great grandmother's kitchen table at the wrinkly baked apples above.

Happy Thanksgiving :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Market Facts

1. Chocolate can cure most ailments.*  Some days just require more than others.

*This goes in particular for chocolate purchased after you've been to a wine tasting, since it's probably of much higher quality than you would normally pay for... or buy three bars of...

This has less to do with the market, and more to do with eating my feelings, which leads us to the next fact:

2. Always make a list before shopping at the farmers market, and then stick with it.  You can't stick with a list if you didn't make one in the first place, and then you might come home with really expensive pesto.

* At least it lasts 6 weeks (or can be frozen) so I have time to savor it.

3. Expensive bread goes really well with expensive pesto, but bread is always worth the money.

Kalamata olive bread... I know...

4. The Schenectady Greenmarket is the only farmers market that I know of in the area open on Sunday, so if you were busy on Saturday, you can still get your fresh foods!

Like tarts.

or baklava yessss.

Candles made of honey (or just honey)

and... er... pot soap?  Sold to you in a man in dreads, no less. Love it.

5. Stick to foods in season, even at the farmers market.  Right now that would be root vegetables like carrots, onions, and turnips, as well as squashes of all shapes and sizes...

Not things like tomatoes and lettuce (they didn't look great, anyway).  If it's not in season, that means it's either been sitting around for a while (like the tomatoes) or being grown in a heated green house, which wastes energy.  And it won't taste as good either way.  I broke the rule and bought a tomato, and it was disappointing :(

Anyway, check out the Schenectady Greenmarket on Sundays until 2PM.  It's now located inside Proctor's for the winter.

And now, a word from our market sponsors:

Ha! You know you laughed.  It's supposedly a local nut company, but I didn't see any nuts... You just never know what you'll run into in Schenectady.  Enjoy.

Monday, November 8, 2010


Baby, it's coooold outside, so let's turn on the oven!

After driving home in the snow, some yummy roasted goodness sounded perfect.  I had farmers market potatoes, split chicken breasts, aaaand a new veggie... brussel sprouts!!

I've never had them before, and you may be nay-ing them right now, but I went with my theory that if you pour olive oil, salt and pepper on anything and then roast it, it's usually delicious.

So that's what I did.  I chopped up my veggies....

...and mixed them in a pan with a breast of chicken.  All were drizzled with olive oil, sea salt, pepper, sage and thyme (sea salt and herbs from the co-op... a great place to get inexpensive spices and herbs).

Then into the oven it goes at 375 degrees for about half an hour.  Stir up your veggies a couple times so they don't burn.

Then enjoy :)

Hopefully that warms you up!  One pan meals are pretty easy.  The potatoes were all buttery, and the chicken was a little crispy.  And the verdict is.... sprouts are pretty good roasted!  The ones at the bottom were all salty and caramelized with the onions.  Told you: salt, olive oil and high heat can make anything tasty.

Now...... dessert?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Stuffed II

This post is dedicated to Sarah, who will get much enjoyment out of the title, and to Erin, who continues to not only eat my concoctions, but then feeds them to people she knows, too.

I can't let pumpkins get all the attention.  Not when there's small, delicious acorn squash!

I mean, these guys are a bit hard to handle.

Besides too cute to eat.

I'm not sure where I got this recipe from originally, probably, but it's over a year old for me, and I now make it from my head, so I'm claiming it.

Here's what you need:
An acorn squash
a few tablespoons of brown sugar
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stick, diced
1 small apple, diced
1 tablespoon diced onion
1 egg
1 link of sausage (I used Bilinski's chicken sausages)

First, set your oven to HOT.  (i.e. 450-500 degrees)

Carefully cut your acorn squash in half, put it open-side down on a greased pan and bake for about 15 minutes until it's starting to get soft (see if you can squish it a little with your tongs).  Save those seeds! You can roast them just like pumpkin ones, yumm.

While it's roasting, chop up your veggies...

...and mix them in a bowl with the bread crumbs, brown sugar, and parmesan cheese.  Break in the egg to stick it all together. Cook/warm up your sausage, chop it up in little bits, and stir that in too.

Your stuffing will look kinda like this:
Not quite delicious yet... but it will be, trust me.

Take out your squash, turn it over, and..... stuff!!  You'll probably have a little extra stuffing, which you can just pile in the pan to cook up by itself... you'll probably want it.  I also threw in a little extra brown sugar and a spoonful of butter at the bottom of the squash, you know, for good measure.

Bake for about another 20 minutes until the egg in the stuffing is cooked through and it looks all brown and roasty on top.  Then serve those cute little squash bowls to your guests!  They'll love 'em!


Thanksgiving Countdown: 20 days