A lot of breads

Uh, hi! I know we've been doing a lot of breads around here lately, but I'm not ready to stop. I'm sorry. If you're in more of a vegetable mood, I won't be offended if you go over and poke around over here, or maybe over here. It's just that with all the local grains from our CSA, we're on kind of a bread kick around here. There's something about grinding our own grains and then baking with them that we can't get enough of. Next up, oatmeal sandwich bread, from Good to the Grain.

This is a truly multi-grain bread—part whole wheat, part all-purpose, and part rolled oats. It's amazing—you put a cup of oats into two loaves of bread, and when you bake them, you get all of their sweetness but none of their texture. Do they just melt? Does the yeast eat them? I have no idea. But I like the fact that even though they dissolve, their essence is there. It reminds me of the feeling I get when I look at recipes written out in my great-grandmother's handwriting. We've never met, but I know she's in there.

Anyway, it's also a fairly easy bread. Like all bread this one takes time—a half hour rest, an hour rise, another rise and forty minutes in the oven at the end—but this time of year, between the cold and the dark, time is what we've got. And the end result—two loaves that actually bloom up, out of the pan—is well worth any scrimping and pinching you might have had to do to come up with the window.


This recipe is adapted slightly from the one Kim Boyce lays out in Good to the Grain on page 130. As you might guess, it is a nice soft loaf, and perfect for sandwiches. I find it also makes excellent toast.

E.H. note 11.26.12: I made this bread yesterday with all spelt flour, and it turned out beautifully. 

2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon (1 package) active dry yeast
3 tablespoons honey
2 and 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats
4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1 tablespoon kosher salt

Grease a large bowl and two bread loaf pans. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the water, yeast, and honey with a wooden spoon. Let sit for 5 minutes to proof.

When the yeast is bubbly, use the spoon to stir in the flours, oats, and butter. Cover this mixture with a damp dishtowel and let it sit for 30 minutes.

Attach the bread hook to the mixer. Add the salt and mix on medium speed for 5 minutes. Stay close-by and watch the process carefully; you want the dough to slap the sides of the bowl, not stick to them. If it starts to stick at any time sprinkle in a few spoonfuls of flour.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, knead it a few times, then transfer it to the buttered bowl. Cover the bowl with a damp dishtowel, put it in a warm place, and leave the dough to rise until doubled in size, about an hour.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divided it into two balls. Gently shape each ball into a rectangle, and place it in the buttered pans. Cover the pans with a damp dishtowel and let the bread rise in a warm place a second time, until doubled in size.

Near the end of the rise, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Sprinkle the tops of the loaves with rolled oats and bake for 40 minutes, or until the top of the loaves are a deep golden brown and sound hollow when tapped.


The Local Food Report: locally baked snacks

Good morning. Today, I'd like to talk about school snack.

That up there is Tristan Scott. I took his picture last April, during snacktime at Chilmark Elementary School, when I went over to Martha's Vineyard to do some interviews. It's taken me a while, but I've finally gotten through all the tape I collected that day, and this week's Local Food Report marks the first of three episodes on a program called Island Grown Schools.

Island Grown Schools is actually just one program of many run by a non-profit on the Vineyard called Island Grown Initiative that works to increase supply and demand for locally grown food on the island. It was founded in 2005, and in six short years, it's done quite a bit to get more local food into schoolyards and lunchboxes and cafeterias, including revamping snack time.

At most schools, there are two options: bring a healthy snack from home that's cold, or get something warm but generally less healthy from the cafeteria. IGI thought it might be nice if kids could buy something that was both healthy and warm, and locally made. So it started talking with a local baker, Julie Vanderhoop, and a new vision of snacktime was born.

It works like this: two mornings a week, the kids can bring in a dollar and put in an order for whatever it is Julie is making for snack. Then the school office calls Julie with a tally, and she bakes. Sometimes it's muffins—morning glory or blueberry or pumpkin with local fruits and vegetables and whole grains—or even scones or five grain rolls or whole wheat focaccia bread. While the baked goods are still hot, Julie trucks them over to the school, and meets the kids on the playground to hand them out. They wave and holler and thank her as they run around, she pays attention to see if they like whatever it is she's made, and then she waves and hollers goodbye and drives back the seven miles to her bakery in Aquinnah.

It's pretty cool. Ask any one of the kids and they can tell you Julie's name, and that she runs Orange Peel Bakery, and that on Wednesday nights she hosts a gathering for bring-your-own-topping pizza. Since February of 2010, which is when the program started in Chilmark, it's gotten so popular that Julie's started baking for the kids at West Tisbury Elementary, too. She says she gets an order for about 65 baked goods twice a week between the two schools. At a dollar a snack, the program works financially both for Julie and for most families, although she and IGI are talking about getting grant funding so that it's affordable for everyone.

I don't know what your school snack program was like, but mine was nothing like this. I remember danishes in plastic pouches, bagels slathered in cream cheese, and green blueberry muffins.

But the thing that struck me most about snacktime at Chilmark Elementary wasn't just that the snacks were warm and healthy. It was also the way it changed the outlook of the teachers and kids. Snack, for them, isn't something to rush through or forget. On the days when Julie bakes, it's something they look forward to, and appreciate. And when it comes to snack time, I'm not sure there's any better lesson than knowing your baker, and getting your muffin or roll or scone still warm, straight from her hand.

P.S. IGI is doing all kinds of other fantastic things to get local food into Vineyard schools. Read more about what they're doing—including hosting all-local school lunches, gleaning unharvested food from local farms for school cafeterias, and installing school gardens—over here!


This bread calls for a fermenting period of twelve hours, so start it the night before you want to bake. Julie makes it into rolls when she bakes it for the kids, but it also makes an excellent loaf of bread. (This recipe makes three loaves.) I'm typing this recipe out just as Julie did for me, so the format is a little different than what you usually see around here, but I think it makes the most sense. Enjoy!

In a medium bowl, stir together:
2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon yeast
and set aside at room temperature, uncovered, for 10-12 hours.

The next morning, boil 1 and 1/2 cups water and pour into a medium bowl over:
1/2 cup steel cut rye
1/2 cup flax seed
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats

In a large bowl, mix together:
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 and 1/8 cup tepid water
1 and 1/2 teaspoons yeast
along with the flour and yeast mixture that's been sitting overnight and the grain and seed mixture. Mix until a wet dough forms. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover it with a wet dishcloth, and let it rise in a warm area for one hour.

Grease three loaf pans. Working on a lightly floured surface, divide the dough into three equal parts. Shape each piece into a rectangle to fit the pans. Place the dough in the pans and let it rise for another hour; then bake it at 475 degrees F for 40 to 50 minutes.


Tang and pizazz

It was seven degrees here this morning when we woke up. Seven degrees! I would complain, but when I called my mother, she told me her thermometer read seven below. She tends to stop by here, so I have a feeling I'd better keep mum. Anyhow, the good news is that it's now up to a balmy 16.3, and I have tested the waters and found that with two pairs of sweatpants, a turtleneck, and a sweater on, it is warm enough to make soup.

Those specimens up there are a major component of the soup I'm making today, which is the same soup we've been eating now for about a week straight. It's a potato-leek-celeriac soup that I found in an old Bon Appetit cookbook—Entertaining with Style, circa 1996—and it's amazing.

(Celeriac, in case you're not familiar with it, is the knobby, gnarly root that grows under a certain variety of celery. Unlike most celery varieties, it's grown mainly for what's underground, but you can also use the leaves and stalks as you normally would. My friend Tracy grew a bunch in her greenhouse, and we are addicted.)

If I had to pick one word to describe this soup, I would tell you that it is velvety. The celeriac gives it a creaminess that is somehow different—somehow more subtle and more refreshing than the heavy, overdone richness that you find in most potato-leek soup recipes—and that, I think, is what makes it so wonderful. It has comfort food written all over it, but it also has tang and pizazz. I like that.

I also like that it cooks for a while, which means there's a stove burner on, which warms the house up. I have a recipe for Oatmeal Sandwich bread marked, which bakes at 400 degrees, and I'm thinking of making that too. But I'm starting with soup.


The original recipe for this soup actually called for twice as much celeriac as potato, but even as a celeriac lover, I thought that was too much. I swapped the ratios, so that the celeriac to potatoes was 1 to 2, and I thought that was perfect. Also, the original recipe called for olive oil, not butter, but I ended up adding the butter for creaminess later on, so the next time around I never bothered with the olive oil at all. In a soup like this, I think you need the creaminess that butter adds. And for toppings, the original recipe recommended parsley and orange zest and red onions, but we stuck with just the red onions, and I thought they were more than enough. Soup this good doesn't need dressing up. Oh! and it serves 3.

3 tablespoons butter
1 leek, washed and thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)
1 and 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock, preferably homemade
1/2 pound celeriac, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup whole milk
freshly cracked pepper
1/2 red onion (optional)

Heat up the butter in a medium, heavy-bottomed pot. Add the leek and sauté for 5-8 minutes, or until it starts to get tender. Season with about 1 teaspoon salt (unless you are using a salty broth, in which case you should wait and season later on). Add the stock, celeriac, and potatoes and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down, cover, and simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft.

Use an immersion blender or food processor to puree the soup. Add enough milk to thin the soup to your liking, taste the soup, and add salt and pepper as needed. Simmer for another few minutes to let the flavor deepen, then serve hot. We like it with a generous handful of finely chopped red onions on top.


The Local Food Report: Rein's Real Rye

In 1973, Rein Ciarfella found the perfect loaf of rye bread. It was round, boule-shaped, with a thick, leathery crust and a chewy, toothsome crumb. It had a deep rye flavor with subtle undertones of caraway, and it was excellent plain, and with butter. Toasted alongside a bowl of soup, it took his breath away.

It was from a bakery in Guildford, England, just south of London, where Ciarfella was living at the time. He bought a loaf every day for two years, but then it came time to move home. When he came back to the states, he couldn't find a similar loaf of rye anywhere. He thought about the bread all the time—for thirty-five years, he thought about that bread—and finally, last May, he decided to do something about it.

He found a recipe online—a deli rye bread from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois—that he thought looked pretty similar. He played with the flour ratios—rye to all-purpose, even adding a little high-protein flour in, toyed with and abandoned a sourdough starter—in his attempt to get a loaf that was perfect. It took three months—three months of recipe testing and not-quite-up-to-snuff breads—but finally, he got it right.

When he did, he was ecstatic. He was so pleased with his bread, in fact, that he decided to start selling it, as a business: Rein's Real Rye. He bought a 20-quart Hobart mixer and two mini fridges and started mixing up big batches every few days. The bread he developed was a wet bread—one of those no-knead breads that develops its gluten through moisture and time, rather than the stretching action of your hands—and so he mixes it in the afternoon, then leaves it overnight in the fridge.

In the morning, he pulls out the dough to cloak it (a process that involves sprinkling the surface of the dough with flour and stretching it and tightening it in order to give it a strong crust and hold the moisture in), slash the top of it (this helps the loaf expand in the oven), and finally, place it on a cornmeal-covered stone to bake. Then, while it bakes, he uses an expertly jury-rigged steaming system that involves ice cubes in cast iron pans and a hand pump spray system. This helps the loaves get good oven spring, that final rounding rise that takes place in the oven.

It's a lot of work for each loaf, but after thirty-five years without a good rye, Ciarfella thinks it's worth it.

You can find Rein's Real Rye at the Sandwich Winter Farmers' Market, Cotuit Fresh Market, and Amber Waves Natural Foods in Falmouth.


Ciarfella sent me the link to this recipe, which is the recipe I mentioned above that he started his quest with. Full disclosure: I'm pretty sure I did not make this recipe the way the author intended, but I do not care. It was WONDERFUL. The directions were somewhat confusing, but I think the original idea was to divide the dough up into four parts and bake one part per day over four days, keeping the other chunks in the fridge. I misunderstood that, though, and baked it all at once. It formed a massive country-style loaf, the kind you can buy at PB-Boulangerie & Bistro as a "Farmhouse Loaf," and it lasted us a week. It was fantastic.

3 cups lukewarm water
1 and 1/2 tablespoons yeast
1 and 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 and 1/2 tablespoons caraway seeds, plus more for sprinkling
1 cup rye flour
5 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
cornmeal for sprinkling

Mix together the water, yeast, salt, and caraway seeds in a large bowl. Let sit five minutes. Whisk together the flours and mix them in until completely combined. Cover the bowl with a wet dishtowel and set aside to rise at room temperature for two hours.

Sprinkle a baking sheet with cornmeal. Form the dough into a ball and dump it out onto a floured surface. Roll the surface of the ball in flour so that it is very well coated on all sides. Transfer the ball to the prepared baking sheet and let it rest, uncovered, for about 45 minutes.

In the meantime, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Fill your oven's broiler tray with water and have it ready to place on the bottom shelf when it comes time to bake. Slash the top of your bread diagonally three or four times—making about 1-inch deep cuts—with a very sharp bread knife. Bake for roughly 30 minutes, refilling the steam tray as needed, until the crust is golden and sounds hollow when tapped.


My mother's standby

I'd like to talk about cornbread today. And I'm guessing, based on last night's showing between the Jets and the Patriots, that most of you would also like to talk about cornbread today. Or chili. Anything, really, besides that game. I try to be accommodating.

The cornbread in question is from the Moosewood Cookbook, and it's my mother's standby. She used to make it a lot when my sister and I were younger, I think because it was a way of getting something quick and healthy and homemade on the table, and she always baked it in an old scalloped cast iron pie plate. That was key, because it meant every slice—every wedge, that is, since it was a round pie plate—got a piece of the middle, right on the first bite. The middle was invariably the best part, the most moist, and if the cornbread hadn't been cut this way, I have a feeling there would have been a lot of hair pulling and pinching.

Anyway, I pulled the recipe out for the game last night. My mother annotated my copy of the Moosewood with all of her old notes—things like "Always simmer, never boil!" next to the Russian Cabbage Borscht recipe (the beets will lose their color, apparently)—but curiously, there's no note next to the cornbread. It's one of those recipes, she must have decided, that didn't need explanation or praising.

And really, she's right. It's simple—the secret, I think, is in the cup of buttermilk and the three tablespoons of honey and the quality of the cornmeal you use. Grinding down the dent corn from our grain CSA was still on my to-do list (isn't it gorgeous?!), so when I finally got around to it yesterday, our cornmeal was only minutes old for the bread.

And the bread came out beautifully. The color was a little different—it wasn't so yellow as I remember it, since our corn was also equal parts blue and red—but it had a kind of pale, wintery beauty. And most importantly, it tasted good. So good, in fact, that despite my square pan, it got us through the game—without any pinching, or hair pulling.


What I like about this recipe is that I'm always almost certain to have all the ingredients on hand. It also takes only about 10 minutes from start to oven, and bakes in about twenty minutes, making it an ideal just-before-dinner recipe. I've made it with both all-purpose flour and whole wheat, and I like both in their own way.

butter to grease the pan
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose or whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk, yogurt, or sour cream
1 egg
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8" x 8" square pan or a 9" pie dish and set aside.

Whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk (or whatever you choose), egg, honey, and butter. (I like to mix the honey into the butter first in order to help it dissolve. It also cools the butter down, which is nice for the egg.)

Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the top starts to get golden around the edges and the center is firm to the touch. It's better to undercook this recipe than to overcook it; the bread tends to dry out when overdone.


The Local Food Report: Carafoli's Sagamore

On September 15th, 1880, 500 Italians arrived in Sagamore to start digging the Cape Cod Canal. The work was short-lived—funding ran out four months later—but the community was not. More Italian immigrants came over in the early 1900s when work started again and slowly, in Sagamore Village, an Italian community was formed.

That's John Carafoli. His grandparents were amongst those who came to Sagamore looking for work, and he's one of the few who still remembers Italian Sagamore. His mother passed away when he was eleven, and as a way of trying to hold onto her, he started hanging out in the kitchens of the neighborhood women, watching them cook and bring in squash and grapes and tomatoes from the garden and getting their techniques down. Then he'd go home and try to recreate the dishes for his father and aunt and brother—lasagnas and jams and breads and sweet pastas.

By the time he left Sagamore and went out into the world, he had a whole childhood of recipes to draw from. He started working with food—these days, he's a world-reknowned food stylist and recipe developer—and the recipes acted like a sort of bridge. They took him back to Italy to trace particular pastas and breads and back to his grandparents' city of Bologna to learn about their language and culture. The recipes kept him connected him not just with his mother, but also with his Italian heritage and the Sagamore Village of his past.

There's one Sagamore woman in particular who John talks about a lot. Her name was Mafalada Maiolini, but in the kitchen, he called her Muffy. She taught him to make brassadella, a sweet, dry coffee cake from Verona that involves a top roll and a bottom roll and lots of hole poking in between, and savor, a sweet, dark jam made with leftover fruit at the end of the harvest season. When I talked with John a few weeks ago Muffy was still alive, but she passed away last Sunday, at the age of 96. In her obituary, it says that her kitchen was a gathering place for many friends—a nice way to be remembered, I think.

In Muffy's honor, John gave me this savor recipe to share. It's his—adapted from hers—honed by observation and friendship and the practice of years.


This is a time-consuming jam at first glance, but most of the work is in the simmering. If you can set aside two 6-hour chunks over two days to be around, you've done the hard part. This jam is traditionally made in the fall, with any leftover fruit from the harvest. Carafoli has planted his own orchard of pears, apples, figs, apricots, and peaches, and he's hoping to make savor from his own fruit next year.

6 large ripe pears
6 large ripe apples
6 large ripe peaches
1 pound Italian prune-plums or other plums
1 pound seedless red grapes
12 ounces fresh cranberries
12 pitted prunes
12 ounces pitted dried apricots
12 ounces dark raisins
zest of 2 oranges, removed in strips and minced
1 bottle red wine or saba
1 quart red grape juice
1 quart cranberry juice
1 cup cooked peeled chestnuts

Peel and core pears and apples; peel and pit peaches and plums. Cut into coarse 1-inch dice, and place in a nonreactive (like stainless steel) heavy-bottomed 8-quart pot. Add grapes, cranberries, prunes, apricots, raisins, and orange zest. Add wine or saba, grape juice, and cranberry juice and mix well.

Place pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to its lowest possible setting, and simmer, uncovered, for 6 hours. Remove from heat and allow to sit, loosely covered, at room temperature overnight. (Sugar and acid in mixture will keep it from spoiling.)

The next day, uncover the pot and again bring to a boil. Reduce heat to lowest possible setting, and simmer for 6 more hours. Toward the end of cooking, stir frequently to prevent scorching.

Remove pot from heat; mixture will be very dark and thick. Place chestnuts in a food processor and process to make a mealy puree. Stir into cooked mixture. While mixture is still hot, pour into sterile jars and seal according to manufacturers' directions. Savor may also be covered and refrigerated for up to 4 months, or frozen in a tightly sealed container for up to 6 months.

Yield: 11 pints


I could lie

I could lie to you. I could tell you that we've been roasting Truro pork chops and using the bones to make big batches of broth for homemade Pho and lingering over fresh pumpkin muffins, or apple spice cake. But the truth is we have a leaky pipe and a flooded basement and no water, and since Saturday we've been relying on take-out and the generosity of friends.

Not that it's been bad, really. We had a nice lunch at Wellfleet Town Pizza on Saturday and our friend Gui grilled us prime rib from Northeast Family Farms that night, and we even contributed the box of just-picked Chinese cabbage you see up there, from the Mac's Shack garden. I could hardly believe the greens were still lingering, without any covering or attention.

Then yesterday we went over to Alex's brother's to sample cheeses from a new place called Robinson's Farm in Hardwick. The Robinsons started raising grass-fed cows in 2006, and this year, they just released a line of artisinal raw milk cheeses. Alex and Mac are thinking of selling them in the restaurants as part of a local cheese plate, and by the pound at the markets.

The Swiss was good with pickles and pepperoncinis, and a there was a buttery melting cheese that was top-notch over pan-fried potatoes. I'm hoping that Alex will pick up at least the melting one, so that I can make an all-local French onion soup.

In the meantime, of course, I'll take running water. When that happens, here's what's on my to-cook list:
  1. this penne with garlic and kale
  2. Stacey Glassman's squash with olive oil and garlic
  3. cream of beet soup from James Peterson
  4. buckwheat pancakes with the flour I ground down the other day from our grain CSA
  5. deb's cranberry upside-down cake
  6. more simple breakfasts like this
  7. and maybe, just maybe, a batch of homemade pop tarts to use up our astounding supply of raspberry jam
Happy cooking, everyone.


The Local Food Report: the Squash Glossary

This is a butternut squash:

I'm guessing you already knew that, but we're starting with the basics. The thing is, winter squash is everywhere this time of year. If I could peek out, beyond this screen, I bet I would see one on your kitchen counter right now. For every kind of vegetable we get in the summer, it seems winter brings us a new kind of squash.

So this fall, I started paying attention—to what varieties Cape Cod farmers are growing, and what they're good for in the kitchen. Here we go:

1. Butternut: Easily the most popular variety amongst both farmers and cooks. Creamy colored skin and a shape like an elongated pear. Firm, sweet, flesh, and a good keeper. Versatile enough to work in almost any recipe. (Click to see.)

2. Delicata: Oblong, covered in a thin, pale yellow skin marked with dark green stripes. Mild, good baked with butter and maple syrup. (Click to see.)

3. Acorn: Shaped like...you guessed it! an acorn, with dark green skin and a flesh that's sweet, almost peppery. Excellent in soups. (Click to see.)

4. Buttercup: Similar shape to the acorn, except without the point at the bottom. Thick, rough, dark green skin with grayish ridges and spotting. A very dense, sweet flesh; can be substituted for sweet potatoes. (Click to see.)

5. Cinderella Pumpkin, or Rouge Vif D'Etampes: Large—20 or 30 pounds—with ridges and a thick, bright reddish-orange skin. Excellent for pies. (Click to see.)

6. Jarrahdale: Large—30 pounds plus—with ridges and a thick, grayish-blue skin. An excellent pie and baking squash. Australian in origin. (Click to see.)

7. Connecticut Field Pumpkin: Mid-sized and deep orange with a thick, ribbed skin. Excellent for both pies and jack-o-lanterns. (Click to see.)

8. New England Pie Pumpkin: The best pie pumpkin. Small, deep orange, ribbed skin with a sweet, thick flesh. Yum! (Click to see.)

9. Blue and Red Hubbard: Big and meaty, with a thick skin that's either blue-gray or reddish depending on the variety. Good for soups, baking, sweetbreads—you name it. A long keeper and a good all-purpose squash. (Click to see.)

10. Magdalena: Light orange with a flattened shape and deep ribs. One of the oldest cultivated squash varieties, according to the seed catalogs. Bright orange flesh that's dense and sweet; good for soups. (Click to see.)

11. Knucklehead: A good all-purpose eating squash, but carve it for a jack-o-lantern first! Bright orange, thick skin with knobby warts all over. (Click to see.)

And finally, here are a few links to my favorite squash recipes. Enjoy!

Baked Hubbard Squash
Butternut-Chocolate Chip Brownies
Butternut Squash and Leek Soup
Farro and Roasted Butternut Squash
New Mom Muffins
Pumpkin Penne ala KD
Pumpkin Pie (the Best)
Roasted Kabocha and Shallot Soup
Sophie Minkoff's Pumpkin Bread
Thai-Spiced Squash Soup


For the new year

Hi! Happy New Year. I already said that, I know, the other day, but I mean it. And besides, saying it now, I hope, will make things feel a little less Monday.

It was nice, these past few weeks, to be on holiday. I went to Alex's family's, in Wellesley, and then up to my own parents' in Maine, and then came back home for champagne and singing and fireworks on New Year's Eve. We did a lot of cooking, and a lot of eating, and to balance all that out, a lot of walking and a very hard yoga video that my sister found on Netflix. I also got a new camera, a Canon Rebel XS with a EF 50mm f/1.8 lens. Eeek! Here it is saying hello, with a plate of the roasted butternut squash and farro salad we made yesterday.

You'll also find it over here, where it's part of a new project I'm starting for the new year. A digital camera means easier (way easier!) uploads, and I want to make the most of that. My mother and sister and I are always swapping recipes and cooking ideas via email, and for a while now, I've been brainstorming how to get that same sense of community and participation going online, here.

This Tumblr page
has everything I've been looking for. I can post photos—big, plain, food photos with recipe links and local sourcing notes—and most importantly, you can too. You just have to scroll down to the bottom, click on submit, and upload a photo of whatever it is with local ingredients you've been cooking recently. You can add notes if you like—links to the recipe if it's online and a little something about where you found the ingredients, and then once I give the okay, it's up! I'm new to this, so we might have a few hiccups, but between all of us here I think we could bounce some pretty cool local food inspiration around.

I'll start. If you head on over, you'll see the farro salad picture up there along with notes about where the ingredients came from, and a link to the original recipe. I made a few changes—halved the farro and swapped out kalamata olives for toasted walnuts—but otherwise, the dish is pretty much the same.

So go ahead and check it out, and I can't wait to hear what you think. I'm not going anywhere, just to be clear—I'll still be here, but I'll also be there. I have a feeling it's just one of the good places 2011 is taking us. I hope to see you every step of the way—with more good food and good cheer.


Happy !

To you and yours. May the new year be filled with health, hope, and happiness, and plenty of crisp Granny Smiths.

I'll see you Monday!


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All text, photographs, and other original material copyright 2008-2010 by Elspeth Hay unless otherwise noted.