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Faviken – Magnus Nilsson – and Autumn Leaves

Autumn leaves

Swedish chef Magnus Nilsson has found a use for autumn leaves in his kitchen where he has been known to boil up a broth of autumn leaves that he thinks “tastes like a season.” So, think again about the autumn leaves flying through the air with dancing autumnal breezes. Autumn leaves are falling and collecting on the ground where they are now being washed by gentle autumnal rains.  They are beautiful, and Magnus Nilsson has found a use for them beyond the compost pile.

Of course you have to think ahead to create your own leaf broth because the ingredients called for include “2 handfuls of old autumns leaves from last year,” as well as 1 litre of fresh autumn leaves.  Here is the full recipe.

1 litre good quality fresh mushrooms of different  kinds   /    handful of clean moss   /   2 handfuls old autumn leaves   /   1 litre fresh autumn leaves.

Put the mushrooms in a heatproof container and pour 500g over them. Close the lid or wrap tightly in plastic wrap and steam for about 25 minutes in a steam oven at 200 degrees F.

Meanwhile put the moss, the old leaves  and 3 handfuls of fresh leaves in a glass teapot. Remove the container of mushrooms from the oven and open it carefully. Adjust the salt if you wish, then immediately strain the hot liquid over the contents of the teapot. Leave to infuse for about 3 minutes.

Arrange some fresh autumn leaves in a bowl and pour the hot aromatic brother over them in front of the diner.

Nilsson gives this advice. “The trick is to use very little salt. Salt will emphasize the flavours and make it taste much too savoury like a mushroom stock, but if you barely salt it, or do not salt it at all, it will be more like a fine  tea, with all the delicate nuances you want.”

Autumn Leaf Broth

This dish is available at Faviken, Nilsson’s tiny restaurant in Jamtland, Sweden. There are many other fascinating dishes as well, all described in Nilsson’s beautiful cookbook named after his restaurant.  The photographs are gorgeous in a spare Swedish way, and looking at them, you might be hoping for a 20 or 30 course meal because the servings (in the photographs) look so small.

A Fish Dish

This is a photo of “Rose fish, coarsely chopped pieces of its liver and raw langoustine stirred with really good butter, lichens and a broth of the forest floor.” What you see in  the bowl is “6 very clean round pieces of moss, cut to fit the size of your bowl.  The broth made from autumn leaves is a part of this dish.

I confess that I am probably not planning to make  these or many other dishes from Faviken any time soon, but I am of (half) Swedish extraction and the text of the cookbook is fascinating with its tales of Sweden as well as great information about ingredients and cooking.

For me this is a wonderful cookbook for bedtime reading, if not daytime cooking. How adventurous a cook are you?

 

Sunday Night – Drama, Delicious, Drama

Jupiter, Moon, Venus

Liz and Lilin

Dumplings AKA jiaozi

Lilin stirring jiazo, jiaozi - delicious

Oscar

More drama!

Green River Ambrosia – Fit for the Gods

The Green River Ambrosia crew – standing L-R Brendan Burns, Will Savitri, Garth Shaneyfelt.  Kneeling L-R Sandy Pearson, Sam Dibble

Mead is an ancient drink, essentially a wine made with honey instead of grapes. The great Norse hero Beowulf drank mead and feasted in a great mead hall 1500 years ago. Somewhere along the line mead fell out of favor as a popular drink, even in Scandinavia, but three young Greenfield men, Garth Shaneyfelt, Will Savitri, and Sam Dibble are brewing a mead they are calling Green River Ambrosia.

The first batch of Green River Ambrosia went on sale in the spring of 2008 and rapidly sold out, as have all subsequent batches. Currently the newly renovated meadery that shares space with Katalyst Kombucha at the Franklin County Community Development Center (FCCDC) brews mead, cyzer a hard cider fermented with honey instead of sugar, and an alcoholic ginger beer. As a participant and sponsor of this year’s Winter Fare events, they are brewing a special local Ginger Libation that uses ginger from Old Friends Farm in Amherst, Clarkdale cider, and Chang Farm schizandra berry juice. I am warning you right now, this is a very limited run. I tested it and it is delicious.

Will Savitri is the founder of Katalyst Kombucha, a fermented tea drink.

Sam Dibble who previously worked at Real Pickles which makes naturally fermented pickles, has worked as the brewer for Katalyst Kombucha for several years as brewer. “I’m Scandinavian, so of course, I know about mead halls. I’m also a beekeeper and I’ve been inspired by Dan Conlon of Warm Colors Apiary.”

When the FCCDC held a big event to show off the First National Bank building several years ago, Garth Shaneyfelt, who had recently moved to Greenfield, met Dibble and Savitri. Their mutual interests in bees, honey, and fermented drinks led them to mead, and the founding of Green River Ambrosia.

Since the equipment for making kombucha could also be used for brewing mead they were in business almost immediately. Getting the necessary state and federal permits and licenses took about six months, and their first 300 gallon batch of mead went on the market in 2008. Most of their honey comes from Warm Colors Apiary in South Deerfield, although Shaneyfelt said they have some hives of their own, and are now working with other small beekeepers. Over the last couple of years they have joined with Clarkdale Fruit Farm and Pine Hill Farm to make cyzer. Last year their cyzer won a gold medal at the International Mazur Cup competition in Boulder, Colorado.

Shaneyfelt explained “We are bringing a wine making mentality to our brewing, a vintage concept.”

“Every year the honey is different, depending on the weather and how that effects the honeyflow, “ Dibble added.

Traditional mead is made with only honey, water and yeast. It has an alcohol content similar to wine, between 12 and 13 percent.

Dibble said, “Honey adds flavor and complexity to our cyzer. The flavor of the apples is still there. Honey compliments the apples and balances the acidity. A wonderful interplay of flavor.”

Mead and cyzer take between six and nine months to finish the fermenting process and be ready to drink. Their ginger beer, called Ginger Libation and technically a wine since it contains no grain or malt, takes less time to ferment making it a useful quicker turn-around product. Shaneyfelt explained that before prohibition all ginger beer was alcoholic. Prohibition changed all that and now Green River Ambrosia may be the only brewery making alcoholic ginger beer in the U.S.

Shaneyfelt is the CFO which means he keeps the books, but all three make the point that this is a worker-owned company. They all do everything. “Brewer is just a fancy name for bottle washer.” Shaneyfelt said. “Cleanliness is essential when you are working with yeast in order to get the flavors you want.”

The meadery space at Katalyst Kombucha at the CDC was recently renovated. The walls, ceiling and floor are made of food-grade material and all are washable.  The equipment is the even higher dairy-grade stainless steel.

The business is growing steadily, enough so that two more worker-owners have been added to the crew, Brendan Burns who brought the recipe for ginger beer, and Sandy Pearson.

All five are committed to supporting local farms and beekeepers. Their motto is Think Global. Drink Local!

The various brews are available locally at Ryan and Casey and the Shelburne Wine Merchant as well as eateries like Hope and Olive and the People’s Pint.

As a former beekeeper myself, and a champion of bees and all the pollinators that are vital to our food supply, I was fascinated to learn about these new local drinks that are increasing the market our local farmers have access to. I give a cheer for every new agricultural and libation enterprise, don’t you?

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Winter Fare events begins on Saturday, February 4 with the Winter Farmers Market at the Second Congregational Church on Court Square. For full information about events logon to www.winterfare.org. The final events on Sunday, February 12 will be the Fifth Annual Cabin Fever Seed Swap at Green Fields Market meeting room from 12:30 – 4:30 pm. Bring seeds if you have them. They can be commercial seeds left over from last year or seeds you saved yourself. If you don’t have seeds, come anyway. There’s lots to learn, and extra seeds to take away.  At 5 pm Conway is having a Local Food Pot Luck Supper at the Conway Town Hall. For more information call Mary McClintock (413) 522-5932.

Between the Rows  January 28, 2012

Sunday Afternoon with Mozz, Feta, Chevre, Cajeta and more

Sheila of Dell Farmstead

Actually my neighbor Sheila of Dell Farmstead started her cheesemaking workshop at 9 am! Fortunately, she included a beautiful lunch in the day’s schedule. By the end of the day we had made: chevre, a goat cheese; 30 minute mozzarella; feta; cheddar; creme fraiche, soft goat cheese, and a Tomme unique to Dell Farmstead.

Curds and When

We learned that all cheese begins with separating the curds from the whey – with the help of additives like citric acid, and starter cultures including rennet that are different for each type of cheese. Animal rennet is extracted from the 4th stomach of a calf, but vegetarians can use a rennet made from plants like thistle flowers and stinging nettles. We also learned that whey, the liquid that is left after the milk solids are removed is considered a pollutant. That means it cannot go down the drain into a septic system or sewer system. Sheila feeds the whey to her hens or dumps it on her garden where it does no harm.

Heating the milk

The very first step is to warm the milk. How hot it needs to be and for how long depends on the type of cheese being made. A cheese thermometer is vital because it gives small increments. All utensils were stainless steel and very clean. No oil or soap residue can be left behind.

Ricotta?

When the whey has been totally drained, the curds can look like this. I’m not sure if this is the ricotta or the chevre. Both look very similar.

We didn’t make any cajeta which is a Mexican caramel made from goat milk, but Sheila had some ready for us to sample. She also made dark chocolate covered goat milk truffles which you can see us tasting, while one devoted member of the group was deputed to keep his eye on the thermometer.

Luncheon Table

The truffles did not ruin our appetites. We sat down to a wonderful lunch of paillards of chicken with a creme fraiche (that we made)  sauce over rice and a lovely green salad. Sustaining.

Feta Cheese - almost

Feta cheese is not really feta until it has been brined.  for three days.

30 minute mozzarella

I couldn’t believe it only takes 30 minutes to make mozzarella. It uses the magic of a microwave, and some taffy-pulling technique.  Most of the cheese we made used commercial milk, but only Guida and Our Family Farms milk because these two are only pasturized, not ULTRA pasturized which would have killed every single bacteria. You need bacteria, good bacteria, to make cheese.

Cheese Cave

We only made one cheese that will end up in Sheila’s ‘cave’ which made use of an old cistern in her basement. She lives in an old farmhouse.  Many of the cheese recipes we used are in Ricky Carroll’s book Home Cheese Making. Ricky is known as the Cheese Queen and everything you need to make cheese is available through her website. Sheila took Ricky’s workshop nearly 30 years ago – and has been making cheese ever since.

Hoegger’s Farmyard is another company that sells cheese making equipment online.

If you’d like information about a cheesemaking workshop contact Sheila at  sheila@thedell.com. Oh, by the way – we all got to take some cheese home with us.

PS – Don’t forget that tomorrow, Saturday, Jan. 14 is the great Winterfare in Northampton. Fresh produce, workshops, soup cafe, and lots of fun all around.

Look At My Loot

Seven Years Gold Compost

As Christmas drew near a  friend asked if I his Christmas gift had been delivered. I said no deliveries and then waited every day for my treat to arrive. I did get a Package Too Big notice from the Post Office and picked up this bag of compost that had a mailing label right on the bag. I assumed it was some sort of sample from the Seven Years Gold company, although it did seem an odd time of year to be sending compost samples to Massachusetts.  But when my friend arrived for dinner after Christmas he said he couldn’t wait any longer to tell me what was on its way to me – horse manure!  Seven Years Gold wasn’t a sample it was my friend who paid attention when I said one of the best gifts I had gotten for my first vegetable garden 40 years ago was a load of rotted horse manure. Friends like this are not easy to come by.

Christmas Books

Of course all my friends and family know I love books – and that high cooking and baking season lasts all winter. The stove helps keep the house warm. I was familiar with Nigel Slater (British) from his many inspiring and useful cookbooks, but Yotam Ottolenghi was new to me. Nigel Slater was prompted to write Tender: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch this latest book by his new(ish) passion for gardening. Yotam Ottolenghi’s book, Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi, takes a vegetarian approach. I have already made his flavorful Mushroom and herb polenta. Delicious and easy.  Although I had never heard of Ginette Mathiot or her cookbooks that are considered  the Joy of Cooking of France, I am ready to delve into The Art of French Baking (The definitive guide to home baking by Frances favorite cook book author). I must say the recipes look very easy. We shall see.

Finally, there is a book for bedtime reading. Writing the Garden: A Literary Conversation Across Two Centuries by Elizabeth Barlow Rogers is not the anthology of selections I first thought. There are snippets from each of the authors mentioned from Thomas Jefferson and Gertrude Jekyll to humorists like Karel Capek and artists like Robert Dash, but Rogers gives us a sense of the life and personalities of each. I am savoring each section.

Now here is a question. Although not apparent from a photo, two of the cookbooks, Plenty and The Art of French Baking have padded covers. Is this a new trend? A new style in books? Does it make the books more wipe-able?  Any ideas?

Christmas Trees at Kringle Candle Company

This Christmas may be over, but all these gifts, including a candle from the Kringle Candle Company, will keep the memory alive for many years.

ADDENDUM – One way or another I have gotten comments and questions about horse manure – and I found interesting information and comparisons here.

We Love to Eat – Blog Action Day 2011

Heath Schoolhouse Museum

I live in a ruraltown of 750 souls in the western corner of Massachusetts that sits on the Vermont border. On the Fourth of July in 1981 I happened to meet two other friends at the spinning wheel in the town museum. We were celebrating the holiday, but got to complaining that we never went out to dinner, we  couldn’t afford to, and besides there were no good restaurants closer than 40 miles. Actually there were no restaurants  at all closer than 25 miles. So, on the spot, we invented the Heath Gourmet Club that has been meeting ten times a year ever since, beginning that September. We don’t meet in August because we are all too busy with the Heath Fair, and we collapse the November/December dinners into one.

Gourmet Club Anniversary

Here we are celebrating again. Each month the host picks a theme and lets the other four couples know the entree. Then, Sheila, our record keeper, assigns us each a course, appetizers, bread and soup, side, salad, and dessert, or whatever combination suits the meal. Hosting and courses rotate so we all get a chance to do everything.  This keeps down the individual labor and cost for each meal, some of which have been really spectacular. Salmon Coulibiac, Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourginnone, Mock Turtle Soup (made with muskrat), Peking Duck, and many many more. Spanish, Italian, British, African, Japanese, Indonesian and more, especially French. I love French. Sometimes we have Guest Eaters who feel themselves really lucky to be invited.

Obviously we all love to cook and try new things, but we also like to use local produce. Long before we heard of the 100 mile diet we raised our own pork and chickens and eggs, bought good Heath blueberries, apples and milk. We gardened and grew and put up our own vegetables.

Minestrone

We don’t think every meal has to be fancy, but anything made with good healthy ingredients is a pleasure and delight.

Seeds of Solidarity Farm

We have all been able to buy fresh produce at local farms and orchards, but over the past years the number of small farms has increased selling their produce at farmstands and through this new thing called a CSA, Community Supported Agriculture which allows all of us to share in the risk of farming, the unpredictability of weather and pestilence, and farmer’s markets. This increase in the production of local food is good for the farmers, good for the environments, good for the community and good for us of us eaters.

Seeds of Solidarity Farm is a working farm, specializing in greens and garlic, but Ricky also teaches garden workshops and his wife Deb works to create school gardens, and get fresh produce into institutions like schools and hospitals.

Garlic and Arts Festival - The Festival that Stinks

Along with neighbors, Deb and Ricky founded the Garlic and Arts Festival that takes place the first weekend in October. This is a solar powered, grease mobile run, festival. Who cares if it stinks? After the 10,000 people leave and the field is cleaned up, there is only three bags of trash to dispose of. Everything else is composted or recycled. They have proved that we can live more lightly on the land that we usually do. Then they sell some of the compost at the next Festival.

Organizations like CISA have grown up to help farmers be better businessmen and involve all of us in supporting local agriculture.

Annual Harvest Meal in Greenfield, MA

Every year our larger community celebrates the bounty of our area with a giant FREE Harvest Meal. Farmers donate the produce, restauranteurs donate their labor, musicians come and play and we all celebrate. You can make a donation of course, and that money goes to fund vouchers that are given out at the food pantry, to be used at the farmers market. Everyone deserves fresh healthy food. This year 800 people gathered for this feast, some making generous contributions, and others enjoying the meal freely. $4000 was collected for food vouchers.

And everyone deserves to grow their own healthy food. Just Roots is the new Community Farm that has been form on the site of the Greenfield Poor Farm. This is a wonderful opportunity for many people who don’t own land and who like working with others – who can be a real help with advice.

We are fortunate in our area to have Greenfield Community College which is offering a new course this fall on food systems. It is oversubscribed! Read about that here. It is a joy to see the support given to potential farmers.

We wish our good food fortune to everyone. Bon appetit!

For more about Blog Action Day click here.

Is Junk Food Really Cheaper?

In yesterday’s NY Times Mark Bittman asked the question, Is Junk Food Really Cheaper? Can you really feed a family for less at McDonalds than at your own table filled with home cooked food.  In spite of the protestations that a bag of chips is cheaper than a head of broccoli and other such, the answer is NO!  A meal for a family of four at McDonald’s will come to between $23 and $28.  How many groceries can you buy for that amount? Bittman lays out his plan, and his answer to all the objections about the difficulty of cooking a healthy meal at home. One important point he makes is that the alternative to a McDonald’s meal is not an organic farmer’s market meal. It is simply a trip to the supermarket. I”d like to add that supermarkets often have good sales.

I was happy to be a part of the Food Fest at the Charlemont Federated Church this summer. Various cooks chose a topic, beans, eggs, chicken, and set up a table with assorted dishes.  I chose the chicken table and talked about taking a chicken from the roasting pan, and then then through other iterations in my famous chicken salad with Moroccan spices to chicken with pasta and peanut sauce and even chicken soup.  Recipes complete with nutritional information were available, as well as conversations with excellent cooks. Although we couldn’t eat the samples on the tables (health rules) samples from the church kitchen were passed around all day.

There were cooking demonstrations. I filled in at the last minute to make corn chowder – and ruined it when the top fell off the salt shaker and over over salted the chowder. People got the idea though. Jason Velasquez of Pen and Plow Farm demonstrated making potato pancakes, a great dish in many cuisines.

His potato pancakes were perfect and delicious. We all got a taste.

The goal of the program was to remind us all that a good, economical, nutritious home cooked meal does not need to take hours and certainly doesn’t take more money that a trip to McDonald’s. We are all of a mind with Mark Bittman, and our program proved unequivocally that Junk Food is Not Really Cheaper.

Rose Hip Season

Rosa glauca hips

Rose blossoms come in many shapes and forms. Rose hips are more limited is form, but have their own beauty and use. I planted Rosa glauca nearly 30 years ago because the catalog description said that it looked like a Pompeian wall painting and the black hips were beautiful. I had never thought about the appearance of rose hips before, but the description intrigued on all counts. The hips are ripening right now and though they will never get really black they are very handsome and can be used at all stages in flower arrangements.

These hips are on my ‘mystery rose.’ I have no idea of its name but it is a spreader. The hips are still ripening and will eventually be red.

Scabriosa hips

“Scabriosa” has the traditional chubby rose hips that are used to make rose hip jelly and rose hip tea. Lots of vitamin C. A young friend and I made rose hip jelly one year. Once was enough. Its a lot of work, for very little return as far as I was concerned.

More Tours – Hawley

A Hawley View

The weekend of July 9 is going to be busy. A festival of garden and artisan tours will be on offer. The Hawley Artisan’s & Garden Tour, sponsored by the Sons and Daughters of Hawley is billed as “A Collage of Art and Gardens.” One of my favorite gardens is Jerry Sternstein’s vegetable garden that is much more lush than mine – and has a fabulous view.

Other Hawley gardens have perennial borders and blooming shrubs, but many will also offer quilt displays, stonework, and Marian Ives delightful metal ornaments. One garden grows Energy, with an array of solar hot water, photovoltaics, a wood boiler and more. Lunch will be served at The Grove ($12) right across from the historic East Hawley Meeting House.  And don’t forget the famous Hawley Bog with its many rare plants.

For more information or to order tickets ($10 suggested donation) call Cyndie Stetson, 339-4231.   Tickets will also be available the day of the tour, Saturday, July 9 from 10-4pm at the Stetson house, 108 West Hawley Road.

Rain Didn’t Deter the Crowds

Gentle Persuasion

Saturday dawned gray and misty. At 10 am those driving up to Heath for the Franklin Land Trust Farm and Garden Tour found themselves driving through thick Shangi-La fog to the mythical land of Heath with its fields and forests, blueberries, maple syrup, its country gardens, its history, and of course, its roses.

The air and the grass were wet, flowers somewhat rain battered after a week of downpours, but enthusiastic gardeners came from across the state, from Connecticut and Vermont to admire and learn and enjoy the delights of a day in Heath.

Goldbusch rose

For the first time I got to show off the Rose Bank where the brand new yellow roses opened just in time. I planted these just this spring and I probably should not have let them bloom, but I did want visitors to be able to see what kind of a flower they had. Goldbusch, a Kordes hybrid, is disease resistant with a delicate flowers. ‘Gentle Persuasion’ a Buck hybrid is described like this, “The medium-large, ovoid-pointed lemon yellow tinted Spanish orange buds open to double (25-30 petals), cupped open, 4-inch blooms of lemon yellow overlaid with Mars orange, which age lighter. The blooms have a light, sweet fragrance and are borne in clusters of 1-5. The abundant, leathery, large, semi-glossy foliage is dark olive green and has good field tolerance to common foliar diseases. The thorns are tan and awl-like. The erect, bushy plants is vigorous and blooms from June to killing frost.” You can see my husband’s hand supporting the drenched blossom and get an idea of the large size and amazing color.

Sunday was drier and even busier than Saturday. By the end of the weekend I had met new neighbors, visited with old friends, arranged a couple of plant swaps, had many discussions about the efficiency of Milky Spore Disease in getting rid of Japanese beetles, and spent a few minutes in the Cottage Ornee with visitors to enjoy the rose scented breeze, and wet our whistles. I also promised to include my recipe for what I call my official Rose Viewing cookies, but which The Shaker Cookbook: Recipes and lore from the Valley of God’s Pleasure by Caroline Piercy and Arthur Tolove call Sister Lettie’s Sand Cakes.

1 cup butter, 2 cups sugar, 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind, 3 egg whites, 3-1/2 cups all purpose flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 cup ground almonds.

Cream butter and sugar, til light and fluffy. Gradually beat in lemon and egg whites until batter is smooth and whites are fully incorporated.  Sift flour, salt and baking powder together, then add, with ground nuts, to batter gradually. Mixing fully after each addition.  Chill for 30-45 minutes.  After a slight kneading, roll out dough to about 1/8 inch thickness and cut into small squares. I always use a small heart cookie cutter.  Place on lightly greased baking pan. (I use a silicon mat) Bake at 350 degrees for about 8 minutes.

The cookies are easy to make and the secret to their appeal, I think, is their crispness, which is mainly due to the use of egg whites only.

Today it is Monday, the Rose Viewing/FLT Tour is only a memory.  Do I need to tell you that the sun is shining and warm?