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Balsamic Roasted Carrots

It starts to be that time of year. Fresh vegetables start to appear. Carrots grown in the greenhouse over winter pop up and are ready to eat.

I wish I could say these were my carrots, but alas, we planted nothing for over winter in the greenhouse this year. These are local and fabulous.

I love roasting carrots; it really bring out their sweetness. Tossing them with balsamic and garlic … well, woweeeeee! I made these one night we had a bunch of people over. Another of those situations, where 4 turns into 6 which turns into 8 and finally stops the train at 10! Fortunately, the Dear One must have been Italian in a past life as he will always opt for erring on the side of too much food. Well, except these carrots. I made a 1 1/2 times this recipe and there wasn’t a single carrot left!

  • 24 thin carrots, tops trimmed to 2 inches (or cut thicker ones in half)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves (additional shopped for garnish)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet or coat with nonstick spray.

Place carrots in a single layer onto the prepared baking sheet.

NOTE: Some that seemed too wide I cut in half. Slender baby carrots would be perfect for this.

Mix next 7 ingredients in a bowl.

Pour over carrots and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat all carrots.

Into oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until tender.

Serve immediately, garnish with chopped parsley.

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Watermelon Limeade #SundaySupper

It’s seems to be a winter that’s getting longer by the moment. As I sit here typing, on March 22, it’s SNOWING again! Just as my head is turning toward starting some seedlings for planting and planning out our garden. It’s SNOWING! AGAIN! I need something spring-like. Something summer-time cool to chase away the winter blasé mood.

It was a combination of events that led me to try this recipe … first, Sunday Supper’s theme of Citrus Recipes That Will Make Your Smile, hosted by Lisa at Jersey Girl Cooks AND walking through the supermarket and finding watermelon! I know, I know, it’s the wrong time of year. I don’t care. It looked fab and I needed a cocktail.

The original recipe did not call for gin. To me, it called for gin!

  • 6 cups 1-inch-pieces watermelon (from about 1/2 5-pound watermelon)
  • 1/2 cup cup fresh lime juice
  • 2–3 tablespoons light agave syrup (nectar) or honey
  • Lime wedges (for serving)
  • GIN

Purée watermelon, lime juice, and 2 Tbsp. agave syrup in a blender until smooth. Add 1 Tbsp. more agave, if desired. Strain into a large pitcher filled with ice and stir in 1/2 cup water. Serve over ice and garnish with lime wedges.

Sunday Supper Citrus Recipes That Will Make You Smile

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Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board. Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Peach Salsa

peach-salsa

When the Dear One and I talked about getting married – really, the hows and wheres and whos part of getting married – it became apparent to us that we wanted only two things out of the ceremony (1) it had to be small and (2) we wanted all of our children there. Wait, maybe we wanted another – we wanted to be married.

Between us, there are 4 children (I always in include my dear daughter-in-law in that number), 7 parents, 4 sisters and 2 brothers, as well as their husbands, boyfriends, girlfriends. There is NOTHING small about that group of people. There is nothing intimate about that group of people. There is nothing simple about placing all those people in the same place at the same time.

Okay, so how about just you and me, our kids, someone to marry us, a best man and maid of honor. Everyone else? Well, we’re adults, this isn’t the first time for either of us, this is our choice and, hopefully, they will just be happy for us. We chose to be married this way and at our age not anyone else’s place to have issue or commentary.

Trying to put the 4 kids in the same place at the same time was proving impossible. We tried for 6 months and just couldn’t manage. It had to be all of them or none of them. How do you explain to the ones who couldn’t be there on a specific date and time that others would be there and we would just go on without them. Sadly, after trying to arrange something, it had to be none. We didn’t handle it very well – correct that – one of us didn’t handle that very well and it isn’t the one typing. Okay, okay, I didn’t handle some things well either.

But I honestly believe that it’s all about how you recover from your mistakes that really counts. If you make a mistake, and don’t admit the mistake and do nothing to rectify it, you’ve learned nothing and will likely do something very similar again. I believe that parents should apologize when they’re wrong – and we were wrong. I believe now we’re in a very good place together as a family. Our definition of family.

There is, though, one person, who I doubt will read this, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your words meant more to us than you can possibly imagine. We will keep that note always.

We realized then, that as much as we love that small army of people, we married each other – not our mothers or fathers or sisters or brothers – each other. To a certain extent our children – it takes a village, don’t you know. We have a favorite son, a favorite older daughter, a favorite younger daughter and a favorite daughter-in-law. Mix them all together, add lots of love and a little understanding and patience, two adults who just love them to bits – oh, really, there’s no place else I’d rather be and no other people I’d rather be here with.

It’s that melding of people – all very different, things in common here and there, but somehow melded to make a family unit that bring me to … TADA! Peach Salsa.

peaches

This past summer we had TONS of peaches! You remember the Peach Liqueur – I think I do! There will be Peach Jam coming up.

I found this recipe in Small Batch Preserving. I’ve had it book marked forever, but I’m not quite comfortable with canning yet, so I would look at the book and cast it aside and then look and cast … the more I delve into it, the more I do like it.

The peaches bring a certain sweetness, a bit of kick from the jalapeño, tartness from the lime, they just all come together for one incredible bite.

The worst part of this salsa is peeling and chopping the peaches. IF – and that’s a big IF – I made a single batch, it might not have been so awful, but I doubled it. By the end of dipping them into boiling water, you JUST DON’T CARE.

  • 2 C chopped, peeled peaches (about 4 medium peaches)
  • 1/4 C finely chopped red onion
  • 1/4 C finely chopped red pepper
  • 1 T finely chopped jalapeno
  • 2 T honey
  • 1/4 t pickling salt
  • grated rind and juice of 1 lime
  • 2 T finely chopped mint

NOTE: To peel the peaches, bring a large pot of water to a boil. On the counter next to that pot have a large bowl of ice water. Place a couple of peaches in the boiling water for 20 or 30 seconds, transfer to the ice water. After a few seconds, the skins will pop right off. By the end you and your kitchen will be covered in sticky peach juice, but it’s totally worth it!

ingredients

Combine peaches, onion, peppers, honey, salt, lime rind and juice in a medium stainless steel or enamel saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat and boil gently, uncovered, for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

simmering

Stir in mint and stir for 1 minute.

NOTE: Not a huge mint fan so I used half the amount.

Remove jares from canner and ladle salsa into jars within 1/2 ” of rim (head space). Process 10 minutes for half-pint or pint jars.

NOTE: I process the jars in the dishwasher. I try to time the end of the dishwasher cycle to the salsa being ready.

 

Peach Liqueur

peach-liqueur

As you learned from the Pear Liqueur post just a few days ago, the Dear one and I were married in October. It only took us 45 years to get there, but the important thing is we got there.

Yes, 45 years. We met in grammar school in the mid-1970s. Not a lot of spark, but we weren’t even teenagers then. Went to separate high schools, but ended up in the same high school. I remember the first day being in a new school and seeing him standing at the top of the stairs. My heart exploded and I was in love. We dated, didn’t, dated, didn’t, dated,he went to Antarctica for the first time and we lost touch. There was always a space there for the ONE who got away. Sigh …

We went to a teeny, tiny Catholic grammar school in Greenwich Village. The Sisters of (un)Charity, the order of nuns that ran our grammar school, which had closed right after graduation, allowed us to use the building for a reunion. This was to be – and was – a reunion of epic proportions. Alumni were invited from the very first class of students through to the last graduating class.

I was somehow (thank you, Sandra!) was dragged into planning and coordinating this event, though someone, whose name I will not mention, hogged all the credit – well, he shared it with someone who didn’t do a single thing. Part of what the Sisters sent us to use for the reunion were CDs filled with photos; some candids, some class photos.

As one does, I sat in front of the computer looking for photos of me, my sister, my friends. While scanning through the class photos, laughing the whole time at the outfits and hair – WAIT! There HE is wearing groovy Davy Jones-esque stripped pants, a hair cut from I don’t know where and a goofy smile only a tween-aged boy can have. My heart did a pitter-patter.

To make a very long story short, I emailed him. Three sentences and the photo. I wasn’t looking for anything, just to share a photo, check in.

He didn’t answer.

And he didn’t answer.

But then HE DID.

And here we are … finally. I feel as though all the pieces finally fit together, not a feeling ever experienced before in my life.

Perhaps it’s a bit like that old sermon about the fellow who gets to heaven questioning why God didn’t save him. God’s reply, I sent you a log, a boat and a helicopter …

This was more like I put you two in each other’s paths in grammar school, high school and now. Well, this time I got the message LOUD AND CLEAR and I grabbed on and won’t ever let go.

peaches

But we’re here for peaches!

Lovely, sweet peaches. Look, there are a few in the trees! Wait, here’s more. O.M.G. look at all of these peaches! Now what will I do!?

I’ll tell you what I will do – I will make peach liqueur (look at how well the pear experiment worked!), and peach salsa, and peach jam, and freeze some just sliced, and eat many, oh, wait Sangria. Peaches were easier. The very nice thing about this recipe is the no fuss, no muss, no cooking side to it.

  • 3 peaches (about 10 ounces)
  • 5 ounces sugar
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 or 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 500 ml vodka

NOTE: Again, do to the number of peaches I had I quadrupled this recipe.

Rinse the peaches well and pat them dry.

lemons

Remove the peel from the lemon and cut into thick slices.

ready-to-sit

Place all the ingredients in an air tight jar and leave to infuse for 6 – 8 weeks, shaking every few days to dissolve the sugar.

2-weeks

NOTE: After about two weeks the liquid turns a lovely pink color.

After 6 – 8 weeks, strain the liquid through cheesecloth or coffee filter lined sieve. Refrigerate. Enjoy!

 

Pear Liqueur

pear-liquor

I’ve just returned to Maine after having spent Christmas and New Year’s in New York with  my family and friends. The Dear One – whose name I may now change to Dear Husband, we were married in October – was away in Antarctica working. It was wonderful being able to spend so much time with my family and friends, and also wonderful to return home to Maine. At times it feels as though I don’t feel quite settled in either place.

One of the questions I am constantly asked is “Do you miss New York?”

This is a question I have asked myself many, many times. I have no solid answer. I have more of a pro and con list for both New York City and Bar Harbor.

Bar Harbor is a car culture. I find myself at work going through my cabinets and fridge and freezer to figure out what I need at home. Once home, it’s 6 miles to the nearest store. In NYC, you can find anything you need or want at any time of the day or night – and within walking distance. I walked  more in NYC over my three week visit than I have in Bar Harbor in three months.

New York City wins HANDS DOWN restaurants, supermarkets, ability to find unusual ingredients – well, anything a foodie may need or desire. Bar Harbor is a barren foodie land. There are very few restaurants open here during the off season and those pickings are slim and not necessarily diverse. As for ingredients? OH PUH-LEASE! Thank goodness for Amazon!

Bar Harbor is beautiful and quiet. We hear no sirens or honking of horns. As you drive down roads there is one beautiful view after another. Breathtaking at times. Don’t get me wrong, there are views in NYC that are unforgettable, but they’re only enjoyed with the 300 or 400 people swarming around you.

The sidewalks are not as crowded in Bar Harbor. Not crowded from October to May and increasingly crowded May to October with tourists. But, no one is walking down the street with their heads down staring at an illuminated screen missing the world going on around them. Or a phone in one hand and a cup of Starbucks in the other behaving as though no one else is walking down the street.

People here say please and thank you regularly. I’m greeted by name in the bank and post office and supermarket. There’s a friendly spirit amongst the residents of this bucolic town.

I would say that the major disadvantage between NYC and BH is my family and friends. They’re all in NYC. I miss my family and friends desperately. That sense of community, of belonging, of loyalty, being a member of and a part of a family – whomever that is made up by – has not yet been found here. We all have those people – friends and family that call when you’re alone or not feeling well, that like to spend time together, gravitate toward each other; the phone that rings at just the perfect moment when you’re wandering around a big house all alone with a voice inviting you to dinner or a movie or a walk or just a chat. People who are truly intertwined in each other’s lives with more than just ‘saying’ they are. Perhaps it’s being the new person, or not being ‘from’ here. Quite frankly, I have met a small handful of people who actually are ‘from’ here. Everyone was new at one time or another.

Boy, oh, boy do I miss that. I’m not sure how to find that here or if it even exists. I’m still looking. I’m open to it actually happening, but after 3 years, I’m not sure if it will happen.

Wish me luck! Fingers crossed.

pear

After reading all of that, we’re finally at the foodie portion of this blog post.

One of the best things about living in Bar Harbor are our lovely gardens. Flowers and herbs and veggies and fruit trees. We have cherry trees and apple and peach and pears. Some years there are bumper crops of each and some years not a one. We were blessed with a bumper crop of pears.

The first time the trees had pears! We have three. Two were here when I  moved in and one we planted. The two that were here were very strange. They were alive, they had leaves, but never a flower. Early the first spring I spoke to them and mentioned that if they didn’t flower, they would be cut down and replaced. One tree flowered, one didn’t. The next spring, I spoke to the unflowering one and nicely asked it to catch up to the other and at least flower – or else. We planted the third tree. That spring two flowered, but not the new tree. The third spring, I was very adamant about them ALL flowering and having at least ONE pear EACH! And KA-BOOOOOOOM!

Pears! Our pears had pears! The question is, what do you do with PEARS? Bushels of pears. They don’t have a long shelf life. You cannot do a lot with them. I made pear butter, pear sorbet, many blue cheese, walnut and pear tarts … now what?

Pear liqueur here we come! It’s easy to put together. Most of the time preparing this comes during the waiting, waiting, waiting for it to be finished. But the jar is sitting in the dark just getting ready to bring you great joy.

The liqueur is sweet and fragrant, warmly infused with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, just a hint of citrus from the orange peel. We served this ice cold from the freezer in small glasses – you really cannot drink a lot of this (well, one person drank an entire jar – the last jar!)

I used a good, inexpensive vodka. Please don’t spend oodles of money on a top shelf vodka. The vodka here is really just a vehicle for the pears and spices.

If you have an abundance of pears or can get your hands on some beautiful, fresh pears, give this a whirl. I’ve also done the same with peaches and made a peach liqueur, so keep an eye out!

pears

1 large pear
1/2 cinnamon stick
1/4 nutmeg broken into small pieces
2 strips of dried orange peel
6 cloves
500ml vodka
150g (5 oz) caster sugar

NOTE: I quadrupled this recipe.

Make sure you have a ripe yet unblemished pear. Rinse and pat dry.

Pierce the pear all over with a fine skewer Place the pear in a sterilized glass jar that it fits quite snugly in. Make sure it’s large enough to hold the 500ml vodka. Add the spices and orange peel.

NOTE: To make the dried orange peel, use a potato peeler to peel strips of skin off an orange, making sure you just take the skin and not the bitter white pith. Leave this on a radiator or in an airing cupboard overnight, or warm in a very low oven till completely dried. I used the oven method for quickness. This intensifies the wonderful orange flavor.

adding-vodka

Fill the jar with vodka and close the lid.

ready-to-age

Set on a sunny windowsill for 2 weeks.

After 2 weeks open the jar and add the sugar. Shake well and set aside in a cool dark cupboard for a further 6 weeks. Shake every day or so that the sugar to completely dissolves.

After 6 weeks, remove pear and spices from the jar and strain the liquid through a sieve lined with a double layer of muslin. Do this part twice to get a really clear liqueur.

NOTE: I used a sieve with a coffee filter set inside.

Decant the liquid into a sterilized bottle and enjoy! It’s best served ice cold, so keep the jar in your fridge or freezer.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookeis

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

I should start this with … these are THE BEST vegan chocolate chip cookies EVER. And quite nearly the best chocolate chip cookies. But …

I am a carnivore. A carnivore through and through. A believer in a well balanced diet being far better for you than one completing omitting a food group.

I now find myself surrounded by vegetarians and vegans, many of whom consider themselves foodies (?). Always hungry. Always looking for snacks. I need a cookie that would work for everyone and this is the one.

I have found most homemade vegan cookies to be either tasteless, ridiculously complicated to make, way too many ingredients and ending up with a crumbling, sandy cookie like substance.

Try these once and you’ll be hooked. It’s all in the mixing.

  • ½ C coconut oil
  • 1 C brown sugar
  • ¼ C almond milk
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • 2 C flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t baking powder
  • ½ t salt
  • 1 C vegan chocolate chips (I love ‘Enjoy Life Mini Chips” for this)

 

Preheat oven to 350

Cream coconut oil and brown sugar. Best to use stand mixer, second best a hand mixed.

NOTE: The key to this cookie is the length of time you spend combining the ingredients. This should look like butter and sugar having creamed before you continue. It’s not always quick.

Add almond milk and vanilla. Mixture may be a little liquidy.

In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

Combine the wet and dry ingredients using a hand mixer or stand mixer. Fold in chocolate chips.

Scoop tablespoon sized balls and place on cookie sheet. Flatten the balls a bit with your hand.

Bake 7 – 10 minutes

NOTE: You want the dough to be the consistency of cookie dough and not crumbly or sandy as many vegan recipes tend to be.

NOTE NOTE: I have varied the size of the cookie from half-dollar sized to 3 inches around. It holds up no matter the size. Just vary the cooking time.

Fresh Corn Salad

One of my favorite Ina Garten recipes is her Fresh Corn Salad from The Barefoot Contessa cookbook. It is the ultimate summer in a bowl recipe. It is great with anything you throw on the grill, a rainy day indoor meal to bring sunshine inside, or a winter pick-me-up to remind you summer has to be coming soon!

Driving back from the Hamptons one weekend, there was stand after stand of fresh fruit, vegetable and flowers. Piles and piles of fresh corn. How could I not stop and buy some? I started making plans of what to do with my booty, top on the list the Fresh Corn Salad!

I adapted this recipe from Ina’s, a few of my own twists, a bit of a South of the Border flair.

  • 5 ears of corn, shucked
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin (more to your taste)
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the corn for 3 minutes until the starchiness is just gone. Drain and immerse it in ice water to stop the cooking and to set the color. When the corn is cool, cut the kernels off the cob, cutting close to the cob.

NOTE: My husband would certainly disagree, but I need one of them fancy corn strippers! For the number of times a year I actually make this I suppose I could suffer through cutting  the corn off with a knife, but wouldn’t one of those strippers be much more fun!?

Toss the kernels in a large bowl with the red onions, lime juice, olive oil, cumin, salt, and pepper. Just before serving, toss in the chopped cilantro. Taste for seasonings and serve cold or at room temperature.

NOTE: The nice thing about this salad is how many ways it can be changed to suit what you’re cooking. I swapped out the vinegar and basil in Ina’s recipe for lime juice and cilantro. I have added tomatoes. I have added string beans or sugar snap peas. I have used frozen corn in the winter and even – GASP – canned corn when the yen for the salad has struck. Try it once and you will be hooked!