Finally! It's time to dig warm hats and mittens out of the blanket chest and to swap the T-shirts in our bureau drawers for turtlenecks. I wasn't sure it was ever going to happen this year; a week ago I was still picking tomatoes and putting up sauce. But at last the nights are getting chilly—especially where we are right now.

We're spending the last week of October with our family on Monhegan Island, 10 miles offshore. It's a magical spot, scarcely a square mile in size. Jan and I have been coming out here since the late 1970s, and Elspeth and Anna grew up coming with us every spring and fall. Now we've introduced Alex, Sally, and Andy to the island too, as well as my cousin Elizabeth, who flew up from Virginia to join us this year.

We arrived a few days ago, chilled from the hour-long ferry ride. Fortunately we came with two quarts of Gypsy Soup in our bags (along with all the rest of our food). I made it a few weeks ago and froze it, knowing we'd want some nice soups on the island. We walked up the dirt road to our rental house, brought in all our gear, and while Jan and Alex built a fire in the big stone fireplace, Elizabeth and I fixed lunch. Twenty minutes later we all sat down to a good, hot lunch of Gypsy Soup and grilled-cheese sandwiches—happy to be here, and happy to be warmed by our own homemade soup.


This delicious soup uses many of the late-summer and fall vegetables that we grow in our garden or get from our CSA. The recipe, with a few small changes, comes from the original Moosewood Cookbook—one of my best-loved cookbooks. You can double or even triple the recipe, and it freezes beautifully. I make this well into the fall and also freeze several quarts of it for the winter and early spring. The recipe below serves 4.

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups diced onions
2 cloves  garlic, crushed
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 cups peeled and diced winter squash or sweet potato
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon salt
dash of cinnamon
dash of cayenne
1 bay leaf
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup chopped tomatoes, preferably fresh but canned will of course work too
3/4 cup diced sweet peppers, green or red
3/4 cups cooked or canned chickpeas 

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil and sauté the onions, garlic, celery, and squash or sweet potato for about 5 minutes. Add all the seasonings and the stock, and stir well. Simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes, until the squash or sweet potatoes are soft. Add the tomatoes, peppers, and chickpeas and simmer another 10 minutes or so, until all the vegetables are the consistency you like.


GREEN TOMATOES // the local food report

It is suddenly, without a doubt fall. This morning on the drive into school, the temperature on the car thermometer read 40 degrees. The leaves on the fig tree have gone yellow, and the oaks are a brilliant, ruddy orange-brown. There are still tomatoes coming in, orange and red, and the roses are still in bloom. But soon enough there will be a frost.

I'm not sure the tomatoes realize this. They're still sending out yellow flowers, hoping for warmth and sun. And there's still plenty of fruit not quite ripe on the vine.

Last week I asked my gardening friends what they do with theirs. Jenn said she makes piccalilli and green tomato jam. Tracy and Teresa both make chutney. Anna is trying out green tomato fridge pickles. Victoria makes this brothy green tomato soup with scallions and ham that she learned about from a woman who shops at her farm stand, or puts them in a paper bag with an apple to ripen them. Marissa breads hers with panko and bakes them at high heat until they're tender, then snacks on them with sea salt and lemon. Dave makes classic garlic pickles with green tomatoes and eggplant. Lucas prefers ripe ones. There are all kinds of good ideas out there.

I wanted to share a few recipes I've come along over the years. The first is my great-grandmother's recipe for pickled green tomatoes. It's basically the same as Dave's, The second is a green tomato piccalilli recipe from Mrs. Lincoln's Boston Cook Book, published in 1883. It's hard to say how long the green tomatoes will stick around. You need to pick them before it freezes, so keep an eye on the weather. The ten day forecast looks ok so far!


This comes from the 1902 edition of Mrs. Lincoln's Boston Cook Book. My copy came from Lorenzo Dow Baker's family house on Baker Ave in Wellfleet, and it looks its age. For reference, a peck of green tomatoes is 2 dry gallons (apples are typically sold in 1/2 peck bags). Also note that the modern spelling of picalilli is different than the title given here. You can enlarge the scan below by clicking on it (the catchup looks good too!)

1 peck green tomatoes
1 cup salt
6 small onions
1 large head celery
2 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon mustard
2 quarts good, sharp vinegar

Chop the tomatoes, mix the salt with them thoroughly, and let them stand over night. In the morning pour off the water, and chop the onion and celery. Mix the sugar, pepper, cinnamon, and mustard. Put in a porcelain kettle a layer of tomatoes, onion, celery, and spices, and so on until all is used, and cover with the vinegar. Cook slowly all day, or until the tomatoes are soft. Cauliflower, or cabbage, or one quart of cucumbers may be used with the tomatoes. Sliced or grated horseradish gives a pleasant flavor.


APPLE BUTTER // the local food report

Remember that cookbook I mentioned the other day? The Coastal Table? I wanted to stop in and offer another recipe from Karen today. 

It's a quick apple butter. It's inspired by traditional apple butter—same flavors, same spices—but instead of a thick applesauce stewed for hours, it's a compound butter. This means you use a single apple, a stick of butter, and a pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and sugar. That's it! It's great on toast, and even better on grilled cheese. 

Karen's doing a bunch of book events in the next few months—there's one October 19th in Dartmouth, another at the Mattapoisett Library November 13th, and others in the Boston area and Rhode Island in the surrounding weeks. All the recipes in the book are inspired by local ingredients, so it's well worth checking out! Happy cooking.


From The Coastal Table, by Karen Covey

Karen likes to serve this butter with pancakes or on the cheddar biscuits you see up there. I put mine in a grilled cheese, which was delicious. For the apple, she likes to use a McIntosh, though she says other varieties will work, so long as they soften up. The butter lasts for at least a week in the fridge.

1 stick plus 1 tablespoon butter, divided, at room temperature
1 medium apple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
2 tablespoons water, divided
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
a pinch of ground cloves
a pinch of salt

In a medium saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add apples, brown sugar, and 1 tablespoon water and cook until softened, about 12 minutes. Stir apples every so often to make sure they don't stick to the pan. You should be able to easily pierce apples with a fork when they're done. If you cannot, cook for another 1-2 minutes. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt and toss together with apples, coating completely. Add remaining 1 tablespoon water, stir to incorporate, and cook for another 30 seconds. Remove from heat and allow to cool, at least 1 hour.

Transfer apple mixture to a food processor along with remaining 1 stick softened butter and process until almost smooth (it should be a little chunky). Transfer butter to a serving bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate, at least 1 hour. Bring to room temperature before serving.



One of my father's favorite sayings was "You learn something new every day." No kidding! There I was, strolling along at the farmers market last Tuesday, when a basket labeled "Ginger" caught my eye. Wait—we can grow ginger? In northern New England? Yes, my friends, we can. I was stunned. I whipped out my checkbook and bought almost the entire basketful. Then I went back three days later and bought more. It was $15 a pound, and I couldn't have been happier to pay that.

The ginger you see here was grown by Chas and Linda Gill of Kennebec Flower Farm in Bowdoinham. It's a show-stopper, isn't it? This is baby ginger—not the brown-skinned mature ginger we typically see in the grocery store. Baby ginger has pearly white skin with a soft pink blush, and it's silky smooth. It's tender, not at all fibrous like mature ginger, and it smells divine. You use is just like mature ginger. Chas learned about it from his friends at Old Friends Farm in Amherst, Massachusetts. They have an entire page devoted to their ginger, and it's well worth reading.

It turns out several Maine farmers are growing ginger now too; you can read all about it, and about how to grow it yourself, here. I'm thrilled. No more grocery-store ginger that involves peeling off a "Grown in China" sticker. (That always made me cringe.) Given how often we use fresh ginger (rhubarb pie, carrot ginger soup, and Indian curries are just a few of our favorites), I consider this a giant step forward in our ongoing effort to "Buy fresh, buy local." 

Following Chas's advice, I broke my ginger into roughly 1-inch pieces and froze it in ziplock plastic bags. It freezes beautifully, he says; it maintains its flavor well and is a snap to use. "All you have to do is grate it." He says you can also preserve it by submersing it in a Mason jar filled with inexpensive sherry. I think I have enough frozen ginger now to see me through the winter. Hats off to you, Chas and Linda. You guys are great! And now, I have some baking to do.


This recipe is adapted ever so slightly from one in The Enchanted Broccoli Forest by Mollie Katzen. Both the cookbook and the recipe are old favorites at our house. I love to make this gingerbread in the fall. Of course, a dollop of fresh whipped cream makes a great addition.

5 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup yogurt
1 large egg, cracked and beaten slightly
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup white flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

In a small saucepan, melt the butter and sauté the grated ginger in it for 3–4 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Pour the honey and molasses into a medium-sized mixing bowl and beat them together for 5 minutes. (Hello, new stand mixer! I love you!) Add the butter and ginger and beat until everything is well blended. Then add the yogurt and egg and beat until they're well blended too. 

In a large mixing bowl, add all your dry ingredients and sift or whisk them together thoroughly. Make a well in the center of this mixture and pour your wet ingredients into it. Mix thoroughly, but don't overdo it—you just want to be sure everything is well blended.

Pour your batter into a greased pan (about 8 x 8 inches or the equivalent) and bake in a 350°F oven for 30 to 35 minutes. The gingerbread is done when the top is firm but still a little springy to the touch, or when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm with whipped cream. 


APPLE PIE // elspeth

The baby is sleeping. It occurred to me as I typed that sentence that she's actually very much not a baby anymore, and that I am humoring myself. She's two. Today she threw her blanket off the deck four times and walked down the stairs and around through the tangle of ivy to get it. When I asked her if she knew how much I loved her she said "Yes." I asked "How much?" and she said "Four, five." She said "Tank you, Mama" when I handed her a glass of V8 (or whatever you want to call this stuff), and she told me when she woke up that she'd had a bad dream about a bear. I didn't even know that bears are scary to her. How is she learning all this so fast?

Last Wednesday was her birthday. When I asked her the day before what she wanted me to make for her birthday cake to take to school, she did not hesitate. "Pie!" When I asked her what kind of pie, she said "Apple." And then for emphasis, "Pick apple, Mama." (We've been apple picking twice now, once at our friends' house in Truro, and another time in Sherbourne. It's made quite an impression.) 

We chose a recipe—a classic, double-crust version. We spent the better part of the afternoon rolling out the crust, spilling flour all over the kitchen, vacuuming it up, and doing it again. We sat out on the deck peeling and coring and chopping apples, and then came inside and mixed up the filling.

Then we baked, and the next day we brought it in to school for her to share with her friends and teachers. I got there just in time to see them sitting around the table, tiny chairs tucked in. I even got a bite. And I'm happy to report that it was everything I hope for in a pie: flakey, buttery crust. A thick filling that holds together when you cut a slice. Sweet, soft fruit with a hint of nutmeg and sugar and a good smattering of cinnamon. 

Sally told me she liked it "Five, six." That about says it.


This recipe is adapted from Amy Traverso’s “Double-Crust Apple Pie” in The Apple Lover’s Cookbook. It is the classic, all-American apple pie, and I like it best with vanilla ice cream. A note about crust: most recipes make extra, as this one does. You can use any extra dough to make mini-pies—just roll out a circle and spoon jam in the center of one half. Then fold it over to create a half moon shape and crimp the edges so the jam stays in. My mom always did this with my sister and me when we were kids. We called these little pies “stickies” because the jam always ran over the edge.

for the crust:

2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
18 tablespoons (2 and 1/4 sticks!) butter, cold
1/4-1/2 cup cold water
cream for brushing over the crust

for the pie:

3 pounds apples
1 /3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 and 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
a pinch of salt

Make the crust first. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the butter using a pastry cutter or a knife, then work it into the flour with your hands until it’s in pea-size chunks. Add the water little by little until the dough is wet enough to be worked into two balls. Wrap each in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes. (You can keep it in the fridge for up to a week if need be.)

Next make the filling. Peel, core, and slice the apples into wedges. Put the wedges in a big bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Stir until the fruit is evenly coated.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Roll out one ball of dough for the bottom crust and drape it across a 9-inch pie plate. Spoon in the filling, then roll out the other ball of dough for the top crust. You can cut it to weave as a lattice or leave it whole and cut slits in the top for steam to escape, whatever you prefer. Trim any overhanging dough to within 1-inch of the pie plate, then roll the dough in toward the center of the pie to create a lip around the edge.

Brush the top of the crust with cream and sprinkle it generously with more granulated sugar—roughly a quarter cup is good. Bake the pie for 10 minutes, then turn the heat down to 350 and bake another 40-50 minutes, until the fruit is bubbling and the crust is golden brown. Serve warm, preferably with vanilla ice cream.



Whew, September—I'm not really sure how you got away from me, but suddenly it's October and I haven't managed to write a single blog post since August. I started a new semester at school and it took me a few weeks to adjust to the schedule after a summer away from the books. I'm finally coming up for air, though, and I'm bringing pancakes with me!

Before we eat, a little housekeeping: we've updated the Hello! page to share a bit more about ourselves, so head over there if you're wondering who is behind the blog. We also recently joined Pinterest, and you can find us over there sharing our favorite seasonal recipes.  


Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

I woke up last Sunday and suddenly it was full-blown fall. After a summer of yogurt-and-fruit breakfasts, I wanted something warm to start the day. These pancakes are super simple, and the yogurt gives them a little protein boost. Topped with warm, spicy apples, this is the perfect breakfast for a chilly morning.

For the pancakes:

6 tablespoons whole-wheat flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/ 2 teaspoon salt
1 cup yogurt
2 large eggs

Mix the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Add the yogurt and eggs and mix well. Heat an electric skillet or burner to medium heat and butter the pan. Add a few spoonfuls of batter to the pan, according to how large you would like your pancakes. Cook until bubbles begin to form in the pancakes. Pancakes are ready to flip when the bubbles pop and remain open.

For the sauteed apples:

3 cups of apple slices, about 1/4-inch thick
a pinch of cinnamon
a pinch of nutmeg
1-2 tablespoons butter

In a large bowl, mix the apples, cinnamon, and nutmeg and set aside. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the apples and cook until they soften—until they're the consistency you like. Spoon the sauteed apples over warm pancakes and enjoy!



Last year I got a book about keeping chickens. (This book.) I paged through it all winter, earmarking breeds and techniques and coop designs. And yet that is not my chicken you see up there.

It is my sister-in-law's. She actually has a coop, one that she cares for lovingly and knowledgeably. She is on her second flock; the first group of girls had a terrible run-in with a weasel or maybe a fisher cat while she was out of town and Alex and I were on watch. Whatever snuck in bit each and every one of the hens but took none of them for dinner, which somehow made it worse. Alex went next door to check on them one morning and came home broken hearted—the first and last time I have ever seen him tear up. There was nothing that could have been done—the animal pulled the wire off the eaves and then once in we think it panicked—but still. Chickens are not for the faint of heart.

But there are new girls over there now laying in the coop—beautiful black, white, speckled, and tan hens. They lay brown eggs and a few that are light blue, and every now and then we are lucky enough to get a dozen.

My go-to egg recipe right now is baked eggs—from a new local cookbook by Mattapoisett cook Karen Covey. It's perfect for this time of year: cherry tomatoes from the garden, a few sprigs of thyme, a little sprinkle of ricotta salata or Parmesan, fresh cream and eggs. Karen got in touch when she released the book, called The Coastal Table, and all of her recipes are inspired by local ingredients. The baked eggs caught my eye for their simplicity. They're quick and easy, but they still feel special. I made them last week, and again this morning for company. For tomorrow, there are another four eggs waiting in the fridge.


I have adapted this recipe somewhat from Karen's original. I'm usually only cooking for two in the morning, so I halved it. I also added more tomatoes—there are still enough that I'm looking for ways to use them up! And I think it's nice to switch the cheeses up depending on what you have.

1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons cream
4 eggs
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
12 small cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan or crumbled ricotta salata (or whatever other cheese you prefer)
fine grain sea salt, to taste
freshly cracked pepper, to taste

Turn on the oven broiler and let it preheat. Get out a small baking dish and put the butter and cream in the bottom. Put the dish in the oven and let the butter melt. Take the dish out of the oven and crack the eggs into it. Sprinkle the thyme, tomatoes, and Parmesan on top, then sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. 

Broil for 5-10 minutes, until the egg whites are just set and the yolks are still runny. If the top is getting too brown and the eggs aren't done yet, cover the pan with a lid or tinfoil. Serve hot, with toast to mop the juices up. 


APPLE VARIETIES // the local food report

There is nothing I like better this time of year than a good, crisp Macoun. Others I know stand by their favorite snack apples: Northern Spies, Honeycrisps, Fujis.

But which one to choose if you're making applesauce? Cider? Apple pie? The other day I talked with Paul Crowell, whose family runs Crow Farm in Sandwich. They have several acres of apples, and he talked me through which varieties he grows, and why. Here goes:

BALDWIN: Baldwins are hands down Paul's favorite variety for baking. They are very hard, somewhat tart apples, which means they both stand up well and can take a bit of sugar. The variety comes from Wilmington, Massachusetts where they were discovered on a family farm around 1740. Apparently they were originally called "woodpecker apples" because the birds liked the tree trunks so much, but later the name was changed to honor a Colonel Baldwin of Cambridge who especially liked them. 

CORTLAND: Cortlands are excellent for eating fresh. They were developed in Geneva, New York in 1898 in an attempt to make the Macintosh even better. I'd say it was a success: the apples are crisp and juicy and sweet with a nice white flesh. And they're also good for slicing up for fruit plates and salads, because they don't turn brown for a while.

EMPIRE: Empires are newer than most of the classics; they weren't developed until 1945. These are another Geneva, New York apple, developed from a cross between Macintosh and Red Delicious. They ripen up this time of year and are good keepers—they'll last until Christmas or even later. They're a good all-purpose apple—you can toss them into cider, eat them fresh, or throw them into sauce or a pie.

GINGER GOLD: This is a summer apple, very early. It won't keep past the few weeks when it's available, usually in August. It's best for eating fresh off the tree.

GRAVENSTEIN: A very old variety, and Paul says his sister's favorite. This is another summer apple, discovered in 1669 in Denmark. It usually ripens in August and is a good cooking apple—good for cider and applesauce in particular. It's tart and soft and does not keep long past picking.

HONEYCRISP: A favorite eating apple for many. Crisp, sweet, juicy, red...a commercial growers' dream. It was released in 1991 and has been a popular snack apple ever since.

LODI: Yet another Geneva apple. An early summer apple that ripens in August and won't keep, so you've either got to eat it fresh or turn it into cider or sauce. It's green skinned with a white, juicy flesh.

MACINTOSH: The classic! Red, tart, and tender. They're delicious for eating when fresh, but they don't stay crispy for long. Older Macs are best for sauce or cider. Not so good for pie, since they don't hold up well.

MACOUN: My personal favorite for eating fresh. So sweet! So juicy! So red! Also good for cider and sauce, and ok for pie, though a bit on the sweet side. They're so good that here they rarely make it past the fridge. Named for a Canadian farmer, J.T. Macoun, but developed in Geneva, New York.

MILTON: A crisp, early summer apple. It doesn't keep well, but it's delicious fresh off the tree. Also developed in Geneva at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, apparently a very productive place.

ROXBURY RUSSET: These are believed to be the oldest commercially produced American apples. They were discovered and named by Joseph Warren of Roxbury, Mass in the mid-1600s and later were a favorite of Thomas Jefferson. They're named for their potato-like skin, which is rough and brownish (see below). For some people that's a turn-off, but Paul says they're his favorite apple. They're good for eating fresh well into the winter as they keep well, and they're also tasty in cider or juice. 

SANSA: These are another early apple. They don't keep but are great for eating fresh, and are yellow with crisp, white flesh.

SPENCER: Spencers are a cross between Yellow Delicious and Macintosh. Paul says they don't color around here, he thinks because our falls are so warm and apples need cool, crisp nights or even days to turn that nice red. They're good keepers and excellent in cider. 


This recipe, my favorite for sauce, comes from the beautiful (and informative) Apple Lover's Cookbook by Amy Traverso. It's a nice variation on tradition. For the apples I like to use a mix of Macintosh, Macoun, and Cortland, but as you know from the list above, many different kinds can work.

3 pounds apples, all tender, half tart and half sweet
1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
a pinch of cloves
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

Core the apples; don't peel them. Cut them into large chunks and put them in a large pot with the orange zest, cinnamon, cloves, and 3 tablespoons of water. Cook over medium high heat, covered, until the liquid begins to simmer. Then turn the heat down, and cook another 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the apples are very tender.

Put the mixture through a food mill. Add the orange juice, stir well, and put into jars. This sauce freezes well but is not for canning. 


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