Professional oboist and chamber musician- member of Hevreh Ensemble and Winds in the Wilderness, Professor of Oboe Hofstra University; observer of people, art and nature; passionate food and travel explorer.
My next blog will be all about intricate bird songs, Mozart’s love of birds and his talented starling, my own talented Cockatiel Lucy and more! In the meantime on this frigid and blustery day, here is a recipe for Blue Corn Waffles.
At the start of the pandemic, we made a mail order for organic blue corn flour. The order was huge and I squirreled away large bags of it in our freezer. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to find a use for all of this flour; not a hard resolution to keep! Yesterday, I made Blue Corn Blueberry Banana Muffins!
Blue Corn Flour Waffles
Yield: 5-6 waffles
3/4 cup whole grain spelt flour
3/4 whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup blue corn flour- *Note
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 tablespoons canola oil
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups unsweetened soy or almond milk
1 1/2 cups wild frozen blueberries (I like the Wyman brand)
Cook blueberries in microwave about 2 minutes until soft and syrupy.
To make waffles:
Heat a waffle maker
In a medium sized bowl, mix together dried ingredients.
Add oil, egg and soy or almond milk and mix together.
For each waffle, place about 2 large spoonfuls of mixture in center of waffle maker and cook until light brown and crisp on the edges.
Serve with blueberry sauce, plenty of maple syrup and we enjoy a dollop of Oatley Oatgurt; creamy and totally delicious!
Note: Blue Corn Flour can be hard to find. We found a source on the excellent Milk Street Store site!
Overnight, ice crystals were magically transformed into intricate fractals on our deck.
It was a gloomy day, cold and steely gray; a perfect backdrop to explore an atmospheric section of the Billings Trail called Stoney Lonesomemaintained by the Norfolk Connecticut Land Trust.
My husband Paul had scouted out the trail a few days earlier with a friend; they happened upon a lone hiker who stopped in his tracks and asked excitedly, “Did you find the site of the train accident?”
The trail follows an abandoned train track that was built in 1871 and ran from Hartford, Connecticut to the border of New York State. It was built on a high ledge above the Canaan valley, strewn with enormous boulders. There was in fact a horrific wreck that occurred in 1882 when a train rammed into a boulder that had slid down the mountain side onto the track. We read that the laying of the track was very difficult and engineers had to make huge rock cuts into the side of the mountain.
Walking along the trail we were captivated by the dramatic rock formations made from the deep cuts through the mountain side to accommodate the train tracks.
We had set out on our walk late in the afternoon; the days are so short now that by the end of our hike, the sun was starting to set. The clouds suddenly parted and for a brief moment, sunlight lit up the hillside with a golden glow.
Our eyes were drawn uphill to a rock formation that reminded us of stone sculptures that we have viewed at the Storm King Art Center in upstate New York.
By the time we returned to our car, it was almost completely dark. We drove back down the road with a beautiful sunset in front of us leaving somber Stoney Lonesome behind.
Glad to be back safely home after our frosty and invigorating adventure, we settled in next to a cozy fire in the woodstove and enjoyed hot chocolate and a few Gingerbread Biscotti that were left over from Christmas.
After our hike, we wanted to know more about the origin of the name Stoney Lonesome; some sources suggested that the name reflects a desolate area, strewn with rocks and boulders. This certainly seemed appropriate! Then we discovered that the name is also a slang term, made popular in the early 20th century for prison. Paul found the prison reference to Stoney Lonesome in a book written by John O’Hara published in 1931 with the title, “Appointment in Samarra“. The title of the novel refers to W. Somerset Maugham’s retelling of an ancient Mesopotamian fable where a servant has an untimely meeting with the devil- dark indeed!! We were so curious about this that we ordered the book and have gotten pulled into the tragic tale of a used car salesman from the 1930’s.
AND, of course we had a bit of fun arranging Bananagram tiles into references from “Appointment in Samarra“!
Here is a recipe for Gingerbread Biscotti’s adapted from NY Times Cooking. These biscotti are full of warming delicious spices including ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, star anise along with espresso powder and almond & orange extract. The spices create a lovely flavor combination that lingers beautifully in the mouth! I swapped out the brown and granulated sugar in the recipe for monk fruit sweetener and coconut sugar which has a low glycemic index. I used whole grain spelt and whole wheat pastry flour, which in addition to being more nutricious, give the biscotti an added nutty flavor and I used Lily’s stevia sweetened chocolate chips. The original recipe called for candied chopped ginger, which would also be good! These biscotti are hard and crunchy and are excellent dipped into coffee or espresso!
Gingerbread Biscotti from NY Times Cooking
1large egg plus 1 large egg white, at room temperature
1/4 cupmonk fruit sweetener
1/4 cup coconut sugar
1tablespoon ground ginger
1teaspoon ground cinnamon
½teaspoon ground nutmeg
½teaspoon ground cloves
¼teaspoon ground cardamom
1whole star anise, finely ground (1/4 teaspoon)
1teaspoon instant espresso powder
1teaspoon kosher salt
½teaspoon baking soda
1teaspoon almond extract
¼teaspoon lemon extractor orange extract
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup whole grain spelt flour
⅔cup/113 grams dark or semisweet chocolate – I used Lily’s Stevia sweetened chocolate chips.
1/2 bar any dark chocolate to coat biscotti- I used Equal Exchange “Total Eclipse” dark chocolate. Feel free to use something with more sugar!)
Heat the oven to 325 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the egg, egg white, both sugars, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, star anise, espresso powder, salt, baking soda, almond extract and lemon extract. Beat on medium speed just to combine, scrape down the bowl and beater, then increase the speed to high and beat for a full 90 seconds or until the mixture is slightly paler, thick and ribbon like.
Add the flour. Beat on low speed until mostly combined, stopping the beater just before all the flour is incorporated so you don’t overmix. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to incorporate any remaining dry bits into the dough. Add chocolate chips.
Gather the dough with your hands, kneading lightly in the bowl just to bring everything together into a cohesive mass. Place the dough on the center of the prepared sheet, then dampen your hands with water and mold the dough into a 9-by-4-inch log about 1 inch tall. Bake until the log puffs and spreads a little, turns golden brown at the edges and is firm to the touch, 40 to 45 minutes.
Remove the loaf from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Transfer the loaf to a cutting board and, using a serrated knife, cut at a diagonal into 12 (¾-inch-wide) slices. Turn the slices on their sides and return to the oven.
Bake, flipping the slices halfway through, until slightly browned and dry in the centers, 10 to 15 minutes. Bake longer for drier, crunchier biscotti. Remove from the oven and cool the biscotti on the sheet. Turn the slices top sides up.
In a double-boiler or a heatproof bowl set over simmering water, melt the chocolate, stirring until completely smooth. Remove the bowl from the heat, and using a small spoon, drape the melted chocolate over the tops of the biscotti, nudging some to drip over the edges. Allow the chocolate to sit at room temperature or in the refrigerator to fully set. The biscotti will last for a couple of weeks in an airtight container at room temperature.
As I write this blog, it is a raw cold day with sleet and freezing rain and we are in for a few days of frigid weather. Today I plan to sit close by the fire and enjoy a cookbook that just arrived; My Shanghai: Recipes and Stories for a City on the Water by Betty Liu. I will dream about making dumplings for our next dumpling party which I hope will not be in the too distant future!!
AND, here is the first “Tree of the Week” for 2022!
The church, completed in 1842, is an example of Greek Revival architecture. At the time, it was the center of political, social and religious activity. I have performed often at the church and have always felt a strong sense of history and a feeling of calm and peace in the light filled sanctuary.
For our recent concert, I was joined by Marcia Young, singer and historical harpist and my Hofstra University colleague, lutenist Christopher Morrongiello. My daughter, Alicia DePaolo sang with us for several years, but recently moved to Virginia with her partner. We miss her presence in the group, but were happy to welcome a new friend this year; singer and Baroque dancer, Zahra Brown. For many years, I have performed an annual Christmas concert in Salisbury, Connecticut that has been generously sponsored by the Salisbury Association.
Originally the concert was held at the historic Holley House Museum, now a private home. It was complete with it’s own mischievous poltergeist! On two separate occasions, strings snapped suddenly on a viola and harp; in another concert, a note stopped playing on my oboe, as if someone was holding down an extra key! And, then there was time that I felt somebody was tickling my nose with a feather while I was playing!
Next, the concert was held for several years at the cozy intimate space at the historical Salisbury Academy building Built in 1833, the exterior is an example of a Federal style school building.
Living in this bucolic New England town, I routinely pass by all of these all of these historical buildings and architectural gems; they have become part of my fabric, almost like a familiar family member!
Last year, we presented an online version of the concert and we felt so fortunate to be able to consider a live concert this year; a few weeks before our current Omicron situation. With proof of vaccination required and a socially distanced audience, the venue of the spacious church with beautiful resonant acoustics was perfect!
I always look forward to the rehearsals we have in NYC; usually a few weeks before the concert. This year, we set two rehearsals on late Saturday afternoons. Both weeks, I had taught at Hofstra University the day before and stayed overnight in the city. Each Saturday I had a few hours to fill and decided to make long over due visits to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and to the Frick Museum.
It was heart warming to walk down Fifth Avenue and see the crowds of people outside of the museum.
And, then as I entered the familiar space of the grand hallway, I stood in awe for moment taking in all of the art and beauty surrounding me. I made my choice of what to view that day. I walked up the grand stairway towards the impressionism wing; through the hallway filled with Rodin and Degas sculptures and eagerly tried to take it all in! I decided to concentrate on an exhibit of Surrealistic painters.
It can be overwhelming at times with so much to visual stimulation; I find that concentrating on one or two works of art is most rewarding. I stroll slowly through an exhibit and stop when a work of art is compelling. Such was the case with a painting by the Austrian-Mexican painter Wolfgang Paalen; who I was not familiar with. A friend of Frida Kahlos, he moved to Mexico in 1939 to escape the Nazi regime. He became interested in the Fourth Dimension and studied with the Russian mystic Peter Ouspensky. I found his painting “The Messenger” fascinating and was drawn to the bold lines of the brush strokes and the hidden symbolism in the work.
The next Saturday, I visited the Frick Museum, which I discovered had recently moved their entire collection to the modern stark Whitney Museum, while renovations are taking place.
At first, it was jarring to see masterpieces from the permanent collection that date from the Renaissance to the early 20th century displayed in a building with modern architecture. I chatted with a surprisingly friendly guard about the new location for the artwork and he thought that some patrons might be able to appreciate the artwork more in a sleek pared down setting. I tended to agree and as I viewed the exhibition, I found that I could concentrate on the art without becoming visually tired. Unfortunately, I was asked to not take any photographs, although I did sneak in one photo; (a tiny sculpture tucked into the wall) as I walked up the stairwell to another floor!
Then, it was time to get ready for our rehearsal and of course think about what to pick up to eat in the car on the way home that evening! We were rehearsing at the apartment of one of the musicians who lives in a high rise in the mid fifties near Eighth Avenue.
One of my favorite dumpling places, Kungfu Kitchen, is on Eighth Avenue and 41st Street, not too far from our rehearsal location!
I knew there was a place to park my car for free on 38th Street; between Eighth & Ninth Avenue, where Hevreh Ensemble usually rehearses at our keyboardist’s studio. AND, here was my plan:
Find a parking spot on West 38th Street; walk to Kungfu Kitchen on West 41st Street and place an order for pickup after our rehearsal; walk to rehearsal on West 55th Street and rehearse for about 1 1/2 hours; retrace my steps and pickup my order- it all worked like a charm! The only thing I had to do was to find a place to park!
I am usually a very calm and considerate driver and pride myself on my smooth acceleration and braking, but a transformation overcomes me when I am seeking out parking spots in New York City. I become eagle eyed and aggressive looking for possible spots and delight in squeezing my car into the tightest of places. Such was the case on this day! I believe that this New Yorker cartoon expresses my metamorphoses perfectly!
After the rehearsal, I picked up my order at the appointed time, walked back to my car and laid my treasure of 2 steamed buns filled with bok choy and shitake museums, an order of steamed chicken dumplings with a pungent black vinegar sauce and a large icy bubble tea made with lemonade; sweetened with honey on the seat next to me. I navigated my way through the midtown traffic making sure to not get into a left turn only lane that would force me to go through Lincoln Tunnel into New Jersey and then I could enjoy my treats as I headed up the West Side Highway towards home-Heaven on earth!
In past years, the musicians from the Salisbury Four would drive up to my house in Northwest, CT the day before the concert. We would have a dress rehearsal and I was treated to the most excellent house guests for the weekend. One of the members is vegan, so I would always have fun dreaming up interesting dishes, like this Mixed Greens Pie inspired by the delightful PBS Kitchen Vignette Series!
A favorite and often requested dessert by the Salisbury Four members are Strawberry and Walnut Vegan Spelt Scones. This year, we had a quick rehearsal before our Saturday evening concert and enjoyed tea and these scones together. This simple one bowl recipe is adapted from Erin McKenna’s Baby Cakes NYC Bakery. I found the recipe several years ago in an article from Food and Wine Magazine. For my version, I swap out agave nectar with coconut sugar and I add cinnamon. These scones are not very sweet, but are guilt free; perfect for a snack or with a bowl of yogurt and granola for breakfast!
Strawberry Walnut Vegan Spelt Scones
2 cups spelt flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup canola oil
2 tablespoons coconut sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
⅓ to 1/2 cup cup hot water
1/2 cup fresh or frozen strawberries cut into pieces (if using frozen berries, thaw slightly and then cut into small pieces-don’t defrost all of the way, it will make the mixture too soft).
1/2 cup toasted walnuts broken into small pieces
To Make Scones:
Step 1 Preheat the oven to 375°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl, whisk the spelt with the baking powder and salt. Stir in the oil, coconut sugar and vanilla. Stir in the hot water and strawberries- if mixture seems to dry, add a bit more hot water at a time.
Step 2 Scoop 12 mounds of batter 1/3 cup each onto the prepared baking sheet and lightly brush the tops with oil. Bake the scones for 20 minutes, or until golden. Let the baking sheet cool completely on top of a rack.
AND, here is the last “Tree of the Week” for 2021!
BEST WISHES FOR A HAPPY AND SAFE HOLIDAY AND NEW YEAR!!
The week before my group Hevreh Ensemble began our new recording project at Oktaven Audio in NYC, I cleared my schedule, arranged substitutes for my students and dove headfirst into Oboe Boot Camp! I wanted make sure that I had enough time to make reeds; my normal practice routine was greatly extended. This was to insure that I had enough endurance on this most aerobic of instruments. I was accomplishing my goal, but felt that was getting what I like to call, “Oboe Brain”, loosely translated as feeling a bit loopy, unfocused and spacey. Nothing a cup of tea and a good walk would not cure!
The perfect respite was to take a few hikes, some familiar and my husband Paul happily researched a few new locations.
The weather that week was glorious; cool and sunny with the trees in their last blaze of fall color!
We headed up to Great Mountain Forest in Norfolk, CT for a lovely walk on the Overlook Trail. The path climbed gently uphill with views of Tobey Pond peeking through the trees. I discovered this idyllic pond years ago as a student at the Yale Summer School of Music!
Next, we scouted out Woodcreek Pond, not far from the center of the village of Norfolk. We thought this might be an excellent place to kayak next spring!
Another day we returned to one of our favorite walks at the OvermountainConservation Area in Ancram, NY. The Kite Hill Loop Trail winds through a large meadow with distant views of the Catskills and the Taconic Range. A rustic gazebo graces the top of the meadow with glorious views.
On a cloudy slightly overcast day, I took a solo walk at another favorite in Sheffield, MA on Kelsey Road. The peaceful dirt road, where one can stroll for miles, has distant views of the Taconic Ridge and passes by a beautiful marshland area.
All of the walks were very calming and centering, preparing me for the intensity of the next few days.
The morning of the recording, I woke up earlier than usual and was treated to golden light filtering through the woods near our house. Perhaps a sign of good things to come??
I arrived early at Oktaven Audio, about a two hour drive from our house to warmup, just as the affable and talented engineer Ryan Streber co-owner of the studio was setting up. One option was to be in the large room with sound baffling on either side of the musicians or to be in a small isolation booth. The big room had a direct view into the control room, where the engineers and our producer would sit. I felt a bit of trepidation; as if I would be a guppy in a fish bowl. I volunteered to be in the small booth, with no sight line to the control room. I immediately felt that I had made the right choice. With a rug on the floor, enough room to lay out my reed tools; the lighting was dark but with a stand light, I could see perfectly and I felt cozy and protected!
Then the work began; three days of continuous recording with the sessions starting at 10:30 AM and ending at 8:00 PM- talk about Oboe Brain!!
Our colleague and violist Ralph Farris, who is a member of the acclaimed string quartet ETHEL, is producing the album. He has an incredible ear, a seemingly endless supply of energy along with creative and innovative ideas. Combined with a quirky and irreverent sense of humor, I think he would be the ideal orchestral conductor, if only!!
During one of our sessions when I was not playing, I listened as Ralph gently teased the others; to Shane Shanahan our wonderful guest artist on percussion: “Shane, you’re making us angry in here- that take was so good it was offensive!!” Or, to Jeff Adler, Hevreh group member and composer- Jeff had an improvisation section on bass clarinet in one of the pieces- it was going to be over dubbed at a later time, so there was silence during the take. From the control room Ralph said loudly over the speaker, “that’s the best you’ve ever sounded!”. Or, he would share a self deprecating viola joke with the humor (being a violist) turned toward himself. All of this made us feel relaxed but also kept us razor focused on our playing. Ralph mentioned that he believed that 98% of performing well is psychological; I believe that his unorthodox methods created a supportive, safe and creative environment for all of us.
When we finished the recording sessions, I felt a sense of elation and accomplishment, BUT…..I was completely exhausted! I was hoping that the adrenalin that was rushing through me would last for for the long drive home, but what really did the trick was the snack that I had squirreled away into my bag! Rooting around in my freezer, I had found a few slices of Cardamom Streusel Zucchini Bread that I had made for our Prentice Barn concert this past summer. Spiced with ginger and cardamom with a crunchy streusel topping, the flavors danced around in my mouth and helped keep me alert! The recipe is from the June 2021 Bon Appetit magazine. I left out the turmeric called for in the recipe. Now, we can look forward to the release and distribution of the album by our amazing record label PARMA sometime in the late spring- stay tuned for updates!!
Cardamom Streusel Zucchini Bread – from Bon Appetit Magazine
Makes one 9×5″ loaf
⅓cup (42 g) all-purposeflour
2Tbsp. plus 1½ tsp. (30 g) dark brown sugar
¼cup (24 g) old-fashioned oats
½tsp. ground cardamom
½tsp. ground ginger
½tsp. ground turmeric
¼tsp. baking powder
Pinch of kosher salt
2Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2½medium zucchini (about 1 lb.), trimmed
¾tsp. vanilla extract
1½cups (300 g) granulated sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
¾cup grapeseed oil
1¾cups (219 g) all-purpose flour
2¼tsp. ground cardamom
2¼tsp. ground ginger
2tsp. baking powder
1¼tsp. Diamond Crystal or ¾ tsp. Morton kosher saltBlueberry jam and/or crème fraîche (for serving; optional)
Whisk flour, brown sugar, oats, cardamom, ginger, turmeric, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl to combine. Drizzle butter over and, using your fingers, work into dry ingredients until butter is absorbed and clumps form. Set streusel aside
Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 350°. Coat a 9×5″ loaf pan with nonstick spray and line with parchment paper, leaving a generous overhang on long sides. Using the grater attachment of a food processor or the large holes of a box grater, grate zucchini. (You should have about 3 cups.) Wrap shredded zucchini in a kitchen towel and wring out as much excess moisture as you can. Transfer to a small bowl and mix in vanilla extract (adding the vanilla here means the zucchini will take on more of its flavor).
Place granulated sugar and lemon zest in a medium bowl and, using your fingers, work zest into sugar until sugar starts to clump and mixture is very fragrant, about 1 minute. Add eggs and oil to bowl and whisk to combine. Add grated zucchini and whisk again to incorporate.
Using a fine-mesh sieve, sift flour into another small bowl. Add cardamom, ginger, baking powder, and salt and whisk to combine. Add dry ingredients to zucchini mixture and gently fold with a rubber spatula until there are no visible flour streaks remaining and batter is homogeneous. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth surface. Scatter reserved streusel evenly on top.
Bake zucchini bread, rotating pan halfway through, until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 1 hour 30 minutes to 1 hour 45 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let zucchini bread cool completely in pan.
Run a small offset spatula or paring knife around sides of zucchini bread to help loosen, then turn it out onto rack.
To serve, cut zucchini bread into thick slices and divide among plates. Top with jam and crème fraîche if desired.
I read a recent New York Times article that talked about how excited a couple was to host a guest for the weekend. They were determined to fill the planned itinerary with as many activities as possible, after being denied time together for so long. The guest went home feeling tired and overwhelmed. Our dear friend Carol was planning to meet us for some well deserved R & R; first at our home and then at a Bed and Breakfast in Cummington, Massachusetts. My husband Paul and I talked for weeks about all of the places we would take Carol; among them, many of our favorite hikes. And, although we wanted to avoid the same pitfalls of over booking, we were not sure this would be possible!
We walked up a hill through a field of dried wildflowers standing at attention like soldiers in a row and quickly realized that Carol was the perfect guest- she was delighted and engaged with everything we showed her and being a visual artist, she innately understood my love of close observation.
Before our dinner reservation on the patio at the excellent restaurant, John Andrews in Hillsdale, New York, we squeezed in a short walk at Parsons Marsh in Lenox, MA. The late afternoon sun was beautiful as we walked on a boardwalk that wove gently through the woods to the marsh.
After a delicious dinner at John Andrew’s, we returned home, watched an episode of Only Murders in the Building on Netflix and then fell into a deep slumber! The next day we were eager to show Carol our land that we recently closed on in Buckland, MA in the hill towns above Northampton. Our big news is that in a few years we plan to build our dream house there! On the way, we made a stop in Northampton to the Woodstar Cafe to pick up a picnic (that included their yummy vegan peanut butter cookies) and headed up into the hills! Near Buckland, is an old cemetery that was a perfect location to make a creepy Halloween video.
We put on our hiking boots and traipsed uphill on our land. Carol bravely joined us in a bit of bush whacking!
On the land, the trees are beautiful with many tall evergreens, but our eyes were drawn close to the ground. The patterns of autumn leaves, fungi, rocks and twigs made beautiful collages.
Carol came up with an interesting concept-along with photographs of my recipes, we could make natural place settings with leaves and twigs and photograph them with a woodland backdrop; perhaps a cottage industry was born!!
Continuing on our walk, we saw some incredible and unusual fungi.
Back in the car, we took a short five minute jaunt to the charming village of Shelburne Falls; complete with art galleries, cozy cafes, bookstores, restaurants, an artisanal bakery and the beautiful Bridge of Flowers, the site was created in 1929, when the old trolley bridge was no longer used.
On a bit of a schedule, we moved on to our next activity; a beautiful fall drive through the country roads to Cummington, MA where we were guests at The Upland Meadows Farm B & B. The quaint old farmhouse was full of character with cozy rooms and the surrounding area was quiet and peaceful. And, it was right down the road from our beloved William Cullen Bryant Homestead. We could walk through a pasture to reach the Sugar Bush Trail!
We took a short walk and then headed down towards Chester for our dinner reservation at the Chester Common Table. I was not sure what to expect, but we were pleasantly surprised. Tucked away in the small town of Chester that borders the Berkshires and the Pioneer Valley, the small restaurant opened in 2016 and is housed in a charming vintage house. We sat on the covered front porch and inside a folk group with mandolin and guitar played gentle Appalachian and bluegrass tunes that wafted softly through the open window. It started to rain, but with our jackets on and a cozy space heater next to us, we were totally comfortable. I enjoyed a tall glass of a local IPL draft beer brewed in MA, called Jack’s Abbey “Hiponius Union”. The light lemony flavor of the beer was perfect with a big plate of Coconut Curry Noodles that was lightly spicy. The dish included rice noodles, grilled chicken, crunchy bits of broccoli, red peppers, zucchini and red onions. Along with a few pieces of homemade corn bread, I was a happy camper!
Sunday morning, we took a misty early morning walk on the Rivulet Trail at the Bryant Homestead. I had been wanting to show this trail to Carol and she was enthralled by the tranquility and peacefulness of the fragrant pine woods.
On the trail, we came upon one of my favorite trees that I call “The Wise Man”.
And, then after coffee and brunch at the Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters, it was time to hug tightly and say goodbye. All in all, an incredible weekend- hopefully with not too much packed in for our amazing guest!
When I was little, my mother often made a favorite fall dessert; a sticky, gooey, very sweet dessert called Apple Brown Betty. It was rich with melted butter, brown sugar, graham crackers, raisins, lemon juice and spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves. The recipe was from Erma Bombauer’s, The Joy of Cooking. I found myself craving this dessert, but wanted something much lighter. I decided to make an almost sugar free healthy version. I am happy to say, I may have found it!! I had a loaf of stale whole grain sourdough bread from Berkshire Mountain Bakery hanging around. I cut it into pieces and made bread crumbs in my food processor. I toasted them in the oven until they crisped up. Instead of using butter I substituted fresh apple cider for the liquid and I used Monk Fruit instead of sugar. It has a very low glycemic index and it can be used the same way as granulated sugar.
The dessert is even better the next day and perfect to eat sitting curled up on the couch with one of the first woodstove fires of the season; perhaps watching an old Hitchcock film- I think Psycho might be too scary, maybe something along the line of The Trouble with Harry, still with a macabre theme, but with plenty of black humor and a great film score by Bernard Herrmann or maybe something dark and atmospheric like Rebecca. Happy Halloween!!
Apple Brown Betty Redux
3 1/2 cups toasted bread crumbs ( preferably from whole grain bread- I just made another version and used Rockhill Raisin and Cinnamon bread that was also really good!)
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (from an organic lemon)
1/8-1/4 cup Monk Fruit sweetener (you could also use granulated sugar)
1 cup apple cider
1/2 cup raisins
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon all spice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
4-5 large apples peeled and cored (try to use a combination of firm local apples for the best flavor).
1-2 teaspoons cinnamon
To Make Apple Brown Betty:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Place 3 1/2 to 4 cups bread crumbs on a baking sheet. Bake and crispy and lightly browned.
Place breadcrumbs in a medium sized bowl. Add grated lemon zest, lemon juice, spices, raisins and monk fruit sweetener. Slowly add 3/4 apple cider until absorbed. The mixture should feel lightly moistened when squeezed.
Cut apples into quarters, peeled and then thinly slice them. Place in a medium sized casserole dish. Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon and stir.
Sprinkle bread crumb mixture over apples in baking dish and pour remaining 1/4 cup apple cider over the top. Cover tightly with foil and bake until apples are tender when pierced with a fork. Remove foil and bake about 5-10 more until bread crumbs crisp up a bit. Let cool briefly- Enjoy!!
AND of course here is the: The Halloween Tree of the Week!
At the end of August, on a hot summer afternoon, I met the kinetic sculptor Tim Prentice at his West Cornwall, Connecticut barn to make plans for an upcoming concert. The bucolic landscape is dotted with his sculptures that float gracefully in the gentle breeze.
My group Hevreh Ensemble was getting ready to perform a concert at this idyllic and serene place. We have played there several times in the past, but this was our first concert since the pandemic began. I love playing here- in large part because of our connection with Tim Prentice. It was heartwarming to see his welcoming face and his warm and engaging presence once again! The barn is filled with many of Tim’s sculptures that ripple and weave gently in the crosscurrents of air. Rays of sunshine catch the edges of the works accentuating the bright vibrant colors.
We had a wonderful socially distanced concert and even an unexpected rain shower could not dampen our spirits! The masked concert goers quickly moved their chairs into the barn and we soldiered on!
I had left a box of our CD’s after the concert and this gave me the excuse to make a return visit. A few weeks later on a warm September afternoon, I stopped by the barn and was joined by Tim and the sculptor David Colbert; he became Tim’s artistic and business partner in 2012. We sat on a cool shaded porch, next to Tim’s house that once was part of a barn and had a wonderful conversation about art and music!
Since the mid 1980’s, Tim has lived in a large colonial era house that sits on a gentle slope of a hill across from the barn. I asked him what he knew about the house and the surrounding area. The first part of the house was built around 1790 with an addition added in 1850 in the Greek revival style. His family bought the farm in the 1960’s and was only the 3rd family to live in the house! Next to the house is a small pond and the studio that is now Tim and David’s workshop was an Ice House. Tim showed me a menacing looking antique saw that he found in the old barn that was used to cut ice.
I asked both Tim and David what inspired them when creating their art. Both men answered almost in unison that all of nature surrounding us played a large role in their work. Tim said, “I observe the reflections of the sun on water, plants agitated by the wind and especially murmurations of birds.”
I thought that David’s description on his website was beautiful:
“I find inspiration most of all in nature. Witnessing: radiant light deepening in mountains with darkness coming on; thick drifting sunlit mist slowly burning off serene lakes; swirling clouds nearly hiding jagged mountain peaks; desert sand dunes at dusk reflective as etched glass; heavy snow; fog; barely seen mist rising up a valley. Is it there or is it not”- David Colbert
To hear these words from two incredible artists was music to my ears. On my walks I have found much joy from closing observing nature. The week of our conversation, I was transfixed by intricate thistles being tossed about by the wind.
This week on a late afternoon walk at the Steeple Top Preserve in New Marlborough, MA, the exquisite reflection of light on the water made me stop in my tracks, catch my breath and murmur softly, “ohhhh my”!
Since Hevreh Ensemble has started performing at the Prentice Barn, I have observed that Tim also deeply loves music and seems to enjoy and relish our music. I asked him about his musical background: in the 1960’s along with his late wife Marie Prentice, they received a State Department grant to perform folk music with guitars and voice. One of the mains purposes of the grant was to collect songs from their host countries. Tim recalls being in Thailand when President Kennedy was shot- they also performed in Nepal, India and Kenya!
I asked Tim if there are certain qualities that he finds compelling in our music, which are all original compositions by our group member and composer Jeff Adler. I wondered if there was a connection between the energy and motion in his work and the edgy jazzy rhythm in many of our pieces? His answer was: “both exist in time and create or use patterns to set up expectation.” He told me that one of the things he enjoys the most is that in our work, “he hears music from many different cultures that give the music a timeless quality that sounds like no other group”. He loves the blend of keyboard, wind instruments and Native American flutes and the deep sonorous sound of the bass clarinet.
By now, it was almost early evening; starting to cool off and as we sat and talked on the old barn porch, the dulcet and lovely tones of water rippling gently on the old ice pond accompanied us. We stopped and listened- these sounds made us feel complete!
AND: I leave you with a delicious savory treat that we served at our Prentice Barn concert: Black Pepper and Parmesan Biscotti from the Smitten Kitchen blog! This a large recipe and leftovers freeze beautifully! After a long day, take out a few, crisp them up briefly in a hot oven and enjoy with a glass of red wine!
1 1/2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns 4 cups (520 grams) all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting 2 teaspoons baking powder 2 teaspoons kosher salt 4 1/2 ounces (130 grams) Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated (2 1/4 cups) 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup, 6 ounces, or 170 grams — now corrected) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes 4 large eggs 1 cup (235 ml) whole milk
Special equipment: an electric coffee/spice grinder
Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Pulse peppercorns in grinder until coarsely ground.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, 2 cups cheese, and 1 tablespoon ground black pepper in a large bowl. Blend in butter with a pastry blender or your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Whisk 3 eggs with milk and add to flour mixture, stirring with a fork until a soft dough forms.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and quarter dough. Using well-floured hands, form each piece into a slightly flattened 12-inch-long log (about 2 inches wide and 3/4 inch high). Transfer logs to 2 ungreased large baking sheets, arranging logs about 3 inches apart.
Whisk remaining egg and brush some over logs, then sprinkle tops of logs evenly with remaining 1/4 cup cheese and 1/2 tablespoon ground pepper. Bake, rotating sheets 180 degrees and switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until logs are pale golden and firm, about 30 minutes total. Cool logs to warm on sheets on a rack, about 10 minutes.
Reduce oven temperature to 300°F.
Carefully transfer 1 warm log to a cutting board and cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices with a serrated knife. Arrange slices, cut sides down, in 1 layer on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining logs, transferring slices to sheets. Bake, turning over once, until golden and crisp, 35 to 45 minutes total. Cool biscotti on baking sheets on racks, about 15 minutes.
Do ahead: Biscotti keep in an airtight container at room temperature 2 weeks.
Rosh Hashana was early this year and I was feeling ambivalent about sitting with a large group of people in a synagogue or staring at a Zoom screen for hours. A friend mentioned that she was going to spend the holiday communing with nature; an excellent idea. This seemed to be exactly what I was seeking!
Paul found a beautiful trail right down the road from Tangle Wood in Lenox, MA run by Mass Audubon called Pleasant Valley. The day was warm and sunny with a beautiful breeze. We took a trail that meandered through marshland, ponds and pine forests.
The trail crisscrossed over several burbling brooks that rushed over mossy rocks. During Rosh Hashanah a tradition is observed called Tashlich. Small stones are thrown into the water to cast off one’s sins. I remember being at a service once where the cantor said that the ritual might also be used as a way to cleanse one’s self of unwanted grudges or to create intentions for positive change. I chose this route and as I tossed a few stones into the water, I felt an immediate sense of lightness.
I had brought my recorder along thinking I might play an improvisation that sounded slightly Hebraic and pastoral at the same time. I was hoping to find an inspirational location and was not disappointed!
Now the only thing needed for a perfect Rosh Hashanah was a delicious dessert with apples. I looked through a few of my old blogs and found a recipe I had included for apple kuchen, from Smitten Kitchen. This moist dessert reminds me of the apple kuchen we had in Germany when my daughter and I were on our “Following inBach’s Footsteps” journey a few years ago! When baking this cake, your house will smell heavenly as the rich aromas of butter, vanilla, cinnamon and apples fill the air!
Apple Kuchen (from Smitten Kitchen)
Topping 4 tiny-to-small apples, halved, peeled and cored 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Batter 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (125 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (6 tablespoons) granulated sugar 1/4 cup honey (any variety you like to eat) 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 3 large eggs, separated 2 good pinches of salt 2 teaspoons baking powder 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
Glaze 1/4 cup honey A good pinch of sea salt
Heat oven: To 350°F. Coat a 9-inch springform with butter or a nonstick spray. Line the bottom of the pan with a round of parchment paper.
Prepare apples: Place peeled, halved and cored apples cut-side-down on a cutting board. Use a knife to create parallel thin slices, but only cut halfway through each apple so that the apples stay intact. Don’t fret if you cut through, however; you can just reassemble the halves on the cake in a few minutes.
In a bowl, toss apples with lemon juice and 2 tablespoon granulated sugar.
Prepare cake base: Beat butter and 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar together in a bowl with electric beaters until fluffy. Add honey and beat until combined. Add vanilla and egg yolks, beating until just combined. Sprinkle salt and baking powder over cake batter, and mix for just 5 seconds, until they disappear. Add flour, half at a time, mixing only until just combined.
In a separate bowl with cleaned beaters, beat egg whites until stiff. Stir 1/4 of them into the cake batter, to lighten it a little. Fold in the rest in three additions. It will seem impossible to fold in at first because the batter is so stiff, but it will loosen with careful folding. Only fold the last addition of egg whites until it has mostly disappeared (a couple faint streaks of egg white are fine).
Spread cake batter in prepared cake pan, smoothing the top. Arrange apple halves facedown over the cake batter. To warn, 4 tiny/small apples will definitely fit over the cake batter. When I made it with 4 small-almost-medium apples, I could only fit 3 1/2 of them. No need to press the apples into the batter. You can pour any extra lemon juice and sugar in the bowl over the apples.
Bake cake: 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick or skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let rest on a cooling rack for 5 minutes, then cut around the cake to make sure it’s not sticking to the pan at all, and unhinge the sides. Let cake cool completely. You can store it at room temperature at this point, or after you add the honey, for up to 5 days 3 days at room temperature. After that, a fridge is best for longevity. The cake is lovelier on day 2 than day 1.
Before serving, if you’d like the glaze to look glossy, or whenever the cake is cool, if you don’t mind if the honey sinks into the cake: Warm 1/4 cup honey and a good pinch of sea salt until it liquefies to the point where it makes a thin glaze — this will take less than 30 seconds. Brush honey-salt mixture over cooled cake.
I added a sprinkle of cinnamon on the top of the cake before baking.
This wasa perfect Rosh Hashanah! Best Wishes for a Happy and Healthy 5782!
A recent trip to Boston to visit our dear friends Carol & Hal was truly a feast for the senses; art, music and food! We had not seen them since before the pandemic; except for ZOOM visits and numerous phone conversations. Carol often wistfully said that she missed my cooking. I told her that when we could visit safely, I would make a special dinner for her called “Carol’s Feast.”
On cold snowy nights last winter, I imagined what I might make for our dinner; maybe a Mediterranean dinner with Baba Ganoush & hot buttered homemade pita breads and Tahdig- Crispy Persian Rice filled with leeks and cilantro and perfumed with saffron? Or, a rich Beef Bourgionion with Tagliatelle and Roasted Garlic Brussel Sprouts? Or, a simple roasted lemon rosemary chicken with potatoes mashed with goat cheese & chives?? My musings kept me going during the cold dark nights.
It was so lovely to be able to finally be in person. The first afternoon after we arrived, we hugged for long time and with huge smiles on our faces, we said ” Hi, Hi, Hi”!!! I had missed so deeply the special warm intelligent sparkle in Carol’s eyes, Hal’s keen sense of observation and the collective silliness that seems to always occur when we are together. Hal is a talented writer with a wonderful sense of humor. He has been dealing with the indignities of Parkinson’s Disease for over ten years with seemingly insurmountable challenges but his wit and incredible attitude were just as I remembered. We sat on their breezy second floor screened porch and over iced tea, we talked and talked!!
The first evening of our visit, we went to a favorite neighborhood haunt called Menotomy Grill. Sitting on the outside terrace we enjoyed salmon burgers with avocado, spicy wasabi aoli and pickled red cabbage with a side of delicious sweet potato fries.
I had brought a blueberry pie for our “Carol’s Feast” dinner, but when we returned from our dinner out, we decided that blueberry pie was needed at the moment and that we would enjoy it over the next few days!
Since our dinner was taking place in the summer, I decided to cook something light & came up with an Asian themed menu. Here is “Carol’s Feast”!
Arugula salad with slivered red peppers, shredded daikon & carrot, toasted sliced almonds & orange slices with an orange ginger miso salad dressing.
Crispy Pan Fried Veggie Dumplings filled with bok choy, tofu, shitake mushrooms, scallions and rice noodles with a tamari, ginger, scallion and sesame chili oil dipping sauce.
Pan Fried Soba Noodles with scallops, bok choy, napa cabbage and shitake mushrooms.
Stir Fried Sesame Green Beans with garlic and scallions
Cold Cucumbers and Shredded Chicken with Peanut Sauce
The morning of our feast, Carol helped me prep the food and then we were treated to our own incredibly beautiful private art show. Carol had just finished an online art retreat that she has attended for many years in person, at Bennington College. Every summer I am constantly amazed at what she creates in the space of a week. We viewed over 18 pieces that she called “improvisations”. The works of art conveyed a deep sense of emotion with brilliant colors and strong bold lines. Images full of energy seemed to jump off of the page with both depth and movement. She kindly offered to let me share one of her works titled: “Pandora’s Box”. I thought this work was appropriate for our feast; I see patterns of different foods and also maybe blueberries??
In the afternoon my husband Paul and Hal were happily engaged in a conversation about new books they were reading. Carol and I set off to have iced tea and biscotti at a neighborhood Cafe to catch up on more about each other’s lives and to dream about a possible trip to Southern France next March- if all goes well!
That night, sitting around Carol and Hal’s cozy dining room table, we enjoyed our feast and afterwards, happily sated with food and conversation, we even were able to find room to finish the blueberry pie!
Crispy Pan Fried Veggie Pot Stickers
1 package small wonton wrappers
4 medium size shitake mushrooms finely chopped
1 small skein of thin cellophane rice noodles
2 scallions diced
1/4 piece from a package of firm tofu crumbled
3 pieces baby bok choy finely chopped
salt to taste
1 tablespoon canola oil
Note– you can experiment with other fillings and the amounts do not have to be exact. Leeks, cilantro, daikon or carrots would also be good.
4 tablespoons tamari
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon brown rice vinegar
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions
hot sesame chili oil to taste
To make the dipping sauce:
Combine all of the ingredients, stir and set aside. Feel free to adjust amounts to taste!
To make pot stickers:
Place cellophane noodles in a bowl of very hot water. Let noodles soak until they soften and then cut the noodles into small pieces.
Heat canola oil in medium sized saute pan.
Saute scallions about one minute, then add bok choy and shitakes. Cook stirring often about 2 minutes.
Add rest of ingredients and cook about 2 minutes more. Set filling aside.
To fill dumplings:
Fill a small bowl with water.
Place a few wonton wrappers on a large flat plate. Dip your finger in the water and moisten the edges of the wonton wrappers.
Place a heaping teaspoon of the filling and fold the edges of the wonton wrapper over. Seal the edges firmly and place on another place lined with wax paper or parchment paper. Continue filling dumplings. You will have about 20 -25 dumplings.
Note: If not making the dumplings right away, sprinkle with a small amount of cornstarch, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
To pan fry dumplings:
Heat about 2 tablespoons canola oil in a large non stick pan until the oil is very hot.
Add a layer of dumplings, don’t crowd pan and cook until browned in one side. Flip and cook the same on the other side. If the dumplings are browning too quickly, you can adjust the heat. Cook remaining dumplings.
Serve immediately with the dipping sauce.
Our trip to Boston also included a long awaited trip to the Von Huene Workshop and Early Music Shop of New England. I was excited to meet the owner and extraordinary recorder maker Patrick Von Huene. I had a few old recorders to bring for repair and thought I would just try a few of Von Huene’s instruments with a purchase planned for the future. But the minute I played one of Von Huene’s hand made instruments, I was smitten. Plus, I had the chance to try over 15 instruments.
I ended up taking home two low pitch alto recorders on approval and realized that I could sell an old oboe to justify the purchase; now I am the proud owner of a new instrument! The sound is mellow and responsive with a beautiful high register. We were also treated to a tour of the workshop and Patrick’s young assistant showed us how the recorders were crafted.
I learned that the recorders are made from Grenadilla wood (this is the same wood that my modern oboe is made from)and they are also made from European boxwood that comes from Turkey.
Patrick Von Huene was also very generous with his time, showing us around the workshop and shared information about the different styles of recorders that he makes.
The Danish film Babette’s Feast was the inspiration behind the creation of “Carol’s Feast.” In the film, the main character Babette says,”En kunstner er aldrig fattig. ” (“An artist is never poor!”) With such a wealth of riches surrounding us on this trip, this sentiment rang true!
AND, here is the Tree of the Week:
An Update: Hal just sent me a limerick that he wrote about our recent visit:
For us who let Dumpling Day lapse There were dumplings to fill in the gaps, Plus improve the environment, celebrate C’s retirement, And resist further wristy mishaps!
Our favorite flavors and foodles? Tough call! Peanut sauce, soba noodles? But then there’s the joy Of scallops, bok choy… Let’s just praise the whole kit and kaboodle!
Saving last for the best dish of all (after hat tips to Judy and Paul), We make room for—oh, mah!— That there blueberry pah! Not forgettin’ th’ obligatory drawl!
An all time favorite summer walk is on Between the Lakes Road in Salisbury, CT. Even on hot humid days there is often a refreshing breeze. Unsettled with all of the news from our crazy world, walking along the lake on this peaceful dirt road never fails to make me feel centered and calm.
My first stop is at a tiny mountain stream where the water gurgles gently over the rocks into a small pool. I stand still and listen to the soft rhythmic sounds of the water; my breathe slows down perceptibly.
I continue along the road and breathe deeply; the cool clean air smells slightly salty and I feel like I am on vacation in Maine.
Around a bend of the road, I see one of my favorite maple trees, gnarly and full of character. It has been the subject for several of my “Trees of the Week”; it stands guard in front of an old white colonial house.
The house on Twin Lakes Road looks to be about 200 years old and I find myself wondering about the people that lived in this house. The house seems to have been expanded over the years for growing extended families. I don’t know the present owner, but would love to see the inside of the house and look out one of the windows that has a view of the lake. I would like to breathe in the musty air that old houses possess and I imagine the joys, sorrows and family dramas that occurred here.
I continue on; my walk on this day is not aerobic, more of a leisure saunter where I am mesmerized by the reflections of the sky and wild flowers on the water.
During my calming and centering walk, I think about what might be a light and cool side dish for dinner; I think about some cucumbers that a friend gave me from her garden. Sliced into thin strips, they are perfect with a crunchy slightly spicy peanut sauce made from Teddies Crunchy Peanut Butter, brown rice vinegar, tamari, diced fresh ginger, sesame oil and hot sesame chili oil. This is also delicious with cold shredded chicken and maybe a cold glass of Rose wine!
Sliced Cucumbers with Peanut Sauce
1 large cucumber peeled and cut into julienned strips
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
2 tablespoons tamari
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon brown rice vinegar
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon hot sesame chili oil
Note- all ingredient amounts can be adjusted according to taste! Keep adjusting freely!!
To Make Peanut Sauce:
Combine all ingredients in a medium sized bowl and whisk together.
Add a small amount of water, whisk until smooth and keep adding water until you get a smooth consistency.
Place cucumbers and if you are using shredded chicken on a platter, spoon sauce over and ENJOY!!
AND: Here is the “Tree of the Week” straight from Twin Lakes Road!
This summer our lives have once again become busy; dinners with friends, visits to museums, traveling, rehearsing and performing concerts and perhaps best to all, having the freedom to plan spontaneous excursions. I am thankful and feel blessed that we have come through this part of the pandemic. The only thing that I am wistful for are the daily hikes and walks that we took this past year. With no other distractions and the only safe activity, it developed into a joyful distraction. Not wanting to lose this precious connection to nature, I have had to make a conscious effort to allot time for walking.
The other day, in between all of the soggy rainy weather, the sun peeked out briefly. The perfect place for a short walk was the Joffey Nature Sanctuary in New Marlborough, MA. The one mile trail winds around a pristine micro ecosystem that includes a marsh and woodlands.
As I entered the woods, I was surrounded by the damp pungent scent of pine needles and saturated tree bark. The pine needles underfoot felt like I was stepping on a soft pillow.
Because of the extra moisture, tiny fungi and mushrooms had sprung up and dotted the forest floor.
Algae covered much of the marsh, creating delicate patterns on the water that looked like abstract paintings.
A few benches are placed along the path; we plan to return with books and iced tea on a hot day!
This summer, it’s also once again a great pleasure to visit farm stands and farm markets. One of my favorite places is the Silamar Farm Stand in Millerton, New York. The other day, I bought sugar snap peas, cucumbers, dill, red beets and Sky Farm mesclun mix. With my delicious bounty, I made a summer salad with grilled salmon and creamy hummus. Made with canned chickpeas, garlic, lemon and tahini, the hummus comes together in under 5 minutes. I made a simple salad dressing with olive oil and Carr’s Cider House Cider Vinegar. The vinegar is sweet, not too astringent and tastes almost like a good balsamic vinegar. This along with some crusty French sourdough bread, made a light and delicious summer dinner.
1 can chickpeas drained and rinsed
1 clove garlic minced
2 tablespoons tahini
freshly squeezed lemon to taste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
To Make Hummus:
Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor.
Blend for about a minute. The mixture will be crumbly and rough looking.
Add water a bit at a time and blend. When the mixture looks smooth, blend for about another minute more until creamy and very smooth. Adjust seasonings and enjoy!
AND: with my bounty of red beets it was time to make Summer Borscht! This is absolutely one of my favorite things about summer. Made with plenty of crunchy cool radishes, cucumber, scallions, dill and a big dollop of yogurt, it is refreshing and delicious alone or better yet with a slice of fresh rye bread. It is also great topped with a sliced hard boiled egg!
4 or 5 large red beets
1/2 cup diced cucumber
1/2 cup diced radish
1/2 cup minced dill
1/4 cup diced scallion or chives
salt and pepper to taste
brown rice vinegar to taste* see note
1 or 2 tablespoons honey to taste
1/2 or more plain yogurt
Scrub Beets well and if large cut in half
Cover with water in a medium sized pot
Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer
Cover and cook until tender
Save water that beets were cooked and strain into a large bowel
Let beets cool completely
Peel Beets and cut into small dice
Add diced beets along with cucumber, radish, dill and scallions or chives into reserved beet liquid
Add brown rice vinegar to taste- start with a small amount and add more as desired.
Stir in yogurt and honey
Add salt and pepper to taste
Refrigerate for at least a day to let flavors meld
Serve with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream
Add a sliced hard boiled egg on top if desired
Note: I do not specify exact amounts of brown rice vinegar, honey or yogurt. After the borscht sits for a day or two, you can add more seasonings to your taste.
AND: Here are “Two Trees of the Week!” I was uncharacteristically at a loss for their captions- any takers??