28 December 2010

Bubble and Squeak with Bratwurst

Ah, a down home dinner that has nothing tussy-mussy about it. As the football season starts to wind its way toward play offs, I am dealing with a guy who is gearing up for a New England Patriots visit to the Superbowl ... gosh, I hope I didn't just jinx the whole deal!

26 December 2010

Good Christmas Reads ... and Chai!

It's the second day of Christmas and my true loves gave to me ... books! Hurray!

While others may be out in the stores taking advantage of the sales, I am cozied up by the fire waiting for the blizzard that is bearing down on New England and reading a new book that was given to me by my pastor. She knows my taste! I am enthralled by this book. Laura Schenone has written an interesting and touching historical survey of American women's roles in putting food on their families' and friends' tables. She offers well-researched chapters on Native American food practices, early Colonial housewives' cooking challenges and innovations, the role of the African slaves in providing food for their families and their masters' tables, and onward right up to modern times. Mixed in with the history are first-hand accounts of how foods were prepared, recipes from some of the first published cook books, incredible old photographs and artwork that show women working in their kitchens and gardens, entertaining in their homes, working in the church kitchens and at bake sales, running restaurants and cafes, farming their food ... and on and on. This is an incredible book!

24 December 2010

Christmas Sweets Day #4 - Chocolate-Dipped Biscochitos

We're almost there! Only one more day until Christmas! This is the last day I have for baking treats for gift plates and these cookies will round those plates out beautifully. Every Christmas, I look around for one new cookie recipe to add to my trove of holiday recipes. This year, I scoped out this recipe from Mangiabella , a gorgeous foodblog that was recommended by Chef Dennis of  More Than a Mount Full  on one of his Guest Friday posts...

22 December 2010

Christmas Sweets Day #3 - Gluten Free Chocolate Torte

It wouldn't be Christmas without chocolate and so I am making my friend, Harold a chocolate torte so that he, too, can indulge his sweet tooth. This is another easy baking venture. My torte was adapted from a recipe in a cookbook that Hershey Foods published years ago. I like it because it's a single layer of rich dense chocolate ... the original recipe, having a chocolate glaze coating the torte. I forego the glaze and dust it with confectioner's sugar and cocoa and decorate it with sugared pansies in summer and holly in the winter ...

21 December 2010

Christmas Sweets Day #2 - Gingerbread Boy Gingersnaps

Meet the boys! Boy on the left belonged to my Grandmother Barnes. Boy in the middle belonged to my mother, Alma Barnes Miller. Boy on the right belongs to my children, Kate, Sara, and Eric. All together, they will make a pig pile of gingerbread boy gingersnaps by the end of the afternoon ... and we will be crunching them with big glasses of milk in front of a Christmas movie later this evening!

20 December 2010

Christmas Sweets Day #1 - Coconut Date Balls

The grey cottage is going to be 'Baking Central' this week! I'm making the last minute treats that will grace a platter of sweets on the Christmas dessert table, sit beside the cups of coffee and tea that guests will be served, and  make their way onto Christmas plates that we'll drop off to our neighbors on Christmas Eve.

17 December 2010

Clay Pot Venison Chili ...

It is SO cold here today! I have been getting the hint from Silent Bob, my partner in crime, to make a warm something for supper. You see, it's wood cutting season here in the Northeast. Once the snow is on the ground, it's a lot easier to bring the wood out of the woods, if you've a small woodlot to manage. So, Silent Bob has been cutting and stacking wood, but now it's time to load it on a sled and haul it out of the woods and up to the woodpile. This will be next winter's wood ... an investment in more snug winters at the grey cottage. He definitely deserves a big pot of  'warm something', as he puts it!

 After cruising the blogs and touching base with Foodbuzz, I am seeing so many chili posts that I caved to offering another version. We make chili with venison in the winter. After hunting season, the freezer is stocked with tenderloins, steaks, ground sausages, and an occasional roast. Today, I'm using loose sweet venison sausage to make a big pot of chili. I have this nice flameware pot that will keep it warm after I've simmered it a bit. A big bowl of steaming jasmine rice and bottles of beer to cool the palate ... and a Christmas movie. We plan to hang out on the couch with the warm blankets and the Christmas tree lights for dinner and a movie! Tonight it's 'The Polar Express' which seems strangely á propos!

16 December 2010

Pizza - My Way

I was a busy Christmas elf today! My son, Eric and I spent much of the day doing our Christmas shopping, dashing to and fro around southern New Hampshire looking for just the right gifts for Silent Bob and the girls in the family. No real time for messing about in the kitchen this evening! And that means ...pizza!

Pizza ... a complete meal when you put plenty of vegetables and meat on a thick crust of dough! The cheese just adds the ultimate  'comfort food factor'! Yum!

14 December 2010

A Day In Paradise and ... Tiramisu !

There Should Be Angels Singing ...

Let me preface today by saying ...

As if I  haven't consumed enough calories this holiday season, I have been having an illogical and completely overwhelming yearning for a good tiramisu and a cup of coffee. It's not always easy to find the little ladyfingers needed to construct a tiramisu here in my rural backwater. Good old New Hampshire! Sooo... when I see them in the bakery, my urge for making tiramisu kicks in. I grab them and run.

11 December 2010

Yankee Swap! Let the Wild Rumpus Begin!

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Silent Bob and I are wrapping presents and getting ready to head off to the annual family Christmas party and gift swap. I'm telling you, much thought is put into the gifts we get, the way we wrap them, and the traditional ornament that tops each gift. When you're choosing which present to unwrap, that ornament MAY hint at what's inside ... oh the suspense of it all! While one waits to have their turn at choosing, unwrapping, and deciding whether to swap or not, one eats! There is always a groaning board of appetizers, sweets, various drinks for young and old, and a counter top of casseroles, chili, roasted ham, salads, and breads. It is truly a showcase of everyone's cooking styles and skills!

This year I will be bringing the traditional warm artichoke and spinach dip with pumpernickel toasts, a cookie platter of  biscochitos from Mangiabella , and red velvet cupcake poppers from Cake Duchess . These last two Swap offerings come from two websites that I have fallen for ...do check them out. These sites are just beautiful ... so many delicious recipes and terrific photography and food staging. I should be so talented!

07 December 2010

Chicken Dijonnaise

I have finally gotten my taste for poultry back after all that Thanksgiving overload ... so tonight, I fell back on an old favorite here at the cottage on the hill. I love pasta and chicken combinations. I also love sauces.
It couldn't get any better than this, then. A bed of plain and spinach fettucine for crispy chicken pieces with a drizzle of added Dijonnaise sauce. Paired with a green vegetable and a nice bottle of Chardonnay ... dinner in less than an hour.


06 December 2010

Braised Pork with Apricots and Herbed Dumplings

Here I am, back in my comfy, warm living room after a weekend of galavanting about Duchess County in New York State! Silent Bob and I love visiting our old college friends and touring their region to poke around used book stores (4 new/used cookbooks, count 'em!), peek into antiques stores and junk shops (vintage pie bird, platter, and awesome bread knife!), and dine out in some of the coolest restaurants (Italian bistro and 'wahoo' diner) north of New York City. On this trip, we also saw one of the most beautiful waterfalls ... Bash Bish Falls! I know ... what a name, but look!

02 December 2010

Sicilian Style Spinach ...

Jazzed Up Spinach!

A while ago, I happened on this wonderful cook book that was put out by The Culinary Institute of America and dedicated to vegetables. I have been slowly wending my way through the book, trying different recipes and finding that some are definitely keepers. Take this spinach recipe ...it's chock full of flavors. Just look at the list of ingredients! There are sweet, salty, garlic-y, and nutty flavors that mingle with the green and astringent flavor of the spinach. Perhaps I am so enthusiatic because spinach is my favorite dark, leafy green.

01 December 2010

Two Words ...

Circa 1940

Original Recipe

Cookie Goddess

Cookie Source

True Classics !

Chocolate Chips


29 November 2010

Holiday Traditions ...

I have packed off left over containers to the kids, had turkey soup, made turkey sandwiches, and all that's left is a plate full of turkey set aside for turkey pot pie. This is the last of the traditional dishes I make with what's left of the Thanksgiving bird and we love it. Today is the perfect day to make pie, too. It's really cold out. There's frost on every blade of grass in the yard, and there might be a touch of snow later tonight to dust things up a bit. Silent Bob and I are going into the woods today to cut our Christmas greens and find some winterberry for arrangements and baskets. After shivering our way home, a good piece of hot pie will surely hit the spot!

23 November 2010

Easy Scalloped Potatoes - A Break From the Turkey

Today, I heard from Max. It's been a while since I've received a comment from him. This is the first time that I have had a request, though. So... an easy and yummy potato dish for you, Max! Add it to your basics! And have a wonderful weekend with your folks!

Max is getting a recipe based on what I have in my fridge ... I, too, have some stress for this Thanksgiving weekend! My problem is how to make room in the fridge for all the ingredients for our Thanksgiving feast. I cleaned my fridge this morning and have decided to 'make do' with what I have in the fridge and the pantry for meals until I shop for the feast ingredients. So ham steaks, the last of a block of Cheddar, and some broccoli and cauliflower to round out dinner ... there's a bit more room for the feast fare!

20 November 2010

Two Words ...

Wooden Mold

Two Flours

Sugary Butter

Getting Ready

Back-up Guy

Greased ... Ready!

Virgin Thistle!

17 November 2010

Surrender ...


That golden maple has shed its treasure-
Stands grey and stark
Among silver skeletons that rattle.
I walk today into the glade.
There is a rime of frost here,
crisping the lines of a turkey feather.
It marks remnants of other lives:
maple leaf, fox pad, deer track.
The winds change and flakes swirl -
The dogs howl a chill exhalation,
 and I surrender.

-Susan Miller-Lindquist


13 November 2010

Swedish Mjuk Pepparkaka - Spice Cake

Silent Bob has been doing his genealogical research almost day and night around here at the cottage on the hill. He's very excited to have found long lost names of people and places, birthdates and emigration dates, death notices of relatives in Sweden. It's like a wonderful puzzle coming together on the Internet. The Lindquist emigration and Swedish connections have been mysterious for so long.

I, however, have been taking a more hands-on approach.  It's comin' on Christmas and I have been looking at all the wonderful baked goods that have come our way from Scandinavia. This is an easy little cake to make when you need a sweet something to offer for tea or coffee time. It would do well as a light dessert with a bit of mocha whipped cream or whipped and sweetened Mascarpone cheese.

11 November 2010

Confessions of a Soup-a-holic ...

This was my breakfast ... yes, warmed up from last night's Spice Garden birthday celebration. I mean really ... who else plans a hot bowl of creamy soup for a birthday party menu and then wakes up the next morning craving more?  Me, because there can never be too many wonderful chicken soups and some of them are just so tasty that they lend themselves to a celebration ... and then some. This particular soup is a creamy broth full of chicken flavor and bits of green parsley. I love to make the soup and barely cook the potato cubes, so that they still have a bit of bite to them. Both Silent Bob and I like our soups full of vegetables and with meat bites that are chunky rather than tidbits ... more like a stew than a soup, but that would be mincing the words.

10 November 2010

Birthday Time in The Spice Garden!

Hurray for one year of food blogging! Hurray for learning something about digital photography! Hurray for making some new friends on the Internet! Hurray for growing a site that I am excited to work on every day!
Hurray for creative freedom! Hurray for good food and a place to prepare it! Hurray for exploring new and interesting places in my corner of New England that are producing or growing wonderful food! Hurray for the time and energy to continue this venture!

Happy Birthday to The Spice Garden! We're celebrating with a bottle of Silver Mountain Peach Apple Wine, some wonderful apple wine smoked sausage from North Country Smokehouse, and some maple smoked cheddar from Grafton Village Cheese Company ... then it's soup for supper. See links for a look at these 'local products' ... if you like the look you may decide to order their products online or come visit the region and stop into their operations for a tour and tasting!

09 November 2010

Lemon Nut Bars

Mixing up posts is always a challenge for me, as I tend to go through phases of 'cooking frenzies' that are focused on one type of cuisine or one area of cooking - soups, stews, baking, roasting, pasta dishes  ... you get the idea. SOOOO. I have been consciously trying to mix up the post types. And today ... is baking day!

I don't know about you, but I am getting ready for holiday menus, church fair baking, holiday gift boxes and hostess gifts. This year I've been questing for different cookies and cookie bars, new breads, and savory tidbits. Since it's a rainy and snowy day (Yes, sloppy wet snow is coming down!), I am hangin' in the kitchen and working on a new lemon bar recipe. I'm thinking these lemon bars will be a welcome flavor change from the heavily spiced and chocolate cookies that sit on so many holiday cookie plates. Let me know what YOU think!

05 November 2010

Sephardi Pickle - CRUNCH !

How is it that you can be bythely going about your business and something that seems small and insignificant can stop you right in your tracks like a whack on the side of the head? I'm telling you that this salad, pickle, relish, whatever you want to call it did it to me when I happened upon it in a cookbook on Jewish cooking.
These are just common vegetables tossed with salt and left to crisp for a few hours in a colander. You toss them with a sour and sweet dressing and serve them chilled ... and they are so wonderful! So basic, so common, and yet, so crunchy and tasty!

04 November 2010

Stuffed Peppers ... Another Way

I was at a dinner party a good while back where we were served stop-light peppers that had been stuffed with a combination of onions, garlic, tomatoes, and orzo pasta - they were so delicious! They lay in a small puddle of spicy tomato sauce and went  well with a green salad, crusty bread for sopping up sauces, and plenty of red wine and conversation.

02 November 2010

A Tribute to Café Moto ... and Israeli Cuisine

The Brooklyn trip a few weeks ago was such a fun and relaxing time. It's always nice to see your kid's 'world' - where they work, who their friends are, what the apartment looks like, where they get their milk and bread, and what their neighborhood is like. If you're a parent, you know the drill. Smile, nod, check things out, and don't ask too many questions.  So, we went, we saw, and we came home happy with good memories and a settled feeling about our girl and her new job, new digs, and new neighborhood.                 

Getting Nathan's hotdogs and sunshine by the Coney Island shore

01 November 2010

A Tribute to Dom ... and Lucretia!

In the past, you may have read that I don't consider myself a good baker of bread. I try and I continue to try to make the perfect loaf for Silent Bob's morning toast fix. Well, I don't want to jinx myself, but I am slowly getting better at this bread baking thing. I know. You're thinking, "Well, duh, with practice comes skill.!" You're right! I have been practicing and with the help of an on-line foodie friend, I have ventured into the world of sour dough breads.

28 October 2010

Pad Thai ...

I tend to go through phases in which I crave spicy foods. Last week, I started in on a spicy jag when Sara and I made a pan of garlicky chicken tapas and a hot and spicy dish of chiles rellenos. Then, I went the green route with that herbed pasta dressed with garlic, olive oil, and all those wonderful green spices. This week , though, I've been visiting my Mom and Dad who, at this point in their lives, don't know 'hot and spicy' from the man in the moon. Coming home last evening, the urge built for a good plate of Pad Thai.  I stopped and picked up the makings for this spicy, sweet-and-sour dish, then planned my kitchen attack the rest of the way home.

24 October 2010

Herbs and Pasta ...

I will admit that I am a junkie when it comes to pasta ... I love a good macaroni and cheese recipe. I love linguine with a white clam sauce. I love fideos and seafood. I love pot-browned noodles and four spice pork.  I love lasagna a kazillion different ways. I love tuna noodle casserole. I love spaghetti and meatballs. I love pastitsio. I love pasta e fagioli. I love penne and spinach. I love a minestrone soup with little shells floating here and there. Get it? I LOVE  pasta!

22 October 2010

Sweet Fennel Yeast Rolls

The hunt is on for a yeast roll that will grace the Thanksgiving table. Like most of us, I am beginning to set aside a small pile of recipes to be tested before the shopping and preparations begin for the family's Thanksgiving feast. This recipe was featured in this month's Country Living magazine. It is an egg-based sweet dough with a goodly amount of fennel seeds kneaded in, minimal rise time, and a dense crumb. The crusts are crunchy and chewy and the sesame seeds stick well to the egg glaze. The rolls baked up beautifully and the fennel flavoring is really tasty.

21 October 2010

Green Beans, Leeks, and Hazelnuts

I have really been trying to eat more vegetables ... in more varied ways! I find myself, though, always preparing them in the same way.  Let's face it, the tried and true recipes do 'get old' after awhile. So tonight I'm mixing it up a bit and trying a new take on green beans. The last of the fresh green beans have made their way into the markets and I couldn't resist one more dish. Next week, it'll be all about the broccoli, spinach, winter squashes, kale, brussel sprouts, and winter salads, but for now ... one last green bean crunch!